Friday, December 25, 2009
Mr. L. had obviously just got out of bed when I rang his door bell at 05:50. However, with a lungi tied round his waist and his hair slightly dishevelled, he was still the coolest secretary in the Maratha Government by far. And he ushered me into his living room outlooking towards the Arabian Sea.
I showed him my permission letters and some other paperwork. At the same time, he cooperated with his wife in serving me breakfast, including papaya, tangerine, onion-tomato uttapam, toasts and tea.
Time elapsed and my train was leaving shortly from VT. Mr. L. offered to drive me to the station on his car and came down with a special light to be fixed over the hood in order to make haste. However, another resident had parked in front of his car, obstructing it. Mr. L. then suggested we should grab a taxi. Walking a little beyond his building, we reached Churchgate, where a lot of cabbies stood their ground; however, none was keen to take us to VT, a very short distance away. Finally, at the fourth refusal, Mr. L. coolly mentioned to the driver something with the words "police", "Maratha government" etc. and we were on our way. As we stepped out of the cab at VT's gate, I had exactly three minutes to locate and board the Mandovi Express before its departure.
Mr. L. rushed in front of me carrying my white linen suit for Fernando's wedding and I followed close on his heels carrying my brown suitcase full of olive oil and gifts and my black mochila with the working material and paperwork. And so it was that we found the train in platform 17 and Mr. L. made sure I was set on my way to Goa, towards a different landscape and different food.
As I sat back on the berth and took a long breath in, I reflected upon those ten days in the great city of Mumbai. According to the best interpretations, the preliminary work for my Konkan Surveying Tour could be considered a success.
Manuel de Souza, a Goan from Saliago working in the Gulf, entertained me for the rest of my trip.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Quando te vieram prender,
Eu sei sem ninguém me ter contado,
Toda a tua coragem veio ao de cima
Enquanto se ofereciam copos de vinho
Quando friamente amanheceu,
Eu sei sem ninguém me ter contado,
A morte não te conseguiu prender
Apesar de teres ido com ela.
(Agosto de 2009)
Thursday, August 27, 2009
And if you see him in Jodhpur, you know just where you stand.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
The cops, once in a while, set up a road block at the foot of hill to stop the couples approaching by bike. Demanding that the girl remove her head scarf and shades to be identified - and thus be exposed together with her indecent behaviour - they threaten her with a forced ride home and a reprimand to ther parents. And they only back down after some baksheesh.
Cops and young couples become therefore involved in a romantic / immoral corruption scheme. The male loverboy would be wise not to haggle with cops before his sweetie.
Friday, July 03, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Sunday, June 07, 2009
Saturday, June 06, 2009
Antes dela, tu
Já pisavas estas vagas
Que quase nos embalam
E tu, e tu,
Em vão procuram
Ainda os cais que nos chamam
Nos teus olhos a fundura
Nos teus cabelos o vento
Dos vazios que permanecem.
Monday, June 01, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Friday, May 01, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Thursday, April 09, 2009
As we sat at our places in the arena of the Dixie Stampede, I had an eerie feeling when our waiter presented himself in a basic confederate uniform; he definitely reminded me of something familiar...but not from a movie scene - I could not put my finger on it, though. Later, I recalled the moment and the flashback became clear: the waiter reminded me of the playmobil figures from my childhood.
The waiter, the cowboys, the so-called audience volunteer partaking in the magic trick, the host, Dolly Parton's plastic image on the tv screens, the other waiters, they were all part of a thematic circus that complimented Dollywood, just across Pigeon Forge's river.
It's not a light-hearted affair to see how such a traumatic experience as the american civil war can and has been mellowed down into light entertainment shows like this one. Sure enough, the show ended with a patriotic display and message of unity, in spite of its cashing in on the north-south divide that clings on to american core values.Dixie.
a nickname for the Southern United States [probably derived from] privately issued currency from banks in Louisiana [...] labeled "Dix", French for "ten", on the reverse side. [...] The notes were known as "Dixies" by English-speaking southerners, and the area around New Orleans and the Cajun-speaking parts of Louisiana came to be known as "Dixieland" [...]
an act of mass impulse among herd animals or a crowd of people in which the herd (or crowd) collectively begins running with no clear direction or purpose [...]
(born January 19, 1946) an [...] American [..] known for her prolific work in country music [...]
a theme park owned by country music singer Dolly Parton [...] It is located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. In addition to standard amusement park thrill rides, Dollywood features traditional crafts and music of the Smoky Mountains area. Dollywood also owns the adjacent Dollywood's Splash Country, and the chain of Dixie Stampede dinner theaters [...] as well as other national and local musical acts [...]
We were walking along the road prong trail, close to the Sugarlands entry to the Smokies, just like - or almost - many other americans. The trail was a 2m paved strip that meandered up to a small waterfall; as people crossed each other in opposite directions, casual greeting were sometimes exchanged. I remembered the "Berg Heil" story from another mountain range...and how mountains have the curious effect of making man feel smaller and closer to his creator.
Up ahead, as two parties were crossing each other along the path, I heard one young american ask out loud "Do you believe in Jesus Christ?"; the other one answered "Yes, I'm a born again Christian". I noticed how the question had been triggered by a conspicuous tshirt. "Me too. Where are you from?"; "Minnesota".
Back in Cleveland, I gave up trying to keep track or distinguish between the various churches that line up the roads. My uncle told me that there were maybe two hundred churches in Bradley county alone...an average of 185 inhabitants per church. Just maybe...this is stout Republican ground, sure enough.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
(deve ser a vigésima terceira notícia com este título em periódicos indianos...)
Monday, April 06, 2009
- "Have we met?"
That was and is the most practical way to initiate networking on a given event of your field. Especially if your self-confidence is high and your skills valuable. And you assume it natural that you should meet everyone else attending the same event as you. I guess I would have heard that line quite a few times if I had attended all the gatherings of this particular event and stayed in one of its HQ hotels (Hilton, Sheraton or Westin). And maybe people were also put off by the unfamiliar name - both my own and that of my affiliation. Accordingly, I only heard this sentence once; and it was in the bar queue, trying to get a beer on the opening reception at the convention centre.
He turned out to be one of the curators at the Library of Congress...and eventually guaranteed me an adequate help and facilities if my research would ever take that side of the world's library trail.
I still wonder what networking is all about.
Friday, April 03, 2009
There was some fuss leaving the town of London due to my previous travels to Germany, India, etc. and because of my mixed background. However, arriving in Newark - and after waiting for over an hour in the queue - the customs officer that cleared me was indeed polite and caused a remarkable first impression. Maybe he was of portuguese origin...he literally welcomed me to the US after two or three simple questions about my business.
Next was a crowded flight to LA (the belly of the woman sitting next to me actually spilled over the armrest into my seat); and a shuttle to Pasadena. My room at the V. Inn felt as ample as the avenues that line this city and that extend it to the edge of the mountains on the north.
When you sense your room to be adequate to your travelling needs, it always feels good to spread your stuff around and make use of the available appliances to create an ephemeral stage of transitorial permanence.
Hotel rooms should come with a documentation of their most notable previous usages and guests.
Friday, March 27, 2009
doesn't feature in any Lonely Planet guide for London. Why should it? It caters to a very exclusive community of portuguese expats that hang around that side of town. The atmosphere is shabby and ran down even when compared to a small village café in the forsaken countryside of Portugal. The only thing that shines is the TV, for that is the main raison d'être of Don Teodoro: football matches.
As Dona Maria Olívia brought us the chouriços and superbocks, I couldn't help but overhear the owner of the place - sitting at a table close to ours - talk to a veteran soldier of the colonial wars. The veteran, as we were informed, is trying to buy Don Teodoro from Sr. Pereira. The words "evitar pagar o tax" kept popping up during the conversation. We were also told that if the deal comes through, they might diversify the kitchen's menu and start serving some chicken african style, etc. Dona Olívia doesn't know if she will remain in charge of the kitchen then.
The reward of coming to Don Teodoro comes towards the end of dinner, when you ask Dona Olívia for a cafézinho.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I couldn't help but notice how my sister, who has lived in this town for a few years, plans her social affairs a good week a head. She informed it was a common attitude here; still, I thought that most of the Portuguese or Goans stranded in London would retain the custom of going out or inviting a close friend to go out on an impulse - say, on a friday night at tennish.
Well, both Portuguese and Goans adapt quite fast to this new mentality. And some might even find it impolite if you don't follow this etiquette.
Anyway, when the objective is to follow the nocturnal diversion of the town you're in, you might as well adapt to your surroundings.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
You can't measure hospitality - it's either present or absent. It consists in the difference between a host that shows interest in you and wants to share something and the host who avoids you and treats you as a nuisance, making you feel unwelcome.
After a fortnight in London town, I finally got a taste of English hospitality.
Over dinner, in a typical house near Sloane Square, our hosts shared with us savoury moments and conversations. The topics included Anglo-portuguese relations in India; the various ecological concerns of an English country-house; and the recent memories of humanitarian work at a hospitable in Moçambique.
I will not elongate on the food our hosts cooked for us - but it was delicious.
Here's to Hans Sloane. Cheers!
Saturday, March 14, 2009
She came in the carriage and asked a young asian boy to give up his seat to her. He shifted a couple of seats down. Sitting down with a big bag and her strange clothes, she turned towards him and started an apparently inane conversation; only that she did so shouting with a very angry voice.
"Today I cleaned up my room, I did! All spec and clean for my Amie to cook! she comes around sundays you know! Yeah, all nice and tidy! No one can complain now! Because those people! You know who they are, oh they're vicious mind you! Yeah but they can't say a word now! All spec and clean and mind you! I even cleaned behind the stove and those high shelfs! Amie comes around on sundays, you know!
She shouted so loud everyone was gazing at her. The poor boy was naturally in pain. Eventually, she started talking to other people.
(There's alway a crazy person on the bus)
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Dear Mr Mendiratta
Thank you for your email detailing your experiences in the Asian & African Reading Room last week. I am sorry the problems you encountered hampered your research and that you found some of the staff to be unprofessional. I forwarded your message to the Reading Room Manager who will be raising the issues you have listed at her next staff meeting.
I apologise for the problems you experienced with the reader call light system. In the next couple of days, the Reading Room manager will be carrying out checks on all the desk lights and lamps and any lights found not to be working will be replaced.
The member of staff was wrong to inform you that you could not order any more material. Issue desk staff have been briefed to either order more items by proxy (on behalf of the reader), or to suggest that the reader requests a temporary extension to their reader limit (this can easily be arranged and in a short space of time). I regret that this did not happen in your case.
I am sorry that you were disturbed by the staff talking. We are aware sound does travel in the reading rooms and have reminded staff to speak quietly. A certain amount of noise is inevitable at busy issue desks, staff do have to communicate with each other and of course answer readers' queries, but we will remind staff again of the need to keep noise to a minimum.
I am very concerned by the observation you made regarding a fallen book and the staff member's response. A book can slip from a trolley if its not stacked correctly, but in a situation like that we would expect any member of staff to pick the book up immediately and to check for any damage. The Reading Room Manager has already raised this issue with the staff who were working on the Issue Desk during your visit and reminded them of the correct procedure.
I would like to apologise again for the unsatisfactory experience you had. The British Library prides itself on delivering good customer service and it is very disappointing to hear that we have fallen short of our own high standards. I do hope that your next visit will be more successful.
Sunday, March 08, 2009
from: Sidh Losa Mendiratta, architect and PhD student
to: Service Improvement, The British Library
sub.: Asia, Pacific and Africa room improvement
I have been using the Asia, Pacific and Africa room for the last three days [...] and have found, to my disappointment, that various issues seriously hamper my academic research there - and probably that of other researchers. The British Library is proud of being an Institute for researchers, as every new member is inormed by the staff on arrival. And I believe that, in general, members comply with the Library rules and acknowledge the monumental importance of the Institution. If the users stick to the rules, it is only fair that they should expect the staff working in the library to stick to their own rules and commitments of service towards the users. In these last three days, I have found that part of the staff at the Asia, Pacific and Africa room has not carried out at leat one of these commitments and has in other forms shown un-professional attitudes. This is what happened:
1. I was informed, on my first day, that the orders placed on the computers in the room would be available within a maximum period of 70 minutes and that, when the material would be available to be procured from the main desk, a red signal light would appear in my seating place. In these three days, this light didn't switch on once. When the 70 minutes had expired, I went to the main desk and enquired and only then my requested material was delivered to me. [...] And I couldn't help but to have the strong feeling my requested material had been languishing on the main desk for quite sometime. If the signal light system is not working, users should be clearly informed.
Other un-professional attitudes:
B. One staff member dropped a heavy book as she was carrying it in a cart, behind the main desk. She failed to pick it up and returned to her working place. When a user (who, like me, had seen this) informed her of the book lying on the floor, thinking she had failed to notice it (so much was the noise at that moment in the front desk), the staff member said "It's ok, I'll pick it up later". The book fell next to a doorway.
Thank you for your attention,
Sidh Losa Mendiratta
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
En route to the city of London, I chanced upon a small and cozy party in the town of Wiesbaden. Here I met my old friend I. and naturally our conversation led us back to India and into my recent research about Indo-european stories. After a while, a woman sat close to us, casually eavesdropping on our lively debate as she talked to other germans. Eventually, I. asked me if I was looking forward to my stay in London. To which I replied "Well, I don't like english people in general, you know". I was going to elaborate and somehow justify the rather obnoxious statement but couldn't because the woman next to us burst out in a loud laughter that caught the attention of the whole affair of the party.
"Oh my God!" she said in tones of cockney. Athough she had been talking all the time in perfect german, she was a subject of her Majesty and just couldn't believe her ears.
What could I do? I stumbled upon an apology and tried to wriggle my way out of the hole surrounding me. To no avail - the english woman made it a point to let everyone know what had been the cause of her startle and indignation and I had to endure the ensuing dissaproval of the gathering untill retreating quietly back into my quarters.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Now the cities are just scars
We gather around fires and streams
The night is thick and anyway
Filled with beasts and evils spirits
So shut your eyes tight.
Should they wake up
In the middle of your sleep
May the Good Spirit protect you
In your wanderings
But if you find the Secret gate
Back to the Golden Days
Don't forget to come back
And tell us the way.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
"Ao Regedor [de Tabona, zona de Tidore, Indonésia] mandou [D. Jorge de Menezes] atar as mãos, e deitallo a dous cães de filhar mui feros, junto com a praia que estava cuberta de gente, que sahio a ver tão nova justiça. Foi piedoso espetáculo ver arremeter os cães a elle, e começar a esfarrapar-lhe as carnes às dentadas, mordendo-o cruelmente, e os gritos que elle dava com as dores. O regedor, que era animoso, se foi chegando para o mar, cuidando que nelle o largariam os cães; mas encarniçados nelle o seguiram, e vendo-se elle em tamanho tormento, andando já nadando com os pés, que com as mãos não podia por as ter atadas, fez volta aos cães que o seguiam, e com muito esforço, e acordo, se começou a defender com os dentes, mordendo os cães, assi como elles o mordiam, de que todos estavam attonitos, e andando com as carnes espedaçadas, afferrou hum dos cães per huma orelha, e afferrado se metteo com elle debaixo d'agua, onde se affogou, deixando a todos com grande espanto, e maior mágoa, chorando de verem morrer tão cruelmente hum homem tão esforçado.
Dalli por diante teve Cachil Daroez mortal ódio a D. Jorge, e aos Portugueses, e desejava de os matar a todos, e livrar a terra de seu jugo."
Décadas da Ásia, IV
Sunday, February 01, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Paulo Varela Gomes
Os ingleses nem sempre foram os dominadores arrogantes e bêbados que, enquanto tal, passaram à história e ao folclore do Ocidente e do resto do mundo. Houve tempo em que eram como todos nós: deixavam-se enganar, faziam disparates e chegavam a beber vinho em vez de cerveja. Mas isso foi antes do início do século XIX. De facto, concordam quase todos os historiadores que, por esta altura, os ingleses, pelo simples facto de que dominavam o mundo, convenceram-se de que eram uma raça de senhores e tornaram-se, ipso facto, odiosos e eficientes. Foi então que começaram a desprezar os portugueses por sistema. Já os (nos?) desprezavam aleatoriamente, mas, a partir dos primeiros anos de Oitocentos, passaram a considerar os portugueses sempre piores que pretos: mestiços, ou seja, preguiçosos, incompetentes e, para cúmulo, católicos. É exemplar a prosa de Richard Burton, o explorador e intelectual que escreveu sobre Goa em 1859. São algumas das mais odientas linhas alguma vez escritas contra o Portugal decadente, tropical, pobre, de pele escura e uniforme roto que alguma vez foram postas no papel. E não foi o único, longe disso. O governo que, com o Ultimato de 1890, deu praticamente dez minutos à administração portuguesa para deixar de armar em grande potência em África habituara-se há muito a considerar os portugueses uma raça inferior.É por isso que custa muito ver o triunfo dos maneirismos ingleses nas partes da Índia que já foram portuguesas ou onde a cultura portuguesa em tempos deu cartas: não é só o facto de toda a gente falar inglês; são as festas, sessões solenes e casamentos organizados à inglesa, com gestos, falas, rituais aprendidos em escolas de orientação inglesa, o triunfo absoluto do imperialismo britânico na vida social de milhões de indianos - incluindo os da antiga Índia portuguesa. Os media contemporâneos (dominados por uma cultura americana com masala) vão provavelmente dar cabo disto. Mas até lá todos os dias aturamos o fantasma triunfante de Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859), o político inglês que começou a construir a Índia britânica. De cada vez que, num casamento em Goa, o compère grita em êxtase: "Let's have a big hand for...", ou "Please raise your hands for..." ou outra frase feita inglesa, eu, vivendo em Goa, um sítio que eles consideraram o exemplo do falhanço de Portugal como nação, eu, entredentes, amaldiçoo Macaulay. Mil vezes.E depois lembro-me de que quem promoveu a educação em inglês nas escolas de Goa no século XIX foram as autoridades portuguesas - que, liberais ou republicanas que eram, partilhavam com os ingleses a ideia de que o velho Portugal era tão decadente que nem a língua se lhe aproveitava, ideia através da qual se irmanavam com a elite goesa, todos, goeses e portugueses, olhando com inveja a obra a que Macaulay deu origem na Índia britânica, esquecidos dos insultos ou, pior, assimilando-os, curvando a cerviz, dando aos dominadores o pleno domínio. Let's all put our hands together for Macaulay!
Richard Burton disse no livro citado por PVG (publicado em 1851) que não haveria em toda a Ásia raça mais feia e degenerada do que a resultante da mistura entre indianos e portugueses. E, no mesmo livro, é esse o leitmotif para explicar tudo o que estava mal e decadente na Goa de cerca de 1850 (e concordo que deveria ser um sítio profundamente decadente - pelo menos aos olhos de um oficial britânico). Burton teve a bondade de nos legar na sua publicação duas vistas de Velha Goa e uma descrição informativa de alguns edifícios da cidade abandonada e de Pangim. À primeira obra impressa de Burton ("Goa and the Blue Mountains") seguiu-se uma produção monumental, que culminaria praticamente 30 anos depois com a tradução dos Lusíadas e apontamentos biográficos sobre Luís de Camões - de quem Burton se havia tornado confesso admirador. Pelo meio, ficou por imprimir a primeira tradução do Kama Sutra e vários outros textos queimados pela sua mulher após a morte de Burton.
A carreira aventureira de Burton foi muito diferente da de Thomas Macaulay, advogado e que esteve poucos anos na Índia. Mas havia algo muito forte, algo de visceral, que unia os espíritos destes dois homens. Ambos acreditavam que pertenciam a uma raça superior com uma missão civilizacional; e ambos acreditavam que a mistura racial - pelo menos entre colonizadores e colonizados - era algo de nefasto, sujo, e contra-producente para a mesma missão.
Ambos acreditavam na segregação racial mas cada um à sua maneira. Podemos dizer que Macaulay acreditava na segregação de forma "clássica" enquanto que Burton - que era, sobretudo, um explorador e investigador - acreditava de forma mais "espiritual"...
Burton disfarçava-se frequentemente de Muçulmano e não se coibia de conviver de perto com todos os aspectos dos variados natives, desde o Afeganistão ao Uganda ao Brasil. Gabava-se de ser tratado em pé de igualdade pelos sacerdotes Bramânes ou pelos mestres Sufi. Mas sempre com o nobre objectivo (a missão) de observar, estudar, anotar e julgar (de forma moral) aquilo e aqueles que lhe interessavam. Assim, não espanta que os colegas de Burton na Índia lhe chamassem de "white nigger" e lhe acusassem de "going native"...uma acusação que não tirava um minuto de sono a Burton; mas que, se porventura tivesse sido proferida contra Macaulay, poderia-lhe lhe ter causado algum (dis)stress.
Mas a verdade, por muito que custe a aceitar, é que eles tinham razão - pelo menos em relação à Índia. A mistura racial tinha efeitos contraproducentes para a dominação dos Europeus na Índia, pelo menos à escala que os britânicos ambicionavam na altura - e que obtiveram após 1858.
De forma muito simples, se os ingleses se misturassem com os Indianos, perderiam a sua "casta" - pior, tornar-se-iam "halfcastes"...pelo menos aos olhos das castas superiores, especialmente dos Bramânes.
Se havia algo que "unia" a Índia - tal como os Britânicos a viam em oitocentos - era o sistema de castas. Essa condição ancestral da sociedade assentava precisamente em noções de segregação, contaminação, etc. Naturalmente que os europeus não poderiam integrar o sistema, mas se não se misturassem, formavam um sistema paralelo - uma hierarquia competidora. Para além do mais, a insulação dos britânicos e do seu aparelho de administração conferia-lhes superioridade moral para julgar imparcialmente os Indianos de todas as castas; e o carácter laico do mesmo aparelho conferia-lhe autoridade para poder tratar todas as religiões da Índia por igual.
Com essa mentalidade, os britânicos implementaram um rígido sistema de segregação racial na Índia após 1858. Que vingou de forma assustadora. Quando Mountbatten "lavou as mãos" apressadamente em Agosto de 1947, acelerando o processo de independência da Índia, fê-lo porque todo o sistema de segregação - religiosa, de castas e racial - estava prestes a desabar. Os ingleses saíram "ilesos" da sua missão colonizadora da Índia. E os filho de Macaulauy vingaram até hoje.
A ideia de segregação racial foi o trunfo da colonização britânica na Índia. E tornou-se norma comum para todo o Império; mas a noção seria certamente mais antiga. De qualquer modo, os povos Ibéricos com os seus impérios decadentes e corruptos, nomeadamente os portugueses (que misturavam, de facto, o seu sangue com o dos colonizados) eram o exemplo a evitar...