I met Gabriel Garcia Marquez twice. The first time in New Delhi in March 1983.
Among the greatest novels of the 20th century is One Hundred Years of Solitude by the Columbian author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It is a dazzling, creative work of genius. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.
I met Marquez twice. The first time in New Delhi in March 1983. Next in Havana in 1985. Both times in the company of the very distinguished legendary Cuban leader and statesman, Mr Fidel Castro.
I was familiar with the names of a few Latin Americans writers. I got to know Octavio Paz, when he was ambassador of Mexico to India from 1962 to 1968. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1990. I was acquainted with Tagore’s friendship with the famous Argentinian literary celebrity Victoria Ocampo. I spent a few minutes with her in 1968 in her palatial home, San Isidore outside Buenos Aires. I had accompanied Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on her nine-country tour of South America in 1968. The PM honoured Victoria Ocampo with an honorary degree on behalf of Shantiniketan University.
I met Pablo Neruda, the Chilean Nobel Laureate in Warsaw in 1971, when I was ambassador to Poland. Neruda’s meeting with Nehru in the 1950s is not worth recalling. The politician and the poet did not take to each other. In his memoirs Neruda is viciously critical of Jawaharlal’s indifference and lack of interest in what Neruda was telling him. I find these observations highly prejudiced. Nehru was a man of great courtesy.
I began this article with references to Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I have much more to write about him. The provocation for doing so was provided by an article in the Indian Express on Thursday, 20 January.
In the early 1990, Marquez had a secret affair with Susana Cato, “a writer and journalist who worked with Garcia Marquez”. Cato gave birth to a daughter, whom its parents’ named Indira. She is at present in her early thirties and, “uses her mother’s name”
Marquez died in Mexico City in 2014. He was born in Colombia on 6 March 1928. His wife, Mercedes Barcha had been married for five decades. Marquez was known for his disturbing virility.
The “Express” article has caused some excitement. Is Susan Cato’s daughter named after Indira Gandhi? In India tens of thousands of girls are named Indira. If Indira Cato is named after Indira Gandhi, she is very fortunate.
In December 1982, Leonid Brezhnev, President of USSR died in Moscow. Indira Gandhi attended his funeral. Among others, she met Fidel Castro and Marquez at the funeral. It was decided between Indira Gandhi and Fidel Castro that Marquez be invited to the Summit of the Non Aligned Movement being held in March 1983 in New Delhi. Marquez came to the meeting of the NAM Summit as a member of the Cuban delegation and was much in demand.
During the pandemic the millionaires have become billionaires. The planet’s ten richest men are, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bernard Arnault and family, Larry Ellison, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Sergey Brin, Steve Ballmer and Warren Buffet.
The collective wealth of these ten grew from US$700 billion to US$1.5 trillion. Musk’s fortune grew by 1000%, Bill Gate’s by a modest 30%.
During the same period 160 million people were forced into poverty.
Forty billionaires were added to the existing list in India. Their combined fortune is almost US$700 billion, more than the poorest 40% of the population. 84% households suffered income decline. Inequality contributed to deaths of at least 21,300 people each day or more than one person every four seconds.
These figures are provided by Oxfam International.
In my younger days I was a reasonably accomplished tennis player. I am now an accomplished Grand-slam watcher on TV. From 1988 to 1992, I was president of the All India Tennis Association.
Sir Andy Murray I have admired for over nine years. He is a stout hearted Scotsman. He became the first Brit to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry did so in 1936.
Among the Indian tennis players, Sania Mirza stands out. Alas! She will be retiring soon.
The ongoing Melbourne Grand Slam was almost ruined by the unnecessary tantrums of the great Novak Djokovic. He had no business to go to Melbourne without being vaccinated. The Australian tennis establishment came out with egg on its face. They should have deported Novak the moment he arrived in Melbourne.
The Melbourne Grand Slam has bounced back, with the unpredictable genius Nick Kyrgios providing brilliant but erratic tennis. The crowd adores him—win or lose.
In the photograph, Marquez is standing between Castro and me.