Waves, Asia and Gabriel Medina

Till very recently I had never known who Gabriel Medina was. Till very recently I missed Asia every single second. A mountain was my only idea of getting close to Asia. Any mountain.

And then I crossed Brasil looking for the sacredness of India. I was not able to see it. I am sure it is here. I just could not enter it. Maybe I lacked the right keys, I thought.

And so I came to the beach to appease my lonely soul. I remembered that it was here that I had started to really heal just after I got sick. At first it was an impossible idea. It was Impossible for my brain and for my body.

Then this time as I was appeasing my soul I heard about the final of the surfing world tour that is taking place. I found out that Gabriel Medina, Mick Fanning and Kelly Slater were in it.

“Still Kelly Slater, really?”

I confess it meant little to me. I could not possibly understand that KS would still care about winning a championship. And so my mind flew back to Asia again.

I remembered that changing colours in artial marts was a western thing. In Asia first they wore white till they were told to wear black. And that change simply meant one had become a student.

I also remembered that most tibetans and nepalis I met had no desire to reach the top of a mountain.

What was it about waves? Did the balinese really care? As usual, I am lucky, and though I still do not know the answer, I meet in my path a surfer that like me loves Asia. Differently than me it is because of waves. I ask him why. And he said:

” I love the adrenaline of surfing”.

I was appalled by this answer. I asked him about Gabriel Medina and he actually knew Gabriel since he was a child.

He is friends with Charles, who is Medina’s step father. He tells me it is because of Charles that Medina started to surf. It is because of him that he developed as much as he did.

“He is brilliant, absolutely amazing. But without the support of
Charles he would probably have never known.”

“But is he now only surfing in competitions? It is also simply for the dopamine of it.”

“Ju, in these competitions he has the chance to take the greatest waves in the world almost alone.”

“Do you think he will keep doing it after he is 40? Just like KS? ”

“No. Gabriel is a nice guy. He is calm. I guess he will do it for some years and then he will just do it because he loves it. I don’t think he wants to be in competitions forever”

My new friend surfed with Charles, Medina’s stepfather, in Peru and many other places, that is why Charles could see the talent in the 9 year old boy who had become his stepson.

How about you? Where did you surf?

“Fernando de Noronha, Peru, Hawai, so many places, but now I spend must of my time in Indonesia.”

He cannot believe I have spent so little time there. He offers to teach me how to surf. I am divided by the fact that I am reading about what is happening in Cuba and Israel.

” There is nothing that you can do about the M.E! Come to the sea, let me teach you.”

And so I go. I absolutely hate the idea to get addicted to something simply for the adrenaline of it. But I go.

I do not know how to surf. But the sea is beautiful. The paddling is brilliant. The peace that you feel is incredible. I try to stand still. I can do it and then I fall..many many times.

My friend tells me I need to catch a wave. I actually don’t want. I like my yoga like movements in the board. I feel peace. Like I could feel in a Mountain. So much time goes by. So many waves. And then suddenly, I am taken by a wave. I fall.

I go out. I sit in the sand. My new friend wants me to really catch a wave. I don,t want. Not now. All of it brings me peace. And as I sit to write this I hope the world surfing final is going well.

Deep down I wish Gabriel wins and then that he will not become KS. I hope he will be able to enjoy the sea without being always in a pressure, in a ego trip.

I realise it is a Tibetan Buddhist thought. I guess my non existing self will always miss Asia. I am even ready to go back to Indonesia especially because now I want to find out whether the balinese surf or not.Medin


Discrimination, Violence and Tibetan thoughts in Rio

Rio always amazes me. In one hand the beach is a democratic place where all classes can meet. On the other hand I usually see more discrimination here than I do in Sao Paulo.

Please do not understand that as an example of the typical rivalry there is between people of these two cities and states. As I have once said people do not even feel I am from Brazil here. They usually assume I am a foreigner.

There are reasons for that. Lucia, my cousin, helps me to realise what they are. I do not speak as loudly as brazilians do, I have incorporated Asian gestures into my behaviour and I mis-construct sentences. They are still understood but for people it feels like I am a foreigner. Apparently, I also dress differently than people do here. I guess it is a reflection of all that I have collected from the world.

I would add to these list some other things. I have been in a coma. I never accepted constructed borders as real separations. And I deeply admire Buddhist Tibetan values.

Having said that. I want to tell you what I saw here in Rio.

I entered a little shop where they sell newspapers and other little things. These shops are very little, and they usually stand in the middle of a sidewalk. As I went in there were 5 boys there. The eldest could not be older than 8 years old. All of these boys were looking at sweets.

As I entered the little shop I stood quietly behind them just listening. I kept seeing them choose what they could or not afford to buy. Like any group of boys they spoke loudly and “cursingly”. Yet I still felt it was a total act of actual thinking about of all of them. They were looking to see what they could afford to buy so that everybody could have something.

The owner was furious at them for being there. He told them to disappear. I was quiet, and when the little boy saw me, he apologised for taking so much time to buy things. I told them that was ok. I was not in a hurry and that I thought they should look well at what they wanted to buy. The man shouted at them. One of the boys looked at me and said:

“I am sorry. He is mistreating me because I am black and poor.”

I was so shocked. And said:

“No. I think he is just worried because you are young boys.”

” Mo├ža, I am sorry we kept you. But it is always like that. It is because we are black and poor. They all do that.”

” Well then they are wrong! Please believe me, not everybody in the world thinks like that.”

The owner told them to go away. I went out to say the same words again. Then I went back in to talk to the owner of the shop.

“How could your treat them like that?”

“You don’t know them. Have you heard what they were saying? ”

“Yes. It is a reflection of what they hear. They are a group of boys full of energy and testosterone. And all that they have said was a reflection of being mistreated. And now you are part of that too.”

” Don’t you think about me? I don’t care about them. You are obviously not from Brazil.”

” I actually do think about you too. Now you feel angry, and they feel once again marginalised. I am from Brazil, I guess I feel this way because of the Tibetans I have met.”

“This is not Tibet.”

” It is the same in Tibet or in Palestine, or here or anywhere you are. You build reality around you.”

He was furious. I was calm. He told me to tell him of an example of it in brazil.

So, I did, it was my last one.

“Not even a month ago. I was told by a cab driver that I should not use my Iphone in the streets in Belem because I could be robbed. The following day I was looking for the house of the 90 years old grandmother of my friend and got lost.

I took my phone to see google maps. I stopped and when I looked back, there were two men. One was armed. I stopped to think. If i cross this avenue I could be killed by a car. If I keep here they are going to rob me. I could run or I could think like a Tibetan. What would a Tibetan do?

So, I turned around and walked in the direction of the two men. I am not sure if a tibetan would do that. I am sure that they say that once you are conscious of a harm that could be inflicted on you it is your responsibility to prevent it. Ideally you should do that in a way that would change their way of thinking. Tibetans believe you must do that not because of you but for compassion towards the other.

So I walked calmly and never showing them I knew one of them was armed.

‘Sorry guys, could you help me? I am looking for the house of the grandmother of my friend. She told me to visit her. Google maps seems to be failing me. Do you know where is this street that I am looking for?

They were shocked. The armed man psaid he was not from there.

‘Wow then you are as lost as me. Thank you anyway.’

The other guy said

‘I think you were going in the right direction. We came from the other side and it is not there.’

I looked at both of them in their eyes, and said thank you.

I was calm. I turned around just as they decided to cross the road to the other side. At that moment I actually feared for their lives. It was a huge avenue, where there were cars coming from both sides. I walked silently till I found a petrol station. I went in and I bought something to drink and eat, then I told people there what had had just happened to me. The woman said

“Are you crazy! Why did you not run?”

” I guess because that would have made him feel like an aggressor one more time.”

An old man looked at me and before she said anything again he said:

“You are very wise. You have actually transformed an aggressive moment in a dangerous place, into a possibility of goodness.”

I told all of this to this man in this shop here in Rio.

“See, he was not Tibetan, nor am I. I think of you. I think that each action like this one towards these boys is harming all of us.”


Dona Janira- Belem

I hear a knock. I am heaving a shower.

“Julieta, could you possibly open the door, I really want to show you something.”

It is Dona Janira the 90 year old grandmother of my dear friend Rafaela.

“Are you ok Dona Janira, I am under the shower. Give me a second.”

“No it is ok. I wanted to show you my dress.”

I actually rush to get out. I think it is so cute. She had told me her grandson was getting married in another state. She had told me she would be walking before the bride.

I open the door naked and wet and she is so happy to be able to show me her dress.

“What do you think?”

“It is beautiful! ”

Vera her daughter, tells me it is not the right colour but she is fixing it, so that though it is kind of pink it will look better. I am actually amazed by it all.

I am in Belem. Bethlehem of Brazil. As they call it, it is the city of mangoes. Mangoes I know, but the variety of fruits in Belem astonish me.

My whole mission to come all the way here was to see Dona Janira. She is so healthy, so active that it mesmerises me.

She is appalled I barely eat. I am appalled they eat too much. And so we laugh. And I sit to hear her life. Rafaela, my friend had told me she loved telling stories. And it turns out that to me she tells me stories of her life that neither Vera nor Rafaela knew about. And so many days later I sit here armed with my notes to be able to accurately tell what Dona Janira has told me.

It is the story that precedes all that they know because Rafaela and Vera are descendants from Frederico.

It goes like this..

“I had a boyfriend. His name was Raimundo. We were together from very early on. My father hated him because he was no one. And so he beat me. And i kept dating him no matter what.”

“Dona Janira were you hurt? How did you date?”

” Yes, I was very heart. I still have marks on my back from that. After my mother died when I was 11 my father became even more protective. At the time we dated through letters. We saw each other rarely. It was a very different time.

One day Raimundo got a job that made him be far for 3 months at the time. And he was so jealous that he always thought I would get another boyfriend. I always told him
it was absurd. And then in the brief time we had together we had huge fights. I was so beaten by my father but I still could bear it. But my fights with Raimundo because of jealousy was too much. So one day I decided to break up

Even before my father had died I was already living with my uncle and aunt. They liked Raimundo. But his jealousy scared me so much. And when my father died he proposed.

“What did you say dona Janira?”

“I said. ‘Are you crazy. Of course not. My father would suffer from heaven’. I returned all of his letters and that was the end of it. We were together for almost 10 years. Soon after that he died.

” And what happened?”

“My family was friends with Adamastor. I liked Adamastor. He took all of us to parties in our city but he never really wanted to be with me.”

“How did you know ?”

” Well, you could not show. So, I went to the parties hoping he would say something. After many parties he brought Frederico.”

” And what happened ?.”

“Frederico invited me to dance and from the first dance he simply never let my hand go. I kept looking at Adamastor. I could see that He ha become sad. But I could not do anything. And I guess, nor could he.”

” Dona Janira but did you like him?”

“Yes. But there was nothing to be done. Frederico never left my hand again. He became my boyfriend. And then he proposed”

“How was Frederico as a husband ?”

” Frederico was wonderful. He never hit his children or me. He always brought me a gift. When there was not that much money he brought me a chocolate and used to say ‘Janira, there is too many people here, this is just for you. Keep it for you.”

I sat there for hours hearing dona Janira. Her secrets kept from her family. I naturally asked her if I could tell it. She told me I could, these were old stories, they were not very important. She said she had had a happy life.

She showed me her natural home medicine. Insisted I should eat more. And she was amazed that I had to go so fast.

It was moved to see the amount of care that Vera, her daughter, destines to her every single day. Dona Janira’s concern with her grandchildren.

She told me

” You are like Rafaela. In love with the indigenous, with little stories, and with seeing the world.”

I felt grateful for her thinking I was like my dear friend. Someone who I admire.?And for her to recognise our admiration for the little things of life though she did not understand it.