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.