Things that happened to me while I was in New York:
1. We hired a shuttle bus service to get to the city. It took way too long and I got impatient twice. The long time got me angry too and I even thought the driver wanted to kindnap us. He won us over though, for he managed to say something nice to every single passenger as they got off the van. We overtipped him.
2. Our first night out almost turned sour because we took the wrong subway line, which led us to a random place in Brooklyn. Then we waited for 30 min in the wrong side of the platform until we figured that one out. Luckily, we ended up in a nice little alternative spot, in which we saw The Pains of Being Pure at Heart totally by chance.
3. A nice saleswoman convinced us to buy sunglasses based on her sincerity: she told us twice some model didn’t suit us well. We felt obliged to buy the ones she said looked good on us. Actually, I was the one persuaded to purchase without the need, my friend really wanted a new pair of shades and was more than happy to get them.
4. I was hit on by a salesman in a hat store who was really sweet and charming and interesting. He told us he was from Oklahoma and that he lived in Harlem in this very nice street and that he wasn’t scared of the area at all. I pictured myself already falling in love with him and sharing his apartment which I would decorate with nice things I would pick. Nothing really happened between us and I didn’t get his name. I’m still curious about it.
5. We had a major fight but ended up theorizing on why people who love and know each other well are still capable of hurting one another. We came to the conclusion that sometimes harsh feelings and bad habits are just too difficult to withhold.
This could be me:
Or I could be here very soon:
Which destination should I choose, sea or mountain?
Inspirational pictures by Ryan Kenny.
Even though I honestly believe Brazil is the land of opportunity, creation and creativity, my personal growth requirements might lead me once more to go abroad. But mind you, I will not be choosing just anywhere to live.
Here are the Top 5 Things that most matter to me in a country:
- Cultural openness. Even more important than awareness of other cultures, it is truly important to me that the people in the country I choose to live would be open to different cultures no matter how far they might seem from theirs. Culturally self-centered nations are as xenophobic as they are boring.
- Ethnic diversity. From my experience, I reckon that the more ethnically diverse a land is, the more exciting it becomes in culture as well as in sociological ways.
- City-life vibration. Although I cherish and value the lifestyles of the countryside, I consider a rich and enticing city life to be an absolute necessity. I need to have choice in order to be satisfied; entertainment, shopping and transportation options are a key aspect for my happiness.
- Laid-backness. I know I probably invented this word, but I just love it when people are so laid-back they don’t waste time worrying too much about minor things. Life can be simpler if our heritage helps us keeping from being uptight.
- Gender equality. Sexism and homophobia walk hand in hand and thus push me farther and farther away from the place where they thrive.
Quite obviously, as I person who’s avid for so many forms of cultural expression, these five points are undeniably connected to culture. I am not the kind of human being who can be locked away in a library/gallery because everyone outside is aggressive or unwelcoming.
To contribute that sense of multiplicity and openness, here’s Jónsi‘s new video:
Although I’m almost positive Iceland does not score so well in my requirement list due to its lack of diversity, people like Jónsi definitely help not only his countrymen but other people everywhere become a bit more open to multiplicity of ideas and lifestyles.
Let us continue our unplanned trip around the globe; now to Argentina.
I am very pleased to report that our neighboring country has become the first one in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage.
In a region where sexism reigns, it is a great relief to see that a whole country is ready to let go of one of its inequalities, which is based on nothing but religious-driven misconceptions.
It is a simple question of Law. If homosexual citizens have the same obligations as other citizens, they are entitled to having to exact same rights. There is no support for the existence of two standards other than religion.
Everything should be in its right place.
In every-day terms, when such an initiative becomes a reality, very practical consequences are to be seen and felt. To the concerned people’s lives, it is not just a legal disposition, it is a life-changing moment. I have seen it happen in Spain and it is easy to see how gay couples there feel so free and proud they no longer have to hide.
As a tribute to my fellow Latin American country, here are some drawings by my all-time favorite Argentinian artist, Leon Ferrari:
El Arca de Noé, 1964
Words on art when nicely and carefully done are so appealing to me. A wonderful combination of two worlds.
Continuity and repetition are some of the constant ideas behind Ferrari’s artistic production and techniques.
Let us just hope and fight so that other countries in the world decide to follow and repeat Argentina’s refreshing attitude.
Today is France’s National Day. Although I don’t usually like to take part in nationalistic celebrations, I’ve decided to pay a tribute to Paris (for a change) and list my favorite places from when I lived there in a bilingual post.
A cause de la Fête Nationale de France j’ai décidé d’écrire ce post bilingue pour rendre un hommage à Paris. Malgré mon malaise par rapport à ce type de célébration, je fais ici une petite liste des lieux que j’aimais le plus quand j’y habitais.
- Café du Centre Culturel Suédois. I know, I know. It’s still connected to Scandinavia, but this tiny café is so cozy and has such delicious cakes it was a delight just being there. Je sais, je sais. C’est un espace quand-même lié à la Scandinavie, mais il s’agit d’un tout petit café si agréable avec des tartes si bonnes que c’est une vraie délice d’y être.
- Le Pink Flamingo. The best and most stylish pizzeria in Paris. This lovely kitsch spot serves the most interesting pizza flavors in wonderful, unpretentious atmosphere. Voilà la meilleure et la plus branchée pizzeria de Paris. C’est kitsch, c’est chouette et on y sert les pizzas les plus intéressants de la ville.
- Pop In. My favorite bar/club of the city. Indie music, nice atmosphere & great drinks. The dancefloor is quite good; unfortunately it closes at 2 am. Keep an eye for the concerts; interesting groups have played there. De la musique indie rock, des boissons super et une ambience cool. La piste de dance est plutôt bien, mais malheureusement on la ferme à 2 du matin. A faire attention aux groupes qui jouent là-bas.
No matter how big my issues with living in Paris might be, there are still some very nice places to check out and people to be met. Just remember to avoid the obvious.
Même si j’ai mes problèmes par rapport à Paris, je crois qu’on y trouve quand-même des lieux très sympas et des gens bien intéressants. Il faut juste se rappeler qu’en s’agissant de la capitale, on doit absolument éviter les choix évidents.
A friend of mine is returning to Brazil after yet another attempt of happiness abroad. This time it was Australia. Before it was France and years ago it had been Québec, in Canada.
She is just convinced she’ll never be happy here and is always on the look for new opportunities to escape. Then, after some time, she just dislikes everything about the foreign country where she is and decides to return. A short time afterwards, the cycle begins again.
Having lived abroad on several occasions myself, I have learned to detach (or at least try to) enjoyment from the place I happen to be in. No site can be an infinite foundation for fun if one is not ready for feeling free to embrace a different perspective on living.
Detaching oneself from one’s culture is a much harder endeavor, nonetheless. But I guess that if you know how to recognize the behavior and sociability patterns, adapting becomes much less challenging. But again, you may never adapt. And that can be okay too.
Immigrant Icon in a pic on Dazed (pic by Rankin)
M.I.A. is there to prove it. I have always loved her take on being who she is exactly because she is an immigrant in the UK and never feeling a full Brit (whatever that means) has contributed to building her persona as much as her own personality.
Her new album is out now and, apart from the controversy, it is plain brilliant. More on that later.
Sorry about the absence. It was due to my 10-day trip to New York City from which I just came back.
It was a fantastic time to be in the city; the weather was lovely and the atmosphere charged with that lively spring feeling.
I’ve got tons of things to say about it, but I’m still a bit tired for doing it in a proper way. I must rest first.
Great shopping, lots of art, wonderful food, magic experience. It was so good it really shook me.
To end the special series of posts about Rio, there’s nothing more appropriate than talk about the city’s most wonderful and internationally known cultural product: its music.
There is life beyond samba and bossa nova (both of which originated in Rio) and many are those who have discovered that the mix of rhythms and cultures can be used for making good tunes.
My favorite Brazilian indie rock band comes from Rio:
Funk carioca is another type of music which has only recently gained admirors. It is a direct product of the favelas and many say it has the same impact as samba did when it first became known.
The favelas are the slums hanging from hills where most poor and black Brazilians live. Favela on Blast is a really cool initiative which explains it and shows what Funk carioca is about very well.
Anyway, is truly great for the dancefloor:
Finally, one of Brazil’s cleverest and most creative and important singers comes from Rio. Marisa Monte is unparalleled also because of the research she does on Brazilian rhythms, including them in her recordings:
I know I have already mentioned how hot it is in Rio and I’ll do it yet again, for not knowing this can really interfere with you fun while you visit the city.
Heat will ruin your well-being if not handled well. So, how do cariocas cope with it? Simple. They just spend the hottest times of the day in the shade, most likely in wonderful city hide-aways, such as:
When there, take your time, find a nice place to seat (in the shade) and sip something ice-cold. Cariocas love mate, a type of tea made from South American herb which goes really well with Rio. A good caipirinha will also brighten your day up.
But not everything is that easy. Many fashionistas, especially those who live in tropical countries, worry about dressing stylishly when wearing little. I assure you it is possible. Another suggestion, this time by Dries van Noten:
dress (little) to impress
As a clever woman once said: “there are always ways to look good, you just have to have style”.
Rio is the most famous Brazilian city and its image is the one foreigners most often connect to the country.
The truth is, Rio de Janeiro is quite unique, it is like an entity of its own.
A very famous line in a Brazilian song about the city goes:
Rio is the hot-blooded capital of the best and the worst in Brazil.
Nonetheless, before one embarks upon a trip to the Marvelous City, there are aspects to be considered. The main ones are threefold:
1. Rio is unbelievably hot all year long (I’m talking about 40°C/104°F);
2. Rio is all about beach and nature (despite being the country’s 2nd largest city);
3. Rio is always extremely casual and shuns all kinds formalities (including efficiency).
If you plan your trip around these three very important and constantly present factors, your time there will be fun-filled and stress-free.
To remind you of how lovely the spontaneousness of the city is, here’s my all-time favorite Bossa Nova song:
To be enjoyed sippng a caipirinha.
Here’s a little something for my Scandinavian friends faced with what seems to be a particularly cold winter.
Winter fun, illustration by Camilla Engman
Winter shouldn’t be the worst time of the year, especially because it is the longest season for you. Enjoy it, but do it accordingly. Can you remember your grandparents’ stories about how lovely it was to gather around a fire, sipping hot cocoa and telling stories? That’s what your cold season should be about: meeting people, staying together, sharing things. Summer is only a two-month (in some places up there a one-month) period of the year, much too short for you to live your lives longing for it.
Nordic grandparents are a good key to learning to have fun during winter because they were born before tv was here, long before the internet and ages before the comfort of easy traveling. They mostly had no warmer place to go, they had to stay in the North and cope with the cold. And they did it in a much more graceful way too.
My point here is basically: deal with what is available. Join your klubber/klubbor/klúbbar, go skiing, take long hikes, go ice-skating, just anything can suffice.
Just do not forget that you don’t live in Southern Spain. Enjoy what you have.
I cannot get this PJ Harvey song out of my head.
To me, White Chalk talks about the everlasting impact your origins have on your life. No matter how hard you try, you will always end up where you first started. Culture and family wise.
I just adore the metaphor of the mountains to explore the idea of ancestral influence. Coming from a mountainous region, I can feel daily the power this topography has on us.
And I know these hills will rot my bones.
I have been to many, many countries and my willingness to travel around the globe continues to grow quite unexpectedly.
Everyone who knows me well is aware that I have a thing for the Nordic and Arctic countries in general. Being from Brazil and calling wonderful beaches and lush vegetation everyday landscape, cold and ice is what I consider exotic.
Keeping warm in the North with Vík Prjónsdóttir
When asked about my favorite destination, I often say: Iceland. It was the second country I visited in my life, as a teenager (before everybody started going there, I must add) and it had such a huge impact in my life.
It is incredibly rough, cold, full of contrasts and surprisingly pleasant. Icelanders spend a lot of money and time trying to be out-of-this-word hip and modern, despite their rather rural and indoors-loving traditional culture. Add lava instead of ground, no trees, active volcanoes and untouched glaciers with hard liquor and you just might get an idea of what it is.
A lava flower by Guðrún Lilja Gunnlaugsdóttir
I long to go back there. One day maybe, after I go to Africa.
Lately I’ve been quite obsessed with anything Bantu-related or Sub-Saharan African. I don’t know why but this new-found interest has been so present in my mind for quite some time. How curious.
As a Brazilian, it is quite likely that I am partly descendant of an African people, unbeknownst to my family for political or racistic reasons. Still, given the way African people were brought to Brazil, it is quite probable they came from a Bantu nation somewhere in Angola or Mozambique or the regions nearby.
Due to the heavy European influence, getting information from South Africa happens to be much easier than the other countries. I have become quite a fan of Miriam Makeba, a South-African singer of the Xhosa ethnic group who is actually known in Brazil for her connections and contributions with local artists. Here’s my all time favorite song interpreted by her:
The sound quality is rather poor, but it’s possible to hear it using headphones.
Another sing who’s captured my attention was the relatively famous Cesaria Évora, aka the Barefoot Diva, a Cape Verdean. She sings in her country’s creole, which is a mixture of Portuguese with diverse African languages. After studying about it, I can quite understand the lyrics too. Enjoy:
I’ve got to go back to work now – I’ve got new destinations to spare money for.
Heaven help me for the way I am. I’m laughing my ass off (I too can be vulgar) of Vice Magazine‘s Brazil Issue.
If you are interesting in all the sides of this country and also have a taste for the fabulously quirky, leave everything you’re doing and run to the news stand nearest you and get this magazine.
My favorite article includes this lovely tranny-looking girl who lives in Vienna:
Looking spankin' good in São Paulo
I just love how the magazine shoots really clever questions disguised as silly ones on clichés about Brazil. There are so many stereotypes concerning this country, so why ignore them? If you are Japanese, Austrian, American, Canadian or French, you might be offended. Enjoy.