Prof. Kiki Skagen Munshi – publicul american vs. establishment-ul politic de la Washington, în politica externă a Statelor Unite

(sursă foto: The Washington Post)
(sursă foto: The Washington Post)

Fundaţia Europeană Titulescu – Centrul de Studii Strategice au avut plăcerea de a găzdui  marţi, 12 noiembrie 2013, orele 16:00, expunerea prof.univ.dr. Kiki Skagen Munshi, fost diplomat american la Bucureşti. În cadrul intervenţiei sale  – cu tema U.S. Foreign Policy: the View from Outside the Beltway – d-na Skagen Munshi a prezentat priorităţile politicii externe a Statelor Unite din perspectiva cetăţenilor americani, spre deosebire de cea a elitelor politice de la Washington. Expunerea a fost urmată de o sesiune de întrebări şi răspunsuri. Moderatorul dezbaterii a fost dl. Adrian Năstase, preşedintele FET.

A brief self introduction, by Kiki Skagen Munshi

I came to Romania by chance.  My first post in the US Foreign Service was Nigeria and it was to be followed by a posting to Pakistan as I was a South Asia specialist.  At the last minute, however, the position was abolished and I was given a choice of going to Costa Rica or Bucharest.  Costa Rica sounded dull so I chose Bucharest, knowing almost nothing about Romania except that it was somewhere southeast of somewhere else.

First came four months of studying Romanian in Washington, DC. My professor was a hydrologist, but also well educated and cultivated. Andrei Filotti’s father had been an Ambassador in the Romanian Foreign Service before and during World War II, his aunt was Maria Filotti the renowned actress and although he and his wife had fled Romania, he loved his country and its culture.  Not being a language teacher, Dr. Filotti didn’t know that Caragiale and Eminescu were not appropriate reading material so we read them and I laughed out loud when we came to “curat murdar”.  We walked through Bucharest in our minds with a map and a large book of photographs.  He transmitted enough of the language to be a basis for further learning and, more importantly, he gave me his own love of the country and a desire to learn more about this “southeast of somewhere” place.

From 1983 to 1987 I served as the Director of the Biblioteca Americană. It was, in those days, a door into the Western world for many people, the only Western institution that wasn’t guarded by miliţieni to keep people from entering.  More than a thousand people each week came to showings of the CBS Weekly News, the movies, our conferences and exhibits and to use the library.  Our patrons became our friends—Professor Dinu Giurescu, Professor Razvan Theodorescu, Dinu Sararu, Ion Caramitru as well as many who have left us, such as Mihai Pop, Iordan Chimet, Dan Grigorescu.  Some of the younger visitors later became leaders of this country, foremost among them Adrian Năstase.

I left Bucharest for Athens with a heavy heart but returned, twice from Athens before December 1989, then again in January 1990 with a car full of food, clothes, books and joy.  In 1990 I was in Washington as a Book Officer, choosing books that might help close an intellectual gap left by Communism for the Soviet Union, Romania and Turkey.  Visits were frequent and exciting as I was able to see people without the constraint of the Securitate behind our backs.  I worked with leading publishing houses and became acquainted with many fine editors such as Marcel Popa.

Other assignments in the US Foreign Service followed but, somehow, I kept coming back to Romania.  We had “R and R” from Sierra Leone—special leave because it was considered a difficult post–and everyone thought I was crazy because I chose to go to Bucharest rather than London or the US.   I flew to Bucharest from Tanzania.  I finally returned as Counselor for Public Affairs in 2000, retiring in 2002 (although I had planned to stay one more year) because I had married and my husband seemed to think I should go live with him but visits to Romania continued.  I even came from Iraq—where I had returned to serve my country as a Provincial Reconstruction Team Leader, trying to undo some of the damage Bush’s policies had caused—to complete my Doctorate in History in 2006 under the direction of Professor Dinu Giurescu.

Now I visit Bucharest because it is a part of my life.  I have written a novel about Romania during the period 1939-1986 and am thinking of another, set in the 19th century.  Romania is no longer a ‘foreign country’ but my second home.

O americancă, împărţită între războiul din Irak şi arta populară românească[1]

Kiki Harris Skagen Munshi este unul dintre americanii pasionaţi de România, care au pus la dispoziţia muzeului Mingei din San Diego colecţiile personale de artă folclorică românească.

A trăit aproape două decenii în România comunistă. A fost consilier de presa şi cultură al Ambasadei Statelor Unite la Bucureşti şi director al Bibliotecii Americane. În 2006 a stat în Irak, unde a condus o echipă a Departamentului de Stat al SUA pentru reconstrucţia unor oraşe afectate de conflicte. Ziarul Washington Post o descrie drept un veteran al diplomatiei care, după o activitate de 22 de ani în Asia, Africa şi Europa, încearca să îmbunătăţească situaţia din Irak chiar şi după pensionare.

În ciuda faptului că şi-a petrecut o bună parte din viaţă în zone de conflict, Kiki Mushi are şi o latură sensibilă. În perioada în care a stat în România, Kiki a strâns obiecte populare care acum îi decorează casa: în sufragerie este un cuier de care sunt atârnate ceşcuţe din ceramică de Corund, o comodă cu motive populare stă pe holul de la intrare, o vitrină din Transilvania în birou. În fiecare zi, aceasta ia prânzul din vasele ceramice Corund şi aranjează fânul pentru cei doi cai din România cu o furcă achiziţionată din Curtea de Argeş. “Acum, după ce furca a fost expusă într-un muzeu, cred că va trebui să-i găsesc o altă întrebuinţare”, glumeşte Kiki Munshi. Cele mai multe lucrări de artă au fost achiziţionate din Consignaţia de la “Hanul cu tei”, singura casă de licitaţii care a funcţionat în România înainte de 1989.

Cele nouă luni petrecute în Irak, unde insurgenţa, conflictele grupurilor etnice si religioase, crimele sunt la ordinea zilei, par a fi greu de tolerat de către un spirit iubitor de artă. “Oamenii sunt complecşi. Eu nu sunt doar o pasionată de artă, ci personalitatea mea are mai multe niveluri. Irakul a fost o experienţă greu de descris. Am învăţat multe despre irakieni şi armata americană. Totodată s-a întâmplat ca mulţi dintre cunoscuţii mei să fie răniţi sau ucişi. A trebuit să merg mai departe”, povesteşte aceasta.

Pasiunea pentru arta populară românească a început să se contureze în 1983, pe când se afla la Washington şi citea “O scrisoare pierdută”. Pe lângă buna-dispoziţie pe care i-a lăsat-o lectura, Kiki Munshi işi aminteşte că atunci a fost prima dată când a realizat că se va îndrăgosti de arta şi cultura româneşti. Puţin mai târziu, tot în anii ‘80, profesorul Mihai Pop din România a convins-o că folclorul româneasc merită toată pasiunea.

În prezent, aceasta trăieşte împreună cu soţul ei lângă San Diego, la ţară, unde au 7 hectare de pământ, o livadă, cai, de care se ocupă împreună. În acest mediu pitoresc, Kiki Munshi lucrează cu răbdare la cartea ei despre România. Tot acolo are şi o mică afacere – o galerie de artă. Câştigurile strânse de pe urma acesteia sunt mici, cât să-i plătească biletul până în România şi înapoi, o dată pe an.

O călătoare între culturi: Kiki Skagen Munshi “traduce” India românilor[2]

Când o vezi prima oară pe Kiki Skagen Munshi te frapează caldură cu care îţi vorbeşte. Jumătate în română, jumătate în engleză. Şi totuşi, când am cunoscut-o, acum câteva luni,  îşi lansa primul ei roman, o poveste frumoasă despre India. Are aproape 70 de ani dar arata de 50.

Imediat după absolvirea Universităţii, Kiki Skagen Munshi a primit o bursă Fulbright la Ahmedabad (India). Povestea indiană a început pentru autoare în 1965, când, aflată la studii în Ahmedabad, s-a îndrăgostit de profesorul G. S. Munshi. Şase ani mai târziu, când Kiki a revenit în India, cei doi s-au căsătorit. Din acest mariaj a rezultat o fiică, Zia, născută în New Delhi, în anul 1973. După moartea soţului, povestea de dragoste a autoarei cu India nu a luat însă sfârşit. Ea spune că s-a “îndrăgostit de două ţări, India şi România”. De ce România ? Kiki Munshi a trăit aproape două decenii aici. A fost consilier de presă şi cultură al Ambasadei Statelor Unite la Bucureşti şi director al Bibliotecii Americane în perioada căderii regimului Ceauşescu.

După pensionare, ea şi-a susţinut un doctorat în istorie la Universitatea din Bucureşti şi călătoreşte cel puţin o dată pe an în România, ca şi în India. Recăsătorită cu Wayne Harris, ea trăieşte în munţii Californiei de Sud.

Anul acesta a venit să îşi lanseze primul ei roman: “Nonny, nani – o poveste indiană”. Şi romanul are o istorie incredibilă. Cartea a fost scrisă în anii ’60 când autoarea a locuit în palatul Maharajahului din Bikane. Manuscrisul s-a pierdut dintr-o întâmplare nefericită. Dupa ce s-a pensionat anul trecut, în 2008, Kiki l-a rescris. L-a terminat repede şi cu putine modificări. Îi place să spună despre el că l-a scris aşa repede pentru că, pe măsura ce scria, era tot mai curioasă să vadă ce urmează. Din cauză că are memorie bună sau din cauză că întâmplările scrise au fost intense? Acţiunea cărţii este plasată în anii ’20… Nonny, o fetiţă din California, işi însoţeşte tatăl în India. În Rajasthan, ea descoperă o nouă lume, a maharajahilor, a gesturilor interzise, a femeilor care privesc lumea din spatele dantelei de piatră a ferestrelor închise.

În 2006 a condus o echipă a Departamentului de Stat al SUA pentru reconstrucţia provinciei Diyala din Irak.  Washington Post o descrie drept un veteran al diplomaţiei care încearcă să schimbe războiul din Irak prin aplicarea unor politici neconflictuale. Respinge abordările unilaterale ale unor factori de decizie ai SUA în Irak, deşi admiră armata americană. Crede ca Irakului îi lipseste o politică bună, axată pe dezvoltarea economică. A stat nouă luni In Irak unde terorismul, ambiţiile grupurilor etnice şi religioase, nefericita relaţie dintre şiiţi şi suniţi sunt omniprezente. A reusit să îşi păstreze spiritul viu şi zambetul caracteristic.

Duce o viaţă simplă, la ţară şi poartă haine pe care mulţi români nu le-ar cumpara. Spune despre ea că este o femeie împlinită şi că toate experienţele trăite au facut-o să preţuiască viaţa.

Acasă, în California de Sud, o aşteaptă cei doi cai româneşti ai săi, Haiduc şi Hidalgo şi un nou roman început a cărei acţiune se petrece în… România.

Evenimentul s-a desfăşurat exclusiv în limba engleză şi a avut loc, ca de obicei, la Casa Titulescu, Şos. Kiseleff nr. 47.

 

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