29 December 2001

Book Review/Recensione: "In light of India" (1998), by Octavio Paz, ****

Testo in italiano di seguito


This collection of essays recalls the author's days in India, first as an attache in the Mexican Embassy, then 11 years later as Mexico's ambassador. He brings insight into India's landscape, culture and history in a series of discourses. "The Antipodes of Coming and Going" is a remembrance of the sights, sounds and smells of the subcontinent. "Religions, Castes, Languages" gives a survey of Indian history".

"A Project of Nationhood" is an examination of modern Indian politics, comparing the respective Islamic, Hindu and Western civilizations through the course of history. "The Full and the Empty" is an exploration into what Paz calls the soul of India, its art, literature, music and philosophy, and an indictment of the self-centred materialism of Western society.

Octavio Paz is the author of "The Double Flame: Essays in Love and Eroticism".

23 December 2001

3. - 24 December: Chennai

The cool and foggy weather does not make for a great day to walk around so it's going to be mostly indoor time.

Morning depart for city tour visiting the National Art Gallery, housing exquisite Chola bronzes. Proceed to Fort St George, St Mary's church, Fort Museum, drive along the Marina Beach, Senate house to San Thome Cathedral and the Kapaleshwar Temple dedicated to Shiva. The usual tourist stuff...

Lunch with N. Ravi, editor of “The Hindu”, one of the most important newspapers in India, published here. A very sophisticated and highly cultured person, gives us a most interesting perspective on the Indian debate on globalization. He is very well informed of global affairs. India fears globalization because of China which is penetrating local markets at a fast pace.

He comes to pick me up at my hotel and offers to drive to the restaurant in his car. I decline as I have my own car, and figure will need it later. But he was not just being polite, he was being practical: traffic is horrendous and it would take us longer to get to the restaurant than the time we would spend at the table.

He also gives us names and phone numbers of “The Hindu” correspondents in each and every city we are going to visit over the coming days in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and these will prove to be interesting sources of local insight and suggestions!