Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Dona Tututa documentary ...

I couldn't help buying this awarded documentary on the legendary pianist from Cape Verde, whose name I first heard of in 1985 as I was teaching on Sal island. I was given a cassete some years later in which she played together with the guitar player, Taninho Évora and I was surprised with her versatile mastery ..., maybe because I wasn't expecting a woman to excell in such an instrument in Cape Verde, where women were supposed to be singers and not necessarily musicians, let alone composers.

As I was watching the documentary focused on her life in São Vicente as a teenager and a young lady, playing among men in the nights of São Vicente through to her family life in Sal and the importance piano (which she still played with great mastery despite having gone ninety, her children's opinions on her, as well as the many who got to know her by either having played with her or just watched her since childhood as a musical reference, I realised how "humble" Cape Verdians are.
Had I met two of her children (Reinaldo and Sónia, who were both my friends and Aeronautical students on Sal island and the Training Centre in Lisbon) in Portugal and the first thing that would certainly have "perspired" was - they are the children of the well known pianist so and so ..., this, if they were to even consider befriending me ...
Taninho Évora, who besides working for ASA (The Aiports and Aeronautical Safety Agency in Cape Verde) was a former student of mine and yet never (ever) mentioned the fact that he was a fantastic guitar player (Luis Rendall style), nor did Luis, the violin player (a former student as well)..., or Pedro Moreira, the recognised journalist (a former colleague teacher and friend) ... and I could go on forever ..., because Cape Verdians simply are ... regardless of what they have "achieved"  ...
Epifânia Évora ... was ... and will be remembered by her nominho Tututa, preceeded by Dona ... (because she was a lady, in the real sense ...), a mother of 16 children ... a great pianist ... "one of the pillars of  Cape Verdian culture", as someone mentioned in the documentary ... but above all she will be remembered as Cape Verdian, one of the many Cape Verdians, who simply are ...

Monday, 30 March 2015

The latest films I have watched ...

I have recently seen two films which despite being very different both dealt with family drama and disruption caused by issues beyond people's control. If on one hand one  focusess on what it is like to live with Alzheimer's disease and consequently the struggle through confusion, anger and pain the other  highlights life's dilemmas in regards to one's love for the family and one's committment to such a dangerous and  demanding work as being a war photographer, one can't let go of.

A thousand times good night is said to have been inspired  by the author and screen writer's personal experience as a war photographer, which may be shared by the so many who feel it is imperative to disclose what goes on in war-inflicted countries even if it implies putting oneself at risk, whilst Still Alice  is inspired by a disease which breeds yet another war ... the war between "still" being  and what one no longer is capable of being.
They have both been brilliantly interpreted and if Still Alice has won an Oscar for  the main female character  interpretation category, A thousand times good night has won a special grand prize of the Jury at the 37th Montreal Film festival.
Awards apart, both films are worth seeing, especially because they make us ponder on the fragilities and strenghts of  human character, and the importance family has in such or similar circumstances.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Getting together with friends in Paris - The 21st of February 2015

I got to Paris on the early morning of the 21st, having managed to sleep throughout most of the night flight from Mumbai. Having an evening flight back to Lisbon allowed me to spend a great part of the day at  some friends' ... (whom I consider to be rather special friends). 
They were counting on me for lunch, so as not to show myself at their door that early I made my way to "bagages du monde" where I left my luggage and soon got onto an RER to Chatelêt  ... It was a fairly greyish and cold day, for which I hadn't prepared myself, but the cosiness of FNAC where I spent the following two hours soon made me forget about the discomfort.
By midday (under the rain that insisted on falling) I made my way to Gare du Nord, just a few minutes away from their home. I was welcomed with a splendid Porto wine glass, followed by an incredible meal Gérard had specially made for me ... not forgetting the delicious desert (they still remembered I am "gourmande").
I spent the whole afternoon with them, looking through an amazing genealogical research Danielle is putting down in book format for her grandchildren  until it was time to get back to Roissy.

It would have been different had they not have been there for me ... there's nothing like being with good friends, who cherish and love you when you are on your own ... I was privileged enough to have had that loving feeling on  my two-way to Paris ... (before and after India).


The sweetness of Southern India circuit (Day 10 early afternoon) - Saint Thomas Basilica, Chennai - The 20th of February 2015

On the way to Saint Thomas Basilica (our last visit) we drove by the Bay and the beach that stretched for kilometres. We were allowed out to take a few photographs. It was really hot and the more our flying time got closer the more we felt we would miss the heat  of the country and the warmth of the Indian people.

Considered the principal Church  of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Madras and Mylapore the Neo-Gothic Basilica is said to have been built by the Portuguese in the 16th century over the supposed tomb of Saint Thomas, as well as the remains of the original Kapaleeshwarar Temple, which Portuguese explorers had destroyed earlier. 
As we visited it I somehow felt our minds were already half way back into Paris and the routines we would soon have to get used to again (not to mention the cold). A few details did get my attention particularly the presence of two peacock representations (highly symbolic in India) by the feet of the life-size statue of Jesus Christ together with the "Deus Meu" (written in Portuguese) on the representation of Saint Thomas. 

The local agency offered us a fantastic meal at a local restaurant (located in a back alley which could hardly  be seen from the "outside") ... It was clearly the best meal we had throughout the whole circuit (and we did have some really good meals!...) An almost "bitter-sweet" meal, as we would soon be gone ...

The last half an hour  in Indian territory (before making our way to the domestic airport through the dense city traffic) was spent at a local seven or eight storey-high shop, so as to spend our last rupees ...

One last "experience" ... one last image ...


The sweetness of Southern India circuit (Day 10 late morning) - The Fort Saint George's area - St. Mary's Church, Chennai - The 20th of February 2015

We drove to the coastline so as to visit the Fort St. George's area, which we had access to after a thorough "screening" by guards at its entrance. The Fort is said to have taken its name from Sint George who is believed to have had a significant influence in the region in 1644, with the Fort's completion coinciding with the Saint's birthday.
Primarily erected as a trading post it is now divided into two sections - Saint Mary's Church and the Fort Museum.

We visited Saint Mary's Church because of it being not only the oldest Church built by the British but also the oldest Anglican Church East of Suez. Constructed in 1678-1680 Saint Mary's interior caught my attention, and I believe every other visitor's because of the numerous memorial plaques and monuments around the nave and the aisles' columns. I couldn't help photographing some, as well as the baptismal font's plaque with the rather interesting history of the font.

The Church was "invaded" by school teenagers in their uniforms as we made our way into the churchyard gardens, but no sooner than that we were followed by some of those teenagers, particularly girls, who were dying to talk to us and have their photos taken with some of us.

Carole surrounded by school girls

As we made our way out I unexpectedly noticed a Hindu shrine I hadn't noticed on the way in, which was worth looking at, though I would have to ask Sagar for further explanations regarding the worshipper's posture.