Mar 13, 2013

Lisbon Stories (15)

After months gathering stories and taking photographs at the working-class neighborhood of Dafundo – this small area of the Lisbon Coast being doomed, its once well-attended beach now conveniently classified as ‘sandy area’ and reserved for a marina – I proposed to Euclides, who runs the 'Café Africano' with his father, to hang on the tavern’s walls pictures of the place and the people who frequent it. We’ll have a vernissage – a posh thing, as you can imagine – and wine will be served to whoever crosses the door.

This ‘permanent exhibit’ wouldn’t be complete without a picture of Mr. Sequeira: he is part of the furniture at Café Africano. Always ready for a domino game, he talks very little, maybe not to ruin his shy, everlasting smile. Now that I think of it, I don’t remember having heard his voice before today. Mr. Sequeira loves football, so I took a picture of him caressing a table football dummy painted with the colors of his team of choice. He was clearly amused.

I took three or four shots and told Mr. Sequeira they looked pretty good on the lcd screen. I said I would leave a print for him with Euclides. He gave a start and looked straight at me with tiny, inscrutable eyes. Then he asked, the voice trembling a bit,

‘Do I have to pay anything…?’

Mar 10, 2013

Lisbon Stories (14)

A couple of days ago, Dona Francisca celebrated her 93rd birthday (she shyly says 82, but Euclides, who runs the ‘Café Africano’, says she’s been 82 for many years now.) A Cape-Verdian from the island of S. Vicente, Dona Francisca is a delight to talk to, even though she’s almost completely deaf and keeps asking Como é?, ‘How’s that?’. She reads the newspaper’s headlines out loud, she laughs at them, she sings, Estás no meu coração, ‘You’re in my heart.’ We sit at the same table and I ask her to take a couple of photographs. ‘Why not?,' she says, 'While the wind is blowing outside, I can’t go for my walk.’

Mar 6, 2013

Rushing Things

‘Dad,’ Daniel said, ‘it’s moving!’ He had been up and down investigating the mechanics of the thing and had pushed the pier bridge a meter or so. ‘No brake shoes,’ I remember thinking, ‘how odd.’ But hey, I’m not an engineer, so what did I know. The people at the pier were taking photographs, unaware of my son’s scientific inquiries. ‘Dad, it’s MOVING,’ he insisted, laughing nervously. I told him ‘Son, I’m taking photographs. Please wait until I’m finished.’ Kids are always rushing things. Eventually, one of the men on the river noticed the movement of the pier and started running up, crying like a madman. The others followed him and were able to put the brake shoes behind the wheels. This is wild guess, for at the time I had finished taking photographs I was half a kilometer away.

Addendum: I had lunch with Daniel today and asked him to forgive me for having been such a clown as an educator. After all, I’m a humorist: I earn my living mostly by drawing and writing very silly things disguised as deep truths about Man and the Universe (or was it the other way around?)
I added that it is highly unlikely that I change in the future. Not after 50, I won’t. He said he was glad we have always been such good ‘accomplices.’ He wasn’t using the wrong word. But I can assure the ethical reader that no human being, irrational animal, or plant was ever hurt in the course of my fatherhood.