28 de enero de 2017
(belated christmas, hannuka, new year greetings)
It is one week tonight since returning from an imposible one-month journey, leaving Stockholm-Arlanda on December 21st and back to Uppsala on January 19th, already with the new year on its way. Have not yet recovered my bruised biological clock and my sound sleep, as a minor cost to pay for such an ordeal. Without burdening you with all details, highlights, impressions and reflections resulting from this last trip, let me sketch the basics as follows: overnight at the cité universitaire in Paris, Amsterdam on my way to Lima (22-24/12) – meeting relatives and friends, visiting Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina (UNALM), my alma mater and former working place (still affiliated as senior researcher at the Instituto de la Pequeña Producción Sostenible) – waiting for the second edition (edited and augmented) of my poetry book ”refacciones itinerantes” sometime in the near future (always ”mañana”), a magnificent ”poetry-forum” in Barranco on the night of the 23rd – and leaving for Panama City on the 24th, where I was kindly fetched by Paul and Ramona to have Christmas dinner together. Paul Kimmel was one of the greatest teachers in my life (social-psychologist and pioneer peace-researcher). These dear and talented friends invited me several times for the holidays during the loneliest period in my life and continue to be an inspiration on how to live a good live, while caring for your neighbor. On Christmas Day they drove me back to the airport, luckily with no traffic. My flight took me to Mexico-Atlanta-Chicago and a sleepless night at the Greyhound Buss Station, after walking a few hours with the mighty windy blowing in the streets of Chicago. Due to the changes brought by terror, the airport and AMTRAK close until 05.00. Strong as I am, reached a point of almost (but not quite!) giving up - as I stranded along the lonely streets of this otherwise lovely city in the American Midwest. Took the first buss to Fairfield, Iowa at 06.00 on the 26/12 and arrived at 3.30 pm. Soon after, Caterina, my beloved elder daughter fetched me at the buss stop and drove us to her cozy home, where I found refugee for two adorable weeks and ample time to recover from the former ordeal. There were many hightimes there, one at the top was having breakfast with Caterina every morning, touching base on all imaginable subjects, which brought us closer together. Also having time with my grandchildren: Chosie (21), Davin (19) - with whom we played a few stes of chess – both students at the University of Iowa (Iowa City), far and close enough from home, Chaysten (17) & girlfriend – and Daven (a bonus American-Swedish ”nephew,” whom I met as a child, living with them), with Emmanuel (my son-in-law (a real life and dear son), with whom we watched ”Games of Thrones” as a way to bond, in addition to having lunch together – not to forget the three cats: Lily, Tiger and Willow (the Pooh:-) whom I fed every morning, while watching and learning from their interaction. During my stay was interviewed by James Moore (”Jimmy”), a local musician, artist and head of a local community radio (fully energized by solar energy) - a once-a-year enjoyable interview and lively dialogue on everything under the sun). On the morning of Saturday January 7th we organized a film-forum at the city library with ”They became our Mothers”, a 56 minutes long documentary that won the first prize in Sweden for its category in 2016, about 25 jewish women that came in May 1945 to Uppsala, Sweden, directly from the death camp at Auschwitz. They heroically re-built their new lives again. In the afternoon we had a poetry-forum at Café Revelations, also attended by Caterina and her mother (Charlotte), enabling us to share with them this dimension of my life. A very bonding experience, indeed! Then, it was a stop-over at Miami to attend the wedding of my delightful niece (”Naty” Bacal) and Eduardo Sandoval on January 9th, where I had the honor to represent the Bacal family. They make up a lovely couple and irradiate love and light around them. It was a short and sweet visit, enough to touch base, eat tasty food (Eduardo works as a chef de cuisine, even though trained as an artist in Lima).
On the 10th continued my journey to Mexico City, to attend the X Congress of CLAIP (Latin American Council of Peace Research) at UNAM, another alma mater (in the 1980s), between 11-14 January. I was invited as a panelist (”expert”) on civil resistance and social movements (world social forum).
The congress was very well organized and included sound academic lectures, personal reports, testimonies from peace activists. As a highlight, many young participants attended it, who work with
non-violence in various violent places and neighborhoods in Mexico (gathered through SERPAJ- Justicia & Paz) and last but not least, the ”Coordinadora” of Pueblos Campesinos e Indígenas del Valle de Texcoco, struggling against the planned megaproject of the Airport in Texcoco Lake, whose secretary (Gabriela) is an old and dear friend.
On Sunday, January 15th went to Cuernavaca to pay my condolences to Elia Stavenhagen, whose husband (Rodolfo) had also been one of the greatest teacher in my life (in the realm of ethnicity and the human rights of indigenous peoples), becoming a friend and inspiration throughout my adult life as a teacher and researcher on ethnic issues.
Between 15-17 January stayed in Puebla and Cholula, where I lived in the 1980s. During these few days, was interviewed twice at an alternative community tv program (”Sabersinfín), on Civil Resistance and Peace on Monday 16th - and on Poetry on Tuesday 17th. We had a lovely literary evening (poetry-forum) on that same night – and on the 18th departed back to Uppsala, where this note is being written, at the kitchen of the apartment where I have lived for the past 30 years – which is the reason to be engaged nowadays in the neighborhood efforts to tamper with the process of renovation which threatens to evict those (like myself) who cannot afford to pay the higher rent following this kind of luxurious process of gentrification, taking place in various Swedish cities, where tenants are also organizing to claim their/our rights.
To end with this tight narrative, wish to share with you that last year (2016) death visited me four times: three times with almost fatal accidents and a bout of peritonitis (my appendix broke) - and after 9 hours of waiting time at a corridor of the academic hospital in Uppsala, was operated on August 12th by Eduardo, a peruvian surgeon who saved my life. If one survives such near encounters with death, life acquires a more intense quality and meaning, enabling one to savor every second of one’s time on Earth.
It feels good to know that my three beloved children (Caterina, Tatiana, Eduardo – and their life partners: Emmanuel, Ocatvio and Li), six equally loved grandchildren (Chosie, Davin, Chaysten, Theo, Benjamin and Joao Pedro, niece (Naty), nephews (Joel and Isy) and god-daughter (Pöschi), sister (Clara), brother (Shalle), sister-in-law (Rosita) are all doing well in life.
I continue to be an engaged researcher, teacher and activist and feel blessed with the marvelous friends that life bestowed me in various corners of the world. Wishing each and all of you the best gifts of life.
Love & Friendship.
Azril Bacal Roij.