mardi 26 novembre 2019


The first time I heard the expression MOT, was from a doctor teacher, Jack Schneider when I was beginning my medical studies. Are you a MOT? He asked, and explained to me that it was a way of acknowledging other members of the Jewish people. After all Jews are a tribal people, from the historic perspective and many of the tribal mannerisms and characteristics and especially rituals survive to this day
In Cuba, I have trouble explaining to a people who had transitioned from Catholicism to Communism and both as ritualistic and rigid behavioral patterns and demanding obedience to a God or to an Ideology. To say that I am Jewish but not affiliated to any group or institution and that Bible means less than the commentaries on the bible and that I am not messianic but a realist who believes in the Paradise right here and now, of course avoid Hell here as much as possible, these arguments do not make any sense to Cubans.
But in the back of my mind, I want to be an example of being a good human being and that incidentally people could say: that human being is a Jew. I am one of the diverse Jews of this world but I have taken pride in my identity and also carried the burden of this responsibility of being a good ambassador for my people with great pleasure.
My wanderings around the world had taken me to various Islamic countries and some totalitarian countries both of which interested me in my presenting a good face of my people. In Malaysia, the usual question asked is, why do your people win so many Nobel Prizes. I tell them humbly, we are not smarter than the other people but we are taught to be more curious about the world and the medical and scientific contributions could considered as a part of social obligation inherent in us to help others, the Mitzvah.
Almost all countries in the East confuse Israel and the Jews, without realizing that the Jews are not a large group of people and that half the Jewish population of the world live outside Israel.
Iranians have been fed a foul propaganda by their government against Israel and by Jews by default. While they proclaim that Jews are among the four minorities with privilege in Iran, Infidels but somewhat better, they have no judicial, educational or position rights which can be overruled by Mullahs and in the name of Islam. I have a long standing interest in Iran and Iranian people and reach out whenever possible.
The greatest compliments arrive like this.
From Iran
Since we have been friends, I like the Jewish people much more.
We know that Israeli people are nice people, I wish I could go there and visit and study.
I always thank them humbly and say: we are the best friends you could have in the Middle East, we are natural friends
And say to my Iranian friends:
We love you, Iranian people
And one day we will be together and work together and contribute equally to help the people of the world, in science and technology and knowledge and literature, our Mitzvahs will be one.

I wish to be a good MOT.. thank you Dr Jack Schneider for explaining to me when I was still a student at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida, USA.

samedi 23 novembre 2019


I always reach the Airport a little earlier than normal, mainly to have a nice breakfast at the Flagship Lounge of the American Airlines.

730 am An Uber driver by the name of Bogart picks me up, a Venezuelan migrant who has been here for four years. You could see the culture of migration in his talk, and of course, no one prepares for them for the way I talk about Cuba..

Miami residents of Cuban ancestry has painted such a ghastly picture of Cuba, that an average person is surprised to hear about the wonderful life we have in Cuba, of course, people go to different countries in search of what suits them. He does not see the irony of a biomedical engineer from Venezuela working as an Uber driver in Miami but questions why an Australian Endocrinologist goes to Cuba. I have to remind him that some of the best Endocrinologists in Latin America are in Cuba..
He was a pleasant man, he said he inherited that name Bogart (there is a character Bogart in Miguel Street by VS Naipaul). His grandmother had been a traveller, a higgler who went abroad and bought and sold them at home in Venezuela. She fell in love with a Negrito-Coolie from Trinidad in his words, a light skinned man with straight hair, he said. Here he is, recently retired from his job at Hialeah Hospital driving for Uber full time. 
As I got out of the car at Gate 8 which is the special gate for Cuban departures, someone brought a pushcart and offered to me, i was to do the same thing at the end of my usage of it, and I was grateful as I was travelling to Cuba, bien cargado, with three checked in bags and two carry ons! Pleasures of travelling from a richer to a poorer country!
 (having FF status with American Airlines, I am always upgraded on this short flight to Havana, and it is appreciated)
(the omelette at the Flagship Lounge in Miami)
 breakfast before boarding the flight at the Flagship Lounge

I was in Seat 1B of an American Flight to Havana, a short 52 minutes with a flight full of people burdened with gifts to their family members. The flight attendants, unlike the usual Grandmothers on International flights, were very pleasant and eager to do their jobs and both of them had clipped American accents when they spoke. 
The immigration hall was near empty, and within a few minutes I was on the other side and the customs were manned by tertiary students who were on work-study duty? They were only slightly interested and showed little interest, except for the fact that I was carrying so much electronics: Laptop, iPad, kindle reader, two external drives, lots of cables.. once i told them what I was carrying, they lost interest in me.
 Before you know it, you are over the island of Cuba.
(I do not like to travel with luggage but visits to Cuba are different, as one has to bring so many things with you, for yourself and others)
Now comes the most nervous part of returning to Cuba. The luggage carousel.. every one is stretching their neck out for their luggage, like me they all have multiple luggage items, bultos, huge bags wrapped in plastics and all trying to see whether their bags are coming out. A good hour is allocated to it in my mind and I anxiously look for Customs Markings . AX . SP etc on the luggage tag..
As soon as I leave the Immigration and arrive at the customs hall.. doctors and nurses are waiting to take the Health form from you and I usually tell them . Like you I am also an Internationalist .. a Doctor without Borders.. They laugh, one of them even had his uniform from his time in Brasil.
I had already called my Cuban Sister and she told me that she was lighting a candle (she believes in Santeria), and that she wanted me to hold my hands with fingers crossed and everything would be fine. To my greatest surprise, none of my three bags, full of food stuff, decorations and plates and cutlery and glasses.. no, the Cuban Customs were not interested in me or the Spirits had protected me.

My driver, Yodel, let me know that he was waiting for me and as soon as I was out of the Customs, he came by in his 1964 Peugeot and the air-conditioning still worked.. He is effervescent and each time has something cute to say. Extremely affectionate and helpful, as we reached home, he carried the two bags each weighing 50 lbs each up one stairs to my flat, where my Cuban sister had organized everything, spic and span, with such a welcoming atmosphere.
She showed me that she had managed to get Lobsters, Shrimps, Lamb and Chicken for the dinner parties I had been planning.  Cubans in the Island have to be some of the most affectionate people on earth.
I am Jewish, my sister in Miami is very catholic and my cuban sister believes in Santeria syncretism. So we organized  a tree and i lit in up with the bulbs i had brought with me and then adorned the Ochun spirit with easy to awake bells.. and she had hung my Israeli flags across the mirror which now had blue lights to gently illuminate the Jewish Soul!

So good to be back, and I look forward to intense exchange of information, talks about medicine and anthropology, lots of good food, drinking as much wine as I can: I brought my favourite wines with me and I would need to buy more as I plan to have a large dinner party for about 15/16 people: Lobster Black Beans  Rice   and the best icecream in the world from the Cuban Icecream shop!
(everything was already bought and ready, thanks to my Cuban sister) Now to take a little rest...

in the little house in vedado..

vendredi 22 novembre 2019


Faramaz Aslani and Babak Amini made this video YAR in La Habana. It is nice to see the melodies and rhythms of Iran and Cuba mix..

jeudi 21 novembre 2019


Israel and Iran are the two most educated people in the Middle East
The two countries with millennial history.
I look forward to the time when the people of Israel and Iran would be friends.

lundi 18 novembre 2019


I am trained as an Endocrinologist and I have never had an office.
I make house-calls, but they are not in any particular town or country.
Today I was assigned a nurse, a very sensitive nurse who understands the cultural aspects of this kind of Endocrinology which is Anthropological Endocrinology.
which can be summarised as 
Good Relationship with the person 
They are not "clients" or "patients", we are primarily educators.
We do not preach or coerce or order or put pressure upon them. We repeatedly explain our desires for their better health and control of their endocrine disorders, with changes in their nutrition.
We appreciate the patients putting into use the knowledge gained by our interaction. We visit them on a regular basis.
For privacy reasons I cannot disclose the location or the name or faces of the people I visited today
But it was a good day.
Gorgeous skies
Mild temperatures 
A bit of magical realism involving a dapper alligator named Carlos.
Here are the photos.

 Magical realism involving Carlos the dapper alligator, pictured above and here he is on vacation with is american girlfriend, pictured in the photo above his.
Magical Realism continues:
I first met Carlos at the fountain of the parque Ambiorix in Quartier Europeen in Brussels . He was dressed in a beige well cut suit wearing sunglasses and a panama hat.
I had to explain to the eight year old who was clinging to me, not to be afraid of Carlos and that he was a friend of mine.
thus began the saga of Carlos, the world traveller, with an iphone who travelled the world to visit his families in the tropical parts of the world. Carlos spoke fluent French and Spanish even though he had relatives in English and Portuguese speaking countries.
So I sent these photographs to the now ten year old in Brussels: I saw and said hello to our friend Carlos and here he is vacationing with his American girlfriend!

dimanche 17 novembre 2019


and I am ready for you La Habana


Lately, since October 5, 2019, I have been having wonderful conversations with my friends in Iran, thanks to Internet. We never discuss politics, much like we don't discuss politics in Cuba..
but the culturally rich country of Iran, so full of emotions stretching back millennia..and the ever present HAFEZ.. and his poems.
and I read
In that time without beginning
the Sultan of Eternity
gave us the treasure-trove of the sorrows of love
from the moment we turned our faces towards 
this empty caravanserai

where we break our journey

The heart is so tender, thinking of my friends in IRAN and I decided to soothe mine with the Spotify Playlist of Iranian music
I am listening to AGE YE ROOZ by Faramarz Aslani
 I am with the Iranian people, make no judgements from this outside about government or their implements, but I feel the suffering of the Iranian people
birds whose wings have been cut 
like an Iranian refugee said 
Even if you let me out of my cage, I would not know how to fly, because my wings have been cut.
I enjoyed so much the interactions with various iranians all of them university educated and well aware of the intellectual world and the literate world of Iran and how much I learned from them..
May peace be with you, my dear friends.
All connections with Iran has been cut, normally when i wake up I can look forward to some kind message from Iran, today there was none in my inbox.

 Connectivity has been lost, only 7 % of the normal.
I am not mourning for you Iran but feel grateful what you have given me 
 Cochin in Kerala India with a souvenir from Yazd, Iran

the above depicts what I feel for IRAN at this moment, not any one in particular but all of you in IRAN, all of those whose hearts are beating in synchrony with this tenderness in my heart.