It has taken me half a lifetime and a little over 100 days to realize that this where I belong. Because I eventually had to come home.
Largo dos Leōes, Porto, April 2018
The souls that throng the flood
Are those to whom, by fate, are other bodies ow’d:
In Lethe’s lake they long oblivion taste,
Of future life secure, forgetful of the past.
Photo: Ponte de Lima (2017) I have spent a lot of happy and not so happy days in this place during my childhood and teenage years. A village which is known for a legend of forgetfulness has helped me to know a little bit more of who I am.
The Aeneid by Virgil
This is not a good photo. I couldn’t get out of the car and attempt a proper photo, the letter box stands right by a traffic light and words on walls and urban equipments tend to vanish quickly, so you get them when you spot them.
Pause and reflect on the [your / mine] path
That’s how it reads to me. That’s what’s lacking, the time to stop and try to see the direction.
even though I feel at home in most places I travel to, even though I can’t wait to leave, even though it now looks mostly as a theme park, I sometimes can’t help but feel that Porto belongs to me because I belong to it.
I seem to be forgetting to live a little more.
This is my first trip to India. I spent two and half days in Kochi in the state of Kerala, site of the death of Vasco da Gama who had arrived in Calicut (now Kozhikode) 26 years before. In 1510, led by Afonso de Albuquerque, the Portuguese conquered Goa and here they stayed until December 19 1961. I spent two days here, fulfilling what has been a dream ever since I was a kid. To visit Goa.
And while trying to fight whatever is left of my jet lag self, I am trying to both understand where I am beyond the imaginary place of countless life fantasies and the real place. This is, of course, an absolutely delusional ambition. How could I ever understand anything in two overwhelming days.
I always felt History was not easy to explain. Not even to thode who share it with you. There’s always a sense of invaders guilt at the back of my mind and then people tell me ” you should come to Iran and see the Portuguese fort in Hormuz” or ” you really need to come to Sri Lanka and see the Galle Fort” or maybe go to Thailand or Oman or Indonesia. And then I realize there’s nothing to be explained. It’s a common memory .
The minute I got in the car for a tour of Goa, the guide starts talking about Augustinian and Jesuit churches and nuns baking Bebinca, and reliquaries and Saint Francis Xavier and how much knowledge came together in the XV century to make all those churches and forts rise and still stand.
It is impossible, for me at least, not to feel that those stones and paintings and that relic are part of who I am. They are my cultural DNA.
The next day I decide to walk on my own through Fontainhas, the Latin Quarter of Panjim and get lost, as I normally do. Since I have no wifi I ask the girl carrying her dry cleaning carefully wrapped in newspaper where June 18 street is. She walks with me because she is going that way. Where are you from, she asks. I tell her.
Eu também falo português (I also speak Portuguese) she tells me.
This is my unfinished journey. Where my sense of belonging comes from.
One is always at home in one’s past…
My greatest aspiration was always to live in the tropics.
A common Quest
It is difficult to see the picture when you are inside the frame.