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dimanche 31 août 2014


For  MM et LBGS
Le Mal du Pays
Diamond Head

menhirs in quiberon

sacred hill for the lakota 

wickiup in sierra madre oriental 
Often translated as 
Homesickness or Melancholy
It is more like.
“a groundless sadness called forth in a person's heart by a pastoral landscape”
Franz Liszt's
Years of Pilgrimage Suite
Year 1 Switzerland

Saudade em Portuges
Sodade em Criol Cabo Verdiana, kabuverdiana
It was a late Friday afternoon
There was still light streaming into the kitchen
At the Pont Street Flat
I made some coffee
Turned the radio on
To a London Station specializing in world music
Sodade, Sodade, minha terra sao nicalao
It was the year I was doing some postgraduate medical studies in London
That is when Cesaria Evora entered my life.
But Saudade had entered my vocabulary long before
Perhaps I had been born with the sensation of 
It just took years to name it?
it is such my friends
the end is always the same
whatever had happened,
the beauty, the magic,
nothing matters-


What does saudade matter?
All that you could give each other 
Only tore you apart--
E manha sera otra dia…

What images pass through
This crystalline heart of mine
Fragrances that were forgotten
How could one not remember such knots of passion?

Where was that?
How could one not forget?
Significa en portugues un afecto interior; una ansia por ver la cosa amada, un pesar por no tenerla presente, y, en fin, en esta palabra estan comprendidas una fuerza de amor y otros conceptos que en ninguna otra lengua pueden expresarse
Antonio Sousa de Macedo  Lisboa 1631

…sabe expresar con mucha mayor fuerza y energia la constancia del amor ausente…
Joao Baptista de Castro  Lisboa 1752

Tom Jones by Tom Fielding ( chapter 11  para 4 )
The remembrances of past pleasure affects us with a kind of tender grief like what we suffer for departed friends, and the ideas of both may be said to haunt our imagination..
What was I longing for?
But nothing can express it as well as the word
Why do thoughts, nostalgia
Saudade flood us
They arrive unexpectedly
Heaving their heavy bags
Of sorrow at us
And are gone--
And all alone, with tears for 
Company, one travels on…

Une voix, une presence
Un chaleur amie
Sont tojours souhaitees
Dans le nuits ou
Le temps nous trahit
Tem Saudade por tudo..
Central do Brasil
Remember, Fernanda Montenegro
Nice epitah
Tem Saudade por tudo..

Alberto Moravia
Adolescent Reading
The right chemistry for Saudade 
Was certainly 

Pablo Neruda
I went to look for you at 
La Casona, La Sebastiana, La Isla Negra
On the windswept coast of the land you loved
An adolescent on his way home to Australia
From Scandinavia where his body and mind had expanded
New York Review of Books
Four poems by Pablo Neruda
Translated by Alistair Reid
I have to learn this language, I told my self
If that is so powerful, in the words of Pablo
If you forget me
Well, now, _if little by little you stop loving me _I shall stop loving you little by little. __If suddenly _you forget me _do not look for me, _for I shall already have forgotten you.
Gordon Town Jamaica
The lonely street lamp
El versos del Capitan
A book that carried so much saudade for me
Long before October returns
You must hide the love in your heart
As I shall in mine

Tears still
The sensation has not dried
If you forget me..
A Landscape
A flower
A vanishing image in the mirror 
At a store
A smiling cheek with Thanaka
Life's memories are not of sadness
Or departures 
Or the various good byes
But that painful 
That something lost 
Long before you even had it
Oh! Dr JJT
Dr ThH
Arrivals are exciting
June 20, 2006
Many departures
Each one 
Followed by yet another arrival
Layers of nostalgia
Narita Tucupita Easter Island
And the beloved Buenos Aires
One day I must visit Amami
Departures are there for a reason 
They happen because it is the time
Arrival hall at Terminal 1 LHR
Also gave you a good bye
I am richer by these contacts
To weave these flowers 
Into a lei of never ending dreams
To put around the neck of a new dawn
Yes I have lived for you
To discover this book of Saudade
Le mal du pays
There is always the saudade 
For the common air of 
La Habana
Saudade can be triggered by 
The cadence of a song
Wafting perfume
Words of a dear poet
Prose from Colombia or Japan
Words of friends or lovers
Spoken in all innocence
On and on and on 
Imageries of “pays” and “paisajes”
That have carved out a place
Suva StoneTown Malacca Siem Reap Cochin Quiberon Baracoa
Tem Saudade por tudo
Murakami Mireilles Neruda Mutis Evora Naipaul Chaabi Pramoedya Tango Flamenco Jazz Morna Coladera



samedi 30 août 2014


When you think of Dining Spots around the world, or Dining in general, the every day food of America does not come to mind. Visitors to this country are amazed at the inexpensive, easily available, fast food that is available in this country. But repeat visitors would shun the bad quality of easily available food and look for good quality, edible food, while visiting USA and nowhere it is more apt for a big city than in Miami.
Because of the dense presence of immigrants from Cuba and the Caribbean Islands plus South America, the people and food of Asia have not ventured south to this place. While it is so easy to get a nice cup of Cuban Coffee or a Picadillo, as there are virtually hundreds of Cuban restaurants in the city. If you want a Rogan Josh or Chicken Karahi, you are out of luck; as is your disappointment with a tasty Bun Ga Xao or a nice pot of Pho. Chinese food has fallen out of favor in the USA as it has in the continental Europe, and the reigning darlings are Thai (usually serving Sushi as well?). European cuisine, you are at the mercy of the restaurateurs: along the broad walk in Hollywood Beach, a restaurant proudly announces itself as La Brocheterie, French American Cuisine and the only thing FRENCH in the menu was FRENCH FRIES! While Tex Mex cuisine has caught on like fire in the rest of America, in Miami, you may as well be in Sonora Desert as the Mexican Restaurants are very few!
How to overcome this handicap, if you are a frequent visitor to this lovely city by the bay?
I have a sister who lives here, who is such an Excellent cook, specializing in Lebanese food, that no Hummus I have ever tasted has come up to her standard..So there are always my favorites at her table: pita with zatar, lane, hummus, taboule, and many other dishes that she makes from the scratch. In the absence of such a sister or a relative, you can always go to Marroush, the excellent Lebanese Restaurant in Coral Gables and its friendly owner, director Samir!
When in Miami, there is no need for a Starbucks, we have excellent CORTADITO, which i always get, estilo de la habana, hot, strong and sweet..

The other ethnic food that is easily obtainable is the food of Jamaica, an Island I used to be in love with, but fallen out with its people but NEVER with its food..
I was treated on this trip to 
Jamaican Patties, Green Bananas, Salmon cooked in onion with Scotch Bonnet, among others.
The lovely hole in the wall resto The Jamaican Kitchen is conveniently nearby.

Next is to have good friends who are foodies and have scouted out the locations for you. I was lucky in that MIAMI SPICE food celebrations were on for the duration of the month I stayed here, and with my good friends M and G, who are authorities on the food scene in their part of Miami, we enjoyed an excellent evening at FISH FISH
Whole HogFish, no need for so much Potato but the white tasty meat went down well with a glass of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc.
The company and the conversation surpassed even the agreeable ambience and delightful service.
There were many visitors, from Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Belgium, France, the Indian Country and all that added up to nice dining experiences.
Take Out Cuban Food from a small cuban resto called a Touch of Cuba
 Pollo a la Plancha  above and Ropa Vieja,below, reminding me of my neighborhood resto La Roca in Vedado in La Habana.
As mentioned one has to be careful which restaurant one chooses for casual dining, names can be deceptive.
While walking along the beach, looking for an open air dining experience, overheard the French accent of the owner who was from Paris and the restaurant was French Caribbean, Sea Breeze Grill, and the experience was a pleasant one, despite the limited number of items on the menu.
The only restaurant I will not recommend is the Thai Sushi restaurant along the beach in Hollywood Beach, for its surly service, high prices and mediocre quality food.

Fortunately there are other lovely Thai restaurants and a neighborhood one in Kendall, Thai Bistro, provided a nice and pleasant meal for a gathering of friends.
A sunday brunch at the Miami Shores Country Club provided a typical and sumptuous American Brunch menu and the bubbly was from upstate New York, which quickly added to the joy of the companionship and tasty food.
A pleasant surprise indeed was Bamboo, a Colombian restaurant, with their fresh natural juices such as Pina con yerba buena and typical coastal dishes from Colombia. The taste had subtle differences from the Cuban and Jamaican cuisines with which it shares a familiar taste. The staff certainly were friendly Colombians..
 A pleasant surpise for a quick snack was Three Palms Cuban restaurant. Like many cuban restaurants these days, the waitresses were from Peru. (a very subtle sociological indication of the rapid upward mobility of Cuban migrants?)

Croissant is certainly not Cuban, but you can have a cuban sandwich and have a croissant instead of the cuban bread. The Cortadito was excellent!
For us, no visit to Miami would be complete without a stop at a New York Style Bagel bar, this one called such. Bagels of all sorts, Nova and Lox, but you can be innovative in your omelets as well if the breakfast hour had merged into the lunch time hour!
Now the time to show gratitude. To my Miami Family, my family from Bruselas, friends from Cayman Islands, dear friends M and G, Visiting Omaha Indians..

WELCOME TO be sung to the tune by Manu Chao!

jeudi 28 août 2014





He had a question for me. Would you be able to organize a week long trip for some of us enthusiasts from this part of the world to Oman and Hormuz to visit places that the great navigator had visited?
First reaction was fear.. I am a Jew and Hormuz is in Iran and   currently not very friendly towards Jews! Oman is my favorite  Moslem country in that region, and the great navigator stayed a while at Salalah, a region I am familiar with.
But what about Hormuz?
Lately the news from that region has not been good, but once Hormuz held the region and the world in awe.
Here are some descriptions:
The Strait of Hormuz lies sandwiched between Iran on the north and Oman on the south at the entrance to the Persian Gulf between 56° and 57° E and 26° and 27° N. No more than 52 kilometres wide, it presents a formidable, twisting, waisted entrance to ships passing between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman part of the larger Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. To the west lies Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Palestine and to the east, the Mekran, Oman, Afghanistan and India. On the northern side of the strait and 8 kilometres off the coast of Iran lies the island of Hormuz. Small, desolate and barren, this island was selected about AD 1300 to become the new town of Hormuz and replace the old one (otherwise known as Minab) on the mainland of Iran. Here it grew and prospered for over 300 years until once again it moved back to the mainland but west of the old town of Hormuz (Minab) and was renamed Bandar Abbas.
Throughout history the strait and the towns of Hormuz have been of strategic and commercial importance in the region. It begins in antiquity and the early trade that passed through the strait and continues up to present time, when the Strait of Hormuz once again assumed political and economic importance through the numerous oilfields in or about the Persian Gulf on which the Western economies are so heavily dependent. They are an integral part of the Middle East and the legend of wealth that has always been associated with it. Horatius Flaccus, better known as Horace, referred to the wealth of the Middle East in one of his Odes about 23 BC, seven years after Cleopatra’s death:

You who are richer than
The unplundered treasure chests of the Arabian
Sheikhs and the rajah kings ...[1]

With the defeat of the Portuguese in 1622 and the advent of the English to the area, accounts and stories of Hormuz’s wealth circulated in Europe and in England. John Milton, who for a period of time was Latin (foreign) Secretary to Oliver Cromwell, drawing from Peter Heylen’sCosmographie … containing the chorographic and historic of the world published in 1652 [2] wrote in 1665 of Hormuz in Paradise Lost:

High on a throne of royal state, which far
Outshone the wealth of Ormuz and of Ind,
Or where the gorgeous East with richest hand
Showers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold. [3]

As when to them who sail
Beyond the Cape of Hope, and now are past
Mozambic, off at Sea North-East winds blow
Sabean odors from the spicy shore
of Araby the Blest, with such delay
Well pleas’d they slack their course, and many a league
Cheer’d with the grateful smell old Ocean smile.[4]

Wealth and the great diversity of peoples living and trading at Hormuz is a constant theme in the narratives and accounts that follow. It had not diminished by the end of the 18th century when the French historian Abbé T. G. F. Raynal wrote the following account of Hormuz in his history published in 1770:

Hormúz became the capital of an empire … it afforded a more splendid and agreeable scene than any city in the East. Persons from all parts of the globe exchanged their commodities and transacted their business with an air of politeness and attention …. The streets were covered with mats and in some places with carpet, and the linen awnings which were suspended from the tops of the houses, prevented any inconvenience from the heat of the sun … Camels laden with water were stationed in the public squares. Persian wines, perfumes, and all the delicacies of the table were furnished in great abundance, and they had the music of the East in its highest perfection … In short, universal opulence, an extensive commerce, politeness in the men and gallantry in the women, united all their attractions to make this city the seat of pleasure.[5]

Raynal’s account is that of Hormuz at its zenith at the end of the 16th century when it was an important commercial centre with, it is said, up to 40,000 people whose existence depended on trade by land and sea. In 1622 when Portuguese rule of the island and dominance of the region was removed by the Persians and the English, the town not only lost its position as a commercial centre but was moved to the mainland.  The decline of the island was rapid and although the English considered taking over from the Portuguese, the Persians had already set about establishing the new town of Hormuz, Bandar Abbas, on the mainland by dismantling the old. In contrast to Raynal we have an account by A.W. Stiffe of the Indian Navy who visited the island of Hormuz in March 1873 and found:

A few soldiers or armed men hold the old fort as a sort of military post for the Governor of Bandar ‘Abbasi. The place is rarely visited by a European vessel…. Of the Arab city, the most important ruin is a minaret, about 70 feet high…. Of the rest of the city nothing remains except mounds strewn with broken pottery …. [Of the houses] They are all more or less ruinous’ and estimated 200 men in the modern village.[6]

For the purpose of the visit, I have highlighted an important fact in red above.
During the visit of Admiral Zheng He, the port of Hormuz was in the island of Hormuz 

this island can be easily reached by ferry from Bandar Abbas in the mainland of Iran.
The Portuguese Fort is still seen, hundreds of years after its abandonment

So, Dr T, the destination is certain to be the island and perhaps we can discover something of the visit of the great admiral Zheng He..
Like the Chinese Nets and Cheena Barani of Cochin, the great admiral may have left behind something in Hormuz!

Cheng Ho 15c.

The eunuch-admiral Cheng Ho[1] made seven exploratory voyages to the China seas, India and the east coast of Africa in the early part of the fifth century with large fleets and thousands of men. The first six voyages were under the patronage of the Ming Emperor Ch’eng-tsu[2] (reigned 1403-1425).[3] On the seventh expedition, the fleet reached Hormuz. The purpose of the voyages is not known but some details were recorded by an interpreter, Ma Huan.[4]
After three successful expeditions, the Yongle emperor of China stated that ‘seas had been conquered and there was quiet in the four corners’ and announced on 18 December 1412 the fourth and largest of the seven expeditions which would sail into the Persian Gulf to Hormuz. What it was that Zhu Di, the third Ming emperor, wished to achieve is not certain apart from the allure of the wealth of Hormuz and the prospect of trade with the renowned foreign merchants that resided there. However Zhu Di was approaching the zenith of his reign and vast projects were underway or being initiated. The fourth expedition to Hormuz was the largest yet assembled and consisted of 63 vessels and 28,560 men but with the additional preparation it did not leave the Fujian coast of China till January 1414. For the expedition, Zheng He, the Chinese admiral, recruited Ma Huan, a Moslem, to act as Arabic translator and who was eventually to become the main chronicler of the expedition.
With various stops en route in the South China Seas, and some partitioning of the fleet to other areas such as Bengal, the expedition left the Indian coast directly for Hormuz. It took them 25 days to reach Hormuz, considerably shorter than the voyage of 1432 would take of 34 days. Ma Huan records that the people were “very rich” and their dress “handsome, distinctive, elegant” and that there were no poor people because “if a family meets with misfortune resulting in poverty, everyone gives them clothes and food and capital, and relieves their distress.” The Chinese traded their “porcelains and silks” for “jewels, woolens and carpets” and received gifts of “lions, leopards and Arabian horses” as tributes to the Chinese emperor.[5]
The expedition returned to China the following summer in 1415. It was not until 12 January 1432 under Zhu Zhanji, the Xuande emperor and grandson of Zhu Di, that the seventh and largest expedition set sail from China with more than 100 ships and 27,500 men arriving at Calicut in India on 10 December 1432. From there the eunuch Hong Bao separated from the main fleet and proceeded to Hormuz, other Arab cities, including Aden and Dhofar, and ports on the east African coast. In July 1433 the treasure fleet returned to China and sailed into the Yangzi River. On 14 September, the ambassadors of Sumatra, Ceylon, Calicut and Cochin, Hormuz, Dhufar, Aden and other Arab states paid tribute at Fengtian Palace. This was to be the last expedition.[6]
The interpreter, Ma Huan, wrote a book, Ying-Yai Sheng-lan or The Overall Survey of the Oceans’ Shores which was completed about 1433 and describes in some detail the locations visted during Zheng He’s expeditions. There is a section on the ‘country of Hu-lo-mo-ssu’ or Hormuz which gives details of customs and other facts not usually found in european dialogues but Ma Huan does not refer to it as being an island. However the Indian Ocean section of a nautical chart from Zheng He’s expedition clearly indicates Hormuz as being an island between the main coast of Persia and the promontory of the Musandam.[7]
The section is reproduced here in full:

Setting sail from the country of Ku-li, you go towards the north-west; [and] you can reach [this place] after travelling with a fair wind for twenty-five days. The capital lies beside the sea and up against the mountains.
Foreign ships from every place and foreign merchants travelling by land all come to this country to attend the market and trade; hence the people of the country are all rich.
The king of the country and the people of the country all profess the Muslim religion; they are reverent, meticulous, and sincere believers; every day they pray five times, [and] they bathe and practise abstinence. The customs are pure and honest. There are no poor families; if a family meets with misfortune resulting in poverty, everyone gives them clothes and food and capital, and relieves their distress.
The limbs and faces of the people are refined and fair, and they are stalwart and fine-looking. Their clothing and hats are handsome, distinctive, and elegant.
In their marriage- and funeral-rites they all obey the regulations of the Muslim religion.
When a man marries a wife, he first employs a go-between, and after the rites have been complied with, the man’s family arranges a feast, to which he invites the chia-ti—the chia-ti is the official who superintends the regulations of the religion—[Page 64] and the people in charge of the wedding, and the go-between, [and] the eldest of the relatives. The two families inform each other about their local origin and antecedents for three generations back, and after the execution of the marriage-documents has been settled, they later choose a day for concluding the marriage. Were not this done, the authorities would regard it as adultery and punish them.
If a man dies, they use a white cloth to robe [the body] at both the full dressing and the first dressing; they have a pitcher full of clean water, and take the body and wash it from head to foot two or three times; after the cleansing, they fill the mouth and nose of the body with musk and camphor; then they wrap it in shrouds, put it in the coffin, and bury it immediately.
The grave is built with layers of stone; [and] at the bottom of the grave they spread five or six ts’un of clean sand; they carry the coffin thither and then remove the coffin, merely taking the body and placing it in the stone grave; they securly cover the top with stone slabs, and superimpose clean earth, making a thick and well-rammed grave-mound, very solid and neat.
In their diet the people must use butter; it is mixed and cooked in with their food. In the market roast mutton, roast chicken, roast meat, wafer-cakes, ha-la-sa, and all kinds of cereal foods—all these are for sale. Many families of two or three persons do not make up a fire to prepare a meal—they merely buy cooked food to eat.
The king uses silver to cast a coin names a ti-na-erh; the diameter, [in terms of] our official ts’un, is six fen; on the reverse side it has lines; the weight is four fen on our official steelyard; it is in universal use.
Their writing is all in Muslim characters.
Their market-places have all kinds of shops, with articles of every description; only they have no wine-shops; [for] according to the law of the country wine-drinkers are executed.
Civil and military officals, physicians, and diviners are decidely superior to those of other places. Experts in every kind of art and craft—all these they have.
Their juggling and acrobatic performances are none of them unusual; but there is [Page 65] one kind [of unusual performance]—[in which] a goat mounts a high pole—; [this] is most amusing; for this trick they use a wooden pole about one chang long; on the top of this wooden pole, it is only just possible to set the four hooves of the goat on the wood; they take the pole, set it firmly on the ground, and hold it steady; [then] the man leads up a small white billy-goat; he claps his hands and does a sing-song; the goat capers about to the beat of the drum, and comes up close to the pole.
First, it takes its two fore-feet and places them firmly on the pole; next, it takes its two hind-feet and with one jerk sets them on the pole; next, a man takes a wooden pole and leans it over the front of the goat’s legs; the goat again takes its two fore-feet and places them on the top of the pole; afterwards it takes its two hind-legs and raises them with a jerk; whereupon the man holds the pole steady; while standing on the tops of the two poles, the goat makes posturing movements like dancing gestures; [a man] brings another pole and joins it on, adding five or six lengths in succession to the top and increasing the height by about a chang; after the [goat] has stopped dancing, it stands upon the middle pole; whereupon the man pushes away the pole and catches the goat in his hands.
The again, he will order [the goat] to lie on the ground and appear to be dead; when he orders it to stretch out its fore-legs, it stretches out its fore-[legs]; [and] when he orders it to stretch out its hind-legs, it stretches out its hind-[legs].
Then again, there is [a man who] takes along a large black monkey about three ch’ih high; after it has performed all manner of tricks, [the man] directs a bystander to take a kerchief, fold it up several times, and tie it tightly round both eyes of the monkey; he directs a different person to give the monkey a surreptitious hit on the head and hide himself in the thick of the crowd; after this [the man] releases the kerchief and directs [the monkey] to seek out the person who struck him on the head; however vast the crowd, the monkey goes straight to the man who originally [struck him] and picks him [Page 66] out; it is most strange.
The climate of the country [includes] cold weather and hot weather; in the spring the flowers bloom, and in the autumn the leaves fall; they have frost, [but] no snow; rain is rare, [but] the dew heavy.
They have one large mountain, the four faces of which produce four kinds of articles. One face produces salt, like that of the sea-side—red in colour; the people chisel out a lump with an iron hoe—like quarrying stone; some lumps weigh thrity or forty chin; moreover, it is not damp, and when they want to eat it, they pound it into powder for use. One face produces red earth—like the red colour of vermilion. One face produces white earth—like lime; it can be used for white-washing walls. One face produces yellow earth—like the yellow colour of turmeric.
In all cases chiefs are ordered to superintend [the quarrying]. Of course they have travelling merchants who come from every place to purchase [these products] and sell them to be used.
The land produces rice and wheat, [but] not much; it is all bought in different places and comes here to be sold; the price is extremely cheap.
For fruits they have walnuts, pa-tan fruit, pine-nuts, pomegranates, raisins, dried peaches, apples, Persian dates, water-melons, cucumbers, onions, leeks, shallots, garlic, carrots, melons, and other such things. The carrots—red, and as large as a lotus-root—are very plentiful. The melons are very large; some [stand] two ch’ih high. The walnuts have a thin white shell, which breaks when you squeeze it in the hand. The pine-nuts are about a ts’un long.
The raisins are of three or four kinds; one kind resembles a dried date, and is purple; one kind is as large as a lotus-seed, has no pips, and is candied; [and] one kind is round, as large as a white bean, and rather white in colour. The pa-tan fruit resembles a walnut; [Page 67] it is pointed, long, and white; [and] inside there is a kernel which in flavour surpasses the flesh of the walnut. The pomegranates are as large as tea-cups. The apples are as big as [one’s] fist—very fragrant and delicious.
The Persian dates are also of three kinds. One kind bears the foreign name of to-sha-pu; each fruit is as large as [one’s] thumb; it has a small stone; it is candied, like granulated sugar; [and], being excessively sweet, it is not pleasant to eat. One kind is mashed and made into twenty or thirty large lumps; it has the taste of a good dried persimmon and of a date-plum. One kind resembles a jujube, [but] is somewhat larger; the taste is rather acrid; [and] the people use it to feed the cattle.
In this place they have all the precious merchandise from every foreign country.
Further, there are blue, red, and yellow ya-ku stones, and red la, tsu-pa-pitsu-mu-la, cat’s-eyes’, diamonds, and large pearls—as big as longan fruits, and one ch’ien two or three fen in weight—, coral-tree beads, branches, and stems, and golden amber, amber beads, rosary beads, wax amber, black amber (of which the foreign name issa-pai-chih), all kinds of beautiful jade utensils, crystal utensils, and ten kinds of flowered pieces of brocaded velvet (on which the nap rises one or two fen, the length being two chang and the breadth one chang), woollens of every kind, sa-ha-la [cloth], felt, mo crepe, mo gauze, all kinds of foreign kerchiefs with blue and red silk embroidery, and other such kinds of things—all these are for sale. Camels, horses, mules, oxen, and goats are plentiful.
Their goats are of four kinds. One kind is the big-tailed sheep; each animal weighs seventy or eighty chin; the tail is more than one ch’ih broad, [Page 68] drags along the ground, and weighs more than twenty ch’in. One kind is the dog-tailed goat; it resembles a mountain goat; [and] the tail is more than two ch’ih long. One kind is the fighting goat; its height is two ch’ih seven or eight ts’un; on the front half portion the hair is long and drags on the ground; on the back half portion it is all trimmed clean; the head, face, neck, and forehead resemble the sheep; the horns curve round towards the front; [and] on them it carries a small iron plate, which makes a sound when [the animal] moves; this goat by nature delights in fighting; [and] novelty-seekers rear it in their houses so that it may fight for money-wagers with [the animals of other] men as a sport.
Again, [the place] produces a kind of animal called ‘fly-o’er-the-grass’; the foreign name is hsi-ya-kuo-shih; it is as big as a large cat; all over its body [it has markings] exactly like tortoise-shell or cantharides; the two ears are pointed and black; its nature is mild, not vicious; if lions, leopards, or other such fierce beasts see it, they prostrate themselves on the ground; indeed it is king among the beasts.
The king of this country, too, took a ship and loaded it with lions, ch’I-lin, horses, pearls, precious stones, and other such things, also a memorial to the throne [written on] a golden leaf; [and] he sent his chiefs and other men, who accompanied the treasure-ships despatched by the Emperor, which were returning from the Western Ocean; [and] they went to the capital and presented tribute.[8]

The envoys that returned with the fleet to China were Ma-la-tsu and others. 

[1] also spelt as Zheng He.
[2] also spelt as Zhu Di.
[3] #309 Wiethoff, Bodo, trans. Whittal, Mary, Introduction to Chinese History, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, 1975 ~ p. 49.
[4] #195 ed. Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, The Times Atlas of World Exploration, Times Books, London, 1991 ~ pp. 22-3
[5] #311 Levathes, Louise, When China Ruled the Seas, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1994 ~ pp.139-140. It is not certain whether it was here or in Calicut that Zheng He met merchants from east Africa that he persuaded to return with him to China.
[6] #311 Levathes, Louise, When China Ruled the Seas, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1994 ~ pp. 169-172. An idea of the size of Zheng He's treasure ships can be guaged by their length of about 400 feet in comparison to the Portuguese galleons of about 100 feet. An illustration of the comparative sizes is given in #311 Levathes, Louise, When China Ruled the Seas, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1994 ~ p. 21. The Wu bei zhi (records of military preparations, 1621) contained reproductions of Zheng He's stellar diagrams used for navigation. One used to help the fleet navigate from Hormuz back to India is given in #311 Levathes, Louise, When China Ruled the Seas, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1994 ~ p. 97. Zhu Di is also translated as Ch'eng-tsu and Zheng He as Cheng Ho. Embassies from Hormuz went to China four times during the period of these expeditions, #309 Wiethoff, Bodo, trans. Whittal, Mary, Introduction to Chinese History, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, 1975 ~ p.153.
[7] #95 Chang, Kuei-Sheng, The Ming Maritime Enterprise and China's knowledge of Africa prior to the age of great discoveries, Terrae Incognitae, Amsterdam, 1971, vol. III, pp. 33-44 ~ pp. 38-39
[8] #329 Ma Huan, Ying-Yai Sheng-Lan, The Overall Survey of the Ocean's Shores 1433, Cambridge University Press for the Hakluyt Society, Cambridge, 1970 ~  pp.165-172

I don't think it is safe for me to travel to Iran or Hormuz at this crucial period of crisis in the Middle East, but I would be more than willing to wait for them at the Musandam Peninsula in Oman..

Notes on Hormuz are from Essays on Hormuz by Peter B Rowland

mardi 26 août 2014


The Story of El Gusto, the Chaabi Music Reunion, is truly one of nostalgia and remembrance of a time that would never ever appear again.
When a Jew plays this music, it is called, Jewish-Andaluz music, when an Algerian plays this music, they call it Arab-Andaluz Music, but it is the same.

From 1492 to the beginning of the resistance against French Occupation of Algeria, Jews and Arabs lived comfortably together in that white city by the sea, Alger, Algerie..

Now Algeria is almost cleansed of its historic jewish presence, like in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya since the formation of the State of Israel, creating a Jewish Refugee population of nearly one million. (don't look for them at UN Refugee camps, the jews integrated well into the communities that offered them welcome)

El Anka may not be a household name outside Algeria but he is a revered master of the music that came to be known as Chaabi.. the street music of Alger, a music in which both Jews and Arabs eagerly contributed. Before 1940s, the music conservatory was not open to Non French, but El Anka was given a room to teach this music along with Classical Arab music to the children of the Casbah, both Jewish and Arab as well as Berber who are the native people of Algerie. The maitre kept good records of the pupils who were dispersed fifty years ago by the rising nationalists.

Quite recently, those school children who never forgot each other, had a reunion and formed an orchestra El Gusto, conducted by none other than the son of El Anka! Jews and Arabs and Berber, now in their golden years, played with such gusto, that one feels the emotions of the forgotten years in their voices and oud and violins, flutes and other local instruments.

In this particular video, one of the chanteurs is featured, and listening to him, I was so reminded of listening to Sefardi liturgy, it was as if I was inside a synagogue of the forgotten Andalusian times!
My Sefardi coreligionists would easily recognize the tone of the melodies.

All these are now memories. The golden era that was the Jewish-Arab amitie is for the history books.... even though being an eternal optimist, I look into the future and see a particular scenario...

I am writing this on the day Hamas which occupies Gaza Strip, and Israel have signed a long term cease fire. Suddenly, after the events in the past few weeks in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and Kurdistan, the powerful response of Israel towards cowards who hide among civilians and mosques seem warranted and welcomed, and which has produced results. 

Look at what the greatest historian of Islam Bernard Lewis (who by the way is British and Jewish) had foreseen:
as anyone with historic knowledge would confess: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories, Jordan are all NEW and CREATED entities even though people have lived there for millennia. I am happy to see that a Free Kurdistan is coming alive, Jordanian monarch is from the sands of Arabia and he governs a majority palestinian population. A greater Jordan of the future could absorb Palestinian aspirations in the form of a Federation of a State of Palestine with a Palestine majority Greater Jordan. Hopefully Baluchistan would also be free of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
I am for an independent state for Arab people living in Gaza Strip and West Bank, as long as they denounce violence against Israel. Once that occurs, over the course of decades a great cooperation can occur between the technologically superior Israel and Arab States in the region, including the Non Arab Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

So I was certainly dreaming of such a scenario when I was listening to Chaabi music, resurrected by the group El Gusto which has both Jewish and Arab as well as Berber musicians..

and I wanted SHALOM  Peace for Israel and all the millions of Arabs and other Moslems in that region!