A fabulous underrated travel destination

Most Americans associate Mexico with drugs and crime. The reality is far different at least in Mexico City the capital of the country and the first globalized city in the world. For a historical perspective the book 1493 by Charles Mann is a treasure trove of factoids on how civilizations changed, morphed and evolved since the seminal voyage of Columbus. It describes in vivid detail the consequences of The Columbian Exchange. In this book he demonstrates that Mexico City became the first globalized city in the world and held that distinction for almost two centuries after Columbus. After reading the…


The US needs a national masking mandate immediately

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Photo by Juan Mayobre on Unsplash

The CDC director Rober Redfield told the Senate yesterday he believed face masks were “the most important, powerful public health tool we have” to combat coronavirus. “This face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against Covid than when I take a Covid vaccine” he said.

When Covid emerged in China in December 2019, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore all acted swiftly to impose wearing masks and social distancing before any significant cases were observed. Japan did not shut down the economy and most other countries in Asia shut down only parts of the economy for short periods…


I will miss the life affirming exhilirating experiences

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Mount Everest

I often recall gazing at a stock picture of the Golden Gate bridge on an old calendar on a cracked wall in our tiny apartment in Bombay at age 16 when I suddenly developed an urge to travel the world. I yearned to expand my limited view of the world and daydreamed of visiting distant places and cultures. I started exploring the world through old copies of National Geographic on loan for a quarter rupee (5 cents US in those days) from the corner second hand book store that served as the local library.

I have relentessly pursued that dream…


The role of death in life

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Photo by Benjamin Catapane on Unsplash

On one of our trips to visit family in India we inquired about the corner shopkeeper Murlidhar from whom we would buy snacks on each trip. My father in law stated matter of factly and in a tone of finality — “Murlidhar expired”. We knew what he meant but our young children had never heard this expression before and on finding out that Murlidhar had died, they broke out in laughter. They said repeatedly “expired ? — like a library card”?

Do humans expire like a carton of milk or canned food? The word expire indicates that it is past…


It is time we acknowledge the debt we owe African Americans

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I came to the US in 1964 from India to attend graduate school at Northwestern University. When I disembarked in Chicago off a Greyhound bus from New York in 1965 the first person I encountered was an African American who asked me for a qurter to help a brother. The entire area near the bus station was the African American part of the city. I did not know the significance of the term “brother” at that time. He saw I was not white and therefore a brother. …


They were the quintissential social interaction venues and gave Bombay its vibe

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I grew up in Bombay, now renamed Mumbai, in the 50s and early 60s. The city still had streetcars called trams that plowed every major road and provided cheap accessible transportation. It also boasted around 350 Irani cafes. Today there are a couple dozen left reminding us of a bygone era. In those days they had names like Star of Iran or Empress of Iran.

At nearly every corner along major roads was a cafe cum bakery run by Iranis, a subset of Parsis. Fleeing persecution Parsis had migrated to India in the 8th century from Persia. Iranis had migrated…


A perspective on my personal risk of fatality from Covid 19

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Photo by Todd Turner on Unsplash

The statistics from medical literature that I have researched regarding various communicable diseases demonstrate that measles, malaria and typhoid are all highly infectious diseases just like Covid 19. The reason I picked these 3 diseases is their prevalence in India during my childhood years so as to put in perspective the risks to me of fatality from contracting Covid 19. This is not done to minimize the danger of being infected with this virus but to gain perspective from a personal standpoint and from my own life background.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that lives in the nose and…


Deleting facebook and twitter from my cell phone has enhanced my mental freedom and creativity

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Photo by Borzoo Moazami on Unsplash

I did it!

After weeks of scrolling on Facebook and Twitter several times a day and finding nothing but crap, I deleleted both apps from my cell phone. I have no reason now to look at the small screen except to check email or respond to phone calls or messages. I have been released from a prison I created. The freedom is exhilirating.

When Facebook first became widely popular it was a unique and wonderful way to connect with long lost friends and relatives. Wishing each other on birthdays and viewing cute baby photos or vacation pictures was entertaining. As social animals we…


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Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash

I read this quote when I was very young and it has defined my life. Life was neither easy nor pleasant growing up in a tiny crowded apartment with three siblings. I do not recall any memorable occasions like birthdays or holiday celebrations. Unlike my grandchildren who have all the luxuries of life I grew up one hearbeat away from dire poverty. But I was as happy as they are now. I chose to be happy.

Not everyone in the family was equally happy. I do not recall my mother being happy, she wore a worried expression all the time…


Rediscovering an abandoned homeland

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Celebration of Annual Sindhi Culture Day in Pakistan

Growing up in the cosmopolitan milieu of Bombay in the 50's and attending a Catholic missionary school I considered myself suave and urbane. My friends and I listened to the Beatles and to Ella Fitzgerald. We danced to popular Western songs sung by Goan musicians in the fashionable coffee houses of Bombay. We watched Hollywood movies starring Rock Hudson and Doris Day while munching on oily potato chips barely understanding the American accents but feeling very sophisticated and satisfied. We discussed the movies in rapid fire English in a staccato accent as we rode home on the crowded local trains…

Ron Advani

Wannabe writer and voracious reader. Love traveling and observing local cultures and traditions. Lived in India, Egypt, Singapore and retired in the Bay Area.

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