Tuesday, June 13, 2006

a beautiful Cuban world

The city spreads beneath our feet as we tread through its cobblestone streets, history marked in their crevices by the blood of the great rebels, revolutionaries, martyrs, guerillas and activists. To walk into the narrow, labrinthine streets of Old Havana is to walk into color, history, architecture, music, magic, harmony and love. A caress of colors and warmth reflected in the vibrant architecture of the city. A swing into past and present threaded together by the grandeur of Spanish style buildings juxtaposed by the reinvigorating palette created by the new buildings.

This is only the begining of our visually stimulating adventure. As we get lost deeper into the city, i notice water being thrown on the sidewalk, an old woman sweeping it away with a broom. Dirt floating down the gutters, windows opening out ont the street, children playing hopscotch, cats licking off leftovers from the cafes,dogs lazing around sidewalks. How reminscent it is of home. A sudden, profound joy engulfs me in watching the crowd, the activities. Every turn of the street, every corner is a visual, intellectual treat. Cuba as a whole is a country rich in art, literature and architecture. Schools and libraries are a common sighting with a message from the governement saying "we dont want you to believe we just want you to read" (96% literacy prevails in Cuba today, with free medical & dental treatment). Everyone seems to be an artist with their own unique style. Homes converted into art galleries. I had the enriching experience of walking into some ones living room which was his gallery, his studio, his world. I was overwhelmed with the simplicity of his lifestyle, and that of all the people we spoke to.

Santa cruz the next day and Matanzas the day
after had a similar flavor to offer. Santa Cruz being a small town gave an insight to the social set up of the country. A city of no logos, no treachery of advertisments, no billboards playing havoc with the mind. A collectivism, a unity, a socialism in a classless society. COMMUNISM !! No rush, no hurry. An unfamilar tranquility. A purity, a freedom. A nation devoid of the materialistic attachment to possessions and values. The mayor of the city going to the same ration store with the same ration card where the farmer or the doctor is going. A society free of illusions and delusions. No insatiable hunger for power, no class distinction. Freedom !! the whole nation has a tremeondous all engulfing sense of freedom. Not the superficial illusion of freedom we live in. It is the freedom of the soul, the freedom of the mind, the freedom of spirit.

in the words of the icon of revolution and liberation, the natinal hero, Che Guevera
"there is no other definition of socialism valid for us than that
of the abolition of the exploitation of man by man." and in anotherplace he continues to say
"one of the fundamental objectives it to remove interest, the factor of idiviual interest, and gain from peoples pyshological motivations."

Here is to an exemplary nation. Here is to Cuba, to our freinds Yankeel (student and Physical ed teacher), Mr. Luis (Professor of Art History, Univ. of Havana), the be
ach bar lot, and all the other friends especially Ken and Gwen. To happy memories....!!


Shezalldat said...

im going to cuba in sept inshaAllah with friendsss! what other places are there worth looking at?

sabizak said...

WOW! WOW! WOW!! I loved your write up and the right sense of values that you seem to have. Cuba sounds like a wonderful place (as i have also heard from my friend zak). It went straight to the heart, ur talk of simplicity and classlessness and no neon signs and everything else. Beautiful!

Abbas Halai said...

it's quite fun getting lost in havana.

Abbas Halai said...

i also love the fact that pakistani's don't need a visa.

Zakintosh said...

What a delight to read this. Thank you.

I visited Cuba uncountable years ago and fell utterly in love with it. Amazingly - or, perhaps not so amazingly - unlike most other places I knew and liked during my 25-years of sailing around the world, Cuba has not rotted over the years. My daughter, Ragni, just spent 3 months there and is now regaling us with beautiful tales of a beautiful country and its wonderful people. I adore their mix of resolve, patience, and joie de vivre.

Here's to Cuba!

vintage said...

with your description, i felt like i was walking down the streets of Havana itself.

and with Ragni's account of how cuba had been, i cant wait to go visit it for myself.

your post was strangely peaceful :)