Wednesday, July 25, 2007

La Ley de Herodes - Mexican film

I saw La ley de Herodes ( Herod's law) , yesterday. It is one of the best Mexican films I have seen. It is a political comedy about the Mexican way , the Instituional Revolutionary Party(PRI) and the political system which corrupts the rest of the society.

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

farewell to Ambassador Jorge Heine of Chile

These days there are lunches, dinners and cocktails almost every day to bid farewell to the most visible, read and heard foreign Ambassador in India, Mr Jorge Heine of Chile, who is leaving on 31 July.
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

Brazilian cultural Festival in Mumbai 19-20 July.. and more to come

This is being organised by the Brazilian consulate in Mumbai in collaboration with St. Xavier’s college, Mumbai.

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

Clara - novel by Luisa Valenzuela

Luisa Valenzuela is the third Argentinian author for me.
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

salsa classes in Delhi

Salsa is becoming popular in India and salsa schools have come up in the metros of India.
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.




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

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
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
Note :
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
Pedro 9891109163
Ms Seema Seth 0120-4247162/63

or e mail us at :

Monday, July 02, 2007

Salma Hayek in Hindi films ?

According to a news report Salma Hayek, the mexican actress is going to act in five hindi films ( to be shot in english too simultaneously) with the Bollywood hero Akshay Kumar. This is said to be part of a deal between Carving Dreams Entertainment, a Bollywood company and Hollywood Studios International.

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.