lundi 24 août 2015
If I had travelled the eight hours on an Etihad Airways flight, then taken the train to the centre of town, checked into a Hilton Hotel and then went to see them for dinner, Indian Take Away Tucker, at their home, it would have been worth it.
It is one of those delightful get together with a family, where a family is family, a conversation going on, with every one participating, there are no quarrels, no one is shouting at another or discipline the way people were eating or drinking. Young and Old (three adults, two university students, and one high school student) participated in the conversation and it was truly a give and take. I learned so much and in fact an explanation of how the White Jews became “white” given out by the lady of the house was a very plausible one. The four dogs did not interfere in the dinner conversation. Two hours went so quickly….
It is truly one of the genuine pleasures of life, share a nice meal with a good family and have a congenial conversation, in which respectful information is exchanged and every one contributing to the best of their ability.
Lessons to take home:
As Gabo, Dali, Pablo all have demonstrated, behind every successful man there is a good and strong woman, Mercedes for Gabo, Gala for Dali, Matilda for Pablo..
Stockholm Nobel Prize 1982 Gabo with Mercedes
Many think that Dali's success was due to Gala, the talent was his own!
That is the look of LOVE.. Matilda with Pablo, who wrote a book of love poems when they met El Versos del Capitan. Pablo won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971
Dinner table is for conversation, to talk and discuss and not to shout and vent your anger and frustration and disappointments in life.
Be Happy with what you have, and not be unhappy with what you don’t have. ( Pierre Merrick, my UmonHon Indian Brother)
If you are a guest, leave the youngsters in the table some knowledge. For LBGS who is five, it is the difference between Alligators and Crocodiles. For the young adults tonight was a discussion on Jewish Cultural Identity and how differs from Jewish Religion.
Let the hostess decide the flow and direction of the conversation, Talk what they want to talk about, even if it is about Anthropological adventures in the Amazon or the reason for the popularity of politicians whether Trump in the USA or the failing grades for Dilma in Brazil.
What was interesting for me was the liberal opinion of these very highly intelligent people who had lived through Apartheid. Mullahs in Iran, who are unpopular with the educated Iranian public, were compared to the Broderbund during the Apartheid.
They asked me questions about the vanished (just about) Jewish community of Cochin and helped me answer, in discussion, how the 93 year old Sarah Cohen of Cochin who is of Yemeni Origin becomes part of the “white” Jewish Community?
The lady of the house explains Jewish males always travelled for trade. From Egypt, Yemen and Iraq (all names are new, Jews lived in El Fustat, there was a Jewish suburb of what later became Aden in Yemen and Baghdadi Jews always existed, Iraq is a fairly recent invention), Jewish traders in and around 10th Century of the Common era traded with Spain, Italy, India among other places. Travels involved months if not years and many traders like Abraham Ben Yiju who prayed at the Ben Ezra Synagogue in El Fu stat (later became part of Cairo) lived in Mangalore for 18 years.
It was a common practice for them to take local women, not as harem or concubines, which was the practice among Moslems (see Ibn Battuta, requesting that his concubines to be provided for during his journeys). We have reason to believe that the local women were converted to Judaism and the children brought up in the strict Jewish tradition of the day. Ben Yiju took his Kerala born (her mother was from the Nair Caste) Jewish daughter to Yemen and later to Egypt where she married the son of an illustrious Jewish family. In Cranganore, where the Malabar/Cochin Jews lived and worked, the traders and their families in a very short period of time, would have become large enough in number to separate themselves from the natives ( in this case, Hindu or Moslem or Christian Malayalam speaking people) and constitute themselves into a separate group. Money, lack of it and the influx of more Jews from Middle East and some remnants of the Expulsion from Spain, further the Malabar Jews into two groups, aided and abetted by the Colonial masters, particularly the British who were sensitive to such issues such as colour and racial origin.
( from an article on Cairo Geniza: Hundreds of letters buried in the genizah show that Jewish merchant princes set sail from Egypt or Yemen to India and returned along the Red Sea and Malabar Coast if they didn’t marry Indian women and settle there. Marriage contracts in the collection show that divorce was common. )
(a photo of Cairo Geniza, and a good book to read the history of Geniza and its discovery is Sacred Trash.)
Thus the conversation in this distant continent was helpful for me to further understand the sociocultural phenomenon which was later institutionalized as White and Black Jews of Cochin.
As I explained to a student who was at the table from Cape Town, being Jewish is about relationships, our relationships with each other not only at the level of the family, but historically and through time and distance and the genuine affection we feel for each other.
That breeds curiosity in us, curiosity is a very Jewish characteristic and it pays off in acquiring and accumulating knowledge, spreading it and turning it into a Mitzvah, a duty to help others, a humanitarian mission as well as Tikkun Olam, to heal the world.
dimanche 23 août 2015
CROSS CULTURAL BUSINESS MANAGEMENT: ZHENG HE/CHENG HO AND THE ART OF COLLABORATION
A good friend of mine is doing a course on Cross Cultural Business Management at a well-known university in Asia. It made me think of the interest spiked by globalization of recent years. The Online magazine Strategy+Business occasionally has articles of cultural interest to Business students/people. There is a parallel rise to in objectifying these to the tremendous rise in our understanding of how our brains function. One example would be Prof Ramachandran’s work on why and how are people attracted to Art, whether a Picasso or Miro or the proliferation of “naïve” art brought by backpacker tourism.
(what makes us think of Divinity when you look at the face above?)
The role of the anthropologist is to observe and what my friend is doing is participant-observation. She can observe, analyze; but that analysis is based on her experience in the field of business. Thus she can advise people in “business” about cultural awareness to enhance the milieu of transactions.
She is perhaps unique in her approach because of her capacity for collaboration. In my field of Medicine, collaboration has become the benchmark of quality, doctors are not judged as carpenters or plumbers, orthopedic and urologic surgeons fell into the category in the past, but are judged by their capacity to collaborate.
On my flight today I was reading an article about changes in workspace. The new concepts of work spare in the innovative world, does away with individual offices, If concepts like WeWork spread through the corporate world, since they are darlings of Silicon Valley, a presence would be formidable such as shown by their presence in Manhattan.
The writer had this to say:
What it means to work in this world today can be summed up in one word: Collaboration
That brought forth thoughts about a mutual friend, Dr. Ta Tan Sen, a tireless humanist entrepreneur from Singapore who propagated the ideas of the greatest Chinese Admiral, Zheng He or Cheng Ho. He has published a book (written by a professor of Business from Singapore University): Zheng He and the Art of Collaboration. It is amazing to think that 600 years ago when the current business titans of the west were foraging in forests, the Chinese Admiral Cheng Ho backed by his Emperor practiced Collaboration, with the many cultures and kings and courts he came across. The cultures were many and he was in the commanding position, much like the Business Conglomerates of today. From small kingdoms and sultanates in Indonesia to Kenya, from Indian Subcontinent through Straits of Hormuz, he was humble and offered not to conquer or dominate but to collaborate and show them the gem qualities of the Culture he represented. The objective was exchange and gifts and not profit but the profit was not individual gain but a great contribution to humanity, as he is remembered everywhere he had visited and to this day his contributions, such as the Chinese Fishing Nets provide employment to many! This after 6 centuries!
In my travels through poorer and developing countries makes me realize how philosophical and forward looking was Fidel Castro when he pronounced years ago that the Globalization would bring on poverty to many and wealth to some. The gifts to the poor has been cheap polyester clothes and latest style haircuts and to the rich, holidays in the west To this day the rich from the poor and developing countries spend their money and time and holidays in the richer countries of the west! Rather than the poorer sister countries.
Like Zheng He, our Jefe Comandante, a latter day Revolutionary was adamant about the negative aspects of globalization without collaboration. To mark his 89th birthday, just recently, Fidel said: Cuba is committed to goodwill and peace in our hemisphere but added, “We will never stop fighting for the peace and welfare of all human beings, regardless of the colour of their skin and which country they come from.”
If you listen to the current presidential contenders of the USA, any intelligent person would embrace Fidel’s view of collaboration with the world, especially the developing nations, rather than the conservative philosophy expounded by the politicians at the hopeful Presidential level who want ME, much more than the WE approach to the world...
Just one example. The medical schools in the USA, reflecting the conservative and capitalist philosophy of its graduates, do not educate a single poor student from a developing country with the specific intention of returning him back to serve his or her people. All foreign medical graduates are kept for services in the USA. In contrast, Cuba a poor country educates more than 20 000 poor students in Medicine alone so that they can go back and serve their people. Just recently I was told that a native Ticuna Indian had returned to his Amazon River home to serve his people, after his studies in Cuba! 14500 dedicated Doctors from Cuba are working in Brazil, serving people who have never had easy access to Doctors. I was told of a young lady doctor who will work at the Indian community at Torrentins along a tributary of the Amazon River which is 9 hours by boat from the remote small town of Tabatinga in the Brazilian Amazon!
That is collaboration with a large dose of Humanism
(travelling along the Amazon River under an overcast sky)
So, as the flight is about to land, I thank my good friend MC and this romp through the Asian business and collaborative mind.
And Dr. Ta Tan Sen and his work to further the collaborative work of the greatest naval admiral ever lived, the Chinese Navigator, Zheng He/Cheng Ho
This photo of Tay Kak Sie Temple is courtesy of TripAdvisor
This photo of Tay Kak Sie Temple is courtesy of TripAdvisor
mercredi 19 août 2015
HOW TO BE A PROUD CUBAN
LIVE A DAY LIKE TODAY IN THE AMAZONAS
I was supposed to go to Nazareth, along the Amazon River, to visit a TICUNA Indian family, but couldn’t get in touch with them.
What a day it turned out to be!
A day to feel like a human being. A day to feel proud of mi Isla Rica, CUBA
The river had lowered itself, so that the streets of Leticia, this small town in Colombian Amazonas were no longer flooded. There was a boat leaving at 10 AM for Puerto Nariño at the end of Colombian Amazon coast. I procured a seat but the boat seemed to be a small motorboat with homemade seats that had no specific order. I was expecting a bigger boat; after all we were going down the Amazon River!
A queer mixture of travelers, two young German girls obviously trying to find themselves (by tattoo and pins), Indians going home to their settlements along the river, a French mother of an infant who lives in Leticia, acting as a guide to two French couples on holiday. She is from Avignon and her baby was well behaved.
The boat was loaded to the hilt; we had to stop at Peruvian and Colombian Military inspection stations before we could speed down the Amazon River, with Peru on one side and Colombia on the other, with Brasil receding away in the distance.
We passed by many small settlements of few huts, stopped at one or two of them before proceeding to our destination, Puerto Nariño. The town was founded on 1961 August 18 by a doctor named Jose Humberto Espejo Hernandez, it is an ecological town with no motorcycles or cars and it is entirely pedestrian. Marine, the young French mother turned out to be a very natural person. She was very much interested in Herbal and Spiritual healing and asked a slew of questions. With everyone I met today I talked about LBGS, the proud student!
As befits an unofficial Cuban Ambassador, I told her about the great humanitarian contribution of Cuba to the sister developing countries, such as the 14500 doctors working in all municipalities throughout Brasil (all of whom are proficient in Portuguese), working as General Medical and Integrative Practitioners. I was to meet some of them, much later in the day.
She mentioned in passing that there is a Cuban teacher of Music who has a little hostel in Puerto Nariño which she shares with her Colombian artist husband and maintains a residence in Leticia where she gives private lessons in Piano. Her lodgings are called Ayahuasco just up the road from the jetty.
Puerto Nariño is a recent outgrowth of a purpose built village, the second Colombian town of any size (has a population of about 6000), with mostly Ticuna Indians but some mestizos as well, along with administrative officers from elsewhere in Colombia
I found the Hostel Paraiso Amazonico Ayahuasca, with its rooms for rent and a small gallery of paintings by the Cuban music teacher’s architect turned artist. He is very content to be living in the Amazonas but teaches classes at Macedonia up the river, he commutes each day there by small boat called pique pique. Ileana is from Vedado, a proud Cuban, came to Colombia 20 years ago, married and stayed and is well integrated into the Amazonian life. We had a wonderful conversation, reminiscing about Cuba. I could see that she loves the Cuba that is, rather than a Cuba of imagination or fantasy, like most Cuban Americans. Cuba has only one enemy, I have mentioned earlier, it is the Cuban-Americans in Miami. They have no interest in Cuba or its people, grudge their failure to make changes there or have the patience or courage to do anything about their feelings except to pay loud mouthed radio hosts or politicians to say what they would like to say, who can brainwash them vague concepts they do not understand such as “Freedom” or “Democracy”. (Miami Cubans are the most racist of all Americans, just look at the census tract information; they don’t like to have Blacks as neighbours)
(Alejo a Colombian crafsman, spends months at various towns along the Amazon, selling his wares and enjoying the time, he would leave in a month to Belem and work his way down the Amazon back to Colombia. He explained to me the natural fibres and wood he uses and the fibre comes from the palm tree he has tatooed in his calf!)
So meeting a person such as Ileana, content with her life and proud of her culture was a breath of fresh air after Miami.
Walked around this isolated village in the Amazon. Many tourists are brought here by tour companies for a day trips, to see the round headed river dolphins, Delfinos Rosados. People do question the eco sustainability of such quantity tourism. There are individual tourists who come here independently and utilize the facilities responsibly and contribute to the local economy. As the Indian Community at Nazareth explained while banning tour groups, in the end who gains, just the tour companies who bring them, we get a lot of empty bottles and get stared at a lot! Individual tourists are welcomed by the communities along the Amazon but only Macedonia and Puerto Nariño have any facilities for the tourists to stay overnight, Hotel Ayahuasca operated by our Cuban friend Ileana being one of them.
It was so happened that Ileana was returning to Leticia on the very same boat I was returning to Leticia and promised to find the residences of the Cuban doctors even though she did not know the address. When we got to the wharf, we engaged an auto-rickshaw to take us to the Brazilian side, the town of Tabatinga. She found the apartments very easily and very soon we were being welcomed warmly by the Cuban doctors stationed at this very end of Brasil!
Yanitza from Baracoa/Camaguey opened the door and very soon we were reminiscing about the many many people we knew in common.
What a reunion it was? It made me proud of being a Cuban and the land I love. Contrary to the propaganda, these young Cuban men and women have a different conscience they profess.
Unlike the foreign medical graduates who come to USA to further their studies and almost all of them stay to enter Private Practice where it is all about money and never about humanity. Jorge from Bayamo spent two years in a small town in Ghana on the border with Burkina Faso, worked in Venezuela for 3 years and is now here for two years. He is very content to be a general integral Medical doctor ( much like a well-trained Family Practitioner who can look after Adults, Children and pregnant women), looks forward to returning after his missions abroad to settle down to his work in the Policlinic at his hometown.
Yanitza, whose husband lives in Camaguey, spent two years inn KIRIBATI a small atoll-nation in the Pacific and now will work in a Public Clinic in Tabatinga in Brasil for two years. When you talk to these Cuban doctors, you realize they are dedicated professionals, who put their patients first, emphasize preventive medicine and contribute to humanity. And they have no desire to desert their posts and go to the USA, even though a portion of the Cuban American Community would do anything to get them a visa, mainly for propaganda purposes. Not all Cuban professionals want to leave Cuba. Many want to leave Cuba for similar reasons why Jamaicans or Guatemalans want to leave their countries, it has nothing to do with the political system or the newspapers or the TV. The Cuban Americans forget that the majority of them are economic migrants and not political “refugees”.
Of the 70 000 Cuban doctors who have gone on missions recently only 4 per cent ( four in a hundred) had chosen to leave their missions and go to the USA (where they can work as Nurses, porters or technicians, validating medical licenses have become extremely difficult for any foreign medical graduate in the USA). And of course, the Miami Herald, that rag of yellow journalism, would highlight the small group that leave and talk about their “escape” to the free world. Welcome, now you can flip hamburgers, and don’t worry about the poor people who are now left without a doctor in remote areas of Venezuela, (most of the doctors who betray their missions do so from Venezuela), You were a doctor in Venezuela but you can flip a hamburger here and of course taste the bitterness of that freedom and not to mention the bad quality of food!
I was so elated by meeting these unselfish practitioners of medicine from Cuba. In this remote part of Brasil, there are 14 Cuban doctors, four of them working in Public Health Clinics and the other ten working in isolated indigenous communities. I was told of a doctor from Guantanamo whose post is nine hours by boat from this remote port city. And the first indigenous graduate from ELAM, the school of Medicine set up specially to educate doctors for Latin America has returned, he is a TICUNA and he would be plying the villages and his profession along his ancestral territory.
Hurrah for Cuba
Hurrah for Brasil
Hurrah for Humanity
The world is a better place because of the sacrifices of these thousands of Cuban doctors. How many European or American doctors would volunteer to come and work in a Family Practice Clinic in remote parts of the developing world? I have visited Cuban doctors working at the most remote Indian villages along the Orinoco River, Curiapo, San Francisco... these towns never in their history has had doctors, but now they have at least two of them in each Indian village!
As I mentioned earlier there are about 70 000 Cuban Medical Doctors working in various developing countries, Kiribati in the Pacific to Pemba in Zanzibar to the Brazilian Amazon. The number of doctors from Europe or America doing this sort of humanitarian work (let us omit the Missionaries here), would be closer to Zero and MSF Medicins san Frontiers does a wonderful job in places where there are emergencies or disasters. Cuba and Israel are also countries which have contingent plans when Natural disasters strike such as in Haiti, Pakistan or Nepal.
(the sun is setting over the Amazon River)
While we walked the few blocks to the Colombian Border from Ileana and I took an auto-rickshaw to take us to our different homes, I felt so happy and content. I know I will continue to be friends with many of these people. During my next visit, I will visit some of the outlying Indian communities and visit the Cuban Doctors working there. It is a moral responsibility for me and a show of solidarity and moral support for fellow Cubans, something Cubans are famous for.
Also thought that I would compile an anthropological introduction to the places they are posted to, so that they don’t arrive here, with ignorance about the various cultures they face whether in Kiribati or Tabatinga. They cope alright but an introduction before arriving here would make that transition easier. A Cuban medical education is helpful in this matter.
When I got back to Leticia, my Cabana at the Hotel was ready. I was met with such broad smiles and I met Blanca, a local accounting graduate and Erika from the tribe of Yucuna from the Interior near Pedrera by the river Caqueta, 15 days by launch to Leticia but only 40 minutes by the occasional propeller aircraft. The long journey is due to the fact that the river first flows into Brasil and after a long distance join the Amazon, and then you have to backtrack to Colombia.
I want to have dinner at the best restaurant in Leticia, El Cielo. Blanca offered to take me there on her motorcycle. The meal was just delicious and wouldn’t be out of place in many capitals of the world. All ingredients used are natural and needless to say locally sourced, since the nearest road is 800 km away.
A wonderful, wonderful day.
A day of travels
A day of new friends
A day without stress
A day full of spirituality
I am grateful
I enjoyed every moment of the day
May the Spirits bless LBGS to whom this blog is dedicated.
(a visiting Inca medicine man was walking by the hotel and he called me over... we talked , I told I am also a doctor to the Indians. He took my hands in his and chanted in Inca language and then said in Spanish, we leave it all to the spirits)
PS The Omaha Indians have taught me that Nothing is Casual, everything is related. Missing the visit to Nazareth Indigenous community led me to this great adventure. The next morning, by yet another coincidence (does it exist?)or as if it was planned that way, the administrator of the community came to visit me and we made plans for a longer visit to his community the next time I am here!
lundi 17 août 2015
LIFE OF LONGING, LIVED IN THE MOMENT AND WITH SPECIAL AFFECTIONS
I like this sensation.
What part of the brain is stimulated or excited?
AA Flight to BOG. Seat 5H
Two glasses of Australian White wine (Verdelho)
Just watched La Strada directed by Fellini
Anthony Quinn as the young vagabond
Excellent acting by the lead actors.
A movie like this makes you feel fine knowing that you are alive and that you have lived
Listening to Cesaria Evora
Her album Voz D’Amor which contains the song Beijo Roubado
Which I dedicate to a special friend
And thinking of yet another friend who always made sure I ate well
My life is not about conventions or following rules
But about Helping Others (that is why I love Cuba so much where the solidarity reigns supreme)
There is no room for sorrow
There is no room for sadness
At this tender moment
Thinking about a special soul
Whose special day in a few days’ time
I will have a chance to witness.
I can honestly say at this very moment
Very few souls are as content as I am
Thanks for all those who have made it so
I look forward to a sip of wine, while looking at the mountains surrounding Santa Fe de Bogota
And look for the same boatman to take me to Santa Rosa de Lima on the Amazon River
Look forward to meeting some ethnologists at USP, where long time ago Levi-Strauss was a professor
Would the long flight from GRU to AUH, give me some new friends as well?
Stay at the same hotel for the toothy welcome of Kerala Muslims? And chat with the same Uber Driver from Trivandrum, who works in AUH for 17 years all the time separated from his family!
A Jewish reunion at JNB?
Some good friends in CPT?
A special trip to spend a Shabbat with the Last Jew of Cochin
And to spend some time with a very special friend from an ancient Christian family who has promised me a south Indian dinner at the Cochin Yacht Club
At the end of last leg of many flights would be a little voice
I want to be with you, Let us go together and take care of Indians together
I wish all of you who are present in my heart to experience this euphoria
You are not a memory but you are a presence
Memory fades with time
Where is the little girl who once promised her love in the island of San Cristobal? No longer present and the Memory forgotten
dimanche 16 août 2015
THE EXHILARATION AT FERNANDO BOTERO MUSEUM IN CANDELARIA, BOGOTA… WHICH PART OF OUR BRAIN DOES GET STIMULATED?
Bogota has that vague familiarity as one drives through, the ochre colours of the tiles of the houses, the gardens well kempt, no tall buildings and nothing reminiscent of the turbulent distant past. Houses and apartment complexes line the street, lazily looking at the yellow taxis, red buses, and pedestrians who seem to be in hurry to go anywhere. The trees are not striking, but they are not tropical and the hills surrounding the city, with prominent peaks covered in threatening mist reminds you that you are far away from sun and sea and lapping waves and the tropical torpor.
I stopped a yellow taxi; I had been warned about the dangers of taking regular taxis rather than the hotel taxis. A very sleepy driver with a smell of a festering wound, welcomed me with no great fanfare, and off we went to Candelaria, the historic heart of Santa Fe de Bogota.
A mixture of old and new, but the old were very old by American standards and the new with a touch of architectural dignity. I walked up the street and stopped at a corner where views in any directions reminded you of the oligarchs and the hundred year war of the Conservatives. It was only three in the afternoon, but the fine drizzle and the patronizing mist from the mountains made you think of a later time.
I was so excited when I could recognize the unmistakable Fernando Botero sculpture and with the greatest of excitements I entered the Fernando Botero Museum, much different from his outdoor sculpture garden in Medellin, the city of his birth. This collection was truly mesmerizing. It was as if Alvaro Mutis (Maqroll) and Gabo (Macondo) were giving me a tour of the Colombian History of wars and death and destruction but the survival of the spirit of this people who have managed to weave this softness of Colombian Character.
When I saw this Presidential portrait by Botero, I couldn’t help thinking of No One Writes to the Colonel.
Maqroll, whose shadow I carry within myself, was present, as always scheming of a thing or two and Botero had managed to capture it. Colombia’s unique character gave Gabo the ability to enhance what Alejo Carpentier (Cuba) had earlier thought of: The Magical Realism.
I was deeply engrossed in Botero’s sketches and paintings and thinking of the Macondo where I had lived in Cuba and the surrealism of our lives during difficult times there. Gabo would write a short story about the security guard at a store in Vedado stopping a woman from entering because she was carrying two soft Avocados. He later said if the avocados were not that ripe, I would have let her in. What was he thinking? The lady was about to shoplift using a soft avocado?
(Picasso, Miro, Freud, Chagall)
Then there was a surprisingly good collection of European masters, especially Pablo Picasso and here the attachments to the paintings were emotional rather than magical.
Does the same part of the brain get exhilarated when the viewing of pictures gives you the same pleasure but for a different reason? Prof V Ramachandran of UC San Diego might be able to explain that.
My appreciation of things French (in aesthetic terms) drew me to view Renoir, Corot, and Toulouse Lautrec among others as well as many painters who had been elsewhere but died in France... Chagall, Lipschitz…
the photograph below I think is the same town painted earlier Trouville in Normandy
I was dressed in clothes from India and I noticed that that was attracting attention among the visitors. I heard someone comment that I was from India, but I proceeded through the exhibition hall, nonchalantly, without paying attention to those who were paying attention to me, I was too thrilled with the magical realism of Colombia...
But the moment in Cochin, when the flame of magical realism touched me, was when a painter by the name of Sunil Vallarpadam was presented to me. He had a moustache which was impressive and had some good looking friends including one who looked soft enough to want you to take up Meditation.
I remember Sunil’s lines and they evoked a sense of fullness of a picture which seemed only partial a second ago. I could see at this museum, some of the paintings, accomplished more than depicted. I must tell Sunil that the next time we meet.
I left the museum with such a light heart and wonderful mood that I felt that I must try even more to be nicer to every single person and smile at every one. The drizzle was so light that it rather caressed than moisturizing your skin. The mist had descended even further down from the mountains.
Walking past the Centro Cultural Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I thanked this nation which has given me such aesthetic appreciation and education through Alvaro Mutis, Gabo and Botero...
So far, I have visited Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena and Leticia in Colombia and there is whole lot of beautiful places to cover... Ojala!
The UBER driver was there in minutes and he drove me past the Montserrate with a church that can be seen for miles, the street of Banks and the municipal park and through the ordinariness of Bogota. He left me at the gates of Hilton Hotels, a wonderful place to stay in Bogota where my new friends Leidy and Lorena, greeted me and directed me to the early evening reception for visitors. The wine was Undurranga from Chile, the snacks were all made in the hotel and I spent two hours sitting reading, writing and recollecting the pleasant feeling of being in Candelaria..
jeudi 13 août 2015
A YOUNG INDIAN WOMAN GOES OFF TO THE UNIVERSITY: FAMILY AND FRIENDS SAY FAREWELL
I attended a ceremony of farewell to a young Indian Woman who was going off to study at a University. Her mother organized a ceremony to wish her well.
These are descendants of some of the ancient inhabitants of this region.
And many of the old ceremonies and customs are followed to this day.
(a tribal ceremony in the 1940s)
The order and the manner the ceremony is conducted is so different from those of the European descendants in this land.
First the mother introduces the daughter, who is known to every one presents. There are no sentimental thoughts about missing them but a praise of what she has done so far in her life.
Then the mother invites a spiritual leader to pray and give words of advice to the young lady. He talks and tells her a bit about her people and also the importance of being a good relative to her people. He burns sage and blesses her and those present as well as the food. Thus the food becomes a medicine.
After that everyone is invited to eat.
Here also there is an order, the older people are served in their seats, and then a line forms for people to partake of the dinner. Today’s fare was a modern version of their food: Fry Bread, minced meat, tomatos and salad, a sort of chicken dumpling soup, fresh fruit.
After that the audience is invited to talk. I got up to say that I had known this young lady all her life and that her name is glorified being an American Indian as well as Sanskrit Indian!
One by one, many others talked some reminiscing and some giving advice and each time, hugs by everyone concerned. Others reverently sat and listened, children played noisily but it was not considered an intrusion. Older children and young adults listened to what is being said. There was a fair bit of laughter.
At the end of these, the young lady thanks every one for coming and gives presents to the people who prayed for her and also to some elder Indians. It is not she who is going away that gets the present but she is honoured by the presence of the people and gives them presents.
The leftover food is packaged and the elder or infirm person in the community is remembered and someone takes the food to them. Always there is plenty of food available.
Very quickly every one disperses towards their homes, and as everyone pitches in, the place is clean and rubbish dispensed and goodbyes said.
People leave with a good sense in their hearts.
I am lucky to be a participant and at the same time observer. I was the only non-Indian person present there but was treated just like everyone else, especially since everyone in the audience have known me or known about me and my association with this tribe.
I can summarize the evening thus:
Ancient concepts translated into modern times
Advice to younger ones, but not admonition
Equality with no social hierarchy
Solidarity and Cultural Identity
Children are present and they are not silenced, the older children listen to the talks and conversations without interrupting. The importance is always placed on the Other person rather than oneself even if one is speaking.
Thus I spent one evening in August in a remote Indian reservation in USA.