So I grew up in Kolkata.
Which makes Che a close relative.
Almost Chacha Che.

Always wanted to, but it is a while
before I make that trip to Che Land.
With a few like-minded camaradas.

Look, I have always
wanted this snap.
Once for romantic
ideological reasons.
Now for romantic nostalgic reasons.

I mean, all of us were
young once and loved
this story, right?
Viva la revolución!

We step out of the aircraft.
Or was it a time-machine?

For we seem to have stepped
into 1960s America.

We are stunned.
Gob-smacked. Flabbergasted.
Add any synonym and it works.

The architecture, the cars, everything
harks back to a bygone era.
To the late 50s and early 60s.

Am a passionate man. But I have an issue
with intense passion – it leads to blindness.
We are so carried away by our truth that
every other truth becomes the enemy.
That truth becomes the core of our existence.
Religion, nationalism, ideologies, all of them
do this to us – trap us in a web of our own making.
A web we will lose our lives protecting.

Were Marx, Castro and El Che right? They were.
But the problem is that they found
everyone else wrong. Their followers, still do.

The Cuban Revolution was in 1959.
And Cuba, is still there.

Still there in many ways.
Politically, economically and maybe even, emotionally.

So here’s
a quick view
of what’s
behind the
Cuba we know,
a snapshot of
what I saw.

Of all the nations I have travelled,
I haven’t seen racial integration
so peaceful, so beautiful, so complete.

Cuba has among the world’s highest
literacy rates – 99.8% And yes, the much
tom-tommed Cuban healthcare, is good.

Teachers, doctors
and law enforcement
are among the best paid.
At about US $20 – 25 a month.

I agree with the theory.
Not the numbers.

The rest
get about
That’s right,
per month.

In a
I am told
by my guide,
Raúl Castro
in 2009.
By $2.

is subsidised.

The government is the economy in Cuba.
With 73% employed by the government.

The rest try to make a meagre living
off tourism. With of course, appropriate
‘licensing’ from the government.

Get closer and the romance begins
to flake off. And the gangrenous pain
of a terminally ill idea surfaces itself.

The cars are shining.
But the edifice is crumbling.

Bluntly put,
no Cuban
can afford a
Cuban cigar.

Such a beautiful land. Such a lovely people.
Their lives steadily slipping down
the dark, abrasive, stifling chasm
between a theory and the reality
of human existence.

A wonderful people. Their lives altered
because a German wrote a book on
political economy called Das Kapital.

Just 90km across the pond is Key West,
Florida – the land of plenty. Or depending
on who’s looking, the land of the enemy –
capitalists, imperialists and the bourgeois.
Whose lives got transformed because
a Scotsman wrote The Wealth Of Nations.
One set read Karl Marx, set off on one path,
the other read Adam Smith and went exactly
the other way. That is what history tells us.
But we are in 2019 and what have we learnt
from these socio-economic re-engineerings?
The world stands poised at the crossroads,
all of these theories have run their course
without delivering the Promised Land.
What’s next?

Amazing how
our lives can
get blessed or
get screwed
depending on
who writes the
book and who
reads it.

So what awaits lovely Cuba?
What awaits the US?
What awaits the rest of the world?

What awaits a world that is slipping
into smaller nationalist bubbles
at a time when we physically, intellectually
and economically are the most barrier-free?

Jobless growth,
hyper- nationalism,
growing literacy,
a widening
economic divide,
an educational
system that is
still thinking
Industrial Revolution,
the social media uni,
longer life- spans….

If ever we needed a guiding light,
a socio-economic theory and model
that accommodates all, we need it now.

As jazz – the soul of the worker –
fills the air, I wonder.

Where the next movement will come from?

Will it come from the nationalist in us,
from the socialist in us, from the individualist,
from the romantic? From a selfish,
parochial desire or the need for larger good?

will write
the next book?