Tu.yo.You.I

September 11, recuerdo de una amiga

Hoy es 11 de Septiembre de 2009. He rebuscado entre mis diarios como una de mis profesoras de la universidad de New York nos relataba hace un año, el 11 de Septiembre de 2008 como vivió aquel día de 2001. Recuerdo que llegó tarde a clase por el acto que se celebrara en Downtown en memoria de las víctimas. Los autobuses no circulaban con la regularidad de siempre.
Cuando ella entró en el aula sofocada como solía estar, su pelo blanco, su camiseta de los bomberos de New York (FDNY), su estampado bolso colgando del hombro, como de costumbre su chapa en el pecho de Barack Obama for president, su sombrero de cuadros y cargando con la misma bolsa de siempre llena de carpetas y papers de sus estudiantes; supimos que algo la ocurría. Sin apenas tomar asiento, comenzó a relatarnos como vivió aquel trágico ataque terrorista de las torres gemelas hacía aquel día 7 años. Nos relató como el 11 de Septiembre de 2001 comenzaba con un día como otro cualquiera, dando clase en el edificio de NYU Downtown, Manhattan. Estaban dando clase en la primera planta, una profesora entró corriendo al aula diciendo: “Un avión se ha estrellado contra uno de los edificios del World Trade Center!!”. Todos los alumnos se levantaron para mirar por las ventanas. Clarice les llamo la atención y les recordó que deberían terminar su lección. A los 10 minutos, Clarece continuaba dando su lección y repasando con los alumnos algunos de sus papers cuando el ruido de la calle, las gentes gritando y las sirenas de los coches de policía empezaron a ser tan molestos que Clarice decidió asomarse a una de las ventanas. Sus alumnos no podían concentrarse tampoco distraídos por el barullo en el exterior, de modo que decidieron salir a la calle. Desde el edificio de la universidad, en Astor Place se veía con mucha facilidad y cercanía The World Trade Center. Mientras miraban hacia las torres atónitos, llego el segundo ataque. El segundo avión choco contra el segundo edificio. Clarice solo recuerda que todos quedaron en estado de shock. La gente comenzaba a gritar y a sentir el miedo.
¿Que haces en ese momento? Nos preguntaba Clarice.De repente cientos de personas comenzaron a aparecer entre las calles corriendo muertas de pánico, llevaban sus cell-phones en la mano. Parecía como si un ejército viniese hacía ellos. Eran cientos de personas que huían del World Trade Center. Les preguntaban que había ocurrido y cada persona les comentaba algo nuevo: “Han cerrado los puentes”, “han cerrado los túneles”… Todo Manhattan estaba bloqueado y nadie podía abandonar la isla, quizá solo podemos imaginarnos un momento así recordando una película de ciencia ficción. Según Clarice fue un momento que esta gravado en sus pupilas y que cerrando los ojos por una fracción de segundo es capaz de reproducir y reproducir una y otra vez. Fue unos momentos de mucha tensión que espero no volver a vivir jamás comentaba. Al anochecer de los días posteriores, se veía como bomberos, policías y gente de la construcción regresaba de la zona Cero después de pasar horas buscando gente entre los escombros. Era una imagen desoladora, llenos de suciedad, muertos de cansancio y con los rostros demacrados por la tristeza se dirigían a descansar por un rato. Entre las calles, personas desde los edificios ondeaban sus banderas y les aplaudían por su gran trabajo. Son situaciones muy especiales, que incluso solo con escribirlas y sin haberlas vivido provocan en mí un escalofrío.

Cientos de personas que trabajaban o estudiaban en Manhattan viven en New Jersey, Brooklyn, Queens o Bronx. Ellos no pudieron salir de allí y se tuvieron que refugiar en los Centros de Deporte, las universidades abrieron sus centros dando pizzas gratis y mantas para poder dormir. Clarice decía que durante esos días la gente intentaba sobrevivir y esperaban con mucho miedo el siguiente ataque terrorista. Nos contó que muchos restaurantes, bares y supermercados ofrecían su comida y bebida a todas aquellas personas. Momentos de ayuda para mucha gente. Policías, bomberos y mucha otra gente de otros estados vinieron para proteger la zona y ayudar en las labores de rescate. Clarice recuerda que la compañía Starbucks no ayudó a los ciudadanos, mientras el resto de establecimientos se pusó a disposición de cualquier persona que necesitó ayuda. Starbucks cobraba el botellín de agua a 1$.Clarice terminaba así su relato “I swear i’ll never go to Starbucks”.

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Tu.yo.You.I

Sobre a crise mundial [Neto, director de criação e sócio da Bullet]

Thanks Silvia for this text!
Sera el primer texto para motivarnos en nuestras primeras lecciones de portugues.

“Vou fazer um slideshow para você.
Está preparado? É comum, você já viu essas imagens antes.
Quem sabe até já se acostumou com elas.
Começa com aquelas crianças famintas da África.
Aquelas com os ossos visíveis por baixo da pele.
Aquelas com moscas nos olhos.
Os slides se sucedem.
Êxodos de populações inteiras.
Gente faminta.
Gente pobre.
Gente sem futuro.
Durante décadas, vimos essas imagens.
No Discovery Channel, na National Geographic, nos concursos de foto.
Algumas viraram até objetos de arte, em livros de fotógrafos renomados.
São imagens de miséria que comovem.
São imagens que criam plataformas de governo.
Criam ONGs.
Criam entidades.
Criam movimentos sociais.
A miséria pelo mundo, seja em Uganda ou no Ceará, na Índia ou em Bogotá sensibiliza.
Ano após ano, discutiu-se o que fazer.
Anos de pressão para sensibilizar uma infinidade de líderes que se sucederam nas nações mais poderosas do planeta.
Dizem que 40 bilhões de dólares seriam necessários para resolver o problema da fome no mundo.
Resolver, capicce?
Extinguir.
Não haveria mais nenhum menininho terrivelmente magro e sem futuro, em nenhum canto do planeta.
Não sei como calcularam este número.
Mas digamos que esteja subestimado.
Digamos que seja o dobro.
Ou o triplo.
Com 120 bilhões o mundo seria um lugar mais justo.
Não houve passeata, discurso político ou filosófico ou foto que sensibilizasse.
Não houve documentário, ong, lobby ou pressão que resolvesse.
Mas em uma semana, os mesmos líderes, as mesmas potências, tiraram da cartola 2.2 trilhões de dólares (700 bi nos EUA, 1.5 tri na Europa) para salvar da fome quem já estava de barriga cheia.”

Thanks Silvia for sending me the text!

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Tu.yo.You.I

Missing Flatbush

Missing Flatbush when its been three days now since I moved to my new place means that it was more than a place to live for me.My first day in The Upper East Side, I went to the Food Emporium supermarket. Broccoli, tomatoes, cucumber, bananas and a couple of fruits more cost $50. Last week, in my small vegetable store in Flatbush, a similar buy was $20. There is a big difference in prices.

This big difference is more than the cheap price of food. I’m missing seeing how people dress and what people eat because in Flatbush, there are immigrants from the Caribbean, mostly from Haiti and Jamaica, from India, and from African countries like Ghana or Nigeria. So, when I am on the street I find clothing stores and restaurants which are strange and new for me. I love to learn about that.

I missed the food prices from Flatbush last Saturday. Today, I’m missing the colorful, funny and strange stores and restaurants but I really will miss the people.

My roommate Melody is from Jamaica. She always calls me: “Baby”, “How you doing?, baby”. With this sweet word she makes me feel safe. My friend Ely from Senegal, who works at the Laundromat, Iused to spend two or three hours talking about politics, religion, sex and drugs. While washing-machines and dryers were turning round, we were laughing and arguing about all of those subjects. Many days, used to go back home with my big black and blue backpack full of clean clothes at 3 a. m.

And I don’t know how I can explain how much I miss him and I’ll miss Eder. Even though Eder and I are completely different, we created something between us that was very special. He used to wake me up to go to the gym in the early mornings. We used to walk around Flatbush late at night. The great thing is he makes me smile all the time. On Sunday, I left him behind the black bars at the Newrick Av Subway Station while my number 2 train started to move to the city. It’s going to be hard to forget Melody, Ely and Eder.

It’s going to be hard being far from Flatbush, my neighborhood.

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Tu.yo.You.I

La Carreta Literaria: “My world: The library cart” by Martin Murillo

“The Library Cart begins a new series for the BBC World Service, My World, which explores the lives of extraordinary individuals.”

Escuchar la Entrevista a Martin, pagina de la BBC
Que ilusion escuchar la primera entrevista del proyecto de la BBC dedicada a mi gran amigo Martin Murillo, colombiano de Cartagena de Indias. Martin tiene el gran proposito de acercar la lectura a todo aquel que pueda arrimarse a su carreta.

Martin camina de un lugar a otro empujando la carreta de dos ruedas con el peso de los 160 libros en su interior. Desde la carcel de mujeres a la cual se acerca los jueves, a la Comisaria de Policia de Cartagena los Sabados entre otros muchos proyectos. En la comisaria tienen un taller de lectura en voz alta para ninos en el cual tuve la oportunidad de participar y hacer un reportaje fotografico sobre La Carreta Literaria.
Las fotos del proyecto La Carreta Literaria

Y para seguir todo su trabajo aqui dejo el enlace a su blog.
http://carretaliteraria.blogspot.com/

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Tu.yo.You.I

sUnday

I had been hearing footsteps outside the house from my living-room. I was surfing on the Internet, sitting because the rococo decoration of my place inspired me to do many things. The elevator door was closed. Someone had been walking from the elevator to my door and now that person stopped very close.

“Melody?” I asked. A voice from outside answered: “Yes, baby”. It was Sunday evening. While I was thinking about my Essay fro Ellen’s class, Melody came back home. Melody is the woman who I live with. She loves to be on the street. Every day that she is off, she is on the street.

She went to church in the morning. I don’t have any idea what she was doing until the evening. Maybe, as she usually does, she was on the street. Visiting stores, buying things… When I asked her, “How are you?”, She answered me with the same sentence that she says every day. She was tired. She was tired of working. She was tired of paying taxes and she was tired of this country.

She was telling me: “I’m going back to my country in 12 years” However, I hadn’t asked her about that. “I’m going to have my retirement. I work two jobs and I only pay taxes and that’s it”. She is walking around me and around the table; she is going to the kitchen. Now, she is going to her room to take off her shoes. And…, she is coming from the room walking slowly and she is starting to tell me again: “I will be in Jamaica, I have a house there, I will repair the house, I will be with my family. Only 12 more years and I will be in Jamaica”.

I only can think: ONLY 12 years. Is it possible to reduce 12 years of one’s life to working two jobs, paying taxes and that’s it?

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My way their way

They walk faster than me, they look at me, and some of them offer me a seat on the train. I’m living in a different way these days than I usually do.

It is frustrating that everyone around you, wherever you are, is walking faster than you. A week ago, I fell down in front of the door of The Woolworth Building. So, I have to walk slowly and be patient because of my injuries on one of my knees. Although this is a bad situation, I’ve learned a lot about people’s behaviors. They have to be patient with you. For example, the exit of the subway on Fulton St which I usually take is a very small one. Only one person goes down and another can go up at the same time. That means that, when I am one of those people going up or down at this entrance everyone behind me has to walk as slowly as I do. First step, second step, third step… and so on, until the last stair.
This point is where “my one week psychological study” begins: How differently people can be with a handicapped person.

The first reaction that people have when they see someone with disabilities is interesting. After our afternoon class at NYU this week I go to the subway station walking very slowly and with difficulties. Some of the white businessmen, who are waiting at the bus stop near the Church, look at me and they think: “Poor! She is young to be lame“. They have a sad expression on their faces, and they look at me with compassion. On the other hand, on the same sidewalk an African American man comes out from a store with a big smile and asks me: “Everything ok?” I didn’t have enough time to answer but I smiled too and he said: “All right”.

Inside the train, young people are the first in offer me a seat although many times they need more than two minutes to say something. The rest of the people usually are focused on their newspapers, books and iPods. So, they don’t pay attention to what is happening around them.
When I arrive at my neighborhood, the situation is different from The Wall Street area. Most of my neighbors, even though I have never met them before; have very friendly faces. Yesterday, a guy was walking on the street and he turned to me and asked me “Is Everything all right? Do you need help?” I answered him that I was fine. And when I arrived at the main door of my building, another guy with a wonderful dog asked me: “Can I do something for you? What is your building?” I told him which was my building and he waited for me at the door and helped me to enter the elevator.

People have many behaviors when they see someone with any disability. In my first example that I wrote about in the introduction, in the small subway entrance at Fulton St I have seen two kinds of reactions. The people who are conscious about what the situation is. Respond very politely and patiently wait for me. And in the case that they want to go ahead, they say to me: “Excuse me, I’m sorry” and they are careful of me when they pass me. The other kind of person doesn’t say anything but makes noise: “ugg!”, “umm!” and in the most extreme case they are aggressively trying to go ahead without caring about me. It is a little sad situation.

In some ways people forget the courteous gesture. And it is a surprise for me that the more educated, the less conscious about human beings they are.

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Homeless people in New York City

“The winters in New York are very cold. I couldn’t fall asleep because of the cold. I was afraid of death if I fell asleep on the street at night. If I wanted to sleep in those days, I would never wake up. (…)

You don’t know what it is to be cold. What it is to be hungry. It is difficult to stand up after four or three days without food. I used to lean against the wall. I was dizzy, my stomach was empty. My eyes couldn’t see the street but the most incredible feeling was people couldn’t see me either”. The saddest feeling that a homeless people can feel is loneliness. This anecdote was my first conversation with Dale. Dale Williams was homeless for three years, between 1988 and 1991 in New York City.

There are more than 35.000 people on the streets in New York City. Why don’t we see them? Why are they invisible to us?
I was walking on Seventh Avenue one afternoon last summer. A freezng man was laying face-down between 19 st and 20 st. I stopped dead and I looked at the situation from the corner. The man couldn’t hold it and he wet himself. While the urine was crossing the sidewalk, a woman with a pet stroller jumped the puddle. At that moment I asked myself: “Could we find a balance between spending $375 on a pet stroller for a dog and being able to make a call for help for that man?” “Isn’t our society out of control?” New Yorkers are animal lovers. However, what about taking care of human beings? I couldn’t sleep on that night because of the story which happened before. I decided to learn more about this issue in New York City. So, I collaborated in The Midnight Run Organization and I met Dale Williams, the founder of the Organization.
My first night in Midnight Run was one of the most amazing nights of my life.

A warm, masculine and deep voice spoke behind me: “Hi, how are you doing today?” When I turned around, I saw a handsome guy: green eyes, white teeth and big smile, tall, African American and polite. I offered him soup and he answered me: “If you made the soup, I will eat very gratefully” and he laughed. After he ate the soup, we had a long and friendly conversation. His name was Ben. Ben lives in Park Avenue behind the Church, near Bill Cosby’s house. “I used to see Bill Cosby many days ―Ben pointed the sentence―But he doesn’t want to see us. He is rich, you know? Ben had met John F Kennedy Junior too. Kennedy Junior used to go to the church on Park Avenue and he had helped Ben a lot. At his funeral there were many homeless people outside the Church. I remember how amazing it was listening to all the stories from that black guy. But, Dale Williams came to me and told me: “Carmen, come on! We have too much work to do in many places”.

The two of us didn’t want to finish our conversation but I had to continue with the job. I told him good bye. He answered me saying that that week would be his last week as a homeless person. Ben would fly to San Francisco and he would start a new life. (I didn’t believe him; I thought he was dreaming about another life). When he was giving me a hug a couple pushed him, they didn’t apologize to him. Again, he was invisible to them. This was my first day helping homeless people at midnight in Midtown, Manhattan.

After a couple of months I went back to Midtown, I went behind the Church looking for Ben. It was before Christmas and I was planning to spend the holidays with my family in Spain. So, I went to invite him for a cup of tea and to continue with our conversation. Unfortunate, I couldn’t find him. I’ve never seen him again. Maybe it is not unfortunately because he could have started a new life in San Francisco.

We shouldn’t make generalizations about the homeless. Some of them lost their jobs. Some of them are immigrant looking for a better life in this country. Maybe this is because where the immigrants are from, they cannot survive. Some of them decided on this style of life. However in every case, we don’t have an excuse to convert them into invisible people. We are not human beings when one of them is laying face-down and we don’t make a simple phone call to the police. All of us must review our principles when we spend a lot of money in our dogs and cats and we don’t have any feeling about people. I am so sorry but I can’t see any sense.
I was reading the newspapers on the Internet this morning, when I read an article about 26 year-old guy who lost his job in December. Nowadays he is moving from internet cafes to “capsules” hotel (New-Business, 3). This is happening now in Japan. Today we are sitting in this chair at New York University but tomorrow we might be on the street. I am sure none of us wants to be invisible.

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