Abril, aguas mil – Lisbon in the rain

Personal, Travel

Iberian peninsula during springtime is wet, dramatic and unforeseeable. Unless you expect the unexpected, or something which would discourage many tourists (and leaving these beautiful lands at peace!), i.e. torrential rains, strong winds and only short spells of the sun. There’s even a saying about it both in Spanish and Portuguese ‘Abril, aguas mil!‘. I’ve experienced it very well living in Lisbon, Faro and Barcelona, still this kind of weather did not scare me off from visiting my beloved Lisbon for a city break, hungry for something different after a long and bleak Berliner winter. And knowing there will be less crowds than usual, to enjoy the springtime rain smells and spells.

I decided to picture these days with my new camera, Nikon D5100, and although I don’t pretend to be a professional in this area either, it was quite some fun to explore its different effects. Still, Lisbon looks pretty even in the eye of the worst photographers!

Bad weather was also a great occasion to explore Lisbon’s tech hub: I have connected with various professionals working in the industry, including FarFetch, Uniplaces and Zalando. It was great to see how the city is growing its potential and economy, and I asked a lot of uncomfortable questions, including the responsibility over the gentrification, lower remuneration and taxation than in other parts in Europe.

Getting the current insiders’ perspective was refreshing and I am looking forward to connect with more people during this year’s WebSummit where I’ll definitely show up. I was delighted by the experience and offers that this city gives after years I’ve got to know it, but I still think about how the fast tech growth could take into consideration the city’s history, pace, specificity and not leave the less privileged inhabitants behind and push outside of the city limits.

I do believe that tech can make a positive impact, much more than mass tourism model, but needs to be tackled early enough. I hope for the social responsibility actions to be taken in Lisbon and other cities in Portugal and Spain, flourishing years after of financial crisis such as Porto, or Valencia. Even though I can honestly admit that I’m a part of the problem, I still remember living there on a shoe string, as a student and being able to make it a valuable experience.

Final words go to my partner, an author of some of the tram photos. Visiting Lisbon for the first time, I benefited a lot from his sharp and new perspective on things, and he was lucky enough to experience an empty Tram #28 at night, something which is a hard to find, very special setting in this city.

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Dando tempo, dando um jeito

Music, Personal, Travel

After giving this idea some time, some shape – there it is, a project of describing my personal journey through the soundscapes : sounds and landscapes from the Portuguese-speaking countries. A project derived from years of collecting memories and experiences of living and travelling in Portugal and Brazil, mixed with saudade –  impossible to translate state of longing to distant places and faces. Inspired by the people met on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean who helped me to realise that Portuguese is not only another language I speak, but also a state of mind closest to my heart/soul, balancing  somewhere between euphoria and melancholia.

When did it all start? I cannot trace back my first memories, but probably back in the day, it was Walter Salles movies, followed by Wim Wender’s ‘Lisbon Story’ when I became only curious about Portuguese language – both its version from Portugal, as from Brazil. First one having very Eastern European-like pronounciation, and the second one sounding like its lazy and soft family member.
Then, when I was 15, I tried free capoeira workshops in a modern dance summer school and fell in love with these sounds for good. I gave up the physical aspect of it after some months not being able to defend myself properly in roda against more flexible members but the curiosity to understand the Afrobrasilian culture was stronger than my muscles. I learned by heart our fighting chants and tried to find translations and learn my DIY Portuguese.
At the same time my musical gurus: Jazzanova, Gilles Peterson, Rainer Truby and 4 Hero, to name a few, presented various compilations with Brazilian 60s and 70s music and their creative remixes. At that time travelling, even to Portugal, was still quite a snobbish idea in Poland with no cheap airlines and no-Schengen. My curiosity even lead me to a crazy idea to pass the Baccalaureate from Portuguese as a foreign language, but no high school offered such classes at that time (!).

I had to wait until 2007 when I was admitted for the Erasmus exchange programme and when I passed my first summer in Portugal in the rural part of Beira Alta as a volunteer in the archaeological Roman village. Since then I decided to learn Portuguese for real and thanks to my first teacher, Dr Sylwia, who gratefully agreed to my participation in the classes for Spanish Philology students during the following 2 years. I have to acknowledge that it gave me a possibility to learn all the grammatical bases and meet, still in Poznan, equally interesting, future linguists and travelers! (Yes, I do hope you will read it).

Since 2009 I have been travelling and living abroad, in Portugal and Brazil included. Although nowadays I am based in Barcelona, I have to admit that my pursuit for the Portuguese sound has broadened my horizons towards the Westbound world and marked visibly my Southern personality. I truly believe in the future of the South-West direction not only in terms of the economic potential, but also cultural and social heritage, still unknown in the EU and the US.

The idea of this blog is very personal and subjective, as is for the most of the blogs (not?). I am not a linguistic specialist, nor a musical guru, even if there are a few who claim so, but I am passionate about those two topics and I would like to invite you for a journey through sounds and stories from the Lusofonia. I would like to say thanks to my inspirational and supportive friends, always eager to ask about my Lusoexperience, to listen to Lusomusic at and eventually, strongly encouraging me to create Lusofonetica where I could create my notebook to share.

I will try to translate the Portuguese meanings at the bottom of the posts, but if some meanings will remain unclear, I strongly invite you to ask. As well as to participate, comment, and criticize in this Lusospace!
To illustrate my concept, I attach you the recording from Elis Regina’s ‘Meio de campo’, where she describes humbly the creative process, without pretending to be the master of masters:

Prezado amigo Afonsinho
Eu continuo aqui mesmo
Aperfeiçoando o imperfeito
Dando tempo, dando um jeito
Desprezando a perfeição
Que a perfeição é uma meta
Defendida pelo goleiro
Que joga na seleção
E eu não sou Pelé, nem nada
Se muito for eu sou um Tostão
Fazer um gol nesta partida não é fácil, meu irmão
Entrou de bola, e tudo!

Lusofonetica, a soundscape from the joyful to the melancholic, or as we would rather say in Portuguese, entre alegria e saudade.

Wiki:

Lusofonia – a Portuguese noun to describe the Portuguese-speaking countries and territories

fonetica – phonetics

jeito – manner, way

saudade – longing, yearning

meio de campo – in the middle of the field

roda – ring, circle of people

capoeira – is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music, and is sometimes referred to as a game