January 20, 2009

Inauguration Poet Elizabeth Alexander Recites at Obama's Swearing- In Ceremony

"Words Can Inspire" said Barack Obama in one of his speeches earlier on this week; one wonders if Alexander's did...

Was Alexander advocating for the power of words or was it for "
love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance"?

Transcript of Elizabeth Alexander's inaugural poem

1:25 PM PST, January 20, 2009

The following is a transcript of the inaugural poem recited by Elizabeth Alexander, as provided by CQ transcriptions.

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

January 19, 2009

"Hope-Obama Fever/ Fervor" - a Worldwide Phenomenon?

I received an email from a friend who is not a US resident, and is visiting Washington DC as a World Bank executive. He witnessed a pre-inaugural event at the Lincoln Memorial Center, and his observations and reactions to it and to the forthcoming inauguration were very interesting. With his permission I am posting them here:

"I just returned from the Inauguration Concert at the Lincoln Memorial.
To be honest, I went to see, for free, the great names of music that
I so love and admire - live! There were Bruce Springsteen, John
Mellencamp, Stevie Wonder, U2, Shakira, Usher, Beyonce (who I didn't
actually see), and many others, as also actors like Samuel Jackson and
Queen Latifa. It was a great opportunity. And it was truly wonderful
to hear them sing and perform.

But I have come away with an experience very unlike - and much more
profound - than witnessing a rock band perform. This was truly the
spirit of America that I got to feel and see. There was such a mass
of people, at least a couple of hundred thousand, people who had
travelled many miles to be there, to celebrate and participate in a
celebration that was theirs. Each one there, I could see, owned the
moment. This was their country, their celebration, their victory, and
Barack Obama, their leader, their hero. It was amazing to see,
whenever the Jumbotron showed a close up of Obama - singing with the
music or just nodding his head to the beat - the crowd cheered
lustily. And the cheers were much louder than those even for their
greatly loved and admired stars that performed on the stage.

Democracy is alive and well in America. There were whites and blacks
and latinos and asians, and all united in their ownership of the great
moment. Truly, they feel the ownership because they have helped
create it - they have voted. And they know each vote counted, and
they know that that was their vote that got Obama to the White House.

There was much talk of history during the concert - the music was
interspersed with short speeches from celebrities (Tiger Woods was one
such speaker). There were the usual references to Abraham Lincoln and
Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy and Roosevelt and, of
course, George Washington. But, today when I heard the speakers quote
Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King I felt a jab in my heart, I felt
a swelling in my throat, I felt a shiver down my spine. The words
acquired a meaning for me today. These men were great, their ideas
were great, and this country and its people that recognised their
greatness and gave them such a hallowed place in its history are,
therefore, great.

Sure, the world is going through real tough times: there are conflicts

in every hotspot from the middle east to India-Pakistan, the world
economy is going through the worst downturn in decades, terrrorism is
rampant, religion is being abused; as Shakespeare wrote in Julius
Caesar - "Oh judgement, thou art fled to brutish beasts and men have
lost their reason". Yet, seeing the spirit of freedom and celebration
and democracy and victory that I got to see today, I have hope. The
world shall yet be a better place. America has shown how and where it
can begin." RA

Obama Fervor is catching on!

January 18, 2009

A Closet in Disarray!

Bursting at the seams
with clutter, so it seems.
Clothes on hangers placed,
that forever their remain;
these hangered prima-donas,
an ordered facade maintain.
The many in bundles strewn,
those donned morn and noon,
in crumpled heaps they lie,
yet each day they have to fly.

Quite akin to life
where inane glitterati,
relationships effaces,
and gradually takes up
life's prime time spaces.

January 07, 2009

Sanjay Gupta's Road to Fame: From Doctor to Embedded War Reporter to TV Health Advisor to Chief Health Educator of the USA?

What does it take to be 'Surgeon General' of the USA?

"The Office of the Surgeon General, under the direction of the Surgeon General, oversees the operations of the 6,000-member Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service and provides support for the Surgeon General in the accomplishment of his other duties. The Office is part of the Office of Public Health and Science in the Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General serves as America's chief health educator by providing Americans the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and reduce the risk of illness and injury."

A few hours ago President Elect Obama picked Sanjay Gupta as his nominee for Surgeon General, and that made people wonder about the qualifications it takes to be considered for this position. "Gupta, 39, is a US-born graduate of the American system whose parents, Damayanti and Subhash Gupta, moved to the US in the 1960s to work at the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan. Sanjay grew up in Michigan and received his undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and his M.D. from the University of Michigan Medical Center. He completed his residency in neurological surgery within the University of Michigan Health System." (Times of India)

"Gupta hosts "House Call" on CNN, contributes reports to CBS News, and writes a column for Time magazine. He is a neurosurgeon and is on the faculty at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. During the Clinton administration, he was a White House fellow and special adviser to then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton." (Washington Post)

On a more personal note,"Gupta was named one of the Sexiest Men of 2003 by People magazine. That was before he married fellow University of Michigan graduate Rebecca Sue Olson, an attorney, in 2004." (Times of India)