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‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

December 22, 2015

The India Angle

I am too late to read this fascinating book, but then better late than never.

It’s been read by so many wise men so who am I to write a review on the book.

The book caught my interest with its mention of ‘Sanskrit.’ I did think of the gypsy-sanskrit connection as I recall reading somewhere that gypsies were originally natives of India. The end of the book clarified my doubts.

Here is the link that is the proof:

It is not about the Buendia family tree that I got transfixed with, but it’s about the unwritten, undocumented Hindu genocide committed for centuries by moslem invaders of Hindu India.

But let that not let anyone underestimate my fascination for the story. I am bewitched, to say the least. What a poor cousin Paul Coelho is of the author, coming from the same Latin America. Cashing in on his senior?

Today India’s minorities, leftists, presstitutes and especially Pakistanis mock at Hindu achievements before the advent of Islam. Pakistanis have a problem of identity. To admit that ancient Hindus have been so proficient would be to admit that they were the converted lot after all. Indian minorities share similar sentiments. However it is surprising that even after reading this great work of fiction, even if it’s someone’s fertile imagination, a dream factory nothing more, how anyone could underrate the great Hindu discoveries and inventions preceding the invasion of India.

Unlike the muslims of Indian subcontinent, pedigree Hindus do not have to disprove or disown their heritage. We are proudly staking our claim because we are a legitimate nation of natives and we live true to our conscience, not willingly nurturing intellectual dishonesty. From giving the world the zero concept and astronomy to discovering trigonometry to calculus and carrying out the first plastic surgery, (and even authoring the world’s first sex manual ‘Kamasutra’) Hindus have done it all and certainly do not need certification from Pakistanis who cannot yet sequence their own genome to find out who all fathered them through centuries. Yeah from turks to mongols to arabs and persians, Pakistanis have to thank a galaxy of men for their skin gifted to them over generations.  The bargain was, they could not come out with a single Sundar Pichai or Satya Nadella until date. The pig tail anomalies must be those like Hafeez Sayed and Z Lakhvi and even Musharraf and his previous generals. The envy shows in mocking Modi and India’s scientific past.

Last week I was also thinking about one of the 5 great Thamizh epics of Sangam literature period ‘Silappadikaram’ dating back to 2nd century CE. ‘Silappadhikaram’ is still avidly read by 21st century Tamil (highschool to research) students. To have such an advanced literary society 2000 years ago must mean something much more. How progressive India was right then. During the same period, Buddhism and Jainism had also reached south India. To those who claim India was given an identity by the British, this is adequate proof for refute. ‘Bharat’ was one single entity from today’s Afghanistan to Kanyakumari in the south for eons. The maturity of the society, the court system delivering justice – these are all marks of a highly established nationhood. This was how India was 2000 years before. And Poompuhar existed in southernmost Indian subcontinent, now washed away into the sea. This is how widespread Hindu/Indian civilization was. To author something like Silappadhikaram with precise grammar and rhythm and rhyme and idioms and phrases – and to think the epic is one of a score of masterpieces pertaining to the period… If I have to start a series on Tamil Lit, i wouldn’t know where to begin…

No surprise India has not produced ‘summary theory specialists’ (kind of bloggers) – because India cannot be captured in any one blog post. Indian cinema itself spans over dozens of languages. Classics, modern dramas, rebel stories – you have millions to choose from. I may not be a seasoned traveller like Melquaides or some modern day journos but I know already what an enigma India is. Art or craft or cuisine or fabric or sculpture or music…. you have a million genres again… and how do you write an essay at all.

So I am not surprised Melquiades turned out to be the gypsy whose mother tongue was sanskrit. Almost brought tears to  my eyes.

Recently dined with my husband’s friend’s family. The friend said, your karma will get you whatsoever and if your ancestors passed on to you ill-gotten gains, then your lineage will stop with you and you will have no son to carry on after you – only daughters! ‘The sons-in-law will be the greedy thieves who will eat your money and feed their hunger!’

My husband was philosophically nodding his head. And I asked, what happened to families with only daughters (like mine). So is my husband the thief enjoying the spoils of his father-in-law?!

And what about corrupt politicians who were blessed with multiple sons.

Then the guys laughed out and the friend concluded that at some point, somewhere, the bloodline will stop flourishing for everyone of us with accumulated previous karma catching up with the family finally. For those with daughters only, it stops abruptly. I disagreed with them on that point. I said it reflected on the patriarchal sentiments of our society nothing more. My son is as much a heir to my family as he is for my husband’s.

But given the alarming rate in the fall of fertility rates in India, there is no doubt many a family tree is crashing all around us right now…

‘Motorcycle Diaries’ has been my favourite picture for many years now. Believe me or not, I came to know of the man Che Guevara very late in life. Today’s its fashionable for teenagers to don the Che’s t-shirt. Not in our days. Back then probably only leftists knew about South America and its rebels. Neither did I join my bank union with a communist mindset. It was more incidental. A necessity born out of circumstances, nothing more.

But there has always been Cuba. My knowledge about the Latin American connection to communism-socialism was limited to Cuba. I found even  ‘Motorcycle Diaries’ a bit scandalous, given the outrageous road life of Che. South American women are considered pretty wild things (!) so reading about them is not surprising.

The 100 years spanned the heroic deeds of the Buendia men but it also silently underscored the backbone of the family, their strong, unflinching, passionate women. Surprisingly this is also mostly the character of an average Indian Nari in my opinion. Women enjoy immense power within our joint/nuclear family systems that escapes the eyes of an outsider.

Magical fantasy, I enjoyed the book thoroughly. The book is so convincing that you tend not to disagree with even Remedios the beauty flying to heaven body and soul!!

At best, author has documented the way of life in Columbia in the bygone century.


One more thing, even the recent Chennai rains with exact dates and ferocity was predicted by Vedic astrologers one year ahead (0r perhaps longer, not sure).

I am not normally someone who trusts astrology but there is this parchment reading also in India/Tamil Nadu (so no wonder Melquaides read from dry palm leaves). It is called ‘Olai Josiyam.’ (There is one another variation called ‘Nadi Josiyam) (Jodhidam/josiyam are one and the same spelled different). (This branch of astrology is different from usual horoscope/kundali reading or prediction which is computed based on our birth charts and not read from pre-written preserved parchments). (Palmistry is an other entirely different kind of astrology where predictions are based on palm reading (palm of the hand) which is unique to every single human being).

Many of us get tempted to read the Olai (parchment) or Kundali (horoscope based on birth chart) to know about our future. There are very few experts practising Olai (parchment) Josiyam.

Before my marriage due to the circumstances of my life, I went to consult ‘Olai josiyam’ (parchment astrology) with my aunt on a neighbour’s incessant urging.

We got a special appointment.

When my allotted time came, the astrologer called me in. He asked me to give him only my name and birthstar (as per Hindu calendar) and birthtime & date. And ofcourse Rasi (moon sign. Hindu astrologers follow moonsigns which are exactly and amazingly similar to sun signs of the west).

He closed his eyes for about 10 minutes. Then from thousands of stacked dry parchment leaves on floor to ceiling racks, he RANDOMLY drew out a single one that was in very bad crumbling stage. (I am not sure if it was randomly drawn; it could have been based on some mysterious calculations of my birth time/star etc when I come to think of it now).

Right in front of me, he read my past until then 100% ACCURATELY. That I was the second biological child to my parents. My parents’ history. My complete family story upto that point of time. I was shaken.

He asked me what I wanted from him. My aunt asked him about my marriage. When? With whom (?). Would I have a good future.

The astrologer who was old closed his eyes for a few minutes. Then he addressed me directly that in my previous janam, I was born a man in Palani hills of the same Tamil Nadu. There I had disturbed the deep penances of ‘Siddhas’ (hermits) who grew angry and cursed me to suffer in next life. That was the reason for my condition up until I would get married. He asked me to visit the Murugan (Subramanya) temple at Palani hills and I did. (Life really changed after that).

The astrologer refused to read my future. He said he would only suggest ‘parihar’ (compensations or concessions you can make for past mistakes or to improve your future). He said, destiny must be left alone to work its own course. We can only minimise the worst effects.

My friend who went to him was told she would have 2 ‘mangalsutras.’ Indeed she divorced.

More than that the old scholar refused to predict. Neither was I ready to hear anything further. It was a totally unnerving experience as he told me my complete past in a torrent. Remember this was before the computerization era. The man could not have had ‘google’ to research me.

But I respected his restrained approach, how he refused to share anyone’s predicted future. He only suggested ‘remedies’ to correct certain things in future – upto a degree. More than that, he conceded he could not do anything.

He said, ‘vidhiyai madhiyal vellalam’ (you can alter your fate with your thinking) (to a certain degree).

Not sure whether the astrologer is still around. He seemed over 60 even then.

In one more real life incident, I read this about a Nadi Josiyam (similar to Olai josiyam) practised by an astrologer in the outskirts of the city. 2 young men had gone to him to consult on their future. The astrologer predicted the first boy’s future career. He took one look at the second boy and said, he was too busy and so asked him to come back to him after a week. Within next 2 days, the boy died hit by a train in railway crossing. The first boy realized how the astrologer paused and hesitated looking at his friend’s face. He rushed back to the astrologer. On seeing him at the door the old man asked him quietly, ‘so your friend has already left?’

So easy to ridicule prophesies, astrology everything as black magic or fraud. Because of a few tricksters, the entire trade has earned a bad reputation. There is no denying, fake and self-certified astrologers are doing more harm. The truly learned and wise are rarest to find…

Ofcourse, it is peace of mind so far as you stay away from these things. What fun is there in knowing everything in advance. The best astrologers never reveal the future to you but only leave subtle hints to caution you.


My paediatrician is from Mylapore. He is still our family doctor (in my parents’ side). When I was a little girl, I saw a painting in his clinic and asked him who it was. The picture was a scene of an old man administering medicine to a young patient, surrounded by assistants. The doctor said, it was Sushrutha, the first Indian and first physician in the world to perform plastic surgery and that was some 2000 years ago! And I was questioning about him to my doc a good 40 years back. My doc is still practising. In his ’70s now, his clinic stands at the very same place it did 4 decades earlier. The picture still hangs in his waiting room. It has been so from long before BJP became a reckoning force in India or RSS even made a name. So that was how I came to know about Sushrutha when I was not even 8-9 years old. You think my doctor doctored history?

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