Once I was talking to a Spanish friend (from Spain) who was talking in ways that showed she liked “‘her’ country” in a especial way (even using the possessive “my” referring to “country” doesn’t sound quite right to me). It occurred to me that I don’t think or feel “my country” in quite the same way, even though I don’t hate my people at all or dislike Cuba (the island in the Caribbean). In fact, I like my people for very particular reasons. I thought (and to a certain extent still think) that “love for your homeland” is another of the illusions fostered by politicians and such wholesale b#llsh!tt3rs for their own schemes. To me “loving your homeland” is like the childish playground stunt: “my mama is better than yours”.
Still, most people make a big deal about “your/their backgrounds” when in fact it is, like many other aspects relating to “social contracts” such as your ethnic group, religion …; contrived by factors you have no way of influencing whatsoever. You are whatever you are because of the reality you were given birth into by your mother, family; the cultural customs of the ethnic groups they belonged to …
OK, that doesn’t totally determine who you are, your own believes in an “A-implies-B” way, but it does frame your ways to see reality. I was married to a great woman who would repeat to me: “you ‘see’ what you -know-” I don’t totally agree with it and I have clearly seen this is only partially true. She was right. At some point we started to have conjugal problems and she recommended we both seek counseling on our own and as a couple. And, who am I to date to disagree with my wife!?! ;-), so I did go to see my “loquera” twice (even though to me it was total b#llsh!t). In our first visit, she asked me: “what brings you here?”. I explained to her that after having a (loving, yet) very tough mother, now I am dealing with a tough wife … She went like: ” …, but what is the problem? Most boys marry their mothers and they don’t even notice it … because, this is what they know”. When I told my wife about it she told me: ” …, but you are not supposed to take at face value what they tell you” ;-)
I grew up in the Cuba of the 60’s during the initial years of the Revolution, as part of a family of high-profile political dissidents, anarchists and musicians. When I was a little boy I thought being an “undesirable minority” was some sort of fastidious curse, chronic disease. Children do notice sh!t that doesn’t seem to be right, but you can’t understand why or exactly how so. Now I find it super cool and profitable since it put my consciousness on another level and made me wonder about the human condition from an unfavorably true perspective.
Some people say it is just fear. I know it isn’t, it is way more complicated than that. Yet, in a sense, I did despise my people for not fighting Castro. Something interesting that I find about my people is that they have endured 6 decades of dictatorship and still are “Cubans”. A generally good people known for their love for music and dancing.
// __ El Lado Oscuro de CUBA
When people talk about “Cubans” some people talk about us as a doomed people, some other as healthy and educated, as being unproportionally good in sports, sciences (Cubans are only 2% of Latin Americans and make for 11% of their scientists, Cuba has more doctors per capita than any other country …), but those would know us really would say that what really sets us apart is our sense of humor, our “bitchiness”.
Western people would not understand that I would not even know how to translate it. It is like the elaborate sense of sarcasm people have in NYC. It is called “choteo”, “cuero”, “jodedera”; a viscerally merciless way to poking people with jokes about their own believes, family … There was that Cuban comedian who said that “funerals turn out so badly because people don’t rehearse them” ;-). I remember people cracking jokes to the police while they were being handcuffed and even the Castros cracking jokes themselves and being angry about those “counterrevolutionary” jokes (right after their remarks jokes were running in Havana)
I think it was Chaplin who said that comedians are above politicians. Neurobiologists say the a good sense of humor is proof of a healthy brain/mind. Moreover, I can’t understand why the NSA spy on other people and goes about their Kremlinology, when just paying attention to people’s jokes is more than enough. Gringos seem to have a hard time with jokes:
// __ Jennifer Aniston Adopts 33-Year-Old Boyfriend From Africa
// __ Is Our Wealth Hurting Africa’s Feelings?
// __ Bloomberg Defends NYPD’s Controversial Stop And Kiss Program
// __ Gap Unveils New ‘For Kids By Kids’ Clothing Line
// __ Queen Will Leave Behind Long Legacy Of Waving
// __ China’s Andy Rooney Has Funny Opinions On How Great China Is
They don’t seem to understand cracking jokes about themselves. They would find it “disrespectful”, “offensive”. They don’t even see the point of cracking jokes.
My people are exceptionally good a cracking jokes about themselves. Something peculiarly funny about Cuban people is that they name a cold virus “La Traviata” (Verdi’s) and argue about the importance of the Barroque in Latin America (as a way to criticize the government’s agenda)
// __ corto cubano, Utopía
// __ Nicanor O’Donnell (4) Homo Sapiens – 2006
// __ Nicanor O’Donnell (6) Brainstorm – 2009
// __ Película ” Alicia en el pueblo de maravillas ”
// __ José Martí: El ojo del canario
It turns out that was my neighborhood when I was a child I have been dreaming about lately so I tried to find pictures and here I am …
La Comunidad Hebrea is on I % 13 y 15. Why didn’t you show pictures of the whole building? They also own the large theater next to the synagogue.
I used to live on the other side of the same block J % 13 y 15. But we had ways to get there climbing walls. We kids used to fight for those areas ;-)
You don’t mention a pizza parlor Montecatini on J y 15. Does it still exist?
When I was a kid, aspie me knew and kept a mental map of everything, everybody, their dogs, … within a mile (all the way to el Malecón (I still miss the smell of the sea around Havana)). I kind of still wonder what happened to all those people and places?
Your impressions felt a bit like Karen Muller’s excellent documentary.
Now your impressions somehow got into my nostalgic dreams ;-)
Some of my best friends: Franklin, his brother Javier were Jewish (heck! What was the name of Franklin’s nice and true girlfriend? I have her name right now on the tip of my tongue (Eva?)). I did notice they were a bit different even though I didn’t quite understand how or why
Also, I did notice you have started to like Cuba too much ;-) it is true that people in Cuba love José Martí to an unhealthy degree, but Cuba is a “socialist” country ;-)