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vendredi 16 juillet 2010

Yet another Adios

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Another lover of Cuba, the great Poet Pablo Neruda.. had written

Se sabe que el que vuelve no se fue,
y asi la vida anduve y desanduve
mudandome de traje y de planeta,
acostumbrandome a la compania,
a la gran muchedumbre del destierro,
a la gran soledad de las companas
It is well known that he who returns never left
so I traced and retraced my life,
changing clothes and planets,
growing used to the company,
to the great whirl of exile,
to the great solitude of bells tolling.

Newly arrived, with two days of intense affections from many many Indian people under my belt and a sense of loss of a newly found reunion, impatience at the accumulation of miles, I plan my journeys.. Ah, my dear friends and Lovers, it is I like the rowing stars come to your door, destinations change , but it is the same smell of distance and the recovered fragrances of our last meetings, food and wine, yes it is me knocking at the door..

I shall leave the Reservation of the Indians, as their four day festivities are finishing, to fly to Paris via Houston. Just two days later, my sister and her husband would arrive in Paris and once again i shall camouflage my travel agent's costume, regale them with tales of Eiffel and Monet, climbing up the stairs to Sacre Coeur..
within days, I shall be back at the Terminal 2 for an Air France Flight to Bangalore, where I will just one day.. clean my teeth by Dr Jagdeesh and company, eyes checked by Dr jyothi, R and R Andhra Biryani, stock up on medications for friends from all over, Himalaya products, Chai tea and other delights.. home made Idlis an extra incentive.. Within hours of arrival at that ancient land, Air Asia to Kuala Lumpur, who but my best friend will be waiting at LCCT?
Facial, Pedicure and Manicure, Hair Cut at A Cut Above at Bangsar, a long anticipated dinner at Demaw with dear friends and it is time again heading in the direction of the land of Golden Pagodas arriving at the Mingaladon Airport... Visit friends in Yangon, rent a car, off to Chaungtha to repay the kindness of my little friends who took chances during the time of monsoons... say hello to the watchmaker of Anhwarata Road, drop in at the Synagogue at 25th street..... Mingalar Bar... Yangon..
Back to Paris from KL.LH to FRF and CDG or MH to DXB and AF to CDG... either would be fine with me.. the next time it would be via NRT.. hopefully after an exchange of some sake breaths with sensitive hearts...
to live in balance, you have to pay attention to the universe that surrounds you, the loves of your life, scattered around the globe, an occasional kiss and enormous number of hugs.. little hearts beating with accumulating tenderness...
La vida es un sueno.. Life is a dream...

mercredi 14 juillet 2010

False Indians of Cuba .. the so called Tainos


It would be a wonderful world, if you could consider each and every person as a human being, without any labels, any trademarks and accept them without judgement.

But the world is divided, global only in the eyes of the multinational corporations, the societies are divided, and there are even micro divisions. Divide and conquer, was the motto of the British Imperialists during their heyday.

For the present, a cultural identity becomes very important, for more than anything to navigate through the complex world that surround us. When the world was simple, as in the time of the Los Indios before contact, they did call every one a PERSON and a group of Persons, a PEOPLE.. That is why all the indigenous names that refer to themselves as PEOPLE whether it is in North or Central or South America.

Our America, peopled by immigrants, modeled after metropolitan societies, and as Bolivar would have it, cleansing themselves of their colonial burden to be free, is also the home of the most ancient people on the Earth. Los Indios. Archeological evidence from Chile shows inhabitation by the indigenous people there to be at least 35 000 years old, so long before Europe became civilized in the parlance of the European, there were organized societies and cultures in the American Continent, obvious to any student of History.

What followed was a destruction of the social and spiritual life of the indigenous peoples, a history most of you know very well. Here I am to talk about a recent phenomenon, recent enough for all of us to remember personally of adoption of Indian Cultural Identity by Non Indians of this continent, whether mulatos from Puerto Rico or Europeans of Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, USA etc.

And they recreated Indian tribes which had long been lost to oblivion, culturally speaking and took over the ownership of the tribe and its presumed customs. They began parading themselves to the world , generally ignorant of the Indigenous cultures of the Americas, as true descendants of the Native peoples of this continent.

The question posed on this presentation is :

Why do mulatos of San Juan, Puerto Rico; Spanish descendants of Camaguey, Cuba want to claim themselves to be members of the extinct tribe of Tainos? Why did this happen in Cuba at a time of great economic difficulties in the island? What motivates them to hijack the identity of genuine Cuban rebels such as Hatuey?

The investigative work for this presentation was done among the indigenous peoples of various countries of the American continent and also with academics of various institutions and ordinary non Indian peoples of this continent.

From the beginning, there is one thing that well accepted. These Pseudo Indians are not accepted or liked by the general population of the countries in which they live. Pseudo Tainos are not respected nor accepted as Indians in Cuba by the intelligent population of Cuba, the Wannabee Indians of USA are looked down upon by the white people of USA, the Blacks of the Caribbean look down upon the newly found Indian identity among the blacks of the Caribbean, such as in Trinidad and Tobago.

Why do people descended from Spanish conquistadores and other European adventurers and their slaves want to claim an identity which they destroyed in Cuba and in many other countries ( Jamaica, Trinidad among them ). We have to look at it in the context of the globalization that is occurring and heralded by the rich countries.

Many Europeans have lived and worked among the Indigenous peoples of the America without stealing their cultural identity. Brazilian writer Moacyr Scliar and Peruvian writer Mario Vargas LLosas both have written novels based on the true stories of Europeans who have lived for long time with the Indians.

Pseudo Indians arose out of, to tabulate:

Lack of Spiritual Satisfaction with the everyday religious life prompted some clever Europeans to delve into the history of their countries and try to make connections to extinct tribes of their countries, in our case, Taino and Siboney

This arising out of an economical need, either for personal gain in the form of advancement of career or financial gain

These articulate men and women, fully aware of their intentions, hijacked the the history of the tribe and sold like parcels of land, like their invading ancestors had done, a picture of serene spirituality to hordes of people who are dissatisfied with their own cultural identity, the best examples being Mulatos from Puerto Rico who live in USA, marginalized by the majority society.

The so called leader of the Taino Community of Baracoa had publicly stated: Before I was a peasant but now I am an Indian, there is more money in it. He does not realize that he is being manipulated by the selfish interests of Cubans and Puerto Ricans who live in USA .

One of the ways to distinguish Indians who live their culture or have strong identification with “Indianness” is the universality of their thoughts. It is not particular, to that place or to that city or the region but universal. Two examples come to mind.

The so called leader of the Tainos in Baracoa, often says very standard pronouncements like mother is our earth and obvisouly coached by the Europeans who would like to hear such words reinforcing their feelings that all Indians are ecological. These false Indians do not have any universal concepts which most other Indians do posess. In fact one of the fundamental differences that I have noted between Indians and Non Indians is that: Indians have universal concepts while Non Indians have much geographical concepts. A simple example of this: I am an Australian because it is the country of my citizenship, but I never say I am a human being. Whereas most Indians wouldn’t say: I am an American or Canadian but would say their name all of which denote or refer to the fact that they are people.

You can maintain a local identity of a larger universal identity which is valid only in that country. The best example of this are the Jews of Jamaica. They claim themselves to be Jewish, attend synagogue, but follow no universal concepts of Judaism: kosher food, centrality of the state and people of Israel, kindred feelings towards other jews. Understanding of the jewish philosophy of life, community and religion. But rather jewishness in Jamaica denotes a social status within the society which is so stratified. Very little religious connotation in that many of the jews practice other religions as well, attend churches, get married in churches and even buried in church graveyards But the Non Jews accept them as jews in Jamaica and elsewhere. These jews have historic and genetic connections with the jews who came to Jamaica long before Blacks arrived.

How far does one goes to identify himself..

A good example is Afrikaner in South Africa


















This is not a TRANSFERABLE CULTURAL IDENTITY, cannot withstand geographical dislocation. A Puerto Rican Mulato claiming to be a Taino has no understanding of the universality of the Indian spirit. Indian Cultural Identity is not transferable, in this case, not only geographical transfer but also symbiotic transfer to other cultures, whether Black as in Puerto Rico or white as in Cuba.


Many educated so called “Indian” intellectuals claim that you can remain Indian even if you don’t look Indian, even if you don’t speak Indian, even if you don’t belong to a community of Indians ( many of these wannabee marry Indians to legitimize their position ).

These wannabees claim that just feeling INDIAN is enough.

Then are many of the aboriginal peoples around the world, who TECHNICALLY feel native or Indian,

Be classified as Indian

The fifty odd million Mexican Americans

Who look Indian

Who are descended from Indians

Who have many characteristics of Indians

Many of whom want to be Indian, usually tribes which are extinct.. caddo, karankawan etc

Are they to be considered Indian?

lundi 12 juillet 2010

In Miami you can always expect the unexpected

Senor Chef from Manila, We all love Pamela!

at the Jewish Cemetery in Penang, Malaysia

what all can happen when you go to dine out at Lan in south miami?
you can have a nice asian fusion meal cooked by the filipino chinese owner.. if you are lucky you can have Pamela from Peru attending to your needs...pouring you a nice sauvignon blanc from Marlborough district in New Zealand..tonight there were also two friends, a jewish lady from miami who had worked on NGO health projects in Asia and her visiting friend from Penang, Malaysia...with whom you share a few common friends..including the co founders of the Consumer Association of Penang...
and of course you can meet the australian jew whose friend Carlos is the Cuban ambassador to Malaysia..Cuba and Malaysia has had diplomatic relationships for 45 years and there are at least 15 malaysian students studying medicine in Cuba!
the remarkable Mr Idris....
the Cuban Embassy in Kuala Lumpur

vendredi 9 juillet 2010

A day of Travel Part 2 July 8, 2010 ZRH-MIA

A Day of Travel Part 2 July 8, 2010
12 55 pm Seat 4 D
A glass of champagne
7852 km to Miami (4879 miles). Incredible when you think, we will be transported in this steel tube across the skies and land in another continent.. wonderful indeed… the magic and mystery of aviation still enchant me..
Since I travel alone, there is always a chance of a request for seat change- the seat change is not always favourable since Frequent Fliers carefully have chosen their seats.. 4 D is in a private are with plenty of leg room.
A young woman crying her heart out, came and sat down, a young man came over to comfort her.. and I was afraid I would be asked to exchange the seats, but soon the sobbing lady left and an ungainly, overweight man with girlie magazines in his hand, sits down. Ah Well I have been cursed with this bad luck of always not having a pleasant person to share the seat with, Never had the pleasure of someone to talk to or exchange and learn.. The overweight Italian was not bothersome since he slept most of the flight…
How can I get rid of this Bad Star? Always always… I think it is more than chance or more than just my own prejudices I suppose. Perhaps, as my grand mother would say, you are so lucky most of the time that some thing bad has to happen to balance it.. I am extremely lucky while travelling in terms of lounges and upgrades and meals.. ah well..
10 hours flight time
1320 selecting the meal
Choose the same meal as one month ago! Created by Tanja Grandits, Resto Stucki, Basel
Baked Salmon with wasabi crumbles, wasabi sauce, saffron and lemon basmati rice, fennel sauerkraut
Sauvignan Blanc Buitenvervachting Constantia SA 2009 100 per cent Sauvignon Blanc, hints of passion fruit and pineapple
A lovely drop.. Enjoyed this wine very much.. with my meals..
Left gate at 1330. Took off at 1340
There are aerial views of the region we are flying over projected on to the screen. Neatly organized landscape, then again this is Switzerland! We will fly towards Paris, then across South England, south of Ireland and make land fall some where near NewFoundland the northern atlantic route and come down along the eastern coast.
Excellent Wine . with some olives 1415
Began watching
Looking for Eric
Ken Loach
I just jotted these lines as they rose in my head prompted by the movie.
Native people in redundant jobs in their own countries because the wealth has become global and not local anymore.
A post office worker who might have been looked up to soon after WWII in Uk, now is a skeleton in Society’s closet…working class is sinking..
With no place to go in this young universe of Yoga and meditation and OM!
Too harsh a life with little escape
Not only in Cambodia but in the UK, Brasil and the USA , and Australia as well
Lacking hope in the faces of people, as in France
Involutional Melancholia..
C’est la Vie..
High School Hop
Pre Beatles Pop Music..
Memories of all pleasantness lost in the crevices of mind
Balding men in thin pony tails with ill fitting tuxedos
Dates. Innocence broken
Vanilla marinated pike-perch
Spiced jus and sautéed melons
Sweetens up the soul while watching this bitter social commentary of the times from Ken Loach

Never change your football team…
Novios se pasan, los amigos son para siempre, we say that in Baracoa
The beauty and depth of every day lives
Ambitions never achieved and never even thought of
Be loyal to yourself. Be loyal to your personality
Where do they bury dead dreams?
Like Pablo the poet said; is there a cemetery for those wonderful unfulfilled kisses? Cementarios de los besos..
Where have all the PASSIONS gone? Melbourne? Havana?
Play safe, set the limits yourself
What was your sweetest moment? None? Many?
A moment of magical realism and then the harsh reality
Waiting for
Baked Salmon, wasabi, basmati rice
Sipping the sauvignon blanc from Constantia.. which was yet another dream the faded one of the cape peninsula, yet another time…
Things remain the same, it is we who change..
Postcards fade. But now they are from new places
No more Nouvelle Caledonie.. but it is from Santa Cruz de la Sierra..
People’s greatest ambition, just to be content
Not that artificial laugh of coca cola commercials
Not the words of someone else, but your own
Forget that music of your adolescence
Take on the world
We grow into our dreams of our childhood
Btu the dreams turn around.. only a skeletal shadow of theat seashore you dreamt about
I have lived my life, have drunk a fair bit of champagne and floated over the clouds
Without ever hearing anything about Eric Cantona…
But do know about Eric Hoffer and Edgar Moran
Bulgakov. Breyten Breytenbach…
Friendships is how I have lived my life
Relationships that strayed the borders of time
A cascade of insurmountable difficulties of every day life
Is this Favela of Rio, No Manchester, UK
At least in the Favela, they have the music..
They are in their own prison
Local, poor and dysfunctional
What goes awry, at what stage?
The dreams go astray
One mistake, you are off the line, into the abyss
What people lack is Relationship Friendship
Someone to share, raw feelings
It is a tragedy to live this life
You can say anything to your friends… if they are your friends
There are always tears.. because every day life is full of tears
Good Movie. Ken Loach. Eric Cantona. A Good Frenchman..

a day of Travel Part 1

A day of Travel
What all Happens in the course of a Day
8th July 2010
July, especially its first days, leading up to the Bastille Day, is a bad time for a traveler to Paris, France. The roads are busy and slow moving, flights are all full , airports busy and chaotic bursting at the seams and everyone on edge!
Today, the normal 30 minute bus ride from Paris Opera to CDG 1 took more than one hour.. There were many people with tight connections, so always give yourself plenty of time at CDG.
0950 flight to ZRH was delayed, mainly because the staff couldn’t handle the volume of check in , mainly because of the large number of bags each person was checking in! Imagine the Swiss, calm and collected at other times, now fretting and sweating under their collar!
I was put on the 0950 flight even though my flight was supposed to leave at 1105 am but the way things were at CDG 1 I would have missed my connecting flight to MIA
Swiss Air Bus A 321 Seat 1 D CDG-ZRH left at 1040 am a very short 45 minute flight. The Chief flight attendant makes the announcement in perfect German, English and French . take off at 1050 am.
The snack offered on this flight was not as good as another similar flight one month ago.. but the same Swiss professionalism.. the same courtesy.
First out of he plane at ZRH. Lots of people milling around, people spending time at terminals waiting for distant destinations. ZRH is a small airport and easy to handle but it is at different levels, which may confuse a first time visitor there. You can see who is going where since all the international passengers have shorter connections and they are all hurrying..
Elevators to E gates. If you take the stairs, you will arrive at a longer line for passport clearance..
German Passport Control Officer. So I say, Bon Jour and Merci Beaucoup. A frown in return. Then take the train, then an escalator. The train arrives in just a minute or so
Security check
Special line for Business Class., then yet another passport check for passengers leaving for the United States. On the other side of the check point, flights leaving for Chicago, Washington DC and Miami Very ordinary waiting area without any lounges or any facilities but the views of the mountains are stunning indeed..
Unfriendly staff, overworked .
When Germans are overworked and unfriendly, it shows in their face, as a frown.
I am amazed to see the number of Foreign workers, Africans, Arabs and Pakistanis and other undecipherable middle easterners.. As Kaddafi of Libya said.. We don’t have to wage a war to win Europe!
The boarding process was not very organized, but I was happy to board.. they boarded the infirm and infants before, which was rather nice a gesture..
Even though there were only two lines, people were in the wrong lines and wrong flights..
It is 12 55 pm.
I had left my home in Paris at 0725 am. And I am in Zurich sitting at seat 4D …
The sadness the saudade is now changing into the happiness of arrival in Miami.. I am so happy it is Miami that I travel to in the USA.. the liminality is softer in the place you know and love…
The French Orange SIM card works here, and at ZRH airport you can log on to Internet using Boingo
Moral: dont travel in and out of Paris, France July 1-July 14.. certainly July is when they begin their vacations but they also take vacations in August.. Remember in France people take 3 and 4 or more weeks of vacation.. all the workers get holidays and it is a big deal to go away .. go to their ancestral lands in case of many of the recent arrivals..
As you can see on the picture I arrived in front of the opera at 7 55 am and there was a bus going to CDG at 0900... Public Transportation in Paris is nothing short of Excellent!

mercredi 7 juillet 2010

LX 64 ZRH MIA AI 340-300 8 july 2010

Today waking up to a gorgeous morning here in Paris, I was overcome with the sweet sensation of SAUDADE..

That same sensation that I had known, even since I became a traveler… Even though I had gone on trips before I became a Traveller, I distinctly remember leaving London on a trip to the Far East, from which I am yet to return! Home bases have changed: London, Miami, Havana, Baracoa, Paris.. I toyed with the idea of staying a little in Yangon, Malacca, Siem Reap or Cochin… but the heart goes back to where the mind belongs..

I am not in search of anything, what I want I find in their usual congruous places, lucky to be associated with Native Americans, who has a good sense of what is False and what is True! Not a single day goes by that I am not in Cuba physically, emotionally or intellectually.. Visits to the North American Indians gives me a chance to transit through Miami, where I feel very much at home…A chance meeting in Siem Reap in Cambodia has given me a home in Seri Kembangan in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur… so the four directions in my life at the moment, geographically speaking are: France , Cuba, American Indians and Kuala Lumpur…

Then why this saudade?

What is Saudade? It is my favourite word, in any language..

Let me give you the definition given by others and then I will add my own…..


Significa en portugues un afecto interior; una ansia por ver la cosa amada, un pesar por no tenerla presente, y, en fin, en esta palabra estan comprendidas una fuerza de amor y otros conceptos que en ninguna otra lengua pueden expresarse

Antonio Sousa de Macedo Lisboa 1631

…sabe expresar con mucha mayor fuerza y energia la constancia del amor ausente…

João Baptista de Castro Lisboa 1752

Tom Jones by Tom Fielding (chapter 11 Para 4)

The remembrances of past pleasure affects us with a kind of tender grief like what we suffer for departed friends, and the ideas of both may be said to haunt our imagination..

Let me add mine:

It is that sensation of an impending loss of something, even before you had a chance to posses it..

I am leaving Paris tomorrow morning and LX 64 Air Bus 340-300 will bring me to Miami at 1730…I will be leaving the specific affections of Paris, sweet, tender and gentile and innocent and walking into the strong, binding affections of Miami.

So, dear friend 11 am French Time, I would be raising my flute of champagne, don’t tell me it is too early for a flute, but this time it would be a homage of the beauty of lives lived.. my four different lives…

I am an Anthropologist (visiting Professor at the University of Havana and a practicing applied anthropologist among American Indian tribes) and it was Turner who introduced the term after his work with Ndembu in Zambia (borrowed from the dutch anthropologist, rites des passages )… LIMINALITY.. You are neither there, nor here. All of tomorrow, I would be neither in Europe and nor in America but two arrows would tether my affections to both…

I find the concept of Liminality a very good one, to explain the confusion that people, young and old suffer, trying to figure out who they are…

I pay homage to my Mexican Indian friends.. who have no problems with their identity.. when they are in Mexico, they don’t become Mexicans and when they come to usa, they don’t become north American… they are Indian… they are so lucky…

Exactly one month from tomorrow, just about the same time , my flight would be descending into the Kuala Lumpur airport.. It has been a long six months away from Asia… my fourth direction of a home..

This morning when I received a note from Brasil, I felt such a soft feeling for that country.

I will reproduce here something I wrote sitting at a café in Quito in 2000 and follow it up with a poem by that greatest poet of 20th century, from Our America (Marti) and Our World, Pablo Neruda..


4 JUNIO 2000

It is such my friends

The end is always the same

Whatever had happened

The beauty, the magic,

Nothing matters-


What does saudade matter?

All that you could give each other

Only tore you apart--

A manha será outra dia…

What images pass through

This crystalline heart of mine

Fragrances that were forgotten

How could one not remember such knots of passion?

Where was that?

How could one not forget?

I have looked high and low for the poem by Pablo Neruda but cant find it, mainly because I cant remember its title, I thought it was Exile. In any case, the one important line that I remember from that poem was:

Una alma sin raices es un ainjusticia

A soul without roots is an injustice.

It is like a ship without anchor, goes where the wind blows until it finds its own harbour..

Wandering around the world is fine, but always remember who you are, your own identity, but not a constructed one.. and then you can reach your destination otherwise you will be just going in a direction that others want you to go…

samedi 3 juillet 2010

Alors, have to leave Paris earlier than I thought..

The Freedom one enjoys is the Freedom to choose but with it comes an Obligation to Serve..I was looking forward to a quiet time in Paris: cafes, writing (a book to be published in Cuba in 2010, Ojala!) and reading ( preparing for conferences and teaching ).. Alas.. emails are fast and immediate attention is required... A request to be somewhere else.. So, have to forget those langoustines at the brittany coast and off to Pita, Hummous and Kibbeh...
I am once again impressed with the courtesy the Airlines show when such situations rise and i saved a bundle by being excused of penalty charges to change my itinerary.. Flights to Cuba from France are heavily booked after 8th July and can expect that to continue until about 25th august..
Easy to fly to the Far East.. forget about getting a good fare to North America or South America..

I have a feeling this summer will fly past quickly.. Roti Canai in KL? A bamar meal at Anhwarata Road?