Geneva Diaries #6

The Black Pearl, Jack Sparrow, The Case For Polanski, Yet another collage pour moi et pour toi


Dear Roger,

I saw a fabulous movie this weekend which immediately lifted my spirits, Good Morning England a “must see”! Its about a band of rogue DJ’s broadcasting their music which was scandalous and unacceptable to the establishment of the day from a pirate ship stationed in the middle of the North Sea. I absolutely loved the movie, loved the story and loved the music!. A wonderful journey that captured the fever and excitement of the 60’s, the ideas, the music and aptly put together on this 40th anniversary of Woodstock (which I have been waiting to hear more about from someone who I am sure was in the midst of all the action, but instead I ended up browsing through a coffee table book on Woodstock’s 40th at Payot this weekend). See below Good Morning England:

Somehow pirates and pirate ships have always excited me, as you remember from my fervent support of the Swedish pirates and our chat about cyberspace and piracy. And then of course there is my very own pirate story, adapted from Pirates of the Caribbean. I was captain Jack Sparrow and when it was possible and exciting enough, Elizabeth Swan. The problem occurred of course when they kissed…who was I? But her spirited response immediately put me into her shoes. Our black jeep Cherokee was the black pearl of course, and the crew included two half toothed brats seat belted in the back as we tore down the pirate lanes on 280 and 101! It was only when you got near Palo Alto that we all had to duck/ submerge as the police cars emerged and appeared to chase this motley crew (a California housewife, two brats and later a dog!) down the highway. 

Not to be outdone or forgotten in my current story, the pirate theme continues…last week  i found myself in a car without my handbag rushing to get the kids in time for tennis just across the border in France, I drove without an ID, without papers, with out cash or a license across the border praying to be spared for this very last time. As I passed the mustard fields surrounded by spectacular peaks on the Route de Thonon (my soul certainly feels good everytime I drink that water having seen its origins), I was convinced that the froggies were jumping up and down in a frenzy (I was told by the frog prince himself that The Frog always watches),   saying, “shall we nab her, shall we nab her not!” I guess Not!

Route de Thonon:

Then of course back home in Geneva, i have the radio blaring at 6am with Gaddafi’s indignant message for the nth time after the supposed affront by the Swiss authorities on his son, “this is a mafia country, they are all mafia!” Well guess who jumps up all excited, moi of course, and the creative juices start to flow again…

A mafia country, a pirate ship…could I really be on a large hidden pirate ship! Could this be the Pearl? Incredible, I might be home! Suddenly, everyone around me starts looking the part, the postman is certainly One-eyed Jack, and then there is Blue Eyed Bob behind the meat counter at CO-OP who so deftly uses his knife as his golden earrings glisten and swing, the bankers with their eye patches and attorneys with tall tales all neatly tucked into their neatly tailored European suits and of course the guard at the border post, a female that winks every time I pass (in this bizarre upside down universe as many girls seem to wink at me as boys do!), could my world be more exciting!

Blue Eyed Bob – See below Alpine Blue Eyes reflecting the glacier as they held me in deep freeze asking “Do you see the glaciers melting…next time you visit Wonderland Alice, I may not be there”.

Good night.


Btw: I did see the movie Coraline and now see whom you were alluding to when you talked about “the hair with a purple glow”, and insisted I watch the movie. A story about a girl with an ATTITUDE that is somehow permanently fixed at twelve with a particularly “long nose” unlike most cartoon characters, forever looking for that tunnel/wormhole to an alternate universe and driven to mischief by abject boredom. Dear Roger,  I wish to inform you, that I HAVE changed my hair color, it is no longer so black that it looks almost purple! 

On Sep 30, 2009, Roger STEVENSON wrote:

Dear Purnima,

Back in Bucharest after two days of no internet, castle hoping, fending off pickpockets and marveling at the ubiquitous poverty.

I loved your last email about possibly being in a pirate haven – truly wonderful.  I’m not quite sure what to think of la Suisse after the Polanski arrest.

I have seen previews of the film about Radio Caroline and really like the actor who plays the lead.  I was in Denmark when it was broadcasting and used to listen to it.  The Danish authorities were going bananas over it too and tried unsuccessfully to silence it.  At the time, it was the only radio station that played good music.  I must go see it.

And can’t wait to see your new hair color.  I also have a wonderful passage to share about moving between different states of realty. I read it today on the train on the way back to Bucharest. It’s from Murakami’s After Dark.

Lots to share. Talk to you soon and see you on the third.



On Tue, Oct 6, 2009 , Roger Stevenson wrote:

Dear Purnima,

It was a lovely evening last Saturday.  I’m really sorry we couldn’t have stayed for dinner.  But you’re right, I find the cocktail party setting both invigorating and frustrating.  It’s always fun to meet other people, and I thought your brother was marvelous.  I can truly understand why he plays such an important role in your life.  On the down side, it’s frustrating making small talk with strangers and not being able to have a one-on-one meeting of minds.

You were simply stunning !  I love your hair now and you always wear such well-chosen and stylish outfits. 

We’re off again for the weekend – another BD present from A’s daughter – to check out the new Magritte museum in Brussels and to catch a Keith Jarrett concert.  Let’s try and at least have coffee sometime next week.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the 70’s and the liberating influence of music and the hippy movement during those times.

A bientôt,


From: Roger Stevenson 
Date: Mon, Mar 8, 2010
Subject: Nightmare

Dear Purnima,

What a nightmarish weekend !  Not only do you have to share your dream apartment with an ogre from the slimy antebellum marches, but he spends his Saturday arguing with you about your sanity.  How disgusting !  I hope your Sunday was a bit less hellish.  I’m glad you felt you could share your rage with me. How are you by tonight ?

I’m not at all surprised by the reaction, or lack of it,  of the Swiss bystanders during your encounter with the brute in Manor the other day.  I’ve had my own experience with their indifference to others’ problems.  All they seem to be interested in is going their way so as not to be bothered.

We tried to go see the new Polanski film last night, but got to the theatre a bit too late and all the tickets had been sold.  It’s supposed to be an excellent film in a very Hitchcockian mood, but I also think that a lot of folks are going to see the film because they are incensed at the American treatment of Polanski.  We did manage to catch another film at the Human Rights Film Festival, however.  L’Armée du crime about the Communist underground movement in Paris during the German occupation of France in WW II.  Interesting enough, some of the most ardent folks who hunted down the Jews and shipped them off to the ovens were the French themselves, and especially the French administration and police force at the time.  And then there were the collaborators and the informers from among the general population.  Not a very pretty picture, and the French have been very slow in coming to terms with their actions and attitudes from that period of history.  An interesting part of the film, and one that is closely related to your own experience in Geneva, is that many of the members of the Communist Party who were actively involved in sabotage against the Germans were immigrants from Eastern Europe.  The official government propaganda against them took the tack of fighting against those filthy foreign immigrant terrorists who were making life so difficult for our German occupiers and friends.  The hypocrisy of it all makes me feel like throwing up !

It’s nearly full-circle: A’s parents have decided that they don’t want to stay in Spain for another year and that they will return to California (that’s where they met in the first place) this summer – a big decision, but we are already planning on spending Xmas in Southern California with, of course, some time in San Francisco with my son.  But I’ll miss not visiting Valencia.  I really liked the place.

Do take care of yourself !



Now Your Day: a note filled with Magritte, Green Apples, and Yet another American in Paris!

Dear Roger,

Thinking of you on this special day and wishing you the very best for this day and the year through.

So, you are off once again to see an exhibit in Brussels of “our” favorite artist, I am turning apple green with envy. How can you see Magritte without me, you have to take me along! Imagine me seated swinging my legs on the tip of your spectacles. I must hear all about it.

Talking about Magritte and his green apples, I just returned to my french lessons after a break of a couple of days (bunking class to be with my brother), and guess what, I was completely “out of it”, could not follow a sentence without struggling. As usual inspired by Magritte and his passion for floating bowler hats and green apples, I was imagining my head as an enlarged green apple seated on the chair staring blankly in class(ironically green suits me best- another long tale with a capital S for surreal) with a giant pip stuck in the middle of my head occupying most of my brain and blocking me from thinking and and speaking! Whatever I said sounded ridiculous…help!! I now plan to grab people on the road here in Veille Ville and just say something to start a conversation in french, what do u think? need some ideas.

See below Magritte’s Green Apple:

Thank you for your lovely compliments on my dress, you are always so nice (such a contrast from the ogre at home) you certainly make my day. I understand what you mean about not getting a chance to spend more time getting to know people, I wish I had planned this around a small dinner so everyone could have spent more time getting to meet each other. Though I wish you had stayed, we did not go out for dinner as planned but stayed home as everyone just hung around chatting till midnight with my meager snack offerings (I wish I had known, i wish I had planned differently). Well, i guess there is always next time.

My brother seemed to have enjoyed that evening and his stay in Geneva, in his short trip he seemed to have checked out the nightlife of Geneva, more than I have done in a year, even a visit to Bobinsky’s theatre (Coraline and Kempinski) I am glad you met. You mentioned that you are still waiting to tell me more about the 60s,70s and the hippie era and I am anxious to hear. As I mentioned earlier, my brother who celebrates his 40th this year(1969 born), has always symbolized that hippie era with his passion for music and his ideas, But I found a change this time, a radical change, i fear that the dream might have really been hijacked…

And finally from Bobinski, Kempinski we go to Polanski…you mentioned Polanski and the shock at his arrest and extradition in your last mail and I dived right in! I have reading all about his arrest in Zurich and extradition to the US and as much of the issues surrounding this peculiar case. You seemed to be intimately familiar with him and his work, and I am not so, which possibly makes it easier for me to view the issues without the emotional entanglement of the “persecution of a great artist” as is being projected by his sympathizers and my cynicism of the often arbitrary sweeping action of the authorities makes me equally skeptical of the justification for his arrest and extradition being presented by the authorities and blasted by the media.

Ronald Sokol’s NYT Op-Ed on the Polanski case:

See below the artist at his creative best: Roman Polanski’s -The Pianist

As I struggled to understand the issues in full (which I still cannot claim), I stumbled across Yet Another American In Paris; well, Aix-en-Provence to be precise! Ronald Sokol is a lawyer in Provence, taught at the University of Virginia law school and made his way to France eventually. His op-ed in the Herald Tribune has to be one of the most educated, clear headed, balanced and brilliant pieces that puts the whole Polanski issue in perspective. Where were all these guys when I was in California…in Paris I guess! 

Roger, as you must know that there is no one more than me that believes that the protection of women and children form the core values of every civilized society and we must continuously do our best to ensure that this value is reflected with every revision and evolution of the law. However, the law itself must be adhered to and respected without which every other right which we take for granted in which are enshrined these core values of our society stand to be jeopardized.

Sokol lays out the facts quite clearly:

Polanski pleaded guilty in 1978 (30 years ago) in Los Angeles to the felony of having sex with a minor. Grave crime, assaulting one of our core values as mentioned above.

Following the guilty plea Polanski fled the US rather than go to prison. There is social value in discouraging criminals from fleeing the jurisdiction, time should have been done.

The victim has forgiven him and does not want him to go to prison. This is not an issue to be determined by the victim/individual, a crime is not just an offense against the individual but an offense against the state.

Blah, blah from little p: However, in our fervent zeal to pursue truth and justice we must be cautious that we don’t do this in a manner that will undermine the law itself. We have ensure that it conforms to Due Process and the systems we have laid down for an efficient and effective system. Now back to Super S…

 The US persecuting attorney has absolute discretion to persecute or not.  The purpose he serves by embarking on this persecution brings us to the primary aim of Criminal law: Revenge (illegitimate), Deterrence (he has been living in France for three decades with no history of crime),Punishment and Rehabilitation (not to be vindictive but help person to return to society as a normal member and in this case he has been living as a part of society) 

The prosecuting attorney in L.A. has sought his extradition from Switzerland now in 2009, the first request made since 1978 a gap of 31 years.The legitimacy of such delayed persecution is being called into question. 

Polanski has been living and working openly in France and Switzerland as he is one of the most famous film directors in the world and could easily have been extradited from Switzerland long ago.

This three decade-long delay makes the prosecutors action appear arbitrary. Both the European Convention on human rights and the principles underlying the Due Process Clause reflected in 5th and 14th amendments to the US constitution caution against such arbitrary action. Otherwise, by this very arbitrary action the state will appear to mock the very rule of law it seeks to enforce. In my opinion Super Sokol could not have been clearer. Do check out the article (HT oct 3rd).

Roger, as you know the Due Process clause is based on the concept of fundamental fairness, a guarantee of basic fairness with the aim that with the use of fair procedures you would prevent the wrongful deprivation of interests (life, liberty and property). Based on the principle that the government must respect all the legal rights its owed to a person according to the law and holds that the government is subservient to the law of the land, protecting individuals from the State and the States’ arbitrariness. Bottom line, baddie, fugitive or otherwise, the extradition action against Polanski after a 30 year gap was outrageously arbitrary jeopardizing our very  process of law!

Happy birthday once again and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Hugs and a big kiss from ginormous green apple!



Dear Purnima,

Wow, what a wonderful, long and fascinating email.  Thanks for the BD greetings.  They are much appreciated.

We leave this evening for Bruxelles and Magritte.  I can best picture you seated on my shoulder so you can share your impressions of his paintings.  It is one thing to admire them in a book of prints and quite another to actually stand in front of the original.

You’ll have to tell me more about your fears that the dream has been hijacked with regard to your brother.  I think I know what you mean, but I’m not completely sure.  It was fun meeting him, however brief it was.

Sorry the evening didn’t turn out as you had planned, but it sounds like everyone was very happy to stay and chat and munch on your delicious goodies.  I, too, wish we could have stayed.

And Polanski !  Your treatise on him and his arrest was quite a read.  I find myself torn between disdain for his drugging and seducing a 13 year-old and totally suspicious of the true reasons for his arrest at this time and place and so very long after the events.  It is obvious to me that there are far too many extra-legal factors involved, and I can’t help but wonder if the action on the part of the Swiss authorities, and their public defense of it, are not somehow related to the UBS and the problems of US citizens using Switzerland as a tax haven.  Your bottom-line paragraph is right on.

Got to run and finish packing, but I wanted to thank you for your email and your thoughts before leaving.  Have a great weekend and I’ll tell you all about Magritte and Keith Jarrett next week.

Gros bisous,



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

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