Saturday, July 19, 2014

Terra Corsa!

I remember when we were crossing from Marseilles (mainland, le “continent”) to Bastia by boat; my father was always waking up early, like an internal clock, which would drag him to the main deck, nose in the air, checking, smelling any sign of his island...the maqui, marjolaine… or to catch the first rays of sun uncovering the piece of rock, at the time where the blue of the sea dies on the mountains in graded shades.

Well it is a bit the way I felt when coming down the plane ramp, landing in Ajacciu, in the town of Napoleon, on the land of my ancestors.

I had not been back in Corsica for the past 11 years and the last time was to accompany the soul of my beloved grandmother.
This time I was there for an eminent gathering around New Institutional Economics PhD papers and research, with renowned economists and shapers of future economical models, from the best universities and research centres in the world, MIT, Harvard…all meeting in a tiny Corsican village called Carghese by the sea.

I must admit that when I applied for this academic event I was more attracted to coming back to my roots than an ardent desire to take this NIE topic, I had discovered a few months ago as part of compulsory classes for my PhD, further.

Yet the perspective of a week of exchanges, brainstorms with some of the top thinkers of new economic trends was as well quite exciting, combined with the stunning setting of a Corsican shore, a private beach… pristine waters… and a very charming little village.
Definitely worth the 10 to 14 hours a day of prep upon arrival (finishing my paper presentation on Indian institutional influences on waste management policies) … arrival from Paris at 1am, getting up at 5am to polish a few slides… and some further readings for the session …. just to pretend I was understanding something!

The first days were really tough though, just coming back from Brazil, another conference on Social Impact.
But once again worth all my efforts, not really for some of the arrogant MIT/Harvard professor lecturing but more for the global emulation of my peers and some like me non-economists and very interesting diversity.
Interactions with other researchers in other fields, broadening the questioning process, the willingness to go further, or sometimes to get more focuses.
A week of hard work, quite pivotal in many ways… with the luxury of daily swims even if the water was still cold, great Corsican food…and an ending music gig with Pedro at the piano, my inseparable ukulele, all singing.

The Micheline (little local train) from Ajacciu to Bastia was another unique discovery of Corsica from inside, 4 hours of slow commute between the two major towns of the island, slowly going up and down mountains in between, stunning.

Arrival just before Bastia and the very kind welcome of my cousin.
A few days alone in the family house where my father and grandfather were born! A few centuries old, all in stones of the village, that village were most of the people are members of the family, were a street is named after my great uncle.
Alone in that big old house, speaking to ghosts has been sweet and relaxing.
Yet another uncle decided to pass away… so once again mourning and church times. Yet another opportunity bond again and meet with family.  And the most beautiful Dio Vi Salvi Regina I ever heard, in the packed little church of Olmeta Di Tida. Some feelings of “Il Padrino” and some unmistakable Scorcese ambiance.

At the end of the week my parents and close cousins arrived to burry the ashes of an aunt in the family vault.
Two burials and an international conference… to feel the power of roots… of a “Terra”

Through its amazing landscapes, its smells, its food, sounds of donkeys and “wild” horses… just as well as some of the most amazing voices… feeling of belonging by blood, by a strong history… and all the above senses…

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