Mais fotos da Danusha e das torres Petronas aqui.
I wanted to go to Malaysia because of Malaca. I was determined to visit the Portuguese neighbourhood or Portuguese Settlement, as it is called there. Unfortunately the visit was very disappointing. There are two or three streets with Portuguese names, houses with uncharacteristic architecture, a square with a couple of restaurants where dishes with remote Portuguese roots are served and a Lilliputian museum filled with junk with no interest at all. Green, red — the colours of the Portuguese flag — and motifs of Portuguese folklore are painted on the walls. A torment for me who disagrees with this image of a Portugal frozen in time, as if we were nothing else but codfish and corridinhos. Or viras.* We talked for a while with a gentleman who took us to the museum. He made a long speech about the differences between the Portuguese they speak and the Portuguese spoken in Portugal, but he did it in English. And yet he complained that the new generations don’t want to learn the language of their great-grandparents. No wonder! What interest could there be in learning the language of a country that, with such a portrait, seems to be old fashioned? We just heard a few Portuguese words from a fisherman who was sewing nets, sitting on the floor. Very open vowels, in a slightly tropical accent. Nothing else. Malaca, a World Heritage site since 2008, is funny and deserves to be visited. It is pleasant to stroll in its streets with a slight European ambience, filled with tourists, and enter the small shops, which are many and of good taste. But what really saved the trip to Malaysia was it’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, the city that seems to enclose several countries. I was housed at the Chinese neighbourhood, but, when I turned the corner, it seemed like I was arriving in India when Hindu temple of psychedelic colours appeared. And five times a day I travelled to North Africa every time I heard the muezzin calling the Muslim congregation to pray. But, the charms of Kuala Lumpur aren’t reduced to this surprising mix of cultures that apparently live together peacefully. Kuala Lumpur is, along with its traditions and ancient rituals, a very modern city, that exudes youth, dynamism and luxury, a side that has its pinnacle on the well-known Petrona Towers, once the highest of the world. It was near the entrance of tower 2, right before entering the shopping next to have lunch, that I met Danusha, a young Malaysian woman whose auditing job is very time consuming. “I work here at the Petronas. I have read more than I do now, yet I use all of my free time to do it. I read mostly novels, but I also like non-fiction. Salman Rushdie is maybe my favourite author, although I only read three of his novels”, she told me. The book she had with her that day was “The Finkler Question“, the Howard Jacobson novel awarded with the 2010 Booker Prize. “A friend offered it to me” she said. And while she was showing me the extensive dedicatory written on the first pages, that friend arrived and came closer to us. “Well, actually she wanted the book”, he explained, laughing. They exchanged an accomplice look and Danusha completed: “I don’t usually read the synopsis. I only read the reviews. And by the reviews of this novel I thought it should be fun. And it is full of fun. I’m enjoying it very much!” Again she looks at her friend and adds “He is also a writer. He is writing a book that one day will be published”. He does not deny it. He explains he doesn’t know yet what “it” is. “Only words so far. But she should be a writer to”, he says looking to Danusha. “You write very well”. I left them arguing this matter but before we agreed that whoever publishes the book first would let me know.
You can find more pictures of Danusha and the Petrona Towers here.
Translated by Marisa Silva