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samedi 9 novembre 2013



Almost always, my friend the Sage of Sioux City would say, Capitalism rewards the wrong type of person. I am assuming, hopefully that I do not fall into the “wrong” category nor does Steve Avery of Sioux City.
In the travel industry alone, I look at the well paid CEOs (4-6 million dollars per year)- such as the Budget Airlines Spirit, Ryan Air which have a business model that brings a 10 % return on investment and 0% in  terms of human satisfaction. The fact that a Malaysian Indian, Tony Fernandes, runs the best low cost airline in the world, Air Asia, is a testimony that a business model a la Virgin Atlantic with Asian humility can be combined to the satisfaction of all.
But when does Capitalism reward the “right” person? I think it is when the “right” person does not succumb to the temptations of capitalism, the forces that drive that system: Greed, Desire, Lack of Compassion.
If you have no desire for a Louis Vuitton handbag, you would not be worried whether Tokyo or Jakarta has the second largest LV store! Or how much those bags cost in each of the stores. If you have not greedy, you are neither jealous nor contemptuous of that greedy Ecuadorian Endocrinologist drives a fancy car while taking medications for depression!
Say Good Morning to all people when you travel, insists my good friend Joe, the humble man of Bogor, who smiled at me while both waited for an early morning flight at an obscure airport. Now we have become very close friends and I have visited him many times in various parts of the world. A cheerful smile many times has led to fruitful evens in Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Paris, Amsterdam etc…
You have to get rid of a false sense of pride, the thought that you are a more important person, something capitalism will not teach you.
In 2008, on a flight from KUL to REP in Cambodia, there was a chance encounter, once again pride over friendliness that led to my meeting some wonderful people in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
These human moments are priceless, no credit card can pay for it, no job can prepare you for it, no amount of salary will facilitate it.
My brother Joe, in Miami, of Cuban-Jamaican-Syrian ancestry is an example of compassion and kindness and these extends to all-the exuberance and peace of being with him, cannot be had for a price.
Just because the system we live under almost anywhere in the world is capitalistic (including my poor little island of Cuba, where socialism at a societal level flourishes but can’t be said to flourish at the economic or political levels), we do not have to EMBODY the fangs of it: greed, desire and lack of compassion.
So what happens to this writer, who does not embrace capitalism but is rewarded by the Capitalist society?
As I told my good friend Brandy at AVIS rent a car agency at Omaha airport who always has a big smile for me: Even if someone makes a whole heap of money, they cannot AFFORD  to live like me!
 My colleague Michele S, UmonHon friends M and R
 A young Hocank dancer
 the impeccable Indian from Lakota country 
 home of the Makah Indians
 how can a jewish boy survive without lox and bagel?
 shalom bear who went from North Miami to French Alps
 a thai meal in Honolulu
visitors from Denmark and Jamaica
with colleagues visiting patients at the village of Cherry Creek, South Dakota 
 sister friend D of the Yakama
(a viet success story: from refugee to a medical doctor)
Free First Class Tickets on International Flights: BA to Bangkok, LH to Frankfurt from Beijing, TG from London, AB from Dusseldorf to Miami and forthcoming LH trips to MCT. I am upgraded to First Class most of the time while flying domestically in the USA, always Free.
Lounges at Airports. On a recent morning at LAX I was surprised at the traffic at the departure area, long lines for coffee at brand name shops. Even though I missed my Cuban Cortadito, I quietly slipped into the American Airlines Admirals Club for a cup of tea. I have enjoyed extraordinary lounges, just this year, at IST, KUL, BKK, LHR to name a few.
There is always a warm welcome waiting for you at the hotels, but you have to choose them right. During the last trip in the USA, I stayed at Hilton and enjoyed each one of them, I was given an upgraded room, better room, free wifi and free breakfast etc.
But it was good to chat with Nur the Ethiopian driver of the hotel shuttle at PHX, Miguel at LAX, the Bengali poet at the desk in Vancouver, BC and surprisingly, Angelo the Choctaw at Omaha Hilton. None of these would have exciting if I did not have excellent personal time with friends,  my family in Miami ( Time is the precious gift); two visitors from Denmark, one from Jamaica;good friends from JMH days; a Thai Lunch with an Omaha speaking American lady in Honolulu, the museum director at the Makah Indian reservation at Olympic Peninsula, lovely Vietnamese visitors at Yakima, a kind Jewish rheumatologist in Seattle, my sister friends in Winnebago and Yakama, my other Indian friends all along the Indian country.  All these happened in a matter of three weeks..
As Indians would say, Mitakuye Oyasin. We are all related.
Which can be translated for the western mind as,

Without relationships, nothing holds much value.