Tuesday, April 25, 2006

25 de Abril Sempre!!!!!!!!!


Salgueiro Maia e outros capitaes de Abril. Photo from here

Para uma celebracao do 25 de Abril como deve ser vejam a pagina da minha mae. Nao tive tempo para nada, snif... Mas nao me esqueci e o 25 de Abril estara sempre no meu coracao. E hoje sem pensar nisso, vesti-me de vermelho-cravo, nem sei bem porque... :) Segue-se uma explicacao para turista do que eh o 25 de Abril.

Sorry for that small paragraph in portuguese but today is a very special day for many portuguese. For others it is a hateful day. Anyway. Today, 32 years ago, there was a revolution in Portugal. This revolution was done by the army, mainly by lower rank officers - they are now called the Captains of April. For 40 years before that day, Portugal was under a fascist regime which had led us into never ending wars in our colonies throughout the world and to being openly ostracized by democratic governments. Portugal was isolated (proudly alone, was the motto for this regime) and kept in darkness. Due to our isolation, a lot of regions were pretty much as developed as in the 19th century, and poverty was abundant. People were obviously not allowed to speak their minds against the government, and there was only one political party allowed. We had the same prime minister for something like 30 years. The one time when a real opposer tried to run, not for prime minister, that was a sure assignment, but for President, he lost misteriously and died not so misteriously shortly after. My grandfather used to listen to his campaign on the radio. My mother was very young, still in primary school. Her teacher asked them who used to listen at home to the political campaigns on the radio, and my mother said innocently her father did. After that, my grandfather was taken to questionning by the political police. He was "lucky" because he had no affiliation they could prove to any forbidden organisation, but members of the then underground Communist Party and Socialist Party were often put in prison for years, questioned and tortured. Many died there.
In 1974, the politicized faction of the army decided to take a stand and in few more than 24 hours, with no support from higher ranking officers, the Captains of April made the perfect revolution... In the dawn, they started to move and take all the important points where resistance could be met. When people started to wake up, they heard warnings from the revolutionary movement to stay at home. But they just couldn't. They came to the street to show their support and agreement, and to finally express their desire for freedom. In the frantic hours after that, the only bloodshed that occurred was caused by the political police forces who tried to resist and shot randomly out of a window to a square filled with not an angry but hopeful crowd.
The street sellers were selling red carnations. I don't know and no one will ever be sure who thought of it, but somehow red carnations were placed in the soldiers' machine guns. For me this is the most emblematic image of this revolution, also called the Revolution of Carnations, and even though I never lived it, I will always be very happy on this day. Because I know it was one of the happiest days in my parents' life, my grandparents', my uncles', and it makes me happy that they could see it, they were there, they watched this amazing change in the face of the people and turned to the mirror in surprise at their own expression of happiness to be at last, free.

This is where the story ends, and I say they lived happilly ever after. But that's bulshit, everyone knows THAT!
Anyway, hope you enjoyed this bit of portuguese recent history. If not... ah, what the hell.


Elevador da Gloria, Lisboa, on April 25th 1974. Photo by Victor Valente

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Back to life...

Well, mom came and went. She left a lot of things with me, the most precious were all the hugs that I missed so much. Now it's back to routine, back to the fruitless experiments in the lab, back to tango! :), and back to my crappy appartment. I stayed in the studio my mom rented in a nice hotel for the time she was here. For some time, I had the comfort of a real living room, with a dinner table and all, a television, a normal bathroon with some ventilation (I usually almost choke to death in mine, after a shower, and no I can't leave the door open... Not good if the housemates catch a glimpse of my behind in the shower, for a lot of reasons). Now it's back to the slum. Anyway, this won't last long. Fortunately my friend Clea has now a nice appartment, with a very cool kitchen, so I can put into practice my recipes (I bought recently a vegetarian cuisine book) and my old favorite, the famous Duarte pie (thus named by Maya, who associates this pie with the Duarte family). It's a pie made with condensed milk (yuuuuumiiiii), crumbles of Maria cookies, and whipped cream. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Oh my God.
I'd like to have some pictures of me and Mrs. Alice Duarte in the land of Cowboys, but no can do. My camera is out of batteries and I couldn't recharge them for some misterious reason. And my mother didn't bring any camera. I know, intellingence obviously runs in the family. Anyway. We visited lots of places, which I never had seen before, like the Museum of Fine Arts, the Zoo, the Galleria (the biggest shopping center in TeXas!!), and.... oh, yeah, the Museum of Natural Sciences. Well, Houston isn't very prolific in places to see. Plus it was very hard getting around without a car, taking cabs everytime... By the end of the first day I was already tired of talking to rude cabdrivers and deaf/dumb/just plain stupid telephone operators. There is something very wrong when you call a cab to the intersection of Rice Boulevard and Kelvin Street and the person tells you, "yes, but I need a physical address". Apparently, intersections exist on a metaphysical plane, not really a physical one. I tried explaining that two perpendicular lines only intersect in one point, but that seemed far-fetched to the operator, so I just told her a number on that street. That made her happy.
My mom liked Houston. With the exception of the Zoo, where she kept saying, "oh, the Lisbon zoo is waaay better than this... Look, OUR koalas had a baby on their back!!", everything was fun for her. I think the highlight was a Japanese festival we went to after the zoo, maybe because koalas with no babies were a poor match for a true japanese tea ceremony, where "Cha-do", the way of tea, was explained to us in detail and in the end we were served a taste of the japanese green tea. It tastes like freshly mown grass, with a touch of dead fish. But it wasn't bad. I found it quite cleansing. My mom nearly threw up, but it opened her mind to a whole new world of flavours.
By the way I strongly recommend the Fine Arts Museum if you're ever in Houston. It really impressed me. I specially enjoyed the collection of african gold pieces they had there, and an exhibition of an american sculptor, whose name I forgot..., but anyway, his pieces were simply beatiful and they really made my day. Joseph something. Whatever...
The Galleria was the dream of any shopping-aficcionada, such as me and my mom. We searched the grounds thouroughly for our prey, and we got it!!! I got a new jacket and my mom loads of stuff, mainly presents for others. We then walked in Saks Fifth Avenue and came out utterly depressed about the amount of things we couldn't buy. But it was nice. For me, some of the outfits I saw there were shoulder to shoulder with some paintings at the Fine Arts Museum.
Mom gone, all I can do now is do my best (a very tipical japanese phrase...ehehehe) and wait until I'm again with my family! Only in September!!! Ai ai ai... To compensate for the lack of photos, I'll leave another song. This one reminds me how far away I am but also of good things that I lived and hopefully will live again!! Like for example, LOWLANDS FESTIVAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Enjoy!

"Oh my God", Kaiser Chiefs

Tuesday, April 04, 2006



But Mom is on her way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!