BRIC in the wall, in a sharp lense

Personal, Travel

Call it food for thought for a Monday evening. I got recently inspired by the political science research collective to share an impactful photo taken in one of the BRIC countries. They are starting a campaign called Rising and Declining Global Powers and they took the urbanization, relative poverty and mass transformation of the BRIC regions as a good start of the dialogue about the major issues in 2015.

So Brazil in my lense is, sadly, not only beaches, stunning landscapes and happy people. There is rage, poverty, and unpredictable growth of the mutant cities (aka politically correct cidade satelita).

This image was taken one morning when I was doing the daily 5 km run, on a very popular trail surrounding one of the neighbouring cidade satelita of Brasilia, Aguas Claras. With my European mentality I could not tell where the borders between the safe and totally uncontrolable neighbourhoods (aka favelas) begin. There are often none, and different groups live next to each other. I decided not to care too much about it, regardless of noticing the 5m high electric fences in front of the households.

And there he was, on a 8-lane-drive, surrounded by different kind of cars, a man riding a horse-drawn vehicle. He looked so surreal with among these skyscrapers and 4x4s, as if he was one of the few underprivileged remaining. Especially that I’m talking about the Brazilian capital, the richest place in the country, if not the whole South American continent. Also, as I later learnt, the capital of inequalities.

Looking at this crazy Brazilian dynamics during my travels in 2011 and 2013, be it Brasilia, Recife, Natal or SP, I thought about the possible crisis and what it may entail in the future. Having previously seen the dramatic real estate bubble in the Southern Europe I was somewhat cautious. Not that I am a nature-born pessimist, I just know that leaving the capital in hands of 1% of the richest won’t lead to nowhere. Well, possibly to world’s widest roads ridden by men on horse-driven vehicles.

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Água de beber

Music, Travel

Yes, this post is dedicated to water, and the bossanova classic. But as a matter of fact, it is mostly about Brasilia, the capital of Brazil where I lived for a couple of months.

It was there where I learn for the first time, quite strikingly, how important is to water yourself properly. This fascinating yet quirky capital built in 1960s in the middle of planalto is famous for two remarkable seasons (and two mejor neighbourhoods only, anyway – shaped as wings of a plane). The humid one starts sometime in October and lasts until April and meanwhile, the word ‘chuva‘ disappears from the BSB vocab. Residents claim that even though the showers may be abrupt and heavy, this is when their city springs with the sheer beauty. I did not have a chance to see it though. Arrived in the beginning of July, thinking in terms of the European standard four seasons, I could not expect the winter to be represented by constant sunlight, 34 Celsius degrees and humidity dropping down sometimes below 15%. During my first days I realised it is not an exaggeration that one have to carry a bottle of water 24/7. I also discovered some of my faves: Água de coco, the coconut water which I misspelled awkwardly at the beginning, to my Brazilian friends’ amusement (see Wiki).

Fair enough, the cheerful bossanova classic had to come to my mind. Comparing love to water may not be so original, but is very sensual and is somewhat typical for various MPB artists. Surely tbc in some other occasion.

Wiki:

Água de beber – water to drink, a title of the bossanova classic written by Tom Jobim and sung by Astrud Gilberto

BSB – abbreviation for Brasilia

chuva – rain

coco – coconut

cocô – shit (yes, if you put an accent on the second ‘o’ when asking for the coconut water, you will make Brazilians laugh a lot)

planalto – plateau