April 2022: being Brazilian
This month’s recap is coming in late because I had planned to write it on my flight back to Germany, but then Brazilian regulations allow airlines to sell more seats than they can fit so I got stuck in Brazil for another day.
But let’s start at the beginning. April was a long and eventful month over here.
It started out with some career overthinking and my decision to stay at my current job but change teams instead of accepting a new challenge at a company I admire. It was not an easy choice, but it didn’t feel like the right timing, both financially and for my professional growth. I’m quite proud of the conversations I had about this and that I was able to keep this door open for when I’m ready.
Speaking of changes, this month we also moved apartments. It was so satisfying to spread our one living/sleeping/working room into separate rooms and start dreaming of the possibilities of the new place. Our friends were also very happy that it only took us 45 minutes to carry everything across the hall!
I was still not really able to experience this new life though, because I came to Brazil a few days after for Easter and a friend’s wedding.
You know all those stories of people coming from abroad to surprise their family or friends? I’m happy to report I now have one of those to tell.
The main reason I decided to come to Brazil for only two weeks (after spending 5 years saying it wasn’t worth it) was to attend a friend’s wedding without telling her. And it was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. Not only the celebration was beautiful, but seeing how happy people were to see me there and being able to capture the exact moment the bride saw me was priceless!
Other than the wedding, I spent some quality time with my family and friends, but I have to say not everything was amazing.
Being away during the pandemic and this destructive government made me feel very disconnected from my country. It was sad to be confronted with a reality that is not mine anymore but affects the lives of people I love.
It was so weird to feel like a foreigner in my own country, to feel like I should be afraid of walking in the streets even when I’m not, to not only be in touch with the privileges I have for being an European citizen living in Germany, but also with the absurd that even the privileged are living in Brazil.
And then there’s the culture, the feelings, the conversations and nuances I’ll never be able to experience elsewhere. It’s even strange for me to write this post in English, to be honest (I guess I might have to implement localization?).
It’s funny to think that I had to leave the country to feel this much part of it. And even so, I didn’t feel like I had to come back that often and I still find it hard to believe I’ll ever come back for real. But this short trip fueled my motivation to align my life in a way that allows me to visit for longer periods so that I have enough time to be Brazilian in Brazil every now and then.
Speaking of culture, this month I’ve seen three amazing exhibitions of Brazilian artists that I’d like to recommend:
- Sebastião Salgado, photographer, famous for his striking black and white documentation of marginalized people and landscapes. He recently published a book called Amazônia, portraying indigenous people and the incredible nature in the Amazon forest. The immersive exhibition of his photos and videos of indigenous leaderships talking about their lives and the consequences of how the white men treat the forest has been to Europe already and will be at Sesc Pompeia in São Paulo, with free entry until the end of July.
- Ayrson Heráclito, artist focused on elements of African influences in North-eastern Brazilian culture, from photographic representations of Candomblé divinities to paintings and installations made with azeite de dendê.
- Adriana Varejão, artist with an incredible body of work inspired by the relation of colonialism and native Brazil. The most impressive in my opinion were the reproductions of Portuguese azulejo tiles on canvas and the series “Ruínas de charque”, where we see blood and flesh through the tiles in different pieces.
I’ve seen two movies that stuck with me in April and I just realized they both had very talented kids:
- In good hands (Ketche, 2022), an emotional Turkish movie about a woman with a terminal disease trying to make sure her son will be fine when she’s gone.
- Petite Maman (Céline Sciamma, 2021). There’s nothing I’ve seen from Céline Sciamma that wasn’t great and I’ve seen pretty much all her movies!
I started the month joining a great bookclub on I didn’t do the thing today by Madeleine Dore, which I still haven’t finished. I brought it to Brazil together with Matrix by Lauren Groff, but unsurprisingly I haven’t touched any of them.
Instead, I’ve read two Brazilian books (and bough three others!):
- Cartas ao morcego by Nurit Bensusan: In literal translation, this book is called ‘Letters to the bat’. A very interesting reflection on what it is to be human and how we interact with nature and technology in the form of letters written to the possible host of the virus that started the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Torto Arado by Itamar Vieira Junior: It’s hard to translate its title, but the German edition coming in August will be called “The sister’s voice”. This is one of the most acclaimed Brazilian books of the last years and I’ve been wanting to read it for a long time. A raw portrait of contemporary slavery in rural Brazil.
I guess that's a good summary of what this month was about. I might get back here later to add some visuals, but now I have to get ready to catch my flight!
Written on a Monday in May, 2022