Monday, May 27, 2013

Gal Costa

I spent my last day Sao Paulo taking it slow.  Around 10:30am, Cynthia’s boyfriend Bruno returned to their apartment.  Bruno was an interesting fellow.  He had sold his advertising firm, and was now involved in theraputics.  He also had a very good taste in electronica and trance, and played me some wonderful new music.  He offered to give me a ride, but as he was pulling out, the poor fellow noticed that his left mirror had been smashed.  Someone did some nice work hitting a parked car.

Bruno gave me a ride to meet my old friend Cynthia, whose apartment I had been occupying.  I met Cynthia when we were studying in Prague.  She is originally from Sao Paulo, and was doing her undergrad at GW.  Flaxen blond-haired and periwinkle blue-eyed, Cynthia was probably the first Brazilian I met who shattered my conceptions of what being Brazilian meant.  Before her, I probably thought all Brazilians were Brown- she explained to me the incredible diversity of Brazil, which I have come to love.  We kept in-touch over the years, and I finally got to see her again.  Cynthia had been working for the World Bank in fighting corruption and creating better transparency.  Now, after stints with some major consulting firms like E&Y and Deloitte, she was at a boutique consulting firm.  We had a grand time catching up on the present state of affairs.  She is a brilliant girl, who did a good job at initial tracking for my Brazilian Jewish wifey.

After lunch, I walked back to her apartment and collected my things to take a taxi to the bus stand for the bus to the airport.  I had a fun time with the taxi driver, who didn't know exactly the part of town and had a busted GPS.  I caught the bus out to the airport, watching the sun set brilliantly across the vertical sky of Sao Paulo,  The sun's fading light burnt golden across the horizon.

Brazil first entered my mindscape when my parents disappeared down there for a long weekend when I was a kid.  If I remember correctly, they had gone down to Miami for a few days, and left my sister and me with the housekeep34 Magdaline.  They proceeded to abandon us longer (I can still remember my anger that they were not coming back when promised, when the housekeeper broke the news to us), and headed further south.  They came back from Rio with colorful parrots made of gems, and brought back music of Gal Costa that would fill our living room.  I can remember the name "Brazil" meaning something exotic to me then.

My next encounter with Brazil came in New York, when I was out with my Uncle Tommy (Tuvia) and grandparents.  They were bickering over where to go to dinner, and finally we ended up at a Brazilian place. I can still see the samba queen pictures on the walls, something that had my 7 year-old eyes wide open.  And I can remember loving the food at that  place, it was so different than anything I ever had tried prior (I am such a foodie, I can ever remember eating the garlic butterfly shrimp, it was delicious).

My first real encounter with Brazil came with Carnival in 2005, as a gift of a ticket by my Uncle Tommy as a graduation gift from college that I held long enough to use well.  Rio oozed  sensuality that week, as I danced and sang like never before, and never again.  When I showed up back to the Israeli Consulate in a pastel double-breasted suite with a beard and sunglasses after my trip, the security almost didn't let me in.  The Rio I returned to still had sensuality, but was a tad more reserved than the Carnival days I remember.  But only a tad.

There is a book that offer 1,001 Places to See Before You Die, but I think that is too much, and most will never complete that bucket list.  I offer two: India and Brazil.  India for its color, other-worldliness and its peace; Brazil for its racial diversity, for its life so deeply infused with music and its alegria (joie de vivre).  

I am having a hard time leaving Brazil, there is so much I will miss.  I am sad to say (but I am being honest), there isn't a lot I have missed about America since I have been gone.  It has been a welcome break at a time of political discord (when isn't?), and I can't say I am exactly beaming to return.  But return, I will to Brazil. As McArthur once said: I will return.  Until then: Journey On! 

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