dimanche 26 février 2017

ETERNAL LOVE FOR CHE GUEVARA

There is not a single child in Cuba who cannot recognize the face of Ernesto CHE Guevara de la Sarna Lynch, the only person, an Argentine, who had been granted the privilege of Cuban Citizen ship since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in January 1959.
I always wondered when did Che enter my life. I think the Latin America entered my life around the same time, Pablo Neruda of Chile, Che, Fidel, Salvador Allende at a later date. Ever since I can remember I remember CHE. so I consider it a great honour to be representing the country that gave him citizenship. 
When I was a Medical Doctor at the University of Miami, I always had a book on Che in my white coat, a bit incongruous in that the Cubans that I took care of were all so contra revolutionaries. 
I have stood at the very same class room at the University of Buenos Aires Medical School where he graduated from. Also the farm where he had spent some time in Missiones, in Argentina.
I am yet to visit Rosario where he was born.
I have been to the Peruvian Amazon near Iquitos where he swam across to see the miserable conditions under which the Lepers of San Pablo de Loreto lived, the lepers built him a raft in which he and Granados floated down to Leticia.
Many years later Leticia would become a favourite spot in my travels, Leticia  in Colombia, Tabatinga in Brasil and Santa Rosa de Lima in Peru share that corner of the Amazon River.
When my brother suggested in 2001 that we travel to Bolivia, i was excited. In the coughing jalopy of our friend Luis of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, we went up to the mountain, called the Tibet of South America to La Higuera and also Valle Grande where we spent the night.
The famous picture of Che with bare chested with a bullet wound was taken at Valle Grande and I found the spot where the photo was taken 
Che was an atheist and I am a non religious Jew so is my brother, we both are Mizrachi Jews, so we said the Jewish prayer for the dead, the Kaddish. I was overcome with such emotion. The closest I had come to the spirit of Che.
In Cuba there are many places associated with Che, starting with the chocolate factory in Baracoa and the house of my friend where Che had slept one night when he came to open the chocolate factory, Santa Clara where his remains rest.

Che was a great revolutionary, a true one, and many years after his death, he has become an icon and now he is saving Cuba from economic ruin because his visage has become a commodity.

He was like Sitting Bull, who fought against the intrusion of outsiders to his land, my Omaha Indian sister had remarked.

I am in the Blue House in the Omaha Indian Reservation and there are so many reminders of Che in this house, so far away from something which was/is  beloved to both of us: CUBA

THE BLUE HOUSE AMONG THE OMAHA INDIANS IN NORTH EASTERN NEBRASKA 

The spirit that guided CHE, the eternal forces that guide me, all omnipresent in CUBA, perhaps that is why I feel so good when I am there. 
For a Jewish boy who was destined to live out his life in South Caulfield, Che reminded me (or rescued me?) that superficial attachements would always stand in the way of the greater humanitarian needs and action
CHE LIVES.. in my heart


SADHGURU'S TEN TIPS FOR HAPPINESS AND SUCCESS

Like many other things, Philosophy also arrived by the back door in my life. Never took a course in Philosophy but sitting on the banks of the River Seine in 1995, while preparing to give a course in Medical Anthropology, I was handed tools of thinking philosophically. Before then it had been just feeling in the heart, but not an analysis. Gilles de Leuze and Michel Foucault and Jaques Derrida all entered my life. I had become involved with North American Indians and each day with them was a philosophical education. Yoga and Meditation did not arrive until 2008, when a Chinese Accountant and an Indian Odissi dancer introduced me to Yoga and Patanjali. Myanmar, Buddha and Pankaj Mishra's book, The end of suffering all had an impact and one thing became clear
whether looking at it anthropologically or spiritually, el mundo espiritual, the spiritual world is the same for every one, no one can claim superiority, but the particularization to suit ourselves depend upon our culture and our geography. Similarities between what Patanjali said 2500 years ago and what the American Indians believe are stunning.
The same chinese accountant from Malaysia who introduced me to Yoga also talked about Sadhguru and tonight, while the snow covers the landscape outside I was watching some of his talks and impressed how practical he makes the philosophy to be.
The following video I found to be extremely useful for everyday happiness for every one and I could think of so many people, so unhappy with their lives, mostly of their own creation, I wish they could see this video and benefit from it.
Yoga is not a religion in the same way, American Indian belief system is not a religion, but a template for good life on this earth.
I tried to upload the video but it is too large for this blog
Here is the link 
It is about 25 minutes and I urge you to watch it and note down the ten things he is talking about 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ASgYupz0XY



samedi 25 février 2017

HOW TO FIND HAPPINESS IN HAVANA

HOW TO FIND HAPPINESS IN HAVANA
AVOID FOREIGNERS AND TOURISTS
Unless you are a tourist or an expatriate, one does not ordinarily encounter them, if you are resident in Miami or Paris or London, You see them but they are not part of your life.
So why should they be in Havana?
In Cuba, there is not a large resident foreign population and all non-Cubans come under the one umbrella of foreigners and they are meted out the same treatment, it does not matter someone had lived here for a while.
With the influx of new tourists, mainly from non-Spanish speaking countries, various types of entrepreneurs have floated up to the top of this society, which puts to use, for personal gain, much of the fundamentally good aspects of the society Fidel Castro had imagined.
I had witnessed it in Baracoa, a lovely city on the other end of Cuba to Havana, where the local cultural representatives, and euphemism for milking the best of what is available, would alter history or events to suit the audience of tourists and visitors. Of course, Havana is the capital of Cuba in more than one sense, and this cultural prostitution has flourished here as well.
I encourage my family to visit me here in Cuba but I have no desire to play host to people I hardly know. First of all, they have slew of questions, often slanted against the Cuban system and I as a foreigner who has lived in USA Australia France UK and Belgium have little interest in the engaging qualities of life in their countries when compared to Cuba (such as for the same money we could get a better place in my country)
I enjoy being with Cubans, these Cubans have nothing to do with tourists on a daily basis and are not part of the mesh of milking the tourists in every way possible. As the writer of the Rough Guide to Cuba said to me once, at the end of the day we are but Dollar Signs in their eyes.
Many interesting visitors arrive here but be aware of the company they keep, if they are with people who exploit the innocence and ignorance of the visitors, give them a big berth and you carry on with your everyday endeavours.

It is a nice day here in Havana, I shall go for a walk along the Malecon, and it is good for the body and the Spirit.

vendredi 24 février 2017

WIND THE COLOUR OF THE FURY OF THE MOUNTAINS

I am in the hamlet of Walthill in North Eastern part of Nebraska, part of the UmonHon Indian reservation. Last night a snow storm passed through this region, dumped about 8 inches of snow. all roads were blocked and none of the cars could move and all offices and clinics were closed and every one was home bound.
I had the inspiration to write a poem, looking at a photograph
and here it is ..


AUTUMN IN THE MOUNTAINS
it was autumn
i was waiting for someone or other
suddenly a leaf
about to touch the earth
whispered
i bring you this look of nostalgia
i collected in my travels
to a far away land
of pining and silence
there a beautiful girl
eyes lost in the oblivion of her dreams
waits for your kisses
for the magic of opening her dreams
flowing like her silky auburn hair
there you will encounter
in the shadow of the mountain
a heart beating softly sweetly
to the wavy rhythms of her hair
enticing you to her bosom
i sit here for the wind that
touched her hair
the colour of the fury of the mountains
to bring me a tender message

23 february 2017
while the omaha indian reservation was gulped by the snow
dedicated to SN.

dimanche 19 février 2017

FALSE INDIANS OF CUBA

I had presented at a Latin American Congress of Academics my findings about the FALSE TAINOS of Baracoa. People who have some genetic admixture of Native Blood in Cuba (estimated to be 5% in almost all Cubans) aided and abetted by local fraudulent cultural prostitutes, aided by Cubans who reside in foreign countries who claim to be Siboney (long extinct) as well as Puerto Rican Mulattos looking for a cultural identity. What I objected to was their creation of a myth, not based on any information but only imagination of how Indians lived or worked or ate or dressed or sang or danced. 
The FAKE INDIANS of CUBA has reached a zenith with three Cubans, two men and one woman, scantily dressed, with symbolism of various Indian tribes from across America, making derogatory noises and movements, and hundreds of tourists to the Indian Caves are exposed to his falsehood on a daily basis.
Please avoid Vinales and if you cant, at least do not patronize these Fake Indians, also other Fake Indians scattered around the Island, concentrated in the eastern part, predominantly in Baracoa (where you can buy an Indian tribal membership for a small fee)

BEWARE OF THE FAKE INDIANS OF CUBA, THEY ARE EVERYWHERE IN THE ISLAND. NATIVE CUBAN CULTURE WAS EXTINCT A VERY LONG TIME AGO. SOME ENTREPRENEURS ARE TRYING TO MAKE MONEY WITH FAKE INDIANS BEATING DRUMS OR DRESS SCANTILY OR MAKING NOISES WHETHER IN VINALES OR YATERAS OR BARACOA.  IT IS A SHAME ON THIS DESCARAGOS OR CUBANS WHO ARE CULTURAL PROSTITUTES

An Winnebago Indian, possibly the first of her tribe from Nebraska to visit Cuba, was astonished by these fake Indians of Cuba



Now That Cuba Is Open, Americans Aren’t Going

Now That Cuba Is Open, Americans Aren’t Going

an interesting article published in Bloomberg News
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-17/now-that-cuba-is-open-americans-aren-t-going





WARNING TO VISITORS TO HAVANA AND CUBA

WARNING TO VISITORS TO CUBA
Recently there was an article in the American Media to avoid certain places in Cuba... and it included the tourist ghetto of Varadero, the false tourist presentations at Vinales, Trinidade which has lost its Cuban soul, Habana Vieja on days when there are cruise ships, and anything to do with Ernest Hemingway which has become a cash cow to milk the tourists.
Also I would add, do not take on self-advertised or self-promoted tour guides, if you are on a tour, you need a tour guide, if you are independent traveler, be an independent traveler as the “tour guides” whose only qualification is that they are born in Cuba and may speak English or French or German but most of them are not knowledgeable about the history other than the superficial aspects and also of course they will take you to places where they get a cut of the receipt you paid, including your Guides meal, often more than a gourmet meal in Paris.
I saw an elderly Australian man taken to the laundry, where each of his meals were close to 100 dollars each, and on top he had to pay 35 dollars for six hours of the guide (including taxi rides) and 55 dollars per longer days. I felt like reporting it as an Elder Abuse...
My request to my friends all over the world, with the exception of my family. Please do not come to visit me in La Habana, when you do, I have to go to places that I would not normally go and perhaps even meet people that I normally don’t wish to meet
In Cuba, we say, I really don’t wish to meet people who want to meet me. Those people have an agenda and it is to get a dollar out of you and being Cuban and innovative, they would get that dollar out of you, sometimes hundreds of them...
Miami has a reputation of being the Fraud capital of America, and usually blamed on the Cubans. Soon the capital may have to move to Havana, because the flood of tourists have given an average Cuban in the hospitality business to practice home grown varieties of fraud, to a fine degree, while music blares on and affections are poured as easily as the tasteless mojitos at the Nacional Hotel or La Bodeguita del Medio.

If you do come to Havana, please don’t burden me with your presence. I don’t wish to be reminded of what Cuba was before the triumph of the Revolution and what the tourists and local manipulators would make of this gorgeous successful human experiment in equality, education and health.anahealth 

lundi 6 février 2017

THE MAGNANIMOUS MALAYALEES OF COCHIN

THE MAGNANIMOUS MALAYALEES OF FORT COCHIN
During my ongoing visits to Fort Cochin, I have met some wonderful friends, and I must say some of them have become good friends.
I had a chance to interact with some of the today and at the end of the day despite being tired I had such a lovely sensation of having lived a good day, part of a good life.
I was absolutely touched and then made me wonder, if there are millions of Malayalees abroad, but where are they? How come the interactions change when I meet a Malayalee at Oryx Rotana in Qatar or Hilton Salalah? I have never met a Malayalee in the USA or in KL or Singapore... why is that?
Why such a chasm?
If I were a follower of Sadhguru I would say that the chasm is within myself. When I am here I am at my best and I get their best and I have a wonderful time. When I am in the USA or Qatar or Oman or Malaysia, I am not at my best as I am guided by clues related to the environment and I don’t seek out any opportunity. But it bothers me that this group of people in Fort Cochin who are so wonderful, their cousins in the USA cannot be that different?
Today I met two Malayalees who are running a very successful construction company that employs over 1000 other Malayalees in Abu Dhabi
I was with a good friend of mine, who wears many caps, including Under Secretary of State in the Federal Government for Minorities, a private high level high school in Nelspruit and has the Mercedes Benz agency and I don’t know what else, as he very seldom talks about what he does and he makes himself available when I am here in Cochin.
Also I was introduced to the first and possibly the only Raw food restaurant in India, and met the brains behind this idea, fueled by his own success of throwing away Insulin after adopting this diet. He has also bought some land near Munnar so that he can have a Fruit tree Forest.
Such innovative people. Such hard workers, these Malayalees of Cochin.
Afterwards the Last Jew of Cochin joined us for coffee and cakes, with him I went to one of the best SOUQs that I have seen much better than the ones in Muscat or Doha, with thousands and thousands of little shops selling everything. The next time I am here in Cochin, I will have an extra suitcase and also a day to shop for all the tchotchkes that I can take back to my friends in Cuba.
Today also gave me a good chance to examine cultural identities, in conversation with a wonderful man who is the son of the last Indian Army superindent of British Punjab. I also recollected the four different pillars of identity given by Sadhguru  Buddhi Ahankara Namas and Chitta .. How am I different from these wonderful people I met today? Am I that different because of my passport and my connections to Cuba?
Then I thought about my own dear ones
My brother who speaks Japanese who was born in Bombay and grew up in Asia and lives in Portland, Oregon
My sister who was born in England, who speaks Jamaican Creole and lives in Miami, Florida?
And I, who was born in a British Protectorate and speak English with an Australian memory and live in Cuba?
So the Buddhi in each one of us, the one that is attached to the memory is so different but we are so similar but we don’t allow our passports and our places of residence to divide us. We each have to divest ourselves of our memory to accentuate our relationship and that is our nationality which American Indians would say, Mitakuye Oyasin, we are all related.
It was a long day, it was a full day and I am grateful


jeudi 2 février 2017

A MAN WHO DOES NOT LIKE TO TAKE THE SHORTEST ROUTE TO THE DESTINATION: THE MINDFUL JOURNEY ITSELF IS IMPORTANT

It is a Friday evening at 8 30 pm, I am at the Executive Club 4th floor at the Madrid Barajas Airport Hilton Hotel. It is 230 pm in Miami, which I left exactly 52 hours ago to travel to the same destination which can be done by a direct flight of about 9 hours.
Why 52 hours instead of 9 hours?
Quality of Life rather than the Quantity, my dear Watson.
Imagine all the new and old friends that I met on this trip? Always pleased to see a familiar face and always eager to make new friends.. on the air, on the ground ..
My sister’s husband dropped me off at Gate 3 Concourse D at Miami International Airport, TSA pre check and security check were a breeze.
Made my way to the Centurion Club. I did not enter the Admirals Club of the American Airlines, as I was anticipating the friendly faces at the Centurion Club. I was not disappointed.
 Paloma the busy bartender, Yunior the efficient Maitre D’, Michelle at the Reception and Mayte at the Massage.
This is what America and especially Miami an interesting place to visit: Colombia, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Cuba all touching you in a matter of minutes.
It was too early for a Sauvignon Blanc from NZ, but Earl Grey tea, and some offerings from Michele Bernstein’s cuisine.
Mayte’s (she is from Sancti Spiritus, Cuba) massage was so good that I was relaxed all through the first flight of this journey, Miami to Boston.
2 hours 45 minutes, Seat 1 D, the usual mediocre meal offering, an unappetizingly large serving of Quinoa with  vegetables. I didn’t drink as I knew what was waiting for me on my next flight.
As this flight arrived earlier than the opening of the Qatar Airways check in desks (no e-check in, no TSA pre check, in general Boston Airport did feel like a third world airport, as are many US airports). I spent a little time at the American Airlines Admirals Club, with an ambiance not worth mentioning, except for the long bartender. A young lady by the name of Jazmin made some fresh guacamole, tasted it, as I did not want the stomach to be full for the QR Qatar Airways offerings a few hours later. (Some foreigners in the USA, live in some fear, which they have a reason to, as seen just a couple of days later by an Executive Order of the President, Jazmin did not want a photo taken, and I have noticed that some of the Mexican ladies working at Hotels would refuse to speak Spanish and will answer you in broken English.)
Outside the terminal, the air was cold, the inter terminal buses ran only every 15-20 minutes but quickly enough deposited at the International Terminal E.
Upstairs and immediately attended at the Check in by an inexperienced girl in hijab of Algerian origin, but with the help of her colleague, nevertheless gave me a favourite seat, 1 K
I quickly went through TSA and Security and was eager to greet the Colombian lady from Medellin who works at the Air France Lounge. As expected the AF staff, both francophone black Africans were unfriendly but the Colombians who worked at the lounge made up for it.
It was close to 20.15 , a leisurely walk to gate E8, watching people dozing off waiting to board their flights to distant destinations: Air France, Lufthansa, British Airways.. Some new players, the Low Cost Norwegian Airlines, beware, they were hours late!
 The boarding was quick, I was the first one on the plane, I made myself quickly comfortable. Hind from Rabat appears, I request a glass of champagne, knowing fully well it would be COMTES, as I had left over gastritis from my days in the Reservation, I thought, just a personal opinion, that Champagne must be good for Gastritis? Warm towels, pajamas, slippers all arrive quickly. I chose a salmon appetizer and a beef main dish (wrong choice, paneer would have been a better choice, chicken was the other choice). Ice cream and Karak Cardamom Chai completed the meal. The plane was leaving the tip of Canada when the meal was completed, slept well, and woke up over Egypt. Soo from Penang was happy to be going home, as it was Chinese New Year, time to be with the family. She offered me a nice omelet and another Chai and soon we were descending into Doha.
 My favourite seat in Airbus 350 Seat 1 K






 Soo from Penang was happy to be going home when she arrived in Doha!





I made the mistake of signing up for the DOHA city tour, a mistake because the other attendees had to clear immigration which took over one and half hours, so the city tour shrunk to a visit to the Souq which I had visited on another occasion.
 Above is the area where J passengers clear the Immigration, tea, coffee and savouries were waiting for you if you decide to enjoy them before joining the short line at the immigration where your picture was taken and passport checked and stamped. Qatar welcomes people to take a break during their long flights which they can either do it at a hotel, or in the quiet comfort of their lounges or at the airport shops.
 Al Mourjan Lounge at Doha Airport, arguably one of the best Airport Lounges in the world 
 The above is the arrivals lounge in case you want to relax before you go to the city. Refreshments and meals are available and people are eager to serve you.
 Souq and in the back ground Islamic Art Museum. Souq is quite a colourful place.