Friday, June 29, 2007

Muancita's dissertation on latino left

The prize for the best dissertation by the 2005 batch of Indian Foreign Service probationers went to " The reemergence of left in latin america and its implications for India". The author is Muancita... correct name Muanpuii Saiawi.

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 !

Visit to Quito 19-21 june

the leftist US-educated, young and popular president Rafael Correa and the charming foreign minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa

the Ecuator monument called as " mitade del mundo" ( middle of the world)

Ecuadorian senorita in her typical dress at the Mitade del Mundo
This was my first visit to ecuador. I was impressed by the historical part of Quito city and its . elegant buildings, historic churches, plazas and palaces. In the night it was even more impressive to see the buildings and churches illuminated with aesthetic taste.
The flowers of ecuador are bright, brilliant and colourful. Because of the ideal combination of climate, altitude, rains and soil the flowers have a special colour and charm.
The youthful President Correa and the charming foreign minister Maria Fernanda made the professional part of the visit interesting.

Friday, June 22, 2007

felicitaciones to Angel Cabrera

Last sunday I was more nervous than Angel Cabrera , cheering for his victory at the American Airlines lounge at Miami.
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

revisiting Bogota

This is my third visit to Bogota. The city is chique, elegant and charming. The climate is pleasant. The colonial part of the city is impressive. During the visit to the Colombian foreign office they showed us the room in which Simon Bolivar stayed and the window through which he escaped, while his lover Manuelita was holding off the assasins at the front door. I recalled the film " La libertadora del libertador" which brings out the character of Manuelita, who was the only one to put fear in the heart of the great warrior Bolivar.

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

visit to Guatemala 17-19 June 2007

This was my first ever visit. I fell in love with Guatemalan city at the first sight( friends say ..i am prone to such accidents!). It is clean, green, modern and stylish. Great cafes, restaurants, good hotels.

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 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 old gringo - novel by Carlos Fuentes

In this novel written in 1985, Fuentes has added the Gringo element to the Mexican complexity. The American school teacher Harriet Winslow goes to Mexico to teach in the estate of a Mexican landord. She gets swept in the Mexican revolution and the turmoil. She is also caught between General Tomas Arroyo and the old Gringo. Arroyo is from the indigenous side, his family having worked as labourers in the estate. After he joins the revolutionary forces of Pancho Villa as a General, he burns down the estate of his former masters. The old Gringo joined the revolutionary war wanting to get killed. The three form a triangle, exploring questions of love, respect, and sensuality in ways that highlight the differences between Mexican and American ways of thinking. All three of the principal characters in this novel have mixed feelings of both love and hatred toward their fathers.

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

Brazilian music and food in Delhi

A bit of Brazilian spirit is taking over Delhi this week, thanks to the visit of President Lula's visit 3-5 June. He will receive the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding on 4 June.

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

Amar te duele - Mexican film

This is a Romeo- Juliet type of predictable and simple love story. Ulises, a poor boy with painting talents, falls in love with a rich girl Renata who also reciprocates. But Renata's friends and family are against this improper love. More than money, they from the white class, look down upon the browny native_indian looking boy. Renata's love, of course, is as they say, blind to colour or poverty of her boyfriend. She enjoys going to his house and his poor neighbourhood. When her family decides to send her to Canada, she elopes with Ulises. But they are stopped and Renata's ex-boyfriend shoots her by mistake to death. Like all love stories the end is tragedy.

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.