Letter from Malaysia

September 17, 2011 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)



My correspondence with Fernando Rosa began some months ago: he is a Brazilian doing research in Malaysia. This is how he describes his work: ‘I am doing research with the Portuguese community [in Melaka] (and here in KL as well), together with a linguist, Stefanie Pillai, who is half-Portuguese herself, and Jamian Mohamad, also a linguist, who is a Malay specialist in the influence of Portuguese, Malay, and Melaka Portuguese on each other. Working with the language is quite fun, especially to me. Melaka Portuguese sounds somewhat like my own Portuguese but somehow upside down! I love it and am learning it.’

Although I’ve never met Fernando in person, he was very helpful in suggesting places to visit and things to do in Brazil. By an odd coincidence (if such a thing exists) it turned out that he knew Prof. Lynn Mario de Souza of São Paulo University (see my post of Sept 13). After reading the post, Fernando wrote back to say:

‘I have located a copy of Os Bramanes in Macau. To my surprise, an architect friend there, Rui Leão, who is Macau-born, Lusophone and speaks Cantonese and no Indian language, told me Francisco is his great great grand-uncle (here is a link showing Francisco’s works in Portuguese, French (sic), and English translation:

http://www.worldcat.org/search?q=au%3AFrancisco+Lu%C3%ADs+Gomes&qt=advanced&dblist=638). He also told me his father used to have a library (I think he may have meant a livraria, namely, a bookshop – he wrote his email in English but his mind works in Portuguese, just like my own) in Panjim and that – guess what – he once put forth a new edition of Os Bramanes. Therefore the novel is an old favourite with the Lusophone Goans.

‘One of my proposed projects which I have not carried out yet is related to tracing these connections between the old Indian Ocean Portuguese colonial harbours: not the grand historical picture, but the family links and personal histories.

‘Indeed Santa Teresa has changed a good deal in the past few years. I still remember the old neighbourhood: almost derelict, village-like, and very charming. Its historical bohemianism was much quieter, a matter of artists meeting at each other’s ateliers and homes. People tell me traditionally Santa Teresa was like a small town just above Rio, part of it but really separate. The outdoors bohemianism would take place just below, in Lapa, from where the bondinhos – the English trams from the 1930s which still run through the neighbourhood as far as I know – leave. Rio is a magical place and I miss it very much.’

Fernando has a blog of his own:

Link: http://melakabrasil.blogspot.com/2011/09/veredas-pathways-and-fusillade.html

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