Land to the leeward! India! Indians! The Spanish Main! El Dorado! Al-Andalus! Conquistadores!
521 years after the first voyage of Columbus on his quest for India, West Indian writer Ron Ramdin has published a delightful diary of his journey from Indian Trinidad to the Royal Andalusian paradise whence intrepid explorers sailed to find a New World with the blessing of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Isabella deserves commemoration and “Isabellland” should replace 'The Caribbean” for islands bordering the Caribbean Sea. While Spain prepared for the Columbus quincentenary, Ramdin began his odyssey with a lecture on minorities in Europe at the University of Seville, guided by the Martinez family and friends. On the Costa del Sol, he met his first oriental Gypsy. Like others, he was enchanted by the landscape and flora of the beautiful Betic Cordilleras and enjoyed Spanish hospitality among olive groves and orange trees.
As a biographer he was determined to discover localities traversed by Columbus at the port of Palos and La Rabida Monastery. Entranced by the classical charms of the Giralda and other architectural wonders of Seville and the Guadalquivir Basin, he was fascinated as a Presbyterian by Holy Week processions. A Flamenco guitarist and other friendly Gitanos recognised his affinity with their Hindu origins, adding a new dimension to his existence as a historian of Indian ancestry.
At the Archive of the Indies, this librarian revelled in the volumes on Las Casas and other heroes of the New World. Civil Guards, tapas, Virgins, patios, plazas and the treasury of gold from the colonies expanded his knowledge of Spain at the advent of the European Single Market.
Seduced by the Sierra Nevada in Granada, last kingdom of the Moors and home of Flamenco, this novelist was captivated by the arches of the Alhambra palace, its fabulous fountains and glorious gardens weaving their intoxicating spell.
Returning to Seville for the World Trade Exhibition, Expo 92 and Columbus Day he toured the model of the flagship Santa Maria, sponsored by Texaco, a creator of oil wealth in Latin America. Interviews led to friendship with a composer, a fine Gypsy singer and .an elegant Gypsy dancer. To crown it all he entered the bullring with a trainee toreador to witness a bullfight and sat for a portrait by a painter of Gypsies..In Cordoba he marvelled at the mosque / cathedral and later paid homage to the seaside statue of Admiral Columbus in Barcelona.
Writing this review in India, whose far-flung diaspora returns in January for an annual reunion, I met a delegation from Trinidad and Tobago led by an Indian Prime Minister Kamla Bissessar, which included Spaniard Stephen Cadiz and other ministers of diverse tribes. Unity binds the diversity of children of Columbus, in Delhi, Jaipur, Bangalore and Mumbai, where sacred cows roam past towers of growth, in Spain where brave bulls are being saved from toreros and in America where statues of cattle adorn beef-producing cities. Sugarcane from India now provides ethanol in Brazil. Cocoa from Trinidad is blended in Europe with cocoa transported to Ghana. Tea, citrus and roses from Asia are popular in Europe whose inventions sustain industry in former empires. Potato and tomato from the New World are staples in the Old World. As winds of recession threaten prosperity, books, songs, dance, religion, food, language and costume remain firm anchors in the Ocean Sea of Life.
Published by Compass, at 10.95 sterling this illustrated volume of 311 pages is an inspiration to those in the grip of globalisation, determined to preserve their identity while accepting the universal appeal of musical, literary and spiritual culture.
—Sally Rampersad Radford, Caribbean Academy of Sciences
|FROM THE DESKS OF INDIA EMPIRE PUBLICATIONS
Authored by Dr Awtar Singh from Los Angeles, this is a book on his life in India and the USA. After decades of crisscrossing continents, Dr Singh decided to talk about his memories as a young Punjabi immigrant from (then) West Pakistan forced into India, and the tough journey that followed. The book poignantly captures a visit to his house in Pakistan along with his brother, a retired Air Marshal, and his sister who lives close to him in Los Angeles.
JOURNEYS: DIPLOMATIC AND ARTISITC
Authored by Mrs Neena Sahai, wife of retired ambassador P.S. Sahai, this book mixes some lovely artistic works with racy anecdotes about life in different continents. While her husband kept busy with diplomatic work, Mrs Sahai carried out the duties of a diplomat’s wife, and never forgot to keep notes. The book is an easy read and its entire sales proceeds will go towards charity.
AU RYTHME DES TAMBOURS SACRÉS
Written by Christelle Gourdine, a fourth generation PIO who grew up in Paris and also the French island of Guadeloupe in the West Indies, this book is a Francophone account of the author’s quest to know about India, the land of her ancestors. Dismayed by a negative portrayal of India in the Western Media, she wrote about India as she saw it, about its glamour and poverty, its economic accomplishments, and its social burdens.
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