Sunday, August 29, 2004

Koev li

Tenho a alma dorida.

Acordo, e não sei que fazer aos espaços vazios em mim. Saudades, saudades, saudades imensas de Israel. Saudades de comprar garinim, tão diferentes das nossas, do cheiro do refet, do cheiro das ruas. Saudades dos dias de humidade louca, em que vi um algodão-doce reduzir-se a metade do meu punho fechado em poucos segundos, dos dias de Hamsim em Eilat em que o nariz fica queimado por dentro, das perambulações pelo kibbutz de binóculos e guia de aves na mão. Saudades de não ser diferente lá (ou de o ser de forma diferente). Saudades de andar a correr as 2nd hand bookstores em redor de Tel Aviv (e garanto que as descobrimos todas) e comprar carradas de paperbacks, saudades do hebraico, de o ouvir todos os dias, de o saborear na boca, de me dançar ao ouvido, em todo o lado. Saudades do timbre tão caracteristicamente israelita. Saudades até da tão típica rudeza. Saudades, saudades, saudades.

Ontem fui a um sítio onde fui frisked por uma segurança, onde me pediram para abrir a mala. Tive dois enormes choques. O primeiro foi ser-me imediatamente familiar. Na verdade, senti-me em casa. O segundo, foi que já deixei de o fazer automaticamente. Isto é, quando voltei, e durante muitos meses após ter voltado, continuava a abrir a mala sempre entrava num centro comercial e a olhar em volta à procura do segurança; continuava a examinar num relance a incongruência ou não de vestuário, malas deixadas em cima da mesa, embrulhos no chão, autocarros junto a mim.

Acho que é essa a causa desta alma dorida hoje. Custar, custa-me todos os dias. Saudades, todos os dias, várias vezes ao dia. Mas ontem apercebi-me de que me habituei a já não estar em Israel. Ontem tornou-se-me muito óbvio que JÁ NÃO VIVO EM ISRAEL.

Uf. Koev li.

Friday, August 27, 2004

The way men fall asleep (NO, NO, NO!)

This is what happens when one cannot sleep.

One ends up sounding like a bloody harlot. And the old-fashioned pedantic kind who will use phrasing such as "one does" and words like "harlot", at that.

"The first of many encounters". I'll say. Beautifully turned out.

No no no.
One is hungry.
One is coke-deprived.
One is not victorian.
But one most certainly does not engage in wanton behaviour.
Not that often anyway.

Monday, August 23, 2004

The way men fall asleep

Men twitch as they fall asleep.

They do it as teenagers - I remember lying on the beach flanked by male friends and suddenly feeling as though I'd stepped into a mute Tourette movie. The first of many encounters with the Master of pre-REM.

They do it as adults - and often do not even know they do it, a most extraordinary thing considering they twitch so intensely at times it is enough to pull me back from the brink of sleep (where I often teeter just for the sake of it to quickly retreat on my own anyway- case in point being now.).

And apparently, they do it all across the world.

Why? WHY?

I have twitch-envy. Trust it to happen to me.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

East Timor will NEVER be defeated!

In honour of those everywhere who dare to see and act, in memory of those who die fighting when it would be so much easier not to fight at all.

This will be a brief description of the history of East Timor since the 1940's (it is quite violent, the images are very graphic and may be copyrighted).

East Timor was a Portuguese colony for many, many years. During World War II it was invaded by the Australians, who sought to build a resistance network. The came the Japanese with their concentration camps, leaving 60.000 dead behind and many more scarred for life (no one ever heard of it. East timor does not have oil, or any that is available to countries other than Australia, shall we say).

Portugal never really paid much attention to East Timor either, other colonies being more profitable. It was, however, very handy as a penal colony and many dissidents from the Salazar regime were shipped there. There weren’t any basic infrastructures till the 70’s, if I’m not mistaken, so it wasn’t pleasant - that being the whole point of a penal colony, I expect.

(Salazar, by the way, was a dictator in power for nearly 40 years. It was a terrible time, a shameful one. People were arrested and tortured, raped and robbed of their dignity in a multitude of ways, sent to prisons in the continent and in the colonies. Many were exiled, many chose to. People were afraid, families were divided, it was easy to rat on someone because they annoyed you, our secret police, PIDE (may God spit on all of them!), not being very picky or honour-bound. When the April Revolution - The Carnation Revolution because one woman selling flowers started placing carnations in the barrel of the guns - happened (April 25th, 1974, in a coup organised by the military, with almost no blood spill), my mother and my father went out to join the thousands of others gathered on the streets trying to get information, not daring to believe it was true, but she went back to hug me once more - I was a todller - because she did not know whether she would return. Corny? You bet. Death often is.)

PIDE also exiled Timorese who dared to be nationalists. I’m not sure where they were shipped to, probably one of the African colonies, to one of those tiny tin prisons where you baked in the sun till you almost lost your mind. After the revolution, we abruptly left and left chaos and mayhem behind, as we were wont to do. Just file it away, brave Lusitano, not your concern anymore. Who cares if the ex-colonies were unprepared to govern themselves with no transition whatsoever? Our Colonial War was raging, for no good reason other than people wanting to have the right to decide what happens in their own country and dictators having a small problem with that.

The Timorese were given the choice between independence and annexation to Indonesia. Sadly, Australia immediately sided with annexation. Australia’s behaviour re East Timor has been shameful no matter how you look at it, which is a pity. (I like Australians. They seem extraordinarily sane and strong, and they are direct as hell. Then again, there's the Aborigines issue, which may be seen as a hint. But God forbid I should judge the Portuguese as a whole by what Portugal chooses to do. Or vice-versa.) Anyway, Indonesia decided they owned East Timor. The Timorese resisted for decades, with little resources. The Indonesians had no qualms about setting forests on fire to to prevent the guerrilheiros from hiding, pouring napalm - yes, you read right, Vietnam is a state of mind - on them and on villages full of harmless peasants, men, women and kids, they raped women, tortured the Timorese, decepated heads that were then paraded through other villages to work as deterrents. - very graphic images

The US Jewish Congress found the genocide in East Timor to have been the greatest one of the XXth century (considering population proportions) right after the Nazi one. Some investigators say it goes beyond that, reaching about 45%.

On November 12th 1991 the Indonesian Army opened fire on a crowd gathered at the Dili cemetery of Santa Cruz to pay homage to a student, Sebastião Gomes, killed by Indonesians. The crowd was unarmed. 200 were killed there and then, many more were caught and murdered during the manhunt that took place the following days and nights - and that included raiding the Military Hospital. 271 in total. The images of the massacre travelled the world and for a while it seemed as though the world cared.

For events narrated by a survivor, go to: East Timor is now independent but all is not well. To find out more about it and what you can do, see: ;

I have met some Timorese through work with Amnesty International. I have met some of the survivors of the Dili Massacre. Let me tell you about the Timorese. Imagine this: you live in terror. You work for the liberation of your country and are constantly afraid for your life. Worse: you live in fear that they will get to your family because of your activities. Or just because. You may not be involved in anything “subversive”. You don’t have to be involved in anything to be killed, the only good East Timorese being a dead one. You are wounded and almost die but you don’t; you manage to elude the police and hide; or you are taken into Bishop Belo's house and reach a hospital where you are treated (even if it means amputation without anaesthetics, at least you'll live). You see members of your family, friends, teachers be killed in front of your eyes, you see them Disappear never to be heard from again. You manage to get out of the country, mostly to Australia and Portugal. You leave everything behind. Everything. You cannot get in touch with your family, your friends. You don’t know how they are. You don’t know if they still are. You were a lawyer, a doctor, a student. You come to Portugal and you have to start from scratch. No studies equivalence. No home. No support network. And you still have to learn the language which is very, very hard (the romanic equivalent of German, I would say).

But the Timorese… they make one want to cry. I so admire their bravery, their dignity. They stand even when forced to blindly navigate the limbo. They are so strong, they are so gentle, they are so worthy. Humbling. They will sit with you and matter-of-factly talk about what happened, their losses, their hopes. They grieve but they never whine. And they smile. And their smiles light up whole rooms the way you read in books.

Where Portuguese Rules 101

(J., here goes!)

Portuguese is spoken in:

- Portugal
- Brazil (Brasil)
- Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)
- S. Tome and Prince (S. Tomé e Príncipe)
- Angola
- Mozambique (Moçambique)
- Guinea Bissau (Guiné Bissau)
- Some in Goa
- Some in Macau
- Some in East Timor (Timor Lorosae) (should you have happened to stumble upon this post, please see East Timor will NEVER be defeated!. They deserve it.)

No animals were harmed in the reading of this message. Some egos may have been.

Political Correctness or the Minor Gods of Balderdash

Funny thing happened yesterday (pretend it's the 14th of August). (If you want to read about anything remotely connected with the title, please try The Chopstick Factor - there was a glitch in the cerebral Matrix.) The unforgettabIe day I joined the wondrous world of blogging I decided to randomly take a look at what was out there. Since I couldn’t sleep I saw loads of blogs so although not statistically significant one gets a pretty good idea of what’s happening. I came across quite a few with pictures of the authors. This is the bizarre part: 99% were Asians living in Asia. Being an Anthropologist, and unbelievably talented at that (even if somewhat extinct at this time), I immediatly sensed a paper and snapped to attention. I wonder. Does this mean that Asians:

1) Are more photogenic?
2) Think they are more photogenic?
3) Care less about their anonymity?
4) Couldn’t care less about their anonymity because who will ever meet them face to face, there being all those millions of them anyway?
5) Have to break free from their anonymity because who will ever meet them face to face, there being all those millions of them anyway?
6) Feel obligated to justify their multi-camera compulsion by actually taking pictures?
7) Feel obligated to prove they’re electronically savvy?
8) Feel the need to assert themselves individually, since most Asian societies are pretty regimented? (but this is a variation on 5)
This is all I came up with it. There must be a significance in it somewhere. I cannot see it. This is why I never cared for Cultural Anthropology. Help!

Saturday, August 14, 2004

The Chopstick Factor

Funny thing happened yesterday. But before I ramble, let me warn you. I don't know how to talk about it in a politically correct manner. I wouldn't want to talk about it in a politically correct manner. I cannot stand political correctness. It’s fatuous. It’s vapid. It's absolute bollocks. If he or she reading this feels offended, he or she should just go back to his or her own blog, and if he or she doesn’t have one, he or she should create one of his or her own and rant about me to his/her heart's content. See? Let me try this in Portuguese, it’s even funnier because our adjectives have a gender. Bear with me and pretend you understand. “Se aquele/aquela que estiver a ler isto se sentir ofendido/ofendida, ele/ela deverá regressar ao (seu, but i’ll cheat) blog dele/dela, etc”. It would be even more effective in Hebrew because the tenses are different according to whether it’s a she/he/they female/they male etc.
Oh, it aggravates me! Hersterectomy. Herstory. Herspanic. And why are its proponents so very often women harbouring Sidney, the Aussie Spider, in their armpits? Why can they mow the grass just by sliding over it with bare legs? The very type who will kick a bloke in the balls if he dares - the sheer audacity! - to open the door for them, or be gentlemanly in any way? And should they get married (oh but marriage is just a paper blablabla) why are they so adamant about hanging on to their own last name so as to not be corrupted by the males'? Did their mothers beget them by parthenogenesis or have they ramdomly decided to disregard the fact that their last name is their fathers’? Or, even more intelligently, they take the mother’s name and walk around carrying their grandfathers’.
I have a very low threshold for stupidity. Let me seriously say, rituals are important. Institutions are important. Hierarchies are important. They shape us, they guide us, they let us know who we are (both by identification and opposition to), they give us the conformity within which we can operate (don’t get me started on the ethological improbability of anarchy!), they give us the conformity against which we can rebel (ditto). So. How people - and in all fairness, they come in all shapes and sizes and aren't all very butch - can mistake politeness for condescendence is beyond me. Being animals, vertebrate at that, and most importantly, primates, we are physiology-bound to a fair extent (we base an amazing amount of our behaviour in biology/genes, I’ll post the T-shirt Smell Experiment story some other time) and we have rigid social codes as well- and what a good thing that is. We need structure, we need rules, we need a common ground upon which we are able to recognise and interpret all sorts of signals that are vital to our survival even on a day-to-day basis. We are not all created equal. We are never equal and we are not all the same. Show me 3 strangers thrown together for a longish period and I’ll guaranty a pecking order in progress. It may vary but it will be present. We can all hope to be Alphas, but we run the gamut from Alpha to Omega and most of us are somewhere in between.
Politeness of all kinds and among all people are wonderful things. It does not diminish me as a woman. I find it empowering, oh yes I do. I most certainly do not feel patronised. I actually feel respected. A hint for those currently praying for a shag: it is a TURN ON because EVERYONE (should they happen to be normal) LIKES TO BE WOOED. Chivalry facilitates the "woo factor", ascertains its potential. Which almost brings me to the Chopstick Factor. In a bold manoeuvre, seeing as I briefly inhabited a parallel universe, I'll digress about it a in a future post called Political Correctness or the Minor Gods of Balderdash.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Statement (Declaração de Intenções)

I'm a bitch, I'm a lover
I'm a child, I'm a mother
I'm a sinner, I'm a saint
I do not feel ashamed
I'm your hell, I'm your dream
I'm nothing in between
You know you wouldn't want it any other way

So take me as I am
This may mean
You'll have to be a stronger man

I'm a bitch, I'm a tease
I'm a goddess on my knees
When you hurt, when you suffer
I'm your angel undercover
I've been numb, I'm revived
Can't say I'm not alive
You know I wouldn't want it any other way

Meredith Brooks, Bitch

Friday 13th

Fridays the 13th have always been kind to me.

What better day to start a blog?