Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Notice Me

There is something very distasteful about a church noticeboard that is so rammed full of adverts for products and services that the dates and times of the services are indistinguishable from the tat.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Saturday, October 26, 2013

“You’ll be given cushy jobs!”

And so the monorail is finally coming to town. Mass transit has never been on such a high. 

Although many things in this chaotic city tend to resemble a theme park (the long lines, a sense of the illusory), this new structure - rising defiantly on monstrously high legs of concrete and steel and demolishing slums in its relentless stride across the Eastern Zone - looks impressively permanent.

I was privileged to be in Rio last weekend and am reminded of the huge infrastructure works which the state government is hurriedly undertaking there in a desperate last flush to ready the city for the World Cup next year. Driving from the international airport (the plane was diverted because of violent storms near the domestic airport), colossal scaffolded works rise ominously from the putrid waters of the bay. Giant WIPs, lit-up like Christmas trees for no apparent reason (nobody’s working tonight), except perhaps to show that attempts are being made. We have a show to put on darnit!

Meanwhile, the favelas remain “pacified” (whatever that’s supposed to mean) and the poor remain harder and harder to find among the chicer areas. I always thought that was a bad sign from my New York days. Like butane - colourless and odourless - just because you can’t see it or smell it doesn’t mean it ain’t there.

São Paulo tries its hardest to disguise the filth too. Tall eucalyptus trees and super-sized advertising hoardings line the road to our own international airport, but they barely disguise one of the worst slums the city has.

Slum - Samsung - Slum - Samsung.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Are we rich or poor? Does it matter anymore?

The bedraggled man loitered in the street near the entrance to the diner where I had just ordered. Fingering two small notes in his hand, he looked longingly at the menu posted on the wall above my head. 

Perhaps he was playing to the audience, but after the evaluatory  prevarication (which, sadly, still plagues me after all this time) I went out to ask him if he wanted anything to eat, by which time he had become distracted by the illegal lottery game taking place on the pavement. 

Er, want to eat something, sir? (me, gesturing him to enter)

Er, yes (him)

I went back inside and waited. I then watched him spend his money on the game and wander off.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


We just don’t really talk about or think about Brazil very much or in a very careful fashion in this country.

Monday, October 7, 2013

In Rehab #1

In church, I sense a distinct smell of dog poo. I can’t help but think it’s coming from me. Having spent a good twenty minutes in the shower earlier scrubbing clean the various dog, cat and cow licks, I still smell of the farm. One of the dogs even managed to vomit on me. I’m pretty sure God doesn’t mind, even though I feel as if I have been washed clean by dirty hands.

Sunday, October 6, 2013