Monday, November 26, 2007

Indian photo exihibition by Graciela Roger

The photographer Graciela is on the right. Ambassador Biritos who was Argentine ambassador in India is on the extreme left. Ambassador Mignini from the foreign office is next to me.
Graciela has an interesting collection of fotos of faces and people of India. She has visited india four times. She has been to many parts of india, outside the conventional touristic places. She has even held an exihibition in India during the time of Ambassador Biritos in India.
The exihibtion was inagurated today and is open to the public from 27 to 30 November at the Circulo Militar, Av Santa Fe 750.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hunabku - New Argentine film

Last week I was invited to the premier of this film at the Recolecta Village cinema. The film is being released in theatres in Argentina on 29 November 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

Indian Culinary Engineers in Buenos Aires

Sharukh Merchant ( extreme left) and Belliappa ( on the right) are the Culinary engineers in Buenos Aires.

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

By night in Chile - novel by Roberto Bolano

This is the story of a boy who wanted to be a poet but ended up as a Opus Dei priest Father Sebastian Urrutia. But he continues his literarary pursuits as a successful critic, although he writes poems occasionally and unsatisfactorily. He is sent to europe to study the challenges for preservation of churches. He encounters priests who consider pigeon shit as the most challenging. They keep falcons to drive away the pigeons. But then one of the priests confesses that falconry is destruction of the very symbol of the Holy Spirit.
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

Argentine Polo tournament

I was invited to the semifinals of Hurlingham open at the Hurlingham club today. La Dolfina beat Chapa Uno by 17-15. It was not surprising since the world number one Adolfo Cambaiazo played for El Dolfino. He is the Tiger Woods of polo. His game was indeed very impressive. He is fast on the horse and is an artist with the polo ball. He was the youngest player to win a 10 goal handicap at the age of 19. He has won every medal and tournament in polo.

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.

Argentina is on top of the games

Yesterday, Angel Cabrera of Argentina won the Singapore Open Golf. This is his his fourth international victory this year. He had won the US Open earlier this year. He is the second Latin American to win a major, after Roberto Vincezo ( another Argentine) won the British open in the sixties.Andres Romero another Argentine, almost won the British Open this summer. He made ten birdies on the sunday and was leading untill the disastrous double bogies.

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

Nueve Reinas - Argentine Film

Nueve Reinas- (nine queens) is the first Argentine film I have seen after my arrival here.
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

Hotel, Soccer and Tango for gays in Buenos Aires

An exclusive hotel for gays, Axel Hotel opened today in Buenos Aires, the first of its kind in a country famed more for machismo and Catholicism than overt homosexuality.

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.