I ride on a bus. It is usually faster to go some places in place by buses than by car. No traffic in the lanes destined to buses and taxis. In any case I could not drive anyway. I actually take joy to walk places. Sao Paulo was never a place I walked before. I usually drove.
Cre, my childhood nanny is next to me. The moon is almost full in the sky. I look around delighted looking at the sky. I have just been to Aquiles, my psychologist and it was a great section. I had the chance to have my childhood nanny who took care of me since I was a baby till I was 6 talk to talk to Aquiles. Cre could tell my psychologist how was the beginning of my life. I listened it all, sometimes with tears in my eyes. I must say I do not remember almost anything of my childhood. But as she spoke I did. It did really feel like like a gift.
We take the bus home I look around and the whole country seems to be decorating for Christmas. Though the country is secular, most people are christians here. Actually most people are believers, of all kinds of beliefs mixed together. I live in In a neighbourhood where there is a large Jewish community.
Though Brazilians like to praise our miscegenation, most people in this neighbourhood are Europeansor or Sirian-Lebanese descendants. The African descendant people you ever see are usually workers , such as drivers, nannies, cooks, and waiters in the nice restaurants around here. I of course do agree there are more mixed people here than in other places of South America.
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 Guyanas 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. Since in Brazil we are never really asked these questions.. and In America there was no option where I felt i could be in. Being usually told to say I was Hispanic, I often explained we spoke portuguese and not Spanish. In any case, Brazilians, did always feel that form was just stupid.
Maybe it is because we put so little attention to our origins that we feel that there is little prejudice here. That is somehow a complex topic, and to talk about it I would need a lot of time.
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) there was a shortness of workers which led to an opening of Brazil for immigration.
Since farmers had never been able to slave indigenous peoples before, they called the new immigrants. Promising a d new world, delivering hard labour. There is evidence that it was a true holocaust of indigenous peoples in the continent. I believe the first immigration after the Portuguese were the Italians who came searching fora new life in the new world.
Later on came the Japanese, and in the end of the first war Sirian-Lebanese people who came still using their Ottoman passports. Ironically in Brazil, they sometimes call themselves 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 born in the city of Sao Paulo ( Sao Paulo is a state and city) like to call Sao Paulo a Cosmopolitan city. When I saw my friend my Caue who just came from Beijing we had a long conversation about what it ” what made 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 us people of the world once we cross so many borders, it is just so difficult to stay. And so as we talk I wonder. About these courageous immigrants who came from their old world in this ships to a new one, having no idea of the trip, of the place, and definitely of a return.
So as I sat yesterday with these friends who have lived or traveled many places I did and we could talk about the profoundness of life, the difficulty to come back to a world that in your mind seems too mysterious, where you are not even able to eat in the same way, or where you just don’t care for the small details of those who went out for too little or not at all. So when we met it was all still that world were we floated from shamanism, politics, countries and philosophy for hours. Floated in the world were people who live the real world never usually go.
Than as I sat in the bus last night and as I looked the moon I thought of the cities I lived in Sao Paulo, London and New York and realised they are not cosmopolitan in the same way at all. I guess if we define what we even mean by cosmopolitan.. and I guess if we take a very loose explanation such as “a city where there are many people who were not born there living and who are still preserving some of their original culture” then we could put so many others. And yet those cities we always will feel not containing the world.
I like being in Sao Paulo because I feel protected by it, by my friends and my family and definitely by my Dr Getulio, Aquiles and Dona Euthimia.
But when I sat with Gustavo and Caue who are people who lived in many places and now live very different lives I am intrigued. While one is married with a child and though is still reading and engaging with the outside world is now settled .The other cant just stay, he arrived arrived last month and now cant wait to go back to Asia.
And as I open my email and sea Mark is going back to London to finish the PhD, while I know Maria now quit it and has a baby and will be married in Greece soon, and Chi and Aidan are in the road, while I see how much my friend Leila in Morocco and Lebanon has writer and prayed for me… I feel my heart overflow with love. The moon will be full tonight.. whatever I ll do, I know it will be good.
Love, from Sao Paulo