I sat with my grandmother yesterday to write in English, now I am trapped between these worlds. The world where I come from where some people do not speak English, and the millions worlds I can only access in English because I do not know their own languages. I never feel like writing the same texts in both languages, nor do I feel like talking about how sick we my grandmother and I have been in the past months.
I wrote last night a whole post in English while I waited for the skype call of someone. My post was cute, informing of all little intricacies I perceive here. Then I finished my text, my conversations with the my grandmother and somehow mysteriously my whole post was lost…It was like the whole world felt like all was closing down and that I should just walk in another rode. Suddenly I decided it was not the day to write…I should just do something else something that would remind me of who I am…and to let write later.
I live with my grandmother in an old neighbour, I ask her about old neighbourhoods here in our CIty Sao Paulo. She told me there were many that were old: Such as Bras , Campus Elisius and not surprisingly the central part of Sao Paulo. Many times she even showed me places where there used to be a river and no longer has anymore.
She loves this city, and is always saying she prefers the pollution to the air of the country side. I praise the old, she prays for scientists and admires inventions that according to her make the world better. As I said I am interested in the old and want to hear shamans and traditional Chinese medicine and my grandma though she believes anything is theoretically possible she prefers the new. As I am asking all these questions she puts her book down and says very seriously. Since you are not a specialist on these you should google it. They know better than me.
My grandmother is 89, she has just had an heart operation. As she came home she went to bed and in the following morning when she was asked whether she wanted coffee or tea she replied she wanted a cold beer. My grandmother follows all recommendations of doctors but also her own ideas, she also learned languages and as a child she had classes of gym in her own house and piano which she hated it. Her father was also an admirer of the future. My grandmother has always been very popular with her friends… so now having finally the permission of the doctors for it all she planned a trip for New year’s eve with her friends. Like the following years there are 6 friends in their eighties on the road to celebrate.
It was my grandmother who insisted I should go out for new year s eve somewhere. In Brazil, New years eve is in Summer. Many of us dress in white ( for peace according to popular knowledge) and then we try to go to the coast, and by midnight we should jump 7 waves for good luck. Many people make offerings to Iemanjá. One the of “Mae de Santo’s” of Candonblé.
In these syncretist religions brought from Africa, and mixed to Christianity such as Candomblé there are many figures which are like goddesses and gods who are not ever good nor bad. Very much like greek gods these “mae de santos”, and “pais de santos” carry power and human personalities. Good and Bad is a consequence of your relation with that figure. So when you go to the beach to sea fireworks, we sea offerings in the beach and in the sea. We all avoid stepping in anything. Atheist or not most Brazilians are afraid to step in these offerings.
My parents did not want me to go anywhere, but they do not enjoy new years eve as much of all of us do. But luckily Doutor Getulio told me I should go. So we prepare ourselves, we are going to our beach house house by the coast of the state of Sao Paulo. Initially, in another life time, when I had planned being in these house with 8 people. Now the world collapsed and like my message I never heard nor these new years eve is what I wanted.
So we decided to invite people we love. There is apparently a saying in Brazil that when all goes wrong what one should do a party. So we prepare now for a party not sure whether we are hosting 5 people or 17 in the house…..
Right now Brazil is decorated for christmas. I live in Sao Paulo, in Higienopolis. In our neighbourhood there is a big jewish community , there are also many students due to the fact there are two shool/universities.
In a brief and poor explanation of Brasil. Brazil was colonised by Portugal at a time when Spain and Portugal dominated the world. Aside from Brasil, the two Guyana’s and Suriname, all other countries in South America speak Spanish. That is why it is very difficult and funny to be asked to answer which “race” we are from in American forms. I always put homus sapiens or human.
Slavery was finished in several steps being finally abolished in 1888. I am no specialist in this, but I learned in schools and through reading and talks that when slavery was abolished ( officially though we all know there is still slavery around in the world) farmers, who had never been able to slave indigenous peoples before, opened Brasil to the wordl. which actually led to a true holocaust of indigenous peoples in the continent opened Brazil to the world. I believe the first immigration after the Portuguese were the Italians who came searching a new life in a new world. Later on came the Japanese, and in the end of the first war Sirian-Lebanese who came still using an Ottoman passport. Ironically in Brazil, they sometimes call them selves Turcos…. Though they precisely know they are Arabs… Here in Brazil, I think most people do not really think about that. Then in the second war came loads of Jews, and Germans.
Paulistanos, people who are burn in the city of Sao Paulo ( Sao Paulo is a state and city) like to call Sao Paulo a Cosmopolitan city. When I saw friend Caue who just came from Beijing we had a long conversation about what is it that make us go. I feel that while we are away we are so entertained with the other that when it reaches you it is time to move.. so you have these release. How many times can one do that? I am not sure, I feeel there is also a lot personal identity in each one.
So as i sat yesterday with these friends who have lived or traveled many places I did we could talk about the profoundness of life, the difficulty it is to come back to a world that in your mind seems to steal. We floated from shamanism and philosophy for hours.
I feel Sao Paulo, London and New York are not cosmopolitan in the same way at all. I guess we should even define what do we even mean by cosmopolitan and I guess if we take a very loose explainantion such as “there are many people who where not born there living there and preserving some of their culture” then we could put them all and some more. I like being in Sao Paulo because I feel protected by it, by my friends and my family…
But when I seat with Gustavo and Caue. One who lived in many places but now is married with child and is still reading and engaging with world I love it. Just like I love knowing Caue is going back to China.
And as I open my email and sea Mark is going back to London being who knows where but wishing to see me I am comforted… I guess i have little to say… just that I must write in two languages because the people I love are spread in the world..