Wednesday, April 26, 2006

visit of Latin American tour operators to India

39 of them from 19 countries of Latin America and caribbean are in India from 21 to 27 April at the invitation of the Ministry of Tourism who paid for their travel and local hospitality. This was an the initiative of the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Tourism had readily agreed.
It was heartening to see a dozen of them from central american countries such as nicaragua, guatemala etc. Many of them have come for the first time.
There was a workshop for them on 26 April at Ashoka hotel. I was invited to give a talk. I highlighted the quantum jump in trade and business, the paradigm shift on both sides giving rise to a new India and a new latin america, the change in the mindset and approach to each other and the prospects of the promising future for travel business. I mentioned the new and growing trend of Indians who have started going to experience the exotic and exciting latin america of samba and salsa.

This is the first ever such visit of tourist operators from latin america. The visit has opened their eyes to the new profile of India and understand the logistics of tourism in India. Tourism Ministry has promised to print brochures in spanish to disseminate tourism information. They have also proposed to organise road shows in the region.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

la vendedora de Rosas

This is the title of a colombian film i have just seen.
It means "rose seller"
It brings out in gruesome details the life and struggle of the street kids in colombia. They are sucked into crime, drugs, trafficking and prostituition by the unfortunate situation in some parts of Colombia. It is extremely difficult for the children from broken homes of the poor to avoid the fate portrayed in the movie.This real problem in the ghettos of the poor is a more serious long term concern than the ongoing drug trafficking and guerilla wars.
The actors in this movie directed by Victor Gaviria are not professional ones but street kids themselves. It is sad to note that some of the kids who acted in the movie have had tragic deaths in a replay of the movie. The main actor Leidy Tabares was arrested in a murder case.

It is similiar to the Brasilian movie Cidade de deus ( city of god), which is even more poignant.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Venezuelan Film

Thanks to the Venezuelan embassy in delhi, we had the rare opportunity to see yesterday the film
The Archangel's Feather ( La pluma del Archangel)
directed by Luis manzo
It is about a telegraph operator in a remote village who changes the fortunes of people and causes happiness for some and and misery for others with his manipulation of messages. He signs fake telegrams with a feather from an archangel's wing.

The film reminded me of the other film
Dona Barbara
based on the the most famous classic novel of Romulo Gallegos, theVenezuelan writer who rose to become the president of the country.

Venezuela produces very few films (but lots of soap operas)
The last one which i saw was
La libertadora del libertador
means the lady liberator of the Liberator
It is about Manuelita Saenz, the lady love of Simon Bolivar in the last eight years of his life.

She is as colourful as Bolivar himself
She was the only one who had the guts to slap Bolivar once
of course, she saved his life when there was an attempt on him.

She was born in Ecuador and lived with Bolivar off and on in peru and Colombia
After Bolivar's death she was exiled, as it happened to many heroes of latin America ( it continues even now for some presidents)
She travelled around and finally breathed her last at the isolated port town Paita.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Laura Restrepo and visitors from Brazil

Brazilian economists

A group of 20 economists were in delhi last week to understand the new economy of India which is causing a global buzz. They were briefed by CII, FICCI , academics and government officials. I gave a talk to them on the paradigm shift in India and the change in the mindset of Indians. we had a lively interaction after the talk. They were impressed that in India the business and the government work together with common vision and objectives in many areas of economic and industrial development. They lamented that this is not the case in Brasil. I advised them to organise a seminar focussing on a comparison of the two countries in economy, business and society. I told them the new Indians who are becoming confident, ambitious, rich and successful should learn from brazilians how to have fun and enjoy life to the fullest.

Laura Restrepo

I have just finished reading the book The Angel of Galilea by Laura Restrepo This favourite colombian author of mine has lived upto my expectations in this novel also. This is the story of an abandoned boy who becomes an angel. Laura has used magical realism in weaving this story. She has , as always, made the readers have a feel of the violence, poverty, drugs and guerillas of colombia. She has used humour subtley to describe the fears and complexes of women. I wish she writes longer novels....

Roberta Paduan

This journalist from Exame, a popular business magazine of brazil was in India for a week last month and interviewed Ministers and bzmen. her articles hv appeared in the latest issue of the magazine. her title is interesting" How can Brasilian companies make money doing bz with the new economic star" India".

Saturday, April 15, 2006

salsa festival in delhi

I went to the salsa festival in Vasant continental hotel on thursday night.
caramba... i could not believe what i saw
Indian boys and girls were dancing like the latinos and latinas
Some of them have mastered it professionally
They can take on the original latinos any time

The spirit and vibration in the dance hall was purissima latina
The Indians were transformed into the joyful and fun-filled latinos
There was unlimited abundance of joy, excitement and exuberance
although many of them may not know know spanish, they were one with the music
Their bodies swung and rhymed so beautifully and artistically

The organiser of the Fiesta is Kaytee Namgyal
He runs dance studios and is like a salsa king
his website

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Bruna Surfistinha

Bruna Surfistinha is a garota da programa ( call girl ). Her book " the sweet poison of scorpion " in portuguese is a bestseller in Brazil these days. She has become a celebrity and appears in talk shows. The book has been translated in spanish and soon the English edition is expected.

Out of curiosity, i bought a copy and finished reading it in two sittings. It is mostly about sex and is rather explicit. It is also an autobiography of Bruna. She describes her experience with her clients and gets into titilating details.

She has a website and blog

In this , she writes her diary describing her dreams, activities, problems and life in general. She gives advice to the blog readers sometimes. No great cerebral stuff as one would have guessed. She talks about her parents and her new found namorado ( boy friend) with whom she plans to settle down. She expresses the struggle ( weak one ) between her dual personality of Raquel, her original name and her new personlity as a professional Bruna.

Outsiders and even some Brazilians are prone to making moral judgements. But this is part of Brazil.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Copacabana beach

I spent three unforgettable days and nights in Rio 28-30 March while attending the IBSA ( India Brasil South Africa- alliance) meeting. I stayed in my favourite Meridian Hotel on the legendary beach of Copacabana. It is not just the sea or the sand. It is the brasilian spirit which makes this place vibrant and unique. Two rituals i follow at the beach; early morning walk from Meridien hotel to the copacabana fort ; and drinking chopp( draft beer) at the pavement kiosk on the beach after midnight listening to the sentimental songs of Brazilian FM radio and the music of the waves of Eemanja the sea goddess.

The copabana beach is in full bloom on new year eve with a million brasilians in white tee shirts( white for good luck in the new yr), drinking beer and dancing to live music in 4-5 different stages set on the beach itself.

The third ritual outside Copacabana is the visit to the bar called as Garota da Ipanema ( girl from ipanema ) made famous by the poet vinicius de moraes. yet another indulgence is the churasscaria rodizio ( barbecue restaurant typical of brasil) and unlimited eating of all kinds of meat. Someone commented" how can a Hindu eat meat of the cow which is sacred?"I responded
" yes.. the Indian cow is sacred.. not the Brasilian one "

Copacabana makes me feel at home and drives me crazy . Posted by Picasa

books of Laura Restrepo and Mario Vargas Llosa

As usual books of Latin American writers accompanied my journey to Chile and Brasil from 24 march to 3 april. I was experiencing the real Latin America while my mind was haunted by the stories, characters and magic of these two favourite authors.

"Leopard in the sun" by Laura Restrepo

This is the story of two families which fight with each other to the fatal end and is typical of the violence and crime which has come to characterise Colombia. The Barragans and Monsalves of the story continue to traumatise the contemporary Colombia. The honour code of the fighters, their passions and weaknesses and the role of women in the family are same like the mafia stories.

This powerful and gripping story and magical realism is what i expected of Laura Restrepo. Her characters in the book are unforgettable: Arcangel the boy treasure of the Barragan family, La Muda the aunt said to be wearing chastity belt, El Lyrico the poet in the midst of Crime, Mendez the lawyer who walks the tight rope advising both the warring familes and Mani Monsalves whose criminal mind is overcome by his love for Alina.

"The way to Paradise" by Mario Vargas Llosa

As in the case of " war of the end of the world" and " Feast of the Goat" this story happens outside Peru. It originates in France and ends in Tahiti. Flora Tristan the illegitimate daughter of a peruvian father carries on a courageous and relentless fight for the rights of workers and women in the post- revolutionary France which was not ready for the new ideas. She was ahead of the times and had to face the wrath of the the church and skepticism of the male dominated society. Flora is like the Joan of Arc with her fierce,fanatic and blind pursuit of her mission undaunted by challenges and obstacles. Flora's brief stay in Peru gives a glimpse of the oligarchy of Lima which was one of the most advanced in latin America at that time.
The other part of the story is about her grandson Paul. He starts of life as a stockbroker, takes up painting as hobby and becomes an artist in the true sense of the term; bohemian, anarchist, poor and reckless. He goes to Tahiti in search of the natural way of life seeking liberation from civilisation and culture. He abandons himself to all kinds of experience without any inhibition or control. Predictably he pays for it with diseases and pain at the end. Like Beethoven composed music even when he became deaf, Paul also had to paint after losing his eye sight.

Biography of Che Guevara

" Companero" ( the companion )- a biography of Che Guevara by Jorge Castanada

It was the film " Diary of a Motorcyclist " which i saw last year which had stimulated my interest in knowing more about Che. His story is extraordinary, inspiring and moving. Once I started reading i got absorbed completely and could not stop until i finished.

What is striking is that Che who became a hero of Latin America and a global icon and symbol for social uprisings for idealists and leftists was an Argentinian. Unbelievable... utterly different from the popular perception of Argentinian character.

Che was a restless soul relentlessly seeking new experience and adventures. His motorcycle tour of south america opened his mind to a panamerican and later global vision. After this, he was destined to go out and seek out adventures wherever he could. This destiny took him to Guatemala, cuba , Congo and Bolivia. His beliefs and vision evolved and matured as he encountered new situations . He made his mark as a guerilla fighter and eminently succeeded in Cuba. He tried to repeat his ventures in Congo but failed. He tried in Bolivia and planned to carry the revolution back to Argentina. This was a mistake for which he paid for it with his life.

One cannot help the impression that Che had the deathwish. He plunged into risky ventures carried away by his noble principles, blind pursuit and his restless urge for action. On the other hand, his companion and mentor Fidel Castro always had larger and balanced political and global perspectives and has obviously survived for so long.

Che had become a minister in Fidel's cabinet and applied himself with equal idealism and altruism to bring about a brave new socialistic world. It was of course inevitable that a guerilla fighter of his nature could not be confined to a cosy position of power. He was more at home in the battlefield.

Che had visited India leading a Cuban goodwill and study delegation, as part of his tour of many other countries. I was keen to know his impressions of India and how he viewed India. Unfortunately the author has not elaborated this visit in this book.( I will appreciate if someone could give me some lead).

Castanada has given a balanced profile of Che navigating between the propaganda of the left and the critical approach of the right. Besides quoting many sources, he has himself done a lot of research and interviewed people associated with Che.

The conditions of Latin America which inspired Che to fight for justice in those days continue to be present in most parts of Latin America. No wonder Che's glory is being revived by leftists such as Chavez and Evo Morales, who are the elected creations of the same situation.