Rashomon – Play Review (Naatak.org show)


Image result for naatak, rashomonDirector Savitha Samu exceeded all expectations in direction of psychological thriller Rashomon in NAATAK.org production. The story centers around human tendency to embellish the transpired events where facts take on different hues in each narrator’s mind.

Originally, Rashomon was written as a short story by Akutagawa. In 1950, it came out as a film, directed by renowned Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa. It won several awards and is considered among the greatest films ever made and brought Japanese cinema on world stage. Incredibly challenging to produce live on stage, Naatak’s superb cast did a fabulous job. The story centers around various characters narrating harrowing incident that involves a murder.  Set in Mumbai, everyone involved, directly or indirectly, offers an account of the events that transpired on that fateful stormy day.

Image result for naatak, rashomonEach and every single member of the cast including Rohit Dube, Kukund Marathe, Natraj Kumar, Vineet Mishra, Maunic Dharia, Ranjita Chakravary, and those playing as shadows and dhol players did complete justice to their challenging roles. But truly memorable were Ekta Brahmkshatri and Rajiv Nema in some of the most challenging roles I have ever seen on Naatak’s stage.

This story speaks to  amazing capabilities of human mind that four different people offer detailed descriptive report of what transpired. Each narrator embellishes the report from their perspective, providing subjective, alternative, self-serving and often contradictory versions of the same incident, that renders their version unique and unlike any other. Five contrasting accounts of the same murder by five different individuals is enough to shake up from the core, anyone’s faith in pure and unadulterated truth with all its rawness and holds deep and profound implications for credibility of eyewitness accounts, role of perceptions and biases, and basic human right of justice for all. (see my book review on “American Marriage http://bit.ly/2Kzewz1 ).  Tickets for Naatak shows are available at www.naatak.org and don’t forget to get a season pass to enjoy the shows at discounted price.

 

 

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An American Marriage by Tayari Jones – Book Review


African-American just married coupleA young couple, Celestial and Roy are living the American Dream. Roy is a young executive and his new bride Celestial is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. Roy observes, “all my life I have been helped by leg up programs – Head Start when I was five and Upward Bound all the way through. If I ever have kids, they will be able to pedal through life without training wheels, but I like to give credit where it is due”. You read these lines in the very first chapter and you feel incredibly proud of what American has achieved. Acknowledging the incredible progress America has made, Roy observes, “if you’re going to be black and struggling, the United States is probably the best place to do it”.

Silhouette of a businessman climbs up the stairs and another businessman pushes this ladder. The concept of inequality and injusticeRoy was determined to live out his American dream as up and coming, hungry young black professional, reaching for the stars, but never forgetting his roots. He says, “but with my mother and Celestial, I was actually split down the middle. Olive (his mother) brought me into this world and trained me up to be the man I recognized as myself. But Celestial was the portal to the rest of my life, the shiny door to the next level”. Although he came from the deep South, Roy felt that the American dream was in his grasp. Little did he know that the America that brought him Head Start and Upward Bound, still retained in the recesses of the deep unconscious, strong biases that can splinter young lives.  It seems in America, being black means never forgetting your race. As Kamau Bell once said, “being black means the exact same thing in the current era as it meant throughout the history of this country, that at any point a white person can harass you for no good reason, and you kind of would have to take it”.

A man in jailThe unfounded optimism about how far the country has come in eliminating racial prejudices, sometimes takes young black people by surprise. Unguarded and trusting, they fall prey, first to people’s biases, false eyewitnesses and testimonies, and later to society’s complex legal system. Held for days and weeks without a trial, without the help of appropriate legal attorney to navigate the complicated legal labrinth, it impacts entire families for generations. Roy and Celestial’s young lives are soon shattered when Roy is accused, arrested and sentenced to a crime he did not commit. Roy slept behind bars one hundred nights before he was even brought to trial and was then sentenced for twelve years. But Roy and Celestial had faith. Celestial says, “maybe that’s what innocence is, having no way to predict the pain of the future”. Getting arrested and getting sentenced unjustly, was not even half of the pain they would go through as they navigate through life; one a free bird with all kinds of new opportunities for the taking, and other behind bars, suffocating as if life is slowly being snuffed out of him. What happens to the love that formed the center of their existence, now finding expression in soul baring letters? Celestial writes, “a marriage is more than your heart, it’s your life. And we are not sharing ours”. Celestial is outside in the real world where sharing a life looks very different than it does to Roy, who is inside.

Image result for american marriage, tayari jonesRoy and Celestial’s journey touches our souls. Tayari Jones is a master storyteller. She lays bare before the readers, the simplicity of the young couple’s pain. And at the same time, her compassionate observations of the complex characters in the story, make their pain even more searing, even more real. First, there are hard questions about injustice and betrayal, a man’s responsibilities and demands of parents’ eternal love. Then there are heartbreaking complex softer issues like, who defines the propriety of our responsibilities and desires, and what does one do with wounds that may never heal.  American Marriage may not provide the answers, but this book will hold your attention, make you marvel at the richness of the language and from time to time, will stir your soul at some deep level where truth is….. just truth and humanity is humanity, regardless of race, class or color.

I would like to make one final point about unjust imprisonment and in 2018, all the emphasis that is being put on “law and order” but comparatively much less so on compassion, understanding and humanity. To address problems thus will continue to keep our society splintered and lives shattered, including black lives, lives of those seeking asylum, lives of children who cannot speak for themselves, lives of LGBTQ community that are often marginalized. Problems cannot disappear because children are taken away and put in cages or refugee families put in military detention centers or young black men taken away and put behind bars or young couples are not allowed to cement their love because they are of the same gender. Problems cannot disappear because people are made to disappear, left dead, broken or marginalized. That patriarchal solution treats the symptoms, giving a false sense of security. I hope we start thinking about it more wholistically and offer systemic solutions that are also compassionate and humane. One can’t underscore the importance of effective leadership at national level, to bring this dialog at the forefront in a constructive way, with less divisive rhetoric and with appeal for broad engagement towards more compassionate systemic solutions along with heightened individual awareness. 

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SCOTUS: Above all what it stands for is Smartness NOT Ideology – Message for Independents


The Supreme Court of the United States SCOTUS located on 1st Street N.E. Washington DC is the highest federal court of the United States. Supreme Court of USA: #SCOTUS has final and ultimate (and largely discretionary) appellate jurisdiction over all federal courts and state courts. It is the final interpreter of federal law, including the US Constitution. While ruling may be only within the context of a case on which it is deliberating, court’s opinion may be broader. The justices’ ideological beliefs are of importance — But not more than their incredible smartness. Conservative justices like Kennedy have been known to rule liberally sometimes and vice versa. If you ever read the opinions of the court, they are fabulously interesting, incredibly detailed, and highly intelligent. 

Statue of justice

Until the strange era of Trump, I would not have worried so incredibly much (as if my life depended on it) about Kennedy’s retirement. But everything in life recently has come to be defined by BT (before Trump) and AT (after Trump) and we are living in a new era AT. Trump has uniquely marked his time in office with making zero attempt to unite the country, to expand his base or popularity, he has uniquely focused on dismantling or undermining almost every office of Government, he has engaged in openly inhumane actions, openly flaunted laws of the nation, has fought with every ally and has openly courted dictators and human rights violators, and he has an investigation going on regarding most significant national crime that he keeps threatening to close down. Good economy or not (remember sometimes economy impact of certain rulings and actions may be slow in coming), WE NEED OVERSIGHT. Also don’t forget the fact he laughed at the idea of getting more judges at the border to process cases faster – that is FLAUNTING OF DUE PROCESS. AND that thus far the candidates his administration has put forward for lower courts have been least vetted, least qualified and almost laughable in their ignorance.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JUNE 14, 2018: A sign reads, "Caging children is not humane" at the protest to Keep Families Together in Detroit. This is a time for Americans to stand up and CONTACT THEIR REPRESENTATIVES to make sure that all nominations are pushed after November. If for no other reason than for the fact that THERE SHOULD BE TIME FOR THEM TO BE THOROUGHLY VETTED AND LATER FOR MORE BALANCED CONGRESS TO THOROUGHLY GRILL & QUESTION THEM. It is one thing to get someone in a hurry when other party’s hands are tied and get someone simply on ideological basis. But don’t forget this will get us stuck for generation or longer. Don’t forget that we have changed and grown in our perspectives and we may continue to grow and change in perspectives. A person who may be selected based on incredible smartness will have an ability to grow and change as circumstances and context changes. But someone lacking in smartness or not thoroughly vetted and having a flawed character or background may not have the smartness that sets a SCOTUS apart in every way from politicians who nominate them. Just imagine how will you feel if we are saddled with less than the best for years and years just because you did nothing when you could do something. Just imagine how you will feel when you will have grown in your perspectives and this Justice won’t have that capability for growth and capability to incorporate new perspectives? So please get fired up!

WASHINGTON, DC, USA - SEPTEMBER 13, 2005: U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge John G. Roberts Jr. testifies before Senate Judiciary Committee during confirmation hearings to be Chief Justice.And now finally, read this court’s most recent opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts. It is sure to expand your mind – notice how incredibly beautifully it is written with due consideration for detailed history, incredible prose, and beautifully expressed philosophical argument – in simple words, asking people from refraining to engage in simplistic comparisons (for instance between Trump’s actions and Hitler’s). Whether you agree with his opinion or not, don’t fail to marvel at its beauty. Here is the very last line — and the piece is good till the last line — “A society that obliterates all nuance is bound to cheapen its history, and everyone else’s too”.
https://www.yahoo.com/news/trumps-policy-inhumane-not-1942-090006002.html
And then Please add your name to the petition below…..
https://action.kamalaharris.org/sign/acquisition-180627-supreme-court-khint/

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Top ten reasons to not single out Trump team members for “harassment”


I don’t want to single out our dedicated Dem leader who stirred up a controversy this week by asking people to “harass” the team working with the current administration. We are all filling her rage and sadness and any one of us might have said the same thing when witnessing little #ChildrenInCages . However, compared to us, far higher standards are expected of our leaders. It is completely ok for a leader to call us for civil disobedience and to show up and resist and march and speak up and protest. But let us not ask people to show up to single out administration team members on their private outings with their family members. Here are top 10 reasons why the strategy suggested by her is not the best one to adopt. 

10: When they go low, we go high (this one is still a good one to follow but please note, from number 1 it has gone down all the way to number 10.

9: Civility discourse aside, Dems need to differentiate themselves in every conceivable manner from Trump, in order to make a solid case of defective #leadership (when the right time arrives). We must maintain the distinction.

8: Instead of keeping all energy focused on their scandals, this unnecessary moves the focus on #Dems. There are enough Trump scandals that we need to stay relentlessly focused on HIS scandals. Despite that our attention is slipping as he slips things under the radar. We must not make more opportunity available to him.

ANAHEIM CALIFORNIA, May 25, 2016: Thousands of Supporters, wave signs and show their support for Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump at the Anaheim Convention Center rally on.  5.25.20167: Democrat base is vastly different from Trump base. While Trump base thrives on his lies and potty mouth discourse, democrats do not appreciate it, leave alone thriving on it.  Democrats are more likely to do fact checking, more open to contrary information, more willing to engage in dialog and more likely to call their leaders on uncivilized talk, unlike Trump base. So a Dem leader is unlikely to score high points for divisive stirring of the pot, like Trump does with his base.

6: Closely related to number eight, Dems don’t need controversy that divides them while so many critical races are going on, especially over non-substantive issues. We must not enable Trump to go higher in polls because we are getting divided over our leaders’ uncivil dialog, especially when all attention should be on Trump’s inhumane actions.

OCTOBER 15, 2016, EDISON, NJ - Donald Trump speaks at Edison New Jersey Hindu Indian-American rally for "Humanity United Against Terror"5: It is extremely tempting to give him a dose of his own medicine. But however tempting, we must not, because we will lose. ONLY TRUMP CAN DO TRUMP. Most other politicians just don’t have the capability for incessantly lying, name calling of opponents and riling up and dividing people. So why attempt something that is a forgone loser act for dems? (from article by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large).

4: There are far superior and memorable ways to point out Trump’s inhumane actions, and draconian policy of dividing young children from their parents at the border. Except for the recent snafu by Samantha Bee, the comedians (SNL, Seth Meyers, John Oliver, Sam Bee, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah) have all done an awesome job of calling out Trump and have done so with amazing class and wit.

3: Trump is doing the lying and engaging in divisive rhetoric strategically and effectively (as per the standards of his base) because he is being exactly who he is. Ironically, Trump’s words and actions are authentic and reflect who he is as a person. He enjoys power for power’s sake, he marvels at the power of the dictators, and he understands that he can stay in double digits in power and polls only by keeping the population divided. We are understandably stupendously angry at his clear and open unwillingness to follow due process. We are understandably and heart-soakingly saddened at his inhumane treatment of migrant families at the border. But what we say in anger is a one time thing. We are patently unable to stay angry always or to stay sad always, whereas Trump will never tire of being self focused ALWAYS. Again it circles around to Trump being Trump.

However, in the event that we do manage to authentically and consistently give him a dose of his own medicine and in the event that we effectively manage to stoop to his level, then we still have a problem.   Quoting from article by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large, “Then there is the political argument: No one gets down in the mud with Trump and comes out clean. Or, in the words of George Bernard Shaw: “I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”

children's hand in jail.2: : Trump has lowered the civility discourse so dramatically and has polarized the country so much that merely to survive and protect their political careers, no GOP members are able to speak up against him. So now the #dems are not just the keepers of democracy, but also keepers of civility, truth, humanity, and integrity. Someone will have to hold that post with consistency, patience and persistence, no matter how tough the going gets.

1: Number ONE reason we may not want to stoop to Trump’s level is because we have to believe that though victory may be slow in coming, truth and integrity always wins. The last laugh will be enjoyed by integrity, unity and humanity. To be steadfast in that belief will require us to have tremendous courage to keep up resistance and even more patience to show up and yet resist the urge to get in the mud with him. As the cries of little sobbing children reverberate in our ears, we must know that we need to stand by them, not for a day, not for a week, but for a lifetime, for the harm that is being inflicted on their little impressionable minds. The same patience will be required of us to right the harm that Trump and his administration is doing to all the other groups among us, our kneeling athletes, LGBTQ, Muslims, Mexicans, Gold Star families, women who require full medical access and so on.  This will have to be a long journey of patience and persistence and that is what we will also need from our #dems leaders.  

 

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Nelda’s dilemma 5 – Refugee solution requires leadership to address root causes


Image result for violence in latin americaIn El Salvador, there are 60,000+ gang members and overall murder rate is among highest in the world.  A gang set a bus on fire with people inside it. Latin America is home to just 8% of the world’s population but 33% of homicides. Just four countries in the region, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela account for a quarter of all the murders on earth. Of the 20 countries in the world with the highest murder rates, 17 are Latin American, as are 43 of the top 50 cities.

Image result for violence in latin americaNo Mr. Trump, Democrats did not ask for open borders. And no, the democrats did not ask for inhumane crackdown on people pouring in at our border. Any sensible people will avoid either extreme because effective solutions don’t always lie at either extremes. What democrats or any sensible person is saying or acknowledging is that border issue (like most governing issues) is a complex issue. It does not have one size fits all policy solution. It must include addressing broader issue of extreme violence and violence related economies in Latin America. Mr. pugnacious pusillanimous prevaricating potty-mouth putin-propped pointless placeholder #DonaldTrump, this issue like many issues cannot be solved by hiding into a box and building a wall around. Whether it is environment and climate change or refugee crisis, United States must have a seat at the table and take global #leadership in solving complex issues — exactly what #HillaryClinton would have done exactly what Obama administration had taken on.

Image result for solution to violence in latin americaGuatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are amongst the most dangerous countries in the world. If you live there and don’t even try to get out of there and make your way up North, then you are risking your life and your entire family’s life to be killed in gang violence. It is pure and simple human instinct to try to survive and to try to save one’s children.  Additionally, the violence has impacted and permeated into all the surrounding countries in Latin America — all the way from Mexico to Argentina, including in Colombia, Guyana, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay and so on.

No, it is not a solution to keep borders open. But democrats are suggesting that complexity of this problem be acknowledged with concrete actions for heart-centered, low and order compliant, compassionate, long term solutions. As Jeh Johnson, former Secretary of Homeland Security in Obama administration said on NPR, we will never  be able to fully address illegal migration unless we address the underlying causes of illegal migration; the powerful, push factors that motivate a mother or a father to send their child on a most dangerous journey to United States in the first place. It is a desperate situation that is pushing people to resort to desperate measures. Only effective way to deal with the border crisis is by thinking long term with bipartisan support and begin to invest in the physical security and economic security of these countries.

Image result for tents to house migrantsUnited States is putting in staggering amounts of money into incarcerating asylum seeking immigrants and already spent stupendous amount in housing and caring for babies and infants. With a fraction of that cost and a heavy dose of compassion, we can begin to address this issue and engage in discussions with Latin American countries. US also has access to phenomenal high tech resources that can be put to use. US can take leadership and get all countries to engage and enhance inter-country cooperation to curb violence and curtail gangs.

If a presidential candidate does not address immigration situation with this kind of long term solution then we need to to be aware that everything else is rhetoric and they won’t work on this in a bipartisan manner which is the only way it can be solved.

It is about time to make sure that each and every single child is united with parents and all children are treated as children, not at criminals.

See links to
Nelda’s journey 1 – http://bit.ly/2ymlWQt
Nelda’s journey 2 – http://bit.ly/2M1Czmi
Nelda’s journey 3 – http://bit.ly/2KarjH1
Nelda’s  journey 4 – http://bit.ly/2ywjfMb

 

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Nelda’s journey 4 – Mama deported, Nelda in foster care


Nelda’s mama is deported
Back to Venezuela
Nelda is with foster family
They’re caring and kind

At school Nelda learns
Days are full and fun
But nights bring terror
“Mama”, she sobs

Nights pour into days
Sleepless and scared
Nelda doesn’t care
I’m ok, she says

Nelda isn’t crying
Her tears have dried up
She’s ward in a system
And she’s quietly slipping

Meanwhile…….

Image result for woman deported by us border patrolNelda’s mama is back
She has spent it all
Just to stay alive
And to make the trek

How to pick up pieces
When piece of your heart
Is across impenetrable border
Mi Vida, my life, in air, she says

And then HHS declares
Nelda is to be united
But tragedy has struck
Just before Nelda flies

Uncle gets hold of mama
Remember Nelda’s uncle? (see part 1 of her journey)
Mama is gang raped and killed
What is to become of Nelda?

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If you have any difficulty imagining how incredibly dangerous the situation is in Latin America and how perilous the journey it is that people undertake so that they may live or what may happen to kids separated from their parents, then this Nelda’s story though fiction is what I have compiled from reading many actual stories and other reports.
Here are links to
Nelda’s journey 1: Live, I may – http://bit.ly/2ymlWQt
Nelda’s journey 2: I want to die – http://bit.ly/2M1Czmi
Nelda’s journey 3: Conversation with Nelda & her mama – http://bit.ly/2KarjH1

 

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Nelda’s Journey 3: Conversation with Nelda and her mama


Q: But Nelda, your mama brought you to abuse our system
A: But my mama was trying to save my life

Related imageQ: Mama, more of you are bringing your kids here, so you can come in.
A: More of us are trying to save our kids when there is more violence or drug economy depleting our jobs and livelihood.

Q: We need zero tolerance to deter you from coming
A: When faced with a choice of running on the path or staying to die, people will always choose to walk on the path wherever it leads. To try to survive is a human instinct and has little to do with policies.

Q: You are coming in illegally.
A: No we are not. We came at the border and turned ourselves in and requested asylum.

Q: Why didn’t you go to port of entry.
A: My mama went 6 times to port of entry and they asked us to come another time. Time was running out on us.

Q: As a mother, I wouldn’t send my kids with coyotes thousands of miles away. Obviously your people don’t care right?
A: As a mother, if your only choice was to send your kid away, you would, any mother would; because a parent will want a child to survive above all else. And these are not my people. People are coming to US border from so many countries in Latin America with similar problems.

Image result for migrant workersQ: But you people come here and take our jobs!
A: I can’t lie to you and say I am not going to work hard so my children have a better life. Anyway I heard that often there is worker shortage here and there are backbreaking jobs that few people want to do.

Q: We can’t keep taking you in. We have to build a wall and keep you out.
A: That is up to you and your conscience. But when experiencing violence and certainty of death, rape, kidnappings, people will walk on the path that is ahead; to where-ever it leads. When your house is on fire, you jump to the net below and you don’t ask will those people rob me, kidnap my child.

Now, can I ask you some questions.

Q: So you want to keep us out but didn’t you come to the US as an immigrant in 1984?
A: Yes, I did — legally.

Image result for legal migrationQ: So why did you leave your country? Did you dream of a better life?
A: Yes, I went to school, got education and then I wanted more opportunities. My family wasn’t rich, I’ve worked hard to be where I am.

Q: And now you’re taking away jobs from others?
A: Yes, but I came here legally, so it’s a fair fight. I came on merit.

Q: So you already had a leg up with good education but you came to the land of opportunity because you wanted a better life? Our biggest fault was to be born in a wrong place.
A: ummm perhaps….

Q: Well….. Those of us coming from violence torn areas of Latin America don’t have a leg up with better education and we are not coming just for a better life. WE WANT A LIFE, before it is snatched away from us, we want to live. You don’t believe that if given a chance, we too may shine on our own merit?
A: We can’t give you a chance on that chance.

Q: I understand. But you are a keeper of world’s righteousness, human rights and all I am asking is please give us a chance to stay alive today and be together.
A: I am sorry mam, we have to enforce the laws.

Image result for refugee moms deported and kids left in USQ: Enforce the laws but please don’t enforce your ad hoc policy of using us as collateral.
A: Sorry mam.

Q: Please can you at least think about it?
A: We are just going to enforce the law.  We’re going to detain 9 year old Nelda and mom is being deported right away.

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Here is link to part 1 of nine year old Nelda’s journey – http://bit.ly/2ymlWQt
Here is link to part 2 of Neld’s journey – http://bit.ly/2M1Czmi

PS: It is understandable that no country can have completely open borders. Every country has first responsibility towards its own population. It is also common sense that increasingly we live in a global world and it is increasingly challenging to have impenetrable borders with walls. We need to enhance border security with effective, low cost but high tech 21st century tools. Appropriate strategy to enhance border security must also include 21st century tools with sensors, embedded technology and more so that in addition to enhancing border security, we’re prepared to manage the exodus in a humane way. Appropriate strategy must also include extremely sophisticated negotiations with use of carrots and sticks with neighboring countries to curb violence and drug cartels with enhanced use of high tech for inter country co-operation. To remove all compassion, resort to outdated and costly means of building walls, snatching kids away, adopting ruthlessness devoid of any humanity and not truly address the root causes of the problems are truly abominable and absolutely ineffective practices. These traumatized children can have lasting impact and society will be left to pick up the pieces from intense trauma created by ineffective practices.

Latin America has huge pockets of crime where gangs rule and they target women, children, security personnel, LGBTQ and other members more susceptible and weak. Police are often susceptible or suspect and people have little trust in law enforcement. Organized crime and related economies drive the surge and abatement in violence and form the root causes and concurrent abatement and surge of refugees at our borders and must be addressed.  People do not put children in the hands of smugglers just for fun or because our policies admit them. The path to US border is extremely perilous. The ONLY REASON people send their children and/ or bring them here is because they are literally trying to save themselves and their children from turning up dead or worse. IT WOULD ALSO BE IN OUR BEST INTEREST TO ADHERE TO HUMAN RIGHTS AND TO LECTURE THESE COUNTRIES (AND USE REWARDS & PENALTIES) TO DO THE SAME. Granted, these are far more long term solutions, but we are not even considering them while we are brutally separating families.

Please please please listen to the voices of the children in this recording
https://www.propublica.org/article/children-separated-from-parents-border-patrol-cbp-trump-immigration-policy

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Nelda’s Journey 2: I want to die


I walked and walked and walked
Mama and I just kept walking
In daze. hungry, thirsty, sweaty
An exodus of people we joined

Image result for refugees at US borderHeard of cartels in Mexico, Colombia
Of Panama, El Salvador and Guatemala
About mayhem, rapes, murders and killings
In Belize, Honduras, Ecuador, Nicaragua

Neither welcoming nor it beckoned
The path just lay, uncompromising
Across mountains in Guatemala
I held on to mama, I was scared

Stopped at shelters, rode a bus
Rode atop freight train, the beast
Ferry ride in Mexico
I held onto mama’s hand just b’coz…

Some died, disappeared, killed
Blackmailed and some girls raped
Mama and I were going to survive
I was going to live, I was determined

Yes for ferry, mama paid!!!!
She left me with aunt Reda
Mama let them abuse only her
Made a deal and I was spared

Image result for refugees separated from kids at US borderI love mama and I held her tight
And then we arrived at US border
Relieved, I was hungry. Mama said,
We’re safe, mi vida, we’ll be alright

Then it wasn’t alright, it happened
I was holding mama’s hand tight
But they pried it and took me away
For my mama, I shouted, I cried

And I just want to die

 

STAY TUNED FOR PART 3 OF NELDA’S JOURNEY in my next blog post. And here is link to part 1 where her journey began – http://bit.ly/2ymlWQt
PS: It is understandable that no country can have completely open borders. Every country has first responsibility towards its own population. It is also common sense that increasingly we live in a global world and it is increasingly challenging to have impenetrable borders with walls. Appropriate strategy to enhance border security must include 21st century tools with sensors, embedded technology and more. Appropriate strategy must also include extremely sophisticated negotiations with use of carrots and sticks with neighboring countries to curb violence and drug cartels with enhanced use of high tech for inter country co-operation. To remove all compassion, resort to outdated and costly means of building walls, snatching kids away, adopting ruthlessness devoid of any humanity and not truly address the root causes of the problems are truly abominable and absolutely ineffective practices. These traumatized children can have lasting impact and society will be left to pick up the pieces from intense trauma created by ineffective practices.

Latin America has huge pockets of crime where gangs rule and they target women, children, security personnel, LGBTQ and other members more susceptible and weak. Police are often susceptible or suspect and people have little trust in law enforcement. Organized crime and related economies drive the surge and abatement in violence and form the root causes and concurrent abatement and surge of refugees at our borders and must be addressed.  People do not put children in the hands of smugglers just for fun or because our policies admit them. The path to US border is extremely perilous. The ONLY REASON people send their children and/ or bring them here is because they are literally trying to save themselves and their children from turning up dead or worse.

Please please please listen to the voices of the children in this recording
https://www.propublica.org/article/children-separated-from-parents-border-patrol-cbp-trump-immigration-policy

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Nelda’s Journey 1: Live, I may


Image result for Mexican refugee mother and daughterI’m Nelda, I’m nine and I want to die
I follow my mother like a shadow
But at night, clocked in invisibility
Uncle, a gang member, comes and I lie

Sometimes it’s mama, I’m spared
Sometimes he locks her up and it’s me
I hear mama begging and crying
But it’s no point, we’re ensnared

I hate papi. He was a security guard
He got paid but his job wasn’t safe
He protected a government judge
One day gang put a gun to his head

Once uncle came with a friend
That night and all nights after!
Gangs control Venezuela
Mama and I. None of us spared

Image result for caravan of refugees from central americaOne day mama said, let’s walk
Her friend told her about a caravan
In silence we walked to join’em
Nothing to discuss, no talk

I’ll write my own poem some day
Two roads emerged and I took one
I wished to die, instead I walked
And just perhaps…. live, I may

STAY TUNED FOR PART 2 OF NELDA’S JOURNEY in my next blog post.
PS: It is understandable that no country can have completely open borders. Every country has first responsibility towards its own population. It is also common sense that increasingly we live in a global world and it is increasingly challenging to have impenetrable borders with walls. Appropriate strategy to enhance border security must include 21st century tools with sensors, embedded technology and more. Appropriate strategy must also include extremely sophisticated negotiations with use of carrots and sticks with neighboring countries to curb violence and drug cartels with enhanced use of high tech for inter country co-operation. To remove all compassion, resort to outdated and costly means of building walls, snatching kids away, adopting ruthlessness devoid of any humanity and not truly address the root causes of the problems are truly abominable and absolutely ineffective practices. These traumatized children can have lasting impact and society will be left to pick up the pieces from intense trauma created by ineffective practices.

Latin America has huge pockets of crime where gangs rule and they target women, children, security personnel, LGBTQ and other members more susceptible and weak. Police are often susceptible or suspect and people have little trust in law enforcement. Organized crime and related economies drive the surge and abatement in violence and form the root causes and concurrent abatement and surge of refugees at our borders and must be addressed.  People do not put children in the hands of smugglers just for fun or because our policies admit them. The path to US border is extremely perilous. The ONLY REASON people send their children and/ or bring them here is because they are literally trying to save themselves and their children from turning up dead or worse.
Please please please listen to the voices of the children in this recording
https://www.propublica.org/article/children-separated-from-parents-border-patrol-cbp-trump-immigration-policy

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Book Club – Movie Review


Inspired by the steamy bestseller “Fifty Shades of Grey”, the movie “Book Club” offers for the fainthearted, the best comedy, minus any actual S&M action. A group of senior women, Vivian (Jane Fonda), Diane (Diane Keaton), Sharon (Candice Bergen) and Carol  (Mary Steenburgen) choose to read the steamy bestseller and the result is a superbly funny comedy. These women are not the only high profile star cast. The men who enter their lives also make a fine cast and also deserve a special mention; they are, Mitchell (Andy Garcia), Bruce (Craig T. Nelson), Arthur (Don Johnson), George (Richard Dreyfuss), Tom (Ed Begley Jr.).
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The desire for intimate companionship for seniors and perhaps for women more than men, is often relegated to the trash heap, in the channels of intimacy. While in some cultures, desire for intimacy among women may be a matter of amusement or may be discouraged in the espoused interest of safety, in others, it is actively frowned upon, banned and even punished.. (Watch my review of a similar Bollywood movie “Lipstick Under My Burkha” http://bit.ly/2p5b2Xm ). Cold showers is a remedy often prescribed in India, for any “wayward thoughts of intimacy”.

Image result for book club, movieBut it is not just in the realm of physical intimacy that this film delivers. Loneliness and craving for a companion who may be at similar stage in life, is often one of the most significant need among senior citizens. The film scores on addressing both of these issues, the significance of companionship and the need for physical intimacy, and shows how they sometimes (but not always) go hand in hand.  Very likely these women have been doing book club for years. Maybe the right impetus, right circumstances did not arrive until this moment when all of them are intrigued with the thought of exploring the idea of intimacy and provide mutual encouragement. It matters but little, as long as they seized the moment.

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Using the steamy book as a stepping stone, these women explore the aspect of physical intimacy; and at first kicking and screaming and later gently, glide into the cozy realm of emotional intimacy. They all at first, seem to concur with Vivian that “emotional connection is highly overrated” and make a pact “we shall not go gentle into the good night”. Brilliant and witty use of metaphors supplies an endless stream of humor. These feisty, fearless, independent women who provide companionship, solace and support to each other, fight the focus on softer, gentler aspects of intimacy with the opposite sex, for as long as they could. But in the end they find that physical intimacy is that much more satisfying and joyous when they are or if they are also able to find emotional connection.  Even those among this feisty group, who can’t find intimacy, get it. Sharon sums up about love (and it is rephrased here), love does not happen because the person is intelligent or pretty and it’s not the sun or the moon or all the meaning we load onto it; love is just a word, until someone gives it meaning, and you find that someone when you put yourself out there.  \

It is a beautiful movie and on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate it 4.7 – in theaters now.

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