Estamos num táxi, a descer para o sul de Lombok. A Carol pergunta-me se eu não tenho sono e eu digo que não, não tenho. Mas tenho qualquer coisa, aquela atenção descontraída que uma viagem de carro proporciona. Lá fora a estrada, e nela as cidades, as pessoas, os cheiros – a vida. Quando de repente vejo a palavra “amor” escrita numa parede e junto-a, num rápido e inconsciente exercício mental, às outras duas palavras que tinha visto ontem – “punk” e “soul” – sei que a combinação é certeira, e que estou dentro de um postal. Gosto muito de postais, em especial dos que estão em movimento. Vejo um homem num fato-de-macaco cor de laranja berrante; dois minutos depois vejo um carro cor-de-rosa choque a ir na direcção contrária. Que encontro cromático terá acontecido? Um cartaz de um sítio que parece, assim de repente, um restaurante (ou serei eu que quero que seja um restaurante?) diz: “Anda Lapar”. Perco a conta às mesquitas por onde passamos, construídas e em construção. Gosto de mesquitas, das suas torres, das suas cúpulas – aqui são muito redondas, com tons marítimos (verdes, azuis). Os warungs começam a encher, com pessoas a sentarem-se e os donos a cozinhar peixe grelhado. Os indonésios são mestres na arte de sentar. Tenho de perguntar como se chamam as cabanas onde eles se sentam na estrada, junto às casas e em frente às praias. Penso em perguntar ao taxista, mas fico apenas a olhar para as costas dele. O taxista tem um movimento que repete a cada cinco minutos, de abanar a cabeça, primeiro para a esquerda e depois para a direita. Falámos um pouco no início; foi o primeiro tipo na Indonésia que, ao saber que éramos portugueses, não respondeu “Cristiano Ronaldo”. Limitou-se a afirmar que vimos de longe. Há momentos em que quero que ele me pergunte alguma coisa, que faça conversa. Do género, o que é que fazes? Diria: sou uma fraude que gosta de existir, sou um advogado que gosta de escrever, um académico que gosta da vida e do seu movimento. Um maluco que fixa realidades aleatórias que vê da janela do carro, como uma rede de badminton, um sinal que diz “federal oil”, um grupo de putos juntos à parede da escola com ar de quem está PPP – Prestes a Pregar uma Partida. Um respigador, como Agnès Varda, mas encapotado. Engraçado: a Carol reparou hoje, no hotel, no nome Varda, em letras douradas, fixas na parede, apontando para cima. Se calhar era o destino, ter este Varda feeling, hoje. Li no maravilhoso Flights, da Olga Tokarczuk (um óptimo livro, feito de belíssimos postais) que o desejo, por si só, apenas indica uma direção, um movimento. O resto é um mistério. Desliguei a dado momento da viagem e deixei de recolher imagens, para passar apenas a apreciar os montes do sul de Lombok, uma serra de Monchique versão hemisfério-sul. Quando chegámos ao hotel, olhei para a porta e reparei no nome da marca da pega de ferro. Sabem qual era? “Belleza”.

Instruções (do melhor livro de viagens)

INSTRUCTIONS

I dreamed I was leafing through an American magazine with photographs of ponds and pools. I saw everything detail by detail. The letters A, B and C described precisely every component part of the plans and outlines. I eagerly began reading an article entitled: ‘How to Build an Ocean: Instructions’.

Olga Tokarczuk, Flights (translated by Jennifer Croft), 2017

I’m again having a shower in another open-air bathroom in Indonesia, this time located in a budget bungalow in Nusa Penida island. The water is cold, but ok. I look at the sky. The tone is pink, post-sunset pink. I often remember, when I see the sky like this, the song Pink Rabbits. It’s a slow-burn song, very light, like the sky now. It makes me feel like writing, taking notes, put down pen to paper, make lists, annotate dreams and ideas. There’s something about being able to bath under the sky without any kind of man-made intermediation, like a window, or a roof, or a ceiling: it feels better, more divine than usual.

Balinese postcard (number two)

When we arrived they were still in the same place: sitting in the front porch, drinking a glass of wine. I noticed that the wine had become red since lunch. It was now 11 pm, and we had just arrived from dinner in this spot called The Loft, that served nice hummus and a reasonable margarita, and played Talking Head’s song This Must be the Place twice. There was a latino party on the other side of the road, in a joint called The Hatch. Upon seeing the couple we thought to ourselves that they had spent all day in the villa, moving back and forth between the swimming pool and their bungalow, that is the same size as ours (meaning: the size of your parent’s bedroom, with a typical balinese – did I ever mention that to you? – open-air bathroom). They were old, his back already a bit curved, and she was very fat in the belly but had thin legs (Carol said she had a “fridge-woman” body type). They were German. I couldn’t see him clearly at night, he seemed to be sitting behind her. We entered our bungalow and proceeded with the pre-sleeping rituals of cleaning and being. While I was doing my routine social media checking, a routine that was alarmingly growing day by day, I heard them speak. He had a loud, grave voice, while hers was mature and elegant. They laughed – my German is not even close to good, but I felt that he had told a joke. They seemed sweet, for I remember this morning that he went to the swimming pool while we were starting to eat breakfast in our front porch and she followed suit when I started drinking coffee, which I always save for last, and when she arrived at the pool she kissed him in his forehead. Carol and I wondered why on earth would a German couple come to Bali to spend some days in a comfortable but small villa with shitty wi-fi. I remembered that Le Carré line that says that people talk better when there is a view. Maybe that’s it: maybe they like this view. Or maybe there’s another reason. In the end, you can never tell. People will always be one step ahead of you in what respects their own reasons and feelings.

Balinese postcard

I’m having a shower in the evening. Local people were outside, in their compounds, celebrating Kunningan. During the day I couldn’t help but feel some sort of special energy around. We ate Korean and had a massage in Ubud. We then dined at the hut, some fried stuff with egg and vegetables, and she was in the room, and tomorrow we would climb a mountain during dawn and get extremely tired and even wounded, but at the same time witness the most beautiful sunrise of our lives. But now – in the present – I’m in the bathroom. The bathroom is typical of these balinese guest houses, meaning: the ceiling is open. Below the opening there’s a plant, not very exotic but nicely trimmed and proportional to the rest of the elements in this space: the toilet, the mirror and lavatory, and the bath. The bath is made of small, sea blue coloured tiles. I’m showering and listening to a prayer projected into the forest by some very loud speakers. Occasionally I hear this sound, that I cannot connect to any existing reality, in the middle of the prayer and the insects around the hut. I wonder if it is the sound of a rare insect, a finger-sized balinese mosquito; I wonder if it comes from the palm tree leaves hitting one another with the wind; I wonder if it is just some degree of technical interference coming from the speakers. Meanwhile the water runs hot and is sufficiently pressurized. When it stops I can understand that the unknown sound is a feminim voice, a contra-projection (a contra-prayer?) coming from another direction. Suddendly it starts rainning. Rain drops hit the leafs of the bathroom plant, in a light but regular manner. I’ve heard modern music concerts that were simpler than this sound mix that arrives to the bathroom. I’m standing still in the bath, wet, listening to it all when I look around and notice that there is a small clay turtle in the lower shelve of the lavatory. I wonder if it has any meaning, if it symbolizes anything – a hindu god, a reincarnated person, some sort of natural power of protection or grace – just like the prayers and the sounds and the plants symbolize something. Notwithstanding all the theological possibilities, I think all of this represents the irresistible complexity of the present and its indomitable power, the invisible soul that you can only feel in these weird, mundane moments when, strangely enough, you are closer to life than you can imagine. I stay like this, not exactly relinquishing (that’s not at all the word) but rather being, with the least possible effort, in this state of affairs, respecting the essence of this time and this space, of the discourse that is being reproduced here, before reaching for the towel. At the towel’s first contact with my back’s skin I feel that, for all that it is, it is a warm night, here in the hut.