“She comes from Dubai!” – Ode to August
August is a beloved month for Portuguese emigrants. It means holidays, time to kill homesickness. It also means hot temperatures, beach perfect long days that end up on the boardwalk cafés with a feast of beer, boiled snails (very famous portuguese summer snack), toasted bread with butter and sandy feet.
Once surrounded by your “usual suspects” you realize time hasn´t changed your bonds. The cumplicity printed in true friendship is still the same among laughs, jokes and new stories.
Parents are the most proud beings of the legacy we´ve conquered, as emigrants, in the world. Specially moms, who are just the best marketing tool when it comes to spread your “deeds” everywhere. Reason why I do believe emigrants share the same interesting phenomenon back home. When you arrive and go out (with your mom) don´t you feel everyone sneaked a “bit” into your movements and whereabouts? Kinda like if you were in some sort of Hollywood magazine but, of course, in a smaller context – your hometown. I call it the “Homellywood” phenomenon; and this phenomenon can have a massive chain reaction due the most specialized agent of “word-of-mouth” – your mom.
Mr. Hélder from the usual bakery knows that´s been a long time since I had that magnificent heated croissant with two slices of cheese and three of ham. He doubles the dose as he realizes I lost some weight – “She came from Dubai, needs extra quantity” – says my mom. The lady from Casa da Baía (a cultural center in Setúbal) shows me some cute “town proud” t-shirts which I get quite tempted to buy – “Oh she came from Dubai she won´t find nothing like this there..”. Mrs. Cilinha from Verde e Branco restaurant saw me grow up eating mullets. She notices how I eat one after another without a break. My mom adds “Oh she came from Dubai, fish is not that tasty there..”. Miss Amelia from Lanidor store, notices how tanned I am – “Oh she came from Dubai, she can go to the beach all year around” – she says. I entered another store and a lady welcomes my mom adding “I know you just arrived from Dubai”. I go for another store to buy some earrings for a wedding when.. “Oh she just came from Dubai, had no the time to buy some things she needed”. And the list of “homellywood” situations goes on and on. Neighbor Miguel, who owns a seafood restaurant on Setúbal boardwalk, realizes I´m making a huge effort to keep myself awake with a tempting tray of oysters in front of me – “Aww, she came from Dubai, didn´t rest much since she arrived..” – mom informed.
The word Dubai arises like something unreachable. “It´s like paradise, right?”. No, it´s not. By this time where temperatures round 40º and your heart is homesick, paradise starts with a P, ends with L and has the Atlantic Ocean by its side. Belongs to the Iberian Peninsula and it´s not a Spanish province or a country from South America. Cristiano Ronaldo has made that clear!
You breathe history, culture, life. In the desert instead, you breathe sand, camel´s fur, concrete, lust. No wonder the word Dubai does tell you: “Do buy”.
With arms wide open I enjoy the “homellywood” phenomenon. Nothing better to reinforce it than hugging your loved ones . A Hug, such a wonderful bonding “system”: two arms open which close in an embrace. “There´s more power in a strong hug than in a thousand of words.”
Maria Bonifácio Lopes