Cultural Reads 17: Andean Electronic Music, Colonial Indonesia & Bollywood Comedy

Happy Tuesday all,

And welcome to the 17th issue of the Cultural Reads Newsletter! A bi-weekly book, music, and movie recommendation from different countries all around the world.

In this week’s newsletter: Ecuador, India & Indonesia

🎞️ 3 idiots (India)

In 2015, I spent two months in Davao, The Phillippines. Formerly led by  Rodrigo Duterte, the city hosted 900 Indian medical students. The University street was full of Indian restaurants, and in our group of 40 volunteers, eight were from India. The Philippines was simultaneously my introduction to Filipino and Indian culture.

One night, the whole volunteers got together to watch a Bollywood movie. Our Indian friends picked one of the most famous ones, 3 Idiots.

3 Idiots is about three college buddies who embark on a road trip ten years after graduation. It’s a comedic journey, with the friends reflecting on their lives, life choices, and friendship.

If you’re new to Bollywood movies, this is a great introduction. You can find the film on Amazon Prime (and it seems to be on Youtube as well).

If you have any Bollywood recommendations, please let me know!

🎧 Nicola Cruz (Ecuador)

Ready for some Ecuadorian electronic music?

Nicola was born in France but of proud South American descent. He currently lives in Quito, close to the Andes Mountains.

A deep admiration for Andean culture, landscape, and rhythms inspired his work and gave his style the name “Andean Electronic Music.”

His two most famous songs are Cumbia del Olvido Folha de Jurema (for a Brazilian vibe)

📕 This Earth of Mankind – Pramoedya Ananta Toer (Indonesia)

Pramoedya Ananta Toer lived through Dutch colonial rule, World War II, and Indonesia’s struggle for independence.

The Dutch imprisoned him from 1947 to 1949 for his role in the Indonesian Revolution, President Suharto exiled Pramoedya to the island of Buru for 14 years for “being” a communist, and Pramoedya spent another 13 years under house arrest.

Unsurprisingly, Ananta Toer published most of his books in prison. What’s impressive is that he composed his best-known works – the Buru Quartet – orally while being banned from writing.

The first book in this series is called Earth of Mankind. The book features Minke, a minor Javanese royal and journalist active in the nationalist movement. Earth of Mankind gives an intimate insight into the complicated social relationships during the colonial regime.

Pramoedya was frequently discussed as Indonesia’s and Southeast Asia’s best candidate for a Nobel Prize in Literature but never won it.

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