Friday, 26 February 2010

Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life...

A little note on the imminent vacation of that legendary place in Thanet Lodge.

The thing that I appreciate more and more down here turns out to be time. It wasn't natural or immediate and I have to admit that I still catch myself more than frequently wasting it away (I mean of course forgetting of its passing, missing the very presence of it and taking it for granted). And it is every aspect of time that I see in a new light: the passing of time, the feeling of time, the touch of it, the memory of it. And it has become more tangible, richer and softer at the same time, slower of course and in a strange fashion it seems augmented, swollen and more of it!

Even more than that though I'm constantly aware of a strange awakening, that is the appreciation of time past that springs to life vividly and surprisingly. And without being able to explain how, the respect to current time, every second of it enhances the reality of the time past, gives it an unnatural weight and color and smell and merges the two in a seamless continuum. I dare say that it presents glimpses of times to come also, not necessarily in the metaphysical way but at least in the form of a believable illusion.

And it is all these memories and all those individual moments, all that time that felt like an inevitable eternity at the time that has transformed in an even stronger inevitability that have shrouded Thanet Lodge. And in this way it is solid, ever-present and not missed any more.

All these thoughts have been lingering in my mind for the past 12 months, triggered by greater loss and solidified by the vacation of that institution-of-a-flat in Koupa 20, my sister's place in Athens. I now realize that it was this very respect of time that was needed to put all these in context. Making peace with time that will open the door to it's immensity, continuity and inevitability, that will merge time past and it's heavy burden with that of times to be and their weight of expectation. And memories of past and future, galvanized every single second that passes through the non-existing, hallucinating present. And all this is true because time exists irrespectively. I thought it didn't but now I know it does.

Did it make sense? I have no idea, but here's the link to the title again. There's always a light, bright side of life, a wink at this mystery, a peace treaty with Time and I find the following photograph, time captured essentially, time frozen and preserved-1/200th of a second of that eternity, reminding me of that:

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Santa Teresa on the Bonde!

Talking about hair-raising extreme sports!

All I wanted to do was to visit the bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa, atop a hill in the middle of Rio, next to the famous-infamous Lapa, surrounded by favelas, the ocean and a sub-tropical (and concrete) jungle. And the "Bonde" the old style tram that climbs up there seemed like the perfect means, R$0.60 the ticket (hard to believe I know, that's 20p in UK) and a ride on top the old aqueduct, plus the lavish views was a no-brainer!

However, the fact that I had to be hanging from the rail, effectively outside the car and narrowly avoiding passing buses and lampposts made it a bit more fun than I expected, in a non-conventional way I have to admit. The views are staggering, the neighborhoods lovely and the locals pretend to be traffic wardens on the dangerous corners. And I should not forget the frequent and frightening sudden stops, people hopping on-off and the unmistakable screeching of the inevitable catastrophe that never materialized!

The way back was on foot, nice stroll by the sunset. I would (and will) do it again!
ps: nothing but a shaky couple of photos from my phone this time, I had no free hands you see!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Sambodromo, Carnaval and blocos.

These Brazilians are crazy, as Asterix would say. Despite being present in some of the final preparations and rehearsal before the final three days I did not expect what came on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Saturday we were at the Sambodromo for the first night of the parade. I'd seen it on the telly before but this was something else. First of all the loudness and the power of Samba blows your socks off! I literally could not stay still, seriously. I was photographing outside of it earlier on for hours but when I went in I was on a different planet. Despite being the first night with not the best schools that compete for the top award, it was so passionate and exciting I'm wondering how it could be topped! Four hours of non stop dance they were and they felt like minutes.
 Sunday and Monday we were back at the Sambodromo on two occasions, one of which was at 5 in the morning, right as Beija Flor was finishing. That being the Samba school we visited at their final rehearsal I was obviously a bit partisan. At that time in the morning, still dark but the sunrise only minutes away, dancers in all imaginable colours, exhausted and overwhelmed, were fleeing the Sambodromo in waves. More than 4000 per School that is. There was so much going on, with so many people dropping costumes everywhere, floats and statues, accessories, headgear and some pretty funny horse and ant-shaped costumes lying around and the ever present street vendors on their last push of the day that I thought I was in a real battlefield, albeit in Middle Earth or something. And before I could gather myself together and take it all in, it was dawn and most people were gone, like ghosts that disappear in daytime and all was left was their armory. On the way back after 7, the previous night's blocos were just about finishing in Lapa and some new ones were just being set up in Ipanema. Bodies everywhere. There were more battles to be won I thought.
They are crazy these Brazilians.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Carnaval Week.

It has been an incredibly busy 4 days since I arrived! Carnaval Week started in earnest last night and the city is ablaze. Blocos (street parties) in every neighborhood, final rehearsals for the Samba schools, frantic work on the floats, the Children's Carnaval tonight and so much more.

Two Samba school rehearsals on consecutive nights have blown my mind away! (And not just any schools, the past two winners) These probably were the best parties I've been at for a very long time! The music was making your bones rattle, your legs were going wild, your feet and arms were unaccounted for and the smells, the sweat, the passion! The girls were dancing to heaven and the boys in the Bateria were giving the thunderous rhythm, with their eyes fixed on the dancers of course. And the neighborhood was exploding. These were two nights of blood, sweat and Samba!

Then the blocos. Everything saturated by a frantically partying army. Everything. The cashier lady at the supermarket, the taxi drivers, the teenagers and the old people, the packed buses in a rave, everybody dancing to the Samba. Then the Children's  Carnaval at the Sambodromo. Colours and noise, smells and the beauty all around you. Everything's in place for the first night tomorrow. I can't wait.

But the most striking thing of all is the people. The beautiful, smiling people of this city. This city that makes you feel sexy and smile and fall in love! It's all to their credit.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Rio baby!

I apologize for the time since the last update, but Rio has it's own rhythm. Especially during the Carnaval! No time to spare, no time to waste! I'll try to be back with you asap!

Now if you excuse me....

Saturday, 6 February 2010