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Place of beauty

Most Indians know Venezuela just for one thing: the gorgeous Miss Venezuelas who walk away with the crown at beauty pageants year after year...

Written by Mohan K. Tikku |
November 1, 2005

Most Indians know Venezuela just for one thing: the gorgeous Miss Venezuelas who walk away with the crown at beauty pageants year after year. To most Venezuelans, when you mention India, they talk about yoga. So, it may appear amazing that Indian gurus, godmen and other salesmen of salvation have not yet heard of a place called Caracas.

Considering that every gym and karate school in this city lists yoga among its specialties, and every second city bus displays boards informing you where to go to for the nearest yoga class, the absence of the Indian gurus is a conspicuous absence.

Equally surprising is the meager Indian presence here. There is no dearth of people of Indian origin spread all over the Caribbean — from Surinam to British Guyana — places that are just a hop away. And yet, there are just about 30 Indian families living in Caracas. A few of them are into business, and others represent some Indian pharmaceutical company or the other.

There are three Indian restaurants to market a taste of India. But they don’t seem to be doing particularly well. What they offer is more of “fusion food” than anything genuinely Indian.

Why doesn’t the Indian mission in Caracas, argues a Venezuelan friend, bring over a few chefs along with some yoga teachers to give the locals a taste of the real thing?

One of the first things that Farooq Abdullah did after he became chief minister in the early ’80s, was to lead a Kashmiri delegation to Venezuela. The ostensible reason was tourism promotion. Abdullah’s critics have all along maintained that it was the Miss Venezuelas that inspired the flamboyant CM to lead a group of boys and girls, trained in Kashmiri folk dances, to that faraway country.

It is not just Venezuela but all the dozen odd countries of South America about which most Indians’s awareness levels are significantly low. Geographical distance may be one reason; lack of enough cultural and business exchanges could be another.

So, Latin America remains our dark continent. But it may not be so for long. Rumour has it that a very prominent young MP is courting a girl from these parts!

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