Friday, April 27, 2007

Malinche - novel by Laura Esquivel

The book was a gift from the Mexican Ambassador Rogelio.
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.

El Huerfanito - Peruvian film

This is the first film about native Indians of Andean region I have seen.

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 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

Ten reasons why Latinas like older men

Hold on...this is not my cooking up. I found it in a blog written by a Chilean woman.
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

The years with Laura Diaz - novel by Carlos Fuentes

"The best novelists in the world are our grandmothers, and it is to them I owe the first memory, on which this novel is based". This is how Carlos Fuentes, the Mexican author, describes his inspiration to write this novel.

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

coming and going to and from Latin America

A group of ten Spanish speaking journalists from latin america will be in India from 20 to 29 April, at the invitation of the Ministry of External affairs. They will be in Agra 20-21 april, in Delhi 23-24, Hyderabad 25-26 april and pune 27-28 april.
These are

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

La boca del lobo - Peruvian film

I saw this Peruvian film yesterday. La boca del lobo means mouth of the wolf.
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.