Formulaire de contact


E-mail *

Message *

dimanche 27 février 2011

Native Americans and Yoga: Symbolism East and West

Symbolism East and the West

Native Americans and Yoga

I have with me a book, since 2004, which I have not begun to read: Veda and Torah: Transcending the Textually of Scripture. The title and the weight of the tome are daunting. When I saw the book at my favourite book haunt in Bangalore, Premier Bookstore (alas, no more! I am told), the very title prompted me to buy it.

I am not a comparative analyst, nor am I particularly religious. I am very strongly bound to being Jewish and I don't share Messianic views proposed and believed in by the Oriental Jews.

These two traditions, Judaism and the Yoga remained quite distinct in my mind. Until February of 2010, I was totally ignorant of Yoga and its practice or its philosophy. It may have something to do with the aversion of Yoga being adopted so eagerly by the New Age followers in the USA.

In February 2010, a graduate and a teacher at Yoga Institute in Santa Cruz in Bombay came to KL and in four days, she talked and talked about the philosophy of Yoga and we did some basic asana. Two of the four of us in the audience were already converted to Yoga practice and the other person who was devoid of Yoga knowledge has since become an ardent practitioner of Yogic philosophy.

While listening to Miss VY expounding the yogic philosophy, I was surprised and content at the similarity between what she was saying and what I had heard from the Native American Elders. While the Sanskrit words she described were unknown to me, much of what she was saying was not foreign.

It is foolish to compare various philosophies and try to find affinities, which may create pseudoscientific pretensions. I was surprised to find that the San people of the Kalahari had very similar stories and legends about the Seven Sisters in the sky, but that does not mean that they are linguistically or racially related. It just meant the both groups have been around for millennia and had the chance to observe the skies with clarity and leisure.

So what is that a scholar finds so interesting to spend time in years and effort to write a book such as Veda and Torah?

Can my affinity for Native American way of thinking provide a clue?

Just this morning, I was reading the book, How to reverse Heart Disease the Yogic way. One page I came across initially was, Yoga and the Challenges of Marriage. I quote a sentence from the book, “True happiness comes only in making others happy; this is the inherent jewel of Yoga. Each partner has first to look to the happiness of his beloved and then to his own”

When I read this sentence it struck such a chord in my heart. I distinctly remember two of my friends from the Hocank and UmonHon Nations, telling me over and over again.

Sacrifice, Gratitude

The UmonHon said to me: if you wish to have a content relationship with another, however difficult it may be, it becomes easier, when you put the other person first.

The HoCank said to me: What you do for others, especially sacrificing for others, and then the Great Spirit hears your plea. Without that, nothing would work.

In her erudite analysis, which I will now have to read in full, Barbara Holdrege says: In the Brahmanical tradition and Kabbalistic/rabbinic tradition there are certain structural affinities in the symbol system of these scriptural traditions.

Being Jewish and having closed lived in and experienced affinity with North American native Indian traditions, I can see that Symbols are what has brought out the similarities in these great traditions, in my mind.

And I thought of what Lame Deer of Lakota had said:

"We Sioux spend a lot of time thinking about everyday things which in our minds are mixed up with the spiritual. We see in the world around us many symbols that teach us the meaning of life. We have a saying that the white man sees so little, he must see with only one eye. We see a lot that you no longer notice. You could notice if you wanted to, but you are usually too busy. We Indians live in a world of symbols and images where the spiritual and commonplace are one...We try to understand them not with the head but with the heart"
Lame Deer

He also had this to say about Sacrifice and Suffering:

The difference between the white man and us is this: You believe in the redeeming powers of suffering, if this suffering was done by somebody else, far away, two thousand years ago. We believe that it is up to every one of us to help each other, even through the pain of our bodies. ...We do not lay this burden onto our God, nor do we want to miss being face to face with the Spirit Power. ...We want no angel or saint to gain it for us and give it to us second-hand."

Lame Deer, Lakota

Written on a fine morning in Paris, France

Dedicated to my best friend in Asia, MC

Thinking of all who matter to me: M/L in Paris,

LL in Havana, MS of UmonHon, JS in Miami, SL of Kickapoo, MS in South Dakota, Brothers R and E, sisters R in SF and D in Yakama. Thanks VY in Bombay and JOSK in Al Aways. And NM in Tehran

CP in Baracoa….

vendredi 25 février 2011

Homeopathy/Natural Care for Chronic Rhinitis

Natural Remedies for Chronic Rhinitis, Sinusitis and Oro-pharyngitis

If you are one of the multitudes of sufferers, the Chinese are especially burdened with this, of Chronic Rhinitis, you can be sure of multiple visits to your GP.

You would come away with an array of western medications: an antihistamine, a nasal spray, a painkiller perhaps.

I have found in my discussions with General Practitioners as well as ENT specialists that around the world: Havana to Miami to KL, the treatment is more or less standardized.

Are there natural remedies against this chronic problem, which affect a sizeable part of the population?

Yesterday when I had an episode of severe Rhinitis: runny nose with copious secretions, sore throat with a burning sensation, pain over the sinuses, I began to treat myself with the Western Medications, in which I had been trained.

Sudafed Pseudoephedrine 60 mg three times

Pivalone nasal spray Toxicortol about three times as the nose was periodically more congested than the traffic in LA.

Ibuprofen 400 mg three times, to relieve pain.

I looked for Tiger Balm ointment but I couldn't find it in my medical bag!

This morning, after one whole day of western medical treatment, I decided that it is not alleviating the symptoms, as these medications are for getting rid of the symptoms.

What about natural remedies? Which I should have begun initially/ but in a hurry you want to use Western medicine, because in many cases the symptoms are relieved faster with them, at a price of course of side effects.

In France, medical practitioners freely prescribe Homeopathic medications and also suggest other natural remedies.

I have never been in favour of steroid based sprays for nose or ears or eyes.

I fondly thought of my sister friend, Dar, Director of Nursing at Yakama Nation who had given me a large syringe with a rubber tip during our trip together to Cambodia to give conferences to Cambodian Doctors.

Lukewarm water, made saline with salt and push it in one nostril and let it come out of the other one, till you feel the sensation of drowning, she had said jokingly.

In France you can buy these ready-made Neti Pots, which are the ancient Ayurvedic treatment. In France they come in spray cans filled with seawater with a nozzle to inject them into your nostril.

I began the day with a spray of seawater into each of the nostrils.

A doctor earlier had told of the combination of three homeopathic medications

Ipeca 15ch

Argentum nitric belladonna 15 ch

Coccus cactis 15 ch

Medical practitioners would recognize the first two names as part of the therapy for gastrointestinal problems but in other contexts.

To compare the effectiveness of the homeopathic/natural remedy I did not take any of the western medicines today.

Viola, within a few hours, my nose was completely clear and I repeated the treatment once at noon and once in the evening. The symptoms are gone.

Perhaps I will add a 1000 mg Vitamin C and my usual dosage of 1000 iu of Vitamin D.

Other things that are helpful are:

Not to sit close to the computer screen and if possible avoid computer screen for the day

Drink Tea, instead of Coffee. Today I have had Cardamom and also Spice Tea, which one could buy at the Quartier Tamoul in Paris.

I have to take my hat off or shall I say throw the wet handkerchief for the efficacy of Homeopathic/natural treatment!

mercredi 23 février 2011

It is a WONDERFUL WORLD if you care to search for it...

Man Asian Literary Prize to be announced on March 17

Kenzaburo Oe The Changeling Japan
Manu Joseph Serious Man Inde
Bie Feiyu 3 sisters chine
Tabish Khair The thing about Thugs Inde
Yoko Ogawa Hotel Iris Japan

Anthropological Comment:
Four out of the five finalists are from just two countries: Japan and Inde
Japan has a historic record of written literature, which was freely published. Two nobel prize winners in Literature Oe and Kawabata
India has a rich tradition of written literature ,but only in the last twenty years that open publishing has opened the doors for excellent new talents. India now is full to the brim with good writing in English: Ghosh Mishra Desai swarup tejpal
Just to name the few that comes to mind effortlessly, there are hundreds virtually hundreds of others.. Especially from the south, who won Booker a couple of years ago, Anita Nair who is a poet etc etc . The list is long.

Compare that to countries with manipulative governments, which try to impose ideology of some sort: Malaysia or singapour or Indonesie
All produce very poor quality literature
Just this morning, I received this note from a fellow professor traveling in South East Asia for six months
I missed the West whilst in Malaysia, because though people were friendly most lacked any competence or interest in performing their work roles, which made functionning there hard. I should also confess that I've gone from tolerating Muslim societies to avoiding them. Penang was becoming unbearable precisely because it has too much religion.

I shall write and confess my love for Malaysia but sometimes I wonder whether it is my proclivity to enjoy the company of MunChing that I am confusing with my malaysian experience and its positive impression upon me.

The results of the Berlin Film Festival you already know.
Asghar Farhadi and Peyman Moadi picked up prizes at Berlin
IRANIAN drama "Nader and Simin: A Separation" won the Golden Bear for best picture at the Berlin film festival on Saturday, while its ensemble cast also picked up the best actor and actress prizes on a triumphant night.

Director Asghar Farhadi's portrayal of a marriage in crisis was firm favorite for the coveted award, and its victory was the first for an Iranian picture, said organisers. In the movie, one family is pitted against another in a gripping legal tussle which highlights the gap between middle class "intellectuals" and poorer, traditional Iranians for whom religious beliefs and honor tend to be more important. It was praised for its subtle exploration of Iran's class divisions and religious conservatism, which it managed to combine with the tension of a crime thriller.
Asghar Fahradi's film won the best film but there were many other notables some of whom were recognized.
Alexander Mindadze Innocent Saturday Ukraine
Volker Sattel Under Control Germany
Alexander Zeldovich Target Russia
Khodorkovsky documentary from Russia about the Oil Tycoon who is falsely accused and imprisoned
Turin Horse Bela Tarr Hungarian Master of Miserabilism (other films include Sotantango) this film was also recognized at this festival
Asghar Farhadi is one of the well known Iranian film makers the only other film I know from him is About Elly
Ulrich Kohler Sleeping Sickness Germany I think this film was also recognized at the festival. This is much more anthropological a work, with a white doctors love for africa and a french doctor of african origin who comes to africa and his discomfort at the urban ness of self and the rural and ritual nature of african lives.. A theme much like some movies about Indians from USA coming to India to look for roots such as Namesake but in this movie there is a conflict between the White doctor who loves being in Africa and the french doctor of african origin full of french values..
There was also another movie presented called Drileiben a triology..

Other movies True Grit by coen brothers The Prize from Argentina The terrorists from Thailand about the Green/Red Shirt protests of last year Margin Call about Wall St /USA

As I am extremely partial to Japanese movies I am watching Confessions, which is also an Oscar contender I think.

Add to that Norman Lewis' extremely readable travel books, I have just finished re reading his travels in Burma, done more than fifty years ago! still reverberates with the vibrancy of a new found love...

Life is abundant, go out and look for it, and you will find it..
The drama is folding in the Arab World... at no time are the words of that great student of Arab History rung true...
you can read my comments on an article by Bernard Lewis at

the above note dedicated to the love and affection shown to me by MC in KL and NM in Tehran.

mardi 22 février 2011



The recently released information on Obesity rates in America and also the rest of the world, serve the troubadours of the tragedy, who herald a worse disaster to come.

Conveniently, these writers who generally have no contact with the patients or society they are studying, prognosticate these disasters based on their calculations of what is to come?

What was before? How did it get here? They would dismiss it all by saying: Life Style Changes and Socio Economic Factors or Eat more fruits and vegetables and Exercise more..

Just yesterday I read in the Jamaica Gleaner (February 21, 2011) newspaper, a comment by a visiting doctor to Ocho Rios:

Said Dr C: "Potatoes, yam, rice, and bread are sources of starch, which can cause sugar in the blood, and there seems to be a high concentration of those foods among Jamaicans. They need to eat more fruits and vegetables."

Someone ought to tell this visiting doctor from the sterile Midwestern part of the USA that the Jamaicans have always been eating these, but the Diabetes is a recent phenomenon among them.

You can be sure that the person who uses these catch phrases are usually trained in Statistics or some other very quantitative Branch, including specialties in Medicine which deal with only one organ such as the Eye and it is extremely rare to meet one of these researchers who is educated in Social Sciences such as Psychology, Sociology and especially Anthropology.

If you ask these mavens, what does socioeconomic factors mean, they would shuffle their papers and come up with a graph: Job and Income, or the all encompassing term, Poverty. Of course, allele deletions in Genetic material would crop up as a cause of Obesity, the Scientists who have studied the Pima Indians have been trying for more than 25 years to find a genetic cause of the obesity, but their output of papers on social and environmental factors that cause obesity among the Pima can be counted in one hand among the thousands of their quantitative output.

The same applies to Life Style. Because these clichés often excuse the researcher in their virtual world or the doctors and nurses confronting patients. When asked for an explanation of their tragic predictions, they can hide behind these words, which most of them cannot explain in a legitimate and legible fashion.

At a time when only Native Americans had high prevalence of obesity and Diabetes, it was blamed on the Tribal Life Style; when the entire nation now has a problem with obesity and Diabetes, now it is blamed on the National Life style. India has become the capital of World Diabetes, and it is blamed on Life Style changes since Economic reform of 20 years ago.

25 per cent of the new onset Cardiac Diseases including Myocardial Infarction occurs in people under the age of 40 in India. Indians with Heart Disease, may be vegetarian, walk a lot during the day and may have less cholesterol circulating in their blood and may be free of Diabetes.

These are the characteristic of Life Style changes the doctors advocate in the west, so what advice can we give the Hindou vegetarian active thin patient of 40 with his first heart attack? Eat Better? More Exercise? The most commonly used mathematical equation of Life Style Changes used by doctors and nurse educators in the west. Is this mantra: eat better and exercise more…

The words, Life style changes, also continues the old tradition of accusing the sufferer.

The term I would like to introduce is Quality of Life.

My Lifestyle did not change: Travel, Eating Out, Socializing with friends, attending lectures to give some examples, when I transiently move from Miami to Havana, but the quality of my life is certainly improves; this is also the case when I am in Kuala Lumpur.

This thought came to me, while I was sitting in a café, sipping a glass of wine, reading or shall I say re reading the excellent travelogue by the best travel writer in the English language, Norman Lewis. I was enjoying the spring like weather on this early February afternoon in Paris, near Chatelet.

Now I have to talk about this concept with my friends and colleagues, so the first person I wrote to was JK, an American teacher currently working abroad who is very keen on Yoga and its effects upon the body.

Her response arrived quickly and I quote her:

That's interesting, the difference in connotation between Quality of Life and Lifestyle. How do we define each term depends on the culture from which we come... How we prioritize these ideas in our overall habits is yet another topic ...

From the perspective of a patient, I think "Ways to Improve Quality of Life" sounds more appealing (beneficial, easy) than "Changing Your Lifestyle" or "Lifestyle Tips". It's less daunting and it appeals to a sense of easy betterment.

So here is one Explanatory Model. We must do what the patient wants and is able to do, to better their lives, not preach to them what we as health care providers think is necessary.

To be continued.

PS: i had written the above a week ago and today in the mail, I received this protocol for improving quality of life of patients with Diabetes from a group of psychologists in Netherlands with the hope that psychological intervention would improve diabetes care.

Step in the right direction I would say! added on 28th february 2011

Testing the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based intervention to reduce emotional distress in outpatients with diabetes (DiaMind): design of a randomized controlled trial

Jenny van Son email, Ivan Nyklicek email, Victor JM Pop email and Francois Pouwer email

BMC Public Health 2011, 11:131doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-131

Published: 24 February 2011

Abstract (provisional)


Approximately 20-40% of outpatients with diabetes experience elevated levels of emotional distress, varying from disease-specific distress to general symptoms of anxiety and depression. The patient's emotional well-being is related to other unfavourable outcomes, like reduced quality of life, sub-optimal self-care, impaired glycemic control, higher risk of complications, and increased mortality rates. The purpose of this study is to test the effectiveness of a new diabetes-specific, mindfulness-based psychological intervention. First, with regard to reducing emotional distress; second, with respect to improving quality of life, dispositional mindfulness, and self-esteem of patients with diabetes; third, with regard to self-care and clinical outcomes; finally, a potential effect modification by clinical and personality characteristics will be explored.


The Diabetes and Mindfulness study (DiaMind) is a randomized controlled trial. Patients with diabetes with low levels of emotional well-being will be recruited from outpatient diabetes clinics. Eligible patients will be randomized to an intervention group or a wait-list control group. The intervention group will receive the mindfulness program immediately, while the control group will receive the program eight months later. The primary outcome is emotional distress (anxiety, stress, depressive symptoms), for which data will be collected at baseline, four weeks, post intervention, and after six months follow-up. In addition, self-report data will be collected on quality of life, dispositional mindfulness, self-esteem, self-care, and personality, while complications and glycemic control will be assessed from medical files and blood pressure will be measured. Group differences will be analysed with repeated measures analysis of covariance. The study is supported by grants from the Dutch Diabetes Research Foundation and Tilburg University and has been approved by a medical ethics committee.


It is hypothesized that emotional well-being, quality of life, dispositional mindfulness, self-esteem, self-care, and blood pressure will improve significantly more in the mindfulness group compared to the control group. Results of this study can contribute to a better care for patients with diabetes with lowered levels of emotional well-being. It is expected that the first results will become available in 2012. Trial registration: Dutch Trial Register NTR2145.

NB regarding Jamaica, I found this article from 1958 from the Medical Research Institute's Metabolism Research Centre at the University of the West Indies in Kingston..."fed on a low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet
designed to simulate that eaten by poor people in Jamaica."

lundi 14 février 2011


Culture of Geography of Birth?

I was told of a forthcoming wedding in Paris. A Mali born French Nanny in her early thirties with a 12 year old daughter will marry some one from Mali, non citizen of France. Nothing extraordinary so far. But two professional photographers, one videographer and two separate wedding dresses! And the trousseau of course..

This made me think of the Culture of the Geography of Birth.

In the western countries, about 30 per cent of the population live under the poverty line, which is not calculated as a definite sum of income but as 60 % percentage of the median income. Median is not average, but it signifies that 50 % of the population earn less than the median income. Roughly 2/3 of the people who earn less than what is considered an average salary is leading a “poor” life. Whether a culture of poverty goes along with it, that is debatable, since Culture of Poverty has more than just monetary characteristics.

This lady would certainly fall into the “poor” category livig in a city where a cup of coffee costs $3 usd, you would be hard put to find anything cheaper. In a city which prides itself on its cuisine, the ingredients are way more expensive for many of the working class. All things “French” are expensive, we mean this term French as a cultural term, it is expensive by any standards, such as books, DVD, concerts, dining out, movies, necessary objects to look good, etc.

In France, the culture of Diversity is being banned or slowly being controlled but that creates a poverty of culture as well! The French government subsidizes the rent of this Malian immigrant, now a French citizen, to the tune of 400 Euros a month for rent, plus provides excellent schooling for her child and offers excellent health care for both.

The last wedding I attended in Miami had some similarity to this upcoming wedding.

The bride and the groom arrived in a long stretch limousine, the bride resplendent in a spotless white dress. The bridesmaids and the children in the wedding party were all dressed lavishly. The reception was held at the Common Room of a collective community in Kendall, a very nearly white suburb. From the ample reception hall one could overlook the swimming pool.

The bride and the groom were both Black; the groom, 67 years old was a US citizen and unemployed, the bride was 65 years old, a citizen of Jamaica, employed as a maid..apart from the opulence of the occasion, to record all that in history, there were photographers, videographers and a live DJ,flowers, champagne..

There are many parallels between these two stories



Economical including Immigration Status

And of course,

The culture of Geography of Birth.

I am not sure it is Africa they have in common, but the circumstances surrounding the Africans and their diaspora is moulded by the events of the past five hundred years, when the Europeans saw fit to “discover” them…

Would an Australian, a manual Labourer by trade, marry his sweetheart, with or without a visa, and undertake such an elaborate but still, gaudy ritual?

Is there a need to reaffirm some form of identity?

Are they doing it because they are from Mali or Jamaica, both very poor countries, now displaced and living in Metropolitan cities, eking out an existence.

A signature of arrival? A conclusion of a childhood dream?

Of is it part of a built in imagination, caused by poverty and lack of education or at least not being able to be modified by wealth or education?

I am told by a society photographer friend of mine in Miami that Indian migrants to the USA, despite being professionals or businessmen, spend lots of money on elaborate set ups. Here also we see the culture of Geography of Birth..

I attended a Chinese wedding in KL in Malaysia , it certainly was not a fashion show, there were guests there in street clothes, of course the bride and groom were the best dressed. The emphasis of the occasion was on food and money. Multiple courses of food followed one another and limitless alcohol, being drunk by people not used to drinking, such that almost everyone including the bride and groom were drunk at the end of many hours of shouting and drinking. The bride and groom it looked like were players in a set stage whose only aim was to collect as much money from the guests as possible, strangely enough these intentions were not subtle. I also noticed that at that wedding reception, with an ageing chinese band playing strict chinese music, there were two to three hundred guests present and I was the only non chinese.. Multiculturalism is not in the worldview of the Malaysian Chinese.

Monsoon Wedding is a lovely movie made by Mira Nair from India, it is worth recalling its memory in this context. Also that eternal love story as retold in The Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabo..

A woman who is born in a poor city has less chance of attaining 60 years of age, be free of cancer or heart disease or Diabetes.

Don't you think this culture of geography of Birth has an effect upon their collective consciousness?

dimanche 13 février 2011


Malaysia warns Muslims of Valentine's Day 'trap'

Description: omen shout slogans for the anti-Valentine's Day Campaign, near Kuala Lumpur on 11 February 2011Muslims make up nearly two-thirds of Malaysia's 28 million population

Malaysia stepped up a campaign to stop Muslims celebrating Valentine's Day - labelling it a "trap" that could encourage immoral behaviour.

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said Monday's celebration of romantic love was "not suitable" for Muslims.

Several Malaysian states are planning to carry out checks on hotels to stop young couples having premarital sex.

The anti-Valentine's Day campaign by the country's Islamic authorities goes back to a fatwa issued in 2005.

Valentine's Day is synonymous with vice activities”

End Quote Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz Department of Islamic Development

Leaflets have been distributed to Muslim university students urging them to avoid Monday's celebration.

The government-run Department of Islamic Development, which handles religious policies, has launched a publicity campaign called "Mind the Valentine's Day Trap".

Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz, the department's chief, told state media: "In reality, as well as historically, the celebration of Valentine's Day is synonymous with vice activities.

"Islam would reject anything, even from the Eastern culture, if it contravenes the Islamic teachings."

He said Islam had never rejected positive things from the West, noting that it had embraced Mother's and Father's Day.

But not all Malaysian Muslims agree with the campaign, with some saying Valentine's Day is harmless.

Other faiths are not affected by the boycott in a country where Muslims make up nearly two-thirds of the 28 million population.

Malaysia is a favoured country of mine. The ruling class is not very innovative. And it is the only country where the ruling class is on Welfare or Governmental Benefits, with money put into its coffers by the hardworking Chinese, who are a group of “tolerated foreigners”!

Malaysia is a lovely country and the people are very nice. The Chinese go about making money and they are happy as they do well. The Indians are okay but would leave for Australia or USA if given the chance, as they neither have the privileges of the Malay nor the entrepreneurial spirit of the Chinese. But there have been exceptional Indians: such as Tony Fernandes of Air Asia and the owner of Astro Entertainment.

It is a harmonious society with very little racial hatred expressed publicly, but the races do not mix very well. In fact it is rare to see a gathering of all races at one place, other than the Malls but the private space is very segregated, not by law but by the choice of the people.

I am in Miami as I am writing this and I am looking forward to my next visit to Malaysia in the next few months when my best friend MC returns from India after months of Yoga Therapy Teacher Training.

This morning someone sent me an excerpt from Winston Churchill, something he had penned as a journalist in 1899, more than a hundred years ago.

My father of good memory used to say: Churchill was the last of the giants of men. I have read his biography (ies) and it is truly inspiring.

Here is the speech of Winston Churchill given in 1899

This is amazing. And even more amazing is that this hasn't been published long before now.


"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries, improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.

A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement, the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it.

No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome."

Sir Winston Churchill; (Source: The River War, first edition, Vol. II, pages 248-50 London)

Today in discourse with an Iranian friend of mine in Tehran, after we talked about

Deconstruction of Jacques Derrida, about Ontology, about Quality and Quantity in thinking

She said: it is sad for me to think that a western educated woman would know more about the world and its wisdom than me.

That is when I thought about writing this blog.

As the wind of Arab Fever is marching through the Meditarranean, the autocratic rulers must give the educated and the general population, the air to breathe, the chance to decide for themselves the morality and wisdom of the ages, to choose what they want to believe in.

In Anthropology, as Dr. Cecil Helman told me once in a discussion: this de tribalization. At that time we were discussing about the sadness of a friend of mine, who had traveled with me from Havana. She had grown up so steeped in the propaganda of the socialist state that when she saw the reality of England, in which an average person had dignity and was rewarded for labour without having to follow strictly any rigid ideology. I remember her words clearly: Here in London, even a street sweeper can expect to live comfortably, and it is a lie what we were told that the life back home is the best in the world.

I felt guilty that detribalizing a person without accompanying rituals marks that person emotionally. They were comfortable where they were and all of a sudden they are exposed to something, which they did not realize, existed as an alternative. They may enter a long period of Liminality: neither here nor there…

Malaysian Moslems need less fraternizing and more freedom to express their personal choices.

Happy Valentines Day to all my friends in Malaysia.

vendredi 11 février 2011

Adieu Mon Professeur Dr Joel Glaser

The Funeral of Dr. Joel Glaser

From the moment I arrived at the Funeral Home, until I left, I couldn't control my tears. They came out effortlessly.

My sister’s husband had come with me that proved to be a great strength. A good friend of mine, an artist, LR, was there and her presence was very soothing.

When I saw the incomparable Dr. Schatz enter the room with the family entourage, the tears gushed forth. I felt so sad for him, his friend, constant companion professionally of 40 years is no more. One could never think of Glaser without thinking of Schatz. May the Spirits protect you, Schatz…

I tried to figure out the incessant flow of tears. From a personal point of view, it is a closure of a book for me: student days to my present life as an International Medicine/Anthropology consultant. But there was something more than that.

All of yesterday, I was sitting and either talking or chatting on line with people whose very presence brought comfort.

When I had sent my note on Joel Glaser to several of our common friends, those friends who mean something to me replied immediately, offering comfort. They were concerned about my sadness. That action has brought me closer to them. When my sister Jackie called from CI, I couldn't stop crying.

This is the third loss of scholars for me: Irina first and then my teacher and friend Dr. Cecil Helman in England and now Joel Glaser.

And those whom I hold dear in my heart, when I saw them on line or in person, the uncontrollable sorrow affirmed the love I have for them, reminded me of the love shown to me and continued to be shown to me by so many people

It is as if our dear friend Joel was saying to me:

Hold on to the love you have for these people, and it is a force that brings a balance into your life. You don't love them any more because I am leaving; you have always loved them, like I have loved them.

So today my gratitude list include my loves in Miami,

My sister and her husband, Dr. S, LR. My Kickapoo sister, Mena

The usual culprits in Paris. Tehran and KL

It is so good to feel this love: given and taken with innocence and no expectation.

A Colombian writer, was it Alvaro Mutis, who had written

When a friend passes away, he just does not die, until all the people who knew him have also died. So as long as we devoted family and friends of Joel are alive, he is alive in our memory. He is alive. He has left us enough to satisfy our penchant for his presence.

American Indians have a very different view of death than the Non Indians.

OmPaTonga or Big Elk of the Omaha was a powerful orator and his funeral oration at the burial of a Lakota Chief in 1813 is well known:

Do not grieve. Misfortunes will happen to the best and wisest of men. Death will come and it always comes out of season, that is the rule of the Great Spirit, and all nations and people must obey….

Misfortunes do not flourish particularly in our path they grow everywhere. What a misfortune for me that I could not have died this day, instead of the Chief that lays before us…..

When I wrote about Joel’s death to my Mexican Kickapoo Indian sister (in the Indian kinship system), Mena wrote back to say this: (I reproduce it as she wrote: Kickapoo is her first language, Spanish is second and English is a third one)

My Brother Sudah
I don't know if i ever tell you this first of all i am really sorry
about your professor but remember that he is gone physically but not
spirits he will be always we you in your heart and he will be with you
spiritually you can even talk to him spirits always send us a massage
some how i don't know how but it help us in way that we know that they
are with us just remember that.

I know that there is no words to help you heal the pain of loosing
some one very special in your life. all i can say is that he will be
with you and am sure that he don't what you to be sad remember him as
it was in person.

Dear Friend and Counselor Joel, your loss would have been unbearable if I did not have such love from so many close quarters, spread around the world..

Bon Voyage, mon professeur..

jeudi 10 février 2011

Loss of Dr Joel Glaser: Adios Mi Gran Amigo

Death of Dr. Joel Stephen Glaser

Loss of a Book that educated you

Dr. Glaser, with his late wife Irena, had been part of every step of my life in Miami. I came here as a graduate student, then as a medical student and later to study Endocrinology, the years happily spent at the Jackson Memorial Hospital. By then Dr. Glaser was already an internationally recognized expert in Neuro-Opthalmology. With his inseparable friend, Dr. Norman Schatz, also another authority on diseases of the Eye/Nerve, we had shared such good times. We had gone together to the north coast of Jamaica, to the beaches of Cayman Islands. But most importantly I would remember Joel and Irena for being an integral part of my Jewish life in Miami. For years, regardless of where I was living at that time, I tried to be at their home for Pesach and whenever I was in Miami, the Friday nights were spent at their home.

They had seen me become, a Jewish boy from Melbourne, Australia grow up to become a Doctor and then an Endocrinologist, shared in my love of travels and shared some memorable occasions including the Hurricane Gilbert in Kingston Jamaica!

What is the lesson you leave me, my dear friend and teacher, Joel?

Apart from your never-ending curiosity about the world? Your knowledge, your critical eyes of looking at the social situations? Your warm friendship and never ending discussions during Pesach. So many things you and Irena gave me… I feel a direct message from you.

First of all dear friend, happy rendez vous with Irena!

I work with one of the most pure thinking groups in this world, the Native Americans.

You have to be where you need to be, said one of them. My visits to Miami during my sister’s sickness always coincided with un anticipated need for my presence.

Day before yesterday I was supposed to leave Paris to go to Bangalore and then on to Cochin, KL and Rangoon. But for weeks I did not feel comfortable with it. And just a few days before, I decided to come to Miami.

I arrived here the night before, Joel passed away peacefully last night. I am so glad to have been breathing the same air, dear friend, as you begin another journey. It is us, Schatz and your three children and your countless friends who have to be pitied for continuing our lives with such a tremendous loss.

Perhaps there is a reason for my trip to Miami, especially undertaken knowing that my sister wouldn't be here, as she is in Cayman Islands. She is usually the only reason for me to come to Miami these days. I do believe what the Indians have taught me, I needed to be here. Yesterday thinking about the reasons to come to Miami, I had these thoughts, written more or less at the time of this eternal Adieu!

Last night at around 8 pm, I wrote this:

Yesterday while flying I thought to myself, by living in Paris, I have forgotten something so fundamentally important to my personal way of thinking. To enjoy the minute pleasures of every day. Perhaps that is the reason for this trip to Miami. Nothing happens without a reason.
I enjoyed meditating this morning, saying thanks to the people who came into my mind, good friends in Tehran and Kuala Lumpur. I let my thoughts invite those who wanted to come and it was curious that people who should be very close to me, such as the real family did not appear in my gratitude list this morning. As we grow older, a friend wrote recently, chosen friends become closer to you than your chosen family.
What do I mean enjoying minute pleasures of every day?
Enjoy having a bath, taking my time, enjoying the soap and the hot water, taking my time to shave and also to clean my teeth. I don’t want to rush through these mundane acts of every day. A friend who is staying in this house of my sister offered to make some Jamaican coffee, which I savoured so fully... the breakfast was against bacalhao with onion and green platanos. Every thing tasted divine, tastier than yesterday.
To be in balance, you have to find time to enjoy these activities

I am certain; this also was a lesson I had learned from Irena and Joel Glaser.


Flight of Fleas and Medical Doctors.. is there a Connection?

Fleas can jump two hundred times the length of their own bodies, which is roughly about thirteen inches. If a grown man could jump 200 times the length of their own bodies, they could jump about 900 feet!

Thirteen inches works out to be about 33 cm. let us say 35 cm.

Why is a doctor interested in this spectacular feat of a Flea?

Go back a few years, this medical student from Australia assigned to the Cardiology team at Brompton Hospital in London, listening carefully to the Consultant Cardiologist. Among the many things, he learned, was that one has to be able to guess correctly within a point the Hemoglobin level, i.e. whether the patient is anemic or not. The secondly, one of the conferences at the hospital, famous for its wit, forced subdued nature and erudite professors hard of hearing (Dr Simon, the radiologist was a show in himself!), I listened an argument for the ideal length for the tubing of a Stethoscope.

History of Stethoscope (From Wikipedia)

The stethoscope was invented in France in 1816 by René Laennec at the Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital in Paris.[1] It consisted of a wooden tube and was monaural. His device was similar to the common ear trumpet, a historical form of hearing aid; indeed, his invention was almost indistinguishable in structure and function from the trumpet, which was commonly called a "microphone". In 1851, Arthur Leared invented a binaural stethoscope, and in 1852 George Cammann perfected the design of the instrument for commercial production, which has become the standard ever since. Cammann also authored a major treatise on diagnosis by auscultation, which the refined binaural stethoscope made possible. By 1873, there were descriptions of a differential stethoscope that could connect to slightly different locations to create a slight stereo effect, though this did not become a standard tool in clinical practice.

Rappaport and Sprague designed a new stethoscope in the 1940s, which became the standard by which other stethoscopes are measured, consisting of two sides, one of which is used for the respiratory system; the other is used for the cardiovascular system. The Rappaport-Sprague was later made by Hewlett-Packard. HP's medical products division was spun off as part of Agilent Technologies, Inc., where it became Agilent Healthcare. Agilent Healthcare was purchased by Philips which became Philips Medical Systems, before the walnut-boxed, $300, original Rappaport-Sprague stethoscope was finally abandoned ca. 2004, along with Philips' brand (manufactured by Andromed, of Montreal, Canada) electronic stethoscope model. The Rappaport-Sprague model stethoscope was heavy and short (18–24 in (46–61 cm)) with an antiquated appearance recognizable by their two large independent latex rubber tubes connecting an exposed-leaf-spring-joined-pair of opposing "f"-shaped chrome-plated brass binaural ear tubes with a dual-head chest piece.

Several other minor refinements were made to stethoscopes, until in the early 1960s Dr. David Littmann, a Harvard Medical School professor, created a new stethoscope that was lighter than previous models and had improved acoustics.[2] In the late 1970s, 3M-Littmann introduced the tunable diaphragm: a very hard (G-10) glass-epoxy resin diaphragm member with an over molded silicone flexible acoustic surround which permitted increased excursion of the diaphragm member in a "z"-axis with respect to the plane of the sound collecting area. The left shift to a lower resonant frequency increases the volume of some low frequency sounds due to the longer waves propagated by the increased excursion of the hard diaphragm member suspended in the concentric acoustic surround. Conversely, restricting excursion of the diaphragm by pressing the stethoscope diaphragm surface firmly against the anatomical area overlying the physiological sounds of interest, the acoustic surround could also be used to dampen excursion of the diaphragm in response to "z"-axis pressure against a concentric fret. This raises the frequency bias by shortening the wavelength to auscultate a higher range of physiological sounds. 3-M Littmann is also credited with a collapsible mold frame for sludge molding a single column bifurcating stethoscope tube[3][dead link] with an internal septum dividing the single column stethoscope tube into discrete left and right binaural channels (AKA "cardiology tubing"; including a covered, or internal leaf spring-binaural ear tube connector).

In 1999, Richard Deslauriers patented the first external noise-reducing stethoscope, the DRG Puretone. It featured two parallel lumens containing two steel coils, which dissipated infiltrating noise as inaudible heat energy. The steel coil "insulation" added .30 lb. to each stethoscope. In 2005, TRIMLINE Medical Products acquired DRG’s diagnostics division.[4]

As you can see from the photograph, I have my own version of the Noise Reduction technology: the ancient form of beading, this one done by a member of the Hocank Tribe of Indians of Nebraska!

(For lovers of History of Medicine, what other Medical phenomena are associated with the illustrious dr Laennec associated with?)

I still treasure the headpiece of my first ever stethoscope, which was a Sprague Rappaport Original. Nowadays you can find Chinese knockouts of the SR model but you can tell their fake origins by the long tubes, much longer than the flight of a flea!

Cambridge University scientists have solved the mystery of how fleas jump so far and so fast.

It was known that the energy to catapult a flea over a distance up to 200 times its body length lay in a spring-like structure in its body.

But scientists did not understand how they transferred this energy to the ground in order to jump.

High-speed footage now reveals that the secret lies in the way fleas use their hind legs as multi-jointed levers.

This "lever-effect" allows fleas to drive their feet onto the ground, and the sudden release of the "coiled spring" hurls the insect forwards and upwards, scientists report in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Jumping controversy

Half a century ago two groups of researchers first discovered that the energy for the insects' jumping ability was contained in an internal spring, rather than in the fleas' miniature muscles.

Spines on the back of the flea's hind leg grip the ground for "take-off"

Thus the Cambridge University scientists have added to the ontology of our medical knowledge! Thank you… I am grateful.

This piece is dedicated to two future Jewish professionals, whose name in Hebrew mean:

1. Requested of God 2. Delicate

jeudi 3 février 2011

Racism against SAN Bushmen in Southern Africa

when we think of racism and oppression, the picture that comes to our mind is the one meted out by Europeans or those of european ancestry against the native people of the land or immigrants. Very seldom we hear of the injustices committed against the natives of Southern Africa.. The San or they used to be referred as Bushmen. Those of us who have visited the San, in my case I have visited their country in Namibia four times, it is so obvious how the local African population, whether Herrero, Ovango or Kavango treat the San.. so it was nice to read this triumph of the San over the Botswana government regarding the rights to their water..

A friend of mine Professor Hichcock has been involved in the land rights of the Botswana San for many years and I am sure he would be happy with the news.
thank you, blogger Jenny for posting this good news...

Au Botswana, les Bushmen du Kalahari obtiennent le droit à l'eau

Victoire des Bushmen lors du procès de 2006 / Survival

Le 21 juillet 2010, la Haute cour du Botswana refusait aux Bushmen le droit d'accéder à l'unique point d'eau situé sur leur réserve, scellé par les autorités depuis 2002. Jeudi 27 janvier, la Cour d'appel botswanaise a rejeté ce verdict, estimant que l'attitude du gouvernement à l'égard des Bushmen équivalait à un « traitement dégradant » contraire à la Constitution.

Une « déchirante histoire de souffrance et de désespoir »

Les Bushmen ont désormais le droit d'utiliser leur ancien puits et d'en forer de nouveaux. Le gouvernement botswanais, quant à lui, est redevable des frais du procès en appel engagé par les Bushmen. Tel est le verdict final de la Cour d'appel.

A l'annonce de cette décision, un porte-parole bushman a déclaré :

« Nous sommes très heureux que nos droits soient enfin reconnus. Cela fait si longtemps que nous attendons ce moment. Comme tout être humain, nous avons besoin d'eau pour vivre. Nous avons aussi besoin de notre terre. Nous prions pour que le gouvernement nous traite désormais avec le respect qu'il nous doit. »

Depuis leur expulsion en 2002, et malgré un premier procès gagné en 2006, les Bushmen ne pouvaient jusqu'à présent accéder à l'unique point d'eau situé sur leur territoire et se voyaient obligés de parcourir 480 km aller-retour pour s'approvisionner en eau.

Face à cette injustice, ils avaient intenté un second procès au gouvernement, procès qui s'était soldé par un échec en première instance. En rendant son verdict en faveur du gouvernement, le juge Walia qui présidait alors l'audience avait affirmé : « Si les Bushmen vivent dans l'inconfort, ils ne peuvent s'en prendre qu'à eux-mêmes. » Un verdict désormais inacceptable pour la Cour d'appel.

Une terre touristique et riche en diamants

Pour Sophie Baillon, porte-parole de Survival International, rien n'est encore joué, mais « nous espérons désormais que le gouvernement respectera ce verdict et qu'il autorisera les Bushmen à rouvrir leur puits ».

Or, si le gouvernement essaie par tous les moyens d'empêcher les Bushmen de vivre sur ce territoire, en condamnant leur puits d'eau et en interdisant la chasse alimentaire dans la réserve, c'est parce que celui-ci peut lui être profitable.

En effet, après l'implantation d'un lodge touristique, les autorités du pays viennent de donner l'autorisation à la compagnie Gem Diamonds d'exploiter un gisement de diamants d'un potentiel de 3 milliards de dollars.

Et bien que la compagnie affirme que les Bushmen sont favorables à la mine, ces derniers estiment n'avoir reçu aucune information indépendante sur les impacts potentiels d'une telle exploitation.

mercredi 2 février 2011

Happy New Year 3.2.2011 to Mexican Kickapoo.. also to Chinese and Vietnamese

Today in 2 February 2011 and I am far removed from the Asian Continent but it was good to receive emails from countries with sizeable Chinese populations and also from Vietnam and the Vietnamese abroad about the celebrations that have been taking place and will continue to take place to bring in the New Year of the Rabbit.

Happy New Year to All of you, my Chinese and Vietnamese Friends

What was surprising was a telephone message from my Kickapoo sister who said, I am off to our ancestral village in Mexico to celebrate the New Year. No they have not taken to celebrating the Chinese or Vietnamese New Year but are keeping their tradition of their New Year, which is a very important occasion for them.

In fact all members of the tribe, regardless of where they are working, would converge into their ancestral properties in Mexico at the shadow of the Sierra Madre Oriental.

But the welcoming of the New Year for the Kickapoo is lined with rules and regulations and responsibilities and begins long before the February or late January Date.

The roofing of their winter homes, an arduous task given to the women, had been completed and let their palms heal of their wounds of cattails reeds.

They still maintain their oral traditions and how do they know it is time for the New Year. They follow very strict rules passed on from generation to generation.

Flowering of the Black Cherry (Prunus Serotina)

Observe the constellation Pleiades. (Not so strangely enough many other tribes including the San in the Kalahari observe Pleiades). When it approaches the zenith at sunset, then the New Year is Imminent

The selected ones spend the night watching for lightning from the four directions. This is taken as a sign from the Grandfathers to let them know that the day has arrived to celebrate the New Year. If it comes from the North first, it is considered a good omen.

I cannot give you a first hand account of the New Year Clan ceremonies of the Kickapoo since even during my years of intimate association with them; I was never invited to the ceremonies. On occasions when I did find myself during some ceremony or other, I was always asked to leave the Wickiup and wait outside while the praying went on inside.

But their cousins, Meskwakia, with whom they share Language affinity are more generous. On more than one occasion they had invited me to come and participate in their ceremonies.

Those of us in the west tend to forget our tribal origins. It was not that long ago that most of us were allied within a tribal structure: whether in India or Malaysia or Bretagne or Israel.

So all my friends, who are descendants of various tribes around the world

Happy New Year to You.

(Jews generally consider themselves still to be affiliated to their tribal origin, in my opinion and I remember when I first arrived at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami as a student, I was asked whether I was MOT: member of our tribe! By Jewish professors)

The photograph above is that of Dra Estela Rosales, the most unselfish and generous doctor who like her father before her has dedicated her life to the welfare of the Kickapoo. Photo taken when she was visiting La Habana recently