Formulaire de contact


E-mail *

Message *

mercredi 30 mars 2011

Tired of London? No, not for now.

I have not felt so content being in a city, for a long time.. Not this is not my beloved Havana, where I know the nooks and crannies and the reverberating life, but the London of my memories and my imagination. I love being in London.
Yesterday, on arrival at the Heathrow London Airport, we, the Non European passport holders had to wait behind a recently arrived flight from Pakistan, mostly men in their twenties with wide bright eyes looking at their future, all anxious and facing questioning by the Immigration Authorities. Now all UK visa holders need to be finger printed so you can imagine how slowly the line moved. When I arrived, the tired immigration officer was glad to see the Australian Passport and we chatted for a while. I have noticed that the immigration officers are friendly..
To the Pavillion Hotel at Sussex Gardens near Paddington Station. The fast train from Heathrow to Paddington takes 15 minutes and the slow train takes 27 minutes! was nice to see Shaun at the desk again and he showed me a couple of rooms and I chose the Blue room called Reflections, you can see it in the photo above.
A very tasty Pakistani dinner at Lahore Restaurant, hailing itself as one of the oldest Halal restos in London, in Church street near the hotel. Karahi Ghosht and Naan, eating alone is not fun but i had something to read and also observe subtly the waiters and also their interactions with the pakistani and non pakistani customers. I recommend this resto.
Arriving at Brunel University London, my Anthro alma mater, I felt the pain of the loss of my teacher, Cecil Helman. Soon the familiarity returned and was able to impart some words of my experience of being an Applied Medical Anthropologist. Before coming to give this lecture, I had asked my Indian teacher, Pierre of the UmonHon, and he had said: Dont talk too much about yourself but may the Spirits send good words so that it may be of some help to other people. I was able to use that advice in my description of Networking among the Indians: it is all about others where as among Non Indians, Networking is about themselves, what can i get out of this, how can this person be use to me...
It is so good to bring some fresh knowledge or perspective to the students, in this case post graduate students in Medical Anthropology in this programme at Brunel University London considered to be one of the best Medical Anthropology programmes.
It was good to feel the comraderie of academia and when I got back to London I walked back along the Marelyborne street looking at the various buildings...
I said to myself
I like being in London..

jeudi 24 mars 2011



This is a continuation of my previous post:

Network in Social Network

Occasionally, an email arrives inviting to join Face Book or some of the other social networks popular in Asia. In countries like Myanmar and Iran where there is restriction of freedom, the blocked websites including is overcome with ingenious anti-filters. In these countries as well as in countries where there is little freedom to express social relationships, like in India or Malays in Malaysia, Indonesia, then the social networking plays a very important social role, which would impose a certain moral reform on the future generations of those countries. (Many similar countries in this world)

An excerpt from an article on Loneliness published by Boston Globe recently and annotated by Arts and Literature Daily:

“There’s so much cultural anxiety about isolation in our country that we often fail to appreciate the benefits of solitude,” said Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist at New York University whose book “Alone in America,” in which he argues for a reevaluation of solitude, will be published next year. “There is something very liberating for people about being on their own. They’re able to establish some control over the way they spend their time. They’re able to decompress at the end of a busy day in a city...and experience a feeling of freedom.”

Figuring out what solitude is and how it affects our thoughts and feelings has never been more crucial. The latest Census figures indicate there are some 31 million Americans living alone, which accounts for more than a quarter of all US households. And at the same time, the experience of being alone is being transformed dramatically, as more and more people spend their days and nights permanently connected to the outside world through cellphones and computers. In an age when no one is ever more than a text message or an e-mail away from other people, the distinction between “alone” and “together” has become hopelessly blurry, even as the potential benefits of true solitude are starting to become clearer.

John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago, whose 2008 book “Loneliness” with William Patrick summarized a career’s worth of research on all the negative things that happen to people who can’t establish connections with others, said recently that as long as it’s not motivated by fear or social anxiety, then spending time alone can be a crucially nourishing component of life. And it can have some counterintuitive effects: Adam Waytz in the Harvard psychology department, one of Cacioppo’s former students, recently completed a study indicating that people who are socially connected with others can have a hard time identifying with people who are more distant from them. Spending a certain amount of time alone, the study suggests, can make us less closed off from others and more capable of empathy — in other words, better social animals.

“People make this error, thinking that being alone means being lonely, and not being alone means being with other people,” Cacioppo said. “You need to be able to recharge on your own sometimes. Part of being able to connect is being available to other people, and no one can do that without a break.”

When I receive an invitation from someone who has 326 friends, I really am not appreciative of that invitation since I know that number is fictitious. No one is able to have that many friends. I have written another blog, which quotes research to say, 8 to 12 (women slightly more) good friends and about 100 acquaintances are what our brain can handle physically!

When is the time to read? Catch up on the news? Who won the Man Booker Asia Prize this year? (Bi Feiyu: Three Sisters. China). India’s corruption. Japan’s humility in the face of Earthquake. Have you read this week’s The Economist? New York Times? Libya Yemen Bahrain Southern Syria Oman Hamas Iran sending arms to Hezbollah

The world is a very interesting place and it is only interesting if you give keen attention to it. You can live without everything if you wish to do so, but is it to be called Living?

I also like technology: mac os snow leopard, iPod touch, iPhone 4, soon an ipad, sim cards from at least six different countries, Skype. But I do carry a travelogue by Norman Lewis, or a story about Maqroll by Alvaro Mutis, an inspirational analysis by Jefe Comandante. I like to be in touch, but with rare exceptions, not in constant touch with every one I know. Happy to get emails from friends, with rare exceptions, it does not have to be every day.

If you don't know enough about the world, but only in detail about Fulano and Fulana living in another country through Facebook, would you devote any time on voluntary/humanitarian work to help them? There is so much untapped talent in USA alone but how can someone with a keen heart from Kansas or Ohio help someone living in Mozambique if he or she does not know where or WHAT is Mozambique? (An African American graduate student at FIU in Miami asked me: what is Mozambique?)

Technology will eliminate poverty, a wag proclaimed at the beginning of 20th century. It did not happen. The world is a global village; there would be peace and understanding, the backers of 21st century technology exalted, it is not happening. Technology is exciting, but it has also exported Diabetes to poorer countries, when you think about it, rather than eradicating Diabetes as a disease.

I hold the great satisfaction of the memories of the Gifts of Time I have received and given, people who made special efforts to come and see me when I needed their visit or the visits to various countries on this planet to be with friends. I travel, because I have friends and I enjoy the solitude of travel. Perhaps that is why you will not see me on a Cruise ship or a Group travel. Even to places as remote as Tsumkwe! In Namibia, I rather go by myself or at best with a good friend, not an organized tour group, which is not for me.

I think of the various friends who have given me the time of their lives: in Kuala Lumpur, in Havana, in London and in Kingston, in Miami, in Melbourne. In fact it is these visits that make the place for me, endears the travel there… and smaller places Cochin, Yangon, Baracoa…

So what have been my travels to spend time with friends in the past few months?

December 2010 Kuala Lumpur

January and February Miami and Havana

March London Texas

April Vancouver Bellingham Seattle Portland

May Dubai? Phnom Penh?

I fervently hope, for more places and more friends to visit…

The distance between Miami and Kuala Lumpur is?

Distance from Miami to Kuala Lumpur: 10461 Miles

(16835.3 Kilometers / 9084.3 Nautical Miles)

In December 2010, I left Miami on the morning of 1st

Stayed overnight in SF and connected to Tokyo, changed planes to Singapour, stayed at the airport for a few hours and caught a flight to Kuala Lumpur arriving there at

0745 on the morning of 4th. Who was waiting for me at the airport? My Best friend in Asia, I had gone to see her!

mercredi 23 mars 2011

Net work in Social Network

Social Networking on the NET

In the olden days, let us say before the year 2000, there was Qualitative Networking: person to person; consideration for the other; relationships, visiting each other, spending time with each other. TIME was the gift that bonded each other and with the community.

With the universal acceptance of a corporate lifestyle (in Kuala Lumpur, in HoChiMinh City, Bangalore not to mention Sydney, Paris, Buenos Aires etc.), with the DOLLAR/Euro becoming the Bottom Line (like the Yanks like to say)-Quantitative networking was re-born. Re-born in that It had existed from time immemorial but it was done in context: royal letter carrier viziers, travelers taking bales of silk and bringing back spaghetti; the latter day colonialists spreading Coca-Cola and Jesus (in the movie, Swept Away, Giancarlo Gianini has a line: Coca Cola is in more places than Jesus Christ). But the acceptance of a corporate lifestyle even in small towns and villages in the developing world as well as backpacker budget travel is a recent phenomenon indeed. Perhaps, the divide and rule of the British and other colonial powers and their Missionary companions was a form of Quantitative Networking?

What can I get out of this? How can I advance my career? How to best propagandize my belief system? It no longer mattered, if you had to step over other people.

But you will pass the same people as you slid down the corporate ladder, the same people you stepped on your hurry to get up that ladder, said someone.

Visiting Cards are no longer ceremoniously exchanged, since there are no visits, there are no visiting cards.

The newer form of web-based networking does away with visiting cards, personal visits altogether. You can be present whilst being absent. You don't have to take time to visit, spend time for conversations, you are more selfish, you connect at your own pace and time and context, when you want, not when it is suitable for all parties concerned.

American Indians say: The right time is when every one is ready, wondering at the punctuality of the European and his clock time.

This is the age of net-based social networking. I do spend more time on the computer (WI fi freely available) than before, even 5 years before. Checking email once a day was the only social networking activity in those days. Even now it is so, but the circle of friends with emails in all countries, Cambodia, Myanmar, China, Cuba, Iran, India, apart from the more developed countries, have increased. Emails tend to be short, in spurts, covering a single point, not a discourse but a communication, seldom imparting knowledge but almost always some information, very very seldom anything resembling a holistic conversation like the days before the Internet and strictly Quantitative Networking of the men and women in black suits.

The Daily Telegraph of London on its 5th March 2011 issue had this on page 9.

Forget TV, we spend more time checking Facebook!

Some startling figures (this from the UK)

Adults spend more time, up to 2.5 hours per day on social networking sites, increasingly on their iPhones plus their computers. By comparison, they average 2 hours of TV viewing; even then the Laptop may be left on.

3000 people were polled; ¼ admitted to spending up to 4 hours a day on Face Book!

Three out of four said they rather catch up with their friends than watch TV

Two out of three check updates after they go to bed.

Seven out of ten people in Britain have a Face Book account

One in three has a smartphone and almost all use it for Face Book, averaging two hours per day.

One in three logged on to Face Book up to 20 times per day, one in six even more…

Yet another sobering thought, one in three said they have had sex with some one they met on the Face Book!

(To be continued)

The photo in this page is a testament on how quickly cultures can speed its destruction. Sixty years ago, Bretonnes wore their typical hair adornment, called Bigouden, various regions in bretagne had their particular style. This lady is the last ONE left who uses the hair piece on a daily basis!

jeudi 17 mars 2011

Endocrinologist/Medical Anthropologist, an insight into the life of one

Wandering Medical Anthropologist and Endocrinologist: A prescription for a Stress Free Life

Day 1 March 4th, 2011

EuroStar. Paris Gare du Nord to St Pancras, London. 2h 32 min. How quickly the time passes, through the Chunnel and then a different scenery. ( How did these two smaller countries dominate the world for centuries?). A very chilly arrival Hall under the dome of the Station, a huge clock welcoming you. Quick line at Tube Ticket Station to get the Oyster Card refilled. Russell Square. 5 minutes. British Museum, the mother of all Museums. Thai Lunch. Tasty. Good ambience. Nice to walk through the China town. Piccadilly Circus. 1 hr to Heathrow terminals 1,2,3.

wishing all peoples of Iran inside and outside Iran, a happy, optimistic, new year full of dignity and freedom. 24 march 2011

Outside Bus 140. Station Road, Hayes. Short walk to Comfort Inn. Take out Lamb and Nan. Delicious

Day 2

3.45 AM. Up and ready for the bus at 4 20 but it is late, thus missing its connection at Terminal 5. London Buses will take you to Terminal 4 gratis. No bags to check in. Quickly through security. Skyteam Club. Quite luxurious. A nice shower and shave. First of the many good meals for the day. Left London, quickly through the security and Immigration at CDG. Enough time to check emails at the Air France Lounge at Terminal 2 E. CDG to IAH 10 hr 15 minutes, announced the Lady Captain of the 777-200ER. Still arrived fresh. Good time to read slowly. At IAH less than five minutes to go through Global Entry automatic immigration and a dedicated channel to leave the airport premises. Wait for the hotel shuttle. Comfortable hotel. Sound Sleep.

Day 3

After breakfast, back to the airport. IAH to OMA 2 hr. Lunch served. A glass of chardonnay as well. Greeted warmly by the AVIS rent a car staff at the OMA airport. A nice car to drive through the predicted snow. 95 miles to the REZ and the Blue House. Driving through the dreary I 29 but decided to enjoy looking at the Loess Hills. Missouri River. Bridge at Onawa exit. Chat with the toll keeper. Another Quiet day

Day 4

Endocrine Clinic at the Health Centre. Not very busy. Connecting with colleagues. Lunch with a patient who is also a teacher in the Indian ways to me. I told him I have an important meeting two days hence. He said: do not speak too much about yourself, may your voice have healing words to help the Indians.

Putting the final touches to the presentation I have to make two days hence.

Day 5

To Oklahoma City

Back on the road. 95 miles back to the airport. Flight to DEN and change planes to OKC. John arrives from San Antonio, rents a car and off we go to check into Marriott’s Hotel. Space. Sterile. Friendly. Bill from Indianopolis joins us, we go to Lakeside Grill. Typical American resto, décor to match. Large. Chicken. Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Pleasant Dinner. Restful night.

Day 6

To Shawnee and Ada

Breakfast at the hotel. Joined by Peggy from Vermont. A lovely lady with a budding anthropologist for a daughter, who is off to Nicaragua to do a short term volunteer job in the countryside with Fondation Albert Schweitzer.

We drive to Shawnee and pick up Bob. Delightful Onondaga man with expert knowledge of the workings of the Indian country.

We arrive at Ada, to meet with the Chickasaw Nation Lt. Governor who is also the Chairman of the National Council of American Indians. Humble. Gentle. Soft Spoken. Accommodating. Direct to the point. Honest. Attentive. Curious

I present a cultural interpretation of the process of our care for Indian patients at the Health Clinic of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. Intrinsic motivation. Stress Management. Autonomy. Mastery. Purpose. Well received. (thanks for the Medical Anthropology training at Brunel University of London, England)

All of us are satisfied with our morning and we head back to OKC, stop at The Border, a Mexican café, once again American in taste and décor (after all we are in Oklahoma city?). Pleasant company. Back to the airport. OKC to DEN to OMA. Checked into the hotel near the airport where I usually stay, knowing I have to leave at 7 am to drive the 95 miles to the clinic, where the patients would already be waiting when I reach there, which was the case.

Day 7

Endo Clinic

Excellent Day at the Clinic. Our clinic is held away from the sterility of the hospital but in a warm and welcoming corner of the building. Each patient is greeted by the receptionist and then they are seen by a nutritionist, an exercise educator, a clinical case manager and then the Diabetes Educator who inspects their feet. This is repeated at each and every visit to the Clinic. So by the time they are ready to be seen by me, all the biomedical parameters are ready, and it is left to me to attend to their emotional, psychological, cross cultural needs.(thanks again for the Medical Anthropology training). One patient after another with stories and explanations. Most have complex stories but some are quite straight forward.

Even with all of us present, we can only care for 15 patients per working day (maximum) since between us, we wanted to make sure that all aspects are dealt with, not just the biomedical aspect which in my opinion accounts for no more than 25 % of the treatment of the chronic disorders of Diabetes and Hypertension and Renal Insufficiency.

A day like today, privy to enter the sociocultural life of so many American Indians leaves me euphoric.

In the evening, to Care Danh, a Vietnamese café 30 miles from the clinic, a perennial favourite of some of us. Apart from eating Bun Ga Xao, it is meet a young man, who came in with his family, who made sure he was seen by me, regarding his weight, his blood sugar and his blood pressure. This is the modern version of the Home Visit, the difference is that we do it at a Vietnamese Café at a very uninteresting Midwestern town in the USA. My colleagues make my stay and work at the Clinic-effective, enjoyable and a learning experience. Many Happy Indian patients today!

Day 8

Endo Clinic

Which was a repeat of yesterday, more satisfied patients, all aspects of their needs are attended to. Since American Indians area guaranteed health care under the treaty rights, no money is seen or heard or exchanged. All consultations and medications and investigations by lab and imaging are free.

Evening of socialization with young Indian friends: aged 10, 8, 5 and 1 and their parents. Invited them to a Thai resto in this northeastern desolate corner of Nebraska. An anthropologist’s dream to participate and observe, in a longitudinal fashion, the growth and enhancement of the life of these youngsters, children of the ancient people with their memories of their UmonHon, Navajo, Dakota ancestors etched into their faces. It is a moveable History Lesson!

Thai Resto run by Laotian refugees. Tom Kha Gai and Chicken Panang Curry

Day 9

Liminal Day

Medical work is over for this visit. On this Saturday morning felt a distance from loved ones from the other worlds. My Good Indian friend came over. Nice chats. Telephone calls. Chats over internet. Preparing for the next part of this journey.

Drove back to the airport, the fourth 95 mile trip on this visit. A sandwich from Subway. A glass of wine from Stellenbosch and a good sleep at the hotel near the airport

Day 10

To Texas

Early morning flight to Houston. At IAH changed my flight to a later one to SAT so that I can enjoy the lounge of the CO airlines. Ran into a friend MT who was coming in from Sydney and going to FLL! In the excitement of chatter, left behind the Macbook Pro charger, made me learn how to preserve the battery in the laptop! Short flight to SAT. At the Lounge, an extremely friendly and helpful CO person and attentive. She called the CO lounge at IAH, alors, the mac charger was never turned in, who would if they could have an extra charger, which was just lying around anyway, even if it was at an airlines lounge?

Texans are friendly even by American standards.

Rested for an hour or so at the Lounge and then took a taxi to the hotel nearby. Caught up on the emails, telephone calls and chat over internet(I chat with only one person, on line). The room at the hotel was large and comfortable.

The CEO of the tribe at the Mexican border had driven up, he came to the hotel, the drive from the border takes about three hours.

I chose the Tex/Mex cuisine at Los Burros and off we went.

Jolly giant of a man, jovial and can see he is content with his life. I realized that the internal motivating factors that I utilize for my patients, is blatantly present in him, which gives him the radiant look. And in good measure.

Autonomy( his job is very demanding but flexible), Mastery(CEO, administration) and purpose(to help the Indians). He had more of a sociocultural view of the health care delivery than a biomedical one, even though he has been involved in it for more than twenty years.

A good conversation over a mediocre meal(even my margarita was mediocre)and a possibility of duplicating the Peer to Peer Programme which has seen good results in the poor neighbourhoods of Phnom Penh Cambodia (MoPoTsyo directed by maurits van der pelt). A good meeting.

Back at the hotel, emails, telephone calls and chat on line. Good restful sleep.

Day 11

Journey to London

Back to the airport. Bad weather at IAH has forced delayed flights to IAH from SAT. The same helpful lady at the Lounge once again came to the rescue and made sure that I got a seat on a full booked flight. This is the beginning of Spring Break, a ritual among the recently pubescent college students on their way to their first ever hedonistic holiday and unexpected pleasures.

CO airlines does the best to accommodate its upper tier fliers, it is a good business idea to pay attention to people who give you their business.

AF club at IAH. A short stay. We boarded the flight quickly, 8 hr 40 minutes to Paris . seat 24 H with no one sitting next to me, but the seat did not feel that comfortable. At the AF Lounge at Terminal 2E, a certain urgency when you have to check your email and answer some of them, so an artificial urgency of the electronic interference.

A short flight to LHR. Slept most of the way. The skies over France was clear and as we crossed the channel, clouds gathered, but when we landed it was 15 C and sunny.

Heathrow Express from Terminal 1,2,3 which also houses the Central Bus Station. What a lovely way to go to Central 15 minutes .

Emerge from the station and you are surrounded by Middle Eastern Hospitality under different skies. They too are misplaced and I noticed that they have a cheerfulness absent in the faces of the Arabs who live in Paris. Colonialization, Past history and Oppression. Here they are refugees of the oppression of their own people: kurds, Iraqis, Iranians, Yemenis and other dictators who now kick out their own people, like they did the jews of arab lands soon after they came to power. May these unfortunate souls be incorporated as well into the societies of their choice like the jews of middle east now settled in Israel, UK, USA, Canada and Australia as well as France.

Colonialism of the bearded ones, ones with guns, the privileged of the desert. As I write these these dictators are confronting unrest in Bahrein, Libya, Jordan, Syria, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

A lovely hotel at 34 Sussex Gardens with Shaun directing the reception and doing a wonderful job of it. I have written about it at virtualtourist.

You can read about the Pavillion Hotel, at

Sundip at Apple Store, Regent Street

Tanzanian born Indian , 25 years in the UK

Pleasant helpful yet another spark of my reintroduction of life of london.

A student of Medical Anthropology from my alma mater, joins me for dinner at a Persian Restaurant. The chef is decidedly Persian, but the waitress is from Ulaan Bataar in Mongolia. Welcome to the new world of the metropolitan cities, where in the course of a few hours you have talked to Pakistani, irani, Iraqi, Kurdish, Mongolian, Tanzanian indian people who now call London their home. I prefer this new world to the old, staid one that I grew up in Melbourne, Australia.

Chelo kebab e barg

Jujeh kebab ba nan

A glass of sauvignon blanc from Stellenbosch.

A deep sleep of 12 hours at a quiet room at a Pakistani oriental decorated room in a Pakistani owned quaint hotel in the heart of London, while most of the inhabitants around are praying to Allah for better days.

Day 12

Journey to Paris

Yes, a very meaningful trip is ending but the journey will continue.

Eurostar to Paris Gare du Nord

Bonjour, paris and look forward to the French side of my life

Left St Pancras at 1502 (1602 in Paris) and reached Gare du Nord at 18 h15 ( two hours an thirteen minutes), RER E to San Lazare, train direct to BLesB. At home by 1915

Before anything, to taste two things I have missed on this trip: Nespresso and a piece of baguette with cheese..

Dinner was at a Creperie: Nordique which was a crepe of Ble Noir with smoked salmon, followed by a sweet crepe of chocolate and a little cider..

vendredi 11 mars 2011

A Visit to the British Museum: Grandeur and Longing

thai golden café, museum street, central London

visit to the british museum

the same imposing columns, that

greeted a young medical student

from the antipodes

you enter, the first turn to the left, the assyrian

gods greet you, as they have done

all the visitors-past present and future


then a plethora of egyptian

man-gods begging for eternity

where was the statue of the pregnant

woman i used to stand in front of?

what about the statue of the creator?

every memory flooded back

who was with me, then?

what happened to that friend from greece, turkey?

dropped into their new worlds,…and museums.

they are all gone now

but i still have the british museum

it is better to fall in love with the country,

the museum, landscapes

they love you back for ever

not cast you aside, when the ride to freedom

was used up by a jamaican or the cuban, who furnished the opportunity and moved on..

take with you my blessings

you need them, for misery

is what awaits a person who destroys innocent hearts

china, japan, buddhas

climb the stairs after visiting the

enlightenment room

sir hans sloane

a curious person, interested in things

for the sake of knowledge

had commissioned the sketches of

the flowers of suriname

slippers of all continents

they say he was old fashioned even for his time

big ears, the people of rapa nui

priestly things

a maya head of a god

indian gods in miniature

thought of as devils

till some enlightened brit took interest

in the culture that produces

these visions of gods

they worship one god but in its multiple forms

two hours wandering around

and like in the olden days

to break the monotony of medical studies or

share the ebullience of the new knowledge

in medical anthropology

as you gain more knowledge, many of your old friends will leave you, because now they find you

strange, shamanistic, ritualistic

they are too busy with their seconds

to enquire about the ewe of columbia

pass through the americas

a seminole shirt

a photo of a chickasaw woman weaving

baskets, every day objects, which to this day

has significance to the indians

tom kha (coconut curry)

green vegetable curry

indian nervous distrust

of independent action, says norman lewis

about the staff at hotel ashoka in ranchi

rm 52 ancient iran


empire to the east

long before alexander the great

history of persopolis

and xerxes, darius

golden jewelry. pottery

the splendor of the ancient iran

iran in turkey

iran in egypt

invasion of “moghuls” the barbarians of the turkic lands uzbeks tajiks turkmen

new era

great poetry

ancient iran of zoroastrian and spirit worship

and of


Enlightenment, curiosity, knowledge

tolerance and aesthetics

oh! poor Iran of the bearded ones!

BBC4 series

history of the world in 100 objects

by the curator of the British Museum

during the course of a visit

you will see these objects exhibited and highlighted

including a duha of

a taino chief in

which he had allowed Cristobel colon to sit.. it is an honour to be invited.. hope colon understood that? I

I doubt it, as he ended up destroying them. no more tainos and no more duha

time for lunch

and a good choice

good food good atmosphere

no noise calm easy to read

easy to write

jeudi 3 mars 2011

What all Happens in the course of One day?


Cuanto pasa en un dia. title of a poem by Pablo Neruda from his collection Extravagaria, translated by Alastair Reid…

“But, in one day, things spring to life-

They sell grapes in the street,

Tomatoes change their skins

The young girl you wanted

Never came back to the office”

Pero en un dia crecen cosas,

Se venden uvas en la calle,

Cambia la piel de los tomates,

La muchacha que te gustaba

No volvio mas a la oficina.

How much Happens in a Day to

An Endocrinologist?

An Anthropologist?

A Traveler?

Started reading forwarded articles from Brunei Times. One does not naturally think of Brunei as a source of knowledge, but the three articles I read this morning all had some message, some memories and definitely knowledge.

From the Brunei Times:

Don't worry, be happy and live longer


Thursday, March 3, 2011

TODAY'S lesson: be happy, live longer. Now science seems to back the glass half-full approach.

A review of more than 160 studies on the connection between a positive state of mind and overall health and longevity has found "clear and compelling evidence" that happier people enjoy better health and longer lives. In fact, evidence linking an upbeat outlook and enjoyment of life to better health and longer life was stronger even than that linking obesity to reduced longevity, according to the review published on Tuesday in the journal "Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being."

"I was almost shocked, and certainly surprised, to see the consistency of the data," said Ed Diener, the University of Illinois psychology professor emeritus, who lead the review. While Diener said a few studies he reviewed found the opposite, the "overwhelming majority ... support the conclusion that happiness is associated with health and longevity." The review looked at eight different types of long-term studies and experimental trials of both human and animal populations. For example, 5,000 university students provided evidence that the most pessimistic students tended to die younger. In the laboratory, positive moods were found to reduce stress-related hormones, increase immune function and help the heart recover following exertion.

Definitely reduction of Stress Hormones by Happiness makes sense to me. I remember in this context someone or other telling me when I was a child: Only Idiots grow old, which didn't make sense to me so I carefully listened to the explanation that made sense many years later.

At that time most of the conductors of the major Philharmonic Orchestras were in their 80s and 70s. The point that was made was that an active mind directs the body.

The other article was about Carnivorous Cubans. The land Vegetarians forgot!

Cuba's uphill battle with meals for vegans

A couple selling fried food in Havana, Cuba. The Cuban government has issued more than 75.000 licenses to independent workers. Picture: EPA


Thursday, March 3, 2011

VEGETARIANS face a tough time in Cuba where, if it doesn’t have meat in it, it isn't food. Juicy hamburgers and sandwiches stuffed thick with sausage aren't your typical vegetarian fare, but that’s what is on the menu at El Carmelo in Havana. Meat-free is not a phrase that goes over well in Cuba, an island where long-standing privations have forged a strong, emotional bond with food especially cuisine that once oinked, mooed or clucked. Meat is a central pillar of the Cuban diet that the rare decision to embrace vegetarianism is seen as bordering on insanity. That has been the fate of the island's half-dozen or so other vegetarian restaurants as well. They have all either closed down completely or replaced soy and vegetables with meat. It's a Cuban dilemma: How can the government promote healthy eating when the country is full of die-hard carnivores, and when vegetarian meals remind people of an acute food shortage that made meat an almost unattainable luxury? Elsewhere in the world, vegetarianism is gaining proponents who cite evidence for it.

Two important things to remember. One of the reasons, they don't wish to be vegetarians is the Special Period when there were extremely severe food shortages and they had to resort to barbaric practices and now that food is available they don't even want to remember such times and in fact no one talks about that time any more 1988-1996. It is also interesting to note that after the food was restricted, there was an increase in the rate of obesity, which I would like to call the Cuban Paradox.

I am sure there are many historic reasons for the hankering for meat. Slaves were deprived of meat and were fed a lot on dried salt fish/mackerel/bacalhao. The memory of that time when it was a luxury may be still hanging around. Perhaps there is some thing of the old continent of Africa. I will tell you a story about food/meat in Namibia.

My friend and I had decided to visit Tsumkwe in the Kalahari for three or four days and stocked our food supplies in Grootfontein, which was about three hours by car. We had enough meat and vegetables to last the two of us for four days.

There was only a government guesthouse in those days in Tsumkwe and we kept our food in storage in the refrigerator in the kitchen.

The first night, we enjoyed the company of a couple of visiting Herero people, drinking a few beers with them.

When we woke up in the morning, we found much to the surprise that the Herero had eaten all the meat before they left, leaving us with vegetables for the next three days. My friend improvised with sauté, grill and other forms of cooking vegetables. I can truly understand why people resort to eating all moving objects in the total absence of meat.

One of the best vegetarian restaurants in Latin America is the organic vegetarian restaurant at the National Botanical Garden where the food and fruit grown on the premises are available for tasting.

The Economist is a wonderful magazine, covering a wide variety of subjects and occasionally they have complete sections devoted to a particular topic. Recently I was reading about the Food Production in the world. It is now estimated that there is enough food to go around but the problem is structural, to have the food available where it is needed.

It is like the distribution of Doctors. In many countries especially the ones like India there are no shortage of doctors but they are not where they could offer the greatest help. A form of Structural Violence against the poor.

A timely article in the last issue of The Economist to arrive had some surprising news.

Do you think that people who live in warmer climates exercise more? This study was done in the USA. I would have thought that colder weather did not permit people to mover out of their homes after work and do more exercises. But it happens to be the case.

People in Alaska do more exercise than people in Florida. And the graph is almost a linear one correlating well, colder the weather more the people exercise.

Two Outliners: Hawaii and Tennessee. I don't know enough about Tennessee to comment but Hawaii, I have the suspicion that it is the Health Care Delivery System of Kaiser Permanente? That has created a healthy state and perhaps the prevention attitude of the providers and the system has left its marks.

On my way to the Lunch Appointment, I had the good company of Norman Lewis’ book

A goddess in the Stones. What a charming book.

His capacity to use language to describe what he sees on the road is without an equal.

A successful businessman had decided to invite Norman Lewis on a trip to Ranchi in his special car (with its attendant symbolism in the poorest state in India). The writer notes:

“My feeling was that to come away on a trip like this in which there was no money for anybody was an act of resistance, a spiritual last-ditch stand undertaken against the guilty pleasures of mercantilism”

A nice Lunch of Steamed Cabillard, with the usual French accouterments: sparkling water, cheese, dessert, vegetables and Café allonge.

I have received expectant emails, bringing news of pleasure, hope, aspirations and promises and I have attended to them all. My UmonHon Indian sister reminded me that on a date in August at the Annual Dance ceremony of their tribe, she would announce that I am officially part of her family. What a great honour! She also advised me about my conduct and words when I meet the President of the National Congress of American Indians. Thank you, sister.

Emails have come today from Havana, Bombay, Teheran and Miami laden with affections and a surprise from Vancouver…

Have you done any “work” today? a western efficiency expert might ask.

To which I would answer:

I have done no work today in which exploitation of another human being was involved or even hinted at. I have returned the pleasures given to me from the various corners.

I had been thinking of my conference, to be given in London on 30th March at the Centre for Research in International Medical Anthropology.

Tentatively the title could be:

De socializing Illnesses is a form of Structural Violence: News from North East West and the South…

Networking and the word itself, Networking…

I wrote this to my best friend in Asia, Munching:

On Wed, Mar 2, 2011 at 9:47 PM, Yehuda ‪ wrote:


You are good at networking and I am good at socializing

But I realized that your networking is different from the networking practiced at the corporate level

So I thought we would need a new definition to include people like you and me


Corporate types


Is about what they can gain out of a contact. A relationship is not important.


Social types

Is about what we can do for each other. A relationship is more important than what can be gotten out of.

I knew that she would understand it well, she responded:

The true essence of networking is what we can do for others. Naturally, over time these networks of ours will do things for us or share their lives and dreams with us. We can learn from Cheng Ho, as he is the true networker.



So, my dear Western Efficiency expert, this is the kind of work I do in the course of a day.

But always grateful for all the things that come my way

Never taking any one person for granted or uses people to gain for myself… As Mr. Altschuler Sr said to me when I first went to Cuba, if you are interested in yourself more than the others, Cuba may not be for you. But if you are, you have come to Paradise.

Muchas Gracias, Senor Altschuler.

mardi 1 mars 2011

Cuban Doctors, Cholera in Haiti and their valiant Assistance

I am so proud of what the Cuban doctors are doing, to help the sister nation of Haiti.
This is the little known aspect of Cuba's aid to 69 medically under-served countries of this world.
Did you know that there are Cuban specialists helping the population of Central African Republic?
I am very grateful for the Miami Herald for publishing this article and I hope they don't mind my copying their article in full. A Big Thank You..
The Miami Herald

Cuban doctors are on the rural frontlines in Haiti’s cholera epidemic

    In the small town of Mirebalais Cuba's medical brigade are in the fight against the outspread of cholera.
Carl Juste / Miami Herald Staff
In the small town of Mirebalais Cuba's medical brigade are in the fight against the outspread of cholera.
Wracked by diarrhea, Emmanuel Losier was surprised at what he found when, after two hours on foot, he finally reached the closest cholera treatment center to his central plateau home: plenty of empty beds and Cuban doctors he could not communicate with.

“Without them, the whole country would have been destroyed by now,” Losier said, an IV strapped to his arm and a bucket at his side. “They seem to have a real interest in helping us. I hope they stay.”

Losier was treated last month by Cuba’s medical brigade, a corps of nurses and doctors who experts here say are among the leading health care providers in Haiti’s battle against cholera. He and about a dozen critically ill patients were under a large white tent beside a Mirebalais diagnostic center, which is a joint operation between Cuba, the Haitian Health Ministry, Partners in Health and the University of Miami’s Project Medishare.

As the death toll surpasses 4,000, Haiti is still struggling against challenges of a disease the country had not experienced in 150 years. In rural villages, doctors are often difficult to find. Some urban treatment centers have lots of beds but few patients. Many earthquake displacement camps still lack clean water and toilets, even as some aid groups begin to scale back water chlorination programs. With the epidemic entering its fourth month, the United Nations’ $164 million appeal for cholera funding remains less than half-filled.

The international community and major aid organizations came under scathing criticism when the disease swept the countryside in October. Doctors Without Borders blasted “one of the largest and best-funded international aid deployments in the world” for failing to stop the spread of the deadly illness despite vast resources. While many critics found fault with the international community’s response to the raging disease, experts agreed that the Cuban medical brigade quickly filled a critical gap in a country where the death rate is still twice the accepted average.

“The Cuban delegation are unbelievable workhorses,” said David Walton, deputy director of Partners in Health, a Boston-based medical aid organization. “They are very savvy and not afraid to get their hands dirty.”

While the United States poured more than $45 million in supplies and expertise into Haiti’s cholera epidemic, cash-strapped Cuba provided human resources. The brigade is part of a decade-old medical diplomacy program Cuba uses to sow goodwill around the world, which critics argue is aimed at deflecting attention from human rights abuses.

“Cubans sent more doctors and nurses than any other country in the world,’’ said Gabriel Thimothe, director general of the Haitian Health Ministry. “By 7 p.m. the day after we learned of the outbreak, Cuba’s health chief was calling me on the phone saying: ‘We have doctors; where do you want to send them?’”

They sent them to the boondocks, far from established clinics and urban centers.

“The Cubans have a less sophisticated approach, but are much more mobile,’’ said Claude de Ville de Goyet, acting representative for the World Health Organization in Haiti.

At one point, the brigade numbered about 1,400, the United Nations said. By January, there were 47 mobile teams, comprised of both Cuban doctors and foreign graduates of its medical school. About 125 of the doctors deployed were Haitians who had graduated from Cuba’s medical school, former leader Fidel Castro wrote in a newspaper column.

“From time to time, a plane lands with 50 or 100 more,” Thimothe said.

Cuba’s Deputy Health Minister Lorenzo Somarriba, who leads the Haiti mission, told Telesur TV network that the teams work in a number of new community health centers the Cubans helped launch as part of an international effort to rebuild Haiti’s health system.

“What characterizes our work: being in the furthest and most inaccessible places,” he said. “To say ‘Cuban medical brigade in Haiti’ is synonymous with saying, ‘being where the population most needs it.’’’

His staff in Port-au-Prince did not respond to interview requests from The Miami Herald.

The Cuban press — including its chief booster, Castro — has boasted a death rate of .57 percent among its patients. The accepted norm is about 1 percent. Haiti’s average death rate is 2 percent.

To be sure, Cuba was not the only country that stepped in. At least 700 medical professionals flew in from the United States, including Centers for Disease Control experts and Haitian-American doctors, Thimothe said. The first to show up were doctors from the U.S. military base in Guantanamo, he said.

Doctors Without Borders set up about 35 treatment centers.

“The U.S. brought a lot of surveillance equipment and labs. The CDC helped with training,” he said. “The Cubans work in the field.”

Cuban doctors have been based out of the Mirebalais diagnostic center for 11 years and were among the first to ring the bell of alarm that cholera had come to Haiti, Somarriba said on the Telesur interview.

“There were a lot of people coming, more every day,” said Cuban nurse Virginia Quiyala, who has been assigned to Mirebalais for 19 months. “At first we didn’t know what it was, just that it was some kind of epidemic. All of them were in deplorable condition. It was obvious that we were in the middle of something big.”

Doctor Luis Denis González, who started working in Mirebalais in October, acknowledged that even with the 100 people in his team, it wasn’t enough to tackle the streams of people that arrived from the countryside.

“The hardest part of all this is seeing how many of these people don’t have access to clean water,” he said. “Here what most affects you is seeing the conditions people live in: they don’t have water. They don’t have toilets. They don’t have water treatment.”

Haiti now has 100 cholera treatment centers, including several run exclusively by the Cuban brigade. On a recent visit to the Cuban center in Carrefour, several doctors milled about waiting for patients. A Cuban flag draped the entrance.

“We’ve treated three patients so far today,’’ said a doctor who said he was not authorized to give his name. “More will come.”

Thimothe acknowledged that several cholera clinics, including the one in Carrefour, had to be relocated because there were too many unused beds. The placement of treatment centers remains one of the most difficult logistical challenges, he said.

At one point, the hospital in Cap Haitien had 600 beds and 40 patients, he said.

“I do not buy the across-the-board criticism that the international community failed in its response to cholera,’’ said Nigel Fisher, the United Nations’ chief humanitarian officer. “The CDC is doing a lot of work, so are Canada and Latin American nations including Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Venezuela.

“The Cubans are in the most inaccessible areas doing preventive work. They don’t make a lot of noise, they just do it.”

© 2011 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.

Native American Wisdom to live by

I believe that being a medicine man, more than anything else, is a state of mind, a way of looking at and understanding this earth, a sense of what it is all about."

-- Lame Deer, LAKOTA

The Medicine Wheel explains different ways of looking at the world. The four directions are the East, the South, the West, and the North. In the East is the view of the eagle. The eagle flies high and sees the earth from that point of view. The South is the direction of the mouse. Moving on the earth, the mouse will not see what the eagle sees. Both the eagle and the mouse see the truth. The West is the direction of the bear. The bear will see different from the mouse and the eagle. From the North comes the point of view of the bison. To be a Medicine Man you must journey through all points of view and develop the mind to see the interconnectedness of all four directions. This takes time, patience, and an open mind. Eventually, you understand there is only love.

Compare the above with the lament of Eugene O’Neill which is relevant to the western way of thinking: Go West Young Man, Succeed at any rate, Walk over others, Goal Oriented approach, Networking, pull yourself by your socks

I was forced to admit, at the end of thirty years’ devotion to the Cause, that I was never made for it. I was born to be one of those who has to see all sides of a question. When you are damned like that, questions multiply for you until in the end it’s all questions and no answer. As history proves, to be a worldly success at anything, especially revolution, you have to wear blinders like a horse, and see only straight in front of you. You have to see, too, that is all black, that is all white.

This conundrum is faced by many of us who live in the west especially those with some sense of their quest for spirituality.

You have to define “success” and then follow it. If your definition of success is a material oriented, network world where selfishness is rewarded, then the western concept is what you should follow, whether you live in New York or Kuala Lumpur. If your definition of success is finding contentment and be of help to others , then follow the American Indian way ( and in many ways the Yogic path). This also you can do, while living in Miami or Paris.

All great Spiritual leaders from Dalai Lama to the elders in many tribes in the USA would tell you that Happiness comes from doing what you can do for others.

"Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them."
Dalai Lama XIV

A good friend of mine Dr JK who practices good quality family medicine at a small town in South Dakota once said to me:

You can chase money or happiness, never both.

Each day I want to wake up to the thoughts of North American Indians or a spiritual leader like Dalai Lama.

And put those words into practice.

"Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can."
Dalai Lama XIV

and as my good friend and teacher, Pierre of the UmonHon has taught me:

Be happy with what you have, don't be unhappy with what you don't have..

Thank you my teachers among the North American Indians, especially DR B of the Meskwakia and Pierre of the UmonHon.