June 8, 2010
Havana, Cuba
Elevation: Sea Level
Humidity: Drenched
I have always felt that there is a similarity between Latin American culture and Asian culture. Being here, perhaps an effect of the influx of Chinese investment and interests (and the Chinese buses), I can help but see the similarities between the two nations.
In China, there are many brands of cigarettes at varying prices, from the very cheap to the very expensive. Men are often dressed in a simple white button down collared shirts and have a pack of cigarettes in the front pocket. My uncle told me that the different brands of cigarettes displayed in the front pocket becomes a status symbol. What is more interesting is the work arounds that exists inorder to impress. They would buy an expensive pack but refill it w cheaper smokes. Or the expensive packs are for show, for when they are trying to impress someone, meanwhile, they will smoke the lesser ones themselves.
In a nation that is build on the ideology of the elimination of class distinction, the human animals finds different ways to denote class within themselves. (Yes, I realize that Chinese communism does not work and has not for a long time.)
Here, government regulations sets itself up to prevent anyone from getting too far ahead of their neighbors. The casa particulars are only allowed to rent out 2 rooms. The private restaurants are only allowed to have 12 seats. There is health care for all, university is free and the government subsidize rationed food supply. Yet that is not enough. Anyone and everyone is trying to get a little more and earn a little more. From the convoluted bus system where you get on, it drives 5 blocks, you get off then cross the st to get back on the exact same bus 10 minutes later and the bus driver will then keep the fare for himself this way (I am really confused by how this really works). To the double economy where the very principal of it appears to be counter the socialist aim. Everyone is trying to get ahead. Everyone is trying to have a little more.
In the animal kingdom, the male species distinguish itself by its brilliant feather, mane, size, ability to build a fancy nest or elaborate mating dance. In some ways, it is a class system. The lion that is bigger in size with a bigger mane is of a higher class than one who is smaller and not as beautiful. For as much as a leftist liberal as I am, for as much as I am enthralled and identify with the leftist ideals, I wonder if the human animals are simply genetically incapable of ever achieving a leftist utopia. We seek to distinguish ourselves in any way possible. Equality is against the principals of evolution.
Charlie Grosso
www.charliegrosso.com
310-592-0895

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