Monday, October 11, 2010

Columbus Day

Columbus Day is being celebrated today in the United States. This day commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World on October 12, 1492. USA celebrates this day each year on the second Monday in October. This day became a national holiday here in 1937.

The Italian-born explorer had set sail on August 3, 1492,* backed by the Spanish monarchs King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. He intended to chart a western sea route to China, India and the fabled gold and spice islands of Asia; instead, he landed in the USA.

In my opinion, Columbus was a politician. Here are my reasons:

When Columbus started out he did not know where he was going. When he got there he did not know where he was. When he got back he did not know where he had been. And he did it all on other people's money.

Agree with me?

* I had a typo. I had typed 1942 instead of 1492. "A" was kind enough to point out this. I have made the correction. Thanks A.


  1. Yes, agree with you and also he became famous like all the politicians and people still talk and remember him.

  2. Definitely! Oh, and fun trivia for the day: Columbus was actually a Catalan. Apparently they've more or less proven it, but the Spanish insist he was Italian because even though Catalonia is now a part of Spain, the Spanish resent them their accomplishments (Cervantes too was a Catalan, also denied by the Spanish).

    But in the case of Columbus, Colom is a very typical Catalan name, and his writing (to the king and queen of Spain) though written in Spanish, shows lots of examples of direct translation mistakes from one language too the other.

    Hehe, sorry to spam your comments about this. I live with a Catalan and he goes on about the ALL THE TIME, so I thought I'd share!

  3. A fascinating post. I've obviously heard of Columbus but to be honest don't know a great deal about him and certainly didn't know about it being Columbus Day.

  4. i remember 2 lines of a poem i learnt long long back

    "in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue"


  5. Every time I think of a cruise, I drift into thinking about how the explorers made it for months/years together on ships with a fraction of the amenities we get today. I am going to stick to him being adventurous.

    However, I must say, you have a convincing way of making an argument, especially with the last statement there. That's a hard one to debate around.

  6. SG,

    I think you meant August 3, 1492 instead of August 3, 1942 in second paragraph. But may be I am wrong !!!1

    I think he was not a politician. Traveling was not safe at that time and he did not make any money out of it. Not sure if compass was invented then or not....need to check.

  7. Thanks for your comments Chitra. Columbus must have done something good and that is why people still talk about him.

  8. Thanks for your comments Emily. I loved it. I know Catalonia is an autonomous community within Spain, just like Basque. I did not know the other details you wrote in your comment.

    Emily, no you are not spamming my blog. I am a history buff. And, I welcome your comments.

  9. Thanks for your comments Tracy. Columbus Day is the least obdserved national holiday in the US.

  10. Thanks for your comments Lostworld. I am glad you liked this post.

  11. Thanks for your comments AS. I like that poem. Also, I am glad you liked this post.

  12. Thanks for your comments Geeta. Columbus was very adventurous. With no amenities, setting out in an ocean takes lot of courage.

  13. Thanks for your comments A. And, thanks for pointing out my typo. I have made the necessary correction.

    I know he is not a politician. This is a "tongue in cheek" post. An attempt to be humorous.

  14. :) Politician, sure. :)

    A colleague recommended I read "Lies my teacher told me". Apparently, this book sheds light on all the facts about lives of historical figures (such as Columbus), not the glorified versions of the truths that we are taught in school. I am to read this book to find what Columbus / his life really was like :)

  15. oh yes, all the reasons are valid!! he was indeed a politician!! so in this case too, indian politicians were not original..they stole the idea from Columbus!!

  16. Thats nice. You compared Columbus to politician. I like the comparisons you have given.

  17. This is what first came to my mind when I read about Columbus here

    On First Looking into Chapman's Homer - John Keats

    Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
    And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
    Round many western islands have I been
    Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
    Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
    That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
    Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
    Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
    Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
    When a new planet swims into his ken;
    Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
    He star'd at the Pacific — and all his men
    Look'd at each other with a wild surmise —
    Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

  18. But he dared to start a journey towards unseen

  19. Thanks for your comments Titaxy. I am glad you mentioned about this book. I am going to read it.

  20. Thanks for your comments Neha. You said it correctly. Indian politicians have no originality even in this.

  21. Thanks for your comments Kiran. I am glad you liked this post.

  22. Thanks for your comments PNA. I am impressed with your knowledge of English literature. John Keats wrote this excellent poem as an immediate response to the revelation experienced by him on first reading George Chapman's classic translation of Homer's epic the "Odyssey".

  23. Thanks for your comments SM. This is a "tongue in cheek" post. An attempt to be humorous.

  24. Hi SG! So now I know how columbus looked like. Thank you for the picture...

    ~ NRIGirl

  25. Thanks for your comments NRIGirl. I am glad now you know how Columbus looked like. He is not a good looking guy. But he was smart. He knew how to get his project funded by the Spanish monarchs King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

  26. loved your logical explaination:) I agree:)

  27. Thanks for your comments Samvedna. I am glad you are with me in this.

  28. SG,

    Delighted :)

    I love this sonnet from the day it was taught in uni:)

    And Colombus is a fav character!

    You know he kept diaries and it talks about his tricks to keep the sailors sailing for that destination... the guy had absolutely no clue even on the high seas where he was headed or would ;)

    Sharing a link. interesting read...

  29. Thanks for your commens PNA. Columbus was very smart. Lot of anecdotes about him.

    Thanks for the link. I will certainly look it up.

  30. Columbus is a GOD DAMN murderer and I will never celebrate anything related to him.
    He comes to the new world and then tells the Natives that he has found them.

    Found them? You jerk, they were never lost in the first place.
    He then goes on to trick them, murder them, and genocide begins for the Natives.

    What he did to the Arawak is reason enough for him to burn in hell forever.

    No sir, Columbus is an egomaniac and murderer.

    In the history of the world - The 3 worst men (EVIL) to ever live are A.Hitler, J.Stalin, and Pol Pot.
    After the BIG 3 the list becomes subjective and blurred...but Columbus is in the TOP 10.

    F*&# Columbus!

  31. Thanks for your unbiased comments The Cagey Bee. Arawaks were peaceful primitive people. When Columbus landed here, he encountered these Arawaks.

    I recently read an article by Eric Kasum. Here is a verbatim quote from his article: "If Christopher Columbus were alive today, he would be put on trial for crimes against humanity. Columbus' reign of terror, as documented by noted historians, was so bloody, his legacy so unspeakably cruel, that Columbus makes a modern villain like Saddam Hussein look like a pale codfish".

    Columbus found the natives? For no reason, I am reminded of this incident. An American lady was visiting New Delhi. She told the taxi driver she sees lot of foreigners in the streets. He said: No madam, you are a foreigner here.

  32. he indeed was one clueless man :D who discovered the current super power of the world..

  33. Thanks for your comments Rajlakshmi. As The Cagey Bee said "nobody was lost in the first place for him to discover".

  34. I enjoyed the post on Colombus and also your response to one of the readers, citing the lady's conversation with the cab driver, that was awesome too.

  35. Thanks for your comments Sanand. I am glad you enjoyed this post and also some of the comments. Sometimes, I think, comments are more interesting than the post itself.