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dimanche 28 octobre 2012


Yellow Tail is without doubt the most popular Australian brand of wine known in the USA and UK.. But it was virtually unknown before 2000.
The top 10 popular brands in the Liquor industry are all spirits and they all have wonderful histories. Branding rather than country or region of origin.

 (about to finish off a bottle of Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina with my friend E at Restaurant La Bodeguita in Buenos Aires, Argentina)
The best-known brand is Smirnoff, which has nothing to do with Russia; it is owned and produced by a British Company.
Captain Morgan has nothing to do with Jamaica except historically for being a pirate in that turbulent region. Bronfman, a Canadian Jew bought the recipe for spiced rum from two Jewish pharmacists in Jamaica, the Levy Brothers and began manufacturing and selling it. It is the most recognized brand of rum around the world.
Bacardi Rum is not made in Cuba but in Bahamas, Puerto Rico or elsewhere. But the association is always with Cuba. The original factory in Santiago de Cuba still stands and produces Havana Club, which is a far superior product than the weak Bacardi rum sold abroad.
Coming back to Yellow Tail, most of its wine and their grapes come not from their vineyard but is gathered from all around Australia, not from Riverina where the owner is located!

This is a trend which began in 1940s and now well entrenched. If you want a good sauvignon Blanc, buy a bottle of Kim Crawford at a reputable store. If you fall for Marlborough Valley label on the wine, you may be falling for origin of the grapes from various parts of the valley and is not even bottled in a winery in the region. I have seen this over and over again on wine bottles from South Africa with strange sounding African names or from Chile with imitated mapuche Indian names. So I have learned that if the name sounds a little strange, the wine origins are also a bit strange.
I am off to Cuba where the drinking culture is purely rum locally produced to satisfy the population. Havana Club White, which is sold for about 4 dollars a bottle, is excellent to make a Cuba Libre, and Anejo 7 year old is good to sip…
While I am there, drinking a good glass of wine is just a hope and a dream… but there is a difference. In Cuba, drinking Rum, you do it with friends and incessant conversations. So it is very social and very satisfying from a personal point of view.

So, with a sauvignon Blanc from 360 degrees from Santa Ana in hand, I salute you… LChaim. To life…

Drinking wine, a glass or two with your meals, is certainly good for your health; I recommend it as an Endocrinologist and specialist in Nutrition…

samedi 27 octobre 2012


Up here we are HUMAN...learning to be a Human Being among the Indians..

I have spent the past week with the Lakota at Cheyenne River. As each day came to a close, the darkness already well in place when I leave the building at 7 pm, a silent prayer escaped me, to the empty void outside: Grateful for this life, Grateful for the Indians who accept me and who validate this life of service to them.
It would take the entire day of traveling to reach Miami from this village of the Lakota: drive 200 km to Rapid City and fly to Miami with stops in Denver and Houston. It is no effort to do this, when I know that smiles, laughs and hugs wait for me at the reservation.
Lakota has wonderful names: Crow Ghost, Fast Horse, Iron Hawk, Brings Plenty, Taken Alive, Lone Eagle, Bald Eagle, Good Eagle, Two Dogs, Red Elk, Yellow Owl, Blue Arm, Kills Crow, Black Tail Deer. The beauty of these names never cease to bring joy to my heart.. When you are here, someone introducing themselves as Walking Elk, seems so natural that you look at White Americans as intruders  to this sacred land of the Indians.
The Administrative Assistant of the programme and her husband, an impeccably dressed indian in a cowboy hat with an inscrutable face and economy of words, comes to pick me up. We usually have lunch together and then begin the drive through the strange beauty of this land, which millions of years ago was under water..
Ably co ordinated by my friend, MWE, who has gathered a nice group of people to assist her, I look forward to my bi annual visit to them. They make me feel so welcome, respectfully listen to my words that I bring to them.

My Lakota friends know that I have come to educate parents about Nutrition,among other aspects of being healthy and happy, so they pay special attention . Each day fresh meals are prepared and we share the lunch time together, eating and laughing and talking.
Apart from the counseling sessions I came here to do, I was able to talk to the senior students at high school about Career Choices. Choose a profession that suits your personality and if you can, choose carefully whom you are going to work with or for. Being happy and content at what you do is far more important than making money just doing a job, I told them. I was surprised that they were listening to me intently and asking me various questions which i answered with relevant references and stories about the outside world which many of them are yet to experience.

It is always good to see children in the Lower Grades and it is a sheer pleasure to talk to them about Health. The above kids were very cooperative when I examined them for the protocol of the programme.
The Third Graders were a whole different story, they wanted to hear stories, wanted to ask questions and they asked very intelligent questions about Geography (marsupials in Australia), Food, Travel. I thoroughly enjoyed that session.

Imagine my surprise when an Indian with the name Brings Plenty recognizes my pendant with a portrait of Che.. and wanted to talk about his travels in South America! He told me stories of his travels to Venezuela and Colombia and had visited Pemon living in the Grand Sabana Grassland dotted with mysterious Tepui. I told him, When I arrived there to greet the three Cuban doctors working there, I was told to pay my respects to the Chief of the Village who proudly told me: My two sons are studying Medicine in Cuba. In fact i checked, a Pemon Indian was among the first graduates of the International Medical School at la Habana, Cuba (ELAM).

There were many wonderful human gifts to end my week here. The last adolescent I saw had lost weight, had decreased his fat mass and was looking content.  A long term friend of mine from this tribe with whom I had worked elsewhere, turned up for a loud reunion.

The best reward certainly was to go to the home of Mrs M LeB who wanted to discuss about generational trauma and wanted to teach me a thing or two about the Lakota.
As I was about to leave to attend people waiting for me, she asked:
Do you know how I celebrated my last birthday on October 12 just past?  She smiled mischievously and says, we went and climbed the Bear Butte..
she got into her car and drove to her next appointment!
She was celebrating her 93rd birthday!

I promised to my self: To show my gratitude to the Lakota who gave me so much during my stay with them, I will try to be more human, a better person, a better friend, a better lover, a better father to my family and friends all over the world...

some of the beaded gifts for my family..

Images of Bear Butte State Park, South Dakota
This photo of Bear Butte State Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor

mercredi 24 octobre 2012


Praying for Sister Jackie and Mammig and offering gratitude to Dr Wang, Miami and IGR at Villejuif, Paris
The outside temperature is 0 C (32 F). Yesterday had been a wonderfully sunny and pleasant day in the Plains, with blue skies. Light rain began falling in the evening and with it brought the cold.
We arrived at the start of the walk for Breast Cancer at this village of Lakota Indians at the designated time. Indians do not follow clock time but when every one is ready, is the right time.
Children from Head Start were trooping in, their heads covered with colourful apparels and each holding hands of a friend, and teachers guiding them.
The adults were ready, no one was prepared for this weather, so one could see people improvising material to protect their heads and hands from freezing.
I said to myself, yes it is cold, but it is nothing compared to the suffering of women who has to go through chemotherapy for their breast cancer.
A Police Car rode in front, with the leaders of the march carrying a banner.. Fight Like A Girl…
Behind it was a van and from it blared the drumbeats of the songs of the Indians. The Little ones trooped behind and all of us mixed with each other and began walking towards the end of the main road, to the Tribal Head Quarters.

I felt good participating in this walk along with the Indians whom I had come to see. I said to myself: the Indians of North America has really made a better person out of me; it is truly a privilege to know them and be accepted by them. Come with a clean heart and no agenda, Indians would accept you and you assist them in any way you can, but not direct them to be something they don't want to be. They are not brown skinned Americans, but Lakota, Omaha, Winnebago, Meskwakia, Kickapoo, Seminole, and Alabama-Coushatta…
When we reached the end of the walk, we all huddled together and waited for an elder who has survived breast cancer.
She began talking in the ancient Lakota Language and then she would switch and speak a little bit in English.
We are at spiritual war, she intoned, and we have to pray hard, because prayer is our tool, our weapon against misfortune.
I pray for all the people, those who have crossed over and the young ones in front of us.
I have made this song for them and I will sing and pray for you, she continued..
She cleared her throat several times and in a high pitched tone, began singing in Lakota, almost in a pleading voice to the Great Spirit. Every one including the little ones were silent, heads bowed.

It was a special moment for me. I am with the Indians, a people I have always respected and loved and who have accepted me into their midst. In various parts of this land they call the Turtle Island..
I am fortunate to have the love of my families in Miami, France and my dearest friends in Cuba…
It was also a significant day for me, because
Api Pes Ko nea, or White Flower in the Kickapoo language was completing her third year of life. May all this love be a blessing upon her..

mardi 23 octobre 2012


Miami is not the place one expects to say a large mural of Aung San Suu Kyi. The majority of people in Miami are either Immigrants or children of Immigrants, at least half of them from Cuba. So a staunch anti-communist discourse and hatred towards anything that smacks of any liberalism hangs in the air.
During the many years, The Lady spent under house arrest in Rangoon (the Military Regime of Burma has to be one of the worst to govern a country as placid as Burma), her face became known to the world and it was seen all over the world. In Paris, certain intersections had huge banners pleading for her release. In Havana, we could even buy the Spanish translation of her book.
but MIami?
When immigrants arrive at new shores, almost all of them driven by economic forces, they tend to become selfish and inward looking and very oblivious to the needs of the local people. Only when their children grow up in the new lands that they begin to question the political thinking of their parents. Something like that may be happening in Miami, where hatred of Cuba (they cant distinguish between Cuba the country of their birth and Fidel Castro who ruled it for a long time, so dislike of one flows into another) was prevalent, I see signs of it slowing down, with american born, well educated Cuban-Americans, being kinder to their ancestral land. Also there is a gentrification of Miami downtown area. This restaurant and a coffee shop we visited nearby are in a place where no one would have dared to tread a few years ago, now abounds with galleries and cafes and other symbols of gentrification.
Welcome to the New Miami.. hopefully soon the Gateway to Cuba!
The flight from Miami to Cuba takes only 32 minutes but it is truly an experience of modern travel to transit  two so different worlds: same people but different brains...
The twining of Miami and La Habana, which is bound to happen, can only be good for the psychology of the cuban minds in Miami and economically beneficial to the Cuban businesses in Cuba..
The following Lunch was at Morgans Restaurant in this newly gentrified Wynwood area of downtown Miami..

lundi 22 octobre 2012

Kaddish for Sen. George McGovern 1922-2012


Once on my way to the Yankton Indian Reservation in South Dakota, I was excited to see that the name of the next town on the road was AVON.
Avon, South Dakota
I scratched my head and looked at the mist of memories.
In the heady days of kindness towards others in the world of politics, there was an international surge of Giants.Whitlam in Australia, Trudeau in Canada, Manley in Jamaica…
And believe it or not, for someone growing up in Australia, USA was represented in his mind by none other than George Mc Govern born in 1922 at the village of Avon, South Dakota, son of a Methodist minister. At one time he was the only senator with a PhD or other doctorate degree!
Later I arrived in the USA, to find a country, too distant from the visions of Sen. George McGovern. What would have happened if he had become the President? While visiting Yakima in the state of Washington, Bernal B, a good friend of mine said: Justice Douglas, the most liberal judge ever seated in the supreme court of America, had a great chance of becoming the President…
Politics is such. Fake people become leaders, with their polite talk and deceiving tongue.
I arrived in South Dakota on a flight from Miami via Chicago. The young man who was the driver for the shuttle was from California and was ignorant of the senator. I had chances to talk about him to a couple of others I had a chance to meet that day. In this state that is so conservative at the moment that it is hard to believe that it also gave birth to Senator George McGovern.

Rest in Peace, Senator, your influence was much greater than you could have ever imagined…Many in Australia saw in you the hope and optimism and liberalism of what they considered to be the prime qualities of America.

I shall say Kaddish for this gleam of light from the Plains who shone so brightly for so many years. May his memory help others remember, that this country holds great promise, the elections are very close, don't be fooled by fake, insincere people who are more interested in themselves and their ilk, than the welfare of the other half of the population….

mardi 16 octobre 2012



A friend of mine was going down to Barbados on business. I thought of the day when my friend Rudi Webster took me through the back door of the Government House and introduced me to an elegant black man in the kitchen, who asked: how would you like your eggs cooked?
He turned out to be Hon. Errol Barrow, PM of Barbados. An illustrious giant with history of service to his nation, he read Economics at LSE at a time when his contemporaries included:
Forbes Burnham, Michael Manley, Pierre Trudeau, Lee Kuan Yew… all movers and shakers of then world.

I wanted to tell my friend going down to Barbados, kindly ask around for my friend Rudi Webster who had made a name for himself in Sports Psychology and at one time was the Bajan Ambassador to the USA.
That gave me pause to thinkå of the brief time, when I was a Junior Doctor at University of Melbourne and the WI cricketers had come to call. It was a dynamic team that included the likes of
Richards, Holding, Rowe, Roberts, Lloyed, Croft, Garner, Kallicharan.
Whatever happened to Lawrence Rowe, I wondered, thinking of his batting being described as a poetry in motion.
My brother J and I  were taking a mutual friend H to the Bascom Eye Hospital in Miami, considered one of the best Eye Hospitals in the world. I was looking forward to visiting the Institute, where I had spent considerable part of one year in the company of my teachers, Professors Glaser and Schatz.
Our friend H was in considerable pain in his eye, we waited for a certain amount of time at the crowded waiting room and H was soon summoned. I went in with him.
This is the Clinic Nurse, said H, she is from the Motherland, referring of course to the previous colonial ruler of both our countries, Jamaica as well as Australia.
I sat down quietly as she continued on the routine of checking through the notes and checking various medications. I noticed that she was thorough in what she was doing. I had decided to remain quiet rather than interjecting unnecessarily out of curiosity. This here friend of mine, H said later to her, is a professor of Endocrinology. That seemed to have perked up her interest.
In the conversation that followed, we discovered that we both might have been students in London around the same time; she had trained at St Bart’s and later at Moorefield’s Eye Hospital (the current Butcher of Damascus, Assad can be counted as an alumni as there are thousands others). She mentioned Prof Gordon Besser, whose work on Pituitary Gland was familiar to me.
I liked the way she was explaining the current problem to the sufferer, our friend H. I was very satisfied that level of care in this institution has kept its international reputation.
Lunchtime crept in, so we had to wait for the Consultant to come in. In the meantime, I decided to go out to the Waiting room and keep company to my brother J.
Gregarious as he is, I saw him chatting away to a couple of people. I went in and said: I can’t leave you alone for a few minutes and I am sure you have identified every single Jamaican in this room. He grins and turns around, points out to the man and asks me, do you know who this is?
I looked at him, it took me no more than a couple of seconds, and I blurted: It is Lawrence Rowe.
I shook his hands and said to him, I have met you once before when you were touring Australia, and you were at the home of Rudi Webster where we had a nice WI style Christmas party.
And then, as if it was yesterday, I said, I remember the game at MCG, Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Hayes opened the innings and then came Sir Vivian Richards (at that time, simply Viv Richards) and bashed the Australians, including LIllee and Thompson

West Indies innings (48 overs maximum)
c †Marsh b Lillee
c †Marsh b Thomson
not out
not out
(b 1, lb 10)
(2 wickets; 48 overs)
(5.64 runs per over)

West Indies defeated Australia by 80 runs.

We had a great time reminiscing about those days of West Indian Mighty Cricket and the innocence of Australia that worshipped these Calypsonians (and reggae) from the other side of the world.
We talked about our friend Rudi Webster also.
It was such a pleasant feeling, to recapture some moments in which the heart had been so full of pure emotions for islands so far away, clutching to the hands of the person I was with, with pride in my new friends.
Soon our friend H joined us, he seemed to be free of pain and arrangements had been made for his continuing care.
In one morning, in a corner of Miami, so many thoughts and countries and feelings come together. Casualidad es no tan Casual, we say in Cuba and I must add what Alvaro Mutis’ alter ego Maqroll would say, echoing what American Indians have always believed in: Coincidences do not exist, it is we who lack the power to understand the importance of such meetings and occurrences.
Melbourne, London, Kingston all had come together that morning at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.
As I walked out, I felt grateful for all the forces that made this happen, and most of all that our mutual friend H was now free of pain and guaranteed a good chance of full recovery of his sight.
I silently said Kaddish for my teacher, Professor Glaser.

Yit-ga-dal v'yit-ka-dash sh'mei ra-ba,
b'al-ma di-v'ra chi-ru-tei, v'yam-lich mal-chu-tei
b'chai-yei-chon uv'yo-mei-chon
uv'chai-yei d'chol-beit Yis-ra-eil,
ba-a-ga-la u-viz-man ka-riv,
v'im'ru: A-mein.

Y'hei sh'mei ra-ba m'va-rach
l'a-lam ul'al-mei al-ma-ya.

Yit-ba-rach v'yish-ta-bach,
v'yit-pa-ar v'yit-ro-mam v'yit-na-sei,
v'yit-ha-dar v'yit-a-leh v'yit-ha-lal, sh'mei d'ku-d'sha, b'rich hu,
l'ei-la min kol bir-cha-ta v'shi-ra-ta,
tush-b'cha-ta v'ne-che-ma-ta, da-a-mi-ran b'al-ma,
v'im'ru: A-mein.

Y'hei sh'la-ma ra-ba min sh'ma-ya,
v'cha-yim, a-lei-nu v'al kol-Yis-ra-eil,
v'im'ru: A-mein.

O-seh sha-lom bim-ro-mav,
hu ya-a-seh sha-lom a-lei-nu v'al kol-Yis-ra-eil,
v'im'ru: A-mein.
 Of Bajan Jewish interest is the fact that a prominent Jewish family had arrived there from London in the 17th century, Baruh Louzada family. Hon. Errol Barrow (the name Baruh had become Barrow, they say) is supposed to have been descended from the illustrious Baruh Louzada family ..