Geneva Diaries #71*

Terrestrial Law v Cyberlaw, A Tamil Tale – The Saga of The South Continues in The New World


Dear Roger,

It was amazing to get this email from you just as I was shooting out an unusually heavy email laden with letters and images. Yes, it’s been sizzling and all I have done through the month of May here in Delhi is to either sit directly under the air conditioner in front of my laptop, or immerse myself in the cool pool of my gym. I have been writing continuously even if I haven’t yet put it down in text form. I have found swimming the most effective place and time to pen a letter as that is one space where there is complete silence.

Tara arrives tomorrow and I just can’t wait to see her. I am also planning a trip to Singapore early August as Dhruvum will be doing an SAT course there, and then playing with the idea of making it back to California this October for the annual California Bar conference. That would give the required continuing education classes I need as well as the chance to get myself out of the cave and back into the mainstream legal world. I am also hoping in this trip to meet with Forrest at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, who responded very warmly inviting me for lunch to meet with his colleagues to further discuss the Ramayana epic project. However, there was no response, no mention about my grand proposal to connect the cultures of the East and the West, from Japan to the British Isles, so even though he has very warmly invited me to meet him, it seems like he has other pressing matters and so has put my proposal aside, I feel he is missing the forest from the trees! Oh Roger, you know I absolutely had to add that quip, how can I become completely sober and resist being me. In any case, I’m very much looking forward to that meeting, fingers crossed.

Well, since it’s a 120 degrees outside, and there is absolutely no place to go, and my computer screen looks cool and welcoming, I’m going to place myself besides it, and continue with my mental regurgitations.

Ok, so I’m back in the cyberworld and reading everything i can get off the internet relating to “Earth” bound laws being thrust upon randomly across issues relating to cyberspace. As I had mentioned in numerous prior occasions, I don’t believe it is exactly, or directly translatable, and cannot be arbitrarily imposed. I believe we need to get a consensus from the cyber realm before imposing earth bound laws upon it. In any case Roger, which laws would you impose, Civil Code or Common Law, or perhaps state specific code (California law perhaps since this appears to be the residence of choice for all the gods and demons of the cyberworld), which specific nations can assert and impose their laws and how would that be determined? Would jurisdiction and liability be determined on the location of the violating device, the individual (if that can be identified) or the location of the server? There are a gazillion unanswered questions and I can keep going… but I suspect no one will get anywhere unless we get a consensus from the netizens themselves or their representatives, who i believe are currently the Pirates of the Cyber Realms. And in order to get a consensus from the pirates, we’ve got to think out of the box, or “Nation State”. I know I’m sounding like a scene from a popular movie, but this is real (or virtual however you like to call it), and it’s pivotal that we start to define these cyber standards.

I’d like to share the following two articles to further highlight my point that the denizens of the cyber realm are rising, protesting, and will soon not accept the arbitrary earth bound laws imposed upon them.

As someone who was raised and educated abroad, the more I delved into it, the more it blew my brains: The first case related to freedom of expression as outlined in the first amendment to the US constitution. See the First Amendment overview below from the Legal Information Institute):

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference. See U.S. Const. amend. I. Freedom of expression consists of the rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and the implied rights of association and belief.

The LII goes on to elaborate that though the legal definition of obscenity has been hard to establish it lists the following category of speech unprotected by the first amendment:

Currently, obscenity is evaluated by federal and state courts alike using a tripartite standard established by Miller v. California 413 U.S. 15 (1973). The Miller test for obscenity includes the following criteria: (1) whether ‘the average person, applying contemporary community standards’ would find that the work, ‘taken as a whole,’ appeals to ‘prurient interest’ (2) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and (3) whether the work, ‘taken as a whole,’ lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Now it is here in “contemporary community standards” that we have a very broad and ever evolving spectrum. So long as pornographic materials were limited to traditional modes of dissemination like print it was thereby limited to a certain geographic area, it was easy to determine that community standard, but now with the all-pervading internet that has access to ever home and pocket, across all genders and demographics, unlimited by national, or other traditional gateways or boundaries of codes, customs, and indigenous expression, determining contemporary community standards has become infinitely more of a challenge. Again, the question arises as to what these standards depend upon, and who is designated the arbiter of “standard” in the cyber realm.

Speech based freedoms which have repeatedly been upheld by the US supreme court, in my opinion are one of the most enlightened liberal and all encompassing freedoms provided to mankind. As someone who was raised and educated abroad, the more I delved into it, the more it blew my brains, it’s wholly inconceivable for most parts of the world to even fathom that these freedoms can exist, and here not only do they exist but are routinely enforced and upheld. It’s uncanny to see that however diverse the justices of the US Supreme Court (left, right, centre) may appear, applying the highest scrutiny to any transgression to the same, they almost always unanimously vote to uphold it. In my opinion if there is something worth protecting on earth, it is this, this, this! 

Do see People v Larry Flynt, I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed it I only wish it discussed the legal issues more in detail. Link below:

So, back to the ambiguity that exists in the cyber realm, at this juncture, it is being resolved by these earth based laws, but I suspect it will not be supportable in the long run. It’s imperative that this all expansive protection be interpreted for the cyberworld and gain the consensus it demands and then provide all the freedoms that a select group have been able to carve out for themselves on this earth.

See case copied from, United States v Thomas, at the end of the email where community standard was challenged and instead it was proposed that the case be decided upon “cyber community standard“.

The second piece that jumped out as me and got my gullet as I was languorously surfing the web trying to keep my vision focussed in this 120 degree weather, was an article by Jonathan Bick on the Internet User’s Duty of Care (Cybersecurity and New levels of Online Liability). See article pasted at the end of email if you can’t open link below:

View the full article here:

This excellent and very persuasive piece highlights what the pundits of the Earthly realm believe relating to the enforcement of Earth bound laws in cyberspace, in this instance the law of Torts (negligence), that the potential liability will enforce vigilance among the computer users. He goes on to say:

“While certain bad actors trick Internet users into installing software that harms other Internet users, most of the harm to other users is due to intentional or negligent acts by individual users, even if the harm is actually a byproduct of the acts. Internet users expose other users to harm when they intentionally disable security software, so as to improve the speed of their uploads and downloads. Or they negligently employ vulnerable passwords or engage in risky behavior, such as downloading questionable material, such as free copyrighted content (e.g., music, videos or games).”

“Tort law evolved to protect the public against new dangers arising from new technology. Negligence emerged as the liability standard for non-intentional injuries caused by new technology.” 

“Courts have had little difficulty extending liability for bad software when the design defect causes physical injury or death. A New Jersey court applied product liability law in a case in which the brakes of a tractor-trailer failed because of defective software on the vehicle’s onboard computer. See, Roberts v. Rich Foods, 654 A.2d 1365 (N.J. 1995).”

Both an Internet site operator and an Internet user could potentially be held liable for negligently permitting a third party to access its computer and copy data or proprietary information owned by others where that inadequate security results in injuries to third parties.”

My response to the above was explosive to say the least, it jolted me out of head spinning heat, and got me reading and rereading the text. Whaaaaaat…is being proposed here?!? It looks like he is proposing that protections afforded to owners of real property and chattel be extended unaltered and arbitrarily across the internet to all kinds of “ownerships/possessions”, it also seems as though he believes that product liability laws that govern the earthly realm where they are connected to software translates into software programs and Net enabled IT! Oh Roger, please help me but it must be the heat or I am grossly mistaken. Well this was my knee jerk response upon reading this excellent article (a must read to know what the gurus are thinking):

Can of Worms- directly translating Earth bound laws to apply universally across the internet. Wake up and smell the cyber-stink!

In my opinion, the faulty software on the tractor resulting in liabilities as referenced in the article above is completely comprehensible, but remember this is merely software running on a machine that is earth bound, this does not apply to software on the Net! For the moment the software package is linked online, it becomes a part of the cyber-realm and even if it used to run the tractor that operates on Earth, the laws governing it are not so straightforward. Unlike the above clearcut case of faulty software onboard a tractor, where the laws governing it and the resulting liability is clearly defined by a long history of product liability laws, the moment this software is linked (not to an internal LAN system restricted to that corporation) but linked to the WWW, the laws that govern liability move outside the physical realm to the cyber-realm. And the laws of the cyber realm DO NOT correspond necessarily to the laws of the Earthly realm. What freaked me out completely was the application of the tort of negligence directly upon the interactions in the cyberworld, holding each netizen liable to third parties (ie) the world for being negligent towards his own security (not adequately securing his/her computer against viruses, downloading from dubious sites etc). I danced in the rain and now am liable to the whole wide world for passing on the common cold!!! Where does this liability end…”am I permitted a sneeze in this one space I have carved out for myself, or do the ominous omnipresent and restrictive laws of Big Brother permeate here as well” is what the Netizens will CRY out loud. There obviously needs to be a code for the cyberworld, but imposing the Earth bound code of laws directly and without either thought of the nature of this space nor consensus from the denizens of this space would be a frustrating foolish and futile attempt by any government.

I’m not sure if I should be ending that with a Ho, Ho , Ho and a bottle of rum…but you’re certainly Not going to find me on Professor Bick’s boat!

Ok Roger, now that I have got that heavy stuff off my chest i’m kind of raring to plunge down memory lane (yes, its somewhere in the dark depths of the ocean in another realm). See below The Tamil Theatre

I sit incredulously on my opium bed on which rests my teak writing tray table and journey back through time to my wedding day.

Opium Bed-The National Museum of Singapore

In my last email was attached a wedding photo of Purnima and Mirko bedecked in jewels and silk, glowing and happy awaiting to embarking on a new life in a new world far, far away.

Purnima and Mirko – Hindu Wedding

The Saga: Mirko as you know was a New York banker and even though he was of Indian origin he had barely spent anytime in India. He had lived studied Europe and America but had returned to India to marry his Indian bride, that was an enigma in itself. We met a handful of times, the families had known each other over three generations, with my grandfather working under his grandfather in the Indian Civil Service, and his father, my father-in-law, working under my uncle in the Indian Foreign Service (still remembered as the greatest rivalry in the foreign service which caused huge protocol issues at the time of the two families meeting and garlanding each other at the wedding). But most of all his incredibly brilliant uncle Uma Shankar was my grandfather’s “bestie”. I had met him at home on a number of occasions and seen my living room light up as the two brilliant men sat together over bottles of scotch of course and reminisced the Raj, their spectacular careers in the foreign and civil service and the story of India. Their wives were close friends and my grandmother often exclaimed that Uma’s wife was among the most beautiful women of India, I only wish I had images to share. That story is also long and tragic and I will leave it to my children to fill in the pages of their family. So in the midst of close friendships and great rivalries this bond was forged. How marital relations are forged between two rival factions, families and kingdoms, is the subject of another email but it has happened through time and we just have to look at the Chinese who send their princesses north across the wall (Vindhyas in my instance)into the hands of the fierce tribes of the North, see below Wang Qiang on Her Way To The Khan of The Xiongnu from The Asian Art Museum, San Francisco:

Thus I found myself bedecked from head to toe sitting on my marital bed in front of a man I barely knew. Mirko stared at me for a while and then… you won’t believe what me asked me on the marital bed on my wedding night… “Can you bop your head side to side for me“? “What?”, I exclaimed, not really understanding the question, until he repeated it twice. Here I was a south Indian bride, and he believed all south Indian girls could bop their heads side to side, yes just like a typical “Indian doll”, and he wanted to see me do that. See link below of Tanjore terracotta doll:

By Alamelu Sankaranarayanan – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Tanjore Dancing Doll –

The Tanjore Dancing Dolls

Of course I couldn’t believe my ears, there were jumbo signs flashing saying “MISTAKE” and “RUN“, after 18 years of education, a semester before I was to graduate from law school, I was sitting on the bed bedecked at a bride in front of a strange man with an American accent who was asking me to bop my head side to side. And so began the saga …

Highlighting the theatre that was to unravel as my life, with a stranger from another universe, the scene opens in New York City. Our charming old brown stone on the upper east side of Manhattan adjacent to the Guggenheim was a dream, but the man was far from that dream.

Purnima at The Guggenheim

He should have laughed when I made zucchini sandwiches for our picnic in central park (I had never entered the kitchen before so knew no better); He found no humor when I literally flew in for Dinner at Le Cirque, “I flew” because I was struggling with the 7 yards of a silk saree on stilettos and found myself temporarily airborne,  finally steadying myself I ordered my meal and of course I requested for crushed red pepper, I’m a southern belle, the chef arrived in a tizzy at our table (I suspect he arrived to see the dramatic Indian lady draped in a saree) seeing all the fuss that was created I turned to find Mirko beetroot red with the fourth of July fireworks exploding out of his head fearing yet another scene…

July 4th Fireworks out of Mirko’s Head

Then there was the incident in Paris…I was out sightseeing and was told to get to a certain place for dinner at a certain time, with the emphasis on time, I arrived at La Tour d’Argent, in my black leather biker jacket and boots to find at the table the ambassador and his wife among other guests dressed in silk and pearls, of course there was a nuclear explosion but I plead innocent as I was not informed. These stories are endless and perhaps entertaining but the eight years in California were no joke, by then Oberon had become Bottom and there was no going back. 

La Tour d’Argent:

Le Cirque NYC:

My theatrical entrance draped in multihued south Indian silk certainly fit right into Mr Maccioni’s arena – a quote from the article above- “I encouraged beautiful people, interesting people, people of different races and colors,”

This was all my paternal grandmothers grand plan, The Swan of the East, whom my in-laws much admired and respected. See below my grandmother Kowshiki, The Swan of The East:

She had know the family for generations and was close to over the moon having found The Suitable Boy. From the time I remember she had wanted a little girl in the family. She used to endlessly lament that her daughter Kadambari did not try for a daughter (as though it was guaranteed), and then it was the turn of my cousin, Kadambari’s son, and once again there were two boys, so by the time she got to me she prayed passionately to realize her dream and her dream for me.

The Tamil Story: There is a long historic background to this story, and it is entwined with the Tale of the Tamils. My paternal grandmother Kowshiki came from one of the most recognized musical families of South India. I can trace back our ancestors to the 1700’s, her father, my great grand father, S. Duraiswami Iyer, was a renowned lawyer in Madras, a revolutionary fighting for India’s independence from British Raj, and a great patron of the arts. His maternal grandfather was Tiruvottiyur Tyagier (1845-1917), a celebrated composer. Tyagier’s father was ‘Veena’ Kuppayyar (1788-1850). He was a direct disciple of Tyagaraja, arguably the greatest composer of Carnatic see link pasted below:

My great grandfather S Duraiswami Iyer’s (see attached image) passion for freedom resulted in a terrible tragedy for my grandmother as her family was first separated and then she lost all her siblings one by one.

S. Duraiswami Iyer – Madras Lawyer, Patriot, Philosopher, Revolutionary and Devotee of Sri Aurobindo and Swaraj

He sent his wife, my great grandmother to the Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, she left with a baby in her arms (supposedly for her protection as he was constantly under surveillance by the British agents, and Pondicherry was a safe haven as it was under French jurisdiction), where she at the age of 27 had to drape herself in a white saree and hand over all her jewelry. The bride of a home and a family that would have traditionally been covered in silk and bedecked from head to toe in jewelry, she left her palatial home in Madras to occupy meagre accommodations, a small room in the Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry as one of the sadaks or disciples of the ashram.The infant in her arms, baby Rudra, did not survive the year in the ashram. Her life replete with its tragedies is the subject of another book and makes me more determined in my outlook that the freedoms we (women)take for granted in this day and age are but ephemeral if not reaffirmed, reinforced and upheld at every juncture, so that we may voice our opinions, stake our claim, extend our protections not only to ourselves but those under our care and vehemently reject being being treated as chattels vociferously disregarding the bindings imposed by tradition, culture and society. Oh how I wish I were there in Old Madras to advocate for my great grandmother Meenaskshi with a voice that stood firm, equal and opposing to my great grandfather S. Duraiswami Iyer!

See below my great grandmother (sitting second from left) at The Aurobindo Ashram in Pondhicherry, India with the other sadaks, Ashram inhabitants, who were extensions of her spiritual family and the foundation she rested upon for comfort and support:

My Great Grandmother S.D.Meenakshi (Seated Second From Left)with her daughter Anu standing behind her, Vasudha Aunty, Kittu and Bharati Reddy, – Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, India

See below snapshots of Pondicherry, The Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry and the street and home where my family lived in Pondicherry, India.

My grandmother Kowshiki’s entire family was scattered, sent to different homes while their palatial home, horse buggies and staff stood with my great grandfather who was a prominent advocate of the Madras High Court at it’s head hosting the revolutionaries and friends of Swaraj or self government in Madras and clandestinely funneling funds to the revolutionaries. Out of the five children of S.Duraiswami Iyer, my grandmother was the sole survivor, and she often reminisced about her ancestral home Palm Court, and her siblings especially her favorite, her brother Thyagarajan who joined the RAF during his studies in London and was shot over Normandy on the day Paris was liberated. Having lost so much so early in her life because of the high ideals of her family members that sacrificed themselves on the alter of patriotism, truth, justice and freedom, she yearned for something earthly a reminder in the form of a child of her family that was no more. I loved my grandmother more than anything and I wanted to realize her dream.

My grand uncle Tiger Tyagarajan (The RAF Pilot seated on the engine cowl):

Tiger Thyagarajan RAF on The Engine Cowl – Shot Down Over Normandy The Day When Paris Was Liberated

Palm Grove-Old Madras Homes (See link to Palm Grove in Madras Musings Below)

Palm Grove -Home of S. Duraiswami Iyer- 40ft Ceilings

See pasted below a link of Palm Grove, my grandmother home and the home where my father (Vijay Kumar Viswanathan, see attached), his sister Kadambari and his brother Priya Viswanathan was born.

The Babies Born in Palm Grove – Kadambari, Vijay and Priya Viswanathan

I was told by my grandmother who had the fondest memories of this almost 130 year old home with airy balconies, 40 foot ceilings and beautiful wrought iron grills, a home that saw much song, dance and theatre of the south as artists and musicians were often housed and taken care of by her father. Subramanium Bharati used to sing out loud in its halls glorious songs of patriotism, sages, saints and philosophers were frequent guests. She remembered sitting on Ramana Maharishi’s lap right here, my great grand father was a huge devotee. And all of it just vanished, my great grand father gave up the shirt off his back, his assets, land, home property to the Aurobindo ashram and the freedom struggle and he retired to Pondicherry to live out his life in memories. Roger, here in the north of India, you don’t hear the stories of the southern revolutionaries. In his instance, I guess his story will be found in the French archives, as the British would not necessarily highlight the saga of those that so flagrantly rebelled against their authority. See below the link for Palm Grove:

And then…Tara was born, the Swan’s Dream. Do see attached two pictures of Tara in California, one in an Indian dress (where she looks like the picture postcard of my paternal family) and one in a white birthday dress handing out her heart. My grandmothers seed and the story of her family continued in California. I remember the day I came to my grandmother with Tara in my arms, she was brimming with joy but at first would not let me just hand her over. She first straightened her dress, said a small prayer and then was ready to receive Tara who she held up (like a scene from the Lion King), and declared she was Krishnaa the expression of love and beauty.

Tara as Krishnaa the expression of love and beauty in California, USA:

Tara in California, USA

Tara offers her Heart and This Theatre of The South Lives For Another Day in The New World:

Tara Offers Her Heart and The Theatre of The South Lives for Another Day in The New World!

I wish to share with you her favourite hymn  Bala Mukundashtakam “Kararavindena Padaravindam” which describes the beautiful form of lord Krishna with hands like the lotus holding his feet like the lotus, with lips like the bimba fruit and teeth like pearls. I can hear her sing it with all the members of the family. This much beloved hymn came to life for me through Tara. See link for hymn below:

Bala Mukundashtakam:

And with that Roger, I will end the saga for today but I am attaching a photograph of my grandmother, The Swam of the East, at the age of 77, the same profile that the artist in Lahore had sketched forty years earlier (overlaying her Indian bun with a Parisian hairstyle).  I guess the first claim to possession is recognition, the artist seeing a familiar form in her image, recreated it with stylized hair. And expressed through his art she remains in our memories eternal and exquisite forever.

Kowshiki – The Swan of The East

The Swan Ages Gracefully – See below my grandmother Kowshiki in her late 70’s draped in a saree looking as elegant in her golden years as in her youth. And thus this Tamil Tale – The Saga of The South as it fades from memory in the old world, it takes new life and continues in The New World!

My Grandmother Kowshiki Viswanathan still Dazzling in her Golden Years



Purnima Viswanathan

Disclaimer 😛

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

Geneva Diaries #69*

Family Portraits in Pictures, Knights and Knaves, Ex Machina, Travels to Austria

A Family Story in pictures

On Fri, May 8, 2015 at 9:42 PM, Roger Stevenson wrote:

Dear Purnima,

It does seem to be far too long since we last communicated, but you have never been far from my thoughts. It was really delightful to chat briefly with you while you were in San Francisco, and your connection with the Asian Art Museum in SFO sounds terribly exciting. Do let me know how that turns out. It might even bring you back to California on a regular basis.

I’m just slightly jealous of your planned trip from Austria to Geneva and spending time reminiscing at all of your(our) old haunts in the city. I think I told you that when I was in Geneva briefly last October, it was strange being back, especially since most of my Geneva friends no longer lived in the city. I felt very much the stranger/outsider. I hope you all have a wonderful time.

We are all struggling with the terrible water shortages in California. Most of the lawns in front of houses are now brown or else being replaced by less water-thirsty plants than grass. I almost feel guilty watering my vegetable garden, but I do it by hand rather than use the sprinkling system. We even collect the water in our shower that we run waiting for the hot water to arrive and then use it to water the plants and flowers outside. It was supposed to rain yesterday, but it only amounted to about five minutes of rain that barely got the ground wet on the surface.

I’ve been a little caught up in an idea that I know you are also concerned with: Artificial intelligence. We saw the new film, Ex Machina¸ last week, and really liked it. You should go see it if you get a chance. It poses the question of whether a machine can truly express human emotions and learn by itself independently of the humans who programmed it.  Can you fall in love with a robot who has a beautiful face and body and who convinces you that she really cares for you? What are the implications of AI should scientists actually end up programming such a “creation” ? is it something that we should fear or embrace. Would AI run amok pose an existential threat to humankind?

We haven’t done much globetrotting since our last trip. We are taking Alexandra to New York City in July as a birthday present. We have tickets to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch and I’m going to see a play that was a huge hit in London and has now migrated across the Atlantic to off-Broadway, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. It should be a fun trip, and I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t been to NYC since 2003 when Annick still worked for the UN.

We are also planning on going back to Thailand in November, although we haven’t yet bought our tickets.

I hope you survive the month of May and that you get a good start on your magnum opus.

Lots of love and hugs,


– – –

Dear Roger,

It does seem like ages since we sat down and had a nice long chat, I miss our long walks and endless chats in Geneva. For me, you are forever entwined in my memories of that charming city where I lay my wings to rest for a while before i took off again…into oblivion.

It’s such fun to get your news, I get a birds eye perspective of whats up and happening in the world. How did the plays go, a close friend was raving about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. All the while i was wishing myself transported to London watching the play by your side.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

And yes, I finally did watch the movie Ex Machina, initially I was not quite as impressed, but on a re-viewing I found it engaging and pertinent to everything else I was trying to read in the space of art, law and robots. The themes are not exactly novel or pathbreaking, it’s all about developing an AI using data gathered from all devices from all over the earth by activating their cameras thereby giving the AI unlimited sources to simulate a cross section of all emotions found all over the world. This Roger, is not only a reality, it’s kind of old hat, unfortunately not everyone knows that the cameras phones and computers, roads, malls, security devices are not only continuously clicking but can be hacked into and you can be observed. I completely agree that this would be a great source for AI emotional simulations, and the data gathered by this so very Google-esque company would provide an incredible platform for building a very “human like” AI as it would have a map of all our interactions and responses, and as stated in the film even be in a position to anticipate the same. Do check out Ex Machina trailer and very interesting analysis below:

Ex Machina – Movie Trailer
Ex Machina Movie Analysis

 All very real. However, if I were the young man (software programmer) and realized I was being brought into the experiment to determine if the AI  which has passed the Turing test was akin to a human with true consciousness or machine, a number of red flags would have risen. And for me the red flags rose and waved which made me unable to fully swallow the storyline: How could the AI (who was designed to determine whether someone is telling the truth or a lie by their facial expressions) tell the young software programmer that the CEO is a liar. We know the CEO programmed the AI, and he specifically programmed the ability to detect a liar from a truthful person, so then why would he bother to lie to her in the first place. Thus we know the CEO is truthful (he wouldn’t lie to a creation he designed to determine lies in others and to utilize lies to achieve her goals), we know the AI is lying about the CEO being a liar making it a liar, and we know the software programmer is a fool!

Roger, this brings me to the book Cantor, Satan and Infinity which my son brought home over the last holidays (of course he had read it and was trying to quiz me continuously). It really took me back decades, as these were logical questions couched in a different dress, the same logical questions bombarded at me by my father that moulded my mind, and here he was again in the form of Dhruvum, my American teenager! This book deals with logical questions in a story about knights and knaves, the ones that always tell the truth and the ones that always lie, which reminded me about the above movie Ex Machina and the logical conundrums outlined there, I highly recommend it as it’s really fun and worth a read.

Regarding all your other questions stemming from the movie Ex Machina about love, emotions, binary codes and AI, whether they should ever be programmed, and whether they can run amuck…gives me a real sense of deja vu! Roger, believe it or not, I have just spent the last week responding to my 16 year old’s 8000 word essay which essentially deals with exactly the same questions. I get this uncanny feeling in my response to you that somehow I am now talking to my older son, possibly 17, and as much of a questioning, curious and introspective one. It’s wonderful that you are so vibrant and keep that bold youthful curiosity alive, I know I would have enjoyed each and every one of your classes prof! And yes AI’s are a reality, no going back there, and whether they can run amuck and destroy everything in sight, since they are logically programmed I suspect they will not, but they will be keeping us in their pens and garages with minimal sustenance for our survival, to be utilized if and when creativity and out of the box thinking is required to resolve an issue. It was surprising that in the movie Ex Machina the CEO did not have an off switch for the AI whether physical or verbal, but the AI’s which will dominate the earth will certainly put those “off” switches in our brains, keeping the key. The future appears quite horrifying, but every online game involving evolution and progression of man where AI’s are introduced in to the picture, very quickly end the story of man. Then again it may be a matter of definition, its possible these AI’s would be really us in the future but instead of wearing the device, we are the device. In the interim stage, we need smart (young) people who are ahead of the curve, and who recognizing the pitfalls of technology devote their energies to defining and redefining what it means to be human (with your prodding), representing the interests of man and humanity, ensuring the constitution at all times provides protection for the same. 

Roger, in response to your question whether AI will pose an existential threat to humanity, I will have to take us back to Issac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics (I think every pre-teen from my village can recite them), but greater still is Stuart Russell’s modification of Issac Asimov’s third law, and this is absolutely brilliant and could potentially save the day:

Stuart Russell :

Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics:

First Law – A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Second Law – A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

Third Law – A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Replace Asimovs 3rd Law with Russell’s Third Law (Start Russell) – A robot does not know human intent, It must ask the human. And it must permit being turned off. 

With this astounding 3rd law, I declare that he has taken over from me as the new Power Puff Girl for with this he truly Saves The Day! See Stuart Russell below:

Stuart Russell Saves The Day!

We are all very excited about our trip to Austria, Dhruvum will be returning to Austria after 15 years. I remember very distinctly, taking a year and half old Dhruvum packed in the baby seat at the back of my very old car, across the Alps through Germany and into northern Italy, Tuscany. We left from there for San Francisco. My memories of Austria are very warm and wonderful and I can’t wait to relive them. I remember being quite the dramatic spectacle at the Vienna opera in my red silk patola saree and my Kashmir shawl (the one that actually passes through a ring). See Vienna Opera:

See below a description of the technique, skill and mathematics behind the making of this masterpiece of Indian art and culture-The Patola Saree:

The Making of The Patola Saree

Talking about the shawl that passes through a ring, see below the Shatoosh shawl made from salvaging the fine hair from the beard of Tibetan antelope. These are now banned, but our silver haired grandmothers and aunts adamantly cling on to the last of theirs battling the frost of the north with this single featherlight layer. See below the shatoosh shawl draped beautifully around my aunt Kathy Shourie in New Delhi, India:

Elegant Kathy Shourie in New Delhi, India

I received numerous appreciative glances and smiles, the people seemed to be aware of the complex weave of the Indian silk saree, they also seemed to recognize the shawl and gently caressed it as I passed. In fact, I had two ladies following me into the ladies clock room to tell me that they thought I was very beautiful and they loved my dress. Here I sensed being different was admired, appreciated almost adored, it was a long journey from here to California! Do see attached picture of me in another red saree, but this one is a bandhini saree which is an altogether different technique but almost as labor intensive, see me in pic below titled “Purnima in Geneva” of course.

Purnima in a Bandhini Saree in Geneva, Switzerland

And so I continue sharing my family story in pictures, hope you enjoy it Roger.

Austria and the Alps will remind me of my father as he is forever etched in my memory in his alpine hat. His passion for the mountains, nature, wildlife come alive in the images I have left of him. His was of both the sportive and intellectual pursuit, and though he was a great “shikari” or hunter with crack reflexes, he belonged to another era another time, the time of the Raj. As I had mentioned in a previous email, i was raised on all the birdcalls of the birds of Asia. My home was always like a game room with stuffed animals, mounted horns, animal rugs, but these were all relics of the past of which my father was an integral part. I have attached four photos of my father and grandfather (the Viswanathan men) very distinctive in their alpine hats, I wish to preserve these so that they don’t fade away like so many memories do. My grandfather with an Indian Bison (gaur )from my last letter, my father on a wild boar hunt or “shikar” in India with the “beaters” in the background.

The Boar Hunt, North India – Vijay Viswanathan

Unfortunately, his life was as brief as it was vibrant, and he vanished from our lives exactly thirty years ago from cancer at the age of 48. I sense if I were to ever find him in another time and place it would probably be in his beloved mountains, the Himalayas or perhaps the Alps. He would be in his late 70’s, possibly grey, perhaps with a mustache and of course in his alpine hat, but I’m sure I would recognize the distinctive physique and profile anywhere anyday. He lived for us children, interacting as one of us. The many winters spent in the Himalayas hiking and fishing, the many summers as he took us for a swim on his broad shoulders in the oceans in Mahabalipuram and Puri, boating in Ooty form the picture postcards of my mind. See attached boating in Ooty.


Boating in Ooty – Purnima and Arvind and Papa

As I travel through Austria with Cantor (book mentioned above) and the memories of my father, I’m sure he will glance through time and space to see me with his grandchildren, even if that time and space does not permit him to openly embrace us he will be with us, with his spirit shadow following us, glancing from behind ever pillar and every signboard. I from my side will look out for that alpine hat, that profile…

Do see attached the last image of my parents together, my mother in a ravishing pink saree and my father very elegant in his suit. I can still see this exquisite couple dancing in my dreams and will see them come to life this summer waltzing in in the beautiful palaces of Vienna.

See below a charming Asian Couple, Mom and Dad in Evening Dress – Indian Dinner Party

Charming Asian Couple- Veena and Vijay Viswanathan in Evening Dress for Indian Dinner Party

See below Snapshots of Vienna and a link to the Vienna Waltz:

As I leave the misty recesses of my past behind, I meet with my present, my Midsummer Nights Dream (or shall we call it nightmare!). It’s incredible how all my stories return to Bottom the donkey! See below a fabulous earthy depiction of Bottom the Donkey at the Craft Museum in Delhi, India This fabulous museum collection displays arts and crafts from across India showcasing India’s diverse and rich cultural heritage. The following terracotta piece (donkey)was on sale by a traditional craftsman on site, see donkey below and Purnima at the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s fab performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream-San Francisco Shakespeare Festival

The story of Oberon and Titania, the king and queen of the fairies, the parallel mortal realm, and the interactions between the two. My story started out like a fairytale, I was wed to the the perfect match, a suitable boy, the equivalent of the king of the fairies, Oberon himself. But the twist to my tale, the love potion dropped onto my lids converted Oberon into Bottom! Yes, I was married and living with Bottom the ass for 8 years (in California), and he kept repeating the words “Do you think i’m an ass”, “Do I look like an ass to you”, just like Bottom. I spent these years along with my fairies Peasblossom and Mustardseed (see images of Dhruvum and Tara as Peasblossom and Mustardseed) pampering and indulging Bottom’s every whim. The entire scene was set as a Shakespearean play, with the ridiculous indulgence of ass headed Bottom, his theatrics, his over dramatizations, his foolish self indulgence, his belief in his all importance and that Titania’s love and devotion for him is to be taken for granted, that there was nothing exceptional to be waited upon hand and foot by the fairies of the forest. 

See the Faries Peasblossom and Mustardseed (My kids Dhruvum and Tara) Below:

The Faries Peasblossom and Mustardseed (My kids Dhruvum and Tara)

Returning to Vienna, I found in the biography of Sisi (Empress Elizabeth) an eerie parallel, the similar desire for freedom, to break away from all conventions imposed relentlessly, the omnipresent and all controlling mother-in-law without whose word the son would not sneeze. Her father’s love for circuses and horses and hunting. And of course her fascination for Shakespeares Mid Summer Night’s Dream, as she envisioned herself as Titania, and had the mural painted  of Titania and Bottom in her hunting lodge, The Hermesvilla. See attached mural in the Hermsvilla and link below:

By Carl Rudolf Huber –, Public Domain,

In this family story in pictures, I would like to leave you with images of myself, best reflected in painting by Raja Ravi Varma, the world renowned Indian artist that painted vivid scenes from the Indian epics and magnificent images of women in traditional dress and saree. He belonged to the princely state of Travancore (Kerala and Madras, just like me), and thus being painted by his brush is most apt. Do see attached this Palakkad damsel (me) in traditional dress with her children below:

Image of me viewing Dhruvum through the looking glass (Unnamed -1), and an image of me holding Tara (Krishnaa) in my arms, the embodiment of love and beauty.

Kerala Woman with Child

Looking Into The Mirror by Raja Ravi Verma:

In the interim, I’m trying to see all the movies and read all the books I need to be a good Austria guide for my kids (remember they are demanding American teenagers), so i have seen Sound of Music, Wagner, Amadeus, Sisi, waiting to see immortal beloved and the Story of the White Stallions. I’m halfway through Fin-De-Siecle Vienna by Carl Schorske, which is a good but detailed book, and I’ve just finished The Last Waltz in Vienna , a wonderful first person account of an assimilated Jewish Austrian family and their journey through the end of the 19th century into world war II ending in the death camps which left me all chocked up. I would like to end my story with my daughters favorite Sound of Music (a tour which we have signed up for in Salzburg), and imagine all of us being whisked out of Austria by my very noble and elegant father who would have rivaled the charm of Christopher Plumber in Sound of Music (and would have known the Alps like he knew the Himalayas like the back of his hand) all the way across the Alps into Switzerland and straight to Geneva!

See below the gazebo from the sound of music in the beautiful Hellbrun castle grounds in Salzburg with my 16 and 17 year olds posing in front:

The Gazebo from The Sound Of Music Movie, Salzburg Austria

With lots of love from Purnima who will always be found in Geneva.

Love and hugs to the family.


Purnima Viswanathan

Blog Disclaimer 😛

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

Geneva Diaries#68*

Letter To Forrest, Journeying From England to Japan,The Cult Of Mithras


Asian Art Museum San Francisco AAM

Dear Roger,

It seems like ages since i last heard from you, how have you been? I know you are most probably globe trotting but would appreciate a postcard, one liner, now and then so I may follow you from my armchair.

I returned from all my travels mid April and am now staying put in Delhi through the brutal month of May, as I’m determined to finally put pen to paper and come out with my magnum opus!

June and July are going to be an adventure as we are planning a trip across Austria ending in Geneva where the kids will return with me to reminisce our old haunts, the lake, the old town and all our favorite parks and patisseries. I look forward to sharing those stories as you know those places well.

In the mean while, you would be pleased to hear that I have been following my passion and have been in close touch with Forrest at the Asian Art Museum and have informed him that I would be very keen to get involved with the museum in any capacity. I specifically mentioned my interest in connecting cultures and people across Asia (as the museum is intending to do so through the Ramayana exhibit in 2016). See below the AAM SF Ramayana exhibit showcasing the Rama Epic written by Valmiki and retold for 2,000 years from India to Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and beyond:

See below the Indonesian shadow puppets (Wayang) at the AAM in San Francisco used to tell the epic tale of the Ramayana in Indonesia (and my puppet of Hanuman The Monkey God from the AAM SF):

Sculpture of Hanuman, The Monkey God from North India

I have actually proposed in my letter to Forrest to extend this idea of connectivities and building bridges westward to connect Europe to Asia, Japan to Great Britain, in my mind there could be no better place to do so than at the Asian Art Museum of SF. 

Roger, as my dear friend (and guide) I am keen to continue to keep you in the loop and to share with you the essence of my correspondence with Forrest. Now despite there being no apparent “eureka” moment in his response to the same, I strongly sense there is a novel in the offing, do you see Dan Brown in the excerpt from my letter to Forrest below? It’s certainly an epic in the making!

The email sent to Forrest at the AAM is pasted below:

In continuation of our chat in March at The Asian Art Museum where you had mentioned that I should inform you when I would be returning to the Bay Area, I wish to re emphasize my deep interest in being involved with the Asian Art Museum, and specifically the pan Asian Ramayana exhibit that is scheduled for 2016, and would be open to relocate to the Bay Area within the next six months if there is any opportunity for me at the Asian Art Museum. 

I can envision my involvement on multiple fronts, both at the research end of setting up the exhibit (even though I have no prior experience, I am confident I would be able to contribute positively), as well as reaching out to the extended Indian community in the Bay Area, involving them in the project and bringing forward potential funders for the same.

Since I was on my international travels across Asia during the Ramayana exhibit, I compiled a personal, audio visual chronicle which I believe would dovetail perfectly with the above mentioned AAM SF Ramayana exhibit. See Purnima in Ellora, Maharashtra, India, at The magnificent Kailasa rock cut temple, (the largest rock cut structure in the world, a temple carved from top to bottom out of a entire rock cliff attributed to the Rastrakuta king Krishna I, 756 AD) in front of the intricate carved reliefs of the great Indian epics, The Ramayana and The Mahabharata below:

Purnima at The Kailasa Temple in Ellora, Maharastra, India-Scene from The Mahabharata
Purnima at The Kailasa Temple in Ellora, Maharastra-Scenes from The Ramayana

I am most excited about weaving a thread and connecting diverse cultures, through the Ramayana across Asia in this instance, and can think of numerous other overlaps and connectivities between people across Asia, the Middle East and Europe. As I had briefly mentioned during our chat at the Museum Cafe, the role of building bridges between peoples and cultures, connecting diverse people from nations across the globe should be squarely in your hands, a prominent American museum representing the various immigrant groups (a large Asian population) that form your community and the changing face of the United States. I have to admit, this excites me tremendously as I can see myself in a unique position to contribute through my time and experience.

See below a frieze from Cuttack, Odisha: A Scene from The Ramayana with Rama, Laxmana and Hanuman, with Rama giving hanuman his signet ring to take to his wife Sita who is being held captive by Ravana the demi-god

See Purnima in Mahabalipuram, India riding one of the five rock cut chariots, Pancha Rathas, attributed to the chariots of the five Pandavas from the Mahabharata) of this incredible complex in the south of India hewn out of boulders by the great Pallava king Narasimhavarman II, in 690 AD.

Purnima with the Pancha Rathas or Five Chariots of The Pandavas in Mahabalipuram, India

If you remember, during our chat, as you were drawing the thread connecting the cultures of Asia through the Ramayana, I mentioned another network of connections through East Asia and then onto Europe. Once again reiterating, that culture cannot be contained and is not the proprietary right of one person or group, in fact all these great cultural expressions have found their way onto these shores (US shores) on the backs of their people. I had also mentioned to you that I was most fascinated by the Japanese 7th century Nara hollow lacquer standing figures of Brahma and the Vedic deity Indra at the Asian Art Museum ( See below Nara Lacquer standing figures of Brahma and Indra at the Asian Art Museum San Francisco:

This fascinated me because apart from the fact that few Indians would believe that their Rig Vedic deities are a core part of the Japanese pantheon and culture, Indra and Brahma being a central part of the Buddhist story, they might be surprised to know that Sanskrit also travelled to Japan and forms a part of their grammar, that Ankor Wat has the largest Brahma temple, and all of South Asia as we discussed have their interpretations of the Ramayana and Mahabharata unique to their people and culture.

Moving away from the East to the West, I had also briefly mentioned the Mitanni kingdom in Northern Syria and Southeast Anatolia that thrived between 1500-1300 BC. This kingdom with its extensive trade and marital relationships with Egypt during the reign of Ahmenotep and Akenaten, all codified in trade treaties, inscriptions, letters and even a horse training manual, shows us a fascinating culture which composed its texts in Akkadian (oldest Semitic language) but invoked Vedic deities like Indra, (the same deity Indra that formerly graced the Japanese Nara temple and now stands proudly at the Asian Art Museum), along with Varuna, Mitra and Nasatya (ashvins). In addition to this the horse training manual once again though written for the indigenous Hurrian population in their script referred to the Sanskrit numbering system, movements and colors.  These are clearly Proto-Indo-Persian, and perhaps could help shed light on the unique connection between Sanskrit, Latin and Greek, once again a thread connecting people and cultures.

On the topic of global connectivities, see below The Amarna letters where (for me) it’s almost mind blowing that the Sanskrit words for chariot “Ratha” and horse “Asva”, and the Vedic deities mentioned above were first written in the cuneiform script, possibly using the Akkadian dialect.

The Amarna Letters in Cuneiform Script – Public Domain,

Finally, I would like to take you to Europe and connect my final thread with the Cult of Mithras. Mithraism was the dominant culture/ religion of Europe just before the coming of Christianity, and was spread geographically over an extensive area from Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and north Africa to parts of East Asia. Mithraism was a secretive cult and it was practiced in underground caves and hollows with the figure of Mithras, holding and slaying a bull. See below relief of a Tauroctony (bull slaying) found near Rome, now displayed at the Louvre from the Roman Mithraic Mysteries.

Tauroctony from The Roman Mithraic Mysteries- By Jastrow – Own work, Public Domain,

Here Mithras is also surrounded by numerous other objects and animals that according to a theory depict the constellations and other astronomical subjects. Mitra in the Rig Veda is one of the deities which symbolizes the sun Once again, this cult of Mithra (Persian) or Sanskrit Mitra (from the Rig Veda) is found in these secretive setting across Europe connecting Europe with Asia. Please see pasted below a very interesting article about the possible symbolism of Mithras depicting the precession of the equinoxes (the recognition that the earth was in motion as were the skies and the constellations, dislodging traditional beliefs of the constancy of the firmament) and the cult of Mithras:

See below Roman Britain and The Cult of Mithras in Britain from The British Museum:

Though the cult of Mithras is still shrouded in secrecy, and little is known, there are many challenges to the Persian connection. However, I must admit that the Cult of Mithras with the slaying of the bull, the focus on the solstices, the very name Mitra seems very proto-Indo-Persian  appearing to invoke the hymns in the Rig Veda. I absolutely do not subscribe to the Out of India theory but believe that perhaps an indigenous group occupying the southern Caspian all the way to the Caucasus had a set of beliefs, deities, practices, and language, and as it is with the journey of man, one group set out one in the easterly direction making its way to the Indian subcontinent (and developed the Rig Veda en route), and perhaps the other group made its way through East Asia (Mitanni), another to Greece (giving birth to the Mycenaean civilization) and yet another journeyed towards Europe. We do know the languages are connected (with Sanskrit and its close connection with Latin in Europe, and Greek), it’s a matter of connecting the peoples and the cultures. 

I do hope I have fully expressed my enthusiasm in Art, Asia and connecting the dots. I do look forward to hearing from you soon.

So Roger, what do you think, could we all be connected at an ancient stage and then spend the rest of our existence highlighting our differences? I would love to hear your thoughts.

 The one thing that jumped out at me while I was researching the above mentioned cult of Mithras was that all the reference material call The Cult of Mithras (which is scattered all over Europe) a Persian cult, and the Mitanni, an Indo-Persian tribe. However, in the Persian Pantheon Indra was not a god but a demon, and Mithra, or the Vedic Mitra, Indra, Varuna and Natsatyas are all together only found in the Rig Veda, which predates the the Persian references, thus is not Persian but proto-Indo-Persian (or as I call it Rig Vedic) with Mitra being adopted by the Persians as Mithras, as by the secret cults of Europe. The Rig Vedic roots appear completely unknown!

Look forward to hearing your response.

Big hugs


Purnima Viswanathan

Disclaimer 😛

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

Geneva Diaries #65*

Science, Sci-fi, Huxley, Orwell and A Tid-Bit of Value – The Tid-Bit Coin

Sent: lundi 23 février 2015 03:05

To: Roger Stevenson

The Tid-Bit Coin Continued from Letter #64 with a lot of mental regurgitation:

Moving away from Kashmir’s Kadambari, and Kadambari’s Kashmir, and closer to the New World, and the books on my bedside table. My son as a part of his school syllabus has to read The Brave New World, and so he persuaded me to do the same (as I had fragments from an old memory) for us to review it together. OMG, and I must say that again! Aldous Huxley and subsequently Orson Welles 1984, have transformed me…you will not see the Purnima you knew, you will see a “Being”, a “Beast”.

There books should never have come within my shadow, it can only spell destruction, annihilation for the kind of fiercely independent persona I have. I am sorry Roger, there are just not enough punctuation marks for me to express myself!! I have transmorphed from posing as a left leaning socialist during my university days (my Cambridge mission college almost made that inevitable), to a radical RIGHT WING zealot! Right wing only in the sense of abhorring Big Government, and wanting them to get the hell out of my face, my life, my mind! I don’t want government, I don’t care for nations or the nation state. The only purpose I see in their existence is in further aggrandizing power and attempting to diminish all the other organs set up to contain this monster. A self propelled Hydra that swallows the Supreme court, diminishes the legislature and enslaves the President! The citizens are monitored, contained, reviewed, rewarded or punished all in the name of EFFICIENCY! How I hate efficiency, how i know that is my Achilles heel and I will submit all, my home, my personal space perhaps even my mind for greater efficiency. And it is this lure of efficiency under which we organize ourselves, submit ourselves and permit the State its excesses. Roger, please help me to close these books, how will i survive outside the State? The one thing I do know is that the internet is extending the conventional territorial space into another realm and man is regrouping himself in this realm. Perhaps in this realm we will be more free and not succumb to our vulnerabilities of “efficiency”. What do you foresee, do you see me? I somehow sense you have already traversed my road traveled my journey and found your answers. You always seem in a sense of bliss. You have that smile as you hear me rambling along, it could be all that French wine and chess or something else…

See below Huxley v Orwell – The Webcomic

Well, to top off all my bedside reading, I had visits from artist friends as I had mentioned earlier, all very anti establishment, searching for answers and traveling the world. We discussed the financial systems and how we are enslaved to it, and then we discussed alternate financial systems like  Bitcoin, the decentralized online virtual currency. My response to Orwell and Huxley was the Tid-Bit Coin, a possible pathway outside the nations controlled dystopia outlined below.

Unfortunately, despite its incredible success, the governments impose strict restrictions and there are numerous governmental clampdowns. Here the value is “mined”, or generated by solving a mathematical calculation which changes as technology improves (so the ten minutes to mine still remains ten minutes despite the progress of technology). It was here I had a bit of a brainwave which I discussed with my finance guru buddy from Hong Kong (I suspect he thinks I’ve actually flown over the nest) but never lets up, and I would love to share the same with you.

Do see below an interesting quote that I lifted off Wikipedia by Melanie Fein, (Shadow Banking Charade) about Bitcoin:

Bitcoin appeals to tech-savvy libertarians, because it so far exists outside the institutional banking system and the control of governments.[217] Its appeal reaches from left wing critics, “who perceive the state and banking sector as representing the same elite interests, […] recognizing in it the potential for collective direct democratic governance of currency”[218] and socialists proposing their “own states, complete with currencies”,[219] to right wing critics suspicious of big government, at a time when activities within the regulated banking system were responsible for the severity of the financial crisis of 2007–08,

So Roger, in the world of today, with the acceleration in technology upping our ability to strive further and firing our passion, we as humanity have undertaken incredible humanity defining projects inconceivable a decade or two earlier, like The Human Genome Project which mapped the entire human genome, our essence, our DNA, our blueprint, all the 3 billion base pairs. This gargantuan project, projected to take ten years, undertaken by The National Institute of Health and overtaken by the shotgun methods of Craig Venture. Of course this data was released in the public domain though many had private interests from which they benefited. 

Check out the Human Genome Project info

Now moving on to another gargantuan project The Human Brain Project which is being undertaken by the EU, and involves mapping the 63 billion neural networks and trillions of connections. This incredible human infrastructural project almost inconceivable in its size and complexity is currently being undertaken by man. Even though there have recently been issues with the multi billion funding required, the disgruntled scientists who claim that this neurological project is being turned into an IT project siphoning off the funding for pure brain research. Despite these issues the reality is that projects of this size requires immense manpower and billions of dollars both of which are not easily accessible unless a tangible commercial purpose is outlined and often that tangible commercial purpose which is in the minds of some of the parties pushing for these projects would not pass the muster of human ethics. The patenting of genes, so called synthetic cells, chromosomes, creating novel organisms, hybrids, mapping the brain so it can be simulated. And the commercial purpose may take us back to The Brave New World or 1984, and though crime. 

Check out The Human Brain Project Info

Then there is the the Near Earth Object (NEO) scanning facilities, and the US with its super powerful telescopes and satellites track these objects around the solar system. However, the complexity of this task is so great that we probably currently track only 1 percent of all the NEO in the solar system. The second issue is that there is a moratorium about disclosure, and the excuse is that it might contravene the nuclear pact, ie, it may be a nuclear missile testing and not a NEO. So we have Cherablinsk, the thunderous 2013 near earth asteroid impact that nobody was warned about, and nobody knew.

Check out the images of a looming NEO that alarmed a little girls eyes (oui moi) as she turned the pages of Tintin and The Shooting Star below:

My question is when it is an issue of the preservation of humanity, should we be really leaving ourselves at the mercy of nations. Don’t all these nations have their own axes to grind? What if an asteroid breaks up and a fraction hits an insignificant part of the globe from the western perspective, will the alarms really go off in time for the few indigenous people to take cover, or will the excuse be that we were unsure if we were contravening a nuclear pact? Should the EU really have the power to one day simulate the brain and perhaps control humanity (even though we know they project themselves as goody goodies, can they be trusted), do the nations not have their personal interest and retention of their power and influence in mind? Now Roger, imagine the French having the power to control the brains of the Americans and turn them into little robots at will…now there is at least one froggie that would have a smile on its face do you not agree?

My thought was that we use a version of this very virtual online currency, Bitcoin is already a victim, but generate another, that is created for the interest of humanity and not to further the interest of any one nation, especially when it concerns humanity defining infrastructural projects that equally concern the tribe in Borneo who may have no voice on the international stage and the fat banker in Zurich (Ooh I better be good to the Swiss if I want to continue visiting their glorious mountains). This virtual currency would not be defined by a nation, state, ideology, but would be for all of humanity. The most interesting part is the generation of the value of this virtual currency, would be generated by the virtual public that scans the skies for NEO, which they may do voluntarily now, but under this plan their work scanning the skies, generating formulas unraveling the trajectory of these objects would be a Tid-Bit of Value, and so they would be engaged and rewarded, all via an online game, all virtually(similar to solving the mathematical puzzle to generate a bitcoin). In the case of the human brain project, we need not just billions but manpower. We need those millions of teenage gamers who are spending their valuable time gaming online for nothing, we would tap this “gaming power or energy” and direct it towards scanning the skies or unraveling the connections between the neurons in the brain with each connection translating into an encryption further translating into value. In fact I would volunteer to create a game for the same which would be released for free online to tap the gamers who after every level, are rewarded tangibly by the creation of a virtual coin, or shall we say Tid-Bit Coin.

So Roger, what do you think of my plan for Our Brave New World, out of the clutches of The Nation State?

PS: (Let’s see if you can hold your breath through this regurgitation 😂 )

Room 101 (Continued)- The Tidbit Coin

As we are all aware, the Internet is silently expanding and enveloping us at a phenomenal rate. It has encroached into our every sphere and leaving barely a nook untouched. However, it still is at its nascent stage, it has far far to go. The creation and expansion of this infant universe is being undertaken by us, yes you and me as we pound away on our computers, cell phones, and digital gadgets texting, surfing, emailing, commenting and uploading all kinds of data. Slowly converting our efforts in human time into efforts in digital time/ virtual time and creating, expanding and generating intentionally or otherwise in this virtual space. 

Now, I’m not immediately going to go into the complex discussion of the exact translation of human time into virtual time and whether the clocks correspond, if could or should they, but I would like to explore the value of this tidbit of human endeavor in virtual space. As we go about purposefully amending wiki, or responding to yahoo answers or enter and comment or give advice in any forum, we may be aware of voluntarily or intentionally imparting value to the forum. However, even in this simplistic scenario the value would be both the information imparted, the particular expertise and the participation in further expanding the network, the virtual universe. Often, the human time is volunteered, the time and space by which the universe has correspondingly expanded is conjectured. Similarly, for every tweet, quip, bleep, this virtual space is expanding but the complex interconnectivities of this virtual space, and it’s “weightage” or “values” would make defining the human value of this expansion very difficult to determine in my conception. But, let try (with) a “Tidbit”. Let’s aim to define the Tidbit along the lines of the currently popular Bitcoin. However, unlike the mining of the Bitcoin via resolving random complex mathematical equations, let’s conceive of a value for merely surfing the Internet, tweeting, emailing, posting, commenting and uploading data. The value of the Tidbit earned in the virtual world would have nothing to do with value in the human world whether it be in expertise, time, complexity of the value/data imparted, but would have its own equation based on how much it influences and expands this virtual world, the time space concepts being completely alien to those found in the human realm. We would have to figure out this formula but with a completely different mindset, or head screwed on where the values of the human world do not directly translate, and accordingly have to be weighed within its own context. We may have to set down some core ground rules or values by which this space is defined, and eventually the core laws of the mechanics of this space. Im not sure if anything at all has been done to date on the above as far as I’m aware.

As we identify the core values of this space, and set down its base governing laws, we can move on to the next phase of defining this virtual online currency, just for fun let’s call it a “tidbit” of value. The minute it’s defined, we can start churning it out. Every individual on the Net will accrue it at various rates, and we can easily develop an economy online for the utilization of the same. The primary movers possibly our initial underwriters if we wish, might be the hardware/software companies in whose interest the further expansion of the net, the addition of information and multiple users, using it for multiple purposes. Now the We the Netizens will have to figure if we want the big fish, or how much we want the big fish involved. We don’t want nations replaced by gigantic corporations then we are back in the same stew… Fish head curry! And we must not forget what we initially set out to do, to create a valuable alternate decentralized virtual currency which will stand in for all the mega billions spent by governments on large infrastructure projects that impact humanity, our human germ line, our humanness and our physical existence on this planet. Yes, the mega billions required for projects like the Human Genome project, where the data should not be privy to any nation corporation or group, the likes of the Human brain project, where the data generated/accumulated (which is what it’s appears to be downgraded to), is not in the hands of a few interested parties whether they be in the facades of nations, unions or Corporations. I cannot imagine wisdom to prevail when the fire of the gods lie only in the hands of one group. Of course the inevitable race will be for all groups to acquire the same unless the first group turn all the rest off to rest, and dons the hat of Big Brother, the Guardian of the Globe. Power corrupts absolutely, why give it yet another opportunity! Finally, onto our asteroid hunter project, or the NEO project by NASA and JPL. The gargantuan dimensions of this project has been discussed above, and the need for manpower and funding is urgently required to map as many of the NEO s that pose a threat as possible. However, as discussed above, we don’t want a nation organization or group to be the primary forces behind this for as discussed above, in the instance of smaller bodies, like Cherablinsk  not the civilization ending ones, but the ones that could wipe out Manhattan, Shanghai or even the 15 million people in Delhi, India. For these size bodies neither do we have the current means to monitor nor the blanket freedom given to the scientists to disclose data. The world is shrouded in numerous agreements between nations to with hold information that could point to weapons testing or nuclear explosions, and since these asteroids tend to explode in the atmosphere despite having the data, the scientists hands may be tied till the NEO instead of exploding above the Indian Ocean explodes over New Delhi, by which time it would be much too late. 

In my opinion, no one nation should be privy to this information, we should have satellites and monitoring stations that don’t act for nations and their buddies, but which act in the interest of humanity and disclose data as soon as it is accessible blasts, bombs, asteroids, comets and all. For this the agency/ organization monitoring would have to be independent of nations, and work to serve humanity for humanity’s sake And Pleeeeaaasse don’t start getting misty eyed and veering towards the UN thinking that somehow that is going to step in as the savior of humanity. Please understand the UN is severely conflicted, there is no option but to be biased based on its structure and formation. It serves a purpose, and like the other nations of the globe must be treated as one agglomerated nation with certain groups glomming more (“glom”how I love that word)and others being left in the periphery, and so similarly weighted. 

Back to the independent organization required for monitoring NEO and alerting the citizens of the globe of impeding disasters, this organization of course would be funded and supported by the human virtual community both by their currency the Tidbit and the labor of the volunteers who will scan the skies, monitor and chart the trajectories either based on data shared or games designed for the purpose. These volunteers by their very reason of being online will earn a tidbit, Roger can you imagine the immense power that can be harnessed if we can tap even a fraction of all the people surfing the Net. Imagine being compensated just for going online! However, even if we only focus on gamers we have all the man hours we need for all our human infrastructure projects(those that impact human survival), the gamers may earn more based on the complexity of the task and the level of the game they are able to reach, thus uncovering more of the skies, being compensated and making the world a safer place for each and every one of us who is vested in this Human Story.

Love and hugs to you and the whole family. 




Disclaimer 😛

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

Geneva Diaries #16A*

What Does The Fox Say? Who…Who…Whodunnit??

What does the fox say? (The Fox by Ylvis)
What Does The Fox Say – Fox 1 — Kamakura Period- National gallery of Art Washington DC

What Does The Fox Say by Ylvis ( See excerpt of the lyrics pasted below) :

Dog goes woof, cat goes meow
Bird goes tweet, and mouse goes squeak
Cow goes moo. Frog goes croak, and the elephant goes toot
Ducks say quack and fish go blub, and the seal goes ow ow ow
But there’s one sound that no one knows…
What does the fox say?

From The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC: The Life of Animals in Japanese Art

NGA-The Life of Animals in Japanese Art
The Life of Animals in Japanese Art-Exhibit at The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Dog Goes Woof…

Cat Goes Meow…

Bird Goes Tweet…

And Mouse Goes Squeak…

The Mouse Story – Mouse Marries Princess Pretending to be Nobleman – Momoyama Period – Hand Scrolls Ink on Paper

The Cow Goes Moo…

The Cow Goes Moo- Japanese Screen

The Frog Goes Croak…

Or Does it Go Je t’aime, Je t’aime…

Frog Goes Je T’aime – Purnima at Gumps, San Francisco with The Frog Prince – Photo by Polina Steier

And The Elephant Goes Toot…

Fugen Bosatsu’s Elephant, Kamakura Period, Japan

Duck Says Quack…

Psst…It has duck feet, but this is not a duck, this is a Phoenix – Muramachi Period, Rukuonji, Kyoto, Japan

Phoenix, Muramachi Period, Rukuonji, Kyoto, Japan

Fish go Blub

And The Seal Goes Ow Ow Ow…

A Happy Seal – Photo by George Jacob

But If You Meet A Friendly Horse…How Will You Speak To That H-o-o-orse?

What Does The Fox Say?

A-oo-oo-oo-ooo! Wo-oo-oo-ooo!

What Does The Fox Say —Who…Who…Whodunnit? Fox 2— Kamakura Period- National gallery of Art Washington DC


Sacred Foxes- Kamakura Period- The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Disclaimer :p

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

Purnima Viswanathan

Geneva Diaries #46*

Shantaram Bangalore Birthdays, Seizure, Prise, Qabza and the 4th and the Fabulous Tale of The San Francisco Sea Lions
Purnima at The Tipu Sultan Palace in Seringapatam -Photo by Purnima Viswanathan

Bangalore: An image in the mirror!

Dear Purnima,

Been thinking about you lately and wondering how your transition is going.  It really seems strange AND sad when I go to Geneva now and realize that you are no longer there.  I had a two-hour break today between meetings, and it would have been so delightful to meet you for coffee or lunch !

But I am feeling more and more engrossed in India through the wonderful book Shantaram. I think I mentioned it to you in an earlier email. He presents such amazing insights into the Indian soul and culture, and with such a remarkable style, and I love the way he imitates the native Indians’ use of English. I just finished the chapter where he describes his six-month stay in a small village far from Bombay where he goes with his friend/street guide and protecting angel, and he talks at some length about the gesture the Indians have of wiggling their heads at each other as a sign of peace and friendship and understanding. Is that true of all social classes in India ?

His description of the ordered chaos while boarding the train that took them to the village was priceless.  He described how the passengers literally pushed and shoved and fought with one another to try and get one of the available seats, and how his friend was pummeled with blows by people trying to dislodge him from the seat he was saving for himself and the author.  And yet, once the train started moving, the entire mood changed and everyone settled down in an amical and cheerful acceptance of where they were situated for the journey and there was genuine give and take and helpfulness between the passengers.  It’s fascinating stuff.




Dear Purnima,

Let me guess.  You’ve been kidnapped by the Standing Baba in Mumbai and forced to spend your days preparing their Charas ??

Or, you have landed a great job that is so time consuming that you don’t even have time to connect to the internet ??

Hope you are well and doing well.



Dear Roger,

It’s fabulous to hear from you! My AOL account has completely shut down with no possibility of access so I have not been able to read or respond to any emails you might have been sending. I suspect it’s time for another identity, another email, what do you think? And on the subject of identities, how did you guess I’ve been mulling over the issue of identity and state action…a window to my mind? Or yet another conspiracy theory?

And yes, as you very aptly put the cyber mists have formed a digital vortex through time and space linking the two silicon valleys of the world, and I believe it’s with the Golden Gate as the portal. I just remember driving my black Jeep Cherokee across the Golden Gate Bridge, being enveloped in the mists and finding myself in Bangalore. I’m still blinking…how did I land here? 

As for the silent pulsating gargantuan structure next door, I keep wondering what The Oracle will unveil in the morning. Have you ever visited Delphi in Greece, it’s absolutely fascinating. 


See short video from Rick Steves: Delphi, Greece: Spectacular Ancient Site 

It was here that Pythia the Oracle intoxicated by the fumes emanating from the ground would spin into a trace and her garbled emissions were translated by the priests to address everything from personal issues of the common people to decisions of war by the Greek city states often moulding history in it’s path.

See below Priestess of Delphi (1891) by John Collier, showing the Pythia sitting on a tripod with vapor rising from a crack in the earth beneath her:

John Collier, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

At this difficult juncture in my life, I would appreciate a few words of guidance and look over my shoulder to see if Pythia is watching. In the interim, I’ve taken some tough decisions, taken up an apartment in Bangalore. My two day stay in Bangalore is now indefinite. So, all my plans of getting my job and my life back is shelved for the moment, I can’t think beyond today, an unnerving ambiguous stage in a much to long a journey. 


However, looking at the brighter side of life, I have two friends, and one of them may be more than a reason for me to stay. Yes, while you have been reading Shantaram, I think I’ve met him! He is charming warm and caring, from my universe, my world, and he claims to have journeyed to the edges of the universe and wishes to hold my hand and take me there, to share his story, to journey with him. I can’t wait to hear, I can’t wait to translate!

Lots of love,


On Sunday, September 11, 2011, Roger Stevenson wrote:

Dear Purnima,

I have the distinct impression that those very cyber mists have formed a

digital vortex through time and space that links the two silicon valleys of

the world.  And, the very title Oracle has some awesome connotations.  Did

you approach them about working on some of your fascinating theories

concerning the internet and the issues of identity ?

How much longer in Bangalore ?

Giant hugs,


Date: Tue, Oct 11, 2011

Dear Roger,

As always, your mail comes like a burst of sunshine in my gloomiest hours, it’s great to hear from you! And yes, my computer, my beloved mac has resurrected, ironically on the day that Elvis died. Yes, Steve Jobs is The King and I struggle to think of the universe without him. If only we could somehow capture, seize, hold that spirit, that incredible creative energy, the essence that could not have vanished with the physical form and continue the magic.

I have landed back in Bean Town, or Bengaluru as Bangalore is now called taking its name from an old tale about a Hoysala king Veera Ballala who came to these hunting grounds and got separated from his hunting party. Tired and hungry he reached the hut of a poor woman who was warm and hospitable to the stranger and offered him the only thing in her home, boiled beans (hence the name Boiled Bean Town or Benda-kaalu-Ooru). 

The other story attributes the name Bengaluru to Kempe Gowda as the one who conceived, planned and built Bangalore in the 16th century. 


All I know is that I have consumed a copious amount of idlis, the steamed rice puffy pancakes (don’t know how else to describe this staple south Indian dish), but I’m not getting into the naming game (iddly-ville…?) or else I might find them tossed at me and not served for breakfast tomorrow.

See Idlis below:

Now back to “The Story”, how my fingers have been itching in captivity as my mac appeared to breathe its last, there is so much to tell! I left you last with a persona, a reason for me to remain behind. Well, not only did I remain for a month, I’ve returned back to Bangalore. 

When i first landed in Bangalore I was Captain Jack the pirate having emerged from captivity from the dungeons of Chillon on the banks of Lake Geneva, after being bound in chains, smeared with dirt and draped in tatters for many a long year. Upon landing in Bean Town, I was blinded by the brilliant light of the Indian sun and struggled to find my bearings, as my eyes focussed I found myself standing on the windswept Deccan Plateau. A Plateau built over 65 million years ago by a frenzy of volcanic activity, a frenzy which appeared to still be bubbling in its deep dark murky depts. It was here on these desolate windswept plains that I encountered another being, someone in the distance, a long shadow, perhaps a pirate like me. 

As he “coiled” his way towards me the vision became clearer, our paths seemed to merge, a sense of comfort, a familiarity emerged…perhaps in this end of the earth I’d found a friend, a soulmate a fellow traveller I thought. The energy and excitement of this meeting was palpable, I appeared to have him as “rattled” as I was and thus began a dance, a dance between two strangers who find each other at the edge of the earth. Do check out my friend whom I have named Rattlesnake Jake below (and uncannily enough I discovered after sharing with him the character I selected that he was called Jake by his friends):


Rattlesnake Jake Outlaw of the West:

See images of Rattlesnake Jake – The Indian Shantaram from Bangalore, India 2011-2012

The dance was passionate, brimming with danger and desire, each watching out that they return with all pieces intact yet giving into the swells and twists of each others being. All this coming to a grand culmination at the “Bar Scene” where I was Rango “the lizard that could (make a complete ass of himself)”. I decided to perform for the audience, no not with water and neither with cactus juice, but with the infamous “Martini” which left me both shaken and stirred! Do check out my upside down glass of martini in this snapshot taken in Provence:


Martini – Medieval Villages, Alpes Maritimes, Southern France – Photo by Purnima Viswanathan

Of course, the “Bar Scene” unravelled at the swankiest place in town, of course I was the outsider who had walked in with a swagger, of course I was told I was “A long way from home” to which of course I retorted as i took a deep swig, “I come from the West, the Far West…California”! Do check me out as Rango in the Bar Scene below:

Rango Bar Scene

Then there was NIGHT, no not light…Night or complete Black Out!

The dance continued across Bean-town with its familiar superstructures, malls, Bay Area multinationals, multiplexes and the workforce that had a sprinkling of the international lining Bangalore’s famous pubs and restaurants. The keyboards appeared to click away as we danced and the monitors peering out of the dark windows appeared to wink. This cybercity was awake and humming having transformed itself into a borough of the Bay Area for the night, for a brief glimpse I was back home.

See below The Bangalore Bar Scene with Rattlesnake Jake – The Indian Shantaram:

Jake at the Heart of The Bangalore Bar Scene-Photo Curtsey Sanjeev Jacob

However, after all those martinis I morphed. I became every creatures heartfelt desire, an irresistible, unquenchable, intoxicant, a lean green three breasted Martian. Do check me out in the movie Paul below:

Paul (the movie) and the Green Three Breasted Alien


As Jake the Rattlesnake coiled himself around the three breasted Martian, seizing his prey the skies opened up and thundered a message “you were destined to meet, to be joined together in common passion, drop the green babe!”.

 Jake having finally seized his prize in his vice like grip was reluctant to let go but the idea of joining together in a common passion seemed to excite him more than this midnight meal however exotic. It was then that I decided no more green costumes for this lifetime and pondered over the word that would have been the end of me: Seizure.

See below Rattlesnake Jake and Beans:

We think of seizure in general as taking hold of, to possess something, to capture something or someone, to grasp, either lawfully or against someone’s will. In Hindustani (Hindi/Urdu) the word seizure has other nuances:

قبضه qabẓa for A. قبضة qabẓat, fr. qabẓ, q.v.P قبضه qabẓa (for A. قبضة qabẓat, fr. qabẓ, q.v.), s.m. Grasp, gripe (of the hand), clutch; power; possession; occupancy; holding, tenure, tenancy, tenement;—a handle, hilt 

گرفتاري giriftārī, vulg. giraftārī

P گرفتاري giriftārī, vulg. giraftārī, s.f. Seizure, capture, arrest, apprehension;—captivity, imprisonment, bondage; embarrassment, entanglement.

پکڙ पकड़ pakaṛ v.n. of pakaṛnā

H پکڙ पकड़ pakaṛ (v.n. of pakaṛnā), s.f. The act of seizing; seizure, capture, apprehension; catch, hold, holding, grip, grasp; handle; gain, profit, haul; objection, criticism, laying hold of a defect, &c.;

And finally I explore French to fully understand this word and I find I am a bit lost as I have only come up with “prise” (from prendre which I am familiar with) which means to grip, hold, capture or the word “sasie” which I found in the dictionary defined as seizure, confiscation of goods. How far off the mark am I, can you please help me to find the appropriate word in French?

The word seizure then led me down the path I was already traveling to discover more about the south of India, its history, art and architecture. I had just read about Siege of Seringapatnam and the third Anglo-Mysore War where the well-equipped British forces under the command of the Governor General Cornwallis with the aid of the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Maratha state outwits Tipu Sultan, the sultan of Mysore State by disarming all his troops and driving him with his forces into island fortress of Seringapatnam which was the capital of his state of Mysore. Eventually the British breech the walls and seize the town which compels the monarch Tipu Sultan to agree to the flagrantly unfavorable terms and hand over his sons as guarantee of his abiding by the terms of the agreement.

The story of brave and patriotic Tipu Sultan who dared to battle the British and was one of the rare monarch who managed a couple of victories against them aided by the French has been recreated in popular culture through books, comics for children, theatre cinema and television, the most famous and controversial being the television series The Sword of Tipu Sultan (the colorful tv series gives a sense of how he is perceived in popular culture). I have pasted below some pics of old prints of this historic battle. Do check it out below:

Photo: Siege of Seringapatnam

Photo:Tipu Sultan Warrior King

Since I was in Tipu’s turf, I decided to visit his famous teak palace in Bangalore. 

Do check me out below in Tipu’s Teak Palace:

Tipu’s Teak Palace-Video by Purnima Viswanathan

Tipu’s Teak Place-Video by Purnima Viswanathan

The teak Palace had a miniature of the famous Tipu’s Tiger organ, the original being kept at the V&A(Victoria and Albert museum, one of my favorites) in London. This magnificent organ in the shape of a tiger mauling an Englishman was an extension of his arch rivalry against the British colonial influence that had swept through the subcontinent moulded and supported by the French as was this Tiger organ. Tipu who was known as the Tiger of Mysore, used the tiger motif on all his objects and ornaments including his banners and weapons. Do check out this fabulous page from the V&A which gives an overview of the Tiger organ and has a must see video clip at the bottom:

Victoria and Albert Museum Tipu’s Tiger

My photo of Tippu’s Tiger:

Tipu’s Tiger – The Victoria And Albert Museum – Photo by Purnima Viswanathan

To round up the story on Seizure, I will have to inflict you with my musings on the 4th Amendment, Search and Seizure and it’s application to the cyber-world. While I was in the throes of an amorous embrace by Rattlesnake Jake, intoxicated by all the heady excitement my mind wandered over to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (please tell me this is not totally psycho) and an article I had read about the arbitrary seizure of domain names by the government and its impact on the first and fourth amendments to the constitution. As the tongue came flickering out to lick my cheek (see above clip Rattlesnake Jake), I screamed out at the injustice of this draconian system and decided it needed some of my brain juice. Of course, explaining to my buddy Jake why I had shrieked is another story. Roger, I would really appreciate it if you could read the pasted article below and my thoughts and musing on this case and tell me what you think. Am I totally off the mark or do I have something of substance there? Do check article pasted below:

EFF: Domain name seizure 2011

(Updated- 2017)

Domain name intermediaries should not be held responsible for the content of websites that utilize their domains

“.cat” Domain a Casualty in Catalonian Independence Crackdown | Electronic Frontier Foundation

And YES it’s “CAT” again!

Search and seizure, Speech, and the Internet

Amici Curiae brief of the Electronic Frontier Foundation in support of petitioner-appellant (puerto 80 projects):

Puerto 80 Projects v  The United States of America, Department of Homeland security

See my musings on the case below (please give it a shot, i promise its not all fluff) :

Are there different Rules for physical searches and seizures as opposed to searches and seizures performed online/ in the virtual sphere

In the physical realm we have a reasonable expectation of privacy in our homes and such searches and seizures would necessitate the production of a search warrant, do we have the same expectation of privacy online: in our domain/ web site/ IP address ? There is a long historical background to claiming our home is our castle does it transfer to our online residence? would the activities being carried out in the home parallel the expectation of privacy in the activities carried out on your website? Is this based on public access, the fact that one is a physical space and the other is virtual or is it some other criteria? If not then the authorities would have no need to demonstrate probable cause before crashing into the party, your website, searching and seizing it! However, would these 4 th amendment rules apply so seamlessly, how could they, what is being seized? A website, domain name, ip address is being seized… And how can these be seized in the sense as it is understood conventionally. What are the ramifications of this seizure? The realization must hit that the impact goes way beyond the briefcase and the seizure of the car, here there is a network of lives and vested interests that come together and interplay on these sites, impact a community. 

So have we reached a realm beyond arrest warrants and probable cause are we in a space that is not physical and nor is it illusionary? one whose existence has real ramifications on the real world but appears to exist somewhere in between eluding the two. In such a realm would the arbitrary  imposition of the laws of the real world upon this space be rational and just? I say a hearing, an online consensus yes, arbitrary imposition of the laws of the real world, no! The laws of the virtual realm have to emerge from that realm backed by a consensus of the netizens who would support it’s enforcement, every other system would fail, appear unjust or be plain ridiculous awaiting the judge to identify another shape in the clouds to attribute to this animal.

The first issue to determine is the nature of this space, whether it is physical ( uh huh…no,) and thus covered by the search and seizure laws of the fourth or whether is it a purely a forum for creative expression, to be covered by all the (speech based) first amendement issues and safeguards (dunno). Does it really warrant those forms of extreme protection I wonder? Or is it an amorphous evolving something in between neither a physical form nor pure expression but one that needs to be identified before every judge on every panel ascribes it a form (this cloud looks like a dinosaur) and passes judgement. 

The speech based protections which in my opinion form the core of any civilized society are dear and sacrosanct and must NOT be blurred. This virtual animal on the other hand is to be defined and the creative Speech based aspect is to be secured, the vested interest of the multitude that go into this beast are to be taken into consideration and then whatever form of appropriate Search based laws can be applied should be “tested”. I repeat tested, as the ramifications of searching that handbag, the equivalent of someone’s iPhone today can result in the violation of the entire communities data. A simple search to might result in catastrophic consequences: The doctor could have a list of all the teenage pregnancies and abortion lists in the area, there could be lists of “friends who smoke”, a group people with a transmittable disease, a categorization of ethnicity and weapons, all of which would grotesquely violate privacy that goes beyond the individual and sometimes community and could (should)never satisfy any larger government purpose.

The information disseminated into “the system” would target these groups forever, they would be categorized labelled (each and every one of us would fit into some label). The reality of this tech centric world of today being that every iPhone, handheld device has layers and layers of data that could and would compromise. How then in this overlapping interconnected realm where everyone is exposed in their polka dotted briefs do we allow ANY form of search and seizure…Yes, the cop suspected the man parked in lot was doping (perhaps he was an attorney, perhaps he was the head of the hospital, or perhaps it was their kid) and the data is seized from their devices along with the dope. The results can be catastrophic much beyond the intent of the legislature and the judiciary. This goes beyond the physical realm of catching that coke head and making him do time, it compromises everyone in his stream/ network. The realization that we have moved beyond the physical realm and that many are carrying others data, and form a part of a connectivity/ network has to be incorporated while enforcing the laws we know and recognize in the physical realm to the virtual one.

In the above-mentioned brief, in order to clarify for the audience these oft repeated and for most the ambiguous terms of domain names, IP addresses and websites, using a real world parallel the author very creatively, compared the website to the Empire State Building, the IP address as it’s actual physical address on 5 th avenue, And the domain name as the name that building on that address is known as by the public, which is the Empire State Building. Now if the domain name, ie ” the Empire State Building” were seized because of some illegal activities on some floor, it would be akin to putting a board up in front of the Empire State building and saying it’s out of service or boarded up. However horrific this may sound, the ramifications would be even more dire if this domain was The Bank of America, Lehman brothers or UBS which due to some irregularity on one of it’s levels was being seized/ boarded up, being told to the general public that it was now “out of operation”. There would be a run on the bank both in the real and virtual world and the result would be unsalvageable! Therefore, search and seizure when applied to this virtual plane has to be done astutely if at all, understanding the interconnectivity and interdependence of all the elements that go on to make this universe.

Roger, did I totally bore you? Was I sounding garbled? I hope you didn’t skim through the whole thing and read at least the last paragraph. I would love to hear your thoughts.

I will end with the promise of the story of Jake or the new age Shantaram, one with whom I appear to have shared a formative journey, similar lives, families, background and even the same Cambridge Mission college on whose lawns we soaked in the sunshine.

Good night and sweet dreams. I hope to hear from you soon.


PS: Please note the clip about the three breasted alien is a commentary about the objectification of women. Three breast are equivalent to the enhancements expected on women which from the male gaze is absolutely awesome. However, if the woman is large and naturally endowed with large breasts or super size derriere that is the “gross, repulsive, ugh” response equivalent to four breasts in the above clip. Did it ever cross anyone’s mind watching that clip that three breasts (or its enhanced equivalent) themselves are perhaps one too many? Who determines what’s awesome and what is ugh? Left to the fantasy of the male gaze perhaps next we’ll be sprouting breasts from our earlobes!

Dear Purnima,

What a delight to get a long missive from you.  A wonderful investigation of seizure (saisie), although I don’t know if that is the word I  would choose to describe your union with Jake.  It’s almost too negative in one sense in that the object/person seized has no control over what is transpiring, but I need to mull over that  as well as your long treatise on cyberworld privacy.

Thanks for the Martini picture.  I had at first hoped  that it was a picture of you raising your glass, but it did remind me  of southern France.  I don’t usually drink that (or those in the sense of dry), but I did have a Tequila Sunrise last night from the bar on the 12th floor of our hotel overlooking the bay in Hakodate,  and I, of course, sent a warm and tender thought your way.  We’re off to Sapporo this morning and the final chapter in our current Japan adventure.



Dear Roger

My tumultuous ride has not ended. My two day stop in Bangalore has transformed into a two week marathon with Tara falling sick, homesick and being completely unsettled. It’s been very difficult for me as well, the cutting of the umbilical cord. 

So, I’ve decided to be Bangalore based, explore the city, it’s sights and sounds and add another chapter, a Bay Area to Bangalore chapter to my diary, at least for the next month until the dust settles or I get my dream job. 

In the interim I’ve been exploring the city with its glitzy malls, skyscrapers, and being dazzled by the development, all seemingly enveloped by a distinctive pulse of youthful energy.   This garden city that I had been told much about appears to be in a stage of metamorphosis, with all its pieces spinning in the air. Of course there is heady development as Bangalore has reinvented itself but in its midst,  there appears to be absolute chaos. The traffic, the roads the base infrastructure to support this grand idea seems to be suspended perhaps in someones mind waiting to take a breath from this dizzying growth.   

This growth of course is a result of the fire emanating from technology worldwide as Bangalore forms the technological triangle with Singapore in the east and the Bay Area to the West, both of which have been home to me.

So, my adventures continue as I explore Bangalore via “scootie” (tuk tuk), taxi and on foot, often  inadvertently  finding myself at the other side of the road, dropped off at the wrong place where I have to skillfully negotiate my way over the suspended sidewalks (most of which are floating pieces stacked upon each other and to add to the excitement are punctured with holes just about the size to trap a lady’s heel -talk about rules against women in heels…pavements are for all…equal protection my brain screams !), intermittently separated by deep dark ditches between the floating sidewalk pieces (which I believe suck you straight to the river), finally there is debris and as i discovered cables of live wire strewn just in case you have managed to dodge the other hazards and make it thus far. Well, I did and that too with a kid in tow (who carried me) who being the upbeat kid that she is recognized this surreal experience as having slipped into a Super Mario game of dodging obstacles and successfully making it through the hazards. Yes Roger, it’s a real life Super Mario game and i have not even mentioned the piece of walking across the road…you have to come and join me here sometime. 

Hugs and love,


Dear Purnima,

Glad to hear that you are enjoying Bangalore and from the vantage of an old colonial club.  Sounds charming !

We are leaving tomorrow for four days in the land of the Little Mermaid and Hans Christian Andersen, but I doubt the blond Nordic creatures can hold a candle to your beauty punctuated by those deep, fascinating and enchanting eyes.  Wish I were there too ! ! !

More when we return.

And, if I were a partaker, I cannot think of a more delightful preparer of charras.

Gros bisous and fond thoughts,


Dear Roger

Writing to you from a breezy veranda in Bangalore, a charming old club, a relic from our colonial past that I have been fortunate to enjoy as a grandchild of the Raj. 

The Bangalore Club – A Relic of The Raj:

My Pics of The Bangalore Club:

You have been in my thoughts over these last few weeks as I have ventured into very exciting territory, one that straddles the globe as I venture from France/French, to Persia/ Persian – Urdu and finally arrive in Delhi with its Sanskritized Devanagari script. 

Yes, I have been delving deep into my culture, reading Persian poetry, Urdu poets, ghazals, love stories in English, French ( with a struggle) Urdu/Hindi in both the Roman and Devanagari script. It’s been awesome, find the connections being able to see the bridges… As i guessed, French and Persian sense, sensitivities and sensibilities,(looking for the Urdu word “ahsaas”?) are one! wish you were here!!

Hope I get a quiet afternoon to write to you in detail. At this point all I can think of is dropping the kids off in boarding school and hope they settle in, then everything next. 



Btw: I would not hire me to pack your charas… Talk about biz going up in smoke. 

Purnima Viswanathan

Roger Stevenson

Mon, Oct 31, 2011,

Dear Purnima,

Are you still in Bangalore rubbing shoulders with the IT elite ?  Has your new-found former friend completely swept you off your feet and into his life ?

I saw the pictures you put up on Facebook (by the way, you are about the only reason I ever venture onto that so-called social media site), and you aren’t there very often.  I listened to an interview on NPR yesterday of an American social butterfly who is a self-proclaimed social media Ann Landers and has written a book about Facebook and its joys and pitfalls.  He said that when Facebook first appeared on the web, everyone said, “Wow, this is really unique”, but eventually Facebook turned out to be just like life itself.  You not only have the pleasure of being connected with your friends and those you really like and admire, but you also have to confront all the long-lost cousins and old school mates that you have absolutely no interest in pursuing a relationship with, even on Facebook.  The big question of the interview was how do you tell someone on Facebook that you no longer want to be their Facebook friend and still remain friends with them ? )  This is really heavy stuff.

There is an Indian film playing in Geneva at the Festival de tous écrans.  It is called 

The Kite (Patang)

Have you seen it ?  Know anything about it ?  It sounds interesting.  I think we’ll go see it next Monday.

Halloween was really big in Japan (check out the pictures below)  Is it celebrated in India at all ?  I still have such wonderful (and frightful) images of India floating through my mind from Shantaram.

And speaking of books, I finally have all three volumes of Murakami’s latest novel IQ84  That should keep me busy for a few weeks.  I need another long plane ride so I have nothing else to do but read.

Take care of yourself.  I still think of you every time I drive into Geneva !

Giant hugs,


January 16th, 2021

Dear Roger,

The story of Jake continues into the New World…

Today, January 16th, 2021 has been proclaimed by San Francisco mayor London Breed as Sea Lion day commemorating 30 years of this adorable blubbery and vocal mammal landing en masse on the boat docks of San Francisco’s Fisherman Wharf, Pier 39. http://SF sea lion day Jan 16th

WWF: Sea Lions – Endangered:

NOAA – California Sea Lions – Protected and Thriving:

The Tale of The San Francisco Jake and The Sea Lions:

I had spent the last year taking snapshots of my favorite images of San Francisco from every angle in the rain, fog and sunshine, a journey which took me to Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf…

See me below attempting to capture an image of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz:

Purnima in San Francisco-Video by Purnima Viswanathan

See Fisherman’s Wharf – Pier 39 below:

Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco -Photo by Purnima Viswanathan

It was here near the boat deck filled with cacophonous sea lions that I heard someone call out my name…Purnima…Purnima…Purnima

See below my video of the cacophonous sea lions with their long eyelashes and kohl rimmed eyes each one trying to be heard over the others:

Sea Lion Pier 39 in San Francisco -Video by Purnima Viswanathan

I looked around, and then again but couldn’t see a soul. Who was it that was calling out my name I wondered. That’s when I picked up my phone and heard a familiar sounding voice on the other end welcoming me to his platform. It was Jake again but this time it was San Francisco Jake. “Follow me Purnima” he said and I will take you on an adventure…a journey to our new home on the Bay. I turned around to find the sea lions morphed into bedazzling sculptures painted in vivid hues each telling a fabulous story and right there in the midst of this colorful crew stood out one more colorful than the rest. It was Sea Lion Jake of course waving at me with a beaming smile. See below the surrealistic image of the colorful sea lions in Pier 39 with Jake in their midst:

Pier 39 and Sea Lion Jake – Photo Curtsey George Jacob

See in the links below The Aquarium of The Bay’s STEAM program of merging science and art by creating and installing 30 hand painted sea lions across the city of San Francisco to inspire awareness, conservation and education. Sea Lion Love Website: has an interactive map. It can also be found here:

Jake held my hand and took me deep into the murky depths of the San Francisco bay to view his fantastic new abode – the proposed new Aquarium of The Bay. But first, we had to make a mandatory stopover at the Great Gatekeeper Sea Lion that had gifted his glossy coat of gold by Jake himself, who waved us into the inner sanctum. See Jake below with The Great Golden Sea Lion and a model of their proposed shiny new home in the San Francisco Bay:

The sun was going down and It was soon time to bid adieu. Jake held my hand to his heart happy to have shared this dream with a soulmate and said “forget me not for we shall meet again in our new abode in sunny San Francisco”.

I soon found myself back on the surface standing on Pier 39 to find myself amidst the sea lions all dressed up in their Christmas gear dancing and bidding me farewell…till we meet again they sang and blew kisses in the air.

Goodnight and sweet dreams.


PS: What did the sea lions say? Purnima, Purnima, Purnima of course!


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

Geneva Diaries #45*

Alice In Tourette, The Wax Palace, Bali Hi, Cote d’Azure/Provence, Red Rackhams Treasure,The Supreme Court of The Cyberworld and The Human Condition

Purnima in Nice: See below as I become a part of the Nice Museum Installation

Purnima at The Modern Art Museum (MAMAC) in Nice – Photo by Purnima Viswanathan

On Tue, Jul 19, 2011, Roger Stevenson wrote:

Dear Purnima,

Have you landed safely on the other end of the rabbit’s hole ?  I hope your tumble through space was eventful and exciting.

Thinking about you !



Dear Roger,

It’s great to hear from you, and yes, I have landed on the other side of the rabbit hole or the other side of the long dark tunnel leading from the Wax Palace to the outside world. Do you remember my relating the story of the Wax Palace from the Indian epic poem Mahabharata (akin to the Iliad), where the five Pandavas were housed in a magnificent palace by their cousins the Kauravas who were contenders for the Throne of Hastinapur?

The Wax Palace

 This perfect palace was made up of entirely combustible materials (thus the name), as their cousins the Kauravas, who were their rivals and contenders to the throne of Hastinapur set up this trap. The Kauravas warmly invited their cousins the Pandavas to reside in this sumptuous palace, after ensuring their cousins the were comfortable enough, the Kauravas planned on finishing them off by setting the palace on fire. I remember many verses in the Mahabharata describing the beauty of this grand home, and its construction. As you may remember, our home on Boulevard des Tranchees, in Geneva,  was wrapped in construction for the most of our time there and when the construction facade was removed, it was time to go/escape. See below our home Blvd des Tranchees in Geneva:

Blvd des Tranchees, Geneva, Switzerland-Photo by Purnima Viswanathan

 I have pasted below some clips from youtube relating to this story of the Wax Palace and how many things in this perfect palace aroused the suspicion of the Pandavas (like I was forever suspicious about the “kitchen for show” where it seemed like no one had ever cooked a meal, just not practical) which made them pre-empt the plot , set fire to the palace and escape through the tunnel dug under the palace to safety. Check it out below:

Indian Epic Tale – Mahabharata- The Wax Palace

However, Roger, I will return, this I am convinced of, as I feel there is much left undone, unexplored, unwritten…

In my dreams I see Tavernier standing in his stockinged feet flashing his treasured gems in his sparkling eyes, as he holds open the door to the living room inviting me in. He moves deftly as he removes my coat and whispers in his soft voice ” you have barely entered the building, do come in, there are many voices waiting to greet you, have you met Voltaire?”

Bali Hi

But it’s both surf and turf for me, so apart from the scintillating minds, I yearn for the mountains, for adventure, for snow and ski. The magnetic Matterhorn, standing in all its isolated glory beckons me with the haunting melody of South Pacific, Bali Hi.

Do check out Bali Hi on youtube:

The Matterhorn

Bali Hi – Lyrics:

Bali Ha’i may call you,

Any night, any day,

In your heart, you’ll hear it call you:

“Come away…Come away.”

Bali Ha’i will whisper

In the wind of the sea:

“Here am I, your special island!

Come to me, come to me!”

Your own special hopes,

Your own special dreams,

Bloom on the hillside

And shine in the streams.

If you try, you’ll find me

Where the sky meets the sea.

“Here am I your special island

Come to me, Come to me.”

So, I will have to return, I will have to return to my special Island where the sky meets the sea. I will return to the Matterhorn as he beckons me through the mists and across the seas.

Rick Steves – The Matterhorn:

Cote d’Azure/Provence

Before I end this last leaf, I must share with you my adventures with the kids in Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azure. We stayed in Tourrettes-sur-Loup an area between Vence and Grasse. Another dream filled with sun, sea, azure blue skies, charming medieval villages, quaint streets, vibrant art, museums, fab food and The Black Shark(The adventures of Purnima in the Black Shark follow).

Tintin in the Black Shark- Red Rackhams Treasure:

 See below Purnima and The Black Shark in Tourettes-Sur-Loup:

Do check me out below in touring in Tourettes sur Loup, Gazing at the fab art in St Paul de Vence, enjoying the museums in Nice, Eating out in the medieval square in Biot, submerging my Black Shark in Antibes (Marineland) and Cruising in Cannes. 

St Paul de Vence below:

Purnima in Provence/ Tintin in Tourettes: See below images of my trip with my pre-teens across the Alpes-Maritime region of south eastern France discovering the wonderful medieval villages of Eze, Gourdon and Menton below:

Medieval Villages, Southern France-Photo by Purnima Viswanathan

This galley housed in one of the ancient habitations of the medieval villages of south eastern France presented itself as the original home of the artifact that was to become the much beloved Chia Pet, see images below:

See below a commercial for the much beloved American toy – The Chia Pet. Of course I wanted the Chia pet when I saw this commercial on TV, but when I looked into Mirko’s eyes, I saw a quizzical look…Why he said…it was then that I realized that I was the Chia Pet!

See Purnima as The Chia Pet below:

Purnima in Gourdon, France-Photo by Purnima Viswanathan

See below Adventures with my American Pre-teens in Europe At MAMAC – The Museum of Contemporary Art in Nice: We merge with the artwork titled San Francisco-Nice-India…

Purnima and The Kids at The Modern Art Museum (MAMAC) in Nice with the Exhibit Titled: San Francisco-Nice-India(na)-Photo by Purnima Viswanathan

Purnima in Nice: See below as I become a part of the Nice Museum Installation

Purnima at The Modern Art Museum (MAMAC) in Nice -Photo by Purnima Viswanathan

The Modern Art Museum (MAMAC) in Nice below:

Red Rackhams Treasure:

Red Rackham’s Treasure as we discovered after all our dives and explorations was the experience of spending a summer in Cote d’Azure.

However, this page cannot be turned without sharing with you the story of embarking on an adventure in the belly of The Black Shark. As I was preparing for this adventure, doing everything by myself for the first time, the place, the hotels, the car, the sightseeing, the restaurants, I found a reasonable car rental online, one similar to our VW golf  and confirmed the booking. Upon arriving in Nice (after detouring back via Zurich-my bookings!) I found that they did not have my VW Golf but instead offered to upgrade us to a sports BMW. Wow, I thought, life looks goood. Now, backtracking a bit, I have been driving from the age of 14, and a car is almost a natural extension of me. However, all my cars have been large, powerful machines bulldozing those that dared swerve into their path. They have all started with a deep growl as I have felt them first pulsate then thunder under my fingers as I’ve turned they key. A sense of supreme control, power over a magnificently powerful machine. Well here I was in a strange land with two sulky brats and a sleek swish machine shinning black and glossy in the sunshine with it’s fin perky and erect behind it…ready to go. I got in and of course fumbled for the keys, I pushed the plastic square I was given into what I thought was the keyhole (all the while being observed by my pre-teens) and struggled to turn it. After the third attempt, still stationed in the parking lot, I requested the parking attendant to assist. He pressed a button that said “start“(how bizarre I thought but did not question him further so that the sneaky pre-teens did not get a whiff of their antiquated mom). Once the car had started all I needed to do was follow the gps, my maps and make my way to the Bed and Breakfast over the hills. Simple. Oh no, not so simple! After I found myself taking a third round of the roundabout being completely confused by the GPS, I decided to stop and peer at the maps. After confirming the directions to myself and an exasperated audience in the backseat, I tried to re-start the car by pressing the “start button” of course. Well, life is not so simple and the start would not start even after half and hour of trying. I then called the tow service for assistance but was unable to give them our street name.I did think of sprinting back to the parking lot because even after an hour of leaving it we were not too far from the departure point having circled the roundabout a couple of times. Then a kindly soul in a large machine (like the ones I was used to) came by jumped into my car and with a large smirk pressed the start button (with the brake!) the Black Shark opened its jaws and it yawned. “Hurray” yelled the back row, “hurray he found the start button, Mom you have to press S-T-A-R-T, the start button!”. I growled under my breath and zipped into the now inky darkness of the depths of Cote d’Azure as the kids yelled “merci beaucoup monsieur, merci beaucoup!” And thus started our adventures in Provence.

The Supreme Court of The Cyberworld:

Before I say goodnight, I am posting the piece I mentioned during our last lunch that I wrote while lazing by the pool in our place in Tourrette-sur-Loup as I scanned through issues relating to free speech, in the Real World and in the Virtual World. Issues relating to public space, dissent, public arena in the virtual world for pamphleteering. As I scanned through Lessig’s Code I realized the limitations on these gatherings in the cyberworld/ chat room limits which spurred me to frenzied activity as I realized that the Anti-Code needed to be drafted. The framework, the basis which would be acceptable in the cyberworld as the laws of the Real World could not be so arbitrarily imposed. The norms would need to be generated from within this space, by the netizens of this space, by the contributors and creators of this space thus bestowing upon them the rights regardless of race color, sex, creed or even age (do remember the Net is in the hands of a 15 year old with a backpack). The only rules that will be accepted are the ones that come about through a “consensus among the Pirates“(sound familiar?), as the Pirates rule these waves! I would love your feedback, here are my ramblings:

*the predominant issue as I see it: verification of authentic dissenters v programs /viruses /spam. 

The pivotal question to be discerned/ identified in the cyber world (especially when there are free speech issues and pamphleteering on the Net, you want to persuade/be persuaded by a human not by an auto generated barrage tailored to tempt you/spam)is whether we are interacting with a real persona or a programme that is smart enough to mimic one, for its only then that we can include that entity into the list of valid voices/ dissenters on the Net. 

In fact, as I see it, the Supreme Court of the Cyberworld will be predominantly engaged in identifying “human error”, which once identified would then provide the “Entity” with requisite status and all the rights expected of a Netizen. 

So effectively, the Supreme Court of the Cyberworld would turn the idea of the Supreme Court of the real world on it’s head ( upside down), as it would seek to identify human error, the one core element that makes us human, which once identified would give the Entity all the rights of a Netizen. 

In a world of perfect beings, programs that mimic the ideal persona, inclusive of personality with wit and vanity encased in the choice of the  structure/ form of your phantasies, memory, computational skills, speed, reflexes incorporating the ideas and decisions made by personas through time and being able to in a flicker scan the wealth of human data and respond with “The appropriate response”, the patently correct and time-tested reaction topping it all off with superhuman restraint and self sacrifice.

Do we really want to be governed by such perfect programs,

do we wish to be subjected to their standards and be measured against them,

do we choose perfect design/response or do we choose humanity with all it’s errors and flaws? 

Do we not wish to refer to this corpus of human knowledge take what we need but be in a position to improve/ change/challenge it when it does not reflect our time and space? 

Do we not wish to forget our path through the woods and reinvent/rediscover an alternate path?

Do we not wish to remain human with all our desires and all our errors and construct a world that fits Man (mankind)? 

The first step in that direction would be in identifying Man from the endless barrage of identities impersonating all the traits of man claiming a voice for their ethereal selves. Thus the Supreme Court of the Cyberworld would have the pivotal and difficult task of doing precisely the opposite of what it’s expected to do in the real world ( prosecute the errors), identify the entities that express human error and liberate them.

See below a charming sundial from Tourrettes-sur-Loup that seems to completely embody my message: Ce nest pas aux cadrans humains qui sonne l’heure de la Justice, which I translate as – it is not the human dials that sound the hour of justice, effectively stating that even as man in his pursuit for perfection attempts to capture the sun and tell the time, these sundials crafted by the hands man can only be limited to serve that particular purpose, of reading the light and shadows (ie telling the time) in a particular place and time. Unlike the soul and the spirit, these manifestations of man however precise are not eternal and cannot tell eternal time – the final hour, L’heure de la Justice. We have to acknowledge our humanity with all it’s errors and accept that our devices cannot be immaculate, immutable and perfect as they are an expression of ourselves. The error occurs when we look upon our own devices (algos) as an expression of the eternal and bind ourselves to them. There must be a distinctions between the Laws of Man by which we accept to govern ourselves, ones we mould, tweak, revise, update reflecting us and our changing times and the Eternal Laws which we may kneel to but that exist outside the realm of man.

Sundial from Tourrettes-sur-Loup, France – Photo by Purnima Viswanathan

See link to the fabulous sundials in the Alpes-Maritimes (Southern France)- Cadrans Solaires des Alpes-Maritimes


See below some images from the SFMOMA exhibit on the Belgian surrealist artist Rene Magritte where he explores The Human Condition:

The Human Condition:

The Human Condition and trompe-l’oeil:

The Errors upon Which we Rest our World: http://Errors in Perception:

See below another example of “What We See and What We Know”, the fallibility of human perception upon which we rest our world:

With these final words I must say goodnight and hope to hear from you soon, very soon, perhaps by daylight?

Goodnight and Thank you once again for a lovely evening and dinner. Love to the family.


Dear Purnima,

Although you have escaped your scaffold enshrouded castle and are now thousands of miles away, in some ways it seems that nothing has really changed, and getting a long, marvelously crafted email from you with a myriad of tantalizing thoughts and questions really (continues to ) makes my day.  It’s as though cyberspace allows a kind of warp that brings the thoughts of distant persons ever closer.  There are no physical barriers or borders to get in the way of communication.

Your description of your start button experience in the shinny black BMW (I must admit that I have never driven a “beamer”) was hilarious.  It reminds me of the time in Hawaii when we had rented a car for a few days on the big island of Hawaii, and when we stopped to fill up with gas, I couldn’t get the gear shift (it was an automatic transmission !) to move out of the PARK position.  I tried everything and nothing worked.  In exasperation, I finally called the car rental company and told them of my problem, and they told me that I had to put my foot on the brake before the transmission could be shifted out of PARK.  Needless to say, I was both relieved and slightly embarrassed.   I, too, have driven since I was 14 (I used to sneak out in the night and drive my mother’s car), and nearly all the cars I ever drove were manual transmissions.   But, bravo for having dealt with the situation.

It’s interesting that you chose Bali Hi as your mantra for returning to the Swiss Alps.  I love that song, and that South Pacific version of the song in the first YouTube clip you attached brought back memories of seeing that film and being haunted by the idea of some enchanting island that beckons with its mysterious aura.  There aren’t many musicals that I really like, but I did enjoy South Pacific and that short, stout beetle-chewing islander singing Bali Hi to the young American pilot is one of the things I loved most about the film.  Let’s hope the song does indeed bring you back to the Matterhorn. Do I sense a bit of nostalgia for Switzerland and the Swiss Alps in all of this ???  I think the only other musical film that I really liked was Damn Yankees – a modern version of the Faustian myth.

We’ve been looking at all the pictures the family took during their travels.  V loads them onto a USB memory stick (une clé USB), and we can see them on our wide-screen TV.  I thought their pictures from Mumbai were really great.  And then I just recently began reading the novel Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, and his description of the slums in “Bombay” is so vivid and explicit AND fascinating (Two different people have recently recommended the book to my as one of the best books they have every read).  After dealing with the chaos, the poverty, the beggars, the noise, the confusion, the contrasts between old and new, rich and poor, beautiful and ugly, he finally writes:

Above all else, Bombay was free — exhilaratingly free.  I saw that liberated, unconstrained spirit wherever I looked, and I found myself responding to it with the whole of my heart.  Even the flare of shame I’d felt when I first saw the slums and the street beggars dissolved in the understanding that they were free, those men and women.  No-one drove the beggars from the streets.  No-one banished the slum-dwellers.  Painful as their lives were, they were free to live them in the same gardens and avenues as the rich and powerful.  They were free.  The city was free.  I loved it.”

If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

Speaking of books, A has received advance copies of the first two tomes of the latest Murakami trilogy, IQ84.  The English translation won’t be out until October, but she is thrilled to be able to read it in French and said that it grips you from the very first pages.  Maybe I’ll have finished Shantaram by October.  It’s over 900 pages long.

The usually pleasant summer in our area has been uncharacteristically cold and rainy for the past week.  I actually lit a fire in the fireplace one evening last week just to take the chill off the house a bit.

Thanks for sending along your piece about the supreme court of cyberspace.  I’ll have to mull it over a bit before responding.

And thanks to you for the delightful coffee/lunch at the museum.  It was a bitter-sweet final chat before you were whisked off to your beloved India.

Lots of hugs,


Tara et Moi (le Chat):

Tara et Moi, Gourdon, France-Photo by Purnima Viswanathan


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

Geneva Diaries #44*

Women and Choice, French Films, Geneva Blockbuster, Jack and Gilles, Ghazals and Mughal India


Dear Purnima,

Are you back in Geneva again ?  I hope you had a wonderful time in London.

See anyone or anything totally fascinating ?

I agree that the male dominated societies in which we live insist on making

choices for “their” women, choices that they have little or no understanding

about, and choices that tend to keep women under the yoke of servitude to

male desire.  And one of the things that most worries me is the

used-to-be-called “moral majority”, although they now exist under the guise

of the Tea Party, and their avowed determination to overturn Rowe vs Wade.

One of my all-time favorite French feminists, Gisèle Halimi, was a

Tunesian-born lawyer who was very instrumental in finally getting the French

government to legalize abortions.  She took on the case of six women who had

openly admitted to having had an abortion as a challenge to the French law

against them.  The trial took place in the city of Bobigny, just north of

Paris, and after a series of frustrations because of legal manipulations on

the part of the court, Halimi finally won the case, which became a watershed

decision that set precedent for the eventual legalization of abortions in


By the way, there is a very powerful film, “Une Affaire de femmes” with

Isabelle Huppert who plays the role of a woman who performs abortions in

order to make enough money to survive and raise her son.  It’s a true story,

and she was arrested and executed (long live the guillotine ! ! !) by the

French government as an example to other women.  Can you imagine ?

Claude Chabrol Collection:

With Bush II stacking the supreme court with conservative justices, I’m

really afraid that Rowe vs Wade’s days are numbered.

What is your schedule next week ?  Your Geneva days are coming to an

all-too-rapid end.  We at least need to have a long chat over lunch.

Hope to see you very soon.  Giant hugs,



Dear Roger,

The French feminist Gisele Halimi whom you mentioned in your letter, recently passed away (in 2018) after what can only be described as a stellar life in support of women and women’s issues, see link below.

Her unwavering, dedicated and determined support and defense of women’s rights, and specifically a woman’s right to choose in a precarious environment dominated by radical religious sentiments that didn’t hesitate to sacrifice women, their choices and their freedoms over dogma deserves a thundering applause. Thanks to you Roger, I have finally found a Frenchwoman I can completely embrace, one encompassing grit, determination, passion and brilliance in what must have been a brutal battle with the establishment to secure a woman’s intrinsic right to her own body and her privacy. She is certainly one to look upto and to aspire towards. The below pasted samurai helmet with deer antlers rightfully belongs on her head. See below Samurai helmet from the Japanese exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

Samurai helmet from the Japanese exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC
– Photo by Purnima Viswanathan



Dear Roger

Still in London and surfing between meals… Guess what flashed

across my screen, a must watch update on the latest on the Pro-Life vs

Pro-Choice debate chk it out below:

Tell me Roger, do you really believe having an abortion is a choice

for women…”hmm what should i do today a manicure a pedicure or swing

by the local planned parenthood and have an abortion?”

Absolutely not!!! There is no question of choice but a compulsion, a

desperate act based on the physical fact of being born female. There

is no Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice debate as a woman is not left that


What do you feel?



PS: See images below from an installation at The Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC by Edward and Nancy Keinholz titled In The Infield was Patty Peccavi depicting religious attitudes towards birthcontrol and the result of a lack of choices for women. Here a forlorn pregnant woman is seated on her bed and is looking out through the window at the glaring sunlight of her reality, her form expresses her situation of despair, her angst and anxiety, the vulnerabilities of womanhood and the limited choices to determine her future.

The Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC by Edward and Nancy Keinholz titled In The Infield was Patty Peccavi-Photo by Purnima Viswanathan

Jack and Jill (Captain Jack and Gilles)

Dear Roger,

My introduction to French cinema at this late stage has been a thunderbolt out of the blue, jolting me out of my current sleepy/un petit peu bored state into this new and fantastic realm of relatable humour. I’m a fan. 

I have just forwarded you the video clips (which I made) commenting on the movies recommended : Le Diner Pour Le Cons, Le Nom des Gens, Le Rue de Plaisir (to be watched) and my favorite Rien a Declarer which is a “must see”, chk it out below:

Would love your feedback and recommendations!

Much more in the pipeline…




Dear Roger,

No response from you regarding my nascent attempts at movie making. Yes, it looks like I’m morphing into your “Woody” and would greatly appreciate your feedback on the forwarded impromptu clips taken with my iPhone.

Well, much to tell as the story of Jack and Jill(Gilles) continues. Yes, I know how this one will end, but isn’t it all in the journey? I wish you were there when I first asked him his named (after he spent six months flirting /winking at me from behind the video library counter)…”It’s Jill”. “What”, I responded, and he repeated Jill. I finally pinned him down and invited him to engage in dumb charades…”So what does it sound like/ Rhyme with?”, and then I got it. He was saying Gilles, Gilles, Gilles which sounds like Jill, Jill, Jill. That’s because the French “G” sounds like “J” and the “J” sounds like “G”! I then leaned forward and introduced myself “You can call me Jack, Captain Jack”. 

Contrary to the opinion of the misogynistic Mr. Naipaul, most female writers are not full of fluff. And most importantly, as the editor of the IHT correctly highlighted “the confusion/ contradiction” in his succinct piece on Naipaul’s attitude towards female writers mirroring my view that as you delve into a story, you are essentially delving into fantasy, an alternate reality, where your environment, time and space are altered, neither do you exist (as a male) and neither does the writer(as a female), but merely the story where you might find yourself playing (empathizing) with the male role or the female one which does not change your gender and neither does it modify the gender of the author. I think it’s time for him to retire… what do you think?

Do check me out with Jill(Gilles) the guy behind the counter at our local Blockbuster (Video Club) making a strong case for “Real Life”, otherwise how would one ever meet Jill! 

See below my first attempt at movie making (a movie credited to my tech savvy pre-teens who taught me iMovie and helped to merge sound and video):

See below a French version of my favorite Bollywood song – Nigahein milane ko ji chahata hai – I wish to express my desire through the meeting of glances. A distinctly south asian cultural expression of love and desire. (Poor Jill was barricaded behind the counter he never did manage to jump over the barricade at Blockbuster and make it a reality lol).

Jack and Jill – Geneva Blockbuster – Sex on Fire:

Jack and Gilles-Geneva Blockbuster-Sex on Fire- Video by Purnima Viswanathan’s American Pre-teens Dhruvum and Tara

I then realized that this above clip (however thrilled I was with it) was insufficient to fully reflect my state of mind/expression, it did not say the words of my favorite Hindi love song/ ghazal:

So, I have pasted below an old Bollywood favorite Hindustani ghazal with Nutan playing the lead female role. Growing up I was often told I had a resemblance to this actress Nutan, do you see me this Indian actress of yesteryear from Bollywood of the 1950’s and 1960’s?

Do check me out below aspiring to fit into the persona of Nutan from an old b/w Bollywood movie from 1963- Nigahein Milane Ko Ji Chahata Hai:

The lyrics voice my clip pasted above:

My soul (Ji) desires the exchange/ meeting (Milana) of glances (Nigah):

The ghazals reflect the majestic era of the Mughal dynasty in India with the flourishing of art, architecture, music, literature, food and dress as an amalgam of culture of central Asia entwined with the art and expression of the Indian subcontinent. See below my friend Neesha who in my view best embodies the essence of the time (the time of the Mughals) and the music (ghazal) in the image below:

My friend Neesha Singh embodying the Ghazal- Photo curtsey Neesha Singh

A ghazal is a song, a piece of poetry from my part of the universe spread by the Sufi mystic poets (a long mail pending on the Sufi mystics…Sherazade has a few more nights). The Persian poets like Rumi, Iqbal and Galib, their words and ideas have filtered down into the vernacular languages creating a magical mesh of verse, sound and music which forms an integral part of our culture.

A Ghazal is best described by Wikipedia as:

The ghazal (Arabic/Bengali/Pashto/Persian/Urdu: غزل; Turkishgazel) is a poetic form consisting of rhyming couplets and a refrain, with each line sharing the same meter. A ghazal may be understood as a poetic expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain.

Roger, I would like to share words of the above pasted ghazal with my definitions supported by the definitions(from the University of Chicago Library of South Asian Languages) pasted below:

It is a secret (Raz) matter

Unsure if I should speak of it in the open court (Mehfil) or not

My soul (Ji) desires the exchange/ meeting (Milana) of glances (Nigah)

My soul desire the relinquishment/ permitting to be taken (Lutna) of heart and life

The allegation/aspersion(Tohmat) that the world calls love (Ishq)

My soul desires to accept that allegation

See meanings below:

P نگاه nigāh [Zend ni+kaśa, rt. kaś; S. निकाश, rt. काश् with ni], s.f. Look, glance, sight, view, regard;

milānā, v.n. To pair (as birds), milānā (-se), To unite in feeling

عشق ʻishq inf. n. of عشق ‘to love passionately’

 راز rāz [Pehl. rāj; Zend razaṅh, rt. raz; S. रहस्, rt. रह्], s.m. A secret, mystery

A محفل maḥfil (n. of place fr. حفل ‘to collect, come together,’ &c.), s.f. A place of assembling or congregating;

P تہمت tǒhmat (for A. تہمة), s.f. Evil opinion; suspicion (of guilt); allegation; false accusation,

Anxiously waiting as time closes in…

do write




Dear Purnima,

What a funny take on Jill/Gilles, and now I understand your earlier references to Jill.  Just so you’re not tumbling too far down the hill, but if you land in a cool little “arts et essai” cinema showing French classics…

I’m thrilled that you have (finally) discovered French cinema, but I’m a little worried about your choice of favorites.  Danny Boon and his admittedly really funny films are terribly popular with the French (and Belgian) public, but he doesn’t quite carry the intellectual baggage that made French films the envy of Hollywood for many years.  Try some Alain Resnais, Goddard (Breathless – A bout de souffle), Chabrol (Le boucher), Agnès Varda (Sans toit, ni loi), Truffaut, even Beineix (Diva is a great film).  Another film you might enjoy is Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain.

Speaking of films. the new Woody Allan, Minuit a Paris, is excellent and the new Iranian film, Une Séparation, playing at the Rialto, is superbe – the consequences of a divorce in an Iranian family (you could relate to the theme !)

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to savour your film making talents.  As usual, none of the links to Flickr worked for me.  I always get the message that I don’t have authority to access the pages.  Can you show it to me tomorrow over lunch on your iphone/ipad ?

Yes, indeed, Naipaul should definitely withdraw from the public scene.  I don’t know why old farts like him who have achieved a certain measure of public acclaim because of a Nobel Prize have to spout off about topics they really know nothing about like the superiority of masculine writers.  Putting down the likes of Jane Austin is like Gerard Depardieu, an icon of French films for some 30 years, saying that the actress Juliette Binoche is a looser and has no talent.  In my opinion, Binoche is one of THE great French actresses currently on screen, and Depardieu should be retired.  If you ever get a chance to catch Binoche together with the mesmerizing (he has fantastic eyes) Daniel Day Lewis in the film adaptation of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, don’t you dare pass it up.  It is a beautiful, haunting film.  I could picture you playing the role of the other female character in the film, Sabine !  And then there is always the exquisite The English Patient.

And, my dear, you are far more beautiful and enchanting than the Nigahein in the clip you attached.

Where shall we meet for lunch tomorrow ?  1:00 is fine.

And can you come for dinner here on Weds. the 29th ?

Love and hugs,


P.S.  I’m already feeling teary eyed at the thought of your leaving Geneva !


Dear Roger,

Thank you for this wonderful long list of French movies to watch, I just wish I had this list earlier before my 1001 nights were coming to a close (truly, it’s almost been 1001 nights in Geneva!).

Well, this is a list I plan to take with me where ever I land, and hope I am still linked with you through cyberspace. it would be fun to watch some films together.

I’m looking forward to our lunch tomorrow at 1pm, shall we meet at my place and then walk downtown?

See Purnima below spending her 1001 nights and days exploring the art, architecture and music of Mughal India. See me following the sounds of the ghazal echoing off the walls of The Humayun’s Tomb below:

Purnima in front of the Stone Latticework Window at The Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi, India -Photo by Purnima Viswanathan

love and hugs,

See you tomorrow.



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

Geneva Diaries #43*

Jack and Gilles, Privy Relationships and The Balance of Power, Law and Technology and The Vanishing Saraswati and The Veena
On May 24, 2011, Roger wrote:

Dear Purnima,

It’s me again with a link  to a great article about DSK.  I am thrilled that someone has finally made the link  between what happened at the Sofitel hotel and what the IMF and other financial organizations have done in their assault on the poor nations of the world.





Dear Purnima,

It was utterly delightful to see you Weds. and have such a great chat over delicious food.  You were in great form and I could tell from the sparkle in your eyes that you are optimistic, upbeat and, as my friend from Texas used to say, “bright-eyed and bush- tailed” about your future.  It’s just sad to think that that was probably our last lunch in Geneva !

Here’s a link to an interesting piece on Weiner and his pro-Israel, anti-bike lane stance.  I love Juan Cole’s blog, Informed Comment (By the way, he has recently written several lengthy entries about the Bush II administration asking the CIA to dig up dirt on him because he was such a vocal critic of the invasion of Iraq).  The comments by readers after the article are also very telling about the guy as a shill for the Israeli lobby in the US.

We saw the film adaptation of Murakami’s novel Norwegian Wood last night.  It’s in Japanese with French subtitles and is a beautiful and quite faithful adaptation of the novel.  The music and sweeping photography are mesmerizing, and A was overjoyed to be able to understand a great deal of the Japanese in the film.  It’s a very melancholic film with a somewhat upbeat ending, and what I find totally refreshing with both the film and the novel is the very natural and matter-of-fact way that it (they) deal(s) with human sexuality.  To my great surprise, many of the French critics have stated that the film is full of crude and raw sex, which, coming from the otherwise tolerant French who never shun the opportunity to indulge in a bit of eroticism, almost shocked me.  There is nothing at all raw or crude, or even graphic, in the film, and in spite of some steamy sex scenes, there is not one bared breast.  There is, however, some very frank discussion of both male and female sexuality.  God forbid if the French are becoming more prudish !

Hope you’re staying dry on this wet and dim Sunday.



Dear Roger,

It was wonderful as always to see you, I enjoyed our long leisurely lunch and chat, Thank you!

It’s uncanny how I feel I have been continuously communicating with you, sharing all my ideas and thoughts on the ones you have posed and the numerous topics we have touched upon, but somewhere I feel those communications have been lost to ether as I fear i have missed penning down those lines and sending them across the sea. Perhaps, one day you’ll catch my brainwaves, and i will get my shabashi (reward/praise).

However, my time has been put to optimal use as I have ventured down the pathway of communication. I have been playing with photos, film clips and music, and have just recently sent off samples to share with you, see pasted below Geneva Blockbuster – Anjaana Anjaani. 

I have roped in my charming (and very obliging) neighborhood video library guy here in Geneva, who seems to have lots of free time to chat with me in French and at the same time practice his English. He has offered to assist me with all my clumsy attempts at film making. The fact that he is very cute adds the necessary incentive for me to gather all my hi-tech gear (essentially my iphone) and trek across the road to engage my new found French friend, chat/flirt and make movies. I must admit it keeps me very entertained and excited as I not only translate his French into English and my English into French for him but all of the above into Hindustani for my video clips where I have set our movements to a popular Hindustani song Anjaana Anjaani. The clip Geneva Blockbuster: Anjaana Anjaani, kind of tells our story… where two people, an unknown or “Anjaana” (male) and an unknown or “Anjaani”(female), two travelers/soulmates “hum-safar” in a dark night “andheeri raat” meet(milana), literally an Asian version of “Strangers in the Night”. Can’t wait for you to check it out.

See Frank Sinatra’s Strangers In The Night:

See Geneva Blockbuster – Anjana Anjani, a video by Purnima Viswanathan below: Once Upon A Time when we used to visit Blockbuster to chat up the cute video library guy…

Anjana Anjani Geneva Blockbuster Mashup – Video by Purnima Viswanathan

I’m not sure if you can access this, but do check out The Prince of Persia (my video Library guy) as he jumps off the shelf right into my arms. Then there are photographs of my daily haunt, The Tea Room in Champel which keeps those featured Devilish Delights (more about them later), and of course the video clips that just don’t load. 

See below The Black Swan with The Prince of Persia: Remember the days of Blockbuster when there was a real person to chat with behind the counter?

Back to your email and more elevating issues (the Boehner and the Weiner), I must admit I am completely out of the loop when it concerns issues that surround Israel/Palestine, I always skip through those articles as je ne comprends pas rien. Roger, i feel that there are so many great minds continuously mulling over and debating this issue that there could not possibly be any room for an additional comment/unexplored idea. However, in the defense of my state of deliberate ignorance, I do believe that there are some problems created (by man), that are created NOT to be resolved but merely to ensure that the maximum energy and the greatest number of minds are absorbed chasing their tails (one way to keep them busy with the equivalent of Fermat’s this time unsolvable theorem while the Paris burns). So Roger, I don’t venture anywhere near this blackhole of infinite diameter as I believe that once sucked in, there is no way out. And NO you can’t even tempt me with a Weiner!!

As the time for leaving approaches, the boxes are piling up and I am struggling the tick all “things to do” off my list. The first being- Divorce the b@#$%^&! The date has been set for the 28th of June, 8 long days. I have much to do and getting back to work is priority #1, so i spent a couple of hours last week completing the requisite continuing education classes required by the California Bar, to get some things out of the way while I still had the time. However, in my hyper stimulated state of mind (dwelling on Jill/Gilles), these classes took another form as I found myself flicking the computer screen trying to knock the speakers off their comfy chairs seated across the screen out there in California. These were technology related seminars, and once I got my concentration back(and realized I could not knock the SEC rep off), I discovered  how technology, mobile phones with cameras, tablets/iPads had become an integral part of an attorneys existence during this prolonged stint in wonderland. 

There were comments about how indispensable the camera phone was to take instant shots of of whatever needed to be collected and stored, photos, designs, documents with designs etc. The tablet seemed to replace the laptop in the courtroom and conference room as being an unobtrusive extension of a person as opposed to the laptop which builds walls(raised screen) and makes noise (punching of keys). And especially, when it came to issues of “Discovery” the knowledge of storing documents, retrieving information, knowing what and how to store the information at hand for easy production seemed to have moved light years. It now appears that if an attorney involved in basic litigation does not have the knowledge of this basic technology, he will be handicapped as he will not know what he can store, how he can store it, what he can demand the other party to produce and the various forms in which the material can be produced. This will then have an impact on the core competency of an attorney as he/she will be unable to produce or discover materials that he/she is unaware of, especially how materials have been stored and how they can be produced searched and scanned in a form that is not a waste of time and money for the client and the court.

Roger, in these long years of being out of the “formal” workforce, I have found that the world has truly turned on its head as far as digitalization and media is concerned. The computer, mobile/camera, gadget/tablet, seem to be omnipresent clicking, recording, editing and broadcasting continuously and in order to represent, advise, assist in any professional capacity in this universe, you have to be tech/media savvy. You core competency as an attorney, doctor, financier could be called to question if your advice has not incorporated the latest and most popular method of managing the matter. For this reason, I absolutely believe that a media center must form the core of any legal or medical library for apart from the attorneys who have to keep in sync with their client’s universe, the  medical universe is getting more technical, more remote and more visual from what I read and see. i can’t imagine the normal two dimensional medical libraries lasting out beyond this decade, we will all be diving into our notebooks/tablets to get a look, feel, touch smell of the real situation and only then will be be able to credibly attach any of those letters to our names. I certainly have a long way to go, and these trysts with tech may not be in the right direction, but at least I’m holding on to the edge of the bandwagon!

See below Tearoom in Champel: Sin

See below Tearoom in Champel: Sin – Photo by Purnima Viswanathan

The photos pasted above of the plateful of sin remind me of another overwhelming issue of this world of today, not the issue of saving information which has occupied our minds for all these generations, but one of deleting information, of erasing it, wiping it out. And as discussed in my last mail, this is where the Weiner got stuck. He certainly broadcasted, but upon discovering his error, he was unable to retrace his steps and simply erase the self photo he apparently sent 77,000 fans instead of the single one. Akin to the sculpture below at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art:

Not only did that tear through cybersphere at breakneck speed, but once the Weiner was out of the bag (or brief) there was no way of putting it back. We are all faced with this glaring reality with it’s violent consequences, and it’s surprising how little we know and understand it. The reality that storage costs almost nothing and that it is much cheaper to store than to erase is a notion that even I can’t get into my head as i continue with the painstaking collation of information in various forms (especially print) so that a copy remains. We have few tools and fewer ideas on how to put the cat back into the bag, how to erase and delete. There have been suggestion of a digital signature, metadata that follows your script, photos etc, but in my opinion the replication, references and ownership of materials will not be easy to resolve however sophisticated the tools. Then there remain issues between nations, a clash of ideas and ideologies, the US viewpoints on the storage and destruction of data versus the more conservative European views on privacy and deletion. Roger, personally, I would like to write with a magic pen that holds magic ink which vanishes whenever and wherever I wish. I could merely trigger a command and that plateful of sin would disappear forever (tragically swallowing all the delicious dreams with it).

However, with this onslaught of scandalous headlines whether it be the story of Rep Weiner and his “sexting”, or the more sinister story of Strauss-Khan and the maid or even the tale of our beloved governor and his tango/tangle with the help, made me think of relationships and what it means in the hyper digitized universe of today where Weiner could not retract quick enough as the flick of the finger determined his fate terminally- he “resigned” to the gallows, where now it’s irrelevant whether Strauss Khan will ever get his day in court as he has been tried and convicted by the media and is serving his term as per the dictates of the digital diaspora, and dear old Schwarzenegger was sex-posed and shunted out due to his matrimonial meanderings. The information, the misinformation, the speculation together with the gore and the embellishments are out there, and are now out there forever like a shadow attached to the individuals identity unshakable unerasable eternal. Such is the reality of this realm. As I dwelt on the issue of relationships (and I had a long long time to dwell considering I HAD NONE), I engaged my prince of Persia into a dialogue and video clip (any excuse to get us together on film) and discussed the same. 

Relationships: In the below pasted clip, I have attempted to explore relationships: Attorney-Client relationships where there are a set of rules prescribed by law on the manner in which this very private relationship be conducted, and again the Doctor-Patient relationship which also has it’s own prescribed set of rules, these rules rest on the basic premise that the doctor and the attorney are privy to information about you that would put you at an unfair advantage. It is essentially an issue of balancing of power so that the patient/client is not unduly compromised. Then there are relationship which do not have rules per se but require you to formulate the rules as you perceive them. For example, the rules that govern the front desk staff at a hotel and a client versus the rules that govern the bartender and the client in the same hotel and finally the rules that would govern the valet/cleaning lady and the client of the hotel. Even though they are all employees of the same hotel, would the implicit rules be different? I guess we would have to use the common sense “balance of power” and “undue influence” rule to ensure that the other party is not being victimized by the situation that he or she finds herself in. See image of sculpture below (Viola Frey – Man Observing Series II) at the De Young Museum in San Francisco:

Then I moved onto the older woman younger man and the influences and power-play in that scenario where I was reminded in a heavily accented voice that despite my being the older woman the power lay with him…(hmm I paused to drink that in before I continued on my schpeel/spiel). I ended with engaging him to fly with me and imagine that the Blockbuster video club was not a real place but that we were actually somewhere in cyberspace, and this was a video club online, he and I were avatars, personas collection of texts and messages, icons that represented a male and a female designed in our form who were interacting with each other. I then asked him to assume we were intimate, lovers on this virtual plane with an intense graphic relationship, perhaps even marriage. Now I asked him to assume that the person behind his avatar/persona was a man in some remote location and then I asked him to assume that the real person behind me was also a large beer bellied man burping beer, very different from the avatar he had envisioned. 

I then asked him the pivotal question: Is our intimate relationship/marriage in the virtual world a homosexual relationship? He flipped out! Yes, he absolutely flipped out after indulging me and walking down this rose scented garden path, there was no problem with comprehension, homosexual translated directly into French! He then bend closer across the counter and assured me that OUR relationship was NOT homosexual, and he repeated this quite emphatically. I returned home to mull over this information. Was this a case of (as the counter punch article aptly put it) a Weiner  wanking in front of the mirror, or did these excursions into the cyber-realm, where there is absolutely no chance of exchange of bodily fluids, translate into something tangible in the real world. If these adventures are anything more than a foray into fantasy, having “real” implications for its participants, then our avatars however feminine mine might be and however masculine his, our intimacy, would translate into a homosexual relationship if the persons behind our personas were two men. What if they were two men unaware of the identity of the other (as it would normally play out in the cyberworld), then would this relationship gain sanctity of union in a cyber-society, sanctity of union requisite for marriage in a conservative society? Are we not merely playing with illusions, wanking off in front of the mirror??

So, contrary to your stand (and regardless of his), I say Free the Weiner!

Check me out below in Privy Relationships-Geneva Blockbuster-Purnima with the Prince of Persia. This video clip was only possible because he was keen to learn English and I was excited to have an attentive “real” video library guy locked behind a counter to bounce my ideas off, material for my Geneva Diary.

Privy Relationships and Unequal Balance of Power- The Geneva Blockbuster: 2 minute video clip by Purnima Viswanathan pasted below

Privy Relationships-Purnima with the Prince of Persia-Geneva Blockbuster-Video by Purnima Viswanathan

Full Video Link:

Good night and sweet dreams.


And, no more hot dogs for me for lunch tomorrow, I’m weinered out!!!

Identity Allegiance and Citizenship – The Vanishing Saraswati

Dear Roger,

The tale of V and his visa brings me back to a very personal conflict, of identity, allegiance and citizenship, what to embrace and what to relinquish, recognizing that time itself makes these decisions for you as you travel and mold and evolve. I am constantly questioned as to why I insist on holding onto the passport of a place I left far behind, one that requires me to stand in endlessly long lines and obtain visas at every port while my kids with their US citizenship sail through. I have also often questioned myself as to why I choose this difficult route, why I don’t give up the card of my origin and take on the one where I have spent most of my adult life.  This I rationalize to myself as a last holdout, a connection with a culture, my roots, my being, but now I find, two decades later, even these arguments to myself seem weak and remote. 

However, on the converse side, as I look at the place where I have spent all these years and lean towards fully embracing it (and making the questions disappear along with the endless queues) I re-look at the US from afar, at all your “issues” and obsessions (particularly concerning the issues in the middle east) and find that I am unable to relate, to connect, to embrace. And isn’t it (the American story) all about assimilation, melding into the melting pot, taking on both your dreams, ideas AND “issues”, or is it? Then how do you deal with this new wave of immigrants, “who are like me, who walk like me, who think like me”? Ones for whom your “issues” are much too remote both ethnically and culturally, who can talk about them in an educated manner but are unable to feel the passion… burn in your fire. Unsure of how I fit in, and what role we play in the future of America, I hesitate but from the brink, recognizing the facade of these two identities living in one and clinging to the memories of another.

Of course this brings me back to my roots, to India, and to the story of Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom and learning, one of the three powerful female deities and a personification of feminine power. A story with its references ringing across Asia with the Vedic, Hindu, and Buddhist incarnations that enrich our culture. See below images of Saraswati a revered deity in Japan, which travelled to Japan through China, and like it’s representation in India, the image of Saraswati in Japan is also associated with a sacred body of water and depicted holding a veena, or biwa in Japanese. See images below of Saraswati from the Japan Center in New Delhi, India:

In my current form as a mother and a teacher, one that my children look upon for knowledge and guidance, I fully embrace this form. In reading up about this dazzling goddess, I also discovered an interesting fact, that this guardian of the Vedas, knowledge and speech (“Vak”, sound being the most sacred and in our culture being the path to the ultimate reality) has a terrible power, she speaks nothing but the truth but moreover, everything she speaks becomes the truth (hmm… do I sense a parallel with my magical pen and alternate realities or have I stretched this one too far?)! See the story of Saraswati below:

Saraswati, a mighty river enriching the soil and supporting the Vedic culture as it flowed across a vast land (now postulated as being an offshoot of the mighty Indus) as mentioned in the Vedas was personified as a female deity in the hymns, one that would through knowledge, culture and creativity enrich the minds of those that bowed to it. A four armed deity dressed in white, riding on a white swan, seated on a white lotus, holding the Veena (referred to earlier) a musical string instrument in two hands playing the music of love and life and the vedas (sacred book) and rosary for meditation in the other two hands. See veena, the south Indian stringed instrument below and the sounds that used to melodiously resonate around the walls of our home:

The Veena is represented as early as the mid 4th century in this gold coin from the golden age of the Guptas depicting the great king Samudragupta a patron of the arts playing the Veena from the article linked below:

By Classical Numismatic Group, Inc., CC BY-SA 3.0,

See images from Japan of the veena or biwa represented as a sacred body of water around which are build beautiful shrines to the deity Saraswati. Also see image of lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan formed in the shape of a biwa or veena below:

Saraswati Shrine, Shiga Prefecture-Photo by Purnima Viswanathan

And here is my favorite pic of my mother who was named Veena after this musical instrument by the Dal lake in Kashmir, India:

My Mom Veena named after Saraswati’s musical instrument by the Dal Lake, Kashmir – Photo by Purnima Viswanathan

Even though Saraswati, a goddess much loved and revered across Asia and associated with the sacred river Saraswati which is mentioned extensively in the Vedas, we have no trace of it in South Asia today. There are many myths and legends about its disappearance, the stories melodically retold how this very revered river vanished, was driven underground by personas of the very culture which it raised and nurtured (more about the vanishing Saraswati and The Indus Valley Civilization).

See below snippets of my travels to the breathtaking buddhist caves of Ellora in Aurangabad, Maharashtra and the mind bending Hindu Kailasa temple where I find this magnificent sculpture of Saraswati carved into the temple, an incredible temple hewn from a single mountain, the largest rock cut sculpture in the world:

See below Purnima in Ellora:

Purnima in Ellora, Ellora Caves, Maharashtra, India – Photo by Purnima Viswanathan

Purnima at Kailasa temple, Sculpture of Saraswati- Ellora, Maharashtra – Video by Purnima Viswanathan
Purnima finds the Saraswati Sculpture Kailasa temple-Video by Purnima Viswanathan

The most popular story of the disappearance of Saraswati involved a ferocious feud between the two great sages Vashistha and Vishwamitra. In order to seek revenge in their ongoing feud, sage Vishwamitra commanded Saraswati to carry sage Vashistha to him as he was making his offerings to the river. Saraswati swept Vashistha off but refused to deliver him to sage Vishwamitra and saved him by depositing him out of troubles way. Vishwamitra was so furious with Saraswati that he cursed that she would flow in blood in the land of the demons. Horrified by this injustice, the gods assembled and purified the river granting her immortality. However, lands once cultivated by this rich river never saw her again. She remained a persona of myth and conjecture, embodied in the hymns of the Rig Veda and in the imaginations of those that recited and received them. I sense that time has come for me as well, to disappear, vanish, go underground, relinquish the identity I clutched onto so dearly all these years and perhaps somewhere in some realm I will flow again…




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

Geneva Diaries #42*

Andy Warhol Portraits, Wanted, Swiss Camouflage, Law of the Sky and the Blood, DNA Claim, Japan Travels, Fukushima and The Tsunami
Andy Warhol Portraits – Photo by Purnima Viswanathan


Dear Purnima,

It was really wonderful seeing you today.  You looked, as always, beautiful and full of wit and intelligence, and it was such a treat to sit outside and enjoy a coffee along with great conversation.

The book fair at Palexpo was really very good. Not quite as jazzy as the car show, and there are no stunningly beautiful women standing next to the book stalls to explain them to an eager, drooling and mostly male public, but I really like browsing through the various stands and wishing that i had much more time to read.. We try and go every year, but I am always amazed at the enormous number of books that are published each year. A has a new novel that will be coming out in August, and her editor was there, so they got a chance to do a lot of chatting.

Here’s the link for the article on Japanese nuclear plants written by a Japanese anti-nuclear activist.

More in a few days from the land of the rising sun.




Dear Roger,

It was fabulous to see you as usual but I felt somehow that this meeting was very brief as there was so much to exchange so much left unsaid, all in all, I just did not get enough “Roger time” so you have to promise me an endless afternoon the next time we meet with no schedules, no appointments tearing you away. I can’t wait to cook for you, so many recipes, much bubbling in the cauldron!

Thank you for the article, I have been reading endlessly about Japan, the Tsunami and the ensuing catastrophe especially the soul shaking nuclear one. I think this has dramatically changed  most peoples mental maps and the infrastructure we take for granted (or has it not?). I would love to get news from the ground, can’t wait to see what you bring back from Japan (However, I would go easy on the greens, there’s the vacation glow and there is the irradiation glow).

So, you’ve caught your Ace… congratulations! Roger, being the eternal conspiracy theorist, I would have somehow been more at ease if we actually saw him, had him given his fair trial and then done the dunking. This night raid, shootout and vanished into the waves act just does not flow down my esophagus(he may have just moved residence from the suburbs of Lahore to the suburbs of Washington closer to his namesake… just joking), what about you? See below an artistic recreation of the Abbotabad home where Osama Bin Laden was found:

Well, guess what, once the Americans got Osama, guess who else they had listed as #2 on their most wanted…

See Purnima at the Andy Warhol exhibit below – America’s Most Wanted:

Purnima at the Andy Warhol exhibit below – America’s Most Wanted-Video by Purnima Viswanthan

Yup, I was chased by a US missile which came to a grinding halt millimeters from my toes finally pinning me into a storefront on Rive, right here in downtown Geneva. Do check out the images of the US missile on Rive, The ultimate US WMD (Weapon of Mass Destruction) lol to which I finally succumbed in the photos below. Also pasted is my favorite snap of “Swiss Humour“, do check out … is it a babe, is it a cow…Oh No… it’s a SPEED CAMERA!!! 

See pics of Geneva Speed Camera Camouflaged as a Swiss Cow:

Swiss Speeding Camera Camouflaged as a Swiss Cow – Photo by Purnima Viswanathan

And I always look twice to see if it really is the missing crown prince Gaipajama in disguise, perhaps that’s where he’s been hiding… After all Gaipajama literally means means cow’s pajamas! See crown prince Gaipajama in Cigars of the Pharaoh in link below:

US Missile on Rive, Geneva:

Talking about demons from the sea and demons from the air, do you remember the Skylab? The Skylab was the first US space station which could not be refurbished and sustained in space and disintegrated, breaking up into pieces as it re-entered the earth’s atmosphere. These pieces were scattered in space and found their way landing over the Indian Ocean and parts of Australia in the summer of 1979. The Skylab incident gravely impacted my grandfather who was furious that the skies were being littered by debris that might hurl downwards at him disturbing his peace as he went for his routine evening walk (Yes, there are people who have concerns about the sky falling on their heads in “real life” outside the Asterix comic books). He used to return every evening declaring that he was un-hit and this continued for a long time… till the point where I felt that he was almost disappointed that the Skylab did not fall on his head, he would have enjoyed that fiery end to a passionately lived brilliant life. See link to The Skylab Disaster:

But Roger, coming back to the issues that plague our world, I just read Helen Caldicott article in the IHT, “Unsafe at Any Dose”, and after reading her in on the same issue of the impact of radiation from the nuclear fall outs on the human body which impacts not just our physical bodies, but our core, our DNA, and that it impacts not just this time frame, us and our families but that of our progeny stretched out through time infinitely. She outlines in both these articles, that the impact is not merely immediate perceivable and addressable but can alter our DNA, be carried in a recessive gene (hidden gene) which will only rear its head when coupled with another recessive gene (from your partner) many generations into the future. See link to Helen Caldicott’s article below:

See Viswanathan with his walking stick and The Sky Lab looming ominously overhead below:

So, we are looking at contamination, pollution that is not just constrained in the here and now but is stretched through time (as in the case of radiation leaks) and space as in the case of Skylab debris. We are no longer just looking at air, water, soil contamination but contamination of spaces beyond our reach and beyond our control: The contamination of outer space and the contamination of inner space (our DNA). 

The cardinal question of course is, who will take responsibility, and how do we assign responsibility for a time and space so far out into the future? Do we divvi up the skies/space like we have done the seas… A Law of the Skies? Do we assign gene pools/ DNA’s to certain groups and leave it to them to monitor and control? How do we assign that, would it be assigned to the group most impacted by the number of persons or the percentage of persons? Or else would it be assigned to a group that is distinctive not merely by the number or percentage impacted but by it’s own unique culture and language (a distinctive genetic-cultural unit) eventually giving them the final say over a particular decision, drug, weapons impact?

See below Andy Warhol Portraits – What I re-title DNA Claims: a composition of the same person in different hues and expressions akin to the same DNA with differing linguistic, cultural and ethic expressions each distinctive in itself. Which version has the highest claim?

Andy Warhol Portraits – What I re-title as DNA Claims – A composition of the same person in different hues and expressions akin to the same DNA with differing linguistic, cultural and ethic expressions each distinctive in itself. Which version has the highest claim? Photo by Purnima Viswanathan

OK, let’s be real, would we ever really let Tuvalu (the one made famous by .tv as it’s domain name) have the final say if a certain virus (derived from guano or bird poop from Tuvalu) was to be introduced into the human body which would replicate and within a short time frame cover the globe give the first world majority immunity to a deadly disease(Covid) and there was no research on how the introduction of this virus would negatively impact the people of Tuvalu physically or economically… would we let a handful have their say? Who is it that makes these decisions for all, and why should those that incur the danger of possible extermination (even if they are a handful and their chief industry is collecting guano- bird poop is impacted) accept it? How would they reject it? Now what if the issue was not a virus but a group’s concerns about nuclear testing and radiation impacting their gene pool which was not dispersed /differentiated enough for them to survive till the next generation? What if the issue was relating to climate change risking the submersion their isle? To resist would they need to resort to muscle power? To weapons? To the very same weapons that they were fighting against to secure their will? Stalemate again or Act of God??

See video clip of the plight of Tuvalu in danger of being wiped out due to Climate Change:

Wish you all the very best on your travels to Japan, I am probably off to London for a week but back before you return end May and perhaps a short trip to see The Rhine Falls, Europe’s largest waterfalls in Schaffhausen. I guessed Schaffhausen should be the safest place around for #2, as the Americans could not possibly go “oops I did it again”! Or could they?

Lots of love and hope to see you back very soon!



Dear Purnima,

I was really tickled to get your email before we leave, and I agree that our brief interlude over coffee on Saturday was all too short.  I promise a complete and leisurely afternoon when we return from Japan.  We still have to have a glass of champagne to celebrate your liberation.

That’s indeed a terrifying WMD !  One should really stay as far away from that one as possible.  It might even be worse than the armor piercing missiles with depleted uranium that the US and NATO have fired all over the Middle East and elsewhere, and I drive past the cow-radar quite often and always get a kick out of it, but I was flashed by an undisguised and lurking variety driving back from Yvoire the other night.  At least you might be able to see one disguised as a cow at night, but a naked speed camera is another story.

I don’t quite know what to think about the O & O circus.  The Obama crowd is certainly milking it for all they can, and it will undoubtedly give an enormous boost to Obama’s re-election hopes, but I’m disgusted by the stupidly naive exulting in the streets by all those super-patriotic Americans who are so happy about the event, that they can’t even stop to realize that the US has adopted a vigilante posture and that it’s quite all right to rub someone out with a middle-of-the-night raid.  What ever happened to due process ?  And I’m not sure that the American public hears much about the many doubts that folks in Europe are expressing about the event.  I must say that I was really surprised to hear that they had dumped his body in the ocean so quickly.  I can understand them not wanted to open any windows to martyrdom by burying his body in a grave that would then become a pilgrimage site, but there must have been something else that could have been done

I loved your analogy of the contamination within and in outer space.  Fabulous !   It will be interesting to talk to some of our Japanese friends about Fukushima and nuclear power.  By the way, did you hear that Sharkozy in a speech yesterday to the workers in one of France’s nuclear reactors denounced the “irrational and medieval fear” of those who contest the safety of nuclear power plants.  There is no question of France giving up the advantage it holds in clean, safe ? ? ? power generation, our chief cheerleader for AREVA/EDF continues to stress.  One would think he had just gotten off the phone with George Monbiot.

Got to run and finish packing.  More from the land of the rising sun….

Love and hugs,


Fukushima Nuclear Disaster:

Dear Purnima,

Greetings from Japan !  It’s delightful to be back, but it was really like walking through the mirror into a Murakami-like fourth dimension secondary reality.  Where just hours previously we were going through security in Geneva and Vienna in familiar surroundings, we emerged from a Japanese-filled flight (there were only something like four non-Japanese on board) to an eerily empty immigration counter at Narita airport, but once we settled into our Narita Express train car for the trip to Tokyo Station and the Tokyo Metro we felt we had returned to a familiar entity that we had really never left.

Tokyo is still glamourous, lively, unending, invigorating, tantalizing and tempting, and the extremely beautiful and stylishly-dressed Japanese women gracing the sidewalks of Ginza are a constant head-turning distraction, but all that flashy fashion is somewhat tarnished by the relatively dim lighting in the streets, in the subway and even in some of the large department stores.  About half of the lights have been turned off to save electricity, and almost all of the escalators in the subway aren’t working.  There are also very, very few tourists.  Last year Ginza was full of non-Japanese strollers, but they are really few and far between this year.  I just read an article in today’s The Japan Times about how most of the foreign exchange students, and a large portion of foreign faculty members have left the country.

We’ve still had some really delightful and memorable meals thus far.  Last night we ate at a tofu restaurant that blew us away with the many creative and beautiful ways they prepared the myriad tofu dishes they served us.  Even the dessert was a soy-based ice cream with a little biscuit made from soy.

A and her parents arrive tonight and Thursday is sushi night at our favorite sushi restaurant.

What’s new in Geneva ?  Any new developments on the home front ?  Have you discovered any new female martyrs ?

Check out Noam Chomsky’s article on Common Dreams about his reaction to the killing of Ben Laden.  As usual, he is right on target.

We leave Friday for Nagoya and Kyoto.  I’m really looking forward to swooping past Mount Fuji in a shinny-white Shinkansen bullet train.

Giant hugs,



Dear Purnima,

It was wonderful to get your  email, and I did  indeed begin to wonder about your prolonged silence.  I thought maybe you had fallen into a rabbit’s hole and been kidnapped by the Mad Hatter and secreted off to his warren.

I can  really understand your feelings about having to deal with everything and be out of the apartment be the end of June. Major moves and divorces are  proven sources of stress.  Some diversion on  the banks of the  Thames should really do the trick.

We are leaving this morning for Kyoto after two days in Hiroshima.  We found a really  cool  bar last night run by a guy from Nepal, and then we had Okonomi Yaki in this little hole in the wall restaurant that was  really funky.  Hiroshima doesn’t seem to have been effected very much by the earthquake and  its aftermath.  Life seems very much what it was last time we  were here.  We also spent yesterday on the island of Miyajima, which is a sacred Shinto island with a large shrine and a Tori gate, red in color, that was built in the harbor just in front of the shrine.  It was a bit  touristy, but quite beautiful.

More from Kyoto, where we have rented a house with WiFi.  I have an  absolutely delicious definition of what  wine is all about to send to you.

Enjoy your trip to London.  We must get together soon after you return.

Love and hugs,



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