Geneva Diaries #29*

Tech Troubles, Vagabond(er), Marche des Huguenots, Centennial of the 19th amendment- Women’s Right To Vote


Dear Roger,

It was wonderful as usual to see you last week, and as usual I was thrilled you enjoyed my cooking. Unfortunately, the rest of the day didn’t quite unfold as I had planned, we didn’t tour the old town. The weather was awful, and Leo wouldn’t give us a moment to pause, my apologies for that. The streets of vieille ville are littered with fascinating nooks old homes, streets with exciting names that are oh-so-familiar, placards decorating old buildings and gnomes sculpted in various nooks and crannies… so much to discover, would have loved to do so with you! 

See snapshots of my family visiting Old Town Geneva below:

Though the week started dull gray and very slow, it certainly has gained momentum, I have much to share! The excitement started with unravelling French vocabulary with my new french teacher, a student at the University of Geneva.  The lessons were progressing brilliantly (even though she primarily speaks and explains everything in French) and for the first time, I felt I was actually getting a grasp of the grammar asking completely irrelevant questions and deviating off the prescribed schedule just to connect and exercise the few remaining brain cells for the first time without any embarrassment. As I sat sipping hot coffee on a foggy cold day, I attempted to describe my day (and myself) in French to jumpstart our French lessons. As I progressed through the motions of my day I attempted to romanticize my existence by describing myself as a “wanderer”, an ethereal being, a cloud (lonely, wandering) floating above the grinding core mechanisms of this earth, but unable to find the French word for wanderer, I looked at her for assistance. She returned the look with the same smile that always adorns her face (sweet and gentle) and responded “vagabond(er)”. I felt I had been slapped, I crashed back onto earth from my ethereal plane, and eyeballed her to catch a smirk or smugness in her smile was she using language as a camouflage to describe what she really though of me?!? She had just called me a vagabond, the English language equivalent of a low life, good for nothing, dubious and  deviant element of society who aimlessly moves from place to place! Of course, I asked for the dictionary, and then my iphone dictionary and then pleadingly at every passerby that this could not be so… but there it was wanderer was defined as vagabond(er). Roger, you know my favorite painting by Friedrich Caspar, the one I have described endlessly, the one I have dragged you to see at the museum bookshop … it was really me, yes,I was The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, see link below: By Caspar David Fredrick

By Caspar David Friedrich – The photographic reproduction was done by Cybershot800i. (Diff), Public Domain,

And now I am reduced to a vagabond c’est impossible!

All this of course brings us back to our favorite subject of language and how much can be misinterpreted, lost in translation.

And talking about being lost in translation, i’m afraid there appear to be some people who are in danger of being lost in prehistory unaware of the challenges posed by the new universe, the cyber/virtual world, the Net. The realms, the boundaries, the jurisdictions have all changed, expanded and many people out there seem oblivious or in denial… all this was gleaned from a very interesting conference I attended last week on E-Bay and the legal challenges faced in Europe. We all know it as a company that can help us purchase products (and for me its games, game consuls that cost the earth and are discarded by the kids without a blink) at substantially reduced prices. However, I learned that when it comes to luxury goods manufacturers, the story was not quite so rosy as they wish to have control over the distribution channels and their goods till the end and that is impossible with E-Bay and its likes around, i believe it’s impossible in the new tech world. So there have been cases and penalties and litigation to control and restrict the flow of these very special high end luxury goods from permeating this marketplace at the first instance or percolating through the grey market on resale. Upon quizzing the speaker who just happened to be seated next to me through the duration of her meal, I realized that the cases being decided in favor of by the luxury goods manufacturers and the resulting restrictions imposed only harmed their own citizens. I just could not understand it, as it effectively prevented the average French person (in this instance) from being able to access the sites where these goods were being sold at a great deal! Essentially, if I were a French woman (and the litigation continued to be decided in this vein), I would be blacked out from the new world of cyberspace “goodies going, going, gone…”!  Yes, I know I’m sounding very much like Funky Fred in his article in the Herald tribune this morning (It’s morning in India) on the appalling state of affairs in France due to the strikes, where he recommends the youth look over to India (which has tipped in the other direction, not good in my opinion) and get their act together and up to speed to face the world of tomorrow/their retirement. 

On the subject of India, Roger, as you know, I have spent my life waiting in lines, queues at various embassies and airports to get visas to the places I’ve charted to visit, often a frustrating and humiliating experience as the rest of the world seems to just breeze by for no other reason but that their governments have the power or savvy to ensure that the maximum gates remain open and welcoming to their citizens. Well… that certainly got me thinking about the persons across the globe with governments who are just not able or capable of comprehending the new realms, new jurisdictions, the new gates of the cyberworld and do not have the legal and political savvy to get their citizens the best deal possible. These are the boundaries, netizens of tomorrow, the passports will have to cleverly negotiated, relationships fostered so that the citizens of your nation can travel as freely and trade as openly without restriction as they take for granted in the real world. I’m afraid, not everyone seems to be up to speed, by denying the existence of the Death Star, The Net as I have called it ( depends on your control, it alternates between that and Paradise, and control is not denial), it will just not go away! What do think Roger, do you not agree with me that the legislators and the judiciary should not be wearing the blindfold, leave it to the one holding the scales.

And more action…

Once upon a time a sweet little froggie whispered in my ears about the journey of his people, the Huguenots to New York and their impact and influence in shaping my favorite city. Well, i got an opportunity to join my friends who were organizing Marche des Huguenots, a walk following the migration of the Huguenots, the French protestants who fled from France in all directions after the Edict of Nantes (which was created for their protection a hundred years earlier) was revoked. One of the first waves went through Switzerland (I learned that Geneva became the bastion of the Huguenots as they followed Calvin), all the way through to Germany and from there onto the United States. There was another connection as I had visited Pennsylvania and the Aamish country (the Swiss German branch that migrated to the US) and was fascinated at how they managed to maintain their rural ways (just like they were when they arrived in the mid 1700’s, no electricity, no computers, no cars) without the impact of technology or influences from the world to this day. The Huguenots migrated to Holland and England but most interestingly, they migrated apparently aboard the ships from the Dutch East India Company on their way to India via the Cape of Good Hope to South Africa and developed a wonderful vibrant settlement there sparkling the environs with wine and French culture. Our hike started in the charming Swiss village of Cartigny across picturesque Swiss landscape to the other charming village of Bernex. I reminded the kids that this hike was not only to explore Swiss countryside and learn some history but also because it was a part of the American story as we are; a migration of a people, as we emigrated(from India); in pursuit of a dream, so Dhruvum, Tara, Leonardo and I walked in the footsteps of the Huguenots on the path of liberty and tolerance. Do check out the photos:

Dear Roger,

Upon re-reading my mail to you this morning, I chocked when I reached the last line… did I say “tolerance”? Tolerance sounds like some one holding their nose till the stink passes or  one proclaiming that he/she is can take eggs in the pastry crust without developing hives! Persons elevating themselves to a position where they are able to bear, “tolerate” the presence of an essentially repugnant sight, smell or thought ! Oh gosh, we are desperately in need of a word… harmonious co-existence… but then we would need to teleport ourselves to the hippy happy sixties, no?

Dear Purnima,

With Obama visiting India and other points east this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about you and your Indian/American roots.  Is it the new hi-tech era and all of its power of bringing cyber-tekkies together that will seal a long-lasting bond between our two cultures ?  Are we not all becoming cyber vagabonds (chasers of comet tails) ?  It is also interesting that almost all the countries Obama will visit during this foray are, at least partially, Anglophone.

And talking about Obama’s trip, have you followed all of the outrageous clap trap from the ultra-conservative right and the tea party about the costs of Obama’s trip ?  It seems that nothing the man does meets with their approval, and they find the most spurious arguments to put him down.  As one commentator I read said,  “If Obama does it, it is wrong, because Obama is wrong”.  I personally think that America took a giant step forward in electing an Afro-American as president, but, unfortunately, they simply aren’t ready to let him be president.  On the other hand, he has sorely disappointed the progressive left in the US for his lack of determined leadership and unwillingness to take bold steps to bring about the change he promised.  Even Michael Moore, a fervent supporter during the election campaign, has attacked him for his lack of courageous leadership.  But then, one has to remember that he owes his election victory in large part to Wall Street and the financial interests that made his campaign successful.  Rather than bold change, he is marching to his taskmasters’ orders.

Are you off to the gym today ?  Have a good time ogling the cute instructors!




Dear Roger

Having experienced complete disorientation, lost all sense of time and space and most of my human sensations since my free fall down the rabbit hole and especially during the last two years over this protracted visit to wonderland, I find myself slowly petrifying, turning to stone, and fear that I am being returned to grace that distant corner of my living room with the other Gandharas…However, i know there is one who can break the spell and breathe life back to the Gandhara, and he is to be found at the high temple of the white devil, I’m on my way…  I’m actually on my way to Paris!

Dear Roger

There is a price to pay for a beating heart, I feel everything, pain sorrow exhilaration with Whitesnake playing my favorite tune in the back ground, “slow and easy“. Do you know it… “take me down slow and easy, make love to me slow and easy, I know that hard luck and troubles are coming my way so rock me till I’m down on the floor, rock me till I’m down on the floor”. That’s all I can hear over and over again, how I love whitesnake so much a part of my youth (as a rockers sister)! Do chk it out on YouTube:

I’m off for my French lessons the chief inquisitor awaits( did I tell you that my French teacher was Spanish).

The Grand Inquisitor continues with her sessions, who would have believed a reincarnation in this form so petite sweet with a decidedly sing song tone. We are visiting the cavernous halls of the torture chamber next, I will need to spit out legal terminology in French and English! Yes, it’s the library next. 

See you next week and think of me whenever u hear Whitesnake!


Chère Purnima,

Nous aussi.  Je te souhaite bonne route.  Je garderai avec moi mon téléphone portable au cas où tu as besoin de me téléphoner.  Je peux toujours venir te “guider” depuis la sortie de l’autoroute.  Si tu as le moindre problème, n’hésite pas à me téléphoner.

A demain,


October 19, 2020

Dear Roger,

As I sit down to finally gather all the pieces of our correspondence which contain in it snippets of my life and my memories, the journeys taken together linked by our letters of many wonderful adventures as we went traipsing in opposite directions across the globe. I find I must fill in the missing spaces of the conversations we would have had if we had a chance to spend time together over the last couple of years where I was pirouetting alone in the dark in search of your reassuring arm.

I am writing to you a decade after our initial correspondence from San Francisco, California following the theme set out by the Marche des Huguenots, the journey in the pursuit of freedom and liberty. October 2020 is a special time for women in America for we are celebrating one such journey embarked upon by American women in the mid 1800, the centennial celebrations of the passing of the 19th amendment to the US constitution granting women the right to vote. We have to remind ourselves and our daughters that this was a hard fought right and a long and tortuous journey where many brave, determined, and wise women paved the path for the freedoms we women take for granted not just in the US but all over the world today. The US has been a beacon of female emancipation holding the the light for us women who were still in distant shores with dreams confined by the footprints of their homes and dreaming of the stars. I now recognize that however glamorous the of the lives of the women of my home may have appeared to others they were inherently squelched under the yoke of male patriarchy and accordingly tempered their aspirations.

See below a pic from the National Museum of American History in DC of Mary Wollstonecraft famous book The Vindication of The Rights of Women, the British feminist author who championed for female education and ability to earn an independent living was the mother of Mary Shelly who authored the book Frankenstein an idea which arose during a game of stories prompted by Lord Byron during a dark and stormy night in a villa in Geneva, Switzerland. Yes, all roads lead to Geneve!

The National Museum of American History-Photo by Purnima Viswanathan


On this 100th anniversary of the women’s right to vote, let’s remember the 1848 Seneca Falls First Women’s Rights Convention and the suffragists Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who drafted the Declaration of Sentiments “We hold these truths to be self evident, that men and women are created equal…” with the backing of steadfast supporters like Fredrick Douglas. We should remember Susan B. Anthony the icon of the suffragist movement who traversed the country giving speeches, rallying support, picketing, organizing women. After many upheavals the two factions that had split over the 15th amendment enfranchising black men before women, joined together to form (NAWSA) National American Woman Suffragist Association in 1890. Suffragists like Alice Paul and Lucy Burns following their English counterparts took a more radical stance by picketing the white house, organizing hunger strikes and other forms of extreme civil disobedience. This let to notorious Night of Terror in 1917 when 33 suffragists were imprisoned, beaten and tortured:

The National Museum of American History-Video by Purnima Viswanathan

On 1916 Carrie Chapman Catt takes the lead leading the suffragists as the NAWSA president with a winning strategy and on May 21, 1919, U.S. Representative James R. Mann proposed House resolution for Womens Right to Vote passes 304 to 89 and the Senate passes the 19th amendment by two votes over the required 2/3rd majority. The 19th amendment was then ratified by 35 states, with the final decisive vote in Tennessee hands which was tied 48-48. This was no meagre theatre for the 23 year young representative Harry T. Burns found the fate of 15 million American women in his hands, and he did just as his mama asked him. In the letter he carried with him in his shirt pocket Mrs Burns reportedly wrote “Don’t forget to be a good boy and help Mrs Catt put the “rat” in ratification“. With Burns vote the 19th amendment which granted women the right to vote was fully ratified, and reads: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

1920: On November 2 of that same year, more than 8 million women across the U.S. voted in elections for the first time.

Purrrrr…Once again the Ms Cat wins the Day 😉!

Much blood, sweat and tears were spent by many that came before us over these hard fought rights and on this Centennial year it is time we recognize and remember the ones that paved the path to our freedom, a freedom that shone across the seas and one we now take for granted.

The National Museum of American History-Photo by Purnima Viswanathan

See below The Story of The Women Who Started The Fire:

Women’s Right To Vote

The Role of Black Suffragists: Pushed out of the national suffrage organizations, Black suffragist like Ida b. Wells and Mary Church Terrell founded their own groups like NACWC and fought hard for the women’s right to vote recognizing that this was the path to freedom from racial prejudice.

See below images of Black suffragists like Ida b. Wells from The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC:

Moving forward a century from 1920 when women were struggling to determine their own destinies, to have an unrestrained, unrestricted free voice in matters of national and personal relevance, to reclaim their dignity and self worth as individuals by full participation in the political process, here in 2020 once again we find ourselves uncannily faced with the same demons. The world has progressed at warp speed with social and technological developments that leaves everyone gasping in their attempts to keep society and the law in sync with tech. Unfortunately, the most vulnerable group once again in the new cyber-age despite the hard wrestled rights a century ago, are women! And unfortunately, across the globe the pivotal missing piece are the Stantons, Anthony’s and Catts, the need for the hour is pathbreaking women leaders cognizant of the glaring realities of the new age and undeterred by expectations of abiding by the “rulebook”. Leaders who are able the highlight the tar pits of the tech dependent existence, fight for women’s right to freely express themselves without being badgered and beaten down for their opinion, to help them fend off cyber bullies and cyberstalkers, reclaim their dignity and self worth so that they may be free to express and reassert themselves in the cyber world like they would do in the real world. #RightsForWomenInTheCyberWorld #CyberRightsFor Women

#CyberRightsFor Women-#DigitalRightsForWomen-photo by Purnima Viswanathan

Amnesty reveals alarming impact of online abuse against women

Cybercrimes, specifically gender based crimes directed at women are on the rise. Deepfakes, extortion, cyber bullying, cyber harassment, cyber stalking, identity theft, tech assisted cyber assault and image based abuse resulting in physical, emotional and psychological harm.

“Social media companies have a responsibility to respect human rights, including the right to freedom of expression. They need to ensure that women using their platforms are able to do so freely and without fear,”

See below the paper highlighting the deplorable state of online violence and abuse suffered by an alarming number of women resulting from “progress” in technology by OAS- Organization of American States:

From links referenced in the above paper See below Ashley Judd’s TED Talk on Online Misogyny:

Ashley Judd-Online Misogyny-TED

Anita Sarkeesian’s Ted talk about the representation of women in gaming and the onslaught of online hate that her post evoked. She emphasized that we have slipped into accepting as normal a culture of sexism, abuse, hate and misogyny every time a woman dares to express herself freely in the bastion of the male dominated online realm ie gaming. This of course takes us right back a century to where we celebrated our freedom to express and participate freely in all platforms. Today, as Anita and Ashley along with a thousand others are crying aloud women across the spectrum and globally are being silenced and marginalized and denied free expression and full participation in the new cyber realm. Moreover, there is absolutely no viable mechanism for accountability. See Anita’s TED Talk below:

I return to art to express my deepest feelings and find beauty and strength which I would like to bestow to all my daughters in Damien Hirst’s sculpture Verity which stands tall in the harbor of Ilfracombe in Devon, England.

See below Damien Hirst’s Verity:

This modern allegory of Truth and Justice, showcases Verity or the truth by presenting a sculpture of a  pregnant woman standing tall and strong holding aloft a sword to the sky with one hand and scales with the other behind her back standing. She is standing astride books of law representing truth and justice. Here the female figure is literally stripped bare off her skin representing verity or the truth of the woman her strengths and vulnerabilities the female form behind the masks hoisted upon women by society, culture and norms, with one half exposing her muscles, bones, internal organ, the uterus and the baby. Behind the facades Hirst showcases women as human, mortal, made of flesh and bone with the ability of bearing life and wielding the sword a synonym for her strength and power despite her vulnerability, standing atop of law books and holding sales symbolizing her demand for justice, to be treated at par with her male counterpart and for the world to view her behind the facades hoisted upon her and see the truth in her strength that equals and balances the male counterpart.

The stance of the sculpture Verity is compared to Edgar Degas’s famous sculpture of The Dancing Girl Aged Fourteen. Well guess what, protesters and opponents to Damien Hirst’s sculpture, your darling dancer aged 14 grows up, becomes a woman and has babies and if she is very lucky she gets to stand tall and proud overlooking the harbor in Devon, this time not fashionably disrobed for the male gaze but stripped of her skin (making the worms squirm) to show her truth or Verity. See below Edgar Degas’s Dancer aged 14 at the Tate in London:

I absolutely love this sculpture!  I have walked down innumerable boulevards with sculptures of Men Of War, glorifying war, aggression, bloodshed and propagating the military Industrial complex, it’s time we have sculptures of women lining our boulevards showcasing the female struggle and in the face of grave odds the fight to uphold truth and justice. There are wars we women fight on daily basis, the fight to retain ourselves and our identity, the fight to proudly uphold our physical attributes regardless of the desire of the masculine eye, the fight to procreate and yet hold on to our lives careers and wage expectations, the fight to stand tall and proud irrespective of the cow dung thrown at us when we stand to challenge men on their platform (and social media takes this to new lows hitting women where it hurts the most – our dignity and self respect), and the strength and ability to hold and raise the immortal sword skywards and aspire for the highest offices. Love the sculpture, GoDamien!

Je voter que cette sculpture est installée en Californie❤️

In response to what it is that I want, I have to return to ZAZ, I want…Je Veux…

Je Veux translated lyrics:

I want love, joy, good spiritIt’s not your money that will make me happy. I want to die with a hand on my heart. Let’s go together, let’s discover my freedom,

Je Veux:

I end this saga with my proposal for #Rights-for-Women-in-The-Digital-World

San Francisco- Let The Games Begin! – Video by Purnima Viswanathan

Ready, Take Aim and Shoot!!! I know you can do it CAT, see Hunger Games below:




Disclaimer : P

All persons, places, events are fictitious; all imputed relationships purely aspirational. There were no men harmed during the penning of the Feminist Manifesto

Published by Purrnima

Travel Writer - Art Blogger - CyberSmurf

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