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10/12/08

Pachakuti

I've mentioned this word before, and as a reminder it's the Quechua word (the language of the Inca people, still widely spoken in the Andean region) which reasonably translates as "Upside Down World."

Pachakuti came to mind today when I saw the front cover of Argentina's best daily, "Critica de la Argentina". Today's headline is "Upside Down World" , and along with being printed upside down (just for the laugh, I suppose) makes a list of the financial weirdness going on right now, including that little detail about how 1/10th of the money being thrown at the banking system would be enough to rid the world of hunger. Yes, I know it's simplistic.....but all the same....y'know..... ?

A little more background on the word Pachakuti: According to the keepers of Quechua tradition, namely the Q'eros people who live in remote villages high up in the mountains in the Cuzco region of Peru, the world was turned upside down by the arrival of Pizarro&Co in the 16th Century. As a quick sidebar, I'm told translations from Quechua can always be disputed for idiomatic precision, but the message is the thing to understand. With that said, in the words of the Q'eros, pachakuti is the time that, "What became right became wrong; the logical became illogical, and the unreasonable became reasonable." The word pachakuti is also correctly translated as "the great return". So if you can grasp the concept of translating a single word as "upside down world" and "the great return" at the same time, and then look back at that little Q'eros description and note why the word was coined in the first place, you can begin to see where it's coming from.

Legend states that Pachakuti would continue until this era; spookily, Pachakuti is supposed to have begun its reversion to the norm began in our year 1987 and the process will finish in 2012, at which time the world will be put back to normal. For those of you with a bit of Mayan pop culture, that people (unconnected with the Inca) also predicted their own "end of time" for December 21st to 23rd, 2012 using a very complicated and sophisticated calendar system, which is often erroneously interpreted by us heathens as the Mayans predicting the end of the world, doomsday and all that baggage.

This post isn't about telling you what's going to happen; not at all. All it's about is to give you a bit of background about the way Latin America is looking at the financial crisis (apart from the superficial combo of ridiculing you all up there and fearing for its own short-term future, that is). There is something deeper going on here, people. My only personal observation on this warm and sunny Sunday morning would be to say that for a poor person, becoming poorer doesn't hurt half as much as for a rich person becoming poor. And this is one poor continent.

I'm now going to take my family to a middle-class restaurant and eat something nice and luxurious with them. I don't think there's anything wrong with that as long as you're suitably thankful for the chance of doing it and don't expect it as a fundamental human right. Have a good Sunday, people.