vendredi 9 août 2013
CUBA IN MY HEART: AN INCREDIBLE ENCOUNTER AT ISTANBUL AIRPORT
CUBA IN MY HEART
INCREDIBLE ENCOUNTER AT TK ICP LOUNGE AT ISTANBUL AIRPORT
American Indians say, Things happen for Reason. There are no coincidences, it is just we cannot understand its significance.
My Meskwakia teacher advised me, another time, Stop looking for people, those who you need to meet would come your way.
And in Cuba, we say: Casualidad no es tan casual!
The Turkish Airlines International ICP lounge at IST airport sets the standard for International Airline Lounges. None in the USA or Canada can hold a candle to it, busy they are trying to wreak a few dollars out of you for a stale sandwich.
Welcome to Istanbul Lounge.
Fresh Food prepared by Chef(s) on duty
Mediterranean Salad medley, better than most restaurants in the West
A Tea Bar where you can taste Natural Teas. I tasted Linden, Sage, and many more were available.
Wines… We are not yet in an Islamist state here in Turkey, I noted. Compare to the paltry offerings, almost ascetic at the Egyptair Lounge in Cairo!
I must say two other lounges come to mind. Virgin Airways Lounge at London Heathrow, where once I had a quick haircut and had my shoes shined. Qatar Airways Lounge at Doha where there were five restaurants for your pleasure, and a fully stocked bar. A nice blend of Arab Islam and the Modern world and they can see eye to with the west and gain from the West.
Terminal 2E Air France Lounge at CDG, has good champagne and a variety of reading material, albeit all of them being in French.
Changi SQ lounges at Singapore, like the country they represent, lack imagination and vivaciousness.
MH lounge at KLIA, while I like it for personal reasons, is feeble and rather anaemic. TG lounges at BKK are good for foot massages but lack in fresh food choices and especially their choice of drinks.
I arrived at this lounge after an 11-hour flight from IAH. Immediately presented myself to the concierge who enquired whether I wanted just a shower or a rest in the suite. After the shower, I sat down to enjoy this “bakery in the sky”
Sage Tea. Some olives. Cappuccino. Baklava. Using the free Wi-Fi, sending photos to friends, especially who know this city and others who like to travel. Newspapers in English. I knew two hours in this lounge would be insufficient to enjoy all the delicacies, especially the food. I as planning to have the chef prepare, grilled chicken, Mediterranean salad, along with a Turkish Sauvignon Blanc.
I did not get a chance to do the above, but instead I had an incredible encounter with a Scottish Gent, based in Singapore and as it turned out, An Absolute Lover of Cuba!
I had gone over to the desk of the Concierge, to express my gratitude in writing at their guest book. After praising them, I signed off,
One World Sapphire
Star Alliance Gold
Sky team God,
La Habana, Cuba
I was aware of someone talking to the Concierge making a reservation for a shower and a suite for few hours. When I finished writing, I was face to face with him: North European look easily could be mistaken for a Scandinavian. Blonde Hair. Not Overweight, when he spoke I could detect a soft Scottish accent.
Absolutely the best lounge, he said.
Of course, I said and thus began our conversation about various Lounges around the world including the sterile one in Changi.
Without any prompt from me, he said, of all the places in the world, the best place I like is Havana, Cuba!
La Habana, Cuba? I asked him incredulously, staring at the incongruity of it all.
Yes, the people, the country, the ambiance, there is no country in the world like that! He extolled.
That was like giving me a gift of gold. My Little Island, full of gentle people who are my friends, the many people I know there.
Someone, a European, based in Singapore, well travelled is singing songs of praise of my little island.
Of course, I tell him of the moveable feast that is La Habana, and the epoca de Oro in Baracoa.
In between mentioning the names of Cuban poets, my mother (Ministry of Culture) and Carlos Amores (Cuban ambassador to Malaysia until recently), it must have come out that I was a Medical Doctor.
I have ben just diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes!
Another shock from him!
He looked very fit, and I cannot imagine him standing in line at any one of those McDo restos along with the overweight Chinese adolescents, in Singapore.
Our conversation turned to as to why he has Diabetes.
Genetic? He queried, somewhat affirmatively,
But no one in your family has type 2 diabetes? No, he agreed.
Then briefly I told him about the “old type 2 DM” where your old aunt came down with it in her twilight years, and the “ new type 2 DM” which is metabolic and diagnosed very early under a spectrum of reasons. The conversation turned to the excellent care the Cuban patients with Type 2 DM receive, a short history of DM in Cuba. During the Soviet era, the prevalence was low in Cuba, at the dissolution of the Soviet Aid and the Special period with its food restrictions, the rate of Diabetes soared, raising the Cuban Paradox. The Anxiety of the Social situation giving rise to Type 2 Diabetes.
He was intently listening.
I told him about Escuela de Medicine de Latin America ELAM where there are about 18500 poor students from all over the world studying Medicine. The backbone of Cuban character, the solidarity, the very essence of Fidelismo. You can find students from Tuvalu, Bhutan and Timor Leste studying Medicine in Cuba, I told him proudly.
And of the vitriolic journalists, like Andres Oppenheimer who in 1991 wrote a book called, The Last hours of Fidel Castro. It is Oppenheimer whose last hours are being cradled in the treacherous hands of right wing Cubans of Miami! He and other traitors to the Cuban Revolution, make a living out of the Hate spewing out of their mouths in the Anti Cuban Factory of words in Miami, including Carlos Alberto Montaner, who is a product of that hatred. People who do not visit Cuba or get their information second and third hand from people orchestrating an opinion, will not understand that Cuba’s standing among Latin American Nations is much better than the Extremists of Miami.
Why do they keep on comparing Cuba to Miami and themselves? He asked.
Because Cuba will not allow them to exploit, cheat and steal from public funds. 52% of all Medicare Frauds in USA involving Diabetes are committed in Miami! And the doctors and functionaries involved all have names such as Fernandez, Hernandez, and Izquierdo etc. Enough said.
The Cubans have contributed to Miami but also have contributed an enormous amount of ill will towards the local population (ask the Blacks or the whites who live in Miami). Look at the census, Cuban areas of Miami are the most segregated areas in the entire USA, and what does it say? Trying to recreate the racism, which existed before the triumph of the Cuban Revolution? They helped George W Bush, the least popular President in recent history get elected by fraudulent methods, was it in 2000? That is well established. Look at Marc Rubio; a right wing politician has already been caught telling lying about his Cuban Birth! (They lie about themselves but doubt the truth with anyone else, as is typical of the fascists. They would deny that Barack was born in the USA!)
Our conversation flowed on and on.
I gave him my visiting card. He shakes hands and introduces himself. He has been going to Cuba for seven years to set up Energy Company, renewable Energy sources. And is absolutely thrilled with it.
You and I both have stars on our chests that say Contrarians. If not for the contrarians, people would still be thinking that the world is flat and that the Sun rotates around the Earth.
It is only by going against the current; we can shine a little light on what appears only as a possibility.
Let us hope our paths cross again, in La Habana, Cuba. He hurried to the area of the Shower Stalls.
Good Bye, Sauvignon Blanc from Turkey, Grilled Chicken Fillet. If I don't hurry, the Turkish Airlines Flight to Brussels will take off without me. So, I rushed to gate 311, which was a good rush away, boarded the bus, already packed full, to the Airbus 320, ready to take us all to Bruxelles.
I said to myself
I am grateful to Cuba, which gives on giving me.
Surprises, pleasures, Knowledge and Happiness. Contributing very much to the person that I am.
Dr SYKS, a Jew, a Doctor without Borders, is Cuban at heart and misses his little island, mi isla Rica, each day he is away from Cuba.