Update from Mumbai – Stories from our Source in India
November 30, 2008
Update from Mumbai – Stories from our Source in India
November 29, 2008
A dispatch from your faithful Professor:
I wound my way to Hong Kong after 10 straight
days in China. Ah, Hong Kong, my fragrant harbor home-away-from-home floating,
twisting, spiraling like a delicate lotus petal downward from its prior heights
into the muck and smog of today’s political and economic reality. It was indeed
a relief to debark the KCR through-train from Guangzhou at Hong Hom station and
ponder where the trip’s first good glass of wine would be waiting for me. A
relief to know I had friends who could suggest the latest new resto, or perhaps
consider an old standby, still standing by for my pleasure.
But bittersweet too, as
seasoned travelers find at the end of many trips. Would this be my last visit
to HK, given the global turmoil? Would HK continue to be bypassed by those who
ply the China trade, opting instead to deal direct with factories in Dongguan,
Shenzhen, Chang An and other former industrial hotspots? And would – after this holiday season – there even
be factories to deal with, in the future?
Of course there will,
but everything is now officially different, including for HK. The fact is that
the HK people have long been marginalized, with fewer and fewer good jobs in
tech, finance and government available to the locals. Hong Kong has essentially
been a city of shopkeepers for at least 2 generations now.
And nothing defines
bittersweet like missing your overseas flight home, as your hapless
correspondent did recently after a connecting flight wound up almost 2 hours
late. Hapless indeed, was the ’4-star’ airport hotel chosen by Professor himself
to reside in grim hope of catching the next day’s flight. Chair to the room
door and lights on to discourage visitors inside and out; antiseptic stench
hanging in the air not unlike a Philly taproom’s urinal cake; whiskey, neat, in
the ‘lobby bar’, no ice, no ice. Debu-chi.
Bring on the holiday shopping season - Cheers – Your Professor
The Professor writes the Confessions of a Global Traveler Column for Wild River Review.
November 25, 2008
by Lili Bita
In my French lessons, Sister Ursula, the nun who was my teacher, asked me what I wanted to do with my life when I grew up. Without hesitation, I answered her: “To drown in a sea of books.”
I was ten years old then. But it’s exactly what I’m doing now. I’m attending, as an invited author, the twenty-fifth annual Miami Book Fair International. It is a sea of books.
The invitation brought me great pleasure. The Miami Book Fair is the largest in the country, and attracts well-known authors from around the world and the thousands of bibliophiles who flock to hear them and sample their wares. Though Greek literature is not only the foundation of Western culture but, because of the universal impact of the West, in some respects the starting-point of our global culture today, I was the only Greek invited to participate.
The Fair took place on November 15 and 16 on the Wolfson campus of Miami-Dade Community College, itself, as its president told me, the largest institution of higher education in the country. I could well believe it. The campus was a forest of skyscraper-like buildings, as intricately laid out as a labyrinth. I arrived Sunday morning for my own reading with my colleague Peter Hargitai, himself a distinguished Hungarian-American novelist. There were what seemed like hundreds of tents on the campus, like a nomad encampment, each setting out its precious treasures by author and publisher: children’s books, cookbooks, books on dance, music, fine arts, photography, theater, therapy, self-help, spiritual exercise, all lined up for inspection, any and all of which could be yours for a plastic card or a few pieces of paper. When the hunger for books was slaked and one’s tote bag was full, there was an equally generous sampling of the world’s cooking from the vendors in the food courts.
Then it was time to hear from the authors themselves. We entered a large and crowded ampitheater. Each reader wore an identifying name-tag with the magic name “Author” affixed to it that swayed above their bellies, marking them off from ordinary mortals. In one area were the writers who were concerned with environmentalism and the well-being of the planet, seated with their works: Will Bauer’s The War on Bugs; Gene Bauer’s Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food; Mark Kurlansky’s The Last Fish Tale. Next to this were the distinguished African-Americans Tavis Smiley and Cornel West; and beside them, the literature of the Americas, men such as the Nicaraguans Rubi Arana and Sergio Ramirez and the Cubans Jose Lorenzo Fuentes, Jose Abreu, and Raul Chao. An Evening With Gore Vidal, the octogenarian American writer, was advertised beside one with Ishmael Beah, the African who, dragged into Sierra Leone’s civil war as a thirteen-year-old boy, had killed, as he said, “too many people to count.” There were exile authors with unfamiliar names, and Nobel laureates such as Wole Soyinka and Derek Walcott.
One recitation included the American poet laureates Billy Collins and Robert Hass, together with Mark Strand. I found myself being photographed with Tom Hayden, of Chicago Eight fame. In a packed hall, Salman Rushdie was reading, the man whose novel, The Satanic Verses, had put a price on his head. Writers from Egypt; writers from Brazil; from Norway and Spain and France and Argentina and Swaziland: four hundred in all, and I, proudly representing Greece. Between the readings were offerings from opera and ballet, Fringe theater events, a feast for the eye and the ear all galvanized by the power of the written word.
There are many book fairs, of course. But only in America, I thought, could there be something so free, so joyous, so diverse, so deeply hopeful. I’ve been a wanderer myself. But, amid the sea of books, I felt I had come home.
Author and actress Lili Bita is a regular contributor to Wild River Review.
November 24, 2008
by Erin Riley
I am also a mutt. I am the Greek, English, Irish variety. We all are in some way or another. I grew up in NYC in the 60s in what was at that time, a very poor Latino neighborhood and attended P.S. 84 in the time of busing. My elementary school pictures all look like they were taken at the U.N. I was white, but I was a minority at my school. My friends came from all around the world, all religions, all colors. My son goes to a predominantly white school now but his friends are from Iran, England, Kenya and all around the world.
The morning following the 2004 Keynote address, I made my husband watch it on YouTube. I’ve been following Barack Obama ever since. I signed up for the Philadelphia Meetup group. At the time, there were 4 members.
I was elated the day Barack announced his candidacy. I followed the campaign every day. He never strayed, always on point. Change, and change is what we need. My mom has a saying, “Keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve got.” Things have to change in so many ways or we will lose this beautiful planet we all love living on. There must be clean air and clean water for our children. We must have hope and love and peace in the world. Barack Obama believes this too.
I went to every stump in driving distance from my house. Brought my kids so they would know that change is coming and it’s all for them.
Election night and ever since, I can’t stop crying tears of joy that now, when a little boy or girl anywhere in the United States looks up at their mom or dad and says, “Mommy, Daddy, could I grow up to be President”, they can truly answer, “Yes, if you work hard, if you are honest, if you care about people, you can be anything you want to be.”
Thank you Barack Obama for changing our course. For your wisdom that I know will be applied to help pull so many out of the muck we are in. I dreamed of you and you came, and you prevailed and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I now know HOPE.
November 20, 2008
by Ed Cullen
by Ed Cullen
“Filth,” the Masterpiece Contemporary movie about British broadcasting standards campaigner Mary Whitehouse, lay on my desk for a week before I picked it up. I wasn’t in the mood to watch a movie called “Filth.”
Called a satire and uproariously funny by people who apparently didn’t watch the same movie I did, I found ”Filth” charming. Housewife Whitehouse is played well by Julie Walters (“Mamma Mia!”, “Harry Potter”). Hugh Bonneville is fun to hate as Sir Hugh Greene, the taboo-breaking head of the BBC, who drew Mrs. Whitehouse out of her cozy living-room and onto the national scene.
Sir Hugh, as played by Bonneville, was probably good for the BBC and, by turn, American broadcasting which uses so much BBC material on PBS.
I have no problem with his paving the way for television that approximates British and American life and language, but if Sir Hugh was the high-handed, imperious public official portrayed in “Filth” it’s easy to see why he proved such a perfect foil for a savvy, but innocent, crusading housewife.
In the review DVD sent out, Sir Hugh uses an obscenity (the “F word”) at the family dinner table. In the broadcast of “Filth” on PBS Sunday, the word will be bleeped, proving that Mrs. Whitehouse and her successors on both sides of the Atlantic continue to influence what appears on television.
“Filth,” by the way, may currently be viewed online Nov. 17-23. To see the movie streamed, go to http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/filth/watch.html.
Olivia Wong at WGBH Boston says the movie will be streamed until midnight Nov. 23. You can’t download the movie, but the movie starts at the beginning each time a viewer logs on.
It’s not hard to see Mary Whitehouse’s point of view in the early stages of her taking on the BBC. She saw and heard things on British, taxpayer supported television that she found offensive.
Mrs. Whitehouse got carried away with her success. She objected to things on television that a British subject could see in a park. Mrs. Whitehouse found public displays of affection offensive.
She did get away with a funny — and scary — bit of censorship when she forced a British pop music program to air Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-a-Ling” with an illustration showing the ding-a-ling in question to be a toy with bells and not what everyone imagined the ding-a-ling to be, Mr. Berry’s you know.
So, lie back on the couch with your laptop on your stomach and tune-in “Filth” online.
Ed Cullen is a regular contributor to Wild River Review. His most recent piece features South African Poet, Deena Padayachee.
November 18, 2008
PRO-LIFE, VOTING PRO-CHOICE
by Terrence Cheromcka
I grew up with a liberal mom in the absence of my conservative father.
I grew up in a liberal home in a conservative town in Pennsylvania, a swing state that swings either way but has swung more to the liberal side of things during my lifetime.
I grew up in the time of “the most important elections” this country has seen. The first one I remember was the long disputed election between Al Gore and George W. Bush – it seemed that our country just could not come to a consensus about who won. The second – the most recent election.
I grew up in a time where birth control is popped like candy and there is always a “Plan B” (abortion). If you had talked to me a year ago I would have been just like the next ten girls who would not have thought twice about having an abortion. That child would not have fit perfectly into my cookie-cutter life.
What is most important is that I grew up at all. I recently discovered that I had not been a product of a planned pregnancy and in fact, my parents had met only three months before I was conceived. My mother, who was raised by Catholic parents, did not abort me. Instead she and my father did the right thing, as far as I’m concerned, and kept me to raise as their own.
I love my life and I work every moment to over-flow the void that would have existed had my mother decided that I was not going to be brought to life. I believe that with the awareness of the power of creation I can cross party lines and make my own choices. I want to represent. With the heart and mind I have been given, I can see the birth of life for what it is, not what it seems to be through a political lens.
As a pro-life woman I chose to vote for Barack Obama, a pro-choice candidate. Simply, I know that no man will ever be able to tell a woman what she should do with her body or her life. And in my case, I’m glad my Mom chose life for me.
Terrence Cheromcka is a student at New York University and Deputy Editor of Wild River Review.