Leaving for São Paulo

A last minute business trip.

ZM was very jealous because his all time favorite movie is “City of God”. He has been dreaming of going there to photograph the shanty town of São Paulo. I, on the other hand, never had the slightly desire to visit any big cities of Brazil. The Amazon, maybe.

Business is business.

I reluctantly agreed to this one week trip so they won’t have me stationed there for a few months (you have no idea how disappointed ZM was when he learned I turned down that opportunity. But i couldn’t imagine myself live there for that long. I would go insane.). First shock came when i booked the flight. 15 to 21 hours flight time (depends on the number of connections you end up with)! I had no idea Brazil is that far away. Reminded me of the only time when i researched Buenos Aires, a city i DO long to visit. From that time on, i knew, going to Buenos Aires is like going to the end of the world, makes that city seems even more lonesome and melancholy.

If i knew how close São Paulo is to Buenos Aires, i might have agreed to a longer stay. 🙂

On this eve of my flight to the end of the earth, i did some quick research to find out the basics. Came across a few very interesting items:

1. The EXPANSIVE city: endless skyscrapers stretched to the horizon.

Tall buildings stretching into the horizon in all directions, even moreso than Tokyo (New York doesn’t hold a candle to either, although its tallest buildings are taller). I felt I had finally seen the maximum city and could hardly believe the expanse, as if I dreamt it.
– http://gondwanaland.com/mlog/2006/12/31/sao-paulo-dream/

2. São Paulo has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. “The city has 1.5m citizens of Japanese descent.”-according to Economist.com.

3. In the Chinese site douban.com, one guy left a remark under the entry “São Paulo”: “The holy city of great food and wine.”吃喝圣地.

NOW, I’m really interested. 🙂

4. In May 2006, there was a huge gang violence surge in the city. 150 people died, including 40+ police officers. It started because the imprisoned gang leaders ordered the killing of those 40+ police officers. And on Jan 2nd, 2007 (3 days ago), a huge explosion happened in one of São Paulo police’s weapon storehouse. And my co-worker warned us not to take any taxi from the airport cuz we could get robbed.

After I told ZM all these, i could see sparks light up in his eyes, “I have to go there one of these days.” He said dreamily.

5. People are really beautiful there. Some say it is because of the large number of diverse ethnicity live and assimilated there. Some say it is plastic surgery. But apparently everyone around you has a perfect body and looks like he/she just walked off a fashion magazine.

Adeus!

I’m bringing my camera along. Expecting a really busy week so not sure what i can do with touring. But at least, expect some food photos.

The Street – Leonard Cohen

The Street
by Leonard Cohen

I used to be your favorite drunk
Good for one more laugh.
Then we both ran out of luck
And luck was all we had.
You put on a uniform
To fight the civil war
I tried to join but no one liked
The side I’m fighting for.

So let’s drink to when it’s over
And let’s drink to when we meet
I’ll be waiting on this corner
Where there used to be a street

It wasn’t all that easy
When you upped and walked away
But I’ll save that little story
For another rainy day
I know the burden’s heavy
As you wheel it through the night
The guru says it’s empty
But that doesn’t mean it’s light.

So let’s drink to when it’s over
And let’s drink to when we meet
I’ll be waiting on this corner
Where there used to be a street

You left me with the dishes
And a baby in the bath
And you’re tight with the militia
And you wear their camouflage
Well I guess that makes us equal
But I want to march with you
It’s just an extra to the sequel
To the old, Red, White & Blue

So let’s drink to when it’s over
And let’s drink to when we meet
I’ll be waiting on this corner
Where there used to be a street

It’s gonna be September now
For many years to come
Many hearts adjusting
To that strict September drum
I see the ghost of culture
With numbers on his wrist
Salute some new conclusion
That all of us have missed.

So let’s drink to when it’s over
And let’s drink to when we meet
I’ll be waiting on this corner
Where there used to be a street.

Heard this on NPR yesterday afternoon. It was a Freshair rerun, “Leonard Cohen’s ‘Book of Longing'”. At the end Cohen recited this poem, which he is still working out the melody for. It is very pretty. I got interested. Almost wanted to get that book they were talking about in the interview, “Book of Longing. I looked for other poems by Cohen on line. Didn’t like any of them.

But this one is good. 🙂