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All posts by Shanti Pillai

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A Life in Three Acts: Lakshmi Is on the Line

by Shanti Pillai

There is a lot to talk about when I call my father in India from Cuba. The calls are expensive, but the connection is crystalline. Nonetheless, it is hard to stay focused when my consciousness ping-pongs between a Malayali courtyard and the passage way of a Havana apartment building.

A Life in Three Acts: Tourism and Transcendence in Cuba’s Escambray

by Shanti Pillai

I entered my Havana apartment and was pleasantly surprised to find that the Cuban boyfriend had already turned one of the four available channels to the Jimmy Carter press conference. It was the statesman’s second visit to Cuba; the first was in 2002. I envisioned writing about this historic moment during the week in April when I would be out of town with my students. However, other things came up during the course of my travels to Cuba’s Escambray mountains. My attention was soon diverted from diplomacy to the natural world and non-ordinary realities.

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A Life in Three Acts: Havana Pipe Dreams

by Shanti Pillai

It was a March evening in Havana and still hot at 6 pm. I was on my way to my apartment in the central neighborhood of Vedado on a street called Zapata. This area is a stone´s throw from the Plaza de la Revolución, where for decades Fidel Castro delivered monumental speeches to the masses. That era had long passed by the time I arrived in Cuba in 2006. That was the year that the Commander and Chief delegated power to his younger brother Raul.