Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Che Connection

This one is for you Adit Bhai…

Adit has been asking me about when & how the “Che Influence” came to my life and I haven’t been to tell him about that…well…the main reason has been “Beer”…he has always asked me this before a BBB Session and I have always got drunk and forgotten to tell him…but this time I have decided to pen down my thoughts once & for all…

I first read about Che quite accidently way back in January 2005 when I was surfing the internet in Office…I used to work at ABC Consultants in those days…read about him and left it at that & didn’t research further but just saved the link in my Favourites…2 months later once again accidently watched the 2nd half of the famous cult movie “The Motorcycle Diaries” on Zee Studio and my interest grew further…back at office the next day I went to my online friend – Wikipedia and researched further…the Che Guevara page there was quite lengthy but I still went through it entirely…and then my interest knew no limits...started to vociferously browse through innumerable links about Che and knowing more about his charismatic personality & his amazing adventures and achievements…also read through some of the sites talking about his follies & ruthless side…as always is the case even he had his follies and wasn’t always right…but for me I knew this would be one long relationship with a man who died way back in 1967…but left his legacy for generations to come…

Coincidently today is his 83rd Birth Anniversary as you read this…Che was born in a small town of Rosario at Argentina on 14th June 1928…I won’t write a biography here and you can know more about him at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Che_guevara - this Wikipedia page would tell you almost everything about the enigma called Che…

Che - 5 years old



The reason of my fascination was the fact that here was this man born in Argentina, grew up in Argentina, was educated as a Doctor, had severe Asthma since his childhood and fought against the mighty capitalist powers in Cuba, Guatemala, Congo & Bolivia where he had no personal interests to fight for the people but still had an undying urge to fight for the welfare & upliftment of the poverty-struck people & exploited by the Dictator regimes of these countries…yes he made mistakes mainly in Bolivia & Congo but still was victorious in defeating the CIA-backed dictator regime of Batista in Cuba with a handful of revolutionaries but wholeheartedly supported by the local population…and till date it has been one of the rare few victories where a small army has defeated the mighty Americans after their power grew post-independence…

Another reason for his influence on me was his famous 9-months & 8000 kms long Motorcycle Expedition through South America with his doctor friend Alberto Granada when he travelled through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, and to Miami, before returning home to Buenos Aires and he got his calling during this journey when he saw the peasants being exploited by the Capitalist might without any way out…after coming back he had decided that he would do something for those people come what may…even if it meant loss of blood & lives…

The Motorcycle Diaries' Route Map



Che with La Poderosa



And this is how Che introduced this book called “The Motorcycle Diaries”…

"This isn't a tale of daring-do, nor is it merely some kind of 'cynical account'; it isn't meant to be, at least. It's a chunk of two lives running parallel for a while, with common aspirations and similar dreams. In nine months a man can think a lot of thoughts, from the height of philosophical conjecture to the most abject longing for a bowl of soup – in perfect harmony with the state of his stomach. And if, at the same time, he's a bit of an adventurer, he could have experiences which might interest other people and his random account would read something like this diary."

When I read this book I was moved after reading a specific chapter…Che & Alberto visited a Leper colony in Peru resided by Leprosy Patients and it was divided by a river with the healthy doctors, nurses & staff living on the other side…on the last night of their stay there was a birthday party thrown by the staff for Che and after dancing, drinking & having a great time Che felt an urge to visit the lepers across the river and celebrate with them as well but it was late in the night & no boat was available so he decided to swim through the river but the ice-cold water & his asthma made the swim a helluva tough task but as a true fighter he was determined to swim through and boy he was successful…he went and celebrated with the lepers and all of the patients were touched by his kind & mad gesture!!! This showed how brave & non-judgmental Che was…those were the times when lepers with seen & treated with ignominy and nobody wanted to even look at them but Che & Alberto spent time with them, played football with them and gave them memories of a lifetime…

I travelled to Thailand in May 2005 on a trip sponsored by ABC and in Bangkok I bought my first Che Tee just priced at 85 Bahts which at that time were almost Rs. 90 and I didn’t bargain for the price as I just wanted that tee for me…and till date that is one of my most prized possessions…that tee doesn’t fit me properly as I have gained quite a lot of weight since my post Pancreatitis Operation days but one thing is for sure that tee would always remain with me…always…

As of today I have a collection of 22 Che Tees and this count would surely continue to grow…I have bought my Che Tees from various cities - Delhi, Gurgaon, Bengaluru & Chennai plus got one customized tee with Che Embroidery from Leh as well…have got some as gifts from my friends…in fact my ex-boss Kshitij also gifted me one!!! My Fiancé Bandita also gifted me one awesome Che Tee which she bought from Gangtok, Sikkim and I loved her gesture!!!











I sincerely hope that youngsters out there just doesn’t blindly wear Che Tees without knowing anything about him and just being a part of the Pop-Culture related to Che which is so sad & tragic…one incident comes to my mind…I met one of this young yankee type of 22-23 years wearing a superb Che Tee which I didn’t have and nonchalantly asked him from where he bought the tee and does he know about Che…he indifferently replied “Boss, I don’t know who this guy is but liked the design so bought it!!!” I really despise such people and hope some good sense prevails!!!

I got my 2nd Tattoo on 22nd April 2007 and no wonder it was a Che Guevara tattoo and I got a Che caricature engraved by my Tattoo Artiste Buddy Hendry…this tattoo would always have a special place in my heart out of the 8 tattoos I have!!!



I also ordered official & authentic Che Memorabilia from the official Che Memorial website named www.che-lives.com and the items I ordered were 2 Che Shirts, one Che Wallet, 1 Che Jacket & 1 Che Beanie Cap…really awesome stuff…little expensive but worth every rupee spent!!! Thanks to Anirudh Verma for helping me with this collection…



My ex-UHG Colleague and a very good friend of mine Neesha Roy got an awesome Che Backpack from her Dubai Trip and I just love it…its really exclusive and I haven’t seen anybody else using it yet!! Thanks Neesha…

One of the most endearing & popular images on Che Tees is the one in which he is gazing and his look is of anguish & pain as he was attending a memorial service for victims of an explosion which took place in Cuba. This photograph was clicked on March 5, 1960 by a photographer named Alberto Korda at Havana in Cuba. The picture which you see on the tees is a modified one and has been cropped…

Korda with his treasure



The Original Pic



The Cropped "Che" Cult Pic



The camera which Korda used was a Leica M2 and coincidently I have clicked almost all my pics till date using a Panasonic Lumix camera which has a Leica Lens!!! Talk of coincidences!!!

This photograph was named as "the most famous photograph in the world." by The Maryland Institute of Art on May 26, 2001.

But my favourite Photograph of Che is this one…as they say a picture speaks a thousand words…this photograph was clicked by Elliott Erwitt in 1964…



I have had some amazing conversations with complete strangers here and they have been really incredible. Whenever I have worn a Che Tee and went to a Shopping Mall Arab Males have stopped me & asked me from where did I buy the Tee as they are not available here in Kuwait, couple of them have even given me tee orders to get the same tee from India for them!!! Nice to see some Che enthusiasts here as well and that has been the only reason for them to strike conversations with me as rarely one finds Arabs talking to Indians if they don’t know them!!!



I also started to buy lots of books either written by or on Che Guevara…out of them the books written by Che in my collection are:

1. The Motorcycle Diaries: A Journey around South America
2. Guerilla Warfare
3. The Bolivian Diary of Ernesto Che Guevara
4. Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War


And the ones written by others about or on him in my collection are:

1. Che Guevara by David Sandison
2. Traveling with Che Guevara: The Making of a Revolutionary by Alberto Granado
3. Tania: Undercover With Che Guevara in Bolivia by Ulises Estrada


And even after this fondness I was not able to watch the complete movie but then my friend got me the original DVD of “The Motorcycle Diaries” and finally I was able to watch it in 2007…since then I have also watched/bought a number of Video Films/Documentaries about/on him…

1. The Motorcycle Diaries (film), Directed by Walter Salles(DVD gifted by my friend)
2. Che (Part 1 & Part 2), Directed by Steven Soderbergh(Jatt Jagga gave me this movie after downloading from the Internet)
3. The True Story of Che Guevara, The History Channel, Directed by Maria Wye Berry (DVD gifted by my friend)
4. The Hands of Che Guevara, Directed by Peter De Kock.(Dips & me watched this movie together at Epicentre, Gurgaon)
5. El Che and Tracing Che, Castle Home Video, Directed by Lawrence Elman(Bought this DVD from Landmark, Gurgaon)
6. Che Guevara – A Documentary (Watched it online @ http://listenrecovery.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/che-guevara-documentary-6-part-film/ )


The full collection of Art works related to Che can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_works_related_to_Che_Guevara

Inspired by Che & his legendary Motorcycle Journey I bought a 2nd Hand Royal Enfield Electra in March 2008, re-designed it and named it “The Mighty One”, this was also the name of the Norton 500 bike of Alberto Granado on which they rode through South America…and since then have been riding through India on my bike to various locations on an endless journey of adventure & challenges…

The "Original" Mighty One



The Mighty One at Murthal



The Mighty One enroute Chail



Till date I have been on 20 Motorcycle Rides and have traversed a little more than 20,000 kms on these journeys and hope to conquer some more roads whenever I am back to India…

And my favourite & toughest ride was “The Mountain Tamers” Ride to Ladakh in June 2008 and as all of you I am one crazy freak and I followed those words by taking a Haircut at Drass enroute from Srinagar to Leh and it was one whacky cut I got!!! I got Che engraved on the back of my head and it looked uber cool to me at least…don’t know about the others though…my fellow motorcyclists were too shocked to see my haircut and didn’t say any words!!!



One of the most important contributions of Che apart from his more famous revolutionary image was that he worked for the development of the people who needed it the most…and inspired by his deeds I started teaching poor kids who were students at an NGO named “Shree Guru Nanak Dev Society” in Gurgaon from July 2008 and followed it till February 2010 when I moved to here in Kuwait and I badly miss those kids…so much of talent & energy but lack of resources mean that they can’t study at more systematic schools but I am sure with Khurana Sir’s(he runs this NGO) dedication all the kids there would get admitted to good schools where they can study and hopefully become self-sustained in time to come…

Whenever I am back in India for good I would love to re-start the relationship with that school and start teaching again as it gave me immense satisfaction and so much of pride when students from our school go admitted to some of the most prestigious schools in Gurgaon and that was a proud moment for me & the other teachers…

I also ordered Che Posters from allposters.com and got them delivered to India from the US and then got them framed…these 5 amazing posters adorn my room’s walls in Gurgaon!!!





Some of Che’s quotes which have inspired me and make perfect sense to me are:

1. Hasta La Victoria Siempre. (Until victory always)
2. Eat, Drink & be Merry, for tomorrow we die.
3. It is better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees.
4. Let me say at the risk of seeming ridiculous but a true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of Love.
5. I am not a liberator. Liberators do not exist. The people liberate themselves.
6. One must harden without ever losing tenderness.
7. If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine.
8. The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.
9. The desire to sacrifice an entire lifetime to the noblest of ideals serves no purpose if one works alone.
10. Democracy cannot consist solely of elections that are nearly always fictitious and managed by rich landowners and professional politicians.
11. In a revolution one wins or dies, if it is a real one.
12. We cannot be sure of having something to live for unless we are willing to die for it.
13. He vivido días magníficos(I have lived magnificent days) – In his last letter to Fidel Castro
14. Many will call me an adventurer, and that I am... only one of a different sort: one who risks his skin to prove his truths. – In his last letter to his parents
15. Your father has been a man who acted according to his beliefs and certainly has been faithful to his convictions. – In his last letter to his children


And last but not the least…his last words to the assassin who was sent to shoot him to Death after getting captured by CIA-backed Bolivian Army on 9th October 1967…

“I know you are here to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man.”

Mind-numbing this line is…

One of my biggest dream is to visit Cuba & Argentina one day and visit Rosario where Che grew up & visit the Che Museum where all his memorabilia is displayed & the Che Mausoleum where his remains were buried…hope this wish comes true in the near future…Amen to that…

Some cynics might call this "Che Connection" as Idol Worship and going overboard with it but for me its a passion & inspiration and I get a strange feeling of strength & determination stemming from it...

And Che surely has been one of the strongest influences on my life & my philosophy towards life…though I have not embraced his violent philosophy but really respect his revolutionary, adventurous & developmental views and hopefully would continue to follow them in the future as well…

This has been one blog-post I always wanted to write but don’t know why never wrote it!!! Thanks to Adit I wrote this one and feel really good about it…so many thoughts came to my mind while writing it…

Special Thanks to Jatt Jagga – Jagmeet Singh Virdee for making the photo collages for me…

Che would be back on the road again…

Till then ride safe & have safe sex…

Hasta la Victoria Siempre…

15 comments:

Jagmeet Singh said...

WAT A BLOG......GUESS AFTER READING THIS EVERYONE WOULD LIKE TO THANK U FOR MAKING US AWARE ABOUT ONE OF THE GREATEST REVOLUTIONARINESS OF ITS TIME.

I SAW THE MOVIE AFTER I DOWNLOADED IT FOR U AND YES IT WAS SIMPLY AMAZING, THE SAYINGS OF CHE ARE SO TRUE AND PRACTICAL AND MY FAVORITE BEING "U WILL ONLY KILL A MAN.

THANKS A TON PAJHI FOR LETTING ME BE A PART OF THIS BLOG, THOUGH I DIDNT CONTRIBUTED MUCH AS WAS DONE BY U BUT STILL IT FEELS NICE TO B DERE....

mani said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mani said...

HATSOFF NISHANT SIR.............
ITS SUCH A ROCKING N AMAZING BLOG!!!!
I DONT HAVE WORDS TO DISCRIBE YOU SIR.N YES I WILL SURELY WATCH THAT MOVIE 'THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES'THATS Y I PUT IT ON DOWNLOAD .BY READING YOUR BLOG I CAN IMAGINE HOW GOOD N AWESOME MOVIE IT WILL BE.
KEEP GOING HIGHER N HIGHER SIR!!!
stoppie king...

Ken Slayer said...

Even I'm wondering as to how come this blog didnt come out earlier, much earlier.
What surprised me was the Connection is pretty recent. I was expecting it to go long back.
Yeah, even I hate those posers that wear Tees without knowing anything about the stuff. They are the pink-clothing wearer types and should not wear black.
The collages are wonderful. Great Work Jaggi.
My Fav line is "There cannot be a Revolution without a bullet."

veeru said...

waha..Jha phaa ji tusi cha gye ho...So rha main bhe ek Chee ke Tee le dalu... :)

Neesha Roy Nayak said...

This by far is one of your best writeups!Your passion is clearlv visible!!Ofcourse, am elated to find mention in your blog.Well, will certainly keep an eye out for any other cool Che stuff that I may come across!

Attitude Speaks !! said...

JJ...

U hv done it again! Che definitely has had an indelible impact on your life and through your exuberant soul i m almost certain that few more minds would be getting infected with his greatness, if they haven't got infected yet. While with your actions you are keeping the nobel acts of Che alive, through your writing you are percolating its impact to hundreds and thousands of readers.

A well written blog which echoes the sentiments of a man who loves to live!

Keep your pen rolling on the sheets for one day you might shape some mind...

Madhu :)

Vitto said...

Cha gaya ladke , aaj pata chala ye chee kis naam ka kida hai ..... HATSOFF dude... (OFFERING TO THE GOD OF SPEED......) :) :) :) :)

Arunima said...

Well I was late reading this blog but am really glad I did...you are right in saying that many might call this "Connection" going overboard, but then to each his own....you have found your inspiration here and will continue to do so!
I watched motorcycle diaries the other day and the swim across the river was awe-inspiring!Such association with lepers back then was unheard-of!
And yeah I couldn't agree more on the T-shirt part as well :)
One of your best blogs as Neesha said- such passion is wothwhile!

bandita thakur said...

I am aware of your Che connection since Day 1 of our bonding but little did I know that the impact was so strong and that it pervaded to all spheres of your life.Only after personally taking a look at your collection of Che and meeting those deprived kids whom you teach, I realized the extent of your passion and dedication!!!
This blog serves to enlighten many ignorant mind and is the best way to pay tribute to your iconic hero.
I am proud to be associated with this "Che"...
Keep the flame of your passion ignited...

Fenil Seta said...

That was a brilliant post about your dedication for Che! I fondly remember ur blog, I think, on Ladakh wherein you mentioned how, at a point, u were feeling sick and u started chanting Che's name to get the energy back! It was amazing man!

Regarding the lack of knowledge amongst youngsters about Che, well, the whole system of education and media is to blame. I have never seen Che being highlighted in any newspaper articles or taught in schools. In fact, I m a history student and last yr, we had a paper on 'Landmarks in World History' wherein we studied important personalities of 20th century like Stalin, Mao, Kemal Pasha etc but Che was not touched at all!

Hats off to your passion! I m sure the day will come when you'll visit Che's museum in South America!

FENIL

Fenil Seta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dhruv malik said...

well dis was a much needed one considering ure passion of following CHE GUEVARA...have seen u getting alert in the most hilarious of moods wid dis topic coming up in talks..though i disagreed on a point and you wernt able to convince that came as a surprise to me.Still it educated me about the revolutionary!

Graham said...

Enter at http://cheguevara-fanclub.blogspot.com/ and leave a comment about Che Guevara
Your comment will be published in a book about Che Guevara
Best comment will receive a free book
Fanclub Che Guevara

vaibhav said...

Well well well...
I respect ur obsession n love for Che Guevara. As a teenager i was also obsessed with a man called Jim Morrison so i can understand each n every words of urs....
Cheers..!!