Song of the Day: Jhoom

Mellow, soulful, and intoxicating – all those words best describe Ali Zafar’s Jhoom. The sufi song highlighted by the tabla was my first introduction to Ali’s music, and I have fallen for it ever since. I count this track as being one the most romantic songs I have ever heard, without being sappy.

I can listen to this on a rainy day, late night, early morning… you get the point. It’s instantly soothing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Radikal Readings: Feeding on Dreams: Confessions of an Unrepentant Exile

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There is a certain joy and thrill in picking up book from your local bookstore without any pre-hand knowledge of its contents. In the not so distant past, I realized I was relying on reviews and write ups of books before purchasing them. When I picked up Ariel Dorfman’s Feeding on Dreams: Confessions of an Unrepentant Exile, from the Latin America section, all I knew was that it was about author Ariel Dorfman’s exile from his home country of Chile during the Pinochet regime.

After seeing documentaries and reading about the overthrown of Allende and the brutal rule of Pinochet, I was very interested in reading about what happens when one is exiled from their country. Ariel Dorfman fled Chile after the September 11, 1973 coup. If you know nothing about that time in history, this probably isn’t the best book to start with. It’s a very personal look at Dorfman’s own story.

The novel jumps around chronologically in a very interesting way, chronicling his emotional journey. It’s a deeply honest look at Dorfman’s struggles with exile, his continuing work with his political party (even if it is from afar), his response to the horrors occuring in Chile while he was gone, relationships with friends and comrades, and most importantly to me, his various attempts at resettlement in different places, and his attempts at a final return to Chile.

It’s a facisnating read, especially as I have never read a book from the perspective of someone who is exiled. One of my favorite aspects is the beautiful, descriptive writing. After reading a number of journalistic style books, Dorfman’s eloquent writing was a welcomed change of pace. If you’re interested in Latin American politics or a look at living life in exile, I highly recommend this book.

Song of the Day: Lenda

There’s just something about groovy Brazilian music that makes me so happy. Lenda by Céu is the perfect example of this. It’s jazzy vibes with Céu’s voice are the perfect combination. It’s hard not to move along with the groove whenever I listen to it. Perfect for a warm evening night. Bonus: the live version is just as great.

Radikal Readings: The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey

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Ernesto “Che” Guevara the man is hard to separate from the revolutionary icon he became. Yet The Motorcycle Diaries attempts to do that as the man himself writes notes from the journey through Latin America that forever changed his life. This journey was well before he became Che Guevara, and chronicles what started out as an adventurous trek with his friend Alberto Granado, and turns into an awakening for the compassionate observers of humanity.

After watching a number of documentaries on the Cuban Revolution and Che himself, I wanted to read in his own writing a bit more into his personal life and this life-altering journey. It actually isn’t that insightful if you are looking for a full account of his personal life, yet it is a moving account of Latin America at the time. From his detailed account of Machu Pichu to the visit to the leprosy camp, the travelogue is a perfect read for a would-be or aspiring adventurer.

No matter your thoughts on his revolutionary tactics and his politics, it is hard to deny that Che was absolutely brilliant. The writing is quite eloquent and the events and journeys he describes are punctuated with wit, humor, and style. It is fascinating to get a glimpse into the mind of such a larger than life icon and discover the change that caused him to become the revolutionary icon that he is remembered as today.

The Motorcycle Diaries allows you to take Alberto Granado’s place for a moment and live those adventures with Che. It makes you long to get out on the open road just as Che and Alberto did all those years ago and gives you insights to his philosophies. A great read.

Radikal Readings: Looking for History: Dispatches from Latin America

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This is another case of picking up a book found on a whim at my local bookstore. Latin America’s political history (and present) is fascinating. As many describe it, living in Latin America, politics is always at the surface. The book is a collection of journalistic pieces which touch on figures like Fidel Castro, Eva Peron, and Che Guevara, but the bulk of the chapters are focused on Mexico’s Zapatistas and the PRI, the Colombian narco-terrorists, and more. Nations covered include Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, and Cuba.

Many of these essays first appeared in the New Yorker, but years later are still captivating reads if you are interested in the history and politics of Latin America. Guillermoprieto is fair and balanced, delivering unromantic versions of figures and events. A very insightful read that is a good primer for Latin America’s political history.

War

“Until the philosophy which hold one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned…
Everything is war. Me say war.
That until the’re no longer 1st class and 2nd class citizens of any nation…
Until the color of a man’s skin is of
no more significance than the color of his eyes, me say war. That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race me say war!” 

― Bob Marley

Song of the Day: Fu-Gee-La

I owe a lot of my musical taste to my older cousins who I grew up with. I remember riding around in the backseat of my Uncle’s old hoopty with my cousin driving and blasting some hip hop or R&B song. One of those songs I clearly remember and still love is Fu-Gee-La by the Fugees. This was one of those life changing songs. A song you hear and you just automatically know it’s special. Now years later as I really listen to the lyrics and truly understand what they are saying, it holds even more meaning in my life.

The Fugees changed music with just two albums – The Score, which features their most popular music was sadly the last. I love every song on that album. It instantly transports me to that time in my life, yet it is still so relevant 18 years later.