mardi 26 avril 2011
KO Maung Maung and I have been friends ever since that distant day when Siem Reap did not have so many hotels and I wandered into his model hostelry in Sivatha Road. Since then I have enjoyed the hospitality of this very successful Burmese Hotelier. On my arrival after a very long trip, mainly to spend a couple of days with him, we went looking for dinner and he decided that the welcome dinner would be at :Thai Thai Restaurant.
As you can see it was a veritable feast, it was just the two of us eating!
Plah Kung Prawn Salad
Yam hoy Kraeng cockle salad with thai herbs
Kung Phad Nan Phik Sow Fried lobester in chili sauce
Phak Bung Fire Daeng Fried Morning glory
Plad Duk Phad cha Fried Spicy Catfish
Khieu Yiew ma ka pow krob Fried black pressed egg with crispy basil
we had a spirited conversation and i was falling asleep because of the long journey from Miami..
I am sure feasts such as will be continue during my stay here in his hotel, The Mandalay Inn in Siem Reap, Kingdom of Cambodia.
During my few hours here in this place, I was without provocation told that Visitors have to be considerate of the Singaporeans! This to me shows their emotional immaturity and lack of self confidence.
to begin with, I cannot understand from a Traveler's point of view of trying to promote this as a welcoming Tourist destination,especially its neighbours are notoriously friendly and welcoming. In the travel forums I participate it, It is obvious that this place is best used as a transit to other countries and tourist destinations. To me Singapour is an Airport with a very good International Airline. That is the only redeeming fact of this overcrowded baracoon.
So it is a good Airport to transit in to lesser far more charming destinations in Asia. While I enjoy my journey, normally long from my usual places of residence in Europe or USA, the minute I go out of the airport, I am longing to return to it, to leave this "country". I grind my teeth at the thought of spending a few hours here, to be exposed to the banality of immaturity of thought at all levels. All these would be forgivable if the people were friendly. They are mororse, arrogant and slightly friendlier than North Koreans and without doubt one of the least friendly people in all of Asia, if not the least.
Current debate on TV and newspaper is about "democracy", an idea an average person is ignorant about. The elections for decades are "rigged", not in the sense of elections in Zimbabwe but in a legal fashion that has the same party in power for decades over a naive and imbecilic audience, no wonder MM Lee was able to control the robots since 1955.
Impressions: Looking at the hundreds of Metro passengers, what strikes me is that no one in the metro was reading, no one had a book or newspaper in hand (compare this to India where even the beggars read newspapers), I was able to spot two people with commercial paperbacks and there were two students studying for examinations. It is a correct indicator of the national level of Culture which copies western culture "buyers" such as Dubai. Singapore certainly is not an intellectual or cultural destination. Can you name just one local prominent in the International Literary scene? Apart from MM Lee how many locals have achieved international recognition in Sciences or Arts?
I was happy to bid adieu to Singapore, using the Airpot one last time, the item of news was the ire of locals (chinese and indian immigrants to this island in the past decades who now proclaim themselves to be owners of this Malay island, Temasek) over the recent influx of people from the very same countries they came from, but in larger number and slightly more educated than their ancestors who left China or India. The ire is that with 1.3 million recent foreigners in a population of 5.1 old foreigners, the competition is higher for jobs since fully 40 per cent of the new jobs are taken by the New Foreigners, soon they too would be complaining about the other arrivals! The jobs which are being produced do not need the middle class bourgeoisie shop keeping mentality but requires sharp thinking are going to foreigners well educated for the global market,where are the locals are destined for selling electronic goods and making rotis.
As the populations of Arab countries are discovering, the enemy is not outside, the enemy of the people of singapore are not foreign visitors not "considerate" to the locals but it is themselves and it would be good for them to do some introspection.
Like WC Fields famously quoted: First prize is One day Holiday in Singapour and the second Prize is One week holiday in Singapour.
lundi 25 avril 2011
For nearly 48 hours, I spent my time at Airports or at Airlines Lounges. But Let me tell you that I had an enjoyable experience
MIAMI TO FRANKFURT ON LUFTHANSA
FRANKFURT TO SINGAPOUR VIA BANGKOK ON ROYAL THAI AIRWAYS
There is a pleasure of flying the group your frequent flier airlines belong to, in this case, Star Alliance..
Desserts and Port
Louges with conveniences
Bangkok, the services were exceptional including the Lounges and a complimentary Foot massage
Shoeres at Bangkok and Frankfurt were wonderful
Reading: The Economist, FT weekend Reciew, IHT and the book: The Tell Tale Brain
Free Internet at Miami and Bangkok Lounges and in Singapoure arrival concourse but not when you leave the "safe" area.
A wonderful experience and I am glad that i can look forward to more of it, so that the time it takes me to get to the other side of the world, I can do so with the least amount of energy expenditure..
dimanche 17 avril 2011
vendredi 15 avril 2011
Within a matter of hours, I had gone from Spanish voices and mexican indian faces to a plethora of japanese faces with announcements in Japanese... did i travel long? No. Did I have to travel to another country? NO.
I am in the United States of America where the diversity keeps on increasing.. if that is possible.
At Seattle Airport the announcements are in English and Japanese, in San Antonio I can see the etchings of Monctazuma in the faces of most of the population, and spanish is heard and the refried beans smelt at every corner.. Few hours later at the Chinatown part of Seattle, one can recognize that distinct smell of Chinese cooking..
The driver who took me to San Antonio Airport was from Jordan and the driver at the Seattle Airport was a young Sikh from India without the turban, who informed me that there are lots of Punjabi speakers in Seattle area and he showed me the local punjabi news paper!
At Lunch time, I had chicken curry rice Malay style cooked by a malaysian chinese from malacca who had emigrated here in 1981 who was still longing for his home.
If you come to America and look for bad things you would find it everywhere but if you come to this country and look for good things, the streets are paved with that. I am staying only for the second time in this hotel in Seattle, i am greeted warmly like a friend by the doorman who is from Chiapas in Mexco and the receptionist is of Chinese Origin, recalls the last time I was here!
all these friendliness are not shaped by their countries of origin but shaped here in America.
In the short space of a few days, I have celebrated the Jewish Sabbath in Portland with my two brothers singing in both ashkenazic and sefardic traditions, i sat and listened to the spiritual leader of an indian tribe deliberating over my requests, shared an incredibly good mexican dinner presided over by the most attentive of all waiters, a wonderful japanese meal with a visitor from Nagoya who may become a friend, looking forward to meeting the chief nurse of another indian clinic, a direct descendant of the earliest of spaniards to come to this continent.. the list goes on and on
I celebrate the diversity, not look down upon it. Understand what separates us but not celebrate that separateness. Our uniqueness is moulded by the hundreds of interactions, from Tehran, from Kuala Lumpur,from Yakima, from Eagle Pass, from Miami, from Quiberon.. all carrying loads and loads of love and emptying them into your heart
Bienvenidos a los estados unidos y sus playas!
dimanche 10 avril 2011
Who are the people Multnomah Falls and where are they? after whom Multnomah Falls are named?
When the famed duo Lewis and Clark came up this way 200 odd years ago he saw a group of Indians camped in this vicinity, Multonam, a branch of the Chinooks. Some wag claims that Multnomah is a bastardization of the word in the chinook language for Up the River.. I would believe the first rather than the second..
but where are they now?
Disease, pestilence and oppression has taken its toll
Perhaps they are lucky? but the land and the names will forever carry their memories
May they rest in peace..
the weather has been mild, I am so glad to be here. Mind wanders around the world but nice to know of deep affections here in Portland, Oregon.
Last night, at the Portland Art Museum, at a very nice theatre, saw The MatchMaker, an Israeli movie by Avi Nesher (2010). A story set in Haifa in 1968, when Israel was still young, an adolescent like Arik Burstein, a sabra born of a Rumanian father who had escaped the tortures of the Camps. The cultural mingling brings traditions of the East and the West together, and in the midst of it all, shrouded by the guilt of survival of the Camps, a MatchMaker, a gentle hearted man, who finds love for others but unable to fulfill his own need... I find you what you want but not what you need.. Meir the Library clerk, now full of vengeance, Sylvia, the achondroplastic who finds love at last, and the teenager visiting the Iraqi family next door introduces Arik to the pleasures of the flesh...A beautifully sculpted tale of coming of age at a time when the lives were all less complicated than it is now but emotions neerthless profound..
My brother's son who is 3 1/2 years old sat through the movie without making any noise, trying to follow this movie in Hebrew with subtitles he cannot read, but attentive.
At the end of the movie, as people were socializing and chatting about the movie, a thought came over me... all these people portrayed here are my people, i am just a link in this long historical chain..
in coming to Portland, and seeing the family and the next generation, I am satisfied that the chain will continue.. well into the future
samedi 9 avril 2011
Shabbat Shalom from Portland, Oregon. It is difficult to be Jewish without a Jewish Family or a Jewish Community
It was so nice to celebrate the arrival of Shabbat with my two brothers in Portland, Oregon. Two of the four children were present and another arrived later. I felt so warm and so in my element. Champagne, Red Wine. Challah. Excellent Food. Good conversation.
Each Friday night should be like this..
jeudi 7 avril 2011
I wanted to eat some authentic japanese food having tired and disappointed at some "japanese" restaurants in Paris and elsewhere..
I was lucky to have the help of a Japanese visitor to these shores and she chose the dishes.
Burdock root and carrrot cooked in soy sauce with a chili pepper
eggplant with daikon, ginger and dashi sacuce
Beef Sukiyaki with udon noodles
Mackerel Yakizakana with teriyaki sauce
hot pot style (this dish was excellent and mouth watering in its flavour)
I thought of ordering Natto for old times sake or Miso soup but as it turned out we couldnt even finish
Excellent Choices and I truly enjoyed the dinner in the company of K from Nagoya. Arigato Gozaimasu
mercredi 6 avril 2011
After a short and pleasant ride through the scenery hazed by the pre spring weather, arrived at the centre of Seattle: Microsoft, Boeing and Starbucks!
the first thing to do would be to drink a cup of coffee.. yes and it tasted good..
After checking into the hotel, the destination is Seattle Art Museum!
And I am looking forward to a Japanese meal, possibly at the oldest Japanese Resto in Seattle..
which day is it anyway?
lundi 4 avril 2011
I am writing this, sitting INSIDE a bus, while the middle aged levantine (irani?) driver is negotiating through the traffic. We are still in Vancouver, Canada and our destination is the border with USA and destinations beyond.. Seattle, Washington.
I am connected to the Internet through the wifi provided by this bus! this is the first time i am connecting to wi fi in a bus! normally at airports, hotels, even in air planes but inside a bus? very soon, taxi cabs will have internet available, if not already so. also shows that this technology is cheap and the hotels who charge 14.95 per 24 hours of your stay is gouging you for the usage of a cheap technology.
Where is the remotest place that i have connected to the Internet? Could it be Rapa Nui, Easter Island in the middle of the pacific ocean? Takeo in Cambodia?
the pervasion of technology of this sort is welcome and mind boggling. In India, I am told 20 million people sign for cellular phone service a month! that is almost the same number of all the people with cellular phones in Australia!
I visit Native Indians in remote parts of the American Continent and it gives me pleasure to see them using cellular phones even though internet is not that easily available and the cell phone connections are spotty.
The wise use of Internet technology in the recent uprisings in the Arab world also gives us hope, as well as the prudent use of this technology in Iran. I watched a documentary about the rights of women in Saudi Arabia (almost nothing) but they express their frustrations through FaceBook or similar or with emails and blogs. The conservative thinkers who live in another century (or other centuries past) will soon realize that it is they who are the dinosaurs of this earth and not the oppression they cause their women which is sure to melt away..
There must be some connection between this attitude and the number of new books published in the Moslem world, just a small fraction of what is published in one small country, Israel.
The bus is gliding along smoothly. it is still drizzling outside. I am happy to be in vancouver, in canada. I am impressed with their friendliness.
May the wind spirits bring me back soon to Vancouver, Canada..
for the next 18 days, my days and nights will be filled with lots of conversations, with friends and lovers, new and old and I look forward to that.
As the poet would say, those who left taking their kisses leaving no memories, become shadows. But each one of us have the right to decide the kind of happiness we wish to pursue..
what a blog.. started with something and wandered all around the place and here I am heading on a bus towards the canadian USA border.. on a day of drizzle..
PS the levantine bus driver turned out to be Amir, who was Iranian and he had lots of stories to tell me. When I told him I was jewish, he said, we dont hate Jews, when was the last time you heard of an Iranian suicide bomber who killed the Jews?
would like to see him again if I get back to BC and he said he just finished the end of Narwooz yesterday with a picnic. he is not a moslem but a Zoroastrian, and he said there are nearly 5000 iranians in BC.. ah well little gifts of time...
dimanche 3 avril 2011
I have not enjoyed long haul lights as much I enjoyed my recent flight on KLM from Paris to Vancouver via Amsterdam. A Full Blog would follow. But the photos are uploaded at:
Bon Apetite et Bon Voyage
Bon Apetite et Bon Voyage
samedi 2 avril 2011
I was educated both in Medicine and Medical Anthropology and the education that keeps on giving me more and more is the education I received at Brunel University London in Medical Anthropology. I had good teachers: Adam Kuper, Ronnie Frankenberg, Cecil Helman, Ian Robinson and Charles Stewart. If life was a fiesta before, it became a moveable feast afterwards.. not to mention the arrival of La Havana and Paris , the two moveable feasts of Ernest Hemingway soon after my graduation from the programme.
Recently I had the honour to talk to the students at the Medical Anthropology Programme. I have uploaded the slides, most of which I used in the lecture, but not all. you are welcome to look at them if you like..
also if any one of you is interested in pursuing a little knowledge in Medical Anthropology, I highly recommend Brunel University London Medical Anthropology Programme.
vendredi 1 avril 2011
Today at the Paris CDG airport, I looked at the Asian Travelers, young men and women disembarking after long flights from Far East.. I tried to analyze my feelings..I was happy that they are traveling, I no longer travel like them, but then again, my contemporaries do not travel like me either. It is foolish to compare.. Each of us have our own style of travel and let us make the best of it..
I had to make dramatic changes in my itinerary for the coming weeks.
The last few days in London was so delightful, my friend at the Pavillion Hotel reserving a blue room for me with reflections.. was able to taste cheese and wine in the study of the hotel.. just delightful. The area is surrounded by immigrants from war torn moslem countries or unstables ones in the middle east, so it is full of restaurants .. iraqi and iranian (here they are friends), kurds and turks (ditto), yemeni, and of course Lebanese who were the first to conquer this street. Gone are the wealthy Qatari or Emirati, they have moved elsewhere it looks like.. this street has a definite middle eastern feeling to it.. all signs are in Arabic or Persian, shisha and outdoor cafes even in this mild wintry english weather...
I am off once again tomorrow, to an unexplained adventure.. I have to be with the Indians in two weeks that is all I know, what will happen, Inshallah... it is welcome..
I was thinking of Dubai this weekend but the person I was to meet was not available and I was going there specifically to meet this american lady interested in Yoga and who might be available to teach Indians, I means Native Indians, Yoga or at least some introduction to it...
My best friend in Asia is traveling and because of her non presence in KL, my travel plans are chaotic.. normally on a day like this i would be making plans to go to KL..
Come Home, MunChing... We need you in KL..
But very happy with London, a city which has always been present in my life...
Food included: Pakistani Dinner, Lebanese Dinner. English Lunch and Wine and Cheese.
it is 6 pm in Paris and I am still full from the dinner last night..
Life is too short not to enjoy ones food...