What’s the weirdest thing about being an expat, other than the word expat? (I know you didn’t ask but just go along with it). Well, for me it’s finding myself feeling nostalgic for things I didn’t even realise I liked.
Growing up in Lisbon, it was sort of uncool to like fado. It was old people’s stuff, you know. In fact, you kind of had to go out of your way to find it, it seemed. And so I never did. Instead, I hummed along to whatever was fashionable back then (and okay, some less-than-fashionable stuff but lets not get into that).
As I was heading out of my teens, Mariza exploded and Fado slowly started making its way back (?) into the mainstream music circuit. Or maybe it was just that I went to the Faculty of Letters and started hanging out with intellectual folk and so higher culture became more common around me (whoa, that sounded snotty, didn’t it? Don’t worry, I was still licking my bowls after ice cream back then. Okay, I still do). It was the height of my hipster-like life and liking fado was kind of cool precisely because fado was uncool. Or something. But even then, I never made it past more than a couple of fado songs in a row.
Fast forward a few years and I’m inside JB Hi-Fi in New Zealand looking for a CD of Kiwi music to take to my auntie in Portugal for her birthday. Chris was happily browsing the CDs in another aisle when my eyes fell on The Rough Guide to Fado. And I had to have it. Because I loved the songs in it? Hell, I didn’t even recognise their names! But it was something from Portugal in New Zealand and I go all silly when I see Portuguese stuff in NZ (like the time I bought a disgusting tin of tuna because it said “Portuguese tuna” or the time I paid about $5 for a Portuguese tart in Sydney and it tasted like poop. But I love you, motherland!).
Fast forward again to about a month or so ago. A friend emailed me saying he was doing some research on Fado music and asked for some pointers. I put off writing him a reply because I knew it would be a long one (I tend to babble a lot when foreigners ask about my country because, well, my country rocks) and I was feeling particularly homesick at the time so I wasn’t looking forward to mess with those feelings like that.
Today, I finally replied to his email. Yes, I babbled. And I added a lot of YouTube links. And then I hit the ‘send’ button and spent pretty much the rest of the day at work with my earphones on listening to Fado. It took me coming to New Zealand to realise how much I love it.
And see, I’m babbling again. Don’t mind me. I just wanted you to listen to these and dare you not to be touched by them, whether you understand the lyrics or not.