Geneva Diaries #30*

Art, Sexxx, CensorshipL’Origine Du Monde


Dear Roger,

Really looking forward to the much anticipated sushi meal and can’t wait to check out your kitchen, a true labor of love! I also wish to show off my current avatar, David Coverdale, I now have the hair, the swagger the attitude (all minus the voice).

 The story of Grislidis Real was getting much too stale, but boy was it hot while it lasted! Roger, it was uncanny how the world morphed around me as i embraced the persona of Grislidis Real and strutted around Geneva, it was as though the universe was reading my thoughts and seeing the images I had painted even though it was all in my mind. 

However, this adventure has truly illuminated my mind and I have come away with a fascinating life lesson on the way men perceive women. In the hearts of men I find there is a deep dark fascination, awe, envy and even hatred for one professing more knowledge (carnal knowledge). I have discovered the arena of sexuality and the tools, the tricks, and prowess are expected to lie out of the realm of woman, at least a respectable woman, and this thunder is expected to be wielded only by men, men who send women into orgiastic ecstasy by the flexing of this special muscle. Of course, the moment you share this fire you are on a level playing field, you share the same arena, until you are called a “ho”!  Of course, I am very familiar to that form of warfare having seen this unfolded out in its vivid hues in the corporate arena (where the highest offices are understood to be reserved for the men and women are indulged with the occasional concessions). 

So, as the Grislidis veneer washed away exposing a girl in a ponytail, gone were the looks of awe, fascination, regard for the “higher” knowledge (and of course coupled with a deep seeded jealousy), and instead replaced by a patronizing stare (its incredible how the look completely changes) at one whose mask had slipped. So, now it’s back to the music of my youth with my bro at the drums, Coverdale with “Slide it in… right to the top baby”! See below Whitesnake – Slide it In:

Still on the subject of women and prowess, I spent most of last night reading a fascinating book by Robert Winston, a British professor, doctor, scientist with many capital letters following his name (including one that spelled something like frog… now you know what’s really on my mind!) called Bad Ideas about the history of man from the perspective of compelling ideas which resulted in technological development and the world we find ourselves in today, it’s good, bad and ugly. Fascinating narrative, I was competing with the author throughout the book saying “I knew that, I know more, I could write your book… you pretending to be a FROG, you stole my idea, this should be MY book!”. The book was written in a male voice highlighting the narrators own culture and experiences which were a fascinating read (British politics is completely out of my realm). This got my brain cells twitching, i felt once again that the world so desperately needs a history of the world written in a female voice from the perspective of another world/universe, Asia, The Indus Valley, China, Japan and all the fascinating developments in technology across south east Asia today! For I saw, as I had mentioned to my kids just a couple of days back, instinctively the viewer, reader inadvertently sympathizes with the idols and accomplishments of the narrator and its about time history be read from an alternate perspective, don’t you agree? But you must, for the US is honestly neither the East nor the West! 

However, I must admit I enjoyed the book, the subject and the way it was written, truly a modern approach to writing (could do more though) scattered with references to artworks and the like, just as I would have done, have done in hyperlink. One of the references was a painting by Charles William Mitchell on the brilliant and fascinating 4th century female philosopher and Mathematician, Hypatia. Do check out this erotic and romanticized version of Hypatia :

Charles William Mitchell, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Charles William Mitchell, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

There is much to share with you about this book, but since i’m still burning on the topic of women and Hypatia, the famous female fourth century philosopher mathematician of Alexandria. Renowned for her high intellect and cultivated mind, she appeared in front of the magistrates and assembly of men often openly expressing her views and opinions on public matters. This daughter of the philosopher Theon, who trained her is known to have far surpassed her teacher assisting him on many mathematical and philosophical works. Apparently (Hypatia was the head of the Platonist school in Alexandria) when in 391 AD Theophilus ordered the destruction of the Roman temples, the Musaeum and the sister library to the Great Library with an aim to erase all of Rome’s pagan past. Hypatia with her forthright manner, independence, prowess and rebellious streak (apparently she dissuaded a suitor by publicly holding out a cloth stained with menstrual blood in order to demonstrate the banality of the obsession with the body) this prowess openly exhibited by a woman infuriated the conservative establishment and she was violently and mercilessly executed. All this was captured beautifully in the movie Agora based on the story of Hypatia, which I also saw very recently, do check it out on Youtube below:

In the movie they show Hypatia, desperately trying to save the papyrus scrolls that were ordered to be destroyed, capturing in this a moment of the story of the great library of Alexandria and the waves of fires, arson which ultimately led to the destruction of one of mankind’s greatest jewels, a repository of all human knowledge of the ancient world funded by the Ptolemaic government. Robert Winston touches on this as well stating in his book “One of the greatest and most irreplaceable losses of literature were the successive burning of books in Alexandria” and goes on to say that the Great library was a depository of ancient writing with a complex of buildings, gardens lecture halls , effectively a university campus. Since the library was situated in a major port, it had access to ideas, thoughts and writing from around the known world both East and West. Apparently, books were collected though all means both fair and foul and often most persons who visited this city (many intellectuals and philosophers) were compelled to relinquish their books to the government to be copied and often the perfect copy was returned to them. Thus was built this great library which kept the ancient world alight for many generations. this of course brings me to the library i have listed to visit, yes, I’m in a city which is a nodal point In the world of today. Many ideas flow to these shores and many learned men and women pass through these gates, What If… a depository of knowledge, a data bank of information, a collection of all the novel ideas, could be kept in a neutral space untainted by war or politics, with no speech and though restrictions, kind of like a bank deposit of a group that wishes to preserve their idea for posterity relinquishing the key to the city that can offer the securest coffers. All this of course would be connected by a wormhole all the way to California where the current (replacing future from the earlier draft) online speech based restrictions would not make any such structure feasible on its sunny shores.

What…California…you’ve gotta be kidding right? NOT! See below an image corresponding to the position of women attempting to express themselves freely and fully in the online world…you got it, it’s the image of a book in a cage. It’s a beautiful book, a multifaceted book, it’s a book in many languages, but it must be kept in a cage. What then will happen to the grand libraries of Alexandria when half the population of this nation has their online speech restricted and are compelled to interact with the online world through those bars because if any one dares raise their head a little high, comment, critique, and dare to dive into male dominated bastions, they could potentially be hammered, beaten and bulldozed online and driven back into their box.

See below Book in a Cage from The National Museum for Women in The Arts in Washington DC. This is a brilliant metaphor for restraint on speech as this French-Italian dictionary looks very intriguing behind it’s bars yet nobody can read it:

I then get bulldozed by people shaking their fists and saying that these Godzillas of the online world, the mega corps that are universes unto themselves are merely hosting content, they do not moderate content like publishers like the New York Times and The Washington Post who could be held accountable for the content posted on their platforms. While these hosts may not outrightly curate content or select the party’s activities but can they really be absolved of all responsibility as they stand with their hands tied behind their backs while mayhem reigns in their yard, while the guests are being shot, maimed and dismembered with their entrails hanging out, perhaps they go with a broom and sweep the entrails under the sofa or defuse the occasional rocket that risks blowing down the neighborhood. The debate as far as I see it has got trapped in the Cat or Dog categorization ie Platform or Publisher, the reality of this new realm is that we need a new category altogether to define the beasts that rule the seas. I propose Cat-Dog, or a hybrid with elements of both Platform-Publisher but neither, from the series that played endlessly in my home on Cartoon Network. See Cat-Dog below:

Or then just throw your hands up and categorize them as the Fat Cat that nobody can dare bell!

(yes, i’ve had Orwell by my bedside for what seems a decade!).

Good night and sweet dreams. See you tomorrow!

Dear Purnima,

I see you have been indulging in your early-hours-of-the-morning passion for producing exquisite prose.  I always love these treatises that are the products of the silence of the night and your wonderfully creative mind.  I agree with you when you say that you could have written Robert Winston’s book, and producing a tome of history of the world from a female perspective sounds like a fitting project for you.  Barbara Tuchman’s works are certainly respected and admirable, not to mention thorough, views on recent history.  Her Guns of August about WW I is still considered THE definitive treatment, but I haven’t read it with a feminist point of view and don’t know how feminist literary criticism would “deconstruct” her writings.

And we could both write tomes and tomes about that age-old conundrum of how men perceive women.  Freud spent his life dealing with the issue, and I’m not at all convinced that he came up with all the answers.  You are definitely right about the deep, dark fascination and awe, and you evoke that dichotomy of the impossible role that society places on women: mother (angel) vs whore (tool of the devil).  How can you possibly play both roles, but yet that is what most men want in the perfect woman.  And, the terrible part of it all is that when she plays the whore role too convincingly, she is unconsciously (or even consciously) condemned.  It’s a no-win situation.

But that fascination for all things female has always been with us, and modern art is certainly replete with examples of that mysterious attraction.  The Goyas, Modiglianis, Picassos (There was a wonderful exhibit in Paris several years ago of the erotic art that Picasso produced.  It was really interesting to see people from all walks of life, even little old bourgeois ladies, pausing and reflecting quite unabashedly in front of his paintings and sketches) have revealed their own penchant for the female body.  And ever since Courbet’s “scandalous” L’Origine du monde reminded every viewer of the unfathomable secrets hidden just beyond that dark, foreboding, ambrosial and luscious tuft.  But society has evolved, and the painting, as shocking as it was in the late nineteenth century (it and several other Courbet works were banned from public display), it is now on permanent display in the Orsay museum.

I’m in the process of occasionally watching the American series Mad Men about Madison Avenue advertising agencies in the 1960’s.  It is really fascinating to see the relics from my own past and to relive the political events that shaped the country during those times, but it is terribly discouraging to see the image of women during those Neanderthal days.  They are nothing more than objects, and more than once it is made perfectly clear that a girl who sleeps around will never be a fitting or respectable wife.  While it’s quite ok for the males of the time to chase after any and all forms of carnal knowledge, the females have a very strict set of rules to play by.  We could undoubtedly spend hours, if not days, discussing this whole issue of male fascination with women.

See you tonight,  Love the look of your new avatar !


See trailer of Mad Men below:

Dear Roger,

It’s such a treat to get your mail, I find myself searching anxiously for a response after my long night at the keyboard and now feel fully rewarded! Your introduction to Courbets “scandalous” art ( has had my head spinning and heart pumping… this erotica has connected with something deep within, both the art and the idea of challenging the moral norms of this schizophrenic society…I find myself “turned on”…hmmm!!! 

Art Censorship: See below a video of the takedown of the post on FB of l’Origine du Monde and the cultural issues surrounding Art censorship by FB’s takedown of the same:

From the above article:

The latest work deemed “pornographic” is the 30,000 year-old nude statue famously known as the Venus of Willendorf, part of the Naturhistorisches Museum (NHM) collection in Vienna. An image of the work posted on Facebook by Laura Ghianda, a self-described “artivist”, was removed as inappropriate content despite four attempts to appeal the decision.: here.

It’s time we take a deep look into whether we can really permit corporations (regardless of their global imprint or despite it) to dictate our cultural expression which is in the essence an expression of a people to mould debate and express. In the above instance the FB post removal of a 30,000 year old world heritage icon/statute impacts not just the culture of a particular nation but the story of man for this is the first sculptural example of the female form corresponding with the birth of human creative expression. For the stone age man the representation of the female body standing tall, proud and strong in all her curves and surpluses was obviously an expression to be admired and represented in a fixed form. Are we today going to second guess the aesthetics of human story to extent of erasing it from our popular online platforms and thus from our collective memories?

By acquiescing to the removal of this image from our visual and aesthetic platforms we are permitting the erasure of the story of humanity for in the Venus of Willendorf is engraved the story of mankind. The question we have to ask ourselves is “What next?”, in whose hands do we agree to submit human design and experiences as these platforms become our new reality. Where and at what point do we draw the line against the corporate censorial marker that is driven by money and majority consensus? Are the sounds and images of animals and birds engaging in foreplay to be overridden by a moderating algos, perhaps the sound of the crow is unappealing, as possibly are the customs and rituals of tribals groups scattered across the globe. Is this processed world of homogenous appeal representative of human civilization?

See below The Venus of Willendorf, a 30,000 year old sculpture and a part of human history:

The Venus of Villendorf – User:MatthiasKabel, CC BY-SA 3.0 <;, via Wikimedia Commons

Or can we permit some space for Durian?

The Durian is Singapore’s fav fruit and the bane of the rest of humanity with it’s smell associated with the walking dead, rotting flesh and putrefaction. Neighborhoods have been shut down, bomb squads have been called by it’s notorious aroma with the consequence that once this unassuming cousin of the Jackfruit opens it’s mouth to reveal it’s innards mayhem occurs and it gets banned from all public spaces. See links to the Durian below and an image of its cousin the Jackfruit:


See below what some may deem at the fringe of unacceptable, but no human was harmed during this performance and the majority applauded:

In my opinion this was an artist posing in front of the painting l’Origine du monde and by such a performance extending the art and creating a theatrical art installation:

See you this evening.


Dear Roger,

I have read and reread your email, thrilled that you believe that i could have written Robert Winston’s book and with a sexy twist, yes throwing all that mysterious, erotic female energy in the mix. But, don’t you think I would have written it also from another world perspective, one that is often not evoked as passionately in the English language, encompassing a universe that seems to be fleetingly touched, almost bypassed  by this treatise on technology (Winston’s book, Bad Ideas), technological development across the story of man. Yes, an Asian perspective, the idea, the story and the potential. In this book tracking the history of man vis a vis technology, while mentioning tools, copper and bronze, where are the references to the place that predates its usage in the western world by millennia, the Indus valley civilization(India/Pakistan). A place where in 2500BC copper tools and weapons use was widespread , city planning found at such an efficient scale not found in the same place today, beads fired at high temperatures in sophisticated kilns, then of course when discussing technology how can you overlook ancient China and its technological sophistication found in pottery baked not only at very high temperatures but the ability to control the heat and consistency of such kilns. It would be interesting to have these and the many other remarkable technological developments across the ancient world and the excitement of the tech potential that seems to bubble from that region today in a book written by a girl in a ponytail that takes the journey back to the Bay Area, California. A place you could get both the flavors of Singapore (Banana leaf), Indonesia and south India(sambar/idlis)…I’m still waiting for “idlis in Geneva!

 But Roger, I wish I could incorporate some French in my book… I am still languishing in English after having spend over two years in Geneva, finding myself primarily writing reading and expressing myself in English,(having completely abandoned French) to the extent that I might even be found guilty of being a British agent silently and scandalously spreading the English language and of course along with it the culture worldwide. I find even though my book may be trapped in this tongue, my “Ideas” are not, so i promise you another perspective.

Back to the book (which I will visit again) and Hypatia, I found upon surfing the internet numerous references Hypatia and many written from a very sympathetic perspective, that in order to further bolster this brilliant woman, the authors had chosen to proclaim (as always there are never any claims to veracity other than one that is “most accepted” which translates into accepted by most) her virginity, that she was a virgin when she was brutally murdered. Now tell me Roger, what does virginity have to do with any of the great scientific and mathematical breakthroughs made by this remarkable woman? So what if she was a virgin, does that make her crime of questioning the establishment any better, does that make her violators more violent, does that remove her from the realm of base humanity to an ethereal plane where the woman has risen above her supposed “fickle” (Remember the Lombrosian ficklemindedness imputed to some women) self to a higher plane? Of course she was 60 when she was murdered, a 60 year old virgin, is everyone on acid!

Well, the fun does not end here, as I read through Winston’s book, I met Charles Davenport an American biologist that was promoting Eugenics at the turn of the century 19th), proposing the screening of traits (imbecility, alcoholic, sexually immoral which he believed were genetically determined) of potential immigrants to the US. Winston goes on to highlight how Davenport believed that postitutes were motivated not by economic necessity but an innate eroticism (which your mind must immediately say bad bad bad), …and more fun still, these women he termed as “wayward girls”! Wayward again, first Dalrymple then Davenport!! Gosh, when will you guys ever give up on that word when referring to women you can’t get your arms around in more than one way. What would we girls do without men like you!!!

Love to the family, see you soon!



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 #29*

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


Dear Roger,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And more action…

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

Dear Roger,

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

Dear Purnima,

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

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

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




Dear Roger

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

Dear Roger

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

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

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

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


Chère Purnima,

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

A demain,


October 19, 2020

Dear Roger,

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

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

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


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

The National Museum of American History

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

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

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

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

The National Museum of American History

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

Women’s Right To Vote

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

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

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

Amnesty reveals alarming impact of online abuse against women

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

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

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

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

Ashley Judd-Online Misogyny-TED

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

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

See below Damien Hirst’s Verity:

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

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

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

Je voter que cette sculpture est installée en Californie❤️

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

Je Veux translated lyrics:

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

Je Veux:

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

San Francisco- Let The Games Begin!

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




Disclaimer : P

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

Geneva Diaries #28*

Delhi Commonwealth Games, The Punjabis, Dalrymple, Unani, India and The Search for Spirituality and Composite Culture


Dear Roger,

Thinking of you on this special day, a day, a year older, and unsure of where the hours disappeared. It’s also a special day for Delhi, manicured, bedecked, a bride glistening in green in preparation for the the Commonwealth games 2010 which open today.

Roger, I wish i could share with you in depth my love for this city, my home, a place which seems to exist eternally, continuously changing and yet unchanged, embracing all flavors and fragrances within its fold to add to the allure that had excited many minds and launched many voyages over millennia. A city of Djinns and snake charmers (and boy did the snake charmers come in handy last week when the Commonwealth games delegates found the king cobra coiled up cosily under their bedcovers…yyyes Believe it or Not…indulging every stereotypical notion of this land of mystery in full international view…Lights, Camera, Action!!!). 

The Python I stumbled Across in Goa

A city about which much has been written but i find so much left unsaid as it accelerates past those words to evolve and reinvent itself. My two decades away seem like eternities and i an antediluvian relic. I attempt to find myself in this maze, to reconnect to the khadi days of university, the socialist snobbery of the elite, and find myself all alone, so very alone… the universe has speed past, my friends have reinvented themselves, even the most radical ones have embraced this euphoria that is India. Everyone appears on a high, with their minds channelled to tap into the progress prosperity and growth found all around. The youth seem many light years away from our university bound khadi days, earning and relishing their luxury. The old ambassador car, symbolic of the old India appears almost completely replaced by “foreign” wheels. Familiar eyes seem to stare at me in bewilderment as I trudge through town dripping with sweat in an auto…their eyes reach out and tell me to “give it up” and sync in with the reality and euphoria of today. So the last living socialist quietly discards her khadi and joins the crowds revealing the Armani within, after all this is home is it not !?! 

Many adventures to share, but the Djinns of Delhi will have to wait!

I return to Geneva This Wednesday, hope to see you.

Hugs from India.


Dear Purnima,

How delightful to get two emails from you, even if the second one was a duplicate of the first.  I was beginning to wonder if you hadn’t been abducted by a dark and enchanting stranger or else swallowed up by the maelstrom of the Delhi underworld.

I’ve been thinking about you all day and hoping that you were having a wonderful BD.  Wish I could have joined in the celebration and at least drunk a champagne toast with you.

We are in Paris for the week and having a delightful time. We are staying in a really cosy apartment right in the heart of St. Germain des pres that belongs to one of the Japanese students.  We just returned from seeing a great play and have two more to see before we leave on Saturday, plus a Monet exhibit, and a number of films – you must go see Poetry !  It’s really marvelous,

I’ve read a lot about the Commonwealth games and the many problems the organizers have had, including the tale of the cobra.

Much more when I get home again. It’s a bit of a chore to type on this little travel computer we brought with, but I’ve got lots to share and am so looking forward to hearing all your tales.

A huge BD hug et à bientôt,



Dear Roger,

Thinking about you on this special day, I knew you were special when you told me that you were born on the 7th of October, you share it with a very special person, my aunt (who is beaming in the photos below). Hope you had a wonderful birthday and wish you all best that life has to offer: love, laughter and friends!

I also just celebrated my birthday, October 3rd, at home in Delhi, after 18 years, a cosy affair with close friends and family( would love to share the memories see me with my brother in pic pasted below).

October 3rd: Purnima and Arvind

At my birthday bash, in order to add some theatrics to the cake cutting ceremony, I requested my brother (the eternal DJ) to play “Singh is Kiing” with Snoop Dogg, (a superhit Indian soundtrack from an Indian movie of the same name – do check it out on youtube). 

Singh is Kiing with Snoop Doggy Dog

More Punjabis – Singh is Kiing!

Viva Le Punjabi – My Mom and Aunts in New Delhi, India – Singh is King!

In keeping with the birthday mood, I have also pasted a relevant clip from the movie Singh is Kiing. The movie opens dramatically with an Indian gangster based in the US whose birthday is being lavishly celebrated with a gargantuan three tier cake. Of course, the cake explodes and out burst the assassins(my Tale of course). The hero/villain finds himself being chased by cops and goons of 25 countries from around the world (does this sound familiar, Clouseau and another buddy perhaps), of course as always he makes a dramatic escape as we blow out our candles!!!   (check it out on youtube pasted below)

Happy Birthday to us: (25 देशों के 25 पुलिस उसके पीछे) Chased by 25 Persons from 25Nations – Singh is Kiing!

Once again, wishing you a wonderful day and many many adventures (hopefully with me in tow)!

Hugs and love,


Dear Purnima,

It was delightful to have coffee with you Weds.  You looked absolutely stunning, and more relaxed and vibrant than I can remember.  Either it was the afterglow of your trip to India or else the fact that you and hubby have finally come to an agreement to put an end to your mutual “no exit” (Have you seen Sartre’s play of the same name ?), or maybe it’s all those cute instructors at the gym ?  It was also one of the best chats we’ve ever had.

I watched the tv literary discussion Thursday with Tom Robbins, but it was disappointingly short and his remarks were ruined by the voice-over translations.  But the moderator of the program, whom I really like, repeatedly called him “the most dangerous writer alive”  And his novel that was recently translated into French, a near-impossible task, (first published in 1971 and was on the bed stand of Elvis when he died and reportedly the favorite novel of the Hell’s Angels), “Another Roadside Attraction” is truly marvelous, and it levels a daring blow at organized religion and its myths and the complicity of governmental agencies in trying to preserve said myths.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend,



Dear Roger,

It was absolutely fabulous to see you, you looked great! Unfortunately, I was just not equipped for the cold and I apologize that we had to sit in the midst of the din of that restaurant, will plan better next time. What are your plans for next week, the kids are on break and their father is taking them to Italy (23-28), would love to catch up. Does lunch work for you any day next week, would like to try out some new recipes And I might have a mystery guest whom i can’t wait to introduce to you!

I googled this much mentioned author Tom Robbins, but did not really find him. However, the fact that he is an admirer of Osho, certainly put him on my to read list. I enjoy reading western authors who have travelled to our end of the universe physically or spiritually and seeing the world from their lens. I just read Dalrymple’s Nine Lives, an author whom I have followed and enjoy thoroughly. It’s fabulous to see him almost merge into the Central/South Asian culture that he writes so eloquently about (I found even his photograph reflected that, easily passing off for an Indian). However, upon reading him closely, I find he slips, over and over again. I see the shadow behind the pen of a “westerner” raised in another universe trying to understand, interpret and embrace this one. I found that just when I was getting very cosy with him under my covers (Nine Lives), he  described “Kali“, the fierce form of the female form/deity, as being “wild and wayward”! I can understand the wild description, but under no circumstances could you interpret Kali as wayward. She is adorned with a garland of skulls, dark as night, dancing upon the corpses of the slain souls, but she is the ultimate personification of female power and energy which is harnessed in this fierce and fearful form. Her acts of terror and intimidation, with blood and brains and skulls scattered in the frame are purposeful and the manifestation of one who cleanses the earth of its demons absolutely(I have a few goblins to clear myself). Now, the fact that this female form is presented dancing the dance of death, with a formidable visage and a long blood tainted tongue essentially naked or wrapped sparsely in animal hide copulating and grinding the earthly beings below her Does Not Make Her Wayward! Yes, of course, any female painted in this form from a westerners perceptive, her acts and actions would be construed as “wayward”, but how can the deity Kali or her Buddhist equivalent the Blue Tara be described as wayward(and I look up to her hanging on my dining room wall and bow as I write this piece).  Of course, Dalrymple, goes onto describe and praise her attributes and I appreciate all he writes, his deep study, his research and his passion but realize that as I swoon into his arms, behind the facade, he is essentially a “westerner”.

However, Dalrymple is a westerner who fires my imagination and brings to the fore the deeply embedded memories of my youth, my home, my (maternal) grandmother who so absolutely embodied the culture of the North (India). In his book the City of Djinns, he mentions Unani medicine, which he states originated in Greece, (Unani being derived from Ionian) journeyed through Central Asia to India, is forgotten in the place of its origin but is widely practiced in India as a credible alternate medical form.

This involves the “Hakim”, doctor, taking your pulse and diagnosing everything from arthritis to a cold. My maternal grandmother, a relatively educated woman of her time, would rush to the Hakim to have her “Nabaz” or pulse read at the drop of a hat. She would then follow tedious recipes and diets for her arthritis, and if by any chance were we to scoff at her and her “pudiyas” sachets of dubious powder, she would defend the system like it was her religion. I now realize that it was close to her religion, it was a part of her culture, a people of the Punjab (northern lands). As I journeyed back into my very pragmatic grandmothers arms who had a very difficult life having fled from their ancestral lands in Lahore (now Pakistan) and arrived in Delhi with what they could carry. She primarily spoke Punjabi (the local dialect of the Punjab) and Hindustani, and now when I reflect back, I realize that the references to god (and she was a very pious Hindu/brahmin) were often “Rab de liye”, or “Rab de vaste” (for god’s sake), were drawn from her culture and here the word “Rab” for god would be a word used by a cross section of religions from the North. So, even though the religions might be at logger heads with each other, I realized language unites them above all, for they all call god by the same name! This is very similar to us using “for Christs sake” or “for gods sake” whether we are Hindu, Christian or Muslim, (or like me a wanna-be atheist for I grew up in a time where the educated elite turned their noses up at any overt exhibition of ritual or religion as a space reserved for the “hoi-polloi”) as the cultural references are so entwined with language. So if you do get a chance do read Nine Lives, I highly recommend it. Through this, he has journeyed into the core and I would love to chat with you about it.

William Dalrymple – Nine Lives – In Search of the Sacred in Modern India

Back to Tom Robbins, this whole concept of organized religion really blows me as it then moves from an individuals journey into this soul/spirituality to mass mind control. Even though I might say i’m a wanna-be atheist, I find that the rational mind (upon which I depend much too much) necessitates the existence of a cause, a reason, a design, a program, otherwise our daily motions our pain, sorrow, ecstasy (not had much of that lately), our consumption, excretion, our evolution, movement would all be for nothing-ness(and for most of my life i believed in nothingness). I suspect it’s my 96 year old paternal grandmother’s doing, she has clearly moulded me like no one else could have, and nudged me in the this direction of spirituality, this intense personal journey of attempting to realize the map, the design, the Ultimate Reality as she calls it (all without hemp) and this I suspect needs to be experienced from another faculty which the rational mind may not be aware of or have access to (oh i soo need those mushrooms). So, just like the Bauls (Nine Lives), I might also just take off one day to explore the secrets of the chakras (I have 10 years of inactivity to catch up upon!).

Hope to see you very soon and still waiting for the sushi.



PS: Continuing on the subject of India, Punjab and spirituality, I cannot end this note without mentioning Kabir the much beloved poet/philosopher and saint who lived in North India in the 15th century. Kabir was a part of the Bhakti or reform movement in India and embraced the essence of all the faiths yet cautioned against orthodoxy and blind faith highlighting their flaws in his dohas. His couplets or dohas with their innate wisdom are a part of the Indian ethos and treasured by all. My favorite doha is the following:

Guru Govind Dono Khade, Kake Laagu Paaye, Balihari Guru Aapno, Govind Diyo Bataye.

Translated: A disciple confronted with both his guru/teacher and god questions as to whom he should bow to first, Kabir response is that he should bow to his guru first for it is his guru/teacher who will guide him and show him the path to god.

Kabir’s Famous Couplets:

A philosophy of the Guru who is your teacher and guide is integral to the Sikh faith which has Kabir’s dohas in it’s scripture The Guru Granth Sahib.


Kabir is much beloved and often evoked in the music and hymns sung by the Hindu’s, Sikhs, Muslims and Sufis. Despite his couplets highlighting the flaws in the blind beliefs of the popular faiths of the subcontinent he is heralded as a saint as his words to this day strike a cord with the average man who respects their innate wisdom. This universal appeal of Kabir is reflective of the composite culture of the Indian subcontinent, a culture that evolved from millennia of mixture of people and ideas that journeyed to these shores. Kabir wrote and spoke in the vernacular, threading together an underlying corpus of ideas and philosophy of the multiple faiths, beliefs, idols and ideas of the subcontinent.

This composite culture is best reflected below by the coinage of the Sikh Kingdoms, a faith which also arose as a part of the reform or Bhakti movement. Here the coinage appears very secular as it reflects an amalgam of faiths and ideas. See below the coins of the Sikh Kingdoms with the name of Ram written in Gurmukhi (Punjabi script), Devanagai (Sanskrit script), and Persian. Yes, Ram (the major Hindu deity symbolic of virtue from the Ramayana and embraced by the Sikhs), was struck in a coin by the Sikh Kingdoms in Persian script! See below the coinage from the Sikh Kingdoms reflecting the beauty of the Composite culture of India:

Live History India -Revisiting Sikh History Tales from the Mints:

See below Abida Parveen, a Sufi singer from Pakistan singing the same Kabir’s dohas or couplets:


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 #27*

Language and The Presumption of Innocence – OED Online – Le Chat Qui Parle


Dear Roger,

Another visit to the video library and another struggle with movie titles, do help! 

I just saw an English movie, one which we had recently watched, called “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt”, titled in french as “Presume Coupable”! Now, please correct me, but does that not translate to presumed guilty/alleged culpable? If so, how does “beyond a reasonable doubt”  translate into presumed guilty? In fact, as I see it, it’s exactly the opposite of presumed guilty. Are we not innocent until proven guilty, with the burden resting on the prosecution to demonstrate “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” of the guilt? 

I was once told (by my froggie abductor whom I missed seeing this weekend, a “wild mushroom” story that I might share when we meet) that in the French legal system, the burden is upon the individual to demonstrate his innocence (this shifting of burdens in my universe is absolutely shocking, unforgivable, incomprehensible)! Please tell me this is not so, please, please pretty please…

I am further perplexed, as I just read an interesting article (in the IHT) this morning shedding new light on the old debate on the role of language in the moulding of ones thoughts and ideas, and if the French ideas are based on the converse translations of what we in the common law world understand to be the truth, then we should all be forewarned that we are entering into an alternate universe where we must walk on our heads to be acknowledged.

I apologize for coming to you with all my problems and queries, but you ARE my French teacher after all!

Good night and see you next Saturday.

Dear Purnima,

I see you have been writing into the wee small hours of the morning again.  It reminds me of my graduate school days when I would often have to pull all-nighters to finish a paper or work on my thesis.  I always appreciated the calm and quiet of those post-midnight hours when there was nothing to distract you from what you were concentrating on.

Film title translations are very often a mystery (and we won’t even get into the many terrible subtitles I’ve seen over the years).  There often isn’t any relation between the original title and the French translation.  I remember the case of the translation for the American release of a French film back in the 80’s.  The original title was “Coup de foudre”, which translates at “Love at first sight”  The title in the US was not even in English, and don’t ask me why they chose a French title.  It was called “Entre nous”.   I also remember the translation in Danish of the great Billy Wilder film, “Some Like it Hot”.  In Danish the title was “Ingen er fuldkommen” = Nobody’s Perfect, which, although it’s the last lines in the film, has really nothing to do with the story line of the film.  So don’t worry you beautiful head over such seeming incongruities in film titles.  They will always be there, and it is often someone’s idea of how to best portray the content of the film in a title in a different language.  It is not always a direct translation.;

And, as for you much more serious question about innocent until proven guilty or guilty until proven innocent, I’m afraid your froggie admirer is right.  The French justice system theoretically is based on the principle of “the presumption of innocence”, but in actual practice that is rarely the case.  It really is up to the accused (or to his or her more or less (in)competent lawyers) to prove his or her innocence.  And can’t we also say that the same thing often occurs in the US legal system ?  When the honor and reputation of a district attorney’s office depends on bringing in a guilty verdict in high profile cases, the prime focus of the legal system is overwhelmingly on getting the jury to declare “Guilty, your Honor” at the end of the trial.  There is very often little concern for the truth.  The primary directive is to find the defendant guilty.  I am often disheartened at the legal system in the US that adamantly fights to prevent a retrial of a death-row prisoner based on new evidence, especially DNA evidence that could prove the innocence of someone that has been wrongly convicted.  The defendant’s lawyers have to mount extensive legal battles to force the local authorities to accept the new evidence.  And then, even when the person is determined to be innocent, it is often months before they are actually released.  There is a case in Texas right now of a man convicted of killing someone, and the local courts at first refused to allow DNA evidence to be introduced.  It is as though the system itself would be besmirched, since it would be proof that they had actually convicted the wrong person.  That is also one of the main reasons why I am adamantly opposed to the death penalty.  There are too many examples of totally innocent people being executed by the state.

Well, that was a heady way to start my Sunday morning !  I’m sorry your planned rendezvous in Paris was cancelled.  That must have been disappointing.  Did he eat some wild mushrooms that he shouldn’t have ?

I saw that article on how language can shape the way we think on the New York Times website, but I haven’t read it yet.  I have always felt this was probably the case.  Maybe that explains why the Japanese are so ahead of the game in many areas: their language is so complicated and intricate, and also why the French have produced a body of literature and philosophical essays that is so impressive.

We’ll bring champagne Saturday night.  I bought it Friday in Ferney Voltaire at my favorite wine shop and it is already in the fridge staying chilled.  What time should we arrive ?

Have a good Sunday, and see you on Saturday,




Dear Roger,

Believe it or Not, I did make it to Paris… and back in time to catch my flight to Delhi tomorrow morning!

There is so much to say, share but I am struggling to put pen to paper, finger on keyboard for some very odd reason… have to wait to catch up upon my return early October. However, I am keen you check out the book that has been on my mind, “Whatever happened to Tangayika” by Harry Campbell, this book, apart from being a fabulously entertaining account of changing place names (many of which we have seen in our lifetimes), giving a colorful geographical, cultural and historic overview of the changing names of places, the words and their origins. This extremely well written geographic account by someone who describes himself as a lexicographer (btw, did you read about the plans to do away with the hard copy of the Oxford English dictionary and put it completely online so that it can be continuously and quickly updated in step with the rapidly changing vocab of the tweeters texters and cyber smurfs, but then, what happens to warm, familiar, tactile experiences of having someone in his 4th edition, yes I have the 1950’s version that always rests besides me, with whom you have many disagreements, face away but always return, sincere till the end, they want to do away with him…such blasphemy!) and armchair traveller, who is also apparently a linguist, truly opens up a new doorway, one we have discussed at length in the past, a multi disciplinary arena, where languages, geography, history, art and culture mesh and create an exciting, absorbing area of study. 

In fact, two years ago, just a few months after arriving in Geneva, I attended a legal conference at the Palais de Justice, a segment of which was presented by members of the legal faculty of the University of Geneva who interestingly enough were proposing such an idea, of setting up a department of multi disciplinary studies at the University . All I remember is that In my excitement, I went bouncing up to the virtual reality professor to shake his hand and share with him my enthusiasm for the proposed department. However, for some odd reason, the professor shot up ten feet in the air as I introduced myself, a truly comic scene (and I wasn’t even wearing my electric buzzer ring) and that was the end of my exploring any plans at the University of Geneva! 

Will email from India, much much to share, but I just can’t wait to leave, not sure if it’s wanderlust striking once again, homesickness or just a long long summer with the brats watching yet another session of “The Annoying Orange” (Roger, you absolutely have to check this out on youtube, at least I will have someone to share my memories/misery with, I found myself ENJOYING IT!!!) . See below The Annoying Orange:

I’m all packed and ready to go, taking along (what promises to be an exciting book) a wake up and “delete” call on the cyber-world on this long journey on the back of the bus to India! I look forward to the sushi meal (and finally checking out the kitchen) in October.

Hugs to the family and many kisses (after my french lessons in Paris I’m scared to use the French equivalent).


date:Oct 10, 2020
subject:Le Chat Qui Parle

Dear Roger,
I have just read Annick’s delightful compilation of 12 short mystery stories for French learners titled Le Chat Qui Parle. Of course, I needed a little help from google translate to fully follow the storyline, but regardless of how I got there, it had me hooked because the stories were full of suspense, mystery and novelty, an absolutely fun way to learn a language. Do convey my two thumbs up to Annick, but also to Marty Van Loan for his masterful representation of the quixotic cat, le chat qui parle. That cat certainly spoke to me lol! If I were to choose my fav short story, I really wouldn’t know which one to crown as they were all fab. I could almost hear the purr from the first story of Le Chat Qui Parle or the Cat who talks, Le Deuxième Personage about comic books or bande dessine was fun, Vol Direct Pour Nice ( Direct Flight to Nice) had me in splits, Le Cinquantieme Anniversary (The 50th anniversary) had me first shedding a  tear and then smiling, La Fete de Noel (Christmas) with the reference of my all time favorite symbol of the nightingale was I guess my fav. However, Sous Controle (Under Control) struck a cord close to home as it covered something I have been thinking and writing about – surveillance and the resulting intrusions in our lives and private spaces. So, yes it’s a fun read and a great way to teach French and I can’t wait to share this on my blog!

Back to Sous Controle and surveillance, we have truly in a very short time landed ourselves in a sticky web, one that looks impossible to extricate ourselves from. Our world and our children’s (grandkids) world is one run on and by data. There seems no escape from all our devices and today those are not just for entertainment but essential for both work and play. The option of locking oneself away in the remote recesses of the mountains surrounding the Bay Area (or any metropolitan area) to escape having our imprint captured by technology appears to be an impossibility. Our every move, thought, inclination, observation and desire is being captured supplemented by our physical attributes, images, expressions, sounds, movements, tones, expressions, fingerprints, DNA, ideas, beliefs and disbeliefs. All of which is being compiled into a neat data packet, and each packet becomes a part of a category. Once we are thus mapped and categorized, the State is no longer our human construct to be tweaked and moulded reflecting the changing times, but we become it’s construct as it tweaks and moulds us to conform to it’s predetermined silos in order for homogeneity and efficiency. 

See below the phenomenal Spiders exhibit at the SFMOMA by Louise Bourgeois:

The Sticky Web: See Purnima below looking at her iphone, next Purnima is taking a selfie, then Purnima senses something watching her, next Purnima screams but it too late because in the next image Purnima is trapped by the spider and in the final image Purnima become data (I Am Data) from the Data exhibit at the Singapore ArtScience Museum:

Here is an image from an exhibit at the Singapore ArtScience Museum which is what I have become entrapped by the spider – I AM DATA

In my attempt to keep up with my French linguistic skills, I decided to listen to some French songs recommended by an online French learners group and stumbled upon ZAZ which took me on a journey back in time, to my time in Geneva and some of the music surrounding me and my time there. This particular song with it’s rocking tune struck a chord with me so I have adopted this song to my storyline, and moulded its lyrics to represent my story centered on Privacy.  

ZAZ – Prends garde à ta langue, which means watch your tongue.  it means watch what you say because  “He” is always watching!Here is the first paragraph from the lyrics which in my story is a forwarming about the looming and avaricious data demons looking to strip us of ourselves:

Ouch, ouch, how naive you can be

of all these untrusworthy people
Who promise the moon for you,
Letting them your power
So they can manipulate you,
Your precious freedom
And even sometimes your moolah.

Do check out the fun French song ZAZ – Prends garde à ta langue:

Unfortunately, it’s our teens who are falling victim to the data demons and all their fantastic webs, social media platforms. I see the obsession, slavish devotion and devastation wreaked upon their lives by its misuse and abuse. Not a day passes when I don’t hear about yet another flippant statement made online as though it were made in person, with devastating consequences (part of my God Save Our Teens segement)…The Snapchat case of the school kid being expelled for posting a selfie on snapchat (assuming it will evaporate with all the other selfies due to it’s limited posting time ignorant of the fact that someone could take a screenshot making it last for eternity) while trying a costume in a thrift shop and posting it with a racist caption, or the minor girl sexting images to her two friends in a group chat only to find them disseminated to everyone and having a juvenile petition with criminal charges of child pornography and obscenity filed against her, despite her being the “child” in the pic.

This generation has no second chances, everything they do, say and think is captured for eternity. I think of my carefree youth and the numerous irreverent comments, gestures, even limericks made up about our teachers, staff and persons who had crossed our path to my friends, I remember changing the names of our professors to ridic pseudonyms that caught on like fire with the students, I remember crafting paper planes in class directed at a student/teacher with ridiculing note, I remember the girls toilet as a bastion of gossip and salacious rumors covering and uncovering everything from boys to bras and boys with bras, leaving none to spare which if translated into today’s world ie being a post on the online social media platform, none of us would have made it to college and certainly not the top tier. In fact, it would have followed me into my new life in the New World as Miss Goody Two Shoes, a life as an attorney, a wife and a mother with a banner atop my head announcing in psychedelic lights all the pranks of my childhood which no amount of lipstick or hairspray would have undone. I had a chance to outgrow my teens, to make mistakes, to learn and to grow up and start afresh. This option which my generation took for granted does not exist for our children, grandkids. Every tweet, post, bit and byte sticks like superglue for eternity. They have no options to jest, to play, to err, and to recover. 

As for my girls, I find them the most vulnerable group  and most severely compromised by this data driven world. Everything from beauty norms driven by the dictates of society to peer pressure to perform and please. If they express they are chastized and if they err they are compromised. Their errors haunt them and compromise them leading to a torrent of harassment, cyberbullying and deepfakes that often circulate well beyond the boundaries of their group or social circle. They have no where to go and no place to hide where the data trail of harassment can’t reach them…of course until they find le chat qui parle.

As the cases pile up and the judiciary struggles to figure how to address this new realm of information disseminating exponentially compromising all in its path… le chat or Purr-nima comes to the rescue…see lyrics below from ZAZ

Of course I couldn’t resist this Snapchat image in a cat costume…purr…erasing 30 years from my hard earned midlife and transporting me to high school!

And again I take these lyrics from my fav song from ZAZ – Prends garde à ta langue

Hey damn rascal, mind your tongue
I am the cat that will eat it
At this game you will not win
Sooner or later, one gets punished …we will find the baton to beat you

Hé, sale fripon, prends garde à ta langue
Je suis le chat qui te la mangera
A ce jeu-là tu n’y gagnera pas
Un jour ou l’autre, on récolte le bâton

Here the baton is the stick or the system of laws or structure to address the issues relating to the erosion of privacy that has come parcelled with advances in technology and the digital world.

ZAZ – Prends garde à ta langue

Since this is tale of Cats, I will have to end with a poster bearing my fave image illustrated by Steinlem for the Montmartre cabaret The Chat Noir, compiled in a book of posters by David Rymer and the image of my fav Chinese porcelain cat see below:

Goodnight and sweet dreams 



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 #26*

Privacy, Coppet, Mdm De Staël, Met, Princess Broglie, Lucretia, 4th A


Dear Roger,

This story takes me back a couple years to a lazy spring afternoon, where I lay in my glorious garden bursting with flowers enjoying the sunshine of sunny California, when my little daughter came running out (to disturb my peace once again) and begged me to go through an old diary full of pictures. The diary was full of graphics, artwork and many portraits. As I flipped through mindlessly, one struck home, an arrestingly beautiful face, an elegant manner, a gentleness, draped in blue silk but there was something more and I returned again and again to read it. I could not get that haunting look out of my mind and that’s how I was propelled onto this journey. I searched her, I googled, but did not get it then. All I got was that this was the portrait of Princess Albert de Broglie, married into the famous Piedmontese family (yes, some places keep returning… mythical Piedmont) that had emigrated to France in the 17th century, a family known for its literary achievements with noble laureates and members of the French Academy. I realized that this painting was a part of the Metropolitan Museum collection and thought that I was recognizing a face I had most certainly seen during my years in New York City and my many visits to the Met, so I put the whole thing out of my mind… no, no ghosts in this closet! Do see this fabulous portrait pasted below of Princess Albert de Broglie that so mesmerized me.

The Met: Princess Albert de Broglie

Then of course, as you know, life tumbled along and we found ourselves as inhabitants of magical Lake Acchoda… oops Lake Geneva. The two years passed with the usual ups and downs, as I continued determinedly on my journey to unwrap the ghosts of Geneva. It was then that I stumbled across Madame Germaine de Stael, who happened to be observing me curiously as I scampered through the streets of Veille Ville for the umpteenth time. Upon confirming that I was for “real”, she held out her hand and led the way. The rest of it is a heady dizzying adventure, my repeated walks through old town in search of her, the many nights of surfing in the the dark trying to read about her, read her and read what she had written for me. The journey took me through an enjoyable book about the first modern woman (Germaine de Stael), a visit to the Chateau in Coppet and that evening out to view the fireworks by the shore of Lake Geneva in Coppet (in celebration of Swiss National day see pics below).

Chateau Coppet:

Purnima visits The Chateau of Madame De Stael in Coppet 

Chateau de Coppet:

Coppet is charming small hamlet on Lake Geneva, just a stones throw from Geneva. It is here that Germaine de Stael’s father, Jacques Necker bought a chateau and settled down (see the Chateau of Coppet). Jacques Necker, a banker from Geneva who had settled in Paris achieved great wealth and prominence as the banker to the king, Louis XVI, and  his wife Susanne Curchod was known for one of the greatest literary salons in Paris. Germaine who was raised in this environment which helped hone her skills and intellect was known for her brilliant mind, liberal views and her many literary and political publications and her books (which I am dying to read) Corrine, The Considerations on the French Revolution and on Germany (an insight into the mind and culture of a people). 

Her salon in Paris was renowned and this she carried with her to Coppet when she fled during the “terror” thus transforming Coppet into the intellectual center of Europe, with the greatest liberal ideas of its time flowing through its doors, walking its grounds and dining at its table where it was said that more wit is expended in one day than in the rest of the world in a whole year. Her scintillating salon with its writers, artists, poets and critics where Germaine entertained novel ideas about liberty and constitutional monarchy thus seeding voices of dissent. This resistance to Napoleonic imperialism caused her to be under virtual house arrest in Coppet and for extended period of time barred from venturing near Paris, the place she most yearned for. So, this dynamic, modern, liberated woman who was not afraid of voicing her opinion and participating actively in the politics of her day either in Paris or Coppet, gathered around her all the luminous minds and voices she missed in Paris and thus grew the Groupe de Coppet.

Her personal life was deliciously unconventional, she had an arranged marriage to the ambassador of Sweden, Baron Stael von Holstein (for the title and the immunity it afforded her as the ambassadors wife) with whom she did not communicate, and then a series of glittering lovers like Talleyrand and Narbonne, Count Ribbing (the mastermind of the assassination of the king of Sweden-Finland) and most importantly Benjamin Constant. Benjamin Constant, a Swiss born French nobleman was the true love of her life (I’m afraid, my stories are always filled with True Loves and Dragons and we know where one large beast is lurking). Theirs was the most prominent intellectual pairing of their time, they not only shared their love and passion but their thoughts and ideas on liberty and constitutionalism (I have so much to read… it appears from one of my surfings, that Benjamin Constant, while comparing Liberty between the Ancients and the Modern, giving the example of the United States, essentially re-iterated the Bill of Rights and all that we take for granted today… just like me). Yes, somewhere I know, if I were Germaine, Benjamin would be my true love!   

See below a tour of Chateau de Coppet (in French):

Germaine had two boys and a girl who grew into adulthood and it was wonderful to hear that the descendants of her daughter Albertine still are in possession of the Chateau. Now comes the really interesting part… Albertine married Victor 3rd Duc de Broglie. Yes, the same brilliant literary Piedmontese family as mentioned above! In was while touring the final room of the Chateau de Coppet, that I saw those familiar eyes once again, and my hair stood on end…a portrait of Louise de Broglie, the same pose, the same blue dress of luxurious silk, the same lines! It was Louise de Broglie, the grand daughter of Germaine Stael, drawn by Ingress who apparently also later painted a portrait of her sister-in-law Princess Albert de Broglie, the one who had invited me on this journey in the first place probably peering at me from her mantle as I ambled along the corridors of the Met, whiling away my hours in New York. Louise de Broglie or countess D’Hausonville though married to a diplomat writer and a member of the French Academy was apparently herself no pushover, she was independent, outspoken and liberal and published a number of books.  This portrait of Louise de Broglie was acquired by the Frick and forms a part of their core collection (with my 100 percent approval as she is now French American and the face of the American woman I recognize).

Do you know the Frick, the fabulous New York Mansion in the 70’s and 5th bequeathed by the coke and steel magnate (when you guys give, its gargantuan)? I guess this is one way of importing the culture, the people, the magic of Germaine Stael. Check out the portrait of Louise at the Frick below:

The Frick Collection: Louise de Broglie/ Countess D’Hausonville

Of the many personalities that visited Coppet, Lord Byron was a prominent visitor often found by Germaine side during her not so well years. This was also probably around the time he composed the poem I keep returning to, the one that keeps churning in my mind, the one I have made mine, The Prisoner of Chillon. And, like Kadambari, somehow all the pieces fit, fall into place somewhere, sometime… but as I think of Byron and Germaine de Stael, ones who shared my passion for love and liberty, and as I think of liberty I fall into my usual self created tar pit/quicksand of “privacy“, as there is no liberty, in my opinion, without the protection of that sacred inviolable space, private place, which man takes for granted in society and one which is under repeated assault. And, its is only after we secure this space that we can dream of liberty.

With Byron back on the banks of lake Geneva, my mind drifts again and I also think of my blue bird, a story that seems to have flown far far away. But then I reassure myself, that my blue bird exists, my story exists, I dreamed it, I lived it and expressed it, it lies somewhere in some plane…a place that can never fly away… for we’ll always be together in electric dreams. Do check out my all time favorite movie/song “Electric Dreams” on youtube:

Electric Dreams- (Phil Oakley)- We’ll always be together in Electric Dreams!

Still on the subject of journeys and daring and dynamic women, did I ever mention my trip to Basel to view the Van Gogh exhibit at the Kuntzmuseum, one of the cities most prominent museums? 

Basel Kunstmuseum:

Well, the exhibit we journeyed to visit was a suffocating squeeze with a gadzillion people nose to nose and all we wanted to do was get OUT of there. But in this desperate struggle for air, my kids slipped into a neighboring gallery which as a stark contrast, was completely empty. That is where my daughter spotted the art that would impact her life, “The Rape of Lucretia“. As expected, there were an endless volley of questions all the (long) way back home, about definitions of words and of course the story of Lucretia. I told her about the Etruscans unique culture and civilization that occupied most of Italy and their dominion over the mediterranean, the dynasties of ancient Rome from the 7th century BC onwards before the Republic, where women enjoyed an elevated status and liberty unknown to their Greek and Roman counterparts. The women participated fully in public life and were often literate. Here the goddess Menrva, the counterpart to the Greek Athena (Roman Minerva), unlike the Greek goddess who was a goddess of war, the Etruscan Menrva was concerned with matters of marriage and childbirth, which shows us that the women had a say in identifying the important duties for their prime deities.

Lucretia, this legendary figure of ancient Rome, a brave and determined woman, a legend to revere, was born into a high ranking Etruscan family, married into another aristocratic family. The story goes that the kings son, Sextus Tarquinius, paid a visit to the province to meet the governor, Lucretia’s husband, who was away on a campaign, instead Sextus stumbled upon Lucretia and testing her will to resist he raped her. This represented the degenerate and autocratic depths the monarchy had fallen into where one individual controlled the life and death of many and wielded this power ruthlessly, absolutely. This strong and determined woman in order to highlight the depths to which her society has succumbed, and how her vulnerability and helplessness was reflective of the helplessness of her society. She called upon her elders and made a public case with the intent of taking the kings son to task. It is here, in this central square that she thrust a knife between her ribs to make her final statement highlighting the degenerative state of Roman society where her most sacred inner sanctum, her emotional and physical space, her privacy was violated. Her words were not spoken from the glory of a podium robed in royal splendor but doubled over and drenched in blood at the feet of the men of her society that had failed to protect her. It is resulting from this act that we have the most evocative and powerful voice of a woman rebelling, speaking, taking a stand and making a case which is remembered across cultures and immortalized in art in “The Rape of Lucretia”. Pasted below is Botticelli’s version of the Rape of Lucretia with Lucretia lying drenched in blood with a dagger in her heart in the central square surrounded by the people who failed her.

Rape of Lucretia -Botticelli:

By Sandro Botticelli – The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202., Public Domain,

Basel Kunstmuseum – Lucretia – Lucas Cranach the Elder / Public domain

Lucas Cranach the Elder / Public domain

Images of Lucretia in Art:èce_(dame_romaine)

By now you must have noticed, I can never seem to escape from the quicksand of privacy. After the long tale of Lucretia, I told my daughter that we each have our private space which we must hold true and secure, defending it with our last breath. As for myself, the space I cannot and will not permit anyone or anything to invade… is my mind. Unfortunately, because of the ludicrousness of my apprehension, I am unable to present my case but as a story, theatre. If this mind were compromised, violated, invaded, it would be more than a tragedy for one person, for I believe in this mind is the message of my people, the ancient chart that shows the best route for the eternaljourney to India” the words whispered into the ear of a two year old, the little hands held and guided and the mind exercised by the elders of my tribe. 

On this quest of identifying and securing the right to privacy, I venture back to the Bill of Rights, and find myself face to face with the 4th amendment to the US constitution– The right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable search and seizure… warrant shall issue only upon probable cause… must particularly describe person or thing to be seized. This sounds like someone was trying to identify and secure “private space“, right to privacy. It was further clarified to include all areas where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, yes that phone booth with the closed door even if it is in a public place, your home, personal phone conversations, private mail/email and yes of course it must include your mind and thought waves!!

I was most excited to read Brandeis’s dissenting opinion (challenging that wiretapping does not fall within the ambit of search and seizure) recognizing its relevance in this fast evolving technological universe of today. He highlighted that at the time of the inclusion of the 4th amendment into the US constitution, the only conceivable seizure was through force and violence but we cannot limit the protections to the “then” imaginable forms of force and violence but must incorporate all such translations of force and violence that evolve with the evolution of technology. Thus where once a physical seizure was the only recognizable option, technology has evolved to assist persons to seize remotely anonymously, without any physical contact. Thus if we were to rely on any literal construction of these protections afforded by the constitution without translating them into todays world, it would be redundant thus diminishing the value of the entire document. 

The part where I do cartwheels is where Brandeis elucidates the rights guaranteed by the 4th amendment, ”  The most comprehensive of rights and the rights most valued by civilized men, to protect the right, every unjustified intrusion by the government upon the privacy of an individual, by whatever means adopted, must be deemed a violation of the 4th amendment”

Yes, this is truly all encompassing and as I see it (as long as you don’t stretch the “justified” piece),  includes all conversation communication, correspondence, in addition to the physical space where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy

Once again, Roger, I reiterate, that like Lucretia, I wish to highlight and secure my most sacred, inviolable space, my mind, my thoughts my musings. And, if my mind has been invaded, seized and searched through any means of technology known or unknown, my stand must be as vivid and strong with its echos reaching into the hearts and souls of the blind and deaf men of my tribe. And, just like Lucretia, I must find a spot, a central place right in the heart where my presence and my words would carry, be heard. And, Bourg du Four beckons every time I pass, no not for Servetus, but for Lucretia. Yes, right here in the oldest fortifications, gates of the old town of Geneva, opposite the men chosen to safeguard the citizens and those chosen to administer justice, opposite the police and the Palais de Justice, that would be the fitting place for the final act: Yes, my mind has been violated, invaded, searched, seized monitored but not once and not twice but repeatedly, consistently, over an inconceivable stretch of time… and still there is silence!

See below Tarquin and Lucretia by Titian:

Do check out the song of our times, The Wall on youtube, great video.

Pink Floyd- The Wall (We don’t need no education, we don’t need no THOUGHT CONTROL… Hey Big Brother leave us kids alone!)

I now come to the last book, the final woman resting by my bedside and one whose life and fate is forever entwined with Geneva, The Empress Elizabeth of Austria. Empress Elizabeth of Austria, born Elizabeth of Bavaria, married at 16 to Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria was renowned for her beauty and dynamism, recognized as the finest horsewoman of the 19th century. Her free spiritedness and liberal views made it difficult however to reconcile a life in court and she pursued her travels with a passion. Her particular fondness for the natural beauty of Geneva, brought her to these shores on the fateful day in 1898 where while walking on the promenade she was struck down with a sword to her chest by an anarchist Luigi Lucheni. Her wish was to die at the shores of the ocean and she often called Lake Geneva as vast and blue as the ocean, she did lie down by these banks and is immortalized by the sculpture of her on that spot. Pasted below is the mesmerizing sculpture that I pause at every time I walk across to the other bank.

Empress Elizabeth of Austria

It was fabulous to see you the other day at the museum cafe, I would love to coordinate a date to have you, how does the first weekend of September work for you (it will be just me and another friend). Good night and hope to see you soon!



Objet : Women!

Dear Purnima,

Yes, it was fabulous to see you last week at the museum café and to check out your new look.

And Coppet and Mme. de Stael !  She and George Sand (now, there is a literary personality that you really should add to your list of bedtime reading !) were two of the outstanding Francophone women writers of their time, but both in their own way.  Sand, a.k.a. Amantine Aurore Lucile Dupin, was one of the very first feminist activists in a society that didn’t, or couldn’t, tolerate a woman who wanted to be treated on equal terms with her male counterparts, thus the male pseudonym, but that’s for another chat. 

Cute pictures of you and the kids devant le Chateau de Coppet !

George Sand was a fascinating person and a very devoted writer.  She set a quota of pages to write each day, something like 50, and on most days she fulfilled her goal.  She had inherited a sizeable fortune from her mother, but French law at the time put all financial matters in the hands of the husbands.  Her husband, who didn’t approve of her writing nor of her desire to spend as much time in Paris as possible, had total control of the money she had inherited.  She had to beg him for an allowance that would enable her to survive while living in Paris, which he begrudgingly agreed to in the beginning, but eventually, he cut off her funding.  She adopted a male pseudonym and dressed like a male so she could get standing room tickets to the theatre, something that was not allowed for women at the time.  She had many lovers, but a long-standing relationship with Chopin, was probably the most important one.  An interesting women, and it is a serendipitous coincidence that we are chatting about her today, since it is the anniversary of the beginning of feminism in France.

And a pseudo for you !  I’ll have to give that one a lot of thought.

Hope you have a good end of the week.  When do the kids go back to school ?



Oct 7, 2020
Happy Birthday!

Dear Roger,
October 7th is a very special day for me for it’s the day I celebrate the birthday of two people dear to me, my aunt Renu with her love and steadfast support, and my friend  Roger who lifted me up from the Bear Pit in Berne and handed me the pen! 

Bear Pit in Berne:

WWF – The Brown BearWithin a period of 100 years, the brown bear was nearly eradicated from the Alps.

Brown bears in the Berne Bear appear cute and cuddly depending on your vantage point

The Berne Bear Pit

Happy birthday Roger, I hope the day brings with it lots of joy, love and laughter just like what you have shared over the years with all around you. I do look forward to our long anticipated meal together, perhaps when the stars align our paths again.
Hugs and love,

PS: I am still waiting for that long promised pseudonym (like your fav George Sand).

PSS: Don’t be fooled by the happy bear face in the link above, see the what happened to the last chap who found himself in the bear pit eyeballing the brown bear while i was there…in 2009:

See below – The Bear Attack Scene From The Revenant:


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 #24*

Strasbourg and The Cult of Mithras, October 3rd and The Matterhorn


Dear Roger,

Its well past midnight but I cant go to bed, I feel I must tell you about my adventures in Strasbourg before I lose them to the day. Strasbourg, the capital of the Alsace region in North East France on the border with Germany was established as a Celtic town in the 3rd century BC. It has since exchanged hands between France and Germany many times through its history. A city, very much like Geneva and New York, though not a capital city but just as important, being the base for large international organizations and in this instance the seat for large European ones. Strasbourg, with its historic center, this Grand Island, surrounded by the river Ill, charming buildings, grand structures and fascinating facades has been classified as a world heritage site by UNESCO and is a “must see”!

Strasbourg courtyard with friends and family:

And with the same friend on this day October 3rd, celebrating my 4th birthday in new Delhi India. See below The Boxwalla Babies:

I was first introduced to this region by a close friend in California who had embarked on a journey to document her roots through the moving story of the dynamic and determined Poumy, her grand aunt, who secured and saved her family as she worked silently for the French resistance. This first attempt at film making was well received and a glimpse of the the region for curious eyes like mine who wanted to see the film, the scenery and the story through the eyes of an American girl journeying through time back to her roots. I have pasted a clip from my friend Marian Sofaer’s movie “Poumy” for you below , do check it out:

Poumy (on youtube)

My first stop during the tour of the historic city center was the grand Roman Catholic cathedral of Strasbourg (Notre Dame) one of the finest examples of gothic architecture, with its intricate carvings and dramatic spires touching the sky, visible from across great distances tall and imposing (see pic). Then I learned a very interesting fact, that in 1794, the Enrages who were in control of the area planned to tear down these dramatic spires based on the notion that it hurt the principle of equality! The smart citizens apparently gathered together and covered the spire with a Phrygian cap thereby saving the spire.

Phrygian cap:

See below Head of Attis wearing a Phrygian cap (Parian marble, 2nd century AD).

 The story behind the Phrygian cap, forever the symbol of freedom and liberty has intrigued me for a while encouraging me to put on the Indiana Jones hat and take you back with me on a journey to San Jose California, I promise you an adventure for there is a brilliant Egyptian museum in these remote recesses of the universe. The museum has a theatre and in this theatre they screen many fascinating films. I assure you that with my budding egyptologist all of 5years old, I was dragged southwards to San Jose to the point where i was reading the Rosetta stone in my dreams. It was here in the midst of the mummies and the deep dark crypt that I was introduced to the cult of Mithras and the Mithraeum. Yes, a  never ending film which we saw forever. The cult of Mithras, a Roman pagan cult that was popular during the early part of the first millennium across Europe was subsequently subjugated/eradicated. This was a mystery cult worshipped in deep dark caves where the central figure of the carving was shown slaying a bull, there were symbols of a dog, snake, sun and moon gods, raven all possibly astronomical symbols depicting the skies (perhaps the knowledge of which would be very important for farmers and those dependent upon agriculture). The central figure slaying the bull is often depicted wearing this Phrygian cap, perhaps a symbol of their freedom to practice their cult/belief, an expression of their liberty to practice any faith/religion (and as you know liberty is my favorite topic).

Check this out at the Louvre: Mithras Slaying the Bull

 This of course brought me to Strasbourg where I was meant to find the grand Mithraeum with its majestic reliefs embedded in the subterranean caverns awaiting my arrival and introduction to the world. This was also of special interest to me since Mitras is a prominent Vedic deity featured in the Rig Veda with its counterpart in the Persian pantheon, and of course the name of my grand uncle (a part of my French connection). Unfortunately, even though I got to the dark basement of the museum that promised to house its relics, I could not get to my final destination, which sounds like a return trip to Strasbourg, perhaps you would like to accompany me?

Then of course there was the much awaited meeting with my childhood friend Cecile de Volages, one with whom I have shared my oldest and fondest memories, and whose life has paralleled mine as we have traipsed across the world with bubble baths, babies, bags and 6ft tall baggages. One with whom I treasured sharing my fears and sorrows, stories and journeys, secrets and mail. As I sat across her in the charming 16th century courtyard (see pic) pouring my heart out, I momentarily slipped out of my shell and watched us both bend over the table so that our whispers might contain and not float over the ledge to eager ears, two birds of Asia having journeyed far from their watering hole, getting together in this remote region far from home, sharing stories, making stories, and translating your stories in our accents. I wish you were these to see how Gutenberg’s incredible invention of the printing press here in Strasbourg was translating your epics in the exotic tongues of the East, Persian and Sanskrit (see pic)!

The journey back to Geneva was altogether another story/nightmare. The misty memories of childhood evaporated and I was faced with practical mom and my pragmatic childhood buddy, who after being introduced to my adventures in Geneva said, “time for a reality check…wake up and smell the coffee, you are a train wreck”! No, not a sympathetic ear, not a tear, just horror at hearing about the bulging eyes, darting glances, villainous vermin…

Cecile reiterated for the nth time that “It’s just an Illusion” check it out on youtube:

Hope to hear from you soon.

Good night!



Dear Roger

Just spent the night at the recommended hotel and it was perfect, room, views, location and the breakfast was ok but the cherry on the topping was the old 1980s Euro-pop that brought back memories of fun dance parties and friends left behind.

I almost shed a tear when I hear “Gloria” whose name should now be replaced with “Purnima”!


(hear me sing this today, 20 years later)

Check out this video on YouTube:

Onto Zermatt.


Dear Roger

The train ride from Visp to Zermatt was enchanting, the vistas of quaint wooden homes with stone slabbed rooftops tinted with moss and embedded in the hillsides appeared almost alive, breathing, armored to face the next onslaught from the heavens/ hillsides. They certainly take the “sky is falling on our heads” seriously, i sensed in my bones that we couldn’t be far from Asterix and his charming hamlet. I was convinced that if I went knocking I would encounter all my fairytale characters complete with gnomes, gremlins, Getafix and the occasional Prince Charming.

See below stone slabbed rooftops – a view from the Italian side of Cervino – The Sleeping Giant:

At the end of this spectacular train ride we encountered the Snoring Giant lying prostrate with his gigantic protrusion, which has captivated and mesmerized millions across the globe, is embedded in California culture and wedded to the Yeti ( you could not convince a youngster from California that the Yeti is really associated with the “other” mountain range), yes, we are back to “the nose”. Don’t you see it, The Matterhorn as a large “buumpii” nose?!?

The Matterhorn:

We did take the Glacier Express enjoying seven hours of breathtaking scenery that left us gasping at every bend. 

I stopped clicking after a while and tried to inhale it all, hoping it would stay within me, enmeshed with me, as I continued on my endless journey. We reached St. Moritz by early evening and after giving my mother an hours break, i dragged her to see the lake ( i could almost read her thoughts that she would NEVER leave planning the itinerary to me), by this time we had all OD’ed on the spectacular. As I looked around, I found the brilliantly hued and multi textured wildflowers, and sighed that if I were to be reborn, how I would wish to be a wildflower on this hill with a view, my mother gasped, who unlike her heretical daughter, actually believes in rebirth and drew the line at my fantasies with a firm NO!

See The Glacier Express Below:



Dear Purnima,

Ah, your email made me so nostalgic for Zermatt and Le Cervin.  It took me

back to my first stay in Switzerland and a day-trip to Zermatt.  I had so

been looking forward to seeing that majestic Snoring Giant, as you call it,

but luck wasn’t with me that day.  It was a fairly sunny day, but there were

enough clouds in the sky that it made it impossible to get a clear view of

Le Cervin the entire time we were there.  We rode the cog train up to

Gornegrat, where we had a wonderful, unobstructed view of every mountain

surrounding Zermatt, but not the Matterhorn.  It remained enshrouded the

entire afternoon, as though there were some kind of magnetic field enticing

the clouds to cling to its summit.  I, however, didn’t have thoughts of

gremlins and Yeti (it was prior to my moving to Oregon and the vicinity of

Mt. Shasta, which has a fairly rich culture of Yeti sightings), only the awe

brought about by staring up at those towering peaks and wondering what it

would be like to climb them, but then reading of the first ascent of Le

Cervin by the British climber Edward Whymper in 1865 and the tragedy that

befell his climbing party on the way back down reminded me of the pitfalls

of such adventures.  (I did climb Mt. Shasta twice while I lived in Oregon,

but now am perfectly satisfied to live vicariously through the exploits of


It must be a drastic change for you to be in flat, ordinary Strasbourg now

after all that alpine beauty, but the city does have its charms, especially

the old part around the cathedral with its fantastic clock.  The story our

guide told us during my first visit to the city was that the clock had been

in a state of disrepair for many years, and the city finally found someone

who was able to repair it and make it work again.  When he finished his

task, he was blinded by the city fathers so that he could not ever build a

rival clock for another city that might possibly put Strasbourg to shame.

I put Charlie on his Portland, Oregon bound plane (via Amsterdam) this

morning.  I enjoyed having him here, but it is also nice to return to a bit

of normalcy.

Do enjoy Strasbourg and your reunion with your old classmate. I hope it is

everything that you hoped it would be, but such encounters are often fraught

with pitfalls.

See you soon when you return to Geneva,



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 #23*

War, Prejudice and Human Nature, Data, Algos and Existential Crisis

Subject: Re: TR: Calvin Sloan — A Doctored History: An Interview With William F. Pepper

On Jul 17, 2010, at 12:22 PM, “Roger Stevenson” wrote:

Dear Purnima,

Here is an interview that Charlie sent me about Martin Luther King’s death.


by: Calvin Sloan, t r u t h o u t | Interview


Dear Roger

However much I admire the noble idea of egality, political and social equality, living through a socialist system, India in the 70’s, 80’s, I found the political and governmental expression fell far short of our ideals.  

It’s not just a matter of being rewarded for ones efforts and creativity, which is what you have managed to achieve in the US, I believe it’s a much deeper need, where man is not only rewarded (and this can be done in many ways other that the familiar material manner which can be as rewarding if not more)but, has an avenue for the expression of his art and efforts. A system where man can freely and fully express himself with minimal governmental involvement and where his efforts and expressions are protected. He should not need to get special licenses or sanctions which can be blocked or used as an excuse to extract when he goes about quarrying marble for the Sistine chapel (for example) or attempts to source the much valued blue pigment. While building he must be assured that his designs and diagrams are protected. The final result of course, where such unhindered support is offered by the state is not just of value to the citizens and the sculptor but the state. The value of providing such a platform for free expression can never be overstated as it needs a certain environment to be fostered, and is often stirred from the passion of the soul. The artists art is often his real compensation and the rest sustenance. The case is similar for industry, science, education and all other expressions of man. 

However, pursuant to our discussions, I firmly believe that the driving motive must be reviewed, from value set on sheer numbers and productivity, a move to a more sustainable model, yes the Sistine chapel in natural biodegradable materials sourced and constructed in a environmentally sustainable manner. 

What do you think?   



Prejudice and Human Nature

Dear Purnima,

What a wonderful treat to awake to two marvelously crafted, as usual, emails.  And I really appreciate your thoughts on looking back at our roots and the difficulty one often has of adapting and being fully accepted in a different culture.  I’ve given all of this a great deal of thought over the past several years, especially after moving to France and viewing the States from a much different perspective.  I grew up in an America that was quite Pollyanna in the image that it created for itself both at home at abroad.  I think I actually bought into that myth of “manifest destiny” that was so often bandied about by fervent nationalists from various political and religious camps: America was special and had a divine calling to bring order and freedom to the rest of the planet.  It’s the land of milk and honey and opportunity, and you can throw in a few gold rushes here and there, the great melting pot where the homeless and poor from around the world are welcomed with open arms and encouraged to join together in this pursuit of idealistic hubris.  It was a country where even a lowly peanut farmer could be elected president and where justice and freedom reined for all.  My journey to awareness and a more complete understanding of all the forces that shaped the country was long and arduous and, for the most part, the product of living abroad and seeing ‘my country’ through the eyes of others.  I now realize that the racial inequality that supposedly ended with the Civil War was a distinct blemish on the American landscape.  The assassination of Martin Luther King (I was shaving in a hotel in Avila, Spain the morning I heard of his death).  I am now fairly convinced that he was not simply the victim of a white racist, but that he was eliminated by the powers in charge of what was fast becoming a plutocracy controlled by huge financial interests.  What King had set in motion and the kind of civil disobedience he was ready to unleash on the country was intolerable.  He couldn’t be allowed to continue.  But immigrants of many ethnic backgrounds were supposedly welcomed to the country, only to suffer the indignation and injustice of a society that was truly racist in so many ways.  The Chinese immigrants were used to build the railroads in the west and when they were finished, it was made perfectly clear to the Chinese that they were far from being first-class citizens like everyone else and were, in many instances, hounded out of communities where they were no longer needed.  What the country did to the Japanese living in America during WW II was unpardonable.  And I won’t take the time to go into all the military incursions, invasions, secret missions, assassinations abroad, massacres, etc., etc., etc., in order to provide a favorable climate and financial structure for American business interests.

But you really did hit the nail on the head when, in responding to my first bit about V’s experience with the US Embassy, you said that it was all a matter of mucho big bucks.  That’s all that has really ever mattered.  The other memes and narratives about idealism, freedom and democracy for all, were simply furthered by a propaganda machine involving the complicity of the main stream media.  It was really the advent of the internet and made it possible to look beyond the rhetoric.

I could go on for some time, but I’ve got to go fix some lunch for myself.

Thanks for the links to the two videos.  The Poumy film on Youtube was really great.  I can’t, however, say the same about the tune “Just an Illusion”




Dear Roger,

Its great to wake up to two responses from you and oh so quickly!

I have been on a long search for a synonym for prejudice across the spectrum of languages that I am familiar with in order to understand the word (and the cultural reference) a bit better. It’s incredible how different people interpret emotions so differently, which is then captured in language creating its own unique universe, a fun exercise for us to embark upon especially when there are no roots in common. And still on fun, think of these various languages as the people of America who come together to live, love and work thinking in different tongues where much is lost in translation.

During my numerous French lessons, I quizzed endlessly asking for a French translation of prejudice. I came across the word stigmate (in bill boards surrounding Geneva when I first arrived two years ago) which translates as scar, mark, not sure if that is the same as prejudice as we understand it assuming what we understand is the same, then I encountered honte which is really shame disgrace, and now the dictionary tells me its prejuge. Would love to get your feedback on the French.

Yes, I am more than aware that the US is riddled with prejudice, often as a shield, a cover for ignorance and a sense of inadequacy.  This immediately gives the wearer a sense of elevation as he identifies a distinction (not necessarily a weakness or flaw, but often just an difference that he is unable to identify or relate to exposing his inexperience and inadequacy) and used that distinction as a cause to discriminate. Of course, the discriminator must be either in the majority, thus setting the standards for the “acceptable” or in a position of power or influence.

This takes me back to my last email where I was pouring over identity and allegiance. Could you for a moment slip into my shoes understand my dilemma as I view your nation and ponder: to embrace or not to embrace. The print media, television, even film seem to keep generating the most hideous images of bewhiskered banditos jumping up and down in black petticoats brandishing blades and bazookas. I look forward to one morning where I don’t have to confront these hobgoblins with my morning tea. These of course are presented alongside with perfectly manicured Europeans in Italian designer suits who are debating how best to deal with the baddies! Bizarre, non? What is even more incredible is that these supposed banditos happen to come from Tora Bora and my neck of the woods. Where I come from, the markings of high culture(similar to your French obsession), reflected in art, poetry, literature, architecture, and even our cuisine, is pervaded by Persian influence over a millennia across the subcontinent specifically from the Mughal court and exists even today as an integral part of our culture. Whenever I think of Persia, I think of paradise, a land with fountains, art, poetry and verses of life and love. I think of miniatures (have you seen the Mughal miniature paintings?) delicately drawn highlighting a fine bone profile wielding a certain sophistication with elegantly dressed men and women in luxurious robes of silk and fine jewels a universe away from the images projected in the media. Our children and grandchildren, uncles and aunts who come from communities across the spectrum, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Zoroastrians, have Persian names, such a universe away from your “islamist” profiling. Such is a culture of a place and a people, and I wonder how I would explain myself, fully fit in to your universe…and so two decades later I hold out, I wait.

More on this topic later.




Dear Roger,

Still on the subject of prejudice, I revisit Strasbourg. Yes, I admit I was much to anxious to complete my email which stretched onto the early hours of the morning that I left out a most important experience, something I was keen to share and which prompted me head back to the writing table in the first place…a revelation!

As I wandered around the old town, the grand island, making my way to the breathtaking Cathedral, in what must have been the hottest day in Europe, a searing 38 degrees, I found myself questioning the series of unusual events that seemed to be unfolding around me which I have been unable to rationally comprehend. I sensed that the earth and the air wished to share their secrets, so I questioned them about prejudice as I walked around the cathedral asking why is it that people hate. Do people need to hate, do people look (find excuses) to hate, does hating something satisfy some innate convoluted desire within man, is there a receptor in the brain for hate (which unleashes serotonin and adrenalin) giving us a sense of satisfaction and a high?

See below the interior of the Strasbourg Cathedral:

What if the above is true and man looks for reasons to hate because it satisfies something within him? What if this is an integral part of human nature (I wonder how that puts us in any evolutionary advantage)? What then is the fate of our species if the “desire to hate”/prejudice is so integral to us? Thus recognizing this trait, what if man is fed with the excuses (catalyst) he unknowingly seeks that foster hate? 

As I walked around for the cathedral once again, exploring prejudice further in all its colors and excuses,  I saw in it a reality, a truth, an expression of human nature resulting in the world we see around us today of anger, bloodshed and war. Confirming to myself that we do look for an excuse to hate, to express our prejudice and this can be based on nothingness, a figment of someone’s imagination, a fantasy, so shallow is this emotion but equally strong is the need to vent/express it.

Good night.


See below an artwork by Ian Burn titled Xerox Book that best expresses this “fantasy” or “nothingness” basis for prejudice that when copied is magnified exponentially just like the blank sheet of paper in the Xerox Book which is copied a 100 times, and with each copy the visual noise is replicated till it turns from a blank sheet into a black one.

Prejudice, Data, Algos and Existential Crisis

Now imagine these automated processes dictating our lives where data is gleaned from a snapshot in history, a history rife with prejudice. Imagine this error replicating itself a hundred times and more creating shadow puppets of doom from what was originally a blank sheet. Imagine a world that has based its truth and existence on these shadow puppets and uses it as its basis to build it’s reality. Imagine the pundits, the leaders, the scientists, the computer engineers and philosophers reaching a point not far from today where they throw their hands up as they are unable to discern the underlying error in the algos as the stage of shadows has long replicated reality. This is our wake up call, to be implemented here and now as we tango to the seductive steps of all that tech offers, without adequate safeguards built into technology humanity is on the brink of an existential crisis.

Shadow Puppets Foreboding War:

By Curtain21 (talk) – I created this work entirely by myself., CC BY 3.0,

See below some fabulous examples of shadow puppets from Wayang or The Indonesian Puppet Theatre:



Dear Purnima,

Ah, my dear, you have opened that nasty can of worms of genetic, innate behavioral traits versus culturally acquired patterns, not to mention the dubious question of universal  tendencies as opposed to individual actions and beliefs.  I really don’t know if there is a definitive answer to the question you raise about prejudice.  My gut reaction is that it is mainly a cultural adaptation that individuals pick up during their formative years – they tend to react as those around them react to any given situation, and I doubt that there is a receptor in the brains for hate.  At least I hope that is the case.  However, when you look at the world around us and the increasingly frequent examples of prejudice towards others, which often leads to unspeakable acts of violence against another ethnic or religious group, it certainly give one cause to wonder.  And yet, there are many, many people who seem to be motivated not by hate and some kind of perverse pleasure derived from hating, but by a sincere desire to express empathy and compassion for others and to try and make the world a better place.  I have to assume that the very existence of such individuals who were not motivated or programmed to hate would be evidence that your conclusion in Strasbourg is not totally valid.

You asked earlier about a translation for prejudice.  Your final suggestion that préjugé might be the best one is right on.  If you break the word down, it really means a pre-existing judgement of something or someone = avoir des idées préconçues.  And I would put forth that most of those preconceived opinions are acquired rather than innate.

I tried to think if I truly hated anyone.  While I certainly could state that I have cause to hate a few individuals, George Bush Jr. for example who started the war in Iraq that eventually led to the death of Sergio Vieira de Mello – one of the finest individuals I have met in my lifetime.  I think I truly hated GWB the night Sergio was killed, but I don’t derive any kind of pleasure from that emotion, and don’t dwell on it very much.

I read an article in The Guardian last week about the very best all-time great drama series produced for TV, and the top of the rather long list was the BBC’s adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.  I have downloaded the entire series and started watching it.  It stars that delicious actor Jeremy Irons, and is one of the most literate and marvelous adaptations of a novel I have seen, and I am savouring every moment of it.  And I see that your fellow countryman Aravind Adiga has a new novel out, Between the Assassinations.  Have you read it ?  I’ll have to pick it up and add it to my ever-growing pile of books on my nightstand.

Have a great evening,


Dear Roger

As I lie between my two slient bed partners in the cemetiere du roi, Candolle seems to stir pointing me in the direction of “natures war”, the precursor to Darwins survival of the species and the struggle for dominance.

Do you think perhaps we are still continuously in a state of war, programmed to be so? And that we use excuses like prejudice to engage in war (especially since we have created power hungry structures that close all other avenues for conciliation), thereby asserting dominance and control aspiring to do what has been done throughout evolution, ensure our specific genes retain an advantage.


See below Candolle resting at the Cimetiere de Plainpalais in Geneva, Switzerland:


Dear Purnima,

So war is the means by which the strongest elements of the species maintains their superiority over the weakest elements.  Does that work for conscious beings who are capable of making reasoned and rational decisions ?  Is there a ‘war gene’ that somehow programs us to mount armed conflicts that will guarantee the survival of the fittest ?  What a conundrum !




Envoyé : lundi 19 juillet 2010 10:43

Dear Roger

You said in the previous email: 

“It was really the advent of the internet and made it possible to look beyond the rhetoric”

You do mail some juicy tidbits that I can’t afford to lose, I would love to hear more! And of course about that intimate story that brought out such an intense emotion. 

Still on the topic of the Internet, I think that this could possibly be our salvation (or suicide, u tell me) If we do possess that innate trait to engage in war. 

However rational and logical we might appear( and you had brought this up as mankind’s saving trait, I am not quite sure), have we not heard those very same rational voices being deployed through history to persuade the persuadable (with our thirsty receptors aching for an excuse), to engage in war. 

Perhaps, we could live not only our passions but fears and aggression through the virtual world. Fighting, acquiring dominating chatting and perhaps even having sex. 

  Its very possible that we will create this alternate reality to live as we are perhaps innately programmed to do and use our “real” world to sleep. Flipping life as we know it. Would that make a better world?

On my way home this afternoon, hope to see you very soon!



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 #22*

Miranda, Graubunden, Tarasp – Walk Down The Brahmaputra


Sun, May 23, 2010, 11:48 PM

Dear Purnima,

I have long since ceased to be surprised about any of the actions of the US government in the area of constitutional rights.  Since 9/11 and Bush’s declaration of war on terrorism, the Homeland Security Department has run rough shod over the rights of citizens (and non-citizens)!  What bothers me even more than the seeming disregard of the Miranda Rights is the total disregard of those same fifth and sixth amendment rights for anyone suspected of even the slightest collaboration with the so-called terrorists.  The many prisoners held for years at Guantanamo in a kind of legal black hole with no rights to legal counsel, a swift and fair trial, no incarceration without proof of wrongdoing, etc., etc..

A slightly related topic. Did I tell you that the family has decided to leave Spain and move to California (Ventura)?  I’m not so sure that I will feel really uncomfortable going to visit them there, and I will miss going to Valencia.  We really like the place.

I loved your description of your trip to Chur, Tarasp Castle – I had no idea it was such a charming site, and the picture of you hugging the bearded Swiss mountain gnome is priceless.  Did you realize that you are standing on your tip toes, extended vertically as well as horizontally?

And your tale of going off in search of the source of the Brahmaputra at the age of four brought back vivid memories of a similar adventure I had as a young 3-4 year-old in the mountains surrounding our home.  I wasn’t looking for anything as poetic as the source of a mighty and mythical river, but the effects of my disappearing in the middle of the afternoon with my best friend (another Roger) were very similar.

Have a great Monday and see you tomorrow or Thursday.



Dear Roger,

What’s going on??? From my bunker in the hills I hear stories about things considered sacred in America, a household name: the Miranda Rights, protection against coerced confessions made by persons in police custody being mutilated (apparently the AG is asking congress to enact legislation codifying an exception to the Miranda rule in the case of a terrorism suspect). An appropriate song for my current state of mind, do check it out.

What’s Going On:

Miranda Rights based on the 5th amendment to the constitution ( right against self incrimination/Right to remain silent) and the 6th amendment (right to counsel/legal help) which every man woman and child has taken for granted reflected by the courts which have upheld it as they have been averse to overrule Miranda for the last 34 years, subsequent cases have in fact reaffirmed it by stating that unwarned (un-mirandized) statements may not be used as evidence. 

Popular culture through American TV programs, motion pictures, songs, media all seem to reiterate this right as core,  a right which appears to have become so integral to a culture. Even a seven year old kids playing Cops and Robbers will playact asking for an attorney before speaking to his friend The Cop. In the instance of the Times Square bomber, which really blew things up (to me it looks like the bomb actually went off as the repercussions of the act, the far reaching impact of the preventive measures destroying something core/dear to a nation, appear to be many times worse than the actual physical impact of the bomb). It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that upon arrest you can invoke your fifth, even a seven year old can playact that. The Times Square bomber and others like him who have the smarts to build a bomb, plant it and plan an escape, would most certainly know to ask for their attorney (like that 7 year old) and would not need to be reminded of their rights necessarily, as was the case with the Times Square bomber who spoke before being mirandized and continued to speak as easily after. The persons who WILL suffer if we chip into this armor, this safeguard of the 5th amendment granted through the Miranda Rights, is the minority/ low income immigrant community, single mother in a ghetto who has stayed away from school because she is pregnant with her second child and is now facing arrest and interrogation because her drug dealing boyfriend has left his stuff in her locker( drug money could easily be stretched by savvy attorneys to have terrorist links). She is the one who needs to be Mirandized, informed, guided, jolted out of her hysteria and told that society has some help out there for her, because it would all be irrelevant if  we were unable to uphold some core values : Presumption of innocence until proven guilty( do we not agree that we would free a 100 guilty men before hanging an innocent one?)

 In fact CJ Rehnquist wrote in 2000 Dickerson decision that Miranda warnings had ” become so embedded in routine police practice to the point where the warnings have become a part of our national culture”. Somewhere this seems to me to form the core, the fabric of the people, a cultural evolution, something people take for granted in a society (as the French with their privacy) what is that if not somehow enmeshed and becoming a part of the constitution of a people? I have been exploring these core ideas/rules which I understand to form the basis of our society, and am concerned about “the checks and balances” which all might be “persuaded” to do away with “in these times of terror”, The Queen of Hearts would say”Off with your head”, “Off with all your heads, both the ‘tellectuals and the terrorists”, we do have a pretty collection accumulating in our backyard now, don’t we? I would love your thoughts on this. Do check out this rap version of the Miranda rights with my all time favorite star Tom Hanks.

Miranda Rights:

OK, so over with the intense stuff, now I must share with you my incredible journey to Graubunden, exploring the easternmost canton of Switzerland. As I mentioned in my earlier mail, I was bubbling with excitement because not only did it have my much fantasized about peak the Weisshorn with its namesake in my neck of the woods, The Weisshorn Solang, but also the fact that the flag of the canton of Graubunden has a majestic black ibex rearing on its hind legs signifying freedom, independence, swiftness and bravery, all the qualities that I so admire!

See below: Flag of the Canton of Graubünden in Switzerland

Flag of the Canton of w:Graubünden in Switzerland
By Unknown author – offizielle PDF, Public Domain,

We first drove to Chur, the capital of the canton, a with a settlement which dates back 5,000 years located at the foot of the most important alpine passes. A charming town with old cobbled streets and fountains carved with the most ferocious facial expressions to the extent that they were comical. These reminded me of fairytale goblins who patrol the passes extracting their due fee for safe passage.

In fact, the next day on our way taking the road via Davos and over the high and very dramatic Fluella pass, with sheer icy mountainsides stretching endlessly on either side, I witnessed nature in its stark raw beauty and realized how in a flicker millions of tons of snow, rock ice could tumble upon us from any nook and extinguish us forever, it was avalanche season, making me realize how insignificant and helpless we really are. These passes are remnants of a pre Roman time and my mind wandered to the fierce and formidable people who used to patrol and maintain this pass (and do so even now), a gargantuan task! And it brought my mind to the numerous Swiss men I see with their teddy bear looks and cute goatee beards, are essentially a people of the mountain, hardy stock that have for millennia patrolled the passes, been in sync with communication, information. Know through the caravans that pass through (and often have to pass through) their passes the pulse of the world, the treasures hidden, the secrets carried, a value far greater than the toll they extract for safe passage. Yes, the Swiss seem to have stayed synced, and do wield an impact in the passes of today, one where financial information flows, and through this maintain their edge, with a birds eye vision of the world as everything is entwined with finance. 

Driving through Fluela Pass below:

As we crossed the Fluella pass onto the lower Engadine, a mythical, magical place I cannot write enough about, and made our way to the charming towns of Scuols, Vulpera and Tarasp, I was reminded of the Swabian wars, or the Engadine Wars where the Swiss confederates squabbling over the control of some passes engaged into an intense war with the Habsburgs who had Swabian support. The Swiss with their military skills and determination routed a much superior force of the Swabians and massacred them as they fled with their infamous and much feared most menacing weapon: the halberd. The Halberd was a long pole with a large axe head on one side and a smaller cutter on the other, later the tip had a pike. Today it’s the ceremonial weapon of the Swiss Guards. With this they could slash and pierce every armor and were a threat to every mounted warrior. This edge that the Swiss acquired with this notorious weapon reminded me of the modern day edge they must have with their patrolling of the modern day passes: the ability to pierce any corporate veil and unmask any armor/identity as everything is so closely tied with the passage of money. What do you think?

See below a Swiss Guard with The Halberd:

We stayed at a charming hotel that looked like a little palace on a hill in Scuol with a room with the most mind blowing view, which the camera refused to capture and embarked upon an adventurous walk up the mountainside to the Tarasp castle. This is a place that I cannot describe, all i can say is that in my mind this is the place I always journey to. 

Tarasp Castle:

This was my dream! I spin through time and the decades fly before my eyes as I find myself, a four year old (I still have a vivid memory of that time) with my parents in an incredible old British colonial home on the top of a hill in the town of Gauhati in Assam. The house had the most magnificent gardens stretching all the way down the hill and at the bottom the mighty river Bhramaputra flowed. 

See Brahmaputra below:

See below: The widest river in the world: Mighty Brahmaputra and floods

This is not our house in Gauhati, Assam but a hotel on the same hill:

Assam Governor’s House:

Just like Tarasp castle a landmark of the lower Engadine, built a millennia ago, poised on the top of a hill surrounded by a magical setting, a home for the governors of Austria till the 19th century; similarly, I was told this house has been taken and was converted to the Governors house in Assam. The Bhramaputra, the largest river in India originating from Tibet flowing across the plateau, through the deepest gorge through the Himalayas and finally passing Assam, my home on its way to join the Ganges in the delta of the Sunder-bands. There has been much local lore, many myths and stories around this magnificent river, but the one comes to mind is the age old tale of  lord Brahma the creator(one of the trinity), enchanted by Amodha wife of the brahmin Shantanu(the gods are truly relentless), asked her to make love to him. He then magically inseminated her (this is where they don’t seem to have any fun) giving birth to the mighty river Bhramaputra, or son or lord Brahma.

Well, here goes the true story, at the grand age of four, I decided I must embark upon an adventure. So, I took the hand of my friend of the same age, the cooks daughter (a cook who had served as my fathers man Friday on his numerous adventures in the Himalayas) and decided to find the source of the Brahmaputra. So, we walked and we walked and we walked down the hill and along the river for miles while the entire household, was going ballistic with gardeners, cooks servants running up and down looking for ‘baby”. Mom broke down realizing that this was going to be a long journey with her child who really belonged to the “other” (fathers) side. All this while, I was really looking for a way across the river to the forest of pixies (promise you, a true story that I remember vividly), but could not find a way to get across. So, i walked and walked and walked hoping that one day I will find a way to get across the river to the land of the pixies. Well, I did. I crossed the river but this was not the Brahmaputra but the river Inn (in the Engadine), and walked up the hill to Tarasp castle a place that came closest to that dream of the land of the pixies of my youth. Well, guess what, I did make it to Tarasp castle, it was picturesque but there was not a pixie in sight. Finally in the distance, I discovered the one I was searching for all my life, the one I ran down the hill and along the Bhramaputra for; upon seeing him, I clasped my arms around him and gave him a long kiss, even though he had been turned to stone, yes a life size sculpture of a Pixie/Gnome(do see picture pasted below):

Purnima and the Engadine Gnome:

As for my journey down the Bhramaputra, it all ended well as some worker recognized us and took us back up the hill to a furious and frenzied crowd. There were slaps, a bath and lights out.

We visited the other charming villages of the Engadine like Ardez which had homes with beautifully depicted facades especially one with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, see below Purnima in the Garden of Eden:

Purnima in Ardez – The Garden of Eden

Zuoz and Guarda with the sgraffito, designs etched onto the cemented facades distinctly reminding me of other northern Italian journeys the Italian influence making the designs strikingly attractive. 

Visions of the Engadine and Tarasp from my lens:

The villages were silent other than the church bells but the sculptures seemed to possess a life of their own and dance around the central square to mimic the life and humanity of the silent villages. Since Graubunden is the land of Heidi, we decided to take a walk around Heidisee (the lake) with our little Heidi, Tara. Our final destination was St. Moritz where after three days together we barely managed to avoid drowning each other in the icy waters of the glorious lake!

See pics below of a ski trip to St Moritz with my ski buddy (Smithy) GF traversing scenic Zuoz and Graubunden:

Good night and I look forward to seeing you on Tuesday!


De : purnima bajpai 
Envoyé : jeudi 10 juin 2010 21:08
À : Roger Stevenson

Dear Roger,

It was wonderful to see you this afternoon!

I do hope you got my missing forwarded email(three in fact), am very concerned that I may be pouring into a spam folder.

Hope to hear from u soon!


On Wed, Jun 9, 2010 at 5:57 PM, Roger Stevenson <> wrote:

Yes, of course!

See you then

Roger Stevenson

—–Message d’origine—–

Envoyé : mercredi 9 juin 2010 16:43
À : Roger Stevenson

Great, see u tomorrow around 12:30!

Do u still eat seafood?


On Jun 9, 2010, “Roger Stevenson”

Hi, That was quick.

Anything you cook without meat will be delicious, I’m sure !

See you sometime between noon and 12:30.


Envoyé : mercredi 9 juin 2010

Lunch tomorrow sounds great, I will happily cook. Is there anything particular u enjoy?


On Jun 9, 2010, “Roger Stevenson” wrote:

Dear Purnima,

Did my last email end up somewhere in cyberspace unread ?  I’m really sorry if it did.  I’ll copy it below.

How does tomorrow look for you?  I’ll be in Geneva on my way back from Gland around 12 or 12:30.  Want to go lunch?  If it’s too late of a notice to do it at your house, we can go somewhere else downtown.  Let me know what you think.

I have a delicious tale about an ear fetish to tell, but I’ll wait until tonight to send it.

That sounds frightful about your ear drums.  Do you know what caused it? My first reaction is to think it’s the result of your shouting matches with Myrko.

Hope we can connect tomorrow.

Sent last Weds.

Dear Purnima,

Your comments about the increasingly inadequate print media really hit home, and I agree entirely with your eloquent complaint.  In planning our trip to Japan we almost exclusively used on-line sources. We found them for the most part to be far more up-to-date and often much more interesting and factual than the usual blurbs you find in the printed guide books.  We also used a couple of printed guides that we had bought – The Rough Guide to Japan proved to be very good, and another Lonely Planet guide to Tokyo wasn’t bad, but things change so quickly, especially in Japan, that it is impossible for a printed edition to remain on top of things considering the time lag that occurs from one edition to the next.  We have actually embarked on a rather ambitious project that we have already begun work on: an on-line guide to using the internet for planning a trip to Japan.  It could be constantly and continually updated very easily.  We have scoured the internet and found nothing at all like it yet.  We did a rough outline of what we want to include before we left, and we collected a lot of material and made tons of notes during our travels.  Now we just have to find the time to complete it. I’ll keep you posted and even pick your brain at times for some suggestions, if I may.

I was hoping to have the time to take you up on your wonderful invitation to lunch at your place this week, but it has been a busy week.  How about next Thursday?  That would work well for me and I will be coming into Geneva that day.  Let me know if that suits your schedule.  My mouth waters just thinking about it.

We finally found a car to buy – a Toyota Corolla (Yes, we dare buy a Toyota in spite of the recall fever).  It is a 2006 and was owned by a Toyota employee in Lyon who took exceptional care of it.  It only has 53,000 kilometers on it and is really in immaculate shape and has all the little frills of interesting options, including a little radar system that beeps when you are backing up and approaching an obstacle. We’re going to take the train to Lyon Saturday morning to pick it up and then take it for an inaugural drive to a little village north of Macon called Cuisery.
It’s a so-called “book village” and there are literally dozens of small, used book stores in the village, and on Sunday morning there is a larger open-air market for used books.  I love browsing through used book stores looking for lost treasures.

Speaking of books, have you read Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger? It won the Man Booker Prize in 2008.  I bought it the other day and  I’m hoping to learn more about your country and culture from it, besides having a good read.  I’m now into another Murakami novel, Dance, Dance, Dance, which is really the continuation, or better yet, the companion novel to A Wild Sheep Chase.  I am constantly amazed at the man’s ability to spin an absolutely outrageous tale and do it with such marvelous prose and wild and
interesting characters, and then there is always that underlying
aspect of the other reality on the opposite side of the mirror.

Any wild plans for the weekend ?  It’s supposed to be summer-like

See you next week, I hope.

Roger Stevenson

Fri, Jun 11, 2010, 4:58 AM

Dear Roger, 
I so enjoy cooking for u, u seem to genuinely appreciate all my efforts! It was great to see u and I am glad u got to meet my dear friend. On the topic of my concoctions, are you game for more wordy ones, I have a long weekend ahead?
Did I mention that I might be returning to The Costume Store to exchange “the nose” for a less conspious one, but I plan to keep the bushy eyebrows! Oh, “the nose” has served me well over the years, everytime I plan to break the bank and rescue that treasured hand bag from it’s glass encased security enclosure, i get a self imposed reality check; As I prance and preen viewing my reflection in every mirror humming to myself (Right Said Fred)…I’m too sexy for my body (see below) the profile immediately jolts me back to toonville and I see how ridiculous I look. Saved by the nose again!
And then there is the routine immigration stop at the US border where they must have my mug shots posted in all my colors as they seem to see right through my every disguise. As i say Namaste, The immigration officer looks up and invariably responds” Give it up Chief Inspector (Clouseau), we know it’s you”.
Check out this video on YouTube:

Will write soon!



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

The Ballad of The South

Privacy and The Right to be Forgotten, Cyberlaws, Revolutionaries, France-Pondicherry, Pirate Ships-SMS Emden, WWII , Tiger-RAF
My Letters To Suchi #69 – The Ballad of The South

From: Purnima

Date: Mon, Dec 12, 2016

Subject: The Ballad of the South and To Forget or Not to Forget

Dear Suchi,

Before I wrap up for this abominable year 2016, I find myself limping to my desk to complete this leaf from my diary: The Ballad of the South – To Forget or Not to Forget.

If you want to skip the legalese covering The Right To Be Forgotten just scroll down to the spicy Ballad of the South sure to excite if you are a military history buff.

The issue on everyones lips in the legal world appears to be around the issue of The Right to be Forgotten. As you may be aware, the Europeans culturally have very stringent privacy standards, an issue they almost define with their identity. The Americans on the other hand ascribe the same stringent standards to the Freedom of Expression, thereby resulting in something that can only be construed as The Clash of Civilizations in its truest sense. This has manifested itself in the now (in)famous Google case in France where the French court has ruled effectively that a persons data is their own, and if it is inadequate, irrelevant, no longer relevant or excessive a person can request for links to that search be removed by Google. Re-iterating a person’s Right to be Forgotten.

However, Google’s position which has been supported by a number of US civil rights organisations including the EFF (article below) believes that CNIL, the French regulatory authority position is excessive as it demands that not only should the search results be removed from the European sites like and and (which after a struggle Google has recently complied with) but all sites worldwide. However, Google has appealed CNIL’s position to the highest French court challenging its order to remove all the links across the whole wide world. This according to Google would set a dangerous precedent as other not so democratic countries may want unsavoury information about their acts of repression also removed. This would also infringe US laws resulting in stifling speech in the US.

This is such a fascinatingly complex issue, I’m going to try and reduce it to its bare bones with clips and illustrations trying to identify the issues and balance the argument. 

First of all, can you imagine a universe with eternal memory…well that’s where the internet is taking us (I honestly see no escape). Imagine NOT being unable to forget the pain of a parents demise, the pain of a lost child, the pain of childbirth, honestly if each memory lay vivid in our imagination all day everyday, it would be a trauma to live, to awake to a new dawn, to try again, to cross the finish line, to cradle a bundle of joy. And yet, some memories serve a wonderful purpose for we remember to turn off the stove, we remember to wedge the baby with cushions as we prepare its feed, and we remember to look left and right before crossing the street (literally and metaphorically), and we remember to stub out our cigarettes before we dispose of them least we have all of our golden hillsides and Berkeley in flames again.

However there is a medical condition called Hyperthymesia where a person cannot forget, has full memory of all the events that have dotted his/her past. See the brilliant NPR article below and the associated nightmare of not being able to forget. Also see below the Telegraph article about the Channel 4 documentary on the same issue. These are real issues and the Europeans are justifiably passionate about them. Viewing it from an American perspective, we have to recognise the dilemma presented and the cultural basis from which it stems. Remember we creatures on the Galapagos have now forged our own unique culture.

NPR: When Memories Never Fade The Past Can Poison the Present

The Telegraph: The Boy Who Cant Forget

See below the articles by The Guardian and Peter Fleischer (Google):

The Guardian – Google takes the right to be forgotten to the highest court:

Google is appealing to France’s highest court so that it is not compelled to censor search results worldwide. “We comply with the laws of the countries in which we operate. But if French law applies globally, how long will it be until other countries – perhaps less open and democratic – start demanding that their laws regulating information likewise have global reach?”

Reflecting on the Right to be Forgotten – Peter Fleischer, Global Privacy Counsel

Fletcher outlining his position as defending the right of each country to balance the freedom of expression and privacy it chooses, not what is imposed upon it, ie, what another country chooses for it. Delisted links on all European versions of google search like, and in March 2016 also removed links from so that persons from countries requesting delisting could NOT access the requested blocked links. CNIL request based on the EU Right to be forgotten is that it be blocked from everywhere, ie, every country on the globe.

Finally, but most significantly, The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation, see article below) has come out in support of Google position stating that it has an issue with France’s unilateral declaration of universal jurisdiction, ie, that France cannot unilaterally decree what a global citizen, not resident in France (or the EU) can view or not view. They cannot dictate the terms of the world’s viewership and access as it is out of their jurisdiction. Specifically by highlighting US law and the US position on the Freedom of Expression:

– US publishers have a right to publish truthful information (acquired legally) pertaining to a matter of public interest even if it conflicts with privacy interests

– US publishers have the right to publish information contained in public court documents

– Accurate republication of statements made during official proceedings

– US law protects internet intermediaries (like Google) based on content provided by 3rd parties 

– The Right to receive information, advertise and be advertised to (would all be compromised by CNIL’s regulations)

EFF – Right to be forgotten

Rights at Odds: Europes Right to be Forgotten Clashes with US Law

In my (first generation immigrant) opinion, there needs to be a balance between right to privacy and freedom of expression as without privacy there can be no freedoms. The court protected publication of a sexual assault victim’s info (Daily Mail Rule as mentioned in the EFF article above) and publication of documents of persons who have been rehabilitated and merged back into society, in my opinion upsets this fine balance as society aims not just to punish but protect, rehabilitate and reincorporate persons into society giving them a second chance, and this goal of society would be stripped if records of misdeeds are always front and centre looming for eternity. No one would be motivated to reform, rehabilitate as they would be no exit from jail time in jail or out in society. We also have to recognise that publication in the online sphere is not mere publication of a document like ink on paper, but like the printing press which served to propagate news across a broad spectrum but still contained it within a certain geographic region, publication in the online sphere is nothing like the printing press or publications that man has known before, for it publishes information exponentially, as there are no boundaries or barriers to the propagation of this information. I would still like to adhere to the basic tenet: To Err is Human, To Forgive Divine. And would hope that laws made by humans for humans would take that into consideration.

My opinion falls more in line with the following comment by Julia Powels (Univ of Cambridge researcher on Law and Technology) taken from her article below: There is a public sphere of memory and truth, and there is a private one. This is fundamental to higher, egalitarian values. Without the freedom to be private, we have precious little freedom at all.

Jimmy Wales is wrong: we do have a personal right to be forgotten

Julia Powles (a law and technology researcher at University of Cambridge)

However, all said and done about privacy, I too don’t believe it is or should be in the jurisdiction of one nation or group to determine the mode, form or fashion of information generated and accessed by all of humanity. Perhaps this dilemma about the Right to be Forgotten, EU customs V US customs, will provide us with the opportunity to define the issue. Very simplistically:

Who decides, which one makes the call about what is correct and acceptable, the procedure to follow – ie – The Code of the Net

Can any one country dictate this code based on the customs and code in their territorial space and expect it to be applied universally across this new realm – the Net

– All this boils down to the core issue of what is the Code of the Net, which laws apply and how do the customs culture and laws the nations of the world translate into this cybersphere

– There is a need for consensus in both the territorial and cyberworld. The laws of the territorial world we have already seen cannot be blindly imposed upon the cyberworld and expected to be seamlessly applied. The denizens of the cyberworld might not fall into the neat categories of the territorial nations they physically inhabit or are aligned with, they may each have their own identity and allegiance online. They may be grouped based on a distinct philosophy, they may have acquired value/ status in the cyber realm not based age and education but interaction and presence, contribution to the expansion of the cyberworld thus generating value in this space as opposed to the real world. We already have a host of undefined tax issues relating to the same. 

– However these are humans inhabiting this world so they are bound to fall into philosophically and ideologically distinct groups which will represent the Nations of the Net. Eventually any laws passed by the nations of the real world would also require to have consensus amongst the Nations of the Net which at this point appear to be ruled by Pirates as they attempt to escape the real world and take shelter in this alternate space. Only upon getting the consensus of the Pirate Lords can the codes that originate in the real world have any hope of being applied in the cyber world.

See clip below of my fav movie of all times The Pirates of the Caribbean. Pirates of the Caribbean  At World’s End – 

This is a classic tale of the establishment /oppressive powers of the British Colonists, Spanish Empire and The East India Company versus the anti establishment fighting for their right to exist and express represented by the Pirates. 

 In the following clip from the above movie the Pirate lords convene in Shipwreck Cove to elect a pirate leader who would unleash Calypso. Feng, the Singapore pirate lord appoints Elizabeth Swann as his sucessor as Pirate Lord before dying. Thus Elizabeth’s presence at the Brethren Court ( and I am of course Elizabeth Swann in an alternate world being appointed by Feng Gic, the Pirate Lords of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca). Upon identifying themselves and confirming their attendance with their pieces of eight, the Pirate Lords are compelled to vote for a Pirate King upon whose command Calypso would be released. Each pirate of course votes for himself, but here Jack Sparrow votes for Elizabeth Swann and she gets elected as the Pirate King. 

The Pirates of the Caribbean – Pieces of Eight

The Code is the Law:

Now Suchi moving from this tale about the French, British, Americans and our beloved Pirates onto another charming tale about a family from Madras, The French (good guys in my story for a change), The British Colonists (the baddies), the shadow of America with its song of Freedom and liberty and a Pirate ship. A leaf from my diary – 

The Ballad of the South.

The story opens in Madras on February 22nd, 1914, the night my paternal grandmother Kowshiki was born. It was a night etched in Madras history as a sneaky pirate ship, a German light cruiser called the SMS Emden slowly snuck up into the Madras harbour and bombarded it until all the Burmah Shell petroleum reserves had blown up and the harbour was in flames. This theatre of this audacious pirate ship that dodged all in its path unfolded in the first couple of weeks of World War I. The aim of this attack being to blow up the British colonial assets, ie, the petroleum stocked in the harbour by Burmah Shell Company. The SMS Emden was also known as The Swan of the East and was harboured at the port city of Tsingtao (my fav beer) and commanded by the very smart officer Karl Von Muller who managed to unleash a trail of chaos upon the South China seas sabotaging and destroying the Allied ships and resources that came in its path, and yet managing to travel undetected in the high seas. The captain cleverly camouflaged his ship by adding an additional dummy smokestack in order to resemble a British ship, and once near it would hoist its colours like a pirate would and embark on a full fledged attack. Through these tactics and its deft evasion skills it gained great fame/ notoriety and its journey, its story and the story of its crew is memorialised in much of history, film and literature. The story of the Emden is very relevant to us because my great grandfather, S. Duraiswami Iyer, who was a prominent lawyer in the Madras High Court and revolutionary fighting for India’s independence from British rule, seized this opportunity, the blowing up of the British Colonial assets by a pirate ship that had snuck into the harbour on the night of the birth of his first child and named her Emden. So my grandmother was called Kowshiki Emden. As you can see from the image below my grandmother Kowshiki was truly The Swan of the East. This was a name she wore for many years until she was teased to tears (for Emden was known in Tamil to connote someone sly and treacherous like the ship)and forced her father to change it Kowshiki in the birth records.

Image of my grandmother Kowshiki – Swan of the East:

 See below the fabulous clips about the voyage of the SMS Emden and the plague in Madras: 

Military History Now – The Astounding Voyage of the SMS Emden:

The Story of the SMS Emden – The Great War

Madras – The Emden Plaque – Memorializing the night of September 22, 1914 and the bombardment by the German Cruiser SMS Emden of Madras Harbor:

Plaque regarding bombardment of Madras. This plaque is near the Judge’s gate at Madras high-court.

By VtTN – Own work, CC BY 3.0,

Emden – The Pirate Ship – Must read article in The Hindu:

The Bombardment of Madras Harbor:

By Agence Rol – Bibliothèque nationale de France, Public Domain,

The Men of Emden – movie (2012)

Such was the passion of the freedom fighters from the South, that even a grand personal home like Palm Grove, our ancestral home in the south where my father and his siblings were born, and now is a part of the historic home tour of Madras, was given up by my great grandfather S. Duraiswami Iyer along with all his other assets to the Aurobindo Ashram and to the revolutionary cause for which he had sacrificed his blood, sweat, tears and family: India’s Freedom from British Colonial rule.

My grandmother used to recount that this was a home where great artists, writers, poets, philosophers and freedom fighters were housed and taken care of. The evenings used to resound with dramatic orations from Subramania Bharati considered the greatest of modern Tamil poets, and music from the veena that wafted from the balconies while my grandmother Kowshiki sat on the lap of Ramana Maharishi (a much regarded Hindu sage and philosopher known to have achieved liberation or “Jivan-mukta”) as he recounted to her the meaning of life. This is the story of the Tamil people and one that seems to have slipped from their collective memories as the great revolutionaries from the southern states are all but forgotten within barely a mention in any of our history books. Where are these stories from the south of valour and passion, intrigue and revolution to uphold freedom and liberty which would excite the imaginations of children even today, stories of S Duraiswami in Surat in 1907 or his clandestine helping of the revolutionaries by finding novel means of getting messages across to Subramania Bharati who was sheltered (by the French) in Pondicherry, or even S Duraiswami being sent as an envoy of Aurobindo to meet with Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress (the Crips mission) and dissuade them from partitioning the country. I don’t remember reading about these southern revolutionaries, fired and inspired by their tactics and stories to free their Motherland, in my history books in Delhi or Madras or even Calcutta. Suchi, “Vande Mataram” was the cry echoed across India, regardless of the language of the people, this cry formed the core of S Duraiswami Iyer, as he embraced it as his life’s motto. For Madras to forget or not to forget is now irrelevant as this memory is to be rebuilt in the New World:

Image S Duraiswami Iyer:

Crips Mission and S Duraiswami:

Palm Grove – S Duraiswami Iyer’s home


Music to Dust – The House of Tiruvottiyur Tyagier:

Ironically, but very aptly even though my great grandfather was funding and working covertly with the revolutionaries to overthrow British Colonial rule in India, thus celebrating the German light cruiser SMS Eden’s assault on British assets, ie, the oil tanks of the Burmah Shell company that were located in the Madras harbour and naming his first child, my grandmother Kowshiki, Emden. S Duraiswami’s son, and my grandmothers brother Thyagarajan “Tiger” who was studying in England upon the breaking out of WWII joined the RAF and went on to blow up the assets of Nazi Germany. His purpose was completely inspired and in line with his father, S Duraiswami Iyer, for Tiger in his capacity, wished to do his best to help remove the tyranny and injustice of the Nazis like his father had striven to dedicate his life to get rid of the tyranny and injustice imposed upon the people of India by the British Colonial forces. Tall handsome Tiger, my grandmother’s favourite sibling and the one she remembered and missed most with all her heart until the day she passed, and one who was the rightful inheritor of my great grandfathers legacy, sharing his passion for justice, and our base in the South, and was shot down over Normandy ton the 25th August 1944, the day Paris was liberated. His remains were collected and buried in a church in Normandy, the memory being narrated by a child who saw the plane crash into the fields (see below). There was also a memorial service by the French, British and Indian nationals recognising his valour and contribution. Thus ends the story and the links to the south of my family, this long forgotten family of Madras.

See below Tiger Thyagarajan on the engine cowl:

I shared this post on the 101st birthday of my granduncle Tiger Thyagarajan: Tiger was our family’s anchor to the South (India), the eldest son of an old musical family. He was fired with the same passion that flowed through my family that had sacrificed much resisting British colonial rule in India. Upon the outbreak of WWII, he followed on his footsteps, but this time aligning with the British by joining the RAF to crush the forces of bigotry and oppression. His typhoon fighter jet plane was shot down on a field in Normandy the day Paris was liberated.

A wonderful article and a fitting tribute to Pilot Officer Sayanapuram Duraiswamy Thyagarajan (Tiger) written by David McMahon

Voice of Britain – 1944- One of Our Aircrafts are Missing (video clip):

Images of “Tiger” Thyagarajan:

Field in Normandy where Tiger’s RAF typhoon aircraft crashed

The Soldier – Poem by Rupert Brooke – Quoting the same, my fathers words for his uncle “In that Rich Earth, a Richer Dust Concealed”

“Tiger” Thyagarajan the RAF Pilot – website

Memorial held for Thyagarajan in Normandy by the British, French and Indians with a plaque that commemorates – Here Lies a Hindu Airman:

The Remains of The Tiger

We Shall Not Forget

*The RAF Typhoon Aircraft:

*Hawker Typhoon – incredible sound

*Typhoon aircraft documentary- photo of Tiger sitting on the engine cowl:

Out of Duraiswami’s large family of five children, only Kowshiki (my grandmother) survived and married Viswanathan. I’d like to think that my grandfather Venkat Viswanathan ICS, who was so much a part of the British Raj, (the very people my revolutionary Great grandfather was fighting), was the reason why the story of Duraiswami Iyer continues to this day as I carry forward not only S Duraiswami Iyer’s blood but his fire to the New World!

Hope you enjoyed the ballad from The House of Tiruvottiyur Tyagier, tell me can you hear the music?

Big hugs


PS: See in pic below all the characters of the Grand Theatre of the South. 

(Top row L-R): Mithran Iyer (@Sorbonne) Duraiswami’s son, (?),(?), V.Viswanathan(Palghat- my grandfather), S.Duraiswami Iyer (The Madras lawyer/revolutionary – my great grandfather) holding my aunt Kadambari, Tiger Thyagarajan (RAF) my granduncle Duraiswami’s son, shot over Normandy and buried there.

(Seated L-R) ?, My great-grandmother from Palghat with my father Vijay Viswanathan on her lap, (?), Kowshiki “Emden” Viswanathan (my paternal grandmother), Anu Iyer (grand aunt) daughter of Duraiswami Iyer with my uncle PK Viswanathan resting his arm on her lap, (?)

Dear Suchi,

After prompting you to review all our correspondence to check if it can be published unedited, I found myself doing the same expecting the regular errors of auto correct, missing words, grammatical and punctuation related errors and omissions which can result from uncontrived spontaneous writing and require no editing in my opinion. However, I stumbled upon this inexcusable error, the omission of a negative, the word “not” which renders the entire analysis bankrupt. So, I am compelled in this specific instance to make the correction, insert the missing word “not”, and resend the letter. See below:

Reflecting on the Right to be Forgotten – Peter Fleischer, Global Privacy Counsel

Fletcher outlining his position as defending the right of each country to balance the freedom of expression and privacy it chooses, not what is imposed upon it, ie, what another country chooses for it. Delisted links on all european versions of google search like and in March 2016 also removed links from so that persons from countries requesting delisting could NOT access the requested blocked links. 

And since I have ventured to edit and resend this letter, I have taken the liberty of adding an additional hyperlink relating to my grandmother brother Thyagarajan “Tiger”, the RAF pilot shot over Normandy on the day Paris was liberated. This link is absolutely essential as it has his details and his photos capturing the charismatic persona that my grandmother  never stopped talking about. She was well into her 80’s when they announced that they had founds her brothers remains on a field in Normandy. It was a lifetimes wait for her and I am so glad she left knowing that he was found, embraced by the community, carried into a church and buried in their grounds with a plaque that stated “Here lies a Hindu airman”. See link below:

“Tiger” Thyagarajan the RAF Pilot – website

Lots of love,


Sucharita Shanker <>

Feb 17

to me

I also noticed that you’ve written Peter Fleischer in one place and Fletcher in another.  We sometimes see with our brains and not with our eyes and many an omission or typo slips through the cracks. 

Purnima Delhi <>

Feb 17

to Sucharita

Oh that darn autocorrect! But this is a mild error compared to others I have encountered including having my phone hacked (by my kids) and words replaced, where every time I typed baby or darling it would autocorrect to an obscenity. But this I still would not touch as it could be recognized as an autocorrect error. I would like to keep the natural flow as much as possible. 

I’m off to Delhi for a day tomorrow for my cousin 50th. She is my fathers elder brothers daughter, the one who grew up in Bombay. And if my family story couldn’t get more complex, her father, Priya Kumar Viswanathan, my grandmother Kowshiki “Emden’s” eldest son, joined the Burmah Shell Oil Company right out of college, yes the assets of the one that the SMS Emden bombed in Madras harbor the night that my grandmother was born. For Burmah Shell was British Petroleum. He retired relinquishing the chairmanship to join the Dutch (Phillips). So there we have it, circles within circles. All a part of our great boxwalla story!

Big hugs will write when I’m back! Do call when you get back. 

PS: The Dutch are always in our story…



PURNIMA VISWANATHAN (Granddaughter of Kowshiki “Emden” Viswanathan)

The Ballad of the South is from My Letters to Suchi #69

Geneva Diaries #21*

Of Beasts and Men, The Jabberwocky and Laal Kaan, Traditional Knowledge and The Tale of The Ice Mommy, Who…Got “baked” in Sonoma?


Dear Roger,

Guess what…we are off to Graubunden tomorrow for the long weekend, and I am VERY excited, not only am I returning after a span of 13 years (and many lifetimes) to my first stop in Switzerland, a place that completely stole my heart, but I am returning to the place where my Ice Mommy story is based: the Weisshorn!

Unfortunately, I think that story is gone, back into the glacier, my diary is long lost (sob, sob)…but the ghost of the Ice Mommy still lingers in the shadows with a macabre twist.

As usual, your mail takes me journeying to distant lands and dynamic exhibits. I would have loved to catch a glimpse of this particular exhibit at the Tokyo museum of modern art, but your words painted a wonderfully fulfilling picture. I know somewhere its Murakami at work, the old TV monitors being a reflection of what is left of the man, his series of memories and experiences captured in the mould/ hardware of his time, it all sounds breathtaking.I continue to be intrigued by people with the uncanny ability to so subtly exhilarate the mind. After reading your mail, I discovered that a number of my memories were also wrapped up in little parcels, like an old song played by my first love, which then floods the mind with associated memories of place and time and food and dress. So, more Murakami for me… I can’t wait to read Sputnik Sweetheart. I always wanted to be an astronaut you know, now of course it would be impossible, i am sure they would not allow lipsticks on board, not even Dior!

In your mail about my trip to Paris, you had mentioned something about getting back to the “right” side of the mirror, now do tell me what would be my “right” side if I am UPSIDE DOWN??? The mirror inverts the image in any case, so the “right” side is always the FUN side. Three guesses to where that might be! 

Talking about Paris, and my previous email where I mentioned that I was on a lifelong quest for the holy grail: the idea of Privacy, hoping to somehow find it in the alleyways of Paris, the arteries that run through the core.

You do know that I have been on a lifelong pursuit of understanding the idea, exploring the concept of privacy, which, as we have discussed in the past,  is getting more alarmingly relevant in this technologically accelerated universe of ours. And, in my opinion, should forms the core, the fulcrum, the basis upon which any legal system that is to be relevant in this world is to be built. The French, somehow so intrinsically live, breathe, and represent this idea that it appears to be enmeshed in them and their culture. Which makes my journey to their heart soooo attractive. I am convinced somewhere within its alleyways lies the Holy Grail!

But, I did not want to make the fatal mistake of searching for this pivotal idea in the words and expressions of the “pundits”. A lesson I had learned during the years in America where I saw and heard repeated time and time again forceful, passionate, eloquent, apparently educated, debates and discussions by persons held up as the pundits of society, the intellectuals who “we the people” thought could make a rational logical argument/call on most pertinent issues, especially issues of peace and war. However, I saw these very faces so seduced by themselves and their own arguments, that all they wished to present was the agenda of the day and when the agenda changed and the “call to war” fell flat on its face and their agenda changed. These very persons spoke with the same passionate fervor presenting rational arguments couched in high flying intellectual verbiage brushing aside issues relating to the average citizen’s concerns relating to privacy, one that made us all crouch with reverence and admiration…today that bell has tolled. 

Of course, my skeptical upside down brain did just NOT accept this and i ran. My name has been annoyingly shortened from Purnima to “P” by my “loved ones”, since we have gone this far, I often tell the children that I might change it to the symbol representing “pi”. (If Prince can change his name to a symbol, why can’t I) And that pi is such an irrational number unruly, impossible, unfathomable number,  its value cannot be expressed exactly as a fraction and its decimal representation never ends or repeats…to the point where Lewis Carroll apparently based his Queen of Hearts, that irrational unruly character on this irrational pi. So, being true to my nature, an upside down irrational girl, oops lets change that to woman (who is always in love, real or imaginary), I say, just like Lewis Carrol’s Queen of Hearts, “Off with their Heads” “all of them”, lets get funky Fred to lead the gangplank (and oh how I loved him).

See below Alice in Wonderland-The Red Queen:

So, similarly, I decided to abandon any discussion on the idea of privacy with my friend, for I suspect he would represent that very spectrum, that I ran ran ran so far away from. My goal is to get to the core of this idea, an idea which is so integral to these people that I believe is woven in the fiber of the average man, who has some beliefs that he treasures as being integral to his identity and not one that is thrust upon him by the media or authority political or intellectual and similarly cannot be wrestled away. I think my search will have to involve a longer stay and many conversations (including my fancy dancy friend) with all I encounter to get a glimpse of that holy grail. It looks like I’m back to my French lessons!

Well, since we are back to Lewis Carroll, I did see the movie Alice in Wonderland and enjoyed rereading the Jabberwocky, a supposed nonsensical poem, a fantastical play on words. 

“Beware the Jabberwocky, my son!

  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun

  The frumious Bandersnatch!”

See below Alice in Wonderland- The Jabberwocky:

However, The Jabberwocky is not so nonsensical from my perspective (an upside down look through the mirror). I have been told that this fierce beast resides in a magnificent castle on the periphery of Lake Geneva! And, since I have found myself thrust in Wonderland, the eventual clash with the jabberwocky is inevitable I’m afraid! It’s written somewhere…

A little background, if you are able digest big game hunting, but of course in another time another world. As my son embarked upon the biography of his maternal grandfather for his school project, and I scurried around looking for appropriate photos of my father, I found that his grandest and most glamorous ones were by the side of a tiger or cheetah, glowing in the glory, sitting broad chested, sporting his signature Tyrolean hat beside the slain beast gun in hand. OK, those photos WILL NOT WORK. So, how about a biography on my grand father, again the Bavarian hat, the fierce and formidable beasts “the jaws that bite, the claws that catch”… man testing his wits against nature, raw gut instinct and the pulse of the jungle. The Tale of Laal Kaan. No, not a good theme for my sons middle school project, but a good one for us, yes? 

See below pics of The Mysore Palace with a mounted tusker akin to Laal Kaan a pic of the Game Room where you can still get a glimpse of the Raj superimposed by images of The Maharaja and Viswanathan:

See below The Mysore Palace: Mounted Tusker – The Story of Laal Kaan

The Mysore Palace Tusker
The Mysore Palace Game Room

I am taking you back over half a decade to the jungles of the Deccan. The Maharaja of Mysore (a state in south India) was very perplexed with stories of a rogue elephant heard to be rampaging through the villages killing cattle destroying property and crushing human life in his path. The rogue elephant was massive and very fierce, far removed from his herd he had turned mad, aggressive. He was called Laal Kaan meaning red ear by the villagers as he used to rub his ears on the tree trunks till they were bloody and charge onto the villagers. My grandfather was invited by the maharaja (buddy) to take this beast down and the story of my grand father who chased the rogue through the forests on his elephant with his massive elephant gun (which would send most people flying off) is to be heard to be believed. There is really only one shot, one chance you get at a stampeding rogue elephant coming right at you, and that is between the eyes. The rogue was shot, the villagers were triumphant, my grandfather returned to the North with his tusks to his dear wife and double patiala peg (scotch), melodious Sanskrit verse and mathematics!

The Patiala Peg originates from the stories of the larger than life Maharaja of Patiala:

Here is a blast from the past, an Old World birthday pic from my teenage photo album at home in India with Laal Kaan’s tusks looming n the background. I’m being fed a piece of birthday cake (Forêt Noire of course!) by my maternal grandma.

Purnima’s Birthday in India with Laal Kaan and Foret Noire

Following on their footsteps, I sense somehow my future too has been written, and the Jabberwocky awaits the final battle in the deep dark depths of lake Geneva.

Good night and hope to see you next week.


May 11, 2010, 2:54 PM

Dear Purnima, 

I can well imagine that your brief foray to the other side of the mirror has left you in an heightened state of despondency after returning to the “right” side.  Flights of fancy, be they real or imaginary, almost always leave us longing to be able to remain in that ethereal state of bliss rather than returning to the hard realities of our lives.  AND, the memories of those often dizzying times keep flashing through our consciousness when we least expect it, like flickers of light through a pitch black room.  We went to the Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art the other morning, and there were several exhibits that really struck me.  One was devoted to the memory of a very famous newscaster in Japan who died in the 1980’s  His son found a whole collection of old videos and audio tapes that his father had done, and went through them all and edited them into a superb exhibit involving the sound of his father’s voice, images on sever smallish tv monitors spread around the room, and text (both in Japanese and English) on a large screen, all of which was in a totally dark, round room.  The effect was really spell binding, and many of the tv images showed events that the correspondent had covered throughout his life.  It was uncanny how my own memories of many of the events from the past that were evoked played a central role in how I reacted to the exhibit.  One of the things that I loved was a short bit from when he was in New York to cover a story.  He said that one morning while he was getting ready to leave, the phone rang.  He said that before he even picked up the phone he knew it was from Tokyo and from his tv station.  He went on to explain that for some reason an international, overseas call always had a slightly different ring to it, and while it may seem illogical and that the phone is a machine that responds to a signal and electrical impulses to activate the ring tone, it nevertheless sounded different.  The description of the exhibit also quoted his son as saying that the small tv monitors that were used to show the various images were tv sets from the period of time when his father did his extremely popular nightly newscasts and that it was most likely that the images of those broadcasts had been shown on those very sets and that they had somehow left an imprint!!!

Another exhibit in the collection was an entire wall covered with black and white photographs of people living in Switzerland during the 1940’s.  The people were all totally anonymous and the pictures themselves were without any artistic merit in and of themselves, but they had been found in a box by an artist that creates her art by using objects she finds and in the way they are arranged and presented.  One of the photos really got to me.  It was the picture of a young girl together with what were probably a group of her family members.  The mood in the photo and the girl herself for some reason took me back to a time when I was much younger and in Denmark and a young girl that I had known there, the memory of whom often flits through my mind.  Those events only live in my memory now, and are real only in that context, but I was really effected by that one picture and the effect it had on me.  The past is completely unretrievable and yet lives on in my mind.  It is evocative of both pleasant, unforgettable experiences that have shaped my life and the way I view the world and yet profound nostalgia.

You asked which of your stories I preferred.  I love them all and always marvel at the mesmerizing prose you are able to weave, but I think your evocation of Morocco was so rich and moving that I like that one best of all.  And I loved you description of how you tip toe through La Place Mollard of a morning taking great care not to step on the transparent cobblestones that carry their multi-language greetings!

Place du Mollard, Geneve:

And talking about war and atomic bombs, I heard an interesting discussion about warfare on NPR this morning (we can pick it up on the radio from the American military radio station).  There was a lengthy interview of a fellow of the Brookings Institute who has just published a lengthy study of the history of warfare.  His rather gloomy, I must say, conclusion is that warfare, in spite of all its violence, uglyness, death and destruction, is part and parcel of human nature.  Even though those of us who constantly hope for a more enlightened humanity that will attempt to find other means to settle dispute and differences have always felt that we just might be capable of moving toward a higher plane of awareness (knowledge, as you put it) and do away with warfare, that simply hasn’t happened !  It’s a terrible thought and conclusion, but I’m afraid that he is right!

So much more to share, but I have to run.  We leave again for Geneva on Friday morning and arrive that evening, that is if the volcano doesn’t interfere with things.  So far SAS’ flights have been operating normally, so I think we’ll be okay.

You didn’t say anything else about Boise???

See you next week sometime.  I’ll let you know when I can get away for a long coffee break.



Apr 22, 2010, 2:34 PM

Dear Purnima,

Your email came just in time to brighten an otherwise grey, rainy day in Nagasaki, especially that image of spring and flowers in Geneva !  And one of my favorite all time movies, to boot.  I agree that Bogart has to be the quintessential hero in that film, and Ingrid Bergmann is so tantalyzingly beautiful, and I love that final scene when Bogart and the French policeman walk off together to shape a new world in the future.

From the barren sands of northern Africa to the lush countryside and rolling hills surrounding the harbor of Nagasaki is quite a leap, but the two are, sadly enough, connected by a tragic war and suffering and sadness.  Your thoughts about the a bomb are an uncanny reflection of my very own this morning.  We spent several hours at the a bomb museum and memorial, and, as was the case last year in Hiroshima, I was engulfed with a whole gamut of emotions from deep sadness to disgust and dismay over my own governments decision (taken at least three years earlier by Roosevelt and Churchill) to drop an atomic bomb on innocent civilian populations.  It must surely rank as one of the great crimes against humanity, but then history is always written by the victors and the feeble rationalizations given at the time that the two atomic bombs saved hundreds of thousands of American lives just don’t wash any more.  Japan was already reeling in the war and had already approached the Russians to act as arbitrators in peace negotiations – rejected by the Americans, and there is no justifiable reason for killing so many innocent civilians (not to mention the totally arrogant assumption that American lives are somehow worth more than Japanese), and the long-term effects of the radiation, something that was far from being understood at the time, are another terrible consequence of that act.  I am convinced that once the machinery to produce a bomb and the decision was made to drop it on a Japanese city (specifically without any prior warning), it was next to impossible to stop it.  The Americans were not only bound and determined to punish Japan for the attack on Pearl Harbor, but also to demonstrate to the Soviets that they possessed a super weapon that made them superior to everyone else in the world.  Who cares if it set off an arms race to acquire the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons that could many times over obliterate the human species.  What a colossal exercise in futility !

I was also beyond myself this morning when I read that the city of Kyoto was also placed on the list of potential targets for the A bomb.  It even made the final cut of the last three targets.  Can you imagine that?  That they even considered obliterating such a jewel of a city with such historic importance is beyond me.  I really can’t fathom it.

Your mention of the recent talks and agreement on arms reductions made me think that each and every participant in any such talks should first of all be required to visit both Hiroshima and Nagasaki before ever sitting down at the negotiating table.  I don’t know if I wrote this last year from Hiroshima, but it was interesting that only one president of the United States has visited Hiroshima, and that was Jimmy Carter!  They should have all, each and every one of them, beginning with Harry Truman, made a pilgrimage to both of these cities so they could vow never to unleash such searing suffering on innocent victims again.

Hiroshima Peace Museum:

A Symbol of Hiroshima:

Well, there’s my rant about one of history’s great foibles.  Other than that, I have really enjoyed Nagasaki.  It is much more picturesque than Fukuoka and has lots of narrow little alleys and streets lined with shops and stalls.  We stumbled quite by accident onto a kind of fish market yesterday that consisted of a couple of dozen small stalls in a very narrow little street about two meters wide.  It was really great.


We’re off tomorrow for the island of Sukuoku and the city of Matsuyama and some hot spring onsen close by.  The Japanese trains are a real delight and a long day of riding the rails will give us a bit of a respite from rain we’ve had in Nagasaki.

Dogo Onsen – Ancient Bath House:

And to answer your other question, it was far more than ten years.  It was more like 23, but only the last three or four were really unbearable and we both kind of sank into a state of non-understanding and non-caring, compounded, largely on my part, by longings for something else and greener pastures and lush gardens of delight, which led me to a brief respite and an eden like rapture that soon turned rather sour, but that’s another very long story for another rainy evening.

By the way, I just finished another Murikami novel – Sputnik Sweetheart.  It is by far his best and most subtle evocation of the possibility of a parallel existence where  one part of us can dwell and where dreams are the connecting link.



May 10, 2010, 4:08 AM

to Roger,

Dear Roger,

I can’t believe this wonderfully descriptive email slipped through my fingers! I read it of course, but waited much too long to respond and it somehow got lost out there in ether. So, I decided to put all my correspondence (mainly our correspondence), covering my time/adventures in Geneva, in a folder labelled “The Geneva Diaries”, to be read at leisure at some later date. However, you must tell me which stories you enjoyed the most, was it Alice in Wonderland/ Purnima in Geneva, the Moroccan trilogy, the tales of Tavernier or the tale of dodging the multiple assassins in Pink Panther returns/ Sing is Kiing? The last tale surprisingly continues and appears to unfold around the glorious central square in the heart of Geneva, Place du Molard, where the sandstone cobbled streets interspersed with glass squares with greetings in numerous languages jump out to greet you. A place bustling with life and energy, people sipping wine enjoying the sunshine as they become spectators, cobblestones awaiting the drama to unfold. I find myself scampering past these cobblestones across the Place du Molard, which is on daily route to the health club, carefully avoiding the glass squares as they upon being touched morph into the assassins (in The Pink Panther Returns), representing the language they are written in, and mingle with the cobblestones awaiting their moment to strike. Something tells me that these tales must be kept between us, don’t you agree?

Place du Mollard, Geneva:

See below Clouseau at the Octoberfest a Target of International Assassins:

Back you your mail, thank you for this incredible email sharing experiences of your time in Nagasaki, the bomb museum and memorial and a slices of US history. The series of decisions that resulted in dropping the A bomb, boggles my mind as it does yours, but what completely blew me off is the fact you mentioned, that Jimmy Carter was the only US president to have visited the bomb museum and memorial! Incroyable!! In my mind, this should be the first shrine any US president visits, remembering, reliving, relearning the lessons of the past as he is entrusted with that absolute power to save or devastate. Of course, not only should this be a lesson limited to the president, but one taught to every middle/high school child using modern technology to virtually visit this very place that shook our souls, so that when this generation is in a position to make some pivotal calls having unravelled their celestial weapon of devastation, they are able to revisit this place in their minds before they make that call to fabricate or fire. If they could look through time, would the great minds that started this process, split the atom, have enjoyed the science and the cerebral speculation without proceeding to the next step, or is this beyond us, bound in this human form do we lack the strength to manage the very weapons we have brought down from the realm of the Gods?

All this brings me back to Drona’s Art of Warfare: Knowledge is the best deterrent as it somehow levels the playing field, everyone has the knowledge and everyone through their proxies have the nukes. The situation today, relation to nuclear deterrence with its many conventions, treaties and summits to scale back and secure reminds me of a Mexican stand-off scene from a Western movie: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  A Mexican stand-off is a stalemate or confrontation where neither side can conceivable expect to win, a situation where all weapons are raised immediately, either directly at each other or through proxies everyone all at once stands exposed, stands covered. This was dramatically depicted in the above mentioned movie, with Clint Eastwood as the Good (bearing an uncanny resemblance to a blue eyed cowboy in common, don’t you agree?), Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach as the Bad and the Ugly, all chasing after the same gold end up in the graveyard with a Mexican stand-off. The scene unfolds with the three staring each other down, evaluating dangers , calculating alliances each with his gun drawn pointed at the other, frozen, somehow drawn into a reluctant partnership of restraint for 5 LONG minutes! How long have we been waiting nukes drawn, how much longer do we have?

See below The Good, The Bad and The Ugly-Mexican standoff. And remember that in this clip like in Yoko Ono’s White Chess installation, there are ever really two guns, the third is a proxy (without bullets):

Back to lighter subjects and romantic interludes, after that memorable 24 hours (in Paris), my life feels even more desolate. The lack of communication, the absolute dearth of concern, the high stress seems to be dragging each day to an irreconcilable juncture. Perhaps, I should not have peeked through the door and glimpsed the other side? And, to add insult to the injury, I was told that the Taj Mahal of Marrakech, a dream built by my  dear friend and the one responsible for the introduction to this alternate realm, where our story (yes me and my beloved froggie) was to unravel in its second phase was usurped by the girls in my favorite TV series, Sex and the City, who took her Taj Mahal for a month to stage their next drama (movie). True! So, I have at least one return planned for Marrakech!

And Roger, before I jump onto the next subject and let this pass (regarding marriage and timelines) do let me reiterate, that the last ten years have been insufferable and not that much shorter than your incarceration! Roger, some people are just not made for this type of thing, and most certainly not Genji…I am still trying to figure how I got so stuck!?!

Finally, to distract my mind and keep the machinery in proper functioning order between dodging assassins and preparing breakfast, I have spent the last couple of days mulling over a topic which we discussed at length over lunch/coffee thus sharing yet another wonderful afternoon of thoughts and ideas (unfortunately not in french), the topic of Traditional Knowledge and Biodiversity. Traditional Knowledge, the knowledge generated by local communities, indigenous peoples, used and passed down from generation to generation encompassing knowledge of plants, minerals, processes, combinations, even artistic expression which enhance the health and welfare of a community. A knowledge so integral to a people, a community, that it forms an essential part of their cultural identity. We had discussed the case of the Indian herb turmeric which and the neem plant being patented and the uproar that followed. The neem plant case was a landmark case as it was the first case where a patent issued on the traditional knowledge of a country was successfully challenged as it was demonstrated that patenting would lead to expensive seeds which poor farmers would be unable to purchase and plant thus a plant which was integral to a culture and whose products are used across India for multiple agricultural and personal uses, would be unaffordable and not be planted thus patenting would lead to the erosion of the diversity of the neem tree. Similarly, the case was made for  turmeric based on traditional knowledge, which is used in Ayurveda and has been used continuously in India from 600BC both internally and externally as herb and medicine and is very much identified as an integral part of the culture eventually resulting in the US patent office revoking the issued patent. Thus an understanding arose that the issue of a patent is both dangerous and powerful as it excludes others from its purview. And, more so in the field of Traditional Knowledge, where that knowledge is so integral to a community and culture that it forms an essential part of their cultural identity and issuing the patent to an outsider would exclude the very people who have been using that knowledge, process, expression for generations that it would be like relinquishing a part of those indigenous people to a third party.

This reminds me of the famous painting in the Louvre and at the Metropolitan Museum titled “The Rape of the Sabines” by Nicolas Poussin.

The Rape of The Sabines – Nicholas Poussin – Public Domain

This painting represents the myth behind the founding of Rome where the roman men after having secured their land and organized themselves under Romulus realized that they needed women to procreate and populate their tribe, so they invited their neighboring tribe for a grand feast. The feast was in reality a ploy to abduct these Sabine women and make them their wives. The Sabine men were unaware, in-alert, and inattentive and thus relinquished their women, which represented their biodiversity, their essence, their flora and fauna to their more powerful and smarter neighbors. The women then become Roman women and give birth to the roman empire and the Sabine men have to forever look upon their own women as the ones from the neighboring tribe. As I saw it, this rape, plunder, abduction, was the first representation of the essence of a people, their Biodiversity/Traditional Knowledge (for in the women lie the traditions and the knowledge of a tribe) being snatched from them from right under their noses as they did not have the leadership, knowledge and tools to secure,  protect or reclaim it. The Sabines would represent the indigenous communities that do not have the knowledge resources or ability to secure their own biodiversity.

Unlike the turf wars of yore, we are onto another plane, a deeper more insidious one, where its no longer an issue of relinquishment of territorial space, one fluid and changing with times, very short times, but one of usurping the knowledge, herbs, plants, traditions, that have been a part of a people forever and sometimes the people themselves, changing both the face of the acquirer and acquired forever, one completely consuming the essence of the other.

Good night and hope to hear from you very soon! When do you return?


Jun 27, 2020, 12:04 AM

Dear Roger,

It’s been a while since we last connected. I do hope you and the family are well and safe during this pandemic.

One of the things I discovered referenced throughout my correspondence was The Story of The Ice Mommy…it’s one tale I never did get around to narrating. And time has now distorted this poignant tale of the Ice Mommy found five thousand years later seemingly intact with her long eyelashes and the rattle for her kids in her knapsack at the foot of the Weisshorn. 

However, something bizarre has occurred to  the story…the ice mommy who was assumed to have fallen to her death has been found with an arrow point at the base of her spine. Who would have done such a dastardly act, who would have shot an arrow into the spine of the Ice Mommy?

The tale is now one of assassination…  A WHODUNNIT… Who killed the Ice Mommy?

See below Otzi the 5,000 year old Iceman (mummy) who was found intact, frozen in the Tyrolean Alps, not far from the Weisshorn. It  is believed that he was murdered and didn’t just fall to his death as he was found with an arrowhead in his shoulder that went through his back. See Otzi below:Ötzi

Otzi -The Ice Mommy killed by a spear to his back:

love n hugs


PS: My Ice Mommy, is from the “other” mountain  range, from a place which is like the mirror image of the Weisshorn of the Alps, but is in the HimalayasThe Weisshorn Solang. She found herself with one wonderful bottle of California wine too many and got “baked” in Sonoma 😂

See below California Wine Country where CA attorneys go to bake 😉

The Culinary Institute of America:

The Weisshorn (The Alps):

The Solang Weisshorn (The Himalayas):

Dhauladhar Range - Himachal Pradesh


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