mardi 10 octobre 2017


I am grateful for the kindness shown to me by the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska; especially Ashleen BB, Wehnona S, Lorna S, Taylor H among the many others.
Lately I have had a chance to show my appreciation of the tribe, by promoting in Northern Minnesota and Marquette, Michigan the Omaha Model of Diabetes Care, which I think would be THE model to follow in the Indian Country.

 The Moon slowly rising over a silent landscape in Northern Minnesota, near Brainerd.
When I woke up at Craiguns Inn by the lake, this is what was waiting for me 

The many good friends that I made during my jaunt brought the lesson in Humility, yet another Omaha Indian characteristic, to me. Mindy, Joe, Sara M, Troy, Rich, Dr. G and then again the wonderful Providers at the Cass Lake, Mille Lacs and Fon du Lac bands of Ojibway. It was a pleasure for me to see my new brother Arne of the Ojibway. I was given hand collected wild rice and also the Ojibway tobacco, both of which I will put to good use. Was also given a handmade bag from Duluth, Minnesota.
When goodness is shown to me, I would like to return it hundredfold to people who know, and complete strangers to me.
Those of us who are familiar with the Indians have become richer in life’s context by observing the fundamental qualities of Indian perception of the world: Humility, Gratitude, Sacrifice, and Mindfulness.

I left feeling well, with my head in the Clouds, (the Traditional Kickapoo of Mexico call me Ke Se Kui Te Pa, or Head in the Clouds) and headed towards the Amazon, via Miami and Lima.
My first day in Iquitos, the largest city that cannot be reached by road in the world, was all that I wanted. I reacquainted myself with the architectural sumptuousness of the Rubber Boom Days, visited the Iron House built by none other than Gustav Eiffel of the Eiffel tower frame, took in the air of the vast Amazon River, went in search of the history of Moroccan Jews who had come here during the Rubber Boom, ate at a Chifa which is the Peruvian version of a Chinese restaurant famous for its Fried Rice and Chicken. I spoke to many local people, but not to a single foreigner or a tourist. I am not on a holiday but to enhance my anthropological ability to observe life as it goes on in another part of the world, far removed from our everyday life.

I will highlight some anecdotes of the day here in the Amazonian Outpost.
The common form of public transport is MotoKar, wich is a motorcycle usually a Honda attached to a rear two seater, which splutters along. I wanted to go to the Museum and the receptionist at the Palau Amazonas Hotel where I am staying hailed a MotoKar and we began our journey. Once the driver found out my Cuban conncetion, he insisted that we go and look for some Cuban friends he has, we ended up in a Barber Shop in another suburb, met the Cuban barber, I may get my hair cut by him tomorrow and then went to the Amazon where the Nanay River meets it. I loved his enthusiasm for life and great hope he has for his life ahead of him. He was from Barranquilla in Colombia and he hopes to get to Ecuador and from there to Spain.
(Erstwhile home of Mr Cohen who might have arrived in the late 1890s to IQUITOS, Now a supermarket and a cafe)
When I enquired about a restaurant where Peruvians eat and not those frequented by tourists (with its high prices), she offered to come with me to the restaurant tomorrow evening!
People in general are friendly and talking and getting their life story is what I do best on my travels.
 It was good to see a patriotic march to celebrate the end of the War of the Pacific, one of the many internal wars in Peru
Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame said to have built three houses here in Iquitos, this one called House of Iron is easily to find.

Women tend to be on the plus size in this outpost and one can easily see why if you are to go to outdoor areas where plenty of food is being sold. Fried in the same oil, these rings, I think they are called Sancoche, are offered for a fraction of a dollar for a small plate (2 Soles).

vendredi 6 octobre 2017


This country is immense, and most of us just touch small patches of it. I cannot claim to have traveled it well rather than in patches: Florida, Texas, Nebraska and South Dakota, Iowa; all more or less flat states, with no great claim for natural beauty, except in isolated parts. Also the population diversity of this country, gives Texas to Mexicans; Florida to Cubans; Nebraska and Iowa to the Germans, with the smattering of multiple other nationalities, sometimes incongruously placed: Somali in Sioux City, Iowa; Sudanese in Omaha, Nebraska. Immigrants are welcomed but their struggles are different from the native born or those in the professional class, native, immigrant or foreign.
When one is struggling to survive in a competitive capitalistic society, there is little time or inclination to be nice to each other or show solidarity for their plight.  America is changing so fast that we tend to forget what it looked, felt and talked like just a couple of decades ago.
 I had a chance to experience America, which is well hidden, one of the more beautiful parts of this large country with sweet people to match its beauty.
Northern Minnesota as the leaves were falling in multitudes of colours, the lakes tranquil but deeply breathing the light that falls on it, to share the glow with us. Very genuine people, healthy looking to boot, I enjoyed so much my drive through Northern Minnesota and enjoyed meeting a variety of people.

It was a memorable visit for me.


Until the end of the last century, the dominant metaphor for Health was Religious/Spiritual. Body is a temple, health is godliness or saintliness. Even the words for health hinted at their religious origins: Sante in French for example. Leading a good life meant leading a religiously compliant life
In an editorial published in the Lancet, a well known medical journal, it was interesting to see how the metaphor has changed and how much health occupies a central role in the discourse in our society.

Published on line on 6th October 2017
In her compelling account of the 2016 US Presidential election (What Happened, Simon and Schuster), Hillary Clinton invokes a powerful metaphor to express her concerns for the health of America's democracy. She argues that a body politic needs a strong immune system to survive. The elements of that immune protection are facts and reason. But “our immune system had been slowly eroded over years”. Democratic institutions of “the greatest country in the world” became vulnerable to attack. Americans must “heal our democracy”. Yet the prospects for repair seem poor: “I'm worried about our democracy at home…I'm worried about the future of democracy around the world.” With “epidemics” of despair, guns, and substance use, it seems impossible to deny that America has a “broken political system”. This view, from someone who has served her country for over a generation, should surely be taken seriously. Some critics have interpreted Clinton's book as a bitter parting shot against those who defeated her. They are mistaken. Her analysis is a disturbing autopsy on the state of America today. What Happened is an urgent plea directed not only to those concerned about America's capacity to survive, but also to all who are anxious about protecting America's international contributions to human health.

Thus MEDICINE has become a central theme, metaphorically at least,  in the discussion of ills of society (pun intended).

dimanche 1 octobre 2017


It was Yom Kippur and I was on my way to Miami to be with my good friends.
We broke the fast together. The hours we spent chatting was an example of the connections we have with the jewish people all around the world: the three of us are all of different nationalities of origin: USA, South Africa and Australia
Earlier that day I was able to listen to the sermon on line by Rabbi Stephanie Kolin of The Central Synagogue in New York and I learned about the concept of Ahavat Chinam  Boundless Love.
We see examples of this all around the world and let us begin with our own people, this has nothing to do with Religion but our culture and our commitment for the survival of the Jewish people. We have another generation following us, and we have to show them Boundless Love (and of course not HATRED) by practice.
Rav Kook the Chief Rabbi of Israel before independence had clearly explained how to achieved Ahavat Chinam, practical advice on how to achieve this love.
Spending the evening breaking the fast, the three of us from different parts of the world, connected to another generation now in Ireland and Bruxelles, felt the love that we can easily extend not only to our fellow Jews but also to others, including those who hate us.

Practical Steps towards Ahavat Chinam

In his magnum opus Orot HaKodesh, Rav Kook gave practical advice on how to achieve this love.
  • Love for the Jewish people does not start from the heart, but from the head. To truly love and understand the Jewish people - each individual Jew and the nation as a whole — requires a wisdom that is both insightful and multifaceted. This intellectual inquiry is an important discipline of Torah study.
  • Loving others does not mean indifference to baseness and moral decline. Our goal is to awaken knowledge and morality, integrity, and refinement; to clearly mark the purpose of life, its purity and holiness. Even our acts of loving-kindness should be based on a hidden Gevurah, an inner outrage at the world’s — and thus our own — spiritual failures.
  • If we take note of others’ positive traits, we will come to love them with an inner affection. This is not a form of insincere flattery, nor does it mean white-washing their faults and foibles. But by concentrating on their positive characteristics — and every person has a good side — the negative aspects become less significant.
  • This method provides an additional benefit. The Sages cautioned against joining with the wicked and exposing oneself to their negative influence. But if we connect to their positive traits, then this contact will not endanger our own moral and spiritual purity.
  • We can attain a high level of love for Israel by deepening our awareness of the inner ties that bind together all the souls of the Jewish people, throughout all the generations. In the following revealing passage, Rav Kook expressed his own profound sense of connection with and love for every Jewish soul:

    “Listen to me, my people! I speak to you from my soul, from within my innermost soul. I call out to you from the living connection by which I am bound to all of you, and by which all of you are bound to me. I feel this more deeply than any other feeling: that only you — all of you, all of your souls, throughout all of your generations — you alone are the meaning of my life. In you I live. In the aggregation of all of you, my life has that content that is called ‘life.’ Without you, I have nothing. All hopes, all aspirations, all purpose in life, all that I find inside myself — these are only when I am with you. I need to connect with all of your souls. I must love you with a boundless love....Each one of you, each individual soul from the aggregation of all of you, is a great spark from the torch of infinite light, which enlightens my existence. You give meaning to life and work, to Torah and prayer, to song and hope. It is through the conduit of your being that I sense everything and love everything.” (Shemonah Kevatzim, vol. I, sec. 163)
  • samedi 30 septembre 2017


    Today is YOM KIPPUR, the most important day in Jewish Calendar. I thought fondly of the other times, when and where I had been present to be with my fellow brethren: Ash family who introduced me to the Liberal Synagogue and Rabbi Levy in Melbourne; walking to the synagogue with the Fischbein family in Malmo; New York, Miami and once even in Galveston, Texas and nice feelings at the synagogue in Kingston, Jamaica.
    I am a wanderer and my desire has always been to help others, so I chose Medicine as a career and chose the Indigenous people as the group to assimilate into, to be able to assist.
    Last night I had to give a talk to a group of Educators in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan about some cultural aspects, as I am an Anthropologist as well, to assist the American Indians in a respectful fashion. I met so many nice people and felt so fulfilled in my heart.
    I wanted to hurry back to Miami as the Fast began.
    Now that we have such advanced technology, (proud to say that much of which came from Israel), I was able to follow Kol Nidre and also the morning service. Neshuva in Los Angeles and the Central Synagogue in New York City all broadcast their services and are watched by thousands around the world.
    The closing prayers are rather moving. The sermon by Rabbi Stephanie Kolin was relevant and thought provoking.

    Afterwards, I checked YouTube and listened to the same songs in the Yemeni tradition and felt even better since that chanting resonates to my oriental Jewish heart.
    Suddenly, out of somewhere or other, I had a great desire to listen to Leonard Cohen’s Dance with me to the end of love. I was able to find the following video. While it is a beautiful love song, Cohen himself was moved to write that after digesting the horrors of the Holocaust that affected our people and the various injustices happening around the world, currently and in the past.
    I thought, Leonard Cohen, may he rest in Peace, brings with his unique voice a sentiment felt by so many of us, whether we are Jewish or not, the one of Love.

    Tonight I will be with my closest friends in Miami, Dr. M and his lovely South African wife, G. I think of the harmony among them and dedicate this song by one of our own from Canada, Leonard Cohen, to their longstanding love and understanding of what it is to love to the end of love!

    especially to the Last Jews of Cochin
    to the Last Jews of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia
    to the last jews of Burma