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Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “Brazil”

A dreamer, a sleeper, a traveler

Mount Saint HelensHelmut was a sleeper. Most people called him a dreamer but that wasn’t always true. He could sleep without having any dreams.

It was both funny and concerning at how easily, fast and deeply he could sleep.

The saying that even bombs falling can’t awake him, was literally true in his case. For all his drowsiness, Helmut was a widely-travelled man. For work reasons (he was a non-conformist travel reporter) he had found himself in the Gaza region. But when the bombing occurred he was safe asleep in his bed.

During another time, he was across continent, in Asia when an earthquake of great magnitude hit Japan. Helmut felt nothing. He was dreaming of relaxing with a mojito on a beach in Copacabana while rocking gently on a hammock.

Sometimes he was upset that he missed great events. Like for example a FIFA World Cup thrashing of a prestigious team.

Or the New Year’s Eve fireworks at a packed world-famous central square.

Helmut didn’t mean to fall asleep everywhere and at any time. It just happened. Particularly when he was exhausted after an intense day of travelling, running around and researching his renown reportages. He was good at his work. He was just running out of energy and lacking in stamina to endure a full 24-hour day.

Yet, the things he had seen in his life, few people could boast about. Helmut had visited all 50 must-see cities within the span of 2 years, and he had seen much more. He saw things tourists did not know existed. And that was what made his stories unique. They were real, authentic and true. So what if he didn’t experience the force of a tsunami? He was there to view the aftermath, the human sorrow, the destruction, the tragedy of continuing having lost everything, and the courage to restart from scratch.

In the end it was true – Helmut was a dreamer with eyes both shut and wide open. But he saw the world for what it was. And for all it was worth, experiencing a thousand moments of consequence meant so much more than living a few seconds of impact.

 

N.B. Links to the events are merely for reference and to serve as recent examples. No matter how well travelled Helmut may be he cannot have been in so many different places at more or less the same time period.

It’s just a ball…isn’t it?

-You guessed it, with the World Cup 2014 in full heat over there in Brazil, I was bound to get caught up in all the excitement about football. I promise I won’t rant on too long. Because, you know, there are many who can’t understand what all the fuss is about – it’s just 22 guys on a pitch kicking a ball around. Isn’t it?

Well, apparently it is. But deep down it seemingly has more meaning than at a first glance. Let aside the millions that are spent each year – heck each month – on football equipment, stadiums, and those blown-out-of-proportion salaries of the players themselves, this is a game which to the truest of fans is comparable to no other.

At one time or other, most people dream of visiting a stadium of a well-known team. Simply to indulge in the interior of this apparatus that spills out entertainment, thrill and excitement to fans of all ages.

It’s a different sensation being there, in the arena with thousands of fans cheering, yelling, screeching mostly profanities, but all the while living every moment. As if their lives depended on it. Because let’s face it, for the fanatics, when it’s football time, they are the ones who know best, how to play, how to score, how to be a coach. And endless rows and injuries have exploded over such trivialities. For some, football is more than just a game. It is a way of life.

Yet, there are some instances where this ballgame (not to be confused with America’s favourite pastime) actually unites – people, families, entire countries. Where a single victory by the squad of a small, financially devastated and austerity-crippled country can make an entire nation proud. Because for those few days or even hours, people manage to forget about their own problems and focus on something else. Something that perhaps values more – national pride.

No matter the outcome of any game – despite the swearwords, the profane hand-signals and the rage that may fill the crowd at first – fair play stipulates that all are acknowledged. For the goals, the saves, the game well played. And just when this huge party ends and we’ll return to reality and the routine once again, some will already be planning the next one. Because it’s not just the match. It’s the love of the game, and everything that comes with it. So, maybe it is not just a ball after all. Is it?

Beyond the horizon

beyond-the-event-horizonMartina always dreamt of being a travel writer. She felt that this was the one profession that truly encompassed her two greatest passions and for this her job would never mean work. “Choose a job that you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”. The motto she lived by. Confucius was a smart man.

But eight years after graduation she was stuck in a job far from this. Addicted to high quality results and striving for the best she can be, she was often caught in an inextricable loop of exploitation, un-appreciation, and low pay. And worst of all, she was simply locked in an office.

Yet one day, she took the chance. After hitting the ‘send’ button and hearing her resignation email swish to its recipient, she packed up a bag and drove to the airport. Brazil sounded enticing this time of year. And it was as good a time as ever to go exploring…

Never before had she witnessed a culture, a mentality, and a way of life so different to hers. Taking a leap to change everything seemed so scary every time she thought about it. Yet when she finally took the chance, when she decided to break down the walls that were holding her back, she felt liberated. And the sights she witnessed before her – the azure gushing waterfalls, the jade-green of wilderness, the rhythm of life that appeared as if music was playing in the streets – it all made her heart melt at the thought that this was the life she longed for.

And now, this was it. For the first time in her life she was doing what she wanted. Living by her own rules, her own schedule, and making a living out of her own work and accomplishments.

I am not going to continue the story by saying that suddenly everything disappeared and Martina woke up in her office again after returning to reality, because I don’t know if that is true. I leave it up to you to imagine what is real and what is not. For it is true that when you do take a chance to change your life in an instant, you will be rewarded simply for taking the plunge into the unknown…

 

Also part of Trifecta Writing Challenge – the prompt word was melt (transitive verb):
3:  to make tender or gentle :  soften

Also part of Daily Prompt: If You Leave              

An inspiration and an adventure through a book

DSC01554A good book can transfer you to another world, another time, another place and will invite you to literally dive into its pages as if you were its protagonist living out its story. A great book will also transmit to you its feelings and engage not just your mind, but your senses as well. A book is your passport to the world, to places you never even knew existed, and to cultures you knew nothing about.

I was given such a book as a present. And then I was lucky enough to realize a dream every book-lover has – to get in contact with the author and ask questions!

Cássia Martins is a wonderful author, artist and person at heart. Of Brazilian descent, she decided to go back to her motherland after finishing her degrees, and after a mere nine months she had written her book! With Brazil preparing to take center stage with the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Cássia Martins immerses the reader on a heartfelt, touching story of personal development and soul-searching in a beautifully and vividly described “Marvelous City”.

IMG_9663Born in Rio is a book that ravels you up right from the start and leaves you asking for more. Complete with twists, dark secrets, revelations, and a flood of emotions that can be felt right to the core, it is a book so full of life that makes you reconsider your own place in the world. What makes it such a great read is that it is full of gripping, wonderful descriptions that make you feel as if you were really there –  feeling, seeing, smelling everything around you. But most of all, this book embarks you on a trip to Rio, and through its pages you learn about the history, culture and life in one of the world’s most passionate and lively cities.

Contacting Cássia as soon as I read the last line of her book, she not only welcomed my enthusiasm, but reiterated her delight when I asked her if she could answer a few questions for an interview. With a journalistic flair at work and my excitement to be interviewing a published author, I therefore present you the interview with Cássia Martins, author of Born in Rio:

How did you come up with the idea for this novel?
The first idea of writing a novel came to me when I was writing application essays to graduate school. When I was done with my MBA applications I realized how much material I had to build on a story about a New York banker going back to her roots and eventually changing her ways. During my MBA at Wharton, I constantly thought about the plot, and finally when I graduated I had the story figured out. Then it was a matter of sitting down to write it!
 
Why did you decide to go back to Rio now (when writing the book)?
I really wanted to talk about Brazil and Rio because I was born there and it’s a place that has such a special place in my heart. I wanted to show the world how it feels like to live in Rio, the culture, the heat, the people, so living there was actually crucial in writing this story. It had been 15 years since I last lived there on a day-to-day basis, so actually going through the experiences of being back helped me a lot with material for the book!
 
How did you feel going back to Rio after 15 years? How did it feel living there again and then having to go back to the US?
When I left Rio to the United States I was a teenager, and thus I became an adult in the US. Throughout my life I had been to Rio in many instances, but always for short period of times, just for the holidays. My family is from Brazil but I am also American, so there was definitely a culture shock of going back, and then getting adapted back into a culture that I actually had experienced before! But it was such an enriching experience that inspired me to write rich content for Born in Rio; I was never short of interesting things to write about!
Shortly after I finished writing Born in Rio I went back to the US. Going back to the US after Rio was an easier transition. Born in Rio is published in English and most of the work involved in publicizing it now is done from the US. So, to me, I think I had the best of both worlds while making this book.
 
How is the book based on your own experience?
IMG_9220_2The book is based on my own experiences from many angles. All the events Rita goes through when she gets to Brazil, in a way, I experienced them as well. The liveliness of people in Rio, the heat of the culture, the passion, these were all things that took me by surprise, and that I then wrote about. All the places Rita goes to in Rio I also went there. I even took dance lessons (like dancing samba in pairs) and my favorite place in Rio is the Rio Botanical Gardens, where I went often to get inspiration for my story!
The plot and the story itself is fiction, but based on real events, either circumstances that I have experienced myself, or that I saw other people go through. I compiled all my knowledge and allowed my creativity to interweave them in this inspiring story of growth that is Born in Rio.
 
How could you bring yourself to write so vividly about such painful events (the passing away of the mother of the character; the domestic violence from the father etc.)?
I think that one of the missions of an artist is to be sensitive to experiences we all go through as humans. So I always try to think of different circumstances and the feelings that might be associated with it when I engage in the creation of an artistic project. The artistic creation itself, to me, is something I am very used to. Since an early age I was exposed to many forms of art, and I have used my art and creativity as a channel of growth and healing. That ability has allowed me to connect with other people, and to humanity as a whole. So I think I used this approach in writing this story, and in transporting my readers into different aspects, and feelings, we might experience as humans.
 
How much research did you do on Brazil’s history and how did you go about that (by reading books, talking to locals)?
History has always been one of my favorite subjects in school and so it is no surprise that Brazilian history fascinates me even more. I think Brazil is such a unique country, and I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to be born there, and to live there. It is truly a melting pot of cultures, and Brazilians consider themselves “Brazilians” regardless of where their ancestors came from. So a lot of the material in Born in Rio was based on my own knowledge of my motherland, but a big chunk of it was based on extensive research; I read many books, not just about Brazilian history but also Brazilian arts and literature. I tried to talk to as many people as I could when I was there, so the information would be not just accurate, but also real. I was very happy with the result in the book Born in Rio, readers always mention to me how I was able to transport them into Brazil, and make them feel closer to its history, people and culture…almost seamlessly.
 
Is Rita anything like you?
DSC01562Well, I wanted to write about another woman, so many aspects of Rita do not belong to me. But at the same time, I think that some do, because I can better write about what I know myself. Rita was a very cold woman, not in touch with her feelings a lot in the beginning, and that I cannot sympathize with because I have always been in touch with my feelings. But she is a professional in the finance world, and so I am, so I do understand her demeanor in many work related situations. She was born in Brazil, as was her mother, and we do have that in common also. I can also say that a lot of her “growing up” throughout the book are questionings and insights I also encounter in coming to terms with my own path in life and adulthood.
 
Is the long-haired dachshund appearing unexpectedly a tribute to yourIMG_9706 Dolce?
I’m so glad you noticed that! I have to say, my Dolce was my true companion in this journey. I like to work at night, when everyone is sleeping and the world is filled with silence. Therefore although I spent many, many nights writing with no humans around, I never felt alone. I have had Dolce for 9 years now, and I truly feel he is such a loyal company, that I just HAD to put him in the book somehow! So, of course, I decided to give a “Dolce-like” dog to the artist, Mona, because I feel like my Dolce has really been a crucial supporter and very important part of my artistic creation process somehow.
 
How did you manage the task of doing all aspects of the publication for the book yourself (publishing, promotion, advertising etc.) and how did that feel?
I honestly don’t know which part I liked most: writing the book, or managing it. Although I am an artist, I also have an MBA in marketing and entrepreneurship, so to me, this project has always been my business plan. I try different strategies with it, measure its results and built on them to move forward. I’m lucky, I guess, to have developed both the artistic, subjective, intuitive part of the brain as well as the more logical, analytical and objective side. Thus I really love the fact that I have had control both on the artistic creation and the management of the book. That ability has really allowed me to put this project together, wholesomely, and that makes me very proud and happy.
 
Could you ever have imagined that just like you were excited to receive a signed copy of a book by Isabel Allende, someone would be just as excited to receive a signed copy of your book?
DSC02509You know, since I was a little girl, I was so inspired by Isabel’s stories. Paula is one of my favorite books and I read it now in three different languages! So, yes, it was one of the best gifts of my life to receive a signed copy of Paula by Isabel Allende. I cried when I got the envelope, a moment I will never forget. Therefore, if my readers are as excited to receive a signed copy of my books, to me, that is one of the most noble accomplishments I can do; to be able to bring a simple moment of happiness into someone’s life like that. I really hope this is true, and I hope to continue doing that for many years to come!
 

N.B. I am so thankful to K for introducing me to Cássia and her lovely book, but also to Cássia herself for being such an inspiration!

It turns out life does indeed happen independently of what you want, but sometimes, it also goes a bit your way, and when it does you cherish every moment, every contact, and every experience you gain!

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: FAQ

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