Friday, April 20, 2007

Lonely Hearts - movie

I grabbed this DVD the moment I saw the name of John Travolta and Salma Hayek, both my favourite actors. Salma has, of course, acted as an evil femme fatale in this film. Both Salma and Travolta have become matching with the weight both have put on.

The story is about a conman Raymond Fernandez who responds to personal ads and cheats the lonely ladies and war widows, pretending to be a " Latin Lover". One of his victims, Martha Beck is smarter than him and they become partners in future crimes, she pretending to be his sister. She makes Raymond kill the victims, unable to tolerate relationship between her lover and the victims. Travolta as the detective Elmer goes after them successfully and get them convicted to electric chair.

This is based on a true story of the forties when over a dozen women were cheated and killed by the criminal duo.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Dreaming with ....Selena

I have been listening over and over to this song " Dreaming of you" by Selena, for the last one week. It has taken over my heart and soul. It is pure magic. The soft and sweet romantic voice of Selena mesmerises me. It puts a spell on me every time.

I start closing my eyes in the very opening of the song....

Late at night when all the world is sleeping
I'd stay up and think of you
And I'd wish on a star
That somewhere you are thinking of me too

I become ecstatic when she goes on to...

Ahhh...I can't stop dreaming of you
Ahhh...I can't stop dreamin

I am breathless when she lilts...
"I love you"... and goes for the kill with.. " How much i love you"

the friend whom i made listen said" velvet voice "- gracias

I have listened to her other songs. some interesting..others not so.
But this particular song is the most powerful one which lifts me up in the sky and let me fly to know where..

And nostalgia or what the Brazilians call as " saudade" flares up when the mexican-american Selena murmurs in Spanish

no puedo dejar de pensar en ti
como te necesito
amor como te estranho

There are also two other songs in my nano iPod on Dreaming; one by Vanessa Williams and another by Sade.. both my favourites. But to make me dream.. they are no match for Selena with this particular magical song.

The song carried me to heights of passionate eloquence today morning when I gave a talk on the subject of "Dreaming with BRICs" by Goldman Sachs in the event organised by Assocham. Of course, skeptics say that Goldman Sachs has made Indians and Brazilians " daydream" with their report.

hmmm.... It is all dreaming for the night .. and in the day too...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"The Hive" - novel of Camilo Jose Cela

I have just finished reading this english translation of the novel La Colmena by Camilo Jose Cela.
This is the first time I have read the book of Cela, the Spanish writer who got Nobel prize.

I started it about six months back and completed only now, although it is only about 250 pages.
The author took about five years to write it ! The story lends itself to leisurely reading. It centres around a cafe, where the characters come in midafternoon or early evening,sit around, meet others and reflect on their lives over cafe at Dona Rosa's Cafe Delicia.

The story has no big drama, suspence or memorable characters. It is like documentation of every day life of 160 ordinary characters such as an unemplyed youth, policeman, security guard, old men with young tastes and old ladies with older attitude in the city of Madrid. Cela himslef had written in his preface to the first edition "it is nothing other than a pale reflection, a humble shadow of everyday, harsh, profund and painful reality". In the aftermath of the second world war and in the middle of Franco's dictatorship, the Spaniards seem to have simply drifted along, without serious aspirations or motivations.

It is about lower middle class people and their struggle to survive. While the boys and men invent ways and means to acquire and keep up with lovers, the girls who are not luckey enough, take to the streets. The casual and easy approach of these characters to sex, partnership and fun reminded me of similiarities in Latin America.

The books of Cela were banned during Franco's dictatorship and this book was first published in Buenos Aires in 1951. Even there it had to go thorugh the censorship of Peronist dictatorship.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Volver - spanish film

This is the first ever film of the Spanish film maker and director Pedro Almodovar, I have seen.Volver in spanish means return. I expected it to be unconventional and art film type. But it was a pleasant surprise.The story flows smoothly without surrealism and or incomprehensible modernism. It is a normal film with a good storyline. The mother of Raimunda, who was believed to have died in a fire accident comes back ( volver) to attend to unfinished work including rapproachment with her daughter. The story brings out the conditions of women unlucky in marriage, daughter raped by father, aunts taking care of families, hardworking single mother and rural life in Spain. It is the women who dominate the film.There is humour, pathos and passion.

There is the old traditional Spain of superstitions and the new country with modern windmills. The windmills remind me of the story of Don Quixote, who is from La Mancha. Director Almodovar is also from the same place and this is where the story starts in the film.

Penelope Cruz, who has acted as Raimunda is brilliant. She exudes the charm and smile of the warm spanish culture. I also liked her acting as a Brazilian in the hollywood film " woman on top".

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Ambassador's Cup Golf Tournament 31 March

Harinder Sikka of Nicholas Piramal Group organised this 2007 edition with great style. The tournament was given live coverage by Zee Business TV network. There were lots of goodies, plane tickets and prizes.
Although I did not win any trophy this year, I won two skins which got me a pair of footjoy golf shoes and a custom-fit Saville Row suit.... My score was 47 in the first nine and 38 in the second nine. Last year I played 82.

The tournament was held in JP Green in Greater Noida. The picture above is the par-3 fourth hole.
The prize distribution and dinner was held at the residence of Spanish ambassador Don Rafael Conde. Sikka had brought in a music and dance group from Srilanka, which gave a scintillating performance. The event was compered by Shivani who did a professional job with a sense of humour. The event was put together by Digraj Singh of Tiger sports marketing.
Besides Ambassadors, there were civil servants, businessmen and judges. Mr Rao Inderjit Singh, Minister of State for defence was the chief guest.
In my group there was the Army chief Gen JJ Singh, the Chinese and Japanese Ambassadors. The Chinese Ambassador told me that 30 out of 58 diplomats in his embassy play golf. And they practice in the embassy compound, where they can hit upto 200 yards !. There are already 3000 golf courses in China. It is amazing the way the Chinese have caught up. Another few years.. and one should not be surpised to see Chinese world champions in golf !

I was asked to give a humorous speech to entertain the audience, which I did. I joked about diplomatic way of speaking and handling issues... I talked about Indian ambassadors and brought in Latin America in the jokes. I thought i would get away with my usual cultural shock to the audience with sexy jokes. Hmmm.. this time i got a cultural shock from some of the older members of the audience who found some of my humorous anecdotes too spicy.