Saturday, December 22, 2007
I was in one of my exploratory walks in the jacaranda-clad avenues, filled with the aroma coming from the side-walk cafes of the elegant city of Buenos Aires. I came across a English bookshop. I stopped when I saw the title.."Kiss and Tango- diary of a dancehall seductress". It was instant seduction.
But when I saw name of the author... I hesitated. I thought it might be another one of those Gringa ( American woman ) package with lot of marketing hype and a bit of story. But I gambled, as my Argentine amigos do in love and life, and bought the book. .... Dios Mio... When I started reading, I could not stop. And when I was nearing the last pages, I did not want it to end. I wanted it to go on like all-night tango... It was sheer enjoyment from the beginning to the end.
The story is about a young American woman,who visits Buenos Aires for a week and gets introduction to Tango. After her return to New York, she starts learning, finds it interesting and becomes obsessed. She dances all night and yawns all day in the office. She loses interest in her advertising executive job, quits it and comes back to Buenos Aires to become a professional tango dancer.
Now tango becomes life ... or life becomes a tango. She discovers the meaning of the saying " two to tango". She might be a great dancer but she needs a partner. And she starts the pursuit of an ideal partner.. a dancer who will lead her on the dance floor perfectly, a macho who will take her to orgasmic heights, a husband who will be tender, loyal and blind to the other beauties and a man with the right age, height,length and without bad breath. But she gets one disappointment after another and goes through one desencuentro ( a meet which did not materialise because the guy forgot or got the date or place mixed up..) after an encuentro.
She goes through the every day ritual of finding a partner at the milonga ( dance hall). The woman has to wait for a " cabezeo" .. a nod inviting you to dance. So she hangs around desperate for a cabezeo. After dancing with one man, she wants to do with others. But when he dances with others, she cannott take it.
What happens after the all night tango? the man invites her for a little " mate"- the bitter Argentine herbal tea at 5 am. your place or mine?. It could be climax or anti-climax, she is never sure. When she finds out, that experience makes her wait for or dread the dance partnership with that guy the next night.
One dance, one night-stand ... Then she starts seeing beyond the night and the morning sex. She wants marriage but finds it as a mirage. Compromisso( commitment in spanish) is the word missing in the vocabulary of the tango Machos. She is frustrated, desperate and goes through jealousy, rivalry, fights and heart-breaks.
Tango becomes a nightmare. Life becomes like the tango lyrics.... sad, frustrating, bitter and nostalgic.
After dancing in many Milongas and a few shows and short of funds, she ends up as a street performer in Calle Florida, the famous shopping avenue of the city. She runs out of audience when the Argentines are hit by the economic crisis of December 2001. She flees Argentina and gets away from tango. She returns in 2005 to rediscover that Tango had never left her. It has become part of her body and soul and she remembers every "body" with whom she had danced
I found the book as a window to the world of Tango, Buenos Aires and the Argentine society. The author has given an authentic flavour of the life of Portenos, as the inhabitants of Buenos Aires are called.
I enjoyed her subtle British style wit and tongue- in- cheek American upfront articulations about sex and feelings. She is provocative and hilarious.
Her website http://www.kissandtango.com/home.html is as interesting as I imagined about the author of Kiss and Tango. She lives in Buenos Aires.
Here are some excerpts from the book:
-She realises the law of physics: two bodies that rub against each other for four hours, three times a week cause friction; friction causes sparks; and sparks cause a fire. And by definition , tango is about containing the fire. you need a fire, because without it, there is nothing to contain. So tango is about playing with fire without getting burnt".
-Tango involves kicking the heels between the legs of the partner. When the the macho does not behave, he gets it up. But the machos dont flinch because either they dont have balls or they have become so numb after so many hits.
-Latin lovers love the chase more than the conquest.
Friday, December 07, 2007
The jacarandas add to the joy of playing in the golf courses. There is a purple carpet of fallen flowers under the jacaranda trees. The golfers look up the tree and down the carpet and hit yet another bad shot!
The romantic spring season of Buenos Aires is made poetic by the jacarandas...
NOS CUBRIMOS CON FLORES
BAJO LA JACARANDA
CANTAMOS NUESTROS AMORES.
EN ESA TARDE ESTIVAL,
LOS TRINOS CANOROS,
LA BRISA DEL VIENTO,
EL RUMOR DE LA FUENTE,
TODO SE CONVIRTIÓ
EN UNA CASCADA DE BESOS,
EN ESA TARDE PASIONAL.
LA LUNA NOS ENVOLVIÓ
EN SUS RAYOS PLATEADOS,
BAJOS LOS RAYOS DORADOS.
BAJO LA JACARANDA
NOS CUBRIMOS CON FLORES,
BAJO LA JACARANDA
CANTAMOS NUESTROS AMORES.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
The movie is directed by Pablo Cesar, the famous Argentine director. He is at the moment in India as a jury in the international film festival in Goa. He has earlier directed a Indo- Argentine joint production called as " Unicorn- the garden of fruits" released in 1996. The cast of this film has both Argentines and Indians.
Hunabku has been shot in the glaciers region of Patagonia in the south of Argentina close to the city of Calafate. The glacier scenes are spectacular.
The story is about Lucas a 13 - year old boy who shifts to Patagonia, with his father who is posted there to develop a tourism project. The boy is fascinated and mesmerised by the glaciers, mountains, sea and the fantastic bounties of nature. His wanderings in the magical Patagonian landscape triggers new emotions, imaginations, fears and curiosities. He decides to study anthropology. His father, immersed in his own project, thinks that the son has gone crazy. Luca's mother becomes depressed by the isolation in the desolated patagonian emptiness. Finally, the anthropology teacher Nicolas helps the whole family to come to terms with the nature and with each other.
Pablo has used sitar and santoor music from India to add to the mystery of the mountains. In fact, the theme of the movie is like an Indian one. Nicolas the anthropologist is like a Guru in the Himalayan mountain unveiling the mysteries of life in simple terms while using riddles to mystify simple things.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Sharukh has done masters from MIT in telecom engineering. Belliappa has studied electronics engineering in USA. Both have left their engineering vocations and are in restaurant business which has become their passion. Both love Buenos Aires. They have opened an Indian restaurant " Tandoor" in Buenos Aires, since June 2007.
I had dinner in Tandoor yesterday with my Argentine friends. The food was delicious. The ambience elegant. The building in which the restaurant is located is historic. We visited the kitchen which is clean. My Argentine friends saw for the first time tandoor cooking of India.
I had pre and after dinner drinks and conversations with Sharukh and Belliappa. I found their passion for Buenos Aires as profound and infectious as mine. They speak fluent spanish.
Shahrukh has another passion- Tango. He learnt tango in Boston, formed a Tango society there and became a Tango teacher ! He does Salsa too.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Father Urrutia gets an assignment to teach Marxism in ten lessons to General Pinochet and his Junta secretly. He frequents the house of a literary lady Maria Canales who hosts all-night parties for the authors and artists while the city is clamped in night curfew. Later they discover that the American husband of the hostess colludes with the Chilean secret service to detain, interrogate and kill those suspected as subversives, in the basement of the house where his Chilean wife had literary soirees. This last part is based on the realife story of Mariana Callejas, a Chilean who was married to Michael Townley an American involved in the repression in Chile.
Father Urrutia describes the dilemma/excuse/explanation/ justification of those who went along with the dictatorship in these words:
"At the end of the day, we were all reasonable ,we were all Chileans, we were all normal, discreet, logical, balanced, careful, sensible people, we all knew that something had to be done, that certain things were necessary, there's a time for sacrifice and a time for thinking reasonably."Father Urrutia confesses that he has spent his entire life fleeing from the wizened youth.
The novel brings out the creative and destructive forces which had shaken and shaped the Chilean politics, literature and society in the last thirty years. The author uses magical realism to take the readers between reality and imagination; between Neruda and Pinochet; between Chile and Europe; and between the church and the state. He relishes sarcasm and satire in his powerful imageries and graphic style of writing.
Bolano himself was a victim of the military dictatorship. He was imprisoned. Later he went into exile in mexico and Europe. he died at the age of fifty in 2003.
This is the second book of Bolano for me. I have already read his other novel "Distant Star", which was also about literature caught in Chilean dictatorship.
Monday, November 05, 2007
This is the polo season in argentina. They have three majors: Tortuga open, Hurlingham Open, and Palermo Open.
The number of ten handicappers in the world is eleven, all of them from Argentina.
There are 2000 polo grounds in Argentina. many of them private in farm estates. Hurlingham itself has 5 polo grounds. The number of polo clubs affiliated to the Argentine Polo Association is over 150.
Pepe, the Argentine friend and player who was explaining to me the finer details of the game has two children who have been on the horse since the age of two. They have been playing polo since six years of age. Pepe's grand father was a polo champ. Like him there are many families with polo tradition.
Yesterday marked another Argentine victory in Tennis. David Nalbandian won the ATP Masters after beating Federer and Nadal, the number one and two.Argentina has produced some great tennis stars in the past.
Last month Argentina came in the third place in World Rugby Championship.
In Footbal,Argentina is among the top. After the El Dies ( number ten) Maradona, now there is Lionel Messi capturing the imagination of the world footbal fans.
The rivalry between Boca and Riverplate is the most ferocious. There is also a class division here. Boca supporters are the masses while the Riverplate supporters are from the upper classes in general. This year Riverplate has won the semifinal of the World club championship and is now going to Tokyo for the finals.
Yesterday I saw a few buses full of screaming and shouting youth escorted by several police cars. They were fans of Independiente club, one among the top. They needed protection from their rival club fans! I had not seen this even in Brazil.
In Polo, Argentina is the best. They have the best nine players in the world of the top ten. There are so many polo grounds here. The horses and the game are not expensive. Kids learn horse riding during summer vacation in their farm estates.
Guess what is the national sport of Argentina.. it is Pato.. a polo game in which they used duck( pato in spanish means duck) instead of ball. The player hooks the duck from the ground and carries while the others try to stop. But these days they use a leather ball with a handle to hook and carry.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
The story is about two conmen, one a pro Marcos ( role played by Ricardo Darin, a popular Argentine actor) and an amateur, Juan ( Gaston Pauls - another Argentine actor) who is the son of another conman. The two join together and pull off tricks on people stealing money and cheating them. One day a friend of Marcos comes up with a scheme to sell a set of forged rare German stamps called as nueva reinas. They see an opportunity here to make big bucks but then they are taken for a ride by many other intermediates who try to cut deals and seek commissions. The conmen get conned.
It is a delightful crime comedy. Ricardo Darin and Gaston Pauls have acted well. The movie was directed by Fabian Bielinsky. The movie has been shot in Buenos Aires. Released in 2000, it is said to be one of the best Argentine films and it has won many awards.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Male tango dancers and drag queens will perform at an inauguration party tonight to which 1,000 people have been invited.
The hotel, aimed squarely at gay men, not women, is the second opened by the Axel group, a Spanish company which started its maiden one in Barcelona in 2003. Named after a former boyfriend of the founder, Juan Julia Blanch, the group plans rapid expansion.
The move to Latin America is a sign that a continent once marked by conservatism and homophobia is liberalising, albeit slowly and unevenly. Colombia has recognised gay rights and Venezuela has outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Argentina blazed the way with a law allowing civil unions among homosexuals which has helped make Buenos Aires Latin America's gay capital. Some 300,000 gay visitors are estimated to spend £300m here each year in the city.
Last month the city hosted the 10th Gay World Cup soccer tournament, a first for South America, and next month it will host the first gay tango festival, Tango Queer.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Ines is a not-so pretty daughter born in a lower middle class family. She falls in love with Juan de Malaga who teaches her the art of love-making. But Juan is given to gambling and womanising and is not meant for a quiet family life like the many characters of Jorge Amado of Brazil. He abandons Ines and goes away to the New World in search of fortune and adventure. Ines goes after him to the Americas and lands in Panama and later in Peru. The real reason is her quest for adventure rather than find the husband. Here she falls in love with Pedro de Valdivia, a war hero,who has a vision to conquer Chile and seek glory. Ines follows his expedition over the Andes and desert. Since both are already married, they live as lovers although he makes her as the Gobernadora of Chile. She gives crucial support for the expedition and later for establishing a settlement in Chile with her medical and other skills. When Pedro abandons her in order to comply with a judicial ruling, she marries Rodrigo, the loyal captain of Pedro who had been silently in love with her for several years. The story ends with the killing of Pedro by the Mapuche Indians of Chile in a battle.
Isabel has give a flavour of conquistadores, clergy, Indians and the Spanish royalty and the role they played in the conquest of Latin America. She has given fair space to the native Indians who fought against the Spanish conquerors unsuccessfully. Isabel says she did four years of research for this novel. One could see the fruits of that by the vivid accounts of the campaigns, the struggle between the Indians and the Spanish and the courage and adventurous spirit of the Spanish adventurers,who braved so much misery and suffering.
Ines has become yet another memorable adventurous and passionate latina character in my soul too. Ines says " a man does what he can; a woman does what a man cannot"... I have nothing to say....
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Rosario Tijeras, the heroine ( Flora Martinez) is a hit-woman for the drug world of Medellin. She kisses her victims before shooting them to death. She is a merciless killer and a drug addict but has a tenderness and sentimental side. She has affairs with many men but eventually falls in love with Emilio. She has had a tormented childhood and filled with internal pain and insecurity. In the end she pays for her criminal career with her life.
The Spanish actor Unax Ugalde and Colombian actor Manolo Cardona have complimented the superb acting of Flora Martinez.The Mexican director Emilio Maillé has done a good job by portraying the reality of drugs, crime, love and death in Medellin.The film, released in 2005, is based on the novel of the same name by Jorge Franco.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
book by Jutta Maute
This was the book I completed in the long flights from India to Argentina. It was like a thriller fiction.
Jutta Maute analyses in this book (published in 2006) , the Argentine experiment of the Currency Board System to rein in hyperinflation and stabilise the economy. According to the author, the currency board, an exchange rate-based stabilisation programme, is meant for buying short term stability against probable future instability. In the case of Argentina, while it achieved the twin objectives for a few years, it became unsustainable and contributed to the collapse of the economy in 2001. There was nothing wrong with the Currency Board as a short term solution. The Argentine government should have had an exit strategy and phased it out which they did not do and eventually paid a high price for the mistake.
Some of the facts highlighted in the book:
-in the period 1980-90 there were 11 finance ministers and 10 central bank governors. There were 40 finance ministers and 40 central bank governors in the period 1945-90. This is perhaps one of the main causes for the economic crises!
-the average inflation in the period 1980-89 was 750%. This was preceded by average inflation of 133% in 1970-79 period. It was 23% in 1960-69 and 30% in 1950-59. No wonder, the system burst in 2001. It was a tragedy waiting to happen.
- since 1820 Argentina had defaulted on its debt repayment five times. So, the default in 2001 was not new and the foreigners who lent money to Argentina did not read history.
- In the period july 89- dec 93, the government issued 12000 executive decrees and 308 " decrees of necessity and urgency". This exceeded the total no of decrees issued in the 130 years before. This means, the executive bypassed the legislative authorites so often by resorting to such rule by decree.
- In 2002, 56% people went below poverty line after the crisis.
The book is a clinical and objective anaysis and in the style of a research paper. Not surprising..the author is a German.
The case of creation of poverty from riches and chronic instabilty in Argentina lends itself as an interesting subject for research.
Argentina has impressed me in the last one week with its elegant buildings, stylish houses, numorous polo grounds and golf courses and world-class excellence in polo, golf, tennis, rugby and football. The country has been blessed with oil and gas, large area of fertile land, mineral and natural resources. All this.. for a small population of 40 million who speak one language, belong to one religion and one ethnic stock. Argentina was among the top ten richest countries around 1920.
The contradiction of Argentina is amazing even for an Indian used to the infinite contradictions of the large and diverse India.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
We have two areas of serious interest with Latin America — energy security and food security. We have started investing in the oil and gas sector in the region. There is also a lot of potential in non-conventional fuels.
R. VISWANATHAN, INDIAN AMBASSADOR TO ARGENTINA
‘Passionate about Latin America’ is how his calling card describes him. After five years as Consul-General in Sao Paulo, Brazil, three years as India’s Ambassador in Venezuela, and three more as Joint Secretary, Latin American Countries, in the Ministry of External Affairs,
Mr R. Viswanathan, is perhaps the country’s best resource-person for anything relating to the landmass south of Texas and down to the South pole.
Mr Viswanathan, once an ambitious village lad who had to scrounge for school textbooks as his family could not afford to buy them, and who could not understand a word of English until he was in college, today knows Latin America like the back of his hand. He combines this knowledge with his fluency in Portuguese and Spanish that he expects will help him in his mission to bridge the distance between India and Latin America. Before he left to take up his new assignment as India’s Ambassador in Argentina on October 10, Mr Viswanathan spoke to Business Line about his first love — Latin America.
Excerpts from the interview:
You were Joint Secretary-Latin American Countries in the last three years. What changed during these three years?
I was probably the only Joint Secretary in the Ministry who was desperate to become JS-LAC. Normally, people seek high-profile jobs….
Is JS-LAC not high-profile?
It was not. I made it one. I was desperate for the job and, at the end of three years, I find it has been rewarding and fulfilling. There has been a tremendous surge of interest within India in Latin America, and vice-versa. In the last three years, the number of visits of foreign ministers from Latin America to India was more than in the previous 20 years.
From India we have taken delegations to countries never visited before, like Guatemala, Bolivia and Ecuador. We have established a strategic partnership with Brazil, with which country we have many common interests, both at bilateral and multilateral levels. These include co-operation for permanent membership on the UN Security Council, the WTO and the G-20. Brazil is regional leader, it has a voice. It also finds alliance with India useful. So, the partnership has flourished.
Today, there is a realisation across the spectrum — from political parties to business leaders, and think-tanks to chambers of commerce — that Brazil is important. Similarly, with Mexico, which we count among the ‘privileged partners’. We may not see eye to eye with it on all issues, as we do with Brazil, but trade is booming and it is the second most important country.
Argentina is the third largest. It has received less attention from both sides, because the country has gone through a nerve-wracking financial crisis in 2002. Now it has stabilised. Also, as the Argentine government was preoccupied with domestic affairs rather than foreign policy, it did not reach out to us.
Now there are going to be Presidential elections, the next President is expected to be more reaching-out, paying more attention to foreign policy. We are looking forward to that change. We can expect a lot to happen with Argentina in the next three years.
In the last few years, we have seen Left-of-Centre leaders elected to head governments in the region — like President Lula of Brazil, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Eva Morales of Bolivia. What does this trend mean for India?
I look at the election of Left-of-Centre Presidents as empowerment of the masses, who were excluded, neglected and marginalised by the military dictatorships and the transitional powers (that prevailed until about a decade ago.) Now people have the power to elect the person they want. They obviously go for the candidates with a clear agenda for the poor, for inclusive growth. The majority of voters are middle-class or lower-middle-class people.
Yes, but can you give examples of where this ‘empowerment of masses’ has helped Indian businesses?
There are many examples. But, first, let’s see what is happening. In the olden days, Argentina would import only from Europe and the US — it was just not interested in looking at a country like India, because the importer did not care for the masses. Now the economic agenda of Argentina is driven by the lower-middle-class people. And what do they want? They want a $10 shirt, not a $50 shirt. Where do they get it from? Not from the US or Europe, but India.
Perhaps the best example of the way empowerment of masses has opened up markets to India is in pharmaceuticals. In the past, Latin America had not heard of generic medicines.
Prices were very high, five to 50 times costlier than in India. That is why they invited Indian pharmaceutical companies to introduce generic medicines and to put pressure on MNCs and reduce the cost of medicines. Today, we do about $ 500 million of pharma exports to the region. Everyone has realised the benefits of buying from India.
What are the relative complementarities between India and Latin America?
As I said, in healthcare, Indian pharma companies are providing good value. Our IT companies add value to their human resource development.
When TCS employs 3,500 people in Latin America — the number of Indians may not be more than 35 — it provides jobs for people, but something more fundamental than that. It stimulates the imagination of the younger generation and introduces them to the age of information and the knowledge society. That is why TCS’ IT centre in Guadalajara was inaugurated personally by the President of Mexico.
What do we expect from the region?
We have two areas of serious interest with Latin America — energy security and food security. We have started investing in the oil and gas sector in the region — ONGC Videsh has already invested a billion dollars in Brazil and Colombia; it will invest another billion dollars in Venezuela and Cuba. Reliance, Videocon and Essar are also looking for opportunities there.
There is also a lot of potential in non-conventional fuels. The region has a lot of arable land, where one can grow sugarcane, jatropha and other plants. We can make bio-fuels and bring them here.
The second area is food security. In India we have a growing population and not enough land for agriculture.
So Latin America is attractive for us because it has large land area, less population and there is no restriction on foreign investments. Indian companies can invest in Latin America in agriculture and commercial forestry and bring the products back home.
Are Indian companies interested?
Many have expressed interest, have earmarked funds — like Bajaj Hindusthan, which has earmarked $500 million to buy land and sugar mills and ethanol plants in Brazil. It has already established a subsidiary there. Other companies are looking at Brazil, Argentina and even Surinam. A company from Pondicherry is looking at the possibility of acquiring 100,000 acres in Surinam to grow jatropha to make bio-diesel there.
I mentioned two areas of interest — energy security and food security. Energy and food imports are India’s two largest imports. Last year, our biggest import bill was crude oil — $55 billion — and our second largest import bill was of edible oils — $12 billion. We are already importing edible oils from Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.
More of our companies can go there, buy farms and bring oil-seeds into India. This is likely to be done by the Solvent Extractors Association of India, whose delegation went to Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina recently. Now the Association is sending a special team to do a due diligence exercise for the purchase of 12,000 hectares of soya farm in Paraguay. The deal is likely to be concluded by the end of the year. There is plenty of scope for similar ventures.
In the race to engage with Latin America, who’s winning — India or China?
Well, China is ahead of us; it has invested far more than us, but gone mostly into extractive industries — crude oil and mining, and a bit of manufacturing. It is also a market for Latin American countries, for primary commodities. So, that is a definitely valuable partnership for both the sides.
But although we are not as big as China, the Latin Americans have a cultural empathy for India. They don’t look at India with suspicion, whereas they are worried about the competition of Chinese goods. They feel more comfortable with India.
What is your agenda for Argentina?
Economic diplomacy is my priority. Our exports last year were $290 million, I want to see that it goes up to $600 million in the next three years. Our imports are about $940 million.
I want to see that trade between two countries goes to $3 billion in the next three years.
The embassy is organising an exclusive Indian trade fair in Buenos Aires between March 26 and 29 next year. This will be the largest exclusive Indian trade fair to be organised in Argentina.
We expect over 200 Indian companies to participate. We want to send the message to the Argentines that we are not just interested in selling to you, we are keen on imports, acquisitions, joint ventures, etc., to synergise our complementarities.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
tierra mia querida
quisera poderte ofrender
todo el alma en mi cantar
( Buenos Aires, where the tango was born, dear land, i offer the whole of my soul in my song).
I have been posted as Ambassador to Argentina. I will reach Buenos Aires on 10 oct. I will also be accredited to urguay and paraguay.
This is a dream come true. Another fantastic opportunity to pursue my passion for latin america! This will complement my experience in Brazil and Venezuela.
Hmm...Tango and Football, Patagonia and Pampas, Evita and Che Guevara, Borges and Cortazar, ski resorts of bariloche and vineyards of Mendoza, cafes and bars of Recoleta...and more..
Argentina has the largest number of golf courses in Latin America. Having played in almost all the courses in Brazil and Venezuela, it is going to be challenging to repeat it in Argentina !
Saturday, September 08, 2007
" when we were together we mostlly played with words and tried to laugh away our best opportunities. Whenever there is the least sign of the nest becoming a jealous rival of the sky .. my mind, like a migrant bird, tries to take ... flight to a distant shore." - he wrote.
She - Victoria Ocampo, the ardent Argentine admirer.
It was a subtle affair, a platonic love, born on the banks of the river Plata.They spent together two unforgettable months in 1924 at the villa Miralrio of Victoria with a view of the river,in San Isidro on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. The river Plata was flowing quietly overhearing their light conversation and heavy breathing. The famous Tipa tree in the garden of the house was bending and crouching ...listening to the silence of the couple who used to sit under its shade.
He called his muse Bijaya ( victoria ).
One third of his Purabi poems are said to be inspired by this Argentine angel.
Here is a poem
" Exotic blossom, I whispered again in your ear
What is your language dear
you smiled and shook your head
and the leaves murmurred instead "
She wrote an essay " Tagore on the banks of the river Plata" and a book "Tagore en las barrancas de San Isidro"( Tagore on the ravines of San Isidro)
She gifted him the armchair in which he used to sit in her house. The chair is sitting now in the Shantiniketan museum even now cherishing and guarding the secrets of the poet and his muse. Tagore wrote a couple of poems on the chair too..
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Marc Anthony plays Hector and Jenifer Lopez his wife—Puchi. The story is told as a narrative by JLo as Puchi , the wife. She has acted brilliantly and her husband Marc Anthony's performance is also impressive.
There are lots and lots of salsa music all through the film. There are dialogues in spanish in many parts of the film. I love the English spoken by the characters particularly JLo with a Latino accent.
The salsa song El cantante, which comes many times through the film is poignant.
Yo, soy el cantante
Que hoy han venido a escuchar
Lo mejor, del repertorio
A ustedes voy a brindar
Y canto a la vida
De risas y penas
De Momentos malos
Y de cosas buenas
Yo, soy el cantante
Muy popular donde quiera
Pero cuando el show se acaba
Soy otro humano cualquiera
Y sigo mi vida
Con risas y penas
Con ratos amargos
Y con cosas buenas
The fans of the real Hector Lavoe have complained that the film has inaccuracies and focusses more on the negative side such as his drug addiction at the expense of the greatness of Hector as an artist.
But the film is a treat for the fans of JLo and Salsa.
Monday, August 13, 2007
someone told me that they bring meat from Argentina. I have not been to the restaurant yet.
Churrascaria is a typical brazilian barbecue restaurant, where meats are served in sword-like skewers. The waiters keep bringing the skewers with different meats and cuts to each table untill the client is "fed up". Yes ..it is unlimited serving of meats at a fixed price. In some churrascarias in Brazil, there is a small wooden block with red and green colours at the top and bottom. When you want a break in eating, you need to put the red on top and the service stops. If you keep the green top, the meat keeps coming. In some places they have three colours including amber for slow service !
There is also a large spread of self-service salad buffet. the price is fixed ( ranging from 10 dollars to 40 dollars) and it includes both the meat and salad but does not include drinks. The Brazilian drink which goes with the meat eating fiesta is caipirinha, which is made of cachaza( cane liquor) and frsh lime juice and sugar... deadly!
Churrascaria is one of my favourites. I used to eat so much of meat and become vegetarian for the next one week.
Sao Paulo has the largest number of Churrascarias and best ones. Surprisingly, Rio does not have many. It is more popular in the sothern Brazilian cities like porto alegre. Brazilian churrascarias are there in many cities around the world such as NewYork and Tokyo. In NewYork there are two, of which one is in Little Brazil ( near 47th street ) and another called as Greenfield in Queens.
More than the meat, Churrascaraia is a typical Brazilian experience ! Even my vegetarian friends have been fascinated by the Churrascarias!
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
It is the story of Vargas ( played by Damian Alcazar), a small time municipal worker and PRI party member, who is made as the Mayor of a small, isolated, desert town of San Pedro de los Saguaros whose main inhabitants are native Indians. PRI sends him to implement the President's programme of Modernisation and Social Justice. Vargas starts his job as an idealist, resisting attempts by others to corrupt him. But there is no money in the treasury since his predecessors had stolen all the money and sold off even the doors and windos of the local school. Vargas becomes a laughing stock with his innocent crusading spirit against corruption. Vargas goes back to his superior seeking resources and advice. The boss gives him a gun and a copy of the constituition and says that Vargas should use/misuse these to manage. The boss tells Vargas the Herode's law- "fuck or get fucked." Vargas tries and becomes corrupt and then corruption takes him over completely. He becomes a ruthless political animal, misusing his authority, extorting money from every one and killing those opposed to him. In the end, he becomes a congress deputy and gives a lofty address to the Congress.
For those following mexican politics, this is real life story, although exaggerated and comical. It brings out the corruption, crude manipulations, paternalism and impunity. When the film was about to be released in 1999, the government of Mexico ( under PRI rule) was said to have tried to stop the film unsuccessfully. It is a coincidence that PRI lost the elections in 2000 for the first time since 1930.
Luis Estrada, the Director has a political message in this film in this satirical. hilarious but powerful film. He has used all the Mexican and Latin American ingredients: tequila, puteria ( brothel), gringo ( American ) who tries to take the mexican for a ride ( and the mexican's wife also for a real ride !), corrupt priest, native Indians who do not speak Spanish and are on the margins of the society and the complex bureaucratic system.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Amb Heine has given more lectures in universities, think tanks, chambers of commerce and published more articles in Indian newspapers than any other Ambassador in India. He has written and talked about latin america, politics,economics and globalisation.
He and his charming economist wife Norma have hosted so many parties and networked with many indian intellectuals, journalists and socialites.
During his time, there have been many visits between the two countries including ministers, chiefs of armed forces, businessmen and the high point was the visit of chilean President Ricardo Lagos in march 2005. Thanks to him, Chile has emerged as the largest source of India's imports from latin America. 1.7 billion dollars was India's imports from Chile in 2006 and is growing.
Ambassador Heine is going back to his first passion.. academics. He will become from 1 August, CIGI Professor of Global Governance at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. This will be a joint appointment with the Centre for International Governance Innovation, Canada' s premier think tank on international relations. He will be teaching in a PhD program in Global Governance, within the newly established Jim Balsillie School of International Affairs, that has been established with a US 100 million endowment, of which half has come from. Mr Balsillie, co-chairman of Research in Motion (RIM), the company that invented the Blackberry.
Hmm .. there is a coincidence here. I call him as the Blackberry Ambassador, because he would instantly reply to my mails from his blackberry from any part of the world.
Amb Heine is a multidimensional personality. He is a diplomat, academic, writer, consultant, election observer and he had also served as Minister in the Chilean government. He is the Vice-President of the International Political Science Association (IPSA). He was professor in Stanford and Heidelburg universities, besides Chilean and Puerto Rican universities. He has authored/ coauthored eight books on international affairs.
Amb Heine and I had a competition as to who would write more articles in Indian papers. While the competition in India will continue, he has overtaken me in the global stage. He has been writing and lecturing in all the continents of the world and has established a larger international network. He has been a source of inspiration to me in the last three years.
Adios Ambassador Jorge Heine...
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
It includes a photographic exhibition and workshops on Afro-Brazilian and traditional Indian dances, Bead Making and Painting.
Venue: College Hall, St. Xavier’s college.
The initiative for this has come from Mr Paulo Pinto , the proactive and dynamic consul general of Brazil.
A full-fledged Brazilian cultural festival will be held in India in January- March 2008
An IBSA cultural festival is going to be held in Salvador, capital of Bahia in october this year.
Another bigger festival will follow in India during the next IBSA summit.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
First I tried Luis Borges but I found his books too heavy. I put him in my list for later reading.
Second I tried Julio Cortazar. His novels " Hopscotch " and " the winners" were interesting but I took lot of time to finish. I did not find Latino element in them except for reference to the cafe culture of Buenos Aires.
After these, I found Luis Valenzuela as a simple story teller, giving a flavour of the Argentine society, tango, parque retiro and pampas. The story is about Clara, a naive and innocent country girl who comes to Buenos Aires for a living. Her aspirations are very simple and her dream is to see the sea. Eva also came from the country side to Buenos Aires in search of a new life. But she was lucky to become Eva Peron rising to power and fame.
But Clara is not lucky. She becomes a prostitute and her life changes with the men who manage to take her out of her profession for some time. After having lived with a hotel manager and a tango singer, she falls for a Indian Swami who predicts fortunes. Later she finds out that he is Alejandro, an Argentine who does fortune-telling for a profession, pretending to be from India. He marries her on a whim and tortures her mentally taking out his frustrations of poverty and misery. She is excited when Alejandro makes her as an Aztec Flower in a circus. But unable to tolerate his mental torture, she decides to kill him while sleeping with a knife. But when she wakes up she finds him with the knife ready to sever her head like a real Aztec flower.
This is Valenzuela's first novel. She says in the preface that although Luis Borges was fond of her, he described this novel as pornographic. There is nothing of that sort.
Luisa is said to be a writer of magical realism. But she did not use this in this first novel.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
The most well organised school is Salsa-India run by Kaytee Namgyal. he organised a successful all-India competition last year. Info on his school at
There are a number of other professionals who run private classes in the big cities.
The other day Rajan Mayor, CEO of Mayor company, which manufactures and exports called me for contact to organise a salsa party for his Rotary club.
Here is the flier I have received about new salsa classes by Pedro, the amigo from Venezuela who organised salsa parties for the launching of my book in Feb 2005 and website in August 2005.
AMIGOSS AAA BAILAR !!!!!!!
“LATINO SALSA DANCE SCHOOL” INVITES ALL “SALSA BAILADORES” AT ITS NEW PROGRAM of SALSA CLASSES
SALSA BEGINNERS & BASIC COURSE - STARTING ON JUN 29
SAT / SUN FROM 5 TO 6.30 PM (12 hrs of class per month)
Course duration 24 hrs / Fees rs .3000
This is suggested to all those who would like to get to the floor in a short time (Absolute Beginner) or have already gone through some basic course at our school or other schools in Delhi but would like to freshen up their knowledge
Power House Building , 30 Haus Khas Village , New Delhi 16
SALSA INTERMEDIATE COURSE - STARTING ON JULY 1
MON / WED / FRI FROM 8.30 TO 9.30 PM (12 hrs of class per month)
Course duration 24 hrs / Fees rs. 3000
This is suggested to Salsa students who have already gone through the basics at our school or any other school in Delhi
Fitnessolutions, E-193, Greater Kailash Part 2, New Delhi
SALSA BASIC COURSE - STARTING JULY 1TUE / THUR / SUN FROM 6.00 TO 7.30 PM (12 hrs of class per month)
Course duration 24 hrs / Fees rs .3000
This is suggested to all those who would like to get to the floor in a short time or have already gone through some basic course at our school or other schools in Delhi but would like to freshen up their knowledge
Sangeet Shyamala, opp. A 11/6, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi
SALSA BASIC & INTERMEDIATE - STARTING REGISTRATION
This is suggested to Salsa students who wish to start learning dance and are particularly interested in Latin Dance and music, as well as for those who or have already gone through some courses at our school or other schools in Delhi and wish to refresh/expand their skills. These classes will be scheduled as the groups complete.
Course duration 24 hrs / Fees rs .3000
Gold'sGym Noida India E-16/B, Kirtimaan Plaza, 1st floor, Sector 30, NOIDA
all the courses programs will include some basic training in merengue and bachata
For detailed information about classes, parties and shows please contact:
Katya 98 10667647
Ms Seema Seth 0120-4247162/63
or e mail us at :
Monday, July 02, 2007
Salma looks like an Indian and should go down well with the Indian audience.
Sushil Choudhry and Lathika of Mann India Tech told me once that Salma was in India on a private visit and nobody noticed her thinking that she was an Indian.
I have seen many of her movies. My favourites are Frida and El callejon de los milagros( miracle alley)
This is yet another India- Latin America connection through films.
In 2006 DhoomII, the Bollywood film was shot in Rio.
Christina of Brazil is planning a Indo-Brazilian film " tamarind".
Miss Canela, Amb Hans and Minister Eddy Martinez of Dominican Republic are trying hard to take Bollywood to shoot in their beautiful country.
Friday, June 29, 2007
The medal was given to her by Shri Lalu Prasad, railway minister ( who gave an impressive speech ) in a function organised by Foreign Service Institute, yesterday.
I named her as Muancita because she shares my passion for Latin America. She speaks spanish and has visited a number of latin american countries. She likes the latino music, dance ..tudo
here is her favourite latino song " sola en el muelle de San Blas" , sung by a Grammy award winner Mexican band Mana from Gudalajara.
in you tube
Ella despidió a su amor
el partió en un barco en
el muelle de San Blas
El juró que volvería
y empapada en llanto
ella juró que esperaría
miles de lunas de lunas pasaron
y siempre ella estaba en el muelle,
Esperando Muchas tardes
se anidaronse anidaron en su pelo y en sus labios
Llevaba el mismo vestido y por si el volviera no se fuera a equivocarlos cangrejos le mordíansus ropajes,
su tristeza y su ilusióny el tiempo se escurrióy sus ojos se le llenaron de amaneceresy del mar se enamoróy su cuerpo se enraizó en el muelle
Sola, sola, en el olvido
sola, sola con su espíritusola,
sola con su amor el mar
sola, en el muelle de San Blas
here is her own translation
She said good bye to her love,He parted on a boat from St. Blas' wharfHe vowed to return, and she drenched in tears.She vowed to wait for him.Thousands of thousands of moons passed,And she always was on the wharf,WaitingMany afternoons moved in, moved into her hair and lips.She wore the same dress,in case he returned,he wouldn't mistake her,the crabs bit her clothes, sadness and dreams,and time slid byand her eyes filled with dawnsand with the sea she fell in loveand her body enrooted itself in the wharf.
Alone, alone, in oblivion
Alone, alone, with her soul,
Alone, alone with her love, the sea
Alone, on San Blas' wharf
Felicitaciones ( congratulations) Muancita !
Friday, June 22, 2007
I am thrilled he won the US Open.. beating Tiger Woods.
This is a great moment for Argentinian and Latin American golf.
I had watched Cabrera's game in Brazil Open at the Sao Paulo golf club in 1999. He had birdie-birdie-eagle in the first three holes.
The last time a Latin American won a major was in 1967 when Roberto Vincenzo, another Argentinian, won the Britsh Open. He lost the 1968 Masters due to a technical mistake in writing his score.
I had played with Roberto Vincenzo in 2001 in the golf course named after him in Buenos Aires. We played nine holes. Although he was old, he reatined the touch and impressed me with his sense of humour.
I am sure cabrera's victory would inspire more champions from the region.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
I also remembered my favourite Colombian authors, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Laura Restrepo and Alvaro Mutis. These have taken me in their journeys of magical realism though the river Magdalena and the little mythical town Maconde.
Bogota is the second best destination for golf in Latin America. There are about 20 courses in and around the city. The courses are undulating with great views of the mountains. The ball goes ten yards more due to the 6000 ft altitude. In my first visit I had played the 36 holes of the Country Club, Lagartos and the Army Golf course.
The transmillenium bus project has transformed public transporation of the city. This brings ministers and officals from India who want to learn from this project.
Hmm.. outsiders are scared of kidnappings, terrorism and drug trafficking. Yes it is there. But the Bogotanos take it in their stride and enjoy life. My young colleague Ankan Banerji in the embassy says he drives out around 100 kms outside Bogota in weekends with his friends.
I am leaving today afternoon to Quito, listening to the song " Adios me pido " of the colombian singer Juanes.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
I sat in a cafe ( no piernas here ! ) next to the Hotel Camino Real where I stayed. Inspiring ambience! It was cafe con books. but not like barnes and nobles and starbucks combine. The cafe was like a garden with lot of greenery and flowers. The cafe was strong and delicious. The locals say cafe should be hot, strong and stimulating...like love.
Guatemala is one of the largest coffee exporters and is the top supplier to Starbucks. The best cafe brand is Antigua.
The cafe reminded me of the Guatemalan writer Miguel Angel Asturias, the nobel prize winner. I liked his book " Mr President'. I have not yet completed his other novel The Mulata. Asturias brings alive the misery of military dictatorship and the racial divide.
Guatemala has also produced another nobel prize winner, Rigoberta Menchu the leader of native Indians. She is standing for Presidential elections in Nov 2007 but her chances do not seem to be bright.
The Guatemalans are known as Guatemaltecos or Chappins. friendly and warm souls. The only problem is that they are punctual and take work seriously ! .. insufficently latino ! But the Chappins are spicy...thanks to the variety of spices they grow. They are the world's largest exporter of cardamom.
Guatemala has recovered from the trauma of the civil war of forty years which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. While the ex-guerillas have joined politics, the Indians, who form more than half the pop
ulation still live in marginal conditions.
Unfortunately I did not have time to visit the Mayan ruins in Tikal or the colonial city Antigua.
There are quite a few from India and I met some of them. Mr Guha has been there for the last 40 years. he is married to a guatemalteca. Surprise was Senthil Kumar from chennai who is there for the last one year exporting pharma from India. he speaks Spanish fluently and has become almost a latino!
Thursday, June 14, 2007
The story is based on an American journalist and author Ambrose Bierce, who went to experience the revolutionary war of Mexico and disappeared. The novel became famous after it was made into a Hollywood movie in 1989 with Jane Fonda and Gregory Peck.
But this did not appeal to me so much as the other novels of Fuentes i read.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Teresa Cristina, the popular Brazilian singer will perform at the amphitheatre of Habitat on 4 and 5 June at 8.30 pm. She will sing the traditional Samba songs. She is from Rio.
A Brazilian water colour painting show is on at Habitat from 4 to 12 june.
A Brazilian Food Festival is on at Taj Mahal Hotel from 3 to 12 June. The food is from Espirito Santo state, near Rio. Try the muqueqa, a sea food speciality from that region.
A 100 plus business delegation is staying in the same hotel. Business seminar is held on 4 june.
Friday, June 01, 2007
Although the story is not new, it is a pleasant film with romance and innocent love. The racial taunts and the funky boys and girls are realistic and give an idea of the divisions in the Mexican society. Which society does not have divisions?
Martha Higereda is sweet in acting as Renata and Luis fernando Pena has done well in the character of Ulises. Fernando Sarina has done well as Director of the movie. The movie was released in 2002.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
The movie, made in 2004, was directed by Antonio Dorado, who had said in an interview, " This movie is an answer to all the movies made by North America about the Colombian drug issue.
Fernando Solorzano has acted as the drug lord and Cristina Umana as his wife Blanca. Colombian family life, music and society are portrayed vividly and authentically in the film. Although the film is about drugs and violence it does not leave a horrifying feeling. The way the story evolves and the acting by the talented stars makes the watching of the film as a pleasant experience.
When the film roll was sent from Colombia for inclusion in a Paris film festival in Madrid, the film reels were searched thoroughly to ensure that drugs were not hidden in them !
Sunday, May 20, 2007
In this book, the main character is the Mexico city itself. Fuentes takes the readers through the streets of Mexico and pages of history. He does his typical incisive analysis of the inhabitants of the city. He has chosen a banker ( Federico Robles ), a society lady (Norma), a rich family impoverished after the revolution (Ovando family ), Rodrigo Pola, a writer whose father was executed during the revolution and Ixca Cienfuegos an observer and critic of the system.
Fuentes takes the readers through the labyrinth of the Mexican solitude and identity. In no other latin american country, there is this obsessive search for identity, going back and forth in history and caught between the mother continent and the adopted one. Almost every character makes a reference to Mexican history, revolution and politics. Fuentes asks, "does such a thing as original blood exist?" and answers "no; every pure element grows and is consumed in its own purity,does not develop; the original is the impure, the mixed, the mulatto and the mestizo, as i am, as all Mexico is. Which is to say originality supposes a mixing, a creation, not a purity previous to our experience. Rather than born original , we come to be original; origin is creation. mexico must find her origin by looking ahead, not behind". This passage reminded me of Octavio Paz's analysis in his " labyrinth of solitude"
I liked these pearls of wisdom:
- It is all a question of wings, my love. With wings, a butterfly. Without wings, a caterpillar.
- All depends on the state of the soul and that depends upon external impulses. It is enough to control the external impulses to arrive at the state of the soul and personality which are desired.
I was moved and absorbed by the powerful and memorable characters in this book and the profound intellectual deabte about identity. Carlos Fuentes continues to stay as my number one favourite at this time. I have just purchased two more books of Fuentes and am looking forward to reading them.
Carlos Fuentes was from a diplomatic family and had lived in many countries. Later, he also became a diplomat and served in various capitals.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
This is the second book of Santiso I have read. I liked this book as well as the previous one on the political economy of the possible. my blog on the previous book on 3 september 2006 http://latinamericanaffairs.blogspot.com/search?q=javier+santiso
Perhaps another reason I like his analysis and conclusions is that they coincide with mine. While my conclusions are amateurish, based on my limited knowledge and intuition, Santiso's are those of a solid professional economist based on theories as well as practical experience.
His main conclusion in this book is that the latin american markets alongwith other emerging markets is a "confidence game" played by fund managers and Wall Street. He has described how the fund managers encouraged everyone to invest in Argentina despite the obvious and risky flaws of the argentinian ecnomic and financial structure before 2001. The main motive of the managers was to get fat bonus in the transactions. Ironically some of the same banks which mislead the investors became consultants to the Argentinian government when they wanted to restructure the debt after the crisis. So the bankers made their commission both ways, in the building up of the crisis and in the resolution. The losers are the thousands of bondholders and the Argentinian government and people. I had come to the same conclusion in my article published in Financial Express of 31 December 2005 http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_archive_full_story.php?content_id=113086#
Other interesting observations and conclusions of Santiso, based on his research and interviews with the players of the Latin America game:
- Latin American countries have been among the most dependent on international bond markets. In mid 2001 bonds represented 70 percent of Argentinian public debt.
- Crisis in latin America had occurred coinciding with the aftermath of the end of the year bonus time of the fund managers. Also the crises coincided with the election times. The governments dont want to spoil their chances by devaluation or some such unpopular measure before elections but do so after the elections.
-Argentina is the only case of a developed country which has gone down into the developing category because of man-made disasters.
-Some of the American academics who advised the Latin American governments were also making money through their interests in funds which played the investment game in those countries.
-many latin american finance and trade ministers and even presidents had studied economics and got even PhDs in American universities and were obviously influenced by the different schools of thought.
- Financial Times is more popularly read than Wall Street Journal by latinamerica fund managers
- Boston has more action than New York in investment in Latin America
- Latin American crises had been triggered or caused by capital flows. Asian countries such as China and India have not faced such crisis since they are integrated globally only through current account trade and services and have controls over capital movements. It would be worthwhile for the the Indian policy makers to keep this in mind and learn from latin america while opening the capital market in india.
Besides analysing the latin american crises, he has gone deep into the evolution of emerging market funds, fund management and the psychology of the fund managers.
Javier Santiso is a politcal economist and is currently working with OECD.
I find him as objective, neutral and balanced in his views.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
edited by Frances Hagopian and Scott Mainwaring
It starts with the third wave of democratisation since 1978 and analyses the transition upto 2005, when the book was published. It has concluded that the Latin American democracies have become stable,durable and sustainable. It has pointed out the challenges to some of the democracies by some demogogic leaders, who use the tools and framework of democracy to impose their authoritarianism. But these setbacks are temporary, since even these leaders have to go back to the electorate which has the ultimate power to change their rulers.
The authors have identified three kinds of democratic trends and made individual analysis of sample countries. These are: (1) democratic giants with authoritarian past - Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, (2) unexpected democracies in unlikely countries -Guatemala, El salvador and Bolivia and (3) Democratic erosion in the third wave in Venezuela, Peru and Colombia.
The point which comes across clearly is that in most cases, democracies were disrupted in the past by the oligarchs, whenever their interests were challenged or affected by the rules of the democratic game. The generals and colonels were just the instruments of the elite. The second point is the loss of credibility of the traditional political parties and the entry of outsiders like Fujimori and others. But this did not happen in Argentina despite the call " se vayan los todos" ( out with everyone- meaning all political leaders ) by the people of Argentina at the height of the political and economic crisis which touched a historical low point in 2001. The civil war in El Salvador and Guatemala had devastated the societies but they have made a remarkable transition to democracy after the peace accords.
The authors have brought out the complications of the ethnic factor in countries such as Bolivia and Guatemala. But the Bolivian anamoly has been corrected with the election of native Indian Evo morales for the first time in the history of Bolivia. There could be a similiar historical change if Rigoberta Menchu also become President of Guatemala.
The approach of the authors in the book becomes very academic and theoretical sometimes. But overall they have given a sense of the political transition and process of the selected countries and the trends in the region.
But the classification and some theories need review after the elctions in 2006, which have brought to power more outsiders and leftist Presidents.
Friday, April 27, 2007
This is the first book of the Mexican author Laura Esquivel, I have read.
I found that she is the same author of the story" Like water for chocolate" which I have seen as a movie and liked it.
Malinche is a historical novel about the Malinalli, the mistress and interpreter of Hernan Cortez, the Spanish conqueror of Mexico. Born to the native Mexican tribe, she ends up as a slave to Cortez the conquistador. She takes him for the reincarnation of her god Quetzalcoatl and serves him loyally.But she realises that Cortez is just a human, greedy for gold and conquest. Moctezuma, the Aztec emperor also mistakes Cortez for reincarnation of his god and hands over the throne to him. Cortez marries off Malinalli to his loyal deputy Jaramillo alter. She gets one a son from Cortez, said to be the first mestizio of Mexico.
Laura has done deep research on Indian history and religion and has given an authentic Indian flavour to the book. She gives a vivid, objective and respectful account of the beliefs, customs and thought process of the native Indians. The book is full of Indian names of gods, people and cities such as Quetzalcoatl, Axayacatl, Tenochtitlan, Huitzilopochtli, Tetlepanquetzal,Tlazolteotl, Cuitlahuac,Cuauhtemoc and other such tongue twisters.
Malinalli who is brought up to believe in life and worship live forces such as wind, water and butterflies is at a loss to understand the opposite approach of christianity symbolised by cross and death. Malinalli talks to water, wind and butterlfies and through these Laura has brought out out the harmony of life of the natives with nature.When Cortez conquers, kills and destroys the Indian idols, the natives lose faith in their own gods who were powerless to protect them
The native Indians consider Malinalli as a traitor. But this has to be seen in perspective. While she helped the conquest of Cortes, she was simply a poor girl sold twice as slave as a child and later to Cortez.
Malinche was originally the name given to Cortez by the natives in their language Nahuatl. Today Malinche is a pejorative term to describe someone who denies his heritage, valuing other cultures above his own. Malinchismo means betrayal.
It narrates the life of poor native Indians in the Andean region. It is about two kids, Juanito and Luchito, who face harsh realities when they come out of their village and interact with the world outside. And love blooms in the village and the hero elopes with the girl on a horseback. The lover boys turns into a drunken husband and the family is ruined.
simple story.. uncomplicated flow and not very sophisticated in direction or filmshots
It is explained by the provincial nature of its origin
What is important is ..it is true to the native Indians, showing them as they are.
This film is in Quechua language and Spanish.
Directed by Flaviano Quispe Chaiña
with the cast of Vladimir Estofanera, Kenji Hilsaca, Laureano Mamani, Asunción Uscamayta, Elizabeth Borda, Julian Miranda and Percy Paco..
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Let me mention something.. old men are called as having reached " metallic age" in latin america. why? they have silver in the hair, gold in the teeth and lead ...u know where.
here is the write up
"The reasons range from the physical to the emotional and end up in the intellectual realm. There are positive traits of course, like a Latin man’s warmth of character and their very physical nature, which involves public demonstrations of affection (and private ones as well). Nothing makes a woman feel better than to know she is wanted and that her mate is not afraid to show it. Latin men are usually tender, romantic, and very sweet.But sadly, these traits don’t seem that amazing when we begin to think about all the other things that turn us off.First of all, the “kangaroo syndrome” thrives in Latin America (men and women who live with their parents well into their early thirties). This is mainly due to the fact that in Latin America, colleges and universities are located inside the cities, so very few people have to move out when they’re 18. So much for maturing away from home. Secondly, it is very difficult to work and study at the same time. Salaries in Latin America are low and the working hours long. So actually holding an 8-to-7 job and on top of that studying nights becomes quite a feat. And the possibility of a part-time job is scarce. I live in Chile, the country with the best economy in all of South America, and over here, very few people can handle working and studying. And the salaries in this “country on the road to development” are, well, you guessed it, low. Just imagine what the rest of Latin America is like. So the above entails getting your first job at 24 and until that time, living off your parents. There goes maturity gained through hard work and financial independence.
So, topping the list at number one :
1. We like older men because they are more mature, their lives having been shaped by their previous experience of living on their own and holding a steady job.
2. We like the wrinkles around their eyes and the gray hair at the temples. It gives them character.
3. We love the fact that they can actually invite us out because now they can afford to.
4. We like their cultural baggage, that they have more knowledge gained through a longer life span (more books read, more movies watched, etc).
5. We like how they protect us, instead of us mothering them.
6. We like their anecdotes. When you’re 40+ years old you must have a lot of anecdotes.7. We dig their car. And are thankful they actually own a car.
8. We like the fact that they are gentle, and usually know how to properly treat a woman.
9. We like that they are quieter, less of the party animals they used to be when younger.
10. We like that they have lived long enough to realize that appreciating women for who they really are is of the utmost importance.
Of course, finding an eligible older man who isn’t married or divorced is a whole other story. But we can always dream. And keep our fingers crossed."
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
It is a story of six generations, starting with the grandmother of Laura Diaz, the heroine and ending with her greagrandson. The six generations are affected by the political turbulence of Mexico, the civil war in Spain,the Nazi Germany, dilemma of Marxists in Europe, McCarthyism and the story of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Fuentes has used every opportunity to comment and analyse the political developments and let his characters speak on the issues. One gets a overall perspective of the evolution of the Mexican society, through the political changes internally and externally.
It starts with Cosima Kelsen, the grandmother who is robbed at gunpoint by a bandit while travelling in a stagecoach. The bandit asks for the wedding ring but the young Cosima tells him" you have to cut my finger to take the ring". Without a hesitation, the bandit chops the finger and takes away the ring.
Cosima's family of German immigrants settle down in preindependent Mexico with a coffee plantation. Laura's brother,Santiago, a revolutionary is executed by the regime when he is in his twenties. Laura marries Juan Francisco, a trade union leader who compromises with the governments in power to safeguard the interests of the workers. But he loses the respect of the wife when he turns over a nun to the regime who executes her for rebel ideology. Laura walks out of the house and become a freelancer. She has an affair with someone and then goes to work as asssistant to Frida and Diego Rivera. Later she falls in love with Jorge Maura, a Spanish republican in exile in Mexico. When Maura leaves her she comes back home and confesses to the husband and two teenage sons.The elder son Santiago becomes an artist and dies a premature death. After the death of her husband Laura goes to live with an American in Mexico, exiled by McCarthyism who also dies. Then she takes up photography and become a professional and gets a new career and life. Her younger son joins the rich and powerful of the Mexican elite but his son Santiago rebels and comes back to grandmother. He paticipates in the 1968 student agitation against the government and is shot to death along with hundreds of other students. His daughter gives birth to the fourth Santiago. Laura ends her life by going back to her grandmother's house and disappearing in the surrounding forest.
This is one of the best books of Carlos Fuentes I have read so far. I am impressed by the depth and range of Fuentes' s perspectives on politics and society. I am looking forward to reading his other books.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Bolivia-Mr. Jorge Leopoldo Arias Banegas
Chile-Ms. Paula Escobar,El Mercurio
Colombia-Ms. Angelica Lagos, El Espectador
Dominican Republic- Mr. Hector Martinez, Listin Diario
Mexico- Mr. Jorge Villalobos, Poder y Negocios
Mr. Jose Eseverri
Nicaragua- Mr. Francisco Xavier Chamorro Garcia, El Nuevo Diario
Peru- Mr. Marco Zileri Dougall,Caretas
Panama - Mr. Dustin Enrique Guerra Guitierrez, La Prensa
Venezuela- Ms. Rosanna Espinel,El Universal
who is going to Latin America?
Vikram Seth, one of my favourite Indian writers. He is going to travel to Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia and other countries. I guess a novel will come out of this or atleast a travelogue.
The other writer who has been there is Salman Rushdie of the Indian magical realism. he wrote a travelogue on Nicaragua, after his trip there during the previous sandinista regime.
Friday, April 06, 2007
For me this is yet another discovery of a serious and powerful film from Peru.
It is about the dirty war between the "Shining Path" ( senderos luminosos) Maoist guerillas and the armed forces of Peru in the eighties. The villagers, mostly the local Indians, are caught between the killings of the guerillas and the brutal retaliation of the antiterrorist army.The army lieutenant Roca is excessivly patriotic at the cost of lives of innocent people. The invisible but ruthless guerilla group strikes at will, killing soldiers and informants. In a rage to retaliate against the guerilla killing of his soldiers, Capt Roca marches the whole village and massacres them in cold blood. When Vitin Luna, the soldier who resists this mindless cruelty and refuses to fire, he is put under detention. Unable to tolerate the brutalities, Luna deserts the army in disgust.
The movie is not far from the reality witnessed in Peru. It could have been a documentary. The story is based on true incidents that took place in the mountain town of Chuspi between 1980 and 1983, where a small unit of soldiers was garrisoned to defend the town from attack by the Shining Path. The movie not only documents the reality of the Peruvian civil war but also the racism against Indian people in general.
President Fujimori put an end to the guerillas with his ruthless campaign. Now there is no more war between the two sides, except for occasional minor incidents.
The movie, released in 1988 has been directed by Francisco Lombardi of Peru. He is also a writer and producer. He directed the other film " captain pantoja and the visitadoras" based on the novel of Mario Vargas Llosa.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
It is the story of a taxidermist who gets bored with his drab work and life and fantasies about robbing a bank or museum. He has a phenomenal memory for details with which he plans imaginative robberies. When he accepts the invitation of his coworker to go for hunting, he gets a chance to put into action his fantasy.
A film different from the normal latino films. of course it is Argentinian.. it has to be.
I liked it though.. the characters are unusual and ..interesting.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
The story is about two poor guys João Grilo, the compulsive liar and Chicó, the crook. They make a living by bluffing and cheating in a small Northeast Brazil town. Joao the liar uses his smartness even in his encounter with Christ, the Devil and the Virgin Mary. The art of Joao is called as " jeitinho" a term which the Brazilians use for smartness to get things done through shortcuts.
The story reminded me of the many jeitinho characters of Jorge Amado, my all time favourite Brazilian writer.
The movie, made in 2000, is based on the play by the Pernambucano writer Ariano Suassuna.
Friday, March 23, 2007
The talk was at the Latin America studies centre of Jawaharlal Nehru University at 1100 hrs today
Highlights of the talk:
- While creating the world, God distributed the wealth and resources between regions unequally because he did not have the benefit of JNU education !
-God had endowed Latin America with beautiful beaches,perfect climate and abundant mineral, land and water resources. When other regions complained, God said" wait till you see the Latin Americans! ". They made a mess.
-part of the reason is the colonial heritage. while north america was colonised by non-conformists seeking a new life and familes and trademen went to settle down there, latin america was colonised by the royalists and catholics of spain at the high point of their military spirit and militant faith. The soldiers and bachelors of Spain went there for a quick fortune and establish a status quo.
-Latin American priorities are different from those of Indians. For them night is more important than day, weekend more important than weekday and today has priority over tomorrow. Even in love they sing
no te prometo amor eterno
porque no puedo
soy un casador de mariposas
y tripulante de navio
i dont promise you etrnal love
because I cannot
I am a hunter of butterflies
and crew of ship
.. ships go from port to port !
- Political power has irreversibly shifted from Caudillos to Colonels to Oligarchs and now finally to the masses, who drive the political and economic agenda of the region.
-Extremism and radicalism which had polarised the societies have now given way to Moderation and pragmatism as the guiding forces of politics and societies these days.
-Businessmen who made quick fortunes on the misery of hyperinflation and exchange and currency crises of the past have also undergone a change in their mindset.
-Diplomats of the region have succeeded in regional integration and and diversification and gained collective clout.
- Intellectuals and writers were initially oriented towards madrid and paris. Later they looked upto Machu Pichu for pride and inspiration. There was the culture of exile during military dictatorship. Magical Realism is their contribution to world literature.
- The Latin Americans of the new and emerging region are looking to the future with a new mindset, confidence, pride and optimism. And they sing,..
No me preguntas mas
que no existe el pasado
que nacimos en el mismo instante en que conocimos
dont ask me more
let us imagine
that there was no past
that we were born
at the time we met
I join the latin Americans in singing this song.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
The mail is self-explanatory
seems we are like-minded souls
I read Andres Oppenheimer`s article in the Argentine La Nacion newspaper (mid January 2007).
Fully agree with his view regarding India’s projected growth on an ordered manner (rather than China’s boom), and drew my attention (reading the article) your profile, especially regarding your "Latin America passion", which made me feel friendly to you.
I am a 52 year old Argentinean, who lived for 12 years in Brazil (1978/90), thereafter moved back to Buenos Aires where I spent about 6/7 years traveling all around Latin-American, Mexico, Venezuela, Central America, Ecuador, Brazil, etc.etc. I have both Argentinean and Brazilian citizenships, I was raised in a traditional home (well not so traditional because of the fact that we are twelve brothers and sisters) in the northern neighbors of Buenos Aires, went to an English boarding school (even played cricket....!!), and worked for the Bunge Group in Brazil and Argentina, thereafter I was employed for some time in the software business, and I`m actually in the agribusiness industry, developing some projects in Argentina and Brazil.
I apologize for this kind of “blablabla” presentation, but I read your profile in http://www.blogger.com/profile/9064659 and believe that we could do some kind of brainstorming regarding developing Indian businesses in Latin America and viceversa, having fun at the same time.
By the way, Frida was an excellent film, I play golf (although most of the time I hate it), love skiing, love Latin music (especially Bossa Nova and Samba).
Hoping you write to me soon.
Yes sir, you can put my mail in your blog, it’s a great honor to me.
Whenever you come to Argentina or Brazil, let me know, I spend half of my time in each country. I love both countries. By the way, in Argentina I live in the “Argentino Golf Club” a kind of “clube de campo” with a lovely golf course where we can have some fun.
In Brazil, we can have lots of fun drinking caipirinhas, eating feijoada, listening bossa nova and samba, sharing (may be) these pleasures with nice Brazilian women.
My background and experience both are related to agribusiness, therefore I am sure we will find opportunities for business for Latin America and India.
Hope to meet you soon.