dimanche 29 novembre 2009

Magic of Saudade and the Cruelty of Reality

I have always enjoyed that sweet sensation of Saudade, possibly the one of the more beloved words that i like in any language. a feeling of impending loss and the anxiety even before you knew you had it, would be my definition of the portuguese word, but there are many other explanations of it.
Tropics are like hammocks for lovers, wasnt it Anais Nin who said that. Having always lived in Australia, England, USA, Sweden for most part of my life, I long for those parts of my life spent in tropical countries, either as a tourist/visitor or a resident (Cuba is tops!). I remember coming home to Melbourne after trips to Fiji absolutely depressed at the prospect of unending rain squalls and dark evenings with memories of antarctica in them. In Sweden, i revelled in the words of my fellow students from the south american continent, who introduced me to Pablo Neruda and Vente Poemas de Amor..
I was sitting at a lovely park in Paris and thought about the idea of Community.
Currently I am blessed to be associated with two societies that place an incredible amount of importance of having Communal Sense: Cuba and the American Indians.
France, more than any other country i know, provides its citizens with so many services, no other country has such an extent of care of its citizens..in my field of Health Care, it is the best of all that is available. Yet i felt longing for the community, that open sharing of common happiness and joy of being alive that we have in Cuba or the incredible laughter of the American Indians, when i spend my two weeks a month here in Paris. Government has taken on many responsibilities, such as the Church once used to do, said a psychologist friend of mine and people have become comfortable and reliant on that, and less and less on their neighbours. the moral support which in a society like Cuba is so important does not play the centre stage here.
But an incident on one of my recent visits had me thinking a little differently about the French. I have never subscribed to the popular american view that the French are unfriendly. not as loud as the americans and brash, for sure, but friendly neverthless. The flat i was staying at had a calamity, and I was astounded by the help of the neighbours, very thoughtful, generous, sacrificing and time consuming. I was truly impressed with that. The French do it this way, is something you hear a lot while living in France. and this nationalism has extended to the civic option, of helping your neighbour when the dire need arises.
Yesterday at the supermarche, i saw a man of modest means buying extra grocery items to donate to the poor of France, this is much more of an american way of doing it i thought but the man was quite generous and soon the bags of donation were filling up in front of a small supermarche in a small section of Paris.. i can imagine the donations collected all over France..
So, i have a little better understanding of the French Generosity and civic Action.. I wish i had the intellect of Claude Levi-Strauss to formulate the nationalistic origins of the symbolism of french action.
Merci Beaucoup..