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.


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