Lisbon in Us by Agnaldo Lima
This week, our guest is overflowing with poetry. In Lisbon in Us by Agnaldo Lima, this Bahian living in Lisbon for around 30 years, reveals his foreign perspective through his beautiful photographs and his Portuguese heart through his words.
Um olhar estrangeiro (A foreign perspective)
“Os passos, distribuindo rastos,
adivinham o chão por onde se desenham
e tornam-se cúmplices do olhar.
O olhar desnuda a cidade,
resgatando à luz,
detalhes que o tempo esqueceu.
Os passos são leves, calmos, não ligeiros.
O olhar, minuciosamente, analisa,
pois nada deve escapar a um olhar estrangeiro.”
I felt Lisbon in me, for the first time, in February 1984.
After my voluntary exile from Brazil and a fourteen month stay in London, I spent a night in Paris and, after a long and tiring train trip, I disembarked in Santa Apolónia railway station.
The smell of the Atlantic, coming from the Tagus River, and the sound of seagulls flying over boats carrying tired fishermen, awaited me.
The morning was bursting with a superb, caressing light, chasing away the winter.
Lisbon entered through my foreign gaze, as if it were a magical and welcoming harbour, reserved only for painters, photographers, lovers and poets.
Its smells and noises penetrated my senses, taking possession of my soul, in a sensual approach.
In the hall of the station, a man was handing out business cards. There were rooms available at his hostel (Rua Luciano Cordeiro) and transportation was free.
I didn’t readily accept his offer. I rushed to find other options, previously scheduled. Hours later, defeated by fruitless searches, I rang his bell and was received as if I were a prince, arriving from across the sea.
For a while, that was my house. There, I made friends who introduced me to other friends, some of whom, still present, faithful witnesses to the memories of the past.
That’s how I got to know the tenderness hidden in the sweet and shy soul of the Portuguese people.
The Discovery of the City
With my luggage unpacked, I took my Nikon and went out into the street. I went up and down hills, discovering a Lisbon, still peaceful, as if asleep on the riverbank.
My gaze voraciously soaked up the colourful roofs and tiled façades of centenarian houses.
The spacious squares, the narrow streets, the breathtaking viewpoints and the alleys of the typical neighbourhoods that are full of memories, were red carpets spread out in front of me.
The tolling of the church bells paced my steps in this discovery.
The architecture, unique, reminded me of the remnants of the colonial, spread throughout the countless corners of Brazil.
The monuments awakened in me historical facts that had been dormant for a long time, from the distant History classes, from my student days.
During these walks, I visited taverns and cafés where I let myself be absorbed by the delicious taste of the cuisine and the warmth of the red wine that warmed my senses.
I ate beef steak and pork steak sandwiches and drank penaltis (term to denote “wine” used in taverns). I learned to ask for a pastel de nata (egg custard tart), a bica (espresso) and a copo d’água (glass of water) and that… a “garoto” (young boy), was nothing more than coffee with milk.
I felt at home.
A year of ups and downs had gone by, common to those who leave their country and venture into new perspectives.
One day I left, but I wasn’t the same anymore!
My exit door was the same one I had entered – Santa Apolónia railway station.
Some friends brought me a goodbye hug, a cake for the trip, and a bouquet of red carnations.
Lisbon remained within me.
Five years later, like someone returning to the arms of an impossible love, I returned.
The city renewed itself. It followed the colours and novelties… it emerged, finally, from the gray in which, for so long, it had been confined… it seemed to foresee globalisation.
We reconciled and Lisbon became my home again. And, with a full smile, she opened her arms to me, in a tender embrace of one who forgives.
For three decades I have lived in this city, transformed into a homeland, the city that welcomed me.
I learned to listen to fado, I adopted the writer Eça de Queiroz as well as, with pleasure, the local orthography. From time to time, with great pride, I appoint myself ambassador and guide whenever friends come to visit.
All of this makes me, the supporting actor that I am, feel integrated in this scenario of a common plot to so many who perform, daily, on this beautiful stage that is Lisbon.
Gratitude is my way of celebrating and praising the human, historical, artistic and cultural heritage absorbed here and the affection of the Portuguese friends – the family that my heart has chosen.
But, no matter how much I write or speak, to fathom what I feel would only be possible, through the glow of my eyes, when the topic is Lisbon.
|Lisbon in Us by Agnaldo Lima|
|Mini introduction||Born in Bahia, Brazil, on the Christmas morning of 1950, he studied photography at Camden Adult Education Institute in London.Lives in Lisbon, where he frequently looks at the city through a lens.|
Loves the simple pleasures of life. Hanging out with friends with a glass of red wine is one of them.
Photographing, reading, writing and declaiming poems are the gastronomy of his soul.
|An inspiring place||São Pedro de Alcântara Viewpoint|
|An unmissable visit||São Domingos Church, Casa do Alentejo, São Roque Church and Pavilhão Chinês Bar|
|His mouth waters with…||Caracóis doces (sweet bread), accompanied by a galão (coffee with milk served in a tall glass)|
|A song…||Lisboa Menina e Moça by Carlos do Carmo|
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