Fado from its peripheries - Regressa Urgente / Return Urgent

on 11:03 am

As I mentioned before on this blog and on the Facebook page as well, as part of my research on Luso-descendant returnees, I recently put together a documentary with a colleague of mine by the name of António João Saraiva. After spending the Summer editing the film will Neel Naik of Ra Atelier, we are now ready to show the world the fruits of our labour and to show this little snippit of life taken from the journeys of Marta Raposo at a critical time in her life as a fadista (or fado singer) in the Portuguese world of fado.

That said, we kick off with the documentary's official launch which will take place on Friday, Dezember 9th at 9:00PM at the Fado Museum in Lisbon. We couldn't have asked for a better location and we thank the Fado Museum for having us for this one night.

As almost everybody knows by now, Fado is now on UNESCO's Intangible World Heritage list. The Portuguese music of fado has been reaching the four corners of the world of late. We are undoubtedly happy as well as lucky to be putting out our film at this time, riding the coat tales of fado's current success. Marta's story, however, is a little different from the stories often associated with fado, tied to Lisbon's traditional neighbourhouds such as Alfama and Bairro Alto. Marta's fado is peripheral in every sense of the word, and, above all, in her geographies (from the Margem Sul of Greater Lisbon or Lisbon's South Bank to her ancestral village to Montreal, land of emigration).

We started following Marta 5 years into her journey in Portugal, at a time when she was again preparing to return to Canada; a pivotal period that ended up triggering divided feelings of belonging, carrying with them doubts and regrets. The desire of wanting to succeed in the 'land of fado' was now to be left suspended, but the question that arises is why. We are inviting one and all who may be interested in this story to join us at the Fado Museum on Dezember 9th at 9:00PM. Seating is limited so we are doing a first come first serve. E-mail me at jmssardinha@gmail.com and we will put you on the list. Here's an invitation to all.

The eléctricos of Lisbon and the 28

on 7:09 pm

One certainly can't say that trams, or eléctricos in Portuguese, are a comfortable means of transportation; quite the contrary in fact, and this is particularly the case if one hops on a tram and can't grab a seat, having instead to enjoy the ride grabbing on to something during the ride. If you've ever been on one of the old eléctricos in Lisbon, you'll know that they are neither fast, agile nor flexible. If you're in a hurry, take my word: unless you have no other alternative, don't take one. On the other hand, the old eléctricos of Lisbon are unique and full of charm; true symbols of gone by days. They are representatives of a city that have managed to stay unique and equal to itself in a world that all too frequently has been taught to discard, ignore and devalue what is old. If only there were more examples like the eléctrico, mind you not everything old is viewed with such romanticism. In Lisbon there are still five old tram lines that have stood the test of time (the 12, 15, 18, 25 and the 28). Classic tourist trams also travel certain lines showing visitors and locals alike the beauty the city possesses.

Now when we get into one of these old trams, it's a lot like going back in time. The fact is the first eléctricos actually began circulating in 1901 and were pulled by horses. These can now only be seen at the Carris Museum in Alcântara. The ones we see on the rails around the city today are from the 1960s and they look like it too - wood and metal and plastic free.

Out of the aforementioned tram lines still running, as any Lisbon eléctrico aficionado will tell you, there's one line in particular worth riding - the number 28 which runs from Martim Moniz to Prazeres in Campo de Ourique (or vice versa, depending on where you start, mind you you can also hop on anywhere in between as well). The travel publication Rough Guide calls the n. 28 line one of the 1000 most important trips to take on the planet with plenty to see along the way. Just to give you an idea, starting at Martin Moniz, as you travel on eléctrico 28 you'll go by Feira da Ladra (fleamarket), Portas do Sol (viewpoint), Castelo São Jorge (castle), Sé de Lisboa (church), the neighbourhoods of Alfama, Graça and Mouraria, this before going down to the baixa (centre of Lisbon) and then back up and crossing the neighbourhoods of Bairro Alto, Bica, São Bento and up to Estrela stopping in front of Basílica da Estrela (basilica) before advancing to Prazeres where one of Lisbon's well known cemeteries is found. Here are a serious of images featuring the eléctrico 28 line:

So even with all the innovation, modernity and ribbon cutting in certain parts of the city, the eléctricos of Lisbon have stood the test of time. They're very much a part of the visual landscape of the city. Poetically speaking, if I may, it's like they're the blood running through the veins of the city ... or maybe that's the subway? Not too good at waxing poetics.