L´Etranger

I started reading this book knowing nothing about Albert Camus, beginning with the fact that this book was “just there” in an ‘old books’ garage sale. NZD$5, it was a bargain, I’ve heard about it before, so I gave it a try. No need to remind you that I had wee pockets when I was in New Zealand, so this was quite “an investment”.

I know, this isn’t a fun post, but, hey, at least you learnt something today.

While I was going page after page the story dragged me in, I mean, the main character, Meaursault, an Algerian, shares nothing with our culture, he is simply not following our same patterns of happiness, grief nor love. The story starts when he learns that his mum has died, and instead of showing sadness he just sits in front of the coffin, smokes a cigarette and drinks some coffee.

When he was questioned about this, he doesn’t answer, he either finds others annoying, interesting or he feels nothing for them. He does explain to the reader that he was pleased that his mum has passed the way, as she had a good long life and had the chance to share her last years with a good man whom she met at the retirement home.

Why did I find this book interesting?

Well, Meaursault, the main character, is totally indifferent to his environment; however, he keeps an honest man. In the end, he is regarded as an outsider to society, detached from what is supposed to be “normal”.  This happens to me sometimes, and I’m sure it happens to all of us, specially you over there, aye, the hipster looking guy eating sushi.

The moral of this bloody post, sorry, no recipes nor funny tales today, is that we seem indifferent to what happens really close to us and keep a good eye on important events out of our sphere of influence. The Royal Baby is a good example of this, how many of us were following the story and at the same time neglecting child mortality or poverty among us?

Give this book a try, and go for “La Chute” as well, another brilliant example of French literature written by Camus himself.

“I looked up at the mass of signs and stars in the night sky and laid myself open for the first time to the benign indifference of the world.”
― Albert CamusThe Stranger

Ps. I’m going to Monterrey, Mexico today to visit my good old mates. Remember, surround yourself with good people and keep in touch, have a great weekend folks.

I’m telling you, sometimes we are stranger in our world, but we just keep pretending we care.

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Human Rights and Tolerance

We recently were invited to visit the Museum of Memory and Tolerance located in Mexico City. I’ve passed by this museum several times during my long (very long) walks in the city, and never had the time to make the queue (sometimes, on Sundays, the line will go all the way out to the street). Thanks to my job, my colleagues and I got the chance to a fast-track visit.

At first we had a brief on how human rights are in the world today. The situation isn’t really promising regardless of its improvements. Human trafficking, children mortality, immigration, refugees, discrimination, political persecution, violence against women, are still showing signs of “there’s still a lot to do”.

As a human rights enthusiast and an international relations “connoisseur” I found this talk quite enlightening.

Right after, a tour guide, (who did an amazing job, by the  way), showed us around the museum, which is divided in two main sections: Memory and Tolerance. When we stepped in the first section it was very clear where this was going, to show us the darkest hours in recent human history. It did centered on the extermination of minorities during WWII, specifically on the genocide against the Jew community. I assume this is because the event is one of the most documented in modern history and this community has the financial means to dig into history and find out what happened to their relatives during this tragedy.

The tour guide took us to the Hutus and Tutsis genocide in the early 90’s, the Vietnamese regime that killed thousands and the civil war in Guatemala which murdered over 100,000 people. She explained the situation of the Kurds, a nation that lives in four different countries. It is very shocking indeed, not for the fainted heart, nor the naive the mind, for some it is hard to understand that these things happened, and are still happening.

I’d like to thank the Museo de Memoria y Tolerancia, not for showing us around, but to defend so fiercely what they do, and the message that they send to our community just by its own existence in the centre of the city. A message of tolerance, respect and that these atrocities must be fought every day. Not because they “happened” doesn’t mean they aren’t happening anymore.

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Ps. If you want to find out more information about the museum, follow them on Twitter: @MuseoMyT, and its website, http://www.myt.org.mx/

Ps2. When was the last time you walked barefoot on the streets? Mine was last Friday, on a rainy night.

Ps3. Wait, I have twitter too! @notluisperez, go there for a wee laugh.