quarta-feira, 31 de agosto de 2011


E que Marisa nem se atreva a contradizê-lo: Ramiro está profundamente convicto da extrema religiosidade do seu pequenito: a todos garante que "Papa" foi a primeira palavra que calhou sair daquela boquinha virgem.

quarta-feira, 24 de agosto de 2011

A karmic birthplace called “Tallinn”

By João Lopes Marques (Eesti keeles)

Sometimes I wonder why the hell I (still) live in Estonia. At first I thought it was about pure hedonism hand-in-hand with my Nordic fetish. Then I got rid of my guilt complex and started believing I was just a normal bachelor addicted to the local beauties. Too short. I also convinced myself life here was easier and cheaper than somewhere in Europe. Or because of the fact all my four novels were written here, in what I started calling the-milky-cow-very-very-milky-literary-theory.

Sad that all the four are about me and myself. Another hypothesis, very true anyway, was related to the great people I’ve met while living in this country: Raili, Eve, Helena, Askur, Teve, Age, Ivar, Erik... They were — still are — absolutely inspiring. Yet now I finally discovered Agnes was the ultimate reason.

Throughout these more than five years of Estonia I thought about going away too many times. To leave the next day, although my attachment made me return always. Over and over. And leave once again. For no longer than a month. Since Klaus Mirsalis whispered me this would be my destiny, back in May 2006, I’ve been trusting in his prophecy: “Tallinn is a great place to live. My ancestors came from there. I’m a descendant of a Persian merchant and a Balto-German family from Estonia.”

I’m slightly mystic and Herr Mirsalis made all the difference in my troubled life. He was a honest German from Bodensee but spoke about Tallinn as a deep-rooted native — yes, we all have our Archangel Gabriel. He was a 80-something pensioneer and we had to tolerate ourselves everyday for a week in the Göttakanal cruise.

Breakfast and lunch and dinner and... Uff... A war prisoner just likes to tell old stories...

No, it’s not the first time I share this memoir. This seems like watching the movie Viimne Raliikvia once again. However, it’s the first time I re-tell it after Agnes is born. When I look at her, at her mother, at me in the mirror, at the flat I finally decided to buy two years ago not to flee forever from this country, at Agnes again, and again, I think about that wise old man.

Somehow he is guilty of my erratic destiny. Passion.

Well, not so deviant after Agnes. She brought me the ultimate justification for my exotic Northeastern option. In fact, there was something that always touched me in Estonia: the way locals look at kids. Either a 5-year-old one or a pregnant women. Unlike other countries, my Iberian geographies included, I feel the hope of future in Estonian eyes. You can’t, sorry, you can imagine how many people I didn’t know personally greeted us last weeks because of Agnes.

This is the moment one realizes small, literally small, can be beautiful. And I’m speaking about people I had never seen in my whole life but for whom babies are meaningful enough to cross the street and shake hands. I will never forget the coolness of Krista, the appointed midwife that afternoon, another proof Estonia and babies are close synonyms. Even Estonian language seems sweet when spoken between two local women in a decisive moment. The same with men: had never expected such a joy, cheerfulness and sensitivity.

Children are uniting people: last week I also got to know Agnes will have a Russian-speaking Estonian as family doctor. With an accent, of course. Such a colorful twist makes me happy. Forget Kalev and Linda, forget Soviet occupation traumas. Instead focus on the human scale and everybody’s daily contribute: Estonia is a much more multicultural country natives want to believe.

What did you expect from a crossroads like this? Are you still laughing every time a person pronounces the word “Kazakhstan?” I guess identity in Estonia obeys to other mechanisms: I was very happy to register Agnes as an Estonian citizen, even though I knew double Estonian-Portuguese citizenship is impossible.

Black and white it is: it was like favouring the Indians over the cowboys. Deal: she belongs here.

Truth be told, I bore in mind what Düsseldorf-born Mirsalis said about his remote ancestors that had moved here over 10 generations ago. The fact is that, three centuries later, this half million City-State was still the cornerstone of his identity. The world is huge and it should be used. Explored. But I just hope my daughter Agnes can one day continue this narrative.

Wherever she decides to settle, even though I hope charismatic Tallinn will be inspiring enough to her. Estonia herself or Viimne Raliikvia’s Agnes are perfect examples: when a rich nobleman thinks he owns you, much better run for an adventurer’s arms.

terça-feira, 16 de agosto de 2011


Quando a meta já nem me interessava, ele esbracejou. Estafado, só pensei em desistir, mas ele gritou pelos quatro. E também esperneou, em jeito de ameaça. E eu só prossegui pelo dever e, sinceramente, nem me recordo de quem chegou à frente. Talvez Hans, porventura o esguio Dieter. Ou o cabrão do Klaus. Mas bastou-me sentir aquele seu bafo suado ao receber o testemunho. Apalpar aquela palma sensível num milésimo de ternura. Permiti-me e confiei. Percebi quão Konrad queria ter-nos todos na mão na sua (nossa) recta reta final.

“Vabandust, aga ma ei tea!”

By João Lopes Marques (Eesti keeles)

“Ma ei tea...” When I think about the first syllables of an Estonian baby I can imagine “Ma ei tea”... Not “Mama”, let alone “Papa”... Simply “Ma ei tea”.

I explain: not to understand a language can be as annoying as entertaining. Since I can’t follow the full meaning of most conversations around my attention turns selective. I’m always waiting for a sentence I’m able to grab with both hands and process in my mind... That’s how I noticed Estonians just love to say “Ma ei tea!”.

They repeat it over and over, especially women. It seems to me the most natural and spontaneous phrase an average Estonian can pronounce. Still remember when my friend Krista told me her English language teacher had forbidden all students to use “Ma ei tea!” in the classroom.

A national addiction?

I myself embraced the epystemology of “Ma ei tea!” as a personal cause. A tough job, I must admit. Yet, after years of random observation, I feel finally prepared to share my humble impressions:

  • Estonian is a complicated language and the crystal clear simplicity of this three combined words is wonderful. They flow as fast as naturally from one’s mouth. It makes people believe Estonian language doesn’t have so many cases;
  • It’s a daily exercise of modesty, alongside with the “normaalne” or “väga normaalne” idiosyncrasy;
  • Shyness and reservedness may play a role in this republic. We know how Estonians preserve their vital space and if somebody prefers distance or isolation, these are the three magical (and respected) word to say. Or is there any better excuse not to express yourself?;
  • It can also be a personal or social challenge: when an Estonian soul speaks “Ma ei tea!” she is testing other’s perseverance. Do you really want to know that? OK, so you have to nail the topic again...;
  • Like a good ABBA or Ivo Linna refrain it turned into an ear worm, the sentence is always there, itching and automatic in its intriguing, amazingly beautiful, melody;
  • Estonians have the good habit to be assertive and “Ma ei tea!” is a tool used in order to gain extra time for reflection. Rationality is a plus. Then, 10 seconds after the empty sentence, the sharp answer comes;
  • It’s all about coolness. Just nerds, IT guys, bankers, politicians and Soviets must pretend they know it all. “Ma ei tea!” is somehow a symbol of juvenile dandy coolness mixed with arrogant unpretentiousness. Plus, every girl loves to be frivolous from time to time;
  • Happens when the conversation is not warmed up enough. As good Ugro-Finns with singular notions of time and space, Estonians need to build trust before they mingle. The other possibility is to drink a couple of pear ciders, though slightly more unhealthy;
  • “Ma”, “mu” “mina” and “minu” are the most popular words among Estonians, another evidence of the native’s sharp sense of freedom and individualism.

But make no mistake, I’m very used to it. And never ever take my words as a criticism: I’m also addicted. After all, “Ma ei tea!” is one of these interjections that make me feel so home in Tallinn : in Iberian languages the expressions “Não tenho ideia” (Portuguese) or “Ni puta idea” (Spanish) are also used when somebody doesn’t know how nor what to answer.

Phonetically, as surprising as it may sound, they turn out to be very similar to Estonian “Ma ei tea”. Like the words “gorilla”, “nimi”, “muusika”, “meloodia” or “meri”. Or “avarii”... or... huh... or...

Ma ei tea!


Tinha aveia para o negócio.