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lundi 27 août 2012



Most foreigners especially in the West has access only to news and information about Cuba which stresses on the material and economic aspects of our beloved Island. 
In my travels I have found that Asians are much warmer to the Cubans and Cuban culture and also know about the humanitarian aid which Cuba provides and also a little bit more than Salsa about Cuban Culture.
While we dont expect tourists and visitors and even the descendants of some of those who left after the triumph of the Cuban revolution to know much about the Deep Culture of the current day cuba.. I have to tell you one thing, Cuba comes with you wherever you go..
What are the aspects of the Current Cuban Culture that I admire most?
Apart from the fact that Cuba sends humanitarian aid to 79 developing countries, 
apart from the fact that Cuba educates 18500 students who would not otherwise become doctors in their own countries because of marginalization, racism or poverty

I admire the SOLIDARITY
that we feel for one another, that we share this culture even though cubans are fiercely individualistic
A pride in what Cuba has accomplished over the decades and a patience for things not accomplished or imported ideas from other spheres. 
Desire to succeed, whether inside the country or outside while not being an absolute selfish person.
Interest in places that we visit or travel to and an undying curiosity about arts, literature and poetry.

I can honestly say that you are lucky if you can count ONE CUBAN as a good friend of yours.. because friendship has an extremely sacred and sincere meaning for us.. As an artist once said to me, while we were walking along Calle Obispo in Habana Viejo.. Brother.. you are more than a brother to me.. You are like a tatoo in my heart..
So you can imagine my joy and contentment when I had the chance to Meet PFH, a cuban resident of France,with whom I have been in contact for many years and finally yesterday had a chance to meet him. It was appropriate that we were at the Bay of St Goustain, in Morbihan in Brittany in France, where on the 4th December 1776, Benjamin Franklin came to seek French assistance for the new republic. The Franco-American friendship is very deep, as US General Pershing reputed to have declared.. as he arrived during WWI to show the solidarity... Lafayette.. We are here..

It was a warm day, the last day of the august holidays for many in France. The harbour was full of visitors and we sat at a creperie facing the harbour and for two hours talked non stop, first a little bit about France and its peculiarities for foreigners and then with the greatest of enthusiasm for the little island which is close to our hearts  CUBA...

Hermano Amigo, It was truly a great pleasure to meet you in person at last and let us join in wishing our beloved island the best for now and forever...

vendredi 24 août 2012


Ever since leaving my friends, Pak Joe and his staff at Bogor, I have been faithfully walking every morning.
As instructed by Pak Joe, I have begun with brisk walking; slowly hope to advance through the coming months.
Quiberon is almost an island, connected by a sandy isthmus to the mainland Brittany. It has a wild coast to it, and those who understand marine history should know that the great sailors they have been, The Bretons, had suffered and lost many souls along the wild coast, La Cote Sauvage, with its huge swells and lashing waves and vertiginous rocks. It is a beautiful site to behold. There are not many tourists outside the June/July/August holiday season in France, it seems that the foreigners have not quite discovered this beautiful spot. For reasons of budget and exoticism, the budget traveller heads to Ko Samui or Sihanoukville, and in Quiberon you very seldom see a backpacker.

This is a beautiful spot and after arriving here on the 15th, on a short flight from London City to Quimper, I have gone walking along the wild coast each and every day. First thing in the morning, on waking up, I don my walking shoes and go for a brisk walk, with the sea wind powerfully caressing and the smell of the sea and the distant Belle Isle swaying in your vision. There is a sculpture of a Fish and a poem by Pablo Neruda engraved on the stone …somos pobres Pescadores.. He implores.
I have been able to walk between 5 and 8 km each morning, and just after one week, I began to feel a strengthening of my body, and I know that I am on well on my way to the 5 kg loss I promised Pak Joe before my next visit to Bogor, ojala! Soon…
My good friend in KL had said two things that remain in my memory, after her return from the Yoga Institute in Bombay, India
Without mindfulness transformation, physical transformation is not possible
When the student is ready, the teacher appears.
She introduced me to the Mind Part of the Yoga Philosophy and I realized that when I was ready for the physical part, Pak Joe appeared on Seat 1 B on that flight from Omaha to Los Angeles!
I received photos of my recent presentation to the senior managers of the Bank in Jakarta on Health and Happiness, facilitated by our good friend Pak Honggo. It brought back such sweet memories, of talking to busy executives the need for changing the way one thinks about humanity, to practise compassion and ending up with a nice lunch at Café Batavia! In the heart of the old colonial part of the city of Jakarta.

Thank you, Teremah Kaseh, Nihun to all of you…

jeudi 23 août 2012


Doctors day is celebrated on various day on various continents, in Cuba, it is the birthday of Carlos Finlay that is celebrated as the Doctors Day.
Today is the Birthday of one of the greatest Physician Philosopher the humanity has produced: AVICENNA or IBN SENA who influenced medical practice for about 600 years in the Middle East and in the west. His classical text book was used in medical schools of France as late as the 17th century even though they were written in the 11th century of the Common Era.
Islamic Golden Age in Iran produced Avicenna and the Islamic Golden age in Spain produced the greatest Jewish Philosopher Physician, Maimonides, Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon. 

Avicenna was born and lived in various parts of the Persian Empire of his time. He wrote extensively on various subjects and was considered the greatest polymath of the Iranian Islamic Golden Age.
One thinks of the greatest Hindou physicians of the 6th Century BCE, Sushruta and Samhita who wrote extensively and some of which is still in use! as they are considered the fathers of Ayurvedic Medicine..
As a student of Medicine, I not only admired the greatest physicians of the past but also the physicians of our own time and it was always good to talk to doctors from various countries who remembered fantastic teachers who influenced them when they were students or in training..
From the Southern African student colleagues I heard about Michael Gelfand of Salisbury and Leo Schamroth of Baragwanath Hospital, both legends in their times. Many doctors had entered politics in the British Colony of Rhodesia including Roy Welensky who became the second PM, the first PM was also a Doctor, Lord Malvern. I treasure a second hand copy of Sir Michael's book and always wanted to master the ECGs as delineated so clearly in Leo Schamroth's book, which I also have an old copy of.
England is and was so full of giants of clinical medicine, as a student I would now and then listen to some of them at various lecture theatres at the different medical schools; Sir Roger Bannister at Queens Square, Dr Simon the deaf Radiologist at Brompton, the incomparable D Geraint James.. always felt grateful that I had listened to them. I was so enamored with the history of Medicine that I attended a series of courses at the Wellcome Institute, given by the erudite Roy Porter...I loved to read The Acute Abdomen by Sir Zachary Cope, always carried a copy of Hutchinson's Clinical Methods.. 
in Australia, we have had our share of giants, and the first name that comes is that of Prof. L still active in Medical Practice and research.. In Cuba, every one to this day remembers fondly of Prof San Martin and I clearly remember the heavily accented words of the cuban professor of mine at Miami, Dr Ferrero.. I think of him often.
I remember the words of the retiring Cuban Ambassador to Laos: I can honestly say that I have lived through a most interesting time in the history of my country. I would say: I am glad to have learned the history of Medicine, from Sushruta to Prof L and also to the individual histories of my friends who provide excellent medical care all around the world.. three of whom I hope to see in October in Berlin, Dr A from Cairns and Dr R and Dr L from Auckland..
On this Doctors day celebrated around many parts of the world.. I have to be grateful for the assistance and guidance of so many doctors.. Dr L, Dr PG Dr ER, Dr LF, Dr JH all from U of Miami School of Medicine, Dr TJM in Melbourne and Dr DG in Brisbane.. and a Kaddish for Dr Cecil Helman, a doctor and an anthropologist ..

mercredi 22 août 2012


Currently Lifestyle changes as a remedy is being touted all over the world, in print and visual media. To such a degree that, every one knows that if you eat right and exercise regularly you can ward of the diseases of “civilization”: obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. For the first time in history, the emerging free market economy countries have taken their historic counterparts in the number of people having these “new diseases of civilization”.
It is interesting to dig up medical literature to read research and epidemiological papers written in the early 1990s, in each and every country in Asia and South Asia, the prevalence of these diseases were very low compared to then prevalence in the west and in fact, they were referred as the Western Diseases, or the Diseases of the Rich. Rather than entire countries becoming rich, there has been a rapid increase in the economic prosperity and I feel that it is that rapid increase that has caused the sudden onset of these “western diseases” in the Eastern Bodies.
The advice given to ward off this pan Asian endemic, the advise given: eat right and exercise can be metaphorically compared to a poor man going to see a bank manager and asking him: I would like to be rich, what is your advise?
The current health advise regarding Life Style Changes to ward off western diseases is akin to the Bank Managers answer:  Save More and Spend Less.
Those of us, who are involved in counselling patients and friends regarding their health, have to begin with ourselves. If you are Asian, please make sure that your Body Mass Index is less than 23 kg/m2. To obtain BMI, divide your weight in kg by your height in metres twice. I am 174 cm tall and 69.0 kg in weight, and my BMI is less than 23 kg/m2. I would like to see the BMI reduced to 21 or 22, and how would I go about it?
This is where the experiences in Indonesia and France come in.
After long conversations with my good friend Pak Joe in Bogor, and with non judgemental advise from him, I began walking each and every morning as soon as I woke up. I took his advice to walk briskly for the first few weeks and then increase the speed to running. The ideal body weight for me would be around 64 or 65 kg and I hope to achieve it before I meet up with Pak Joe again in Bogor in the near future.
How do I plan to do that?
In our discussions and also in my discussions with my facilitator in Yogic Philosophy in KL, it was clear that without a change in the mind, body would not follow your desires. Here the yogic philosophy comes in very handy, and I highly recommend people to learn something about Kleishas or structural defects of the mind and learn to control them with your action and words. 
(spending time with good friends can help you reduce your Kleishas or Structural defects of the mind)
Once that is in the process, exercises in whatever form (I have chosen one hour of brisk walking as I am not very fond of Yogic Asanas, but they will be quite suitable as well) would bring immediate results.
That is the gift I received in Indonesia.
(while I am considered THIN when I am in the USA, I could see that I am the FATTEST than all of Pak Joe's managers! I promise to join their THIN ranks by my next visit to Bogor, Indonesia)
Of course, Exercise is something we do for a very small part of the waking hours, while the philosophy of that change would accompany us all through the day. This will include our eating habits. And the fact that we do spend more time preparing and eating than many other activities in our daily life.
This is what I have learned from the French.
They sit down to eat
Each meal is prepared fresh, there are rarely left overs or doggy bags at the restaurants
Junk Food and Carbonated beverages are given the low rung in the nutritional hierarchy, the level they deserve.
Eat with your friends or family whenever you can. This social support is vital. Also while eating, do not do anything else, such as watching TV or checking your email. If possible, engage in a conversation.
Do not overeat.
With Pak Joe’s encouragement in person and through letters and the facility afforded to me in France, in a very short period of time, I am on my way to achieve the goal set for me: daily exercise and sensible eating.
He has converted many people to his philosophy and the beneficiaries are on the increase. Just this morning one of his managers sent me the latest measurements of a group of his managers. 6 of them had lost 70 kg in total since they began this programme and are able to keep away the weight.
BMI are between 21.5 and 23 kg/m2
The systolic blood pressures are between 100 and 120 mm hg
The diastolic blood pressures are between 66 and 80 mm hg
The pulse rates per minute are around 65; the only one at 80 per minute is a smoker!
Fasting Blood sugars are below 90 mg/dl and random blood sugars after breakfast are below 120 mg/dl.
Pak Joe and his friends have achieved their goal of loosing weight and keeping all “western diseases” at bay by a combination of social, cultural and facilitative methods. Pak Joe allows his managers time to engage in health related activities up to about 3 hours per working day! And he is present in person and spends the communal eating times to talk about compassion and emotional health.
Any programme, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, would be proud of such results. We have to find ways to propagate this anthropologically based social programme that would bring health and happiness to larger groups of people.
In the meantime, I spent all of yesterday afternoon at Thalassa, which is a French invention of Body Care. In a building overlooking the relentless waves of the Brittany coast, special building hosts various water related body relaxations, always using warm seawater pumped and heated up. One goes from one station to the next and various types of water pressure exerts its action on various types of muscle groups. It is like having a three-hour total body massage but it is done by warm seawater and not by any masseuse. The end result is an extreme relaxation of the body. It also gives time for the mind to relax.
(outdoor Jacuzzi at Thalassa in Quiberon, Brittany, France)
The dinner afterwards consisted of steamed artichokes, which is a delicacy in Brittany, dipped in a special butter and onion sauce. You suck on the bases of the leaves and in the end also cut up the heart of the artichoke. It is an extremely healthy food in every way possible. A fresh piece of bread and a glass of two of white wine were the accompaniments, not mentioning the pleasant company.
Thanks Indonesia and France for such enduring gifts and I am glad to be associated with Pak Joe and his gang in Bogor and grateful for the care and 
affections in France.
(Artichoke a delicacy in Brittany, it is grown all around the Mediterranean basin, and imported to california by european immigrants)
(to be differentiated from Jerusalem Artichokes which is native to North America and form a part of the traditional diet of many Native American Indians)
(many UmonHon Indian elders know when and where to collect these plants and their use)

mardi 14 août 2012


I had begun this journey from the Reservation of Omaha Indians of North America, which took me, either on airlines or countries which were mostly Moslem: Qatar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Dubai; and also Cambodia and England. And also, I received a fair bit of correspondence from Iran and Cuba.
Tomorrow I will end my journey at a seaside village in Brittany in France, to reflect this journey.
The highlight of the trip was certainly Indonesia, since I came face to face with people who are trying to do something about the imbalance in this world.
Whether you are an American Indian, or an Asian working in Brunei, Malaysia, Qatar or Dubai or living in poverty stricken Cambodia, one thing is clear: the daily life of oppression that they have to put up with. No Pakistani or Bangladeshi would willingly sacrifice his freedom as he has to in Dubai if he can be guaranteed a good income and a job in his own country. Filipinos by the thousands who are porters, bus drivers, Kerala people driving taxis or selling peanuts, Burmese hotel maids, Vietnamese and Chinese selling duty free goods, every single one out of place.  All had one thing branded on their faces: we are slaves and we know it, we are here for the money and nothing else.
What word in our language would describe their plight? Oppression? Lack of Human Rights? But a more appropriate word would be Impotence. And who can express in words that particular impotence than the poets from countries that suffer extreme violations of human rights? Such as Iran or Chile under Pinochet?  All of us love our beloved Pablo Neruda for the voice he gave to the poor, and the master poet of Liberty is none other than Ahmad Shamlou 1925-2000 from Iran.

I attach a poem by him sent to me from Iran and I have been able to download a documentary about him called Shamlou: the Master Poet of Liberty.

in a land unknown
at a time yet not arrived.
Thus, I was born
within the forest of beast and rock.

My heart
in void
started beating.
I abandoned the cradle of reiteration
in a land with no bird, no spring.

My first journey was a return
from the hope-abrading vistas of thorn and sand,
without having gone far
on the inexperienced feet of the fledgling that was I.

My first journey
was a return.
The vast distance
taught no hope.

I stood on the feet of the novice that was I
facing the horizon ablaze.

I realized that there were no tidings
for in between stood a mirage.
The vast distance taught no hope.
I learnt that there were no tidings:
This boundless
was a prison so huge
that the soul
hid in tears
from shame of impotence.

Read the poem slowly, enjoy the imagery, imagine the desert of despair our fellow human beings are living under the Arabian skies, Malaysian Hypocrisy, The Bruneian arrogance, the Burmese rigidity and the corruption that plagues all the countries of South East Asia.
When I was in Dubai during my stopover, each and every person I met whether from Kerala, Philippines or India or Nepal or from any one of the countries that provide this labour, I would greet them, talk to them. I want to convey to them wordlessly, I know what they are going through, and in the few seconds allotted to me in this conversation, what could I do to bring a little happiness into their lives?
How do I know? I will never talk badly about my second home, but let me assure you that I am not insensitive to the suffering and the impotence of the people there.
We all love to travel, but let it not be from or to stages of Impotence, but to improve our dignity as human beings, to live to the fullest ability of that which has been allotted to us.
In my travels, I saw many Iranians, and I felt like telling them, you have the look and feel of birds released from their prisons and cages. Enjoy..
Thank you Ahmad Shamlou!   Chashm..

samedi 11 août 2012


Arrogance, a Structural Defect of the Mind   KLEISHA
Arrogance arises out of ignorance, and also from attachment, thus connected to other structural defects of our minds, and in addition to the fear of change.
Here lies the beauty of trying to understand the KLEISHAS, their interconnectivity allows us to help reduce them, not singly or by any unique fashion but in a general fashion which makes us a better person, definitely a happier person, and makes our company pleasant for others.
These thoughts were provoked by a comment by an Iranian acquaintance.
How does Ignorance raise Arrogance and what does it do for your future.
An Example. From Cambodia
Two tuk-tuk drivers
One pleasant, graciously accepts the fare agreed upon and says thank you
The other has a grim face, argues for more money and leaves an unpleasant taste for the visitor to his country.
Which one of the two above gets ahead in life?
We wanted to give more money to the first tuk tuk driver, the second one got the exact fare agreed upon, left wondering why he has difficulties financially-which he would always have until he learns to control his mental structural defect. His arrogance, however small scale, arising out of ignorance, dooms his future, whereas the first one makes a pleasant impression on the visitor, is sure to succeed even in this country of intense competition and limited resources. 

I can back it up with case histories, reinforced when I spoke to Ko Maung Maung, owner of the Mandalay Inn in Siem Reap. He informed me that his manager for four years was leaving for a job at a larger hotel for higher pay, and he had encouraged him to do that, being a good Buddhist. I reminded Ko MM, remember, when I first met you, this manager of yours was driving a tuk tuk and you were impressed with him and offered him to drive your car and then promoted him so that he ended up managing your hotel! Now he has gone further ahead. He is still humble, not a trace of arrogance in him and he is bound to reach the pinnacle of his potential. I was also reminded of “William of Chaungtha Beach”, Win Htay, who had begun his adolescence as a humble street vendor and ending up owning a nice restaurant and still marching forward.
Public Education and helpful spiritual education such as a good Buddhist one, would train people to be humble and get ahead in life without rattling any sabres of arrogance.
Ego, Arrogance and Destruction of Relationships
When your ego blinds you, you care less for the opinions of others, you would say, “you believe in what you want”, which in effect means, “I know the truth and I don't care what you think”. This arrogance arising out of ignorance is destructive to relationships. Friendships are for discourses, discursivity in philosophical terms, but not to sparkle conflicts in relationships, just to satisfy ones ego. Humble people usually prefer not to have confrontations; on the contrary, the arrogant ones incite confrontations, taking a certain amount of illicit pleasure from them.
Our duty:
American Indians would say you are bound to come across all sorts of people, when you meet an arrogant person, do not antagonize them but go around them. There is no room for arrogant people in our lives. Humble people could try and bring the arrogance to the notice of those but the ego had blinded them, and the friendships are ended or eroded. It is not our duty to wake up the whole world but it is better to commune with people who are already awake.
Moral of the story:
Humility always wins in the end.
I dedicate this to my friend Joe, the humble man of Bogor with whom I spent this last week, along with some new friends from Malaysia and some old friends from Indonesia

mardi 7 août 2012

Happy Birthday, FIDEL from the shores of the Mekong

Long Live Fidel, Shout my Malaysian and Indonesian Friends

The night had just fallen and we could look at the Mekong River from where we were sitting. Our little group of Malaysians and Indonesians were busily engaged in chatter. It is worthwhile to spend time to cultivate friendships and on this trip I cemented my friendships with my Indonesian friends from Bogor and also met two lovely Chinese gentlemen, both from KL, both businessmen, we hit it off well from the beginning as I have a recent shared history with Malaysia.
I had ordered a Mojito, a drink popularized by Ernest Hemingway in Cuba, even though the drink was present as long as sugar cane has been cultivated in Cuba, long before Hemingway’s sojourn in Cuba.
I told the bartender that I would like it as it is prepared in Cuba, and he obliged and I tasted it remembering the lazy evenings with friends in Baracoa when my neighbour Miguelin used to prepare the best Mojito.
My friends also wanted to try and a round was ordered. When it arrived, the Malaysian businessman, who had studied at University of Malaya in the 1970s and had read and admired Che Guevara, announced, let us drink this praying for the good health of Fidel!
I was more than gratified to echo their sentiments, so El Jefe Comandante, you were being remembered on the shores of the Mighty Mekong River on this evening in August. Feliz Cumpleanos, August 13th!

samedi 4 août 2012


Mind/Body Exercise Programme Initiated by the Humble Boss of Bogor (see a previous blog about him)
One hears very often, in the medical circles in the USA, “you know, the patients are not going to loose weight and Lifestyle changes do not work, they need to take medications”. No wonder the drug companies love them, an average “patient” may be on 12-17 pills per day!
Many of the counselling regarding the Exercise aspect of the Lifestyle coaching fail because an important aspect of the sequence is left out: the MIND.
It is good to understand the changes one need to make in the way of thinking before attempting to reduce weight or make changes to lifestyle. The attempt falters because of lack of purpose. I have always believed the reverse of the roman dictum: It is in a healthy mind that a healthy body can exist, is my belief.
Mr J who runs a successful business in Bogor, who travels abroad frequently (I met him one such trip of his to the USA) has consciously taken upon himself to put principles of good thinking and behaving in the management of ones health and happiness.
What is amazing to me is that what he preaches and practises are universal, it resonates with the teachings of Dalai Lama, it can synchronize itself with the way American Indians think, it is almost out of the pages of Yoga Sutra. But he has arrived at this by his observation of the world and nature around him, much like the philosophers of yesteryears.

On this Saturday morning, five of his managerial staff has joined him, and the visiting anthropologist (c’est moi!) by the shores of a lake. The early morning mist was tenderly hanging on before the onslaught of the tropical sun when we arrived there.
The seven of us engaged in various activities, one of whom had his mountain bike with him, some were jogging, some were walking briskly. Putting on the shoes (asard gel) Mr J had lent me, I joined him in conversation and a brisk walk of about 3km around the lake.briefly meeting others on the way and chatting and laughing. At around 8 30, we had all gathered at a spot over looking the lake, there we stretched and relaxed and the air was full of laughter and joy.
What a lovely scene!
There is more to this pleasant scene. The five employees have lost more than 60 kg in weight since they joined the effort to pay attention to health and happiness. From a minimum of 8 kg, to a maximum of 17 kg. The man, who had lost 17 kg, had been trying on his own, occasionally indulging in running and not having a schedule regarding his health. He had begun to work with Mr J quite recently. His BMI was at 27.4 that to an Asian is in the obesity range, and now he can boast a BMI of 21.4 kg/m2 considered a normal value for Asians (less than 22). He is now at the same weight that he carried when he entered the university. Mr J himself many years after his entrance to the university is within 2 kg of his weight of that time.
So the new rule could become: How much did you weight when you entered the university? Let us try and reach that weight, since most people have finished their linear growth at that time.
The five were from different age groups, so no more excuse to use your age to justify your weight. At every opportunity, Mr J talks to them and after the morning session, we spent many hours in the office discussing, and health, culture and happiness and I tried to answer their questions, bringing in the various schools of philosophy.
Mr J’s own philosophy rings true of all universal philosophies:
Be grateful
Sacrifice for others
Pay attention to Relationships
Be compassionate.
We are in a poor country or at least in a country with wide range of income and thus gaps. I noticed that he never referred to the materially deprived people of the society as POOR but he called them, less fortunate, thus removing yet another judgement hurdle for the masses of people.
My breakfast after the two-hour session by the lake consisted, among others, Bubur Ayam, which tasted delicious. There was an elderly lady sitting down in the resto, dispensing a strong ginger drink that was very soothing.
We had time to discuss, I checked the blood pressure and Blood sugar of all the people at the office, and there were about seven managers and Mr J.
The Blood Pressure readings were between 115-105 systolic and 55-75 diastolic! The pulse rates were uniformly around 65 per minute. Since it was Ramadan, four of them were fasting, their blood sugars were below 90mg/dl and those of us who had eaten all boasted Blood sugars below 120 mg/ml post prandially.
Any doctor would be proud to have such readings among his patient cohort. No western medications can make you loose weight to this extent. Mr J had helped his staff loose weight in a very natural way, talking and following it up with his own example and also facilitating for his staff to engage in exercise: giving them time off, and making sure they have the facilities to do exercise and most importantly giving them an opportunity to learn more about the philosophy behind it all.
Mr J and I will be discussing how to bring this Bogor Method of Health and Happiness to a greater audience here in Jawa and Indonesia.
I am so glad that I took that early morning flight from Omaha to Los Angeles in March of this year, and met my seatmate, Mr J from Bogor. As American Indians say: Nothing happens without a reason.
 (Bubur Ayam at Harris Hotel Breakfast, Sentul city, Bogor, Indonesia)

vendredi 3 août 2012


Exactly 44 hours after leaving the Blue House among the Indians, I walked out of the customs hall at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport at CGK in Jakarta..Visa on arrival, you pay them 25 dollars and they give you a stamp and the immigration official affixes the stamp on your passport and within a minute or so you are out of the immigration and customs hall.
The Flight was a Qatar Airways Flight from Doha to Jakarta, a nine hour flight, very similar to Miami to Paris. The breakfast had been exceptionally good, even by QR Qatar Airways standards..
My friends were waiting at the airport and very soon we were on our way to Bogor, Friday and it was around 430 pm and within one hour it is the time for Buka Bersaman, eating together, a metaphor for breaking the Ramadan Fast.
Jakarta is a very congested city and depending upon the time of the day, you can be in traffic for hours on end. We were not unlucky and within one hour and half we arrived at the Resto Gunung Mas, a family seafood restaurant in Sentul City which is in the outskirts of Bogor.
There were six of them, Javanese names do not give you a clue about their religious affiliation.. even though one has to assume that most people are moslem in this populous islamic country.
You know enough about Indonesian food, so what would you like? asked my friend, who is in charge of the Travel Agency here in Bogor.
A typical Indo meal was requested: fish, chicken, shrimp, green vegetables. Time passed quickly enough and i noticed that no one was gorging themselves but eating just enough to satisfy their apetite. 
We went upstairs to the offices of my friend, whom I had come to visit, the humble man of Bogor.
He has Nespresso coffee machine and it was nice to drink a familiar drink and it was time to repair to the hotel room to fall asleep.

I must say that there was not a single discussion about Religion or Ramadan but mainly the conversation was centered around the purpose of my visit to Bogor and Jakarta: Health and Happiness and Compassion towards others...

Even though Malay and Indonesian are sister languages, Indonesian is a bit more ornate..
Cakap in Malay for Talk.. saya mau cakap Melayu where as it is Bechara.. saya mau bechara bahasa indonesia..