"Blade Runner" came out two years after "Dune" but the stories are chronologically and thematically light years apart. However, both rely on visionary images of the future, a common theme to science fictions movies.
The thing is that "Blade Runner" benefits from an unforseen (I think) advantage: the tense working relationship beteween R. Scott and H. Ford had an impact not only on Ford's acting - looking upset, annoyed or just stressed - and with voice-over but also, and consequently, on the whole atmosphere of the film. This remarkable twist gives the definite film-noir touch to Blade Runner, providing it with a thick layer of disillusionment: originally, Ford's disillusionment with Scott; but, in the end, the feeling of disillusionment of the whole film concerning the bleak and bitter reality of LA in 2019
Friday, December 26, 2008
"Blade Runner" came out two years after "Dune" but the stories are chronologically and thematically light years apart. However, both rely on visionary images of the future, a common theme to science fictions movies.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Recebi esta notícia de um amigo de longa data em Pangim. Eram essencialmente livros e roupa que tinha acumulado - e deixado em terra - durante várias estadias em Goa...
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Penitential pilgrimages to Old Goa preceding the feast were popular in the past, he recalled, but have shown “a dramatic decline” in recent times [...] priests used to stress the fear of Judgment Day and the focus was on penance. But now priests preach about changing one's mind and way of life, he added."
Sunday, November 30, 2008
(excerto de texto elaborado com Joaquim Santos)
já tentaste praticar o bem
já tentaste praticar o mal
já tentaste praticar o bem
já tentaste praticar o mal
já tentaste praticar o bem
não fazendo nada?
já tentaste praticar o mal
já tentaste praticar tudo
não fazendo nada?
e o contrário, já tentaste?
seja qual for a tua resposta,
não sei que te diga.
Alberto Pimenta, Ascensão de dez gostos à boca, 1977
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Na Pasteleira, depois de voltar da escola, o tempo arrastava-se pelas cortinas (uma roxa, outra azul, outra amarela) media-se pelo imperceptível deslizar dos raios solares pelo soalho, ecoava nos sons vindo do rio que trepavam pela janela do sótão...onde me escondia entre livros enigmáticos.
Nessas alturas, aprendi a dar valor ao tempo que passava comigo próprio. Estava em casa dos meu avós mas não convivia muito com eles, para além das refeições - apressadas da minha parte - e do chá das 5.
De passagem, recordo-me de cinco memórias do meu avô.
Primeira: A seguir ao almoço, a espalhar as migalhas recolhidas da mesa e das latas das bolachas sobre a guarda de madeira da varanda.
Segunda: Ao entardecer, se eu estivesse sentado a ler numa das poltronas da sala, a passar por mim e ligar o candeeiro mais próximo (dizendo algo do género "...ler às escuras estraga a visão...")
Terceira: De manhã, o som da máquina de barbear a aparar, pacientemente, pêlos brancos numa pele flácida.
Quarta: O meu avô a conduzir o Sunbeam de luvas, quando eu estava cheio de calor e a suar.
Quinta: Quando era ainda mais novo, o chá das cinco era por vezes substituído por um lanche a sério no Orfeuzinho. Entre os velhotes amigos do meu avô, tenho impressão que me lembro de um "Soares", talvez "engenheiro Soares". Invariavelmente, o meu avô consumia um galão...por vezes uma torrada.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Paulo da Trindade, Conquista Espiritual do Oriente, ca. 1629.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Em Xirás atanazada
A rainha do Gorgistão
Foi pois desenterrada
Pelo Ambrósio sacristão
Que de Goa lançado
Em Isfahan cansado
E a Góri chegado
Mostrou ossos ao filho
(Que rezou então em latim)
E dividiu-os por fim
Regressando com estrilho
Para o convento da Graça
Onde o martírio é massa
E com eles foi a enterrar
No chão capitular.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
28.10.2008, Sérgio C. Andrade
É uma exposição que condensa a produção de Arménio Losa e do seu sócio Cassiano Barbosa. Arquitecto e urbanista, Losa foi uma figura marcante do movimento modernista.
Arménio Losa (1908-1988) é o menos conhecido e o menos citado dos arquitectos do movimento modernista português no Porto e no Norte do país. O seu nome surge normalmente secundarizado pela proeminência que ganharam as obras de um Januário Godinho (1910-1990) ou de um Viana de Lima (1913-1991), seus colegas no curso de Arquitectura da Escola de Belas-Artes do Porto - que, aliás, viriam a diplomar-se mais tarde -, mas a produção de Losa (que foi casado com a escritora alemã fugida ao nazismo Ilse Losa) merece ser mais bem conhecida, divulgada e apreciada. É esta a convicção do arquitecto Manuel Mendes, responsável do Centro de Documentação da Faculdade de Arquitectura da Universidade do Porto (FAUP), docente, investigador e coordenador da exposição Arménio Losa/Cassiano Barbosa Arquitectos - Nosso Escritório (1945-1957), que hoje às 22h00 é inaugurada no Edifício da Alfândega, no Porto, no dia em que se comemoram os 100 anos do seu nascimento. "A obra de Losa está ainda mal estudada", como desconhecida permanece também a sua efectiva contribuição para a mudança dos paradigmas da prática da arquitectura no Porto e no Norte, realça Manuel Mendes. No texto de apresentação da exposição, este arquitecto escreve que Arménio Losa e Cassiano Barbosa (1911-1998) - dois nomes associados naquele que ficou registado como "Nosso Escritório" entre 1944 e 1963 - deram um assinalável "contributo à ampliação da cidadania da arquitectura, do seu ofício e saber, nas suas dimensões técnica e artística, política e cultural". Mas esta não é uma ideia nova ou recente de Manuel Mendes - já em 1995, num texto que escreveu sobre a obra de Losa aquando da homenagem póstuma que lhe foi prestada pela Câmara Municipal de Matosinhos (que lhe atribuiu a Medalha de Ouro da cidade), este investigador considerava que o arquitecto era membro de pleno direito do movimento modernista. Na mesma altura, e na mesma brochura editada para a homenagem em Matosinhos (uma edição da autarquia e da Afrontamento), o arquitecto Pedro Ramalho, que acompanhara a actividade de Losa desde 1955, dizia que ele tinha entendido "a modernidade no conceito do seu tempo", e que a via precisamente como "oposição e consciência de ruptura". Mendes e Ramalho surgem agora de novo juntos neste programa que assinala o centenário de Arménio Losa, cabendo ao segundo a organização das actividades paralelas à exposição documental: um concurso de fotografia, um ciclo de conferências, uma mesa-redonda, uma visita guiada à mostra da Alfândega e ainda um concerto.Para a exposição, Manuel Mendes pensou inicialmente documentar a produção dos anos 1940/50 do "Nosso Escritório" (a expressão está manuscrita por Losa numa folha de papel com um desenho para um móvel que foi instalado no escritório dos dois arquitectos). A parceria profissional de Arménio Losa com Cassiano Barbosa deu continuidade a uma amizade certamente fundada nos anos em que ambos frequentaram a Escola de Belas-Artes, na viragem dos anos 20/30, e que o segundo chegou a evocar no seu Álbum Esquecido: "As nossas controvérsias tinham como motivo o modernismo na arte e como cenário o claustro (...) do Museu Soares dos Reis, onde injuriávamos a arte clássica, exaltávamos Picasso, Calder, Corbusier e Frank Lloyd Wright...". Nessa produção da sociedade Losa/Barbosa avultam dois edifícios ainda existentes no Porto, e que são raros sobreviventes de uma produção "que em grande parte está destruída", lamenta Manuel Mendes. São o bloco de habitação da Boavista/Carvalhosa (1945) e o edifício da Rua de Sá da Bandeira (1946), ambos desenhados para um mesmo cliente, entendidos como "acções fundadoras" daquela sociedade, e dos quais foram recentemente depositados nos arquivos da FAUP documentos que permitem conhecer em detalhe todo o processo de projecto e de construção.
Reinventar o lote estreito
O edifício da Boavista/Carvalhosa é a expressão mais feliz daquilo que era a visão de Losa para uma arquitectura familiar e doméstica, a que ele dedicou grande parte do seu trabalho. Manuel Mendes diz que Losa - que considera "o mais criativo e o mais modernista" dos dois sócios - actualizou esta tipologia muito característica da arquitectura portuense, e que aquele designa como "de lote estreito de contiguidade" e que era ainda regido pelas fachadas estreitas vindas do século XIX.Outro exemplo desta vertente na obra de Losa é a cooperativa de habitação que ele fizera, antes, para a Boavista/Pinheiro Manso (1936), num projecto que mostra a sua capacidade e a originalidade com que resolve edifícios de esquina, de que se torna "um especialista", diz Manuel Mendes. O edifício em Sá da Bandeira é já outra dimensão da produção Losa/Barbosa, e Mendes classifica-o mesmo como "uma espécie de Broadway" na Baixa do Porto; é um edifício que corta com o convencionalismo até urbanístico que imperava à época, e que expressa um modernismo "que vai beber ao racionalismo italiano, mas também à vertente mais decorativa da Werkbund alemã", nota o professor da FAUP. A exposição na Alfândega, apesar da exiguidade do espaço disponível, acabaria por crescer para a documentação de 86 trabalhos, que são "condensados como uma prenda", diz Manuel Mendes. Nelas são apresentados projectos, mas também o contexto urbano e social em que eles foram idealizados e implantados. E das múltiplas dimensões da obra de Losa representadas avulta o seu trabalho de urbanista, que, nota o responsável pela exposição, inicialmente se pensava ter sido desenvolvido apenas mais tardiamente, mas que afinal vem já da década de 1930, quando Losa colaborou com o gabinete de Aucíndio dos Santos, na Câmara do Porto. Nesta área, estão citados os planos urbanísticos realizados para Gaia (1945-49) e para Macedo de Cavaleiros (1945-51), mas também o da Zona do Hospital Escolar (São João), no Porto (1951-56), ou o de Matosinhos-Sudeste e da envolvente do Mosteiro de Leça do Balio (1961-68). De todos eles, Manuel Mendes destaca "o plano fabuloso" realizado para o Hospital Escolar de São João, "o primeiro que em Portugal segue a Carta de Atenas" que introduz o conceito de "cidade funcional" e a separação das áreas residenciais, de lazer e de trabalho.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Das primeiras vezes que participei num brinde nas terras do Norte, cometi uma gaffe. Era uma ocasião com um número razoável de comensais, talvez oito. A princípio, tudo se parecia com o nosso ritual...copos em punho foram projectados para a zona do centro-de-mesa, entre uma palavra proferida em coro (que me soou demasiado afrancesada). Após alguns dos copos se terem tocado confusamente, eu retirei o meu e aproximei-o dos lábios para disfrutar daquele néctar (Riesling, se a memória não me falha). Acto contínuo, soaram vozes e intejeições de protesto por parte dos outros comensais que me paralisaram no gesto sorvedor. Olhei em redor, espantado. O que teria corrido mal?
Os alemães seguem escrupulosamente três regras quando brindam. E gostam de dizer que se alguém quebrar qualquer uma dessas regras, esse infeliz terá sete anos de "sexo mau". Esta maldição merecia só por si uma análise mais profunda...o que é propriamente sexo mau? Naturalmente que homens e mulheres, gays e "straights" terão ideias diferentes do que poderá ser sexo mau, aliás, penso que toda e qualquer pessoa adulta neste planeta imaginará coisas diversas quando confrontada com esta anti-fantasia de sete anos de sexo mau. Bom, adiante...afinal quais as regras do brinde?
1. Cada brindante terá de tocar com o seu copo nos copos de todos os outros brindantes. À priori, isto poderá parecer linear, mas se imaginarem uma mesa de oito pessoas ou mais, a situação complica.
2. No momento exacto em que os copos dos brindantes se tocam, estes terão de se olhar olhos nos olhos.
3. Os braços dos brindantes não se poderão cruzar (no plano horizontal) enquanto estes projectam os copos.
Voltando à noite do riesling, os meus amigos insistiram que eu cumprisse estas regras antes de beber. Contra-feito voltei a projectar o meu copo, que fez "tlim" com outros sete copos, cujos donos foram olhados nos olhos um por um, evitando o cruzamento de braços. Lembro-me que tudo isto demorou alguns minutos (escusados, na minha opinião) e que, quando finalmente levei o néctar à goela, bebi-o de um só trago, dado o incremento da sede produzido pelo exercício físico.
Satisfeitos os meus comensais com o brinde eficaz, perguntei-lhes se faziam isto sempre, mesmo em situações de mesas com doze ou vinte pessoas. Garantiram-me que sim.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Conheço bem demais o dilema que Sarkozy agora enfrenta...mas não é culpa nossa, não é culpa dos Machos Latinos com ML grande. A verdade é que o dilema é tão profundo como interessante como potencialmente perigoso...mas tudo não passará de um ligeiro mal-entendido se as alemãs (e alemães) mantiverem o sentido de humor e nós a cabeça fria.
Vejamos. As minhas deambulações pela alemanha levaram-me a concluír provisoriamente que existem basicamente 4 tipos de trato (relativamente ao nível de proximidade) empregues no acto da saudação entre pessoas que não tenham, assumidamente, uma relação íntima.
1 - O cumprimento formal. Resume-se à linguagem verbal ou gestual. Não há contacto físico.
2 - O cumprimento informal. Acrescenta um bacalhau ao primeiro.
3 - O cumprimento amigável. O mais difícil, geralmente, para os não-germânicos. Consiste numa espécie de meio abraço, um gesto contido e delicado, no fundo, uma arte.
4 - O cumprimento exótico. Geralmente apenas correspondido pelos alemães fora da sua pátria...mas excepcionalmente, poderá ser empregue na Alemanha. Foi isto que aconteceu ao Sarkozy...espetou uns beijos à Merkel...até que ela se fartou do exotismo.
Ora bem...para os não germânicos que têm de cumprimentar um germânico(a), o segredo está em saber discernir qual o trato a empregar em cada situação. Geralmente, se o germânico for educado e culto, ele próprio se encarregará de mostar o caminho para o trato adequado. Contudo, e especialmente quando se trata de um homem não alemão a cumprimentar uma mulher alemã, esta poderá ficar momentâneamente desnorteada, esquecendo-se deste pormenor de civilidade, deixando ao homem a iniciativa de entabular um trato para o cumprimento.
Nesta situação, recomendo calma. O mais seguro, e sempre recomendável para o primeiro encontro, é o cumprimento 2. Em situações muito excepcionais, poder-se-à empregar o cumprimento 3 num primeiro encontro, desde que a mulher tome essa inciativa. Contudo, para o homem que já tiver alguma experiência neste assunto, poderá ele próprio avançar com o cumprimento 3 num primeiro encontro, desde que consiga inferir a partir de outros indícios que a mulher está receptiva a tal gesto.
Geralmente, na Alemanha, o cumprimento 3 é reservado à família e ao círculo das amizades. À medida que o não-alemão for conquistando estas posições, poderá dominar com maior confiança essa arte do meio-abraço. Em resumo, é este o melhor método para o empregar: com confiança, o homem coloca o braço direito no dorso do germânico(a); aproxima o lado esquerdo do rosto ao lado esquerdo do rosto do germânico(a); dependendo do grau de confiança, os rostos poder-se-ão tocar ligeiramente ao nível do zigomático; dependendo do contexto, poder-se-ão dar umas pancadinhas meigas com a mão direita no dorso do germãnico(a).
O não-alemão que conseguir elevar-se entre os germânicos, pelas suas qualidades, charme pessoal e gabarito afirmado em praça pública, poderá chegar ao patamar do cumprimento 4, embora recomende-se muito bom senso na sua utilização. Basicamente, poderá então cumprimentar o germânico, e mais particularmente as germânicas, com o trato do seu país de origem.
Contudo, deverá reverter para o cumprimento 3 ou 2 ou mesmo 1 se pressentir que a sua cotação desceu junto do alemão ou alemã em questão. Isto para evitar o que aconteceu ao nosso amigo Sarkozy.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Viva a Associção de moradores que irão ser servidos (num futuro próximo) pelo metro do Campo Alegre: A.M.Q...etc!
Monday, September 29, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
que voltavam devagar,
se encostavam a ela sem pudor.
E no silêncio, a esfinge impenetrável,
sabendo-lhe de cor o coração:
desistente dos barcos,
depondo pelo chão de outros palácios
as armas mais preciosas.
“Não posso”, acrescentara
sentindo aproximar-se a hora
Ana Luísa Amaral, 2000
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
- Fogo...Aquela gaja conseguiu entornar cerveja no meu bolso das calças...
- Hmm...Aquele tipo anda a evitar-me porque acha que eu quero ter mais alguma coisa com ele...que anormal.
- Pois...que burro.
- Vais saír amanhã?
- Não...às vezes sabe bem ficar em casa para variar...
- Pois sabe, então não sabe.
(equanto esperava pelo primeiro 500, reparei que há agora morangos na selva)
Friday, August 29, 2008
(aproxima-se um mercedes preto, descapotável, topo de gama, conduzido por um homem careca de blazer e com olhar esgroviado)
- Hmm...pois...mas ele até tem espaço para passar...porque é que ele não avança?
- Estranho...parece que vai saír do carro...
(o homem careca sai do carro, tranca as portas - completamente desnecessário dado a capota estar toda aberta mas coerente com a irrealidade da situação - deixa-o no meio da rua e entra num bar)
- Olha, agora vem aí um táxi...
(o táxi aproxima-se do mercedes preto imobilizado na via e pára, visto não poder seguir caminho)
- Hmm...o taxista já saiu do carro, está com cara de mau...
- Agora saiu o cliente...mas...mas, é o tipo dos gatos amestrados!
- Ei...pois é...e tá completamente fora...
(o homem careca sai do bar com um copo de vidro cheio de cerveja, entra calmamente no carro, o tipo dos gatos amestrados vai falar com ele, dir-se-ia que trocam palavaras de cortesia...muito sorrisos...e os carros proseguem lentamente por entre o ajuntamento).
Monday, August 25, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
This marriage, although agitated and ending in a messy divorce, had originated beautiful fruits. Fruits of singular beauty - a beauty not always apparent but sensed and discovered. A beauty entangled with irresistable stories...the stories that spring fourth from the encounter between East and West.
The stories of this encounter - in which I include my own story - mesmerize me more and more. Although the stories often have a violent or painful backdrop, they also inlude precious moments of travelling, home coming and...biteer-sweet moments of homesickness.
Moments of adventure.
When I set foot in Goa for the first time, having just turned 24, I literally ran back inside the airport. Having realised there was no one to pick me up, I had to escape a mob of excited taxi drivers who, in the thick of the monsoon station, were really in need of customers.
Back inside the airport, I called my contact. He gave me the proper instructions and directions concerning the taxi voyage.
There was some suspicious stuff at the pre-paid counter...I later realised they overcharged me something like 30rps.
That first drive from Dabolim to Taleigão left a deep imprint in my memory...everything was covered with a layer of green so...green it almost hurt the eyes to look at. The sun shone vigorously through the clouds. The ambassador slowly cruised along the Zuari riverfront...
...I knew then that Goa would not only live up to my expectations but greatly surpass them.
It still does.
Monday, July 07, 2008
How I indulge in departures and arrivals...it is indeed the ultimate high. And thus the only way of keeping myself mentally healthy. The friends and places I shall revisit - how much has changed and how much remains unaltered.
And then those places and friends become too familiar and my home too small and so it will be time to leave again.
I was musing about all this yesteday while I sat on the pebbles next to a creek inside the Molem forest. LV and the rest of the party had gone for a walk and I stayed behind, near our resting spot. In the middle of the river was a big tree and the water ran crystalline around it, with a strong current thanks to the rains.
When they returned from the walk, Valmiki showed me a little leech he had spotted and picked up. Placed anew on the ground, the leech started taking relatively giant leaps in the air towards the direction of sensed heat - me. Its body stretched like a serpentine and then recoiled and in this manner the leech advanced.
Likewise the leech, my travell is much dictated by the search for warmth, human and climatic.
In the hope of refuelling my vital saps.
Returning to Pangim, I had dinner at Edu's with PVG and PV and again talked about arrivals/departures and stalemates. In both of these state-of-minds, poetry and coincidences can and often do happen.
Now, I confess to sadness upon facing the task of closing the suit-case.
I wish I could just travell without it.
Day Minus Two (8th July)
A lazy start in the morning led up to lunch with AS and Romain at the Internationa Centre. The conversation eventually went towards the foreigner issue in Goa. And AS, being the only Goan present, kindly refrained from delving in the topic. I know he welcomes strangers and expats like us - still, the threat is real and people are reacting and it might just be a good thing that I take off now and let some of these things be settled by the Goans in my absence.
Later came the meeting with PVG and NT at the (in)famous Kala Academy cafeteria. On the table were the usual courses of Indo-portuguese cooperation regarding Heritage under the A.S.I.
At 19:30 was the reception at the Consul's residence, with the average selection of drinks and canapees. A holder of the cross of the Infante order struck up a jolly conversation about the lack of balls amongst the Portuguese in general since some remote past dating back to 1974, 1961, 1910, 1830 or 1665. I further believe that this lack of balls has also been afflicting the Indian male pool countepart for some time now...as I'm sure the cross-holder would agree. Therefore, I am doubly cursed by this handicap...where can one attend a "Have Balls" crash-course?
Dinner ensued a little later at Biblo's house. The carefree and hospitable Goan spirit was at its best...not to mention a bebinca accompanied by scotch. A wonderful farewell dinner from Goan Lands.
Time came to pass and I was back at LV's house, lying on the archbishop's bed and staring at the fan, as has happened time and time again during my stays in India. And now it occured to me that this four-poster bed, made out of Zimbó wood, with the sacred Heart of Jesus at its head, if clad with Ivo's trippy paintings on all sides and on top, instead of the common mosquito mesh, would become the perfect synthesis/metaphor of Goa - the Goa as I have known it so far...
Day Minus One (9th July)
I got up fresh and early with a sense of patriotic duty to be perfomed. This lasted untill breakfast - which was fortunately in the company of PVG and PV. By then, the patriotic feeling had subsided as I reflected upon the kind of information that I ought to provide the minister regarding Old Goa. It is such a sad story of disease, decay, abandonment and...overall lack of balls - even to this day.
Anyway, I followed the protocol and tried always to be close to the minister during the guided tour. This was not easy...these experienced ministers move very fast ahead.
A diplomatic analysis might state that the tour had two high points: the informal discussion regarding Heritage between the minister, the ambassador, the consul, PVG and NT in the middle of the transept at See Cathedral; and the visit to the nuns in Sta. Mónica.
In this last place, I could make out that the minister was moved by the warmth and hospitality displayed by the sisters and the novices.
At the door of this convent, and with the door of his Merc already open, I dismissed myself from the minister's company, wishing him a good journey back. I then returned my "uniform" (a Dutti shirt) to PVG - I still can't afford one of my own. At this juncture, I bade farewell to my two benefactors.
The last lunch was at the Velho's kitchen table: the sunniest spot in the whole of Goa. I was dropped at the airport by the extended family and made my way smoothly into the plane and then smoothly into Delhi.
After greeting Neeraj and Manasi, we had dinner in Rajouri Graden.
Day Zero (10th July)
Why does the prospect of going back to Europe make me nervous? Two main reasons: first, I owe a lot of money there; second, I possess a lot of material things there that require my attention and dedication.
You guessed right: I am not a very practical person.
My last night in India was therefore of troubled sleep.
However, I must confess that one thing strongly attracts me to the West at this particular time. That is the collective mood of crisis - narrowing on despair - that presently looms over the Portuguese nation. I feel that a people thus convulsed and confused tend to be rather romantic, quixotic if you will. Disillusionment brings the poetry back in to society as people live day-to-day in suspense regarding their future. I want to witness this as much as I want to see the sparkle of India glow...
Early breakfast was mango and tea. Neeraj's driver dropped me at the airport after dropping Neeraj himself at his office. The check in was prolonged but went through withou hastle.
I now board my plane...we fly now over Rajasthan, over Pakistan, over Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, the Caspian...we fly now over the Caucusus mountains...
We are in Europe.
At Heathrow, I headed towards the TAP desk in terminal 2. And - what a surprise! - at the desk was a beastly and arrogant woman, well into her fifties. Still, the telegraphical exchange in Portuguese was somehow conforting. With my reservation confirmed, I thought on ways how to entertain myself during the next 10 hours - the time lasting untill my connection flight to Lisbon.
I bought a sandwich and some chocolate and bunked down in the lounge.
At around 11, I stretched out across the chairs as was being done by other fellow-travellers.
Day One (11th July)
(The muffled sounds that pervade my wave lenghth while I try to sleep in the airport lounge: two Japanes girls talking in whispers, slightly suspicious of their surroundings; the constant flow of the rolling escalader; slight sounds of people coming and going and looking for places to rest; a party of italians that just have the opera vibes inside them and really distress me; and, every 15 minutes, the all imposing orwellian announcement that strikes like an electrical shock upon this otherwise cozy and peaceful corner of the airport: "UNATTENDED LUGGAGE WILL BE REMOVED AND DESTROYED"...)
Day one in Europe: the flight to Lisbon; the taxi in Lisbon to the train station (paid with five euros and one pound); the train to Aveiro full of beautiful Portuguese girls.
I have arrived.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
WR: Richard, what amazes me about your book is that you have never visited Goa and yet one gets a distinct impression as if you spent a year here...
RZ: What a wonderful compliment! I wanted to go to Goa, but English and Portuguese friends kept telling me how much it has changed over the last forty or fifty years, and I was worried that some aspect of its present landscape and culture would "infiltrate" the picture I had already formed in my head of Goa at the end of the 16th century. I didn't want to risk any modern details in the book – anything that wouldn't be accurate for the 16th and 17th centuries – so I didn't go.
(from an interview to Richard Zimler, published in the Goan Daily "Herald")
Ok...I have to get this one straight...Zimler formed an image of Goa at the end of the 16th century by working in the libraries and archives of Portugal or Europe. Possibly by looking at images of landscapes, buildings, objects and people. And when he had to decide if he should visit Goa, he took the advice of some people who told him Goa had changed a lot since 1961 and thought it better to stay put.
This means he did not consider it important to see or hear what the Goans - or Indians - think of the Inquisition or what traces this phenomenon has left in Goan culture and landscape. Therefore, his books relapses into a classical form of Orientalism - Zimler detatches himself from his topic, avoiding the "breathing in" and the first hand observation of the present culture whose past and historical phenomena he describes.
And I just wonder if it was a Portuguese of Goan background who influenced his decision not to visit this place...this place that continues weaving and exporting black legends.
Monday, June 30, 2008
The good old Indian disregard for verifying historical facts:
Friday, June 27, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Shifting to my new temporary refuge, I feel my (self-imposed ?) exile to be sweeter than ever.
Home is, indeed, always somwhere else.
Are these holidays or working days or...just days?
"Igreja de Socorro.
- Trono sexteado com nichos em cada aresta para relíquias, no altar-mor. Proveniência: Convento da Cruz dos Milagres de Velha Goa."
Ricardo Michael Telles, Inventário dos objectos dos conventos e igrejas e palácios e fortalezas de Goa, Separata do "Oriente Português", 1935.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Monday, June 09, 2008
Returning to my bearings in this land of goans and non-goans...the monsoon looms.
The retro-Indiana Jones at the Inox and the delicious pizza at Edu's...the monsoon looms.
Another day at the University library with Pissurlencar's collection...the monsoon looms omniously.
Another day at the University Library...the monsoon omniously looms.
With LCO at the Old Goa museum...closed for visitors, somehow open for scholars.
Trekking with LV the Old Goa wall, we got drenched in rain, got lost, had to avoid suspicious buffalos and took rest near a cross. Later, dinner at the Venite with PVG and company...the mosnoon is so close.
The Monsoon arrived.
Dinner with PVG and PV.
Who is coming down during the monsoon? only the fools.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Did that Lady never go;
On that heap of stones she mourns
For the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bò.
Three trains to Chennai (23rd May)
I boarded the Goa Express at Vasco da Gama heading for Londa at around 15:30, having a 2nd AC ticket. Sitting on my berth was the ticket taker and other staff, so I made myself comfortable at the steps of the coach door, enjoying the mid-afternoon scenery.
At a place called Kulem, a couple of engines joined our train from the rear to help push it up the Ghats. After the Dudh Sagar falls, I went looking for a berth to take a nap and found one in the corridor, just opposite my compartment. After a short while, I was woken up by one of the train staff, who said “This is my seat, I’m sleeping here”. I found this quite rude and was about to ask him: “Yeah? Really? Show me your ticket! How dare you wake up a passenger?!” But I just pointed to my berth, where the ticket taker happily snored and said “That is my seat…”
We arrived at Londa on time and the Rannichena express was also punctual, arriving within one hour. On board, I had an egg biriany for dinner while the train hurriedly pulled east, towards the ominous monsoon.
My compartment had a couple of undistinguished and tired passengers.
Three trains to Chennai II (24th May)
After midnight, a party arrived to occupy the remaining berths and my sleep was thus troubled. Morning came as the train slowly pulled into Bangalore, finally arriving at City Junction around 9:00. The train to Chennai was two and a half hours late, so I just hung around the station and checked my mail. When the train did come, my compartment was bustling with a family of four from Patna. During the trip, the older of their two kids made it a point to torment me once in while, but without his parents noticing him: he pinched my legs, stepped on my toes, launched me vicious stares, etc.
Arriving finally at Chennai at around 18:00, I called up Arima and arranged to meet him in the City Centre mall in Mylapor. Taking it from there, we talked into the night, catching up after seven years. We mostly talked about our common friends, some married, some with children, a few others like us, still trying to square out the equation.
I then proceeded to breakdown at his place, falling a sleep to the nocturnal sounds emerging from that busy side lane of Chennai.
Lazy Sunday (25th May)
A lazy morning was followed by late lunch cooked by Arima’s cousin, who is working in the kitchen of a hotel. Arima then went about some private calls while I rested some more, getting acquainted with the muggy Chennai weather.
Later on, I inquired about the painter, but there were still no news.
Getting started (26th May)
Early morning we left for Arima’s office, where I met his German associate and saw the crew busy at work. The painter called Arima shortly after and a meeting was set for 13:00 at his studio, on the other side of town. Unfortunately, Arima was held up by meetings, so we only managed to arrive at the studio at 15:00. The painter was not there. Anyway, a couple of his assistants hopped on a bike in order to show us the three possible walls for the forthcoming project. First, however, we had to pay a visit to the local gunda of K.K. Nagar (within whose area the three sites were located).
After some negotiation between the assistants and the goonda, he deputed a young boy of his kin to guide us to the sites. I found the third site most favourable but this particular compound wall was pertaining to the Electricity Department of Chennai and the kid told us it would be the most delicate one to paint upon. However, I insisted, and after some more negotiation with the assistants, we headed back home to Mylapor, where Arima’s mother prepared some masala dosas.
Meeting the painter (27th May)
At 9:45, Arima called me up saying that I could meet the painter, briefing me about his contacts and whereabouts. There had not yet been any discussion about costs but things looked quite set on their tracks. Shortly afterwards, I took a rik to the studio on western Chennai (3rd main road, C.I.T. Nagar) to meet the painter. When I arrived there, I was pleasantly surprised to find them already working on the picture, tracing the photograph to a larger paper. I proceeded to discuss the conditions and time frame of the operation with Vijay and inquired him about his price. He told me that he would send the budget later that day by mail.
We then went to the selected site in K.K. Nagar, in order to examine it better. On the wall, we tentatively delineated the boundaries of the painting. After, we made it to the gunda’s house, where Vijay showed him the photograph and also some digital pictures of the site that I had taken with my camera. A few minutes later, the gunda mumbled some words of approval and we started back to Vijay’s studio.
From there, I returned to Mylapor and had lunch at the mall. At around 18:00, I went to Arima’s office where he had already received Vijay’s budget. We discussed the sum and I took the decision not to bargain if Vijay would agree to my conditions, time frame, and payment instalments. I asked Arima to call up Vijay and convey this to him while I headed to another part of Chennai to buy slide films – which was not at all easy. Returning back to Mylapor, I allowed myself some butterscotch ice-cream at the mall and withdrew plenty of cash at the Overseas bank’s atm.
Late dinner ensued at Arima’s place.
Day 1 of the operation (28th May)
At around 8:45, I rang up Vijay asking him if he was already on site. He answered negatively and said we could meet there soon. So I told him at 10:00 and made my way to K.K. Nagar. At 9:50, I had breakfast at the Saravana Bhavan restaurant, just opposite the street from the designated wall. I waited until 10:50, when Vijay showed up smiling, making it a point to offer me a slice. I was eager to see him start working but there were still some things to be settled and Vijay was, as expected, very relaxed about the time fame. Finally, at around 11:30, Vijay and his crew started to leisurely remove the posters that littered the wall. At 11:40, they took a long break and at around 12:15 they resumed at the same rate, so I decided to take a walk to cool down. Some progress had been made when I returned and by 13:30, things were ready for the whitewash. This did in fact began at 13:50, when I headed to the Saravana for lunch.
From my table, in the terrace, I had quite an excellent view of the wall and the whitewash operation lasted exactly as long as my paneer biriany and butterscotch ice-cream. As I sipped my tea, Vijay and his crew left the site and a couple of labourers hired by him started to work on a small platform in front of the wall, in order to level the uneven terrain. This work lasted until 15:00. By this time, I was already down taking pictures and feeling the sting of Chennai’s heat. Vijay had informed me he’d be back at 16:00 to start sketching. I waited until 16:30 and then rang him up.
Vijay pleaded another half-hour but only arrived at 17:45, bringing with him a crude sketch of the image composed of 8 A3 pages stuck together with tape. On the back side of the patchwork, he sprayed some blue powder after which he hung up the papers on the wall and began to trace out the sketch on the whitewash surface. This was a fast operation and the result looked promising…but it was slightly out of proportion, Vijay having miscalculated somewhat the dimensions of the sketch, leaving some margins of whitewash below and on the sides. He thus wanted to repeat the whole operation, starting from the whitewash, but I told him sternly not to and also that he was perfectly capable of “inventing” the missing parts. Indeed I quite liked the sketch. He agreed to that and we left the site amidst a cheerful mood.
At 19:20 I took a rik back to Mylapor, completely exhausted and anxious for the chicken I heard Arima’s mom was preparing.
Day 2 of the operation (29th May)
Morning dialogue with a rikshaw driver
- "K. K. Nagar, Saravana Bhavan..."
- "How much?"
- "150 sir..."
- "That's too much...I'll pay 130"
- "Ok..." (five minutes of ride)
- "First time Chennai?"
- "Yes..." (first qualified lie...I had been twice before...but never on that particular route, not to K.K. Nagar; five minutes of ride)
- "Your name sir?"
- "Oh, Christian, sir?" (I noticed the virgin Mary upon his windshield...second qualified lie...)
- "Yes..." (ten minutes of ride)
- "You like here in India sir?"
- "If I like India?...Hmm, I like the traffic..." (just then we were passing through a little mayhem on that sideroad created by a religious function involving an elephant, loudspeakers and a lot of Tamilians...the driver smiled. Five minutes of ride)
- "Your country sir?"
- "Porlala ??"
- "Near Spain..."
- "...You from Africa sir?" (I realised now how much my beard had grown)
- "No...Europe" (five minutes of ride)
- "Here? Ok sir...you coming back afterwards?"
- "No, I'm staying here, thankyou"
At 10:00 I reached the site but there was no sign of Vijay. This made me very anxious. At 10:30, I rang up one of his assistants, who told me Vijay was on his way. Twenty minutes later he did appear and started painting right away. He applied a toxic green to some background areas of the image and then proceeded to the central area.
Work went well, with the occasional pauses due to the inclement Chennai sun. At around noon, someone from the Electricity Department, on whose wall we were painting, came down to inquire and demand satisfaction. The local gunda, who – sure enough – had been on site since the painting began, discreetly nodded to everything the civil service person said and then told me there was no problem. But one of Vijay’s assistants informed me that a big shot from the Department would soon come down to demand some money. “Well”, I said “I won’t pay”.
At about 13:00, a police jeep stopped by and again the gunda went to listen to what they had to say. Vijay stopped painting and showed them the photograph. The police acquiesced and went about there business. Again I asked the gunda what had happened. Again he said no problem and that the police officer had in fact praised the likeness of the painting…but I sensed that Vijay started working faster after that particular juncture.
Taking a break, I had lunch and checked my mail and returned to the site at 15:30, when I gave Vijay some instructions regarding some tricky areas of the painting and some colour improvements.
By 16:00, I headed back to Mylapor, where I purchased some shaving utensils and then home. After a nap, dinner was uttapams and sauce…well, you can’t have chicken everyday. I retired to a more tranquil sleep that night, as I began to contemplate the operation’s success.
Day 3 of the operation (30th May)
At 10:15, Vijay called me up, informing that the painting was ready.
At 11:00, I arrived on site and took notice of some inferior areas of the painting. I pointed them out to Vijay and then waited at the Saravana, where I had breakfast. After the retouching, I declared the work finished and told him to remove the tape from the painting’s margins. I then proceeded to take some photos and after a while, authorized Vijay to put his signature upon the painting. This came out to be rather small and humble for my liking, but I couldn’t insist on a more spectacular signature, him having said that it would draw too much attention from the painting itself.
I paid Vijay the 2nd instalment and took some more photos. At 12:50, Vijay invited me for lunch at the Saravana. During the meal, one of his assistants asked me the regular questions regarding travelling to Portugal: Visa procedures, currency rates, accommodation costs and diet specifications.
After lunch, I was quite relieved about the overall positive results and decided to pay Vijay his 3rd instalment that same day. We proceeded to our goodbyes and best wishes and his crew and the gunda left the scene. Sylvia’s portrait shone brighter then. I admired it for a while and then went to check my mail. From 15:00 to 17:00, I photographed the painting and then took a rik to Chennai Central to take care of my tickets back to Goa. I also bought Arima and his mom a couple of gifts after which I retired home, to some more uttapams.
That night, Tamilian soap operas lulled me to sleep.
Finding my way back I (31st May)
At around 10:30, I returned to K.K. Nagar to photograph the painting for the last time. I wondered how long it would remain upon the wall…Vijay had told me he would whitewash it later that same day. Seeing it now, it looked like something easy to do. But how much anxiety it had caused me because of my tight time schedule...The image stood now quite beautifully as the backdrop for this otherwise anonymous street of western Chennai. I also wondered what the local people thought of the whole affair, especially the ones who had witnessed it from the beginning. Another story to tell…both ways.
I returned to Arima’s place at around lunch time, packed up my bag and had a south Indian thali with his cousin near the spot where I was to board the State bus to Pondy. The bus arrived at 15:00 but was helplessly full, meaning a three hour journey standing up.
Arriving at Pondy, Arima’s cousin picked me up on his bike and we made it to the family house, on the western side of the city. Chennai was playing the semi-finals of the I.P.L. that night so we abandoned the original plan of having dinner at the Dupleix house and Arima’s mom cooked some more south Indian food.
At 22:00, I bid Arima farewell and thanked him for everything and boarded the night bus to Bangalore. The trip began smooth and comfortable and the odd monsoon shower struck our path now and the then.
Finding my way back II (1st June)
We arrived in Bangalore at 5:30 a.m. and I wondered what to do next. I had almost ten hours of waiting until the departure of the train to Goa. Being overcome by sleepiness, I decided to take a pre-paid rik from the Central station to Yesvantpur. During that ride, I almost froze over, having nothing but a t-shirt to face the early morning chill.
At Yesvantpur, I just hung around the station, occasionally changing places and finally taking a nap in one of the benches…Eventually, I was woken up by one of the railway police, asking me about my business. I replied that I was heading towards Goa. He told me that the train was only due in three hours time and at a different platform. To which I replied: “I know that”. And he walked on.
The last hours were a bit agonizing so I decided to board the train one hour and a half before its departure, wandering with whom I would have to share my compartment. Well, in my compartment were already about 8 females, ranging from the ages of 80 to 8 months, all from the same family and originating from a small village near Margão. The younger ones, 4 girls in their early adolescence, were damn excited about the trip. My arrival on the compartment was an occasion of overall amusement and delight, and I greeted the elderly lady courteously, winning thus the favour of the lot. However, they didn’t speak English and kept talking to me and about me in Konkani and some of the young girls, being very sassy, kept touching my knees and brushing their skirts on my face whenever they came in and out of the compartment, which was basically all the time.
Fortunately, a few minutes before departure, an Irish girl joined our compartment.
Since she was much more dazzled by all her surroundings than me, I took it upon me to chat with her, somehow reassuring her that the trip wouldn’t be so bad; also, I indeed wanted to chat to someone in order to shorten the 15 hour journey.
As usual, the dialogue touched a wide variety of subjects without prying on things personal. Still, our compartment was always too loud and excited for my taste, so I often chilled at the coach door.
On one occasion, a Tamilian, who had been observing our compartment from his corridor berth opposite to ours, came up to me as I smoked a cigarette at the coach door while casually surveying the Carnatic landscape. He started asking me all the questions that the Irish girl hadn’t. Rudely, I mumbled half answers and induced him to leave me alone.
I later realised he was being an altruist in his own way: rather than asking those questions to satisfy him own curiosity, he was in fact trying to make my travelling less boring and thinking probably that I was feeling lonely, he thus proffered some man-to-man sympathy and fraternity. And the only way he knew how to do that was by asking the civil questions “Where are you from; why did you come to India; how do you like Goa; why did you come to Chennai, etc”.
But you see peoples, and my dear and innocent Tamilian, I don't have short and precise answers to those questions and since I usualy don't like to indulge on monologues about myself and my idendtity, I would rather be silent or lie.
And then came the time to open the berths and sleep.
Finding my way back III (2nd June)
Slowly, the train pulled into the Goan heartland and most people left at Margão. By 7:10 we arrived in Vasco and I made my way back to Pangim on the State bus. I then proceeded to the Vihar for a much needed breakfast of all my veg “treats”: tomato/cheese uttapam (no onions please), puri bhaji, fresh lime soda, chikoo shake, butterscotch ice-cream and chai.My last intra-indian tour was over; my return to the West drew closer.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
"Tenho Três Pardaus"
Tenho três pardaus
E mais quatro tangas
Tenho cinco mangas
E quatro cajus;
Tenho dois baús
Lavrados de oiro;
Tenho um singidoiro
Que passa das marcas;
Tenho umas alparcas
Que ajustam nos pés.
Tenho uns sintonés
Tudo em bazarucos;
Tenho uns pantufos
Lavrados de tela,
Tenho uma sousela
De tirar ouções.
Tenho dois capões
Lá no meu quintal;
Tenho um didal
Feito em Mangalor,
Tenho um furador
De boa feição,
Tenho um quimão
De branco e vermelho;
Tenho um espelho
Feito em Portugal.
Tenho de cristal
Uma rica peça
Tenho de cabeça
Um prego galante,
Tenho um diamante
Lavrado nas pontas.
Tenho umas contas
Tenho uma colher
Feita em Angola.
Tenho uma viola
De tanger suave.
Tenho uma chave
Que abre e não fecha
Tenho uma flecha
Para os passarinhos;
Brancos de Manilha;
Fina de Chaúl.
Tenho um baúl
De rico feitio;
Tenho um assobio
Que outro não há;
Tenho um alva
Que vem de Mascate;
Tenho um chiricate
De coser arecas;
Tenho de marrecas
Redes e armadilhas
Tenho umas pastilhas
De suave cheiro
Tenho um tabuleiro
De China dourado;
Tenho um cadeado
Que abre de pancada,
Que vem de Ormuz;
Tenho um arcabuz
De matar pardais,
Tenho uns corais
De rica valia;
Tenho uma bacia
De assar pastéis.
Tenho uns anéis
De ouro stambaca;
Tenho de Malaca
Mui ricas atacas,
Tenho três patacas
Na minha gaveta,
Tenho uma boceta
Cheia de brinquinhos
Tudo para vós
Se quereis bem de mim.
in Romance Indiático, Fls. 125, Ms. 133 da Colecção Pombalina da BNL (ca. 1650)
Monday, June 02, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Today, people, I rented a new scooter; I sent the final BBB report over there; I cut my hair here in Fontainhas; and I acquired a vast container of Amul butterscotch ice-cream...schlepp!
The moments we share
And the moments that are your own
How to tell which are which
You don't know
I just watch the fan turn
The children burn
The sparkle of India glow.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
By seven, the lights and sounds permeated my sleep at Sanjeev's and half an hour later I was up and showered and toileted and then there was chapatis and mango chutney for breakfast plus a digestive lassi prepared by Geeta.
At 8:30 we left Sai Baba Nagar on Sanjeev's car and drove all the way to Andheri through side lanes. On the way, Sanjeev asked "Howz the traffic in Portugal?". I was caught off my tracks because I couldn't start to explain the diffrences between normal traffic and the chaotic scene which I had been enjoying from our AC cubicle. Hesitantly, I started by saying there were usually no people on the road. On this, Sanjeev's wife remarked in Hindi something to the likes of "There are no people over there only because of their loss of population". To which I answered, well, there are people but they tend to stick to the sidewalks, wherever they are available.
From Andheri, I took a rather peacefull train to VT i.e. CST, Sanjeev being an expert in finding less crowded ways to reach Bombay. In the reservation office of VT i.e. CST, everything went so smooth thanks to my Portuguese passport. I was in and out in 10 minutes and no queues and a ticket for a train that was long over-booked - but still had a couple of tourist quota berths.
Then, I made my way to the Sassanian coffee place to meet Dr. Rao, specialist in the history of Bombay police and himself an ex-inspector. An hour past and I was in a tiny cybercafe in the by-lanes of Marine Lines, writing a letter to the Home Secretary of Maharashtra asking for permission to visit Thane jail.
With this letter and my OCI passport, I made it inside the Secretariat building and after 45 minutes of ping-pong between offices on the 5th and 6th floor, I was talking to Madam Anni, principal secretary of prisons.
I left in possession of a "I'll see what I can do and we'll get back to you".
Rambling aimlessly through the area aroun Nariman point and Dhobi Talao for about an hour, I remembered I could kill some time at the Heras Institute - being too early to return to Sai Baba Nagar. But somehow, the Xavier's college iluded me. So I went back to walking around without a direction. Then, after 10 minutes of this, Xavier's presented itself, but the priests there being busy, no work could be done.
So I had some Bhaji pao (pao not pao) and a chikoo shake at a pure veg place and started to the Gateway.
The beer licence was down at the Strand's terrace restaurant. Still, this being one of the best and most affordable views of Bombay harbour, I enjoyed my sweet lime sodas untill 8 p.m.
From Churchgate was the usuall crunch up to Borivili.
Coming back to Sanjeev's, I reflected on the various thresholds of the day.
No kidding, Dr. Rao (29th April)
Today, Dr. Rao told me quite emphatically that riding the local trains without a ticket was an insult to the Republic of India and that he had witnessed commuters unleaching violent blows on ticketless travelers caught by the police. Now, him being an ex-commisioner from the railway police and all, this was nothing short than a curse. He went on lecturing me for a good half-hour. At the end, I told him, "Please, Dr. Rao, I promise I'll always buy a ticket from now on...
Permission (30th April)
Today, I got permission from the powers that be to visit Thane central prison. I pulled this one out on my own...thanks to nothing but my OCI passport and a whif of decadent personal charm.
Now, the Story (2nd May)
Yes, you're right again. The main reason for visiting Thane jail was to have a story to tell. But, somehow, in my view, my visit also gave the place itself another story to tell. Call me self-conceited, but I believe Thane jail became richer with my visit just as I became richer by going to Thane Jail. Our stories have thus intermingled and I could have spent decades studying the fort sitting in an office...but going there was crucial.
Even if it was just to assert that there is nothing on the site that goes back to the Portuguese times except the stones in the walls, behind the layers of plaster.
The story worth telling is not of my visit to the jail-fort but the story of the Maratha heroe imprisoned there and who was sentenced to be hanged but managed to escape. Being a war heroe, he enjoyed popular support amognst the Indian troops, which led the British to keep his surveillance group a white only body. While he languished in his cell, with a small opening for ventilation close to the ceiling, the barracks was surrounded on all sides by white guards. However, everyday, a young servant brought horses from one point of the prison to another, and passed twice daily close under the opening of the heroe's cell.
As usual the servant sang a melancholic marathi lullaby while leading the horses.
Little did the English soldiers know that, now that the heroe was kept in the cell, the servant cleverly changed the lyrics of his song.
Now he sang parts of an escape plan, divised with the help of the seepoys.
Everyday, the heroe thus got to know one or two more sentences of the escape plan.
And, on the arranged day, he famously escaped back into his homeland.
My Best Indian Story (3rd May)
"A curious incident that happened to me in the toilet of the Mandovi Express"
You can believe it man, it's true - while taking a dump, my chapal fell down the loo. Fortunately, we were stopped at Thane. So I managed to go under the train and collect it back again.
Monday, April 21, 2008
I'm happiest in the sate bus
And you ask me why
Cause they're sleeping in the West
And there's a fort in Mumbai
I'm happiest in the sate bus
And I'll tell you why
Cause Arima is in Pondy
And there's a painting in Chennai
I'm happiest in the state bus
And they don't ask why
And they'll never kiss in the movies
They'll tell you many lies.
Just another bindaas on the vine
Atypical day here (24th April)
Bear with me: I got up and worked in the drawings of the Cunchelim church for VM untill two in the afternoon. After, I took the kinetic and had lunch at the Vihar followed by the usual drop at Fundacao for the free net commodity. Next, I would say a quick shower back home and was off to Porvorim, to hear PVG talk about Old Goa and Old Gold. The point being made, a genial one, that within the genesis of Goan Nobility and its fundational narrative is the deliberate abandonment of Old Goa due to its connotations with overall decadence, white religious activity, a reactionary past, etc, etc...
At the end of the presentation, I was so happy to meet friends whom I hadn't seen yet. Next, was a ride home...too late to pick up my clothes at the laundry. Oh well, I'll make it to Bombay with this on only. A dinner of pao (pao not pao) with chicken sausages and a brief goodbye to the poster bed made way into the first hours of early morning.
One more train (25th April)
At around one in the morning, I left Pangim in the company of LV. The Karmali station was almost deserted and I had to negotiate my way in diplomatically through a bunch of defiant stray dogs. I honestly don't recall the name of the train that dropped by at four a.m. and that brought me to Kurla, in Mumbai. But can you imagine smoking a cigarette at the door, enjoying a thunderstorm along the Konkan coast, and feeling a pre-monsoon shower on your hands and face?
Kurla station is teaming with eager taxi drivers and one of them picked me up in the middle of the caos. He insisted always how everything was crystal clear with the meter running, even though it was a hell of a long ride up to Borivili. Leaving the caos of the station, it was scary to see how the Maharashtran drivers, who hadn't picked up customers, launched piercing stares and a few abuse on my U.P. driver.
All that talk about being straigt and honest could only mean one thing. When we finally arrived, the driver said "38,20" and pointed to the equivalent in the chart: "830". I said "Really?". I got out of the cab and checked the meter. It read "28,20" and that meant "582" in the chart and that was what he got. And I do hope some Shiva Sena people slap him around a bit. The point is, if you're going to be dishonest, just please don't brag about how honest you are.
Arriving in Sai Baba Nagar Road is always like coming to the most cozy place in Bombay. Swastika started teaching me Hindi right away, and I messaged up my friends. No one is in Mumbai but I don't care. I'm here for the city to take me in once again.
Anyways, Sanjeev informed that I had still been conned by the driver, the maths not matching up and he probably used a "personalized" chart.
They call it the Monsoon Express
And there'll be thunder everywhere it goes
It stops only to pick up the lost souls
Everyone inside pretends to be sleeping
But they're not
And they're all in the wrong berths
The t.c. alone snores
And I heard a stray dog is at the engine
Now just bear with me through this
And I'll bring you home safe
Wherever home may be
Even if it is a Mango tree
You will see me
Smoking at the door
A cancelled ticket in my heart.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Meeting AS in Panjim (14th April)
Close to where I stay is the confusion of the market. AS calls me up to the "Susegad" just around the corner. I can't help myself but to feel slightly emotional meeting him after so long. AS is a lighthouse shining on the two sides of every Goan story..."Don't forget, it's a dual society...and what was peaceful segregation sometime back became contempt and animosity in the 50s and 60s. There is a strong undercurrent of violence beneath..." He didn't say it but could have easily. We eat the fish, drink the beer and catch up the missing time: Howz your father? Howz the university? Do have a scholarship?...from FCT? Do you still have the Fiat?
AS is there to remember people like me that, most of the time, when we are in Goa, we naturally hang out and interact with one side of the story...looking towards the other side, the one we have difficulty in understanding, will broaden our perspective on Goa.
"This time I came to India specifically to get myself dispersed...not to focus on any particular project or research or undertaking..."
"If you can do it, that's excellent!"
AS is a very young spirit...he only turns the lights on, he'll never tell you where to go.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
DN dropping science at Ernesto's:
"Women think they're clever: they'll fake an orgasm to have a relation; But men outsmart them: they'll fake a relation to have an orgasm."
Meeting ES at Corlim (13th April)
The Merc is parked outside next to the Zens. Mango and cashew trees scent the air...I hear the laughter of young children and ES waves at me from the front porch. Somehow, this is a sanctuary. The presence of a very great man resting upstairs and all he did for the children of Goa is more than enough to keep this house aloof from the evil misdoings, the corruption and all the bad things which are happening in Goa. To the Goans and to the people who have Goa close at heart.
The german shepherd is quieting down...he has smelled me in. I ask the children to teach me some Concani. And the remnants of Portuguese language are flavored like drops of a magical potion.
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Are you still my swedish friend?
We were eight maybe ten
I remeber way back then
You had all the cool toys
And your mother was spanish
Or maybe not but still
You were my swedish friend
Are you still my swedish friend?
How about meeting your swedish friends?
But do understand, this is a tribute to you
You wanted to fly planes
Now you probably do.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Although dead tired, I couldn’t fall asleep until after midnight…The creative sounds coming from the car and truck horns kept grasp on my consciousness and some even made me smile. Almost falling into slumber, I heard a horn so portentous and deep that I thought that a ship was pulling in just bellow my hotel room. And then, already dreaming, I distinctively heard a truck that boasted a horn just like the Nokia ringing tune on my cell. That clever truck driver passed the street three times…a strange background to the ensuing dreams…
Things to do
In my dreams, I realise that I had forgotten about the exam of some subject, therefore rendering my degree unattainable. The subject is usually Descriptive Geometry and the scenario is me arriving at the classroom, where all the other students are well into the exam. being completely unprepared, I panick. When I wake up, I take a few seconds to recollect that I have already finished my degree and am an architect. Maybe the message of this dream is something like: wake up and smell the coffee! – There’s work to. Or it could be: relax and consider all the things you have already achieved…don’t pressure yourself so much. Either way, I took a late breakfast at the Riverfront and there’s no work to be done here in Ahmedabad anyways.
After buying my ticket out of here, I had lunch at the Raj Kamal and went for the tour of the Calico museum. Feeling oppressed with the heat, I returned to the Riverfront, refreshed before dinner and retired early. At four a.m., I got up to take the Bhuj express towards Vapi.
Too long in Daman (25th March)
"Stay into the house of a Portuguese lord at prices you can afford" is the motto of the Marina hotel, at small Daman, where I engage a room. The place is quite neat…but having declared myself a Portuguese citizen at the reception, I didn’t have much of a chance bargaining down the daily fee. Somehow, I was still kind of part of the old aristocracy of the place. After lunch, I visited the fort of St. Jerome and then retired early. I fell asleep after watching some old Tamil talkies…those were the days Indians girls could really shake it!
Big Daman (26th March)
The place known as Moti Daman, or big Daman, is home to about fifty families and at least an equal number of government headquarters and offices. The whole administration of the Union territory of Diu, Daman and Nagar-Avelly appears to be seated here…all around are old ambassador government cars, lazy policemen and then a few school children also. The rest is ruins and a horticulture garden (Government of India, for sure) where I got some chikoos for a gift. The place is a kind of an Indo-portuguese Chandighar…with a 17th cent. backdrop. Most of the old Portuguese buildings have been reused and only the new secretariat palace spoils the scenery.
The Public Prosecutor of Daman (27th March)
Is called Orlando Miranda and sits just next to the court’s sessions hall, in a building maintaining its Portuguese origins. After devising a way to allow me to photograph the building with the tacit permission of the judge, he took me in his government jeep all the way to Silvassa, where he had some business to attend. I took the opportunity to confirm that Silvassa is a characterless place, with a few buildings of Portuguese origin caught in the middle of the mess. Still, lunch was pleasant at the local veg place and the tribal museum was worth the free entry.
Jesus Sai Baba and the profit.
Jesus Sai Baba and the profit
Mumbai, mirchis and pan
I’ve never been to Mahim
I stayed too long in Daman
Jesus Sai Baba and the profit
Jesus Sai Baba and the profit
Jesus Sai Baba and the profit
A side-tracked train in the night
They sit together at the dashboard
They guide me all through the night.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Paulo Varela Gomes
"Recentemente vi o futuro e fiquei apavorado: funciona.
O futuro é uma planície que vai até ao mais longínquo horizonte, toda atravessada por estradas novas e linhas de alta tensão. Há cachos de brilhantes edifícios altos e solitárias torres de vidro e betão polido, tão novas que faz doer os olhos vê-las. Grupos de operários e máquinas, minúsculos na distância, escavam fundações e colocam cabos. É nos arredores de Calcutá, no leste da Índia. Fui também a Gurgaon, uma cidade-satélite de Delhi, a capital da índia, que muitos indianos costumam projectar enquanto a cidade indiana do século XXI, toda ela imaginada em cores e formas de mono-rails e shopping-malls. Em Gurgaon já há torres de habitação coroadas de frontões e edifícios empresariais de formas curvilíneas em frente dos quais passa o promontório de betão do mono-rail. Há shoppings cheios de dinheiro e ar condicionado. E também há ruas de intestinos à mostra, barracas de plástico e lata onde se acocoram os trabalhadores das obras, carros estacionados em cima de impecáveis jardins acabados de fazer, onde a poeira vai cruelmente fazendo desmaiar o verde.
Gurgaon começou a crescer há pouco tempo, como as outras cidades-satélite do mesmo tipo na periferia de Bombaim, Delhi, Calcutá, Hyderabad, Chennai, as cidades indianas que têm mais de 5 milhões de habitantes. Na Índia constroem-se 10 milhões de casas novas por ano. Os empresários da construção dizem que é preciso o dobro, 20 milhões. Um deles, Kushal Pal Singh, entrou este ano para a 8ª posição da lista dos dez homens mais ricos do mundo.
Mas em Gurgaon, uma cidade que terá hoje cerca de 250.000 habitantes, boa parte dos grandes edifícios dependem de geradores para garantir a existência de electricidade. A rede pública ou não existe ou sofre perdas de tal grandeza que são mais as horas de corte que as de abastecimento. Não há redes de saneamento básico que saneiem seja o que for. Nem fornecimento público de água. Um urbanista norte-americano dizia numa conferência recente que Gurgaon é o primeiro caso histórico de uma grande cidade construída sem infra-estruturas.
Ao que parece, não se passa o mesmo noutras expansões urbanas da Índia. As que começam a nascer nos arredores de Calcutá são devidamente infra-estruturadas. Aquelas planícies já estão a chegar aos que hoje habitam na própria Calcutá, a cidade colonial, adorável, pobre e rica, decadente. E os milhões que migram do campo, de outros estados, de longe. Chegam e vêem cartazes sorridentes à beira da estrada: muralhas de prédios gentilmente coloridos e muito altos, as torres com que todos sonham, pousadas no meio de relvados e parques com lagos e patos. Vêem também a promessa do paraíso: imagens de Xangai, de Singapura, das cidades do petróleo no Golfo Pérsico. Vêem o futuro e, num instante, habitam-no no meio do inferno das obras e da dureza do tempo. Sobre as nuvens de pó, contra o sol nascente, olhamos o vidro e o metal das grandes torres. O futuro lá no alto brilha inatingível."
I've also seen the future in India...if it works or not, well, we'll soon find out. I saw Gurgaon from the skies but I've never been to Calcutta. The whole area around Delhi seemed a post-something scenario rather than a pre-urban landscape...
Of all the things occidentals have said about India, only one I consider to be accurate: India is a place of contradictions.
However, I have no doubt that India and Indians are the future while "we", in a place like, say, hmmm..Portugal! for instance, keep looking towards the past, are the past.
The best way to describe my feeling is a notion of "civilization drive", something which hits a particular country or group of countries at a particular juncture in time and that leads to the creation of wealth through the exploitation or superior trading skills over other nations.
A kind of civilization drive brought the Portuguese to India and the Spanish to America. A very obstinate and efficient civilization drive led to the British Raj...a civilization drive has been growing among the Chinese for some time now...and a definite civilization drive is recently began in India.
To successfully endeavor to overpower, outbargain, outskill and control other territories or markets or political maneuvers in foreign territories, a country or a nation must be confident in itself and, most important, must feel confidence in its moral superiority over other specific target countries.
India is gaining such confidence...
Still, so often, I've seen so many things that simply don't work in India...and so many people who are not given the chance to achieve nothing besides survival.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
In the company of NT, I travelled in the ASI's only jeep to Daugim, close to Old Goa. As we got closer to the site of the Mother of God convent, a few large votive crosses marked the sacred grounds. The owner of the shrimp factory - that has come up recently on the site - stepped out of his office and met us. He took us for a small round through the plant's property. Sadly, on the precise place where I had seen the main chapel of the Mother of God's church just one year ago, stood a fresh heap of rubble covering the dismantled stones of the original structure. I had told NT about this place at that time, in March 2007, but it took him one year to get there...well, at least he did go there. What about the Goan Heritage activist groups?
Another memory is erased.
Goa-Mumbai-Diu (18th March)
The domestic terminal of Mumbai's airport is a sign of things to come in India. The aerodrome of Diu feels like you're landing in someone's backyard. Even the rikshaw wallahs waiting outside didn't look much interested in picking VM and me up for a ride into town. And there are only two daily flights to Diu.
Returning to Simbor (20th March)
I heard that the last portuguese flag was lowered in the miniature fort of Simbor, within the miniature territory with the same name, a few days after the fall of Goa, Daman and Diu. Three soldiers and a corporal garrisoned the fort in December 1961, without a radio and too far to hear the blasts of the fray going on at Diu. The indian army also forgot about the place and leisurely liberated it after the downfall of the proud Estado da India. I wonder what the soldiers there did for time pass...besides drinking Macieira...
The fort lies in a forlorn islet in a river mouth northeast of Diu. It was a regular construction and had a small chapel attatched. Nowadays, it is the home of a lonely fisherman...we saw his kot and depleated kitchen just inside the fort's main gate. Fortunately, he was not there, when our party arrived by boat, rented to the local fishermen at the opposite side of the river. He would have been scared to see and hear our excitement as we climbed and entered the fort, shouting "Santiago" and "Simbor e' nosso". He would probably think we had come to reclaim the place.
Anyways...we left in peace, knowing that sooner or later, anyday now, a stronger wave will wash out the place, taking with it to the bottom of the sea the last stones of the fort of Simbor.
Dinner with the priests of Diu (20th March)
The jesuit church of St. Paul is full of forlorn and mysterious nooks and corners and is rightly considered to be one of the most precious gems of indoportuguese arcitecture. From this convent departed the jesuit missions to the Ethiopian copts. The parishes of Diu, although never very large, are reduced to one, comprising ca. 190 parishners. Father Sergio, a Goan ordained in Pilar, has been running the place for the last three years. After the procession, he called us up for dinner, at the top floor of the fabled convent. Four people sat at a table, eating Goan and local food and listening to the news blasting from the convent's only tv. We finnished with a wonderful Bebinca, that one of the aunts of father Sergio had brought from Goa. During the procession's homily, father Sergio had mentioned VM and myself...and now, as we bid him farewell and thanked him for the dinner and hospitality, he repeated that God had sent him two architects to help him save the catholic heritage of Diu from the poverty and indifference of its own parishners and from the overpowering stealth of the hindu community. A learned and kind man, father Sergio has done a great deal...without him, Diu would had been in a much worse condition by now.
Brancavara (21st March)
Brancavara has a lovely abandoned church, recently restructured in a sensible way by father Sergio. We entered the church's compound when a couple of workers were there but they soon left and locked the gates behind them. VM found an old ladder and we climbed our way out of the compound, to great amusement of the children who had followed us in and had returned to the exterior when they sensed that the labourers were leaving. There appears to be no Christian left in Brancavara. We then visited the fisherman's neighbourhood near the church, composed by social housing built during the portuguese times. Our driver told us to be carefull since it was a level orange "communal sensitive" area. I repeated the warning to VM, afraid that he might take photos of women without asking. Fortunately, most of the men were not in the neighbourhood...a couple appeared, quite drunk and pronouncing syllables to the meaning of "Arrey! what are a couple of firangis doing in our area?"...but they let us be, realising that the procession of excited kids behind us meant that we hadn't come in harm. As usual, VM took some fantastic photos "...bater umas chapas..." And I ran out of film. Leaving the neighbourhood, one of the kids tugged at my camera demanding to be photographed...I grunted a syllable to the likes of "See, man, it's not my job to take pictures of ragged kids like you and slide film is expensive...besides, mine is finnished anyway, Tiik-he?".
Holi Dinner (21st march)
The industry catering to the mid-range budget tourist in Diu is still small enough to allow for a healthy competition. Although the closing down of the hostel above the St. Thomas church deprived Diu of its freaky chill-out spot, the people around the catholic quarter all agree that business is doing good. Our dinner was in a Goan style garden shack...a lovely quiet place. There was a variety of nationalities and languages spoken and it was an overall merry-making occasion; a half-caste indoportuguese sat drinking his beer and, as usual, made couteous remarks on the wonder that was India.
Diu-Ahmedabad (23rd March)
Diu-Veraval was a small bus that got hold up for a long time in the border between the Union territory and Gujarat. I think that the driver had a bottle of boose near his seat, that was spotted by the police officer, but I can't confirm.
Veraval-Ahmedabad was a smooth ride on the Jabalpur express. Arriving at Ahmedabad was a bit confusing but, fortunately, I had a pleasant dinner at the Mint.