Monday, November 10, 2008

Vitrola. I mentioned a couple of posts back that I'd seen a local band playing at the university "Science" Fair. Well, lo and behold, my good pal Dyego got ahold of their latest CD and its ace. They are called Vitrola and this is their myspace page and, yes, that first song is in English - it reminds me of old indie stalwarts the Bluetones.

Things I miss about England #8: Cream teas. Perhaps 90% of the things I miss from the UK are comfort foods and here's yet another entry about grub. I was giving a test the other day to students in a classroom which had a picture on the wall of a bonefide English cream tea. Scones, fresh cream, real home-made strawberry jam ... it was torture to see it.

Things I love about Brazil #9: People are not afraid to pray, really pray. I recall one summer at university when I worked for a programme that accepted foreign teenagers to the UK to learn English. I was an activities organiser and one fine day we went to Howard's Castle. The tour finished at a small chapel on the premises. I was astonished when a dozen, rowdy, disinterested, flirting, swearing Italian teenagers all sobered up, got on their knees and started saying their prayers as soon as we stepped into the little sanctuary. Something of holy fear exists in these Catholic nations which we've lost in the Protestant north...

Today, as I drove to work I passed a lady I had seen several times. At a certain corner near a lamp-post not far from the language school, there she was as usual bent over with a shawl across her head, face in hands, weeping and rocking back in her knees with her face to heaven and arms outstretched. A few yards away a car had pulled up and I saw someone else on the pavement, a younger lady, a professional, head to the floor, also praying - I couldn't tell if the latter was an acquaintance of the lady or a stranger who had been convicted by the older woman's devotion.

I've often wondered why this old lady is there. I once thought it was a routine of hers - every Thursday, but I haven't worked out a pattern as she disappears for a while and comes back on random days. Once, she was out there in torrential rain - and it made for quite a dramatic sight. I have to admit that as I'm driving to work, head full of things to do, her presence their unsettles me. It forces me to consider my own spiritual life just when I`m least thinking about it. Occasionally, a list of my fine Protestant criticisms roll through me head: "Why is she there? Hasn't she got anything better to do? Is she mourning someone who died near there? She should get over it! Is she praying to saints? What good does that do?". The truth is I don't know why she's there so my list of complaints sounds very Pharisaic. I think of the woman who poured perfume on Jesus' feet... for many reasons it wasn't a sensible idea and everyone vocally pointed that out at the time. But, Jesus didn't see it that way.

In other more familiar settings too, I`ve seen Brazilians far less inhibited to get on with the needful thing of praying, often with a dramatic accompaniment of body language and tears. To the extent that this equals a genuine pouring out of the heart, we could learn from them.

No comments: