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dimanche 26 mars 2017


Adios y Bienvenidos    CUBA
Hellos and Goodbyes
One of the principles of Yogic Philosophy is the Lack of Attachment: attachment to objects, places and people that binds a person. It is part of Kleishas or structural defects of the mind which can lead to dissatisfaction with life.
Places come and go, as do people. Who would have thought that I would leave Melbourne, Australia, the city of my dreams that I loved so much?  It now features in my distant memory, and holds no bitterness of loss. London is not lost but the longing for it has. Kingston, Jamaica is in the oblivion of my thoughts; Suva, Fiji; Baracoa, Cuba all have fallen from their exalted positions. Miami is a soothing balm, not demanding much, Paris never meant much, Brussels is utilitarian, and Cochin in Kerala is a love with no attachment and I write this from Havana, Cuba which is a moveable feast for me.
Brazilian poet, Cecilia Meireles had written
E aqui estou, cantando.
Um poeta é sempre irmão do vento e da água:
deixa seu ritmo por onde passa.
Venho de longe e vou para longe:
mas procurei pelo chão os sinais do meu caminho
e não vi nada, porque as ervas cresceram e as serpentes andaram.
Também procurei no céu a indicação de uma trajetória,
mas houve sempre muitas nuvens.
E suicidaram-se os operários de Babel.
Pois aqui estou, cantando.
Se eu nem sei onde estou,
como posso esperar que algum ouvido me escute?
Ah! Se eu nem sei quem sou,
como posso esperar que venha alguém gostar de mim?

And here I am, singing...
A poet is Always brother to the wind and water;
he leaves his rhythm where he goes.
I am coming from afar and I am going far,
but I have searched the ground for signs of my way
and I have seen nothing, for weeds have grown up and
                                      snakes have moved about.
I have also searched the sky for the pointing of a way,
but there have always been many clouds.
And the workmen of Babel have committed suicide.
So here I am singing...

I do not even know where I am,
how can I expect that any ear should listen to me?

O I do not even know who I am,
how can I expect anyone to love me?
 She had written elsewhere: people come into our lives, some leave no memories but others leave a void that can never be filled. It is also good to remember that in this modern world most of the human interactions are between 5-10 minutes long, whether on the phone with an airline agent or a taxi driver or a waitress or a GP at his surgery, so one good advice is to make the best of these accumulated short interactions. We lament the vacuum created by those loved ones who left us, trying not to fill it, emotionally deprived that happens so seldom. But most leave flimsy memories with no shadows, no nurturing of attachment and their loss is felt only superficially.
Cuba is a place where you can make friends easily, it is also an easy place to say good-byes.
Cuba is a place where you can take your heart to be dry cleaned, a friend of mine used to say. In the general innocence of their minds, it is easy to see cynicism without curiosity (Cubans are just opposite, they are curious without being cynical, a true sign of intelligence), lack of gratefulness and humility, seen often among the westerners (Cubans are both, even for the simplest of things in life).
As such these friends, regardless of their nationality, excuse themselves out of our lives, their presence becomes a memory and memories are there to be forgotten
Remembering the poet, Pablo Neruda
We can forgive with enormous hearts
Those who cannot love us
Sadhguru would encourage us to live with the qualities in others that we do not like

But let us forget them with generosity.


Doron Almog was awarded the ISRAEL PRIZE the highest civilian honour bestowed upon citizens of Israel.
The story of his life is awe inspiring: an Israeli patriot, special forces soldier, who suffered tragedies of such great proportions! but brought so much hope for disabled people of all races in Israel.
if you have a chance to watch the video, please do so :

Five members of the Almog family from Haifa: Ze'ev Almog, 71, his wife Ruth, 70, their son Moshe, 43, and grandsons Tomer Almog, 9, and Assaf Staier, 11 were killed in the suicide bombing of Maxim restaurant in Haifa on October 4, 2003, while Oren Almog, 10, was grievously injured and blinded.
His brother died fighting the syrians in Golan Heights and his son was given the name of his brother ERAN, with great hopes of courage and patriotism.
But little Eran at the age of 8 months was diagnosed with Autism with severe mental retardation.
What Doron Almog did for the Israeli society and for people like his son, regardless of the race and religion, is amazing. Please watch the youtube video

Here is the prepared introduction when he won the Israel Prize in 2016

Doron Almog Introduction
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Now it’s my privilege to introduce you to a man who exemplifies the strength and sensitivity of an Israeli patriot…
He is an accomplished IDF commander, who led the operational task force in Tripoli in 1973 against the terrorists who murdered Israeli athletes and coaches at the Munich Olympics and led paratroopers during the Lebanon War…
He is a fearless leader of rescue operations, who commanded the first force to land in Entebbe airport and rescue hostages from radical leftist and Palestinian terrorists, and led the elite Israeli Air Force commandos in clandestine missions from 1983-1988 to rescue around 6,000 Jewish Ethiopians from Refugee camps in the Sudan…
And he is a champion of those with special needs. He founded ALEH-Negev, a state-of-the-art rehabilitative center in the Negev, one of Jewish National Fund’s key partners in making Israel more inclusive, which, when complete, will be home to over 200 adults with disabilities and serve 12,000 children and young adults with disabilities each year.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the 2016 recipient of Israel’s highest honor—the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement, Major General Doron Almog.


samedi 25 mars 2017


It is a slow saturday morning here in the Reservation of the UmonHon Indians. 
Today is the last day I have to send in evaluations of the 7 speakers assigned to me for evaluation.
It is a long laborious process, and often I end up learning so much more. Because you are looking at the lifelong research work or career of a particular person, sometimes young and sometimes older.
Also once you are a particular site, you are attracted to something similar.
Attributing ones own errors and perceptions to others have recently become much more accepted at the higher levels of the US Government, so I decided to look up the human nature,magnified in some, decreased in others, that makes people feel that they are right, and the others are wrong. even worse, the others are morons who have to be shown the right way.
Years ago, I had read a book called The Practical Neuroscience of Buddha's Brain by Rick Hanson and Richard Mendius. It was recommended to me by the only person in Sioux City, Iowa, USA who reads widely, my good friend SA, and I remember that conversation, after which I went and got a copy of the book, which I was fortunate enough to give as gift to that good doctor of Kuala Trengganu,Malaysia  Datuk Menon!

Something like the following I remembered from that book: If you find the behaviour of another person unacceptable or distasteful, please remember he may have 2000 reasons to behave so, and you may know only one or two and dont base your asessment of him on that little knowledge.

Sadhguru the South Indian mystic has also repeatedly mentioned that in his discourses, to be able to live happily with things you do not like is a huge blessing.

The yogic philosophy teaches us to calm down the structural defects in our brain, and I feel that the attachment we have to ourselves and our ways of thinking and ego and self esteem is the opposite side of the coin of finding aversion in the thinking of others and their conviction that they are right when we know or think that they are wrong.

what do social psychologists think about this?
I came across a write up on a Stanford University Psychology Professor in the Journal of National Academy of Sciences , and I cut and paste it here with some comments of mine.

 This influential paper by Ross in 1977 introduced the term “the intuitive psychologist” and explored the various cognitive and motivational biases that people are susceptible to when interpreting data. He also coined the term “fundamental attribution error” to describe the tendency to attribute someone’s behavior to their individual characteristics and attitudes, while underestimating the influence that the actual situation might have had. (quoted from National academy of Sciences)
As an anthropologist I see the bias and its ill effects when doctors confront patients and attribute their illnesses to personal traits or of the group they belong to, whereas forgetting the social and historic determinants of that wrongly accused behavior, very true to the health care given to Native Americans.

This phenomenon involves a concept known as naïve realism that Ross considers to be central to social psychology. “We think the world is the way we perceive it to be, and we expect other people to see it the same way,” he says. “So, when they see it differently and disagree with us, we tend to attribute it to their stupidity, their lack of attention, their lack of information, their biases, or something else that is preventing them from seeing it accurately.”

Conflict resolution
 “You make some progress when people who are frustrated with each other come to see the problem in terms of characteristics that make us all human rather than the unique negative characteristics of people on the other side of the conflict,” he says.

At his inaugural address as newly elected National Academy of Sciences, he explained how liberal and conservative Christians reconciled their belief in the context of their religious belief

People with fundamental religous beliefs whether they are christians or muslims or jews, would somehow come to term with their personal  beliefs in society, by attributing it to Jesus or Torah or Quran. We are at least lucky in that we have Talmud which is an ongoing commentary over the centuries on the Torah,and many Jews are Talmudists rather than have absolute faith in the Torah. Right now in the USA there is a discussion whether a Conservative (plus Christian) can support such humanitarian values as freedom of the oppressed (refugees) or expression (abortion, social inequality) without being branded a "liberal" and a traitor, and those who thus confronted find the resolution of the conflict in none other than Jesus, as I am sure the Jews do, as well as the moderate and radical Islamists in their holy book.

so if all of us learned about this theory, or understand the theory, we will not be blaming our friends and lovers for their inadequacy or lack of understanding but rather feel compassion towards them. We also will have more friends and lovers.
American Indians have a prayer:

vendredi 24 mars 2017


If you cannot make friends in Havana, you better get yourself checked out, something is wrong! It is such a friendly country with such approachable people, such an educated country with people who are not as complicated as the ones who live in richer or other south american countries.

mardi 21 mars 2017


Tourists and The Tour Guide in HAVANA
For fifteen days in the month of March, I had friends visiting me, from three different cultural milieus in USA..A Native American couple from Nebraska, a leisure bound couple who lived by the bay in Miami and a Doctor from Little Rock, Arkansas, who maintained a second home in Puerto Vallarta.
Most tourists bring their eyes and their second eye the camera, but do not see. Some bring their sights and enjoy the people, the first becomes a memory, the second becomes an experience. Memories by nature can be forgotten, whereas experiences add to your character and the sense of having lived.
Also, if you bring your past experience of travel with you, on the outside, you would end up comparing one place to another thus degrading the presence of yourself in the new place. Each place is unique, not because it is better than another. The happiest people I have met in my life were not from richer countries or leading professional lives, but the humble people who are grateful for what they have in their meagre lives. 
Thus comes the philosophy, be humble, be grateful and whenever possible be of help to people. If you are interested more in buildings and the bay than in people, you will neither make a deep attempt to get to know people nor would their welfare be on your list. The young American indian couple, who had been out of the country only once, came laden with gifts for people they might meet, even though they did not know much about Cuba, and the gifts they bought were symbolic of their culture and received with gratitude by the Cuban friends of mine. Americans in general are very generous people, but mostly with material things and to be a traveler, one has to be generous with time
Because in a friendship, the greatest gift is the gift of time.
My short career as a Tour Guide ended on the 18th March 2017 as I wish to host no further tourists to my island.

lundi 20 mars 2017


Normally I am very happy when my flight lands in Miami, and I recollect incidents associated with various spots I can recognize from the air. The main purpose of my visits to the USA is to be with the American Indians and the tribes I visit live somewhat isolated and I want to cushion the change whether I am coming from Cuba or Asia or Europe.
Cuba is an excellent place for human interaction. The last couple of months I have been able to host some good friends. On this visit, two couples, one American Indian and the other from Miami, enlivened my experience in Miami and it was so good to discover new places to eat and drink, and more importantly make so many new friends together.
Here I am, at the Charlotte Airport, at the American Airlines Club and trying to realize that I am in the USA. I am afraid to read the newspaper because of the antics of their new president, who would have thought this august presidency would be comparable to North Korean High Command?
Then I think of the hundreds of Cubans lining up at the US embassy in Vedado, with a slight hope of emigrating to this country, with their dreams and hopes. It is unfair to them that I feel unhappy to leave their country and arrive at the country of their dreams. 
During the past stay in Havana, I realized how grateful people were.. especially my two couple friends and also some close cuban friends as well as some new friends I had made, young university graduates.
I am glad that as of tomorrow I will be sheltered by the kindness of American Indians and I look forward to a dinner with my close friends G/M in Miami before leaving these shores once again in 10 days.