Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

Eleven Minutes

April 21, 2011

After reading The Alchemist for the second time I went to the library and picked up a few other books by Paulo Coelho and ended up reading Eleven Minutes first.

Like The Alchemist, this story is also about a dreamer, very inspirational and it teaches you one or other things.

However, the setting is completely different. Maria, a Brazilian in her early twenties travels from the rural countryside to Rio de Janeiro to see the ocean. At the beach she’s recruited as a samba dancer by a Swiss cabaret owner and that’s where her adventure really sets off.

Obviously, once in Geneva, it’s not what she had expected.

Eleven Minutes depicts the meanings of sex, so a great way to explore it, is of course from the standpoint of a prostitute. It wasn’t really what I was expecting from Paulo Coelho. The Alchemist is magical, almost like a fairy tale whereas Eleven Minutes is realistic, portraying the naked truth.

But then it’s based on true stories, which gives it credibility. Funny though is that in a fairy tale style it starts with the line “Once upon a time…”

I really want to read some more Paulo Coelho books, hopefully in the near future.

The Paris mojito ain’t got nothing on the Barcelona mojito…

March 18, 2011

So, I recently spent a few days in Paris and had four mojitos at different places. Most of them around the Bastille area. One or two were ok, and I’m being nice when I’m saying ok. They weren’t enjoyable.  Too sweet, not sweet enough, no mint taste, too watery…

If you want a real mojito, go to Plaza Real in Barcelona and it doesn’t matter which bar you go to. It will be exceptional. I spent a few days in Barcelona in 2009 and made sure I got my fair share.

At one place as they were closing they poured the cocktail in a take-away cup. We didn’t get kicked out, they simply wanted to do the dishes.

Being half-Brazilian, obviously, I’m a caipirinha lover. I like the sour, I like the sweet and it’s refreshing. But adding some mint leaves and swapping the cachaça with rum makes it even more refreshing.

 

The Alchemist

February 6, 2011

It’s magical and at times you will forget that it’s fiction. Actually, I was probably hoping, really wishing for, that some of it was reality.

Still, it’s a wise story about a Spanish shepherd boy on a journey through the North African desert to fulfill his destiny. He meets many wise men along the way and the love of his life.

I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho for the first time for about ten years ago and remembered that it was the best book I had ever read. At least one of the best. I was about 17-18 and had no idea what my destiny was. At the time I probably thought I knew.

I still don’t really know what my destiny is but I like to think that I have a better idea of what it could be.

A while ago I found an abandoned bag with books near a train station and picked up The Alchemist. I had forgotten what it was really about. I’m sure it was a sign that I should read it again.

Santiago, the shepherd boy learns to see the signs and understand them. The story will open your senses. At least for a while. Until then follow your dreams. But when you search for it, it may take you far away for you to later realise that it was around the corner.

Next time my memory fades I hope to have found a copy of The Alchemist in Portuguese. It’ll be interesting to read it in its original language. Like films that are dubbed, are always different when you hear the actors real voices.

Waste Land

November 21, 2010

Meaningless art. Art is meaningless. It’s very easy to say that because we may not know better.

But really, it can be argued that art is all around us in different forms. Watching Waste Land has given me a better understanding of the arts I didn’t care much about due to being ignorant and disregarding of the fact that pieces of art has a person, a story behind it.

Not wanting to put much thought to it. Not wanting to explore it further feeling like it’s a waste of time.

Now, Waste Land is a documentary, a form of art that is more accessible to  me.

Vik Muniz, New York based Brazilian artist, went to Jardim Gramacho, the world’s largest landfill located in Rio de Janeiro, to see what he could create with the purpose of being able to give something back to the community.

I always get a bit skeptic when I see stories like this because of exploitation. The rich and famous using the poor to their benefit, giving away an image of being caring but are they really?

Vik, himself, came from a poor background that by chance got the possibility of better living standards so for me that gave more credibility to his purpose.

Vik got to know the workers and as he was spending time with them, photographing them his idea developed to use the garbage to create portraits of them with help from the workers. By getting the workers involved, Vik hoped he could make them see another side to life, at least for a moment.

 

It was amazing to hear the stories of the workers, how they had ended up working there, why they had chosen to do it and the pride they took in doing it.

“I rather pick garbage than get involved in the drug traffic or walk the streets of Copacabana.”

It was very touching and emotional. I got to see Brazil from a different angle, which was one of my expectations. See hard-working people aiming to live with dignity is not what always get portrayed in the media.

The portraits were exhibited and sold for a lot of money and Jardim Gramacho is due to close in 2012. And to believe the captions at the end of the film, the workers’ lives have changed and will continue to change for the better.

Unfortunately, it will still take me some time to understand the great financial value some people put on art, even though I consider my understanding to be a bit better.

In this case the money was to help the workers and the community of Jardim Gramacho, but when it’s not for charity?

 

The Diary of a Brazilian Call Girl

August 16, 2009

It’s a Cinderella story, kind of.

The Scorpion’s Sweet Venom: The Diary of a Brazilian Call Girl by Bruna Surfistinha.  It’s Bruna’s own story of how she left home at 17 to own her living as a prostitute.

With a middle-class background, she always kept her standards and with an open-minded attitude, she was willing to try anything requested by her clients. Many stories that are detailed in the book.

She first went to live in a whore house but as her career progressed she got herself her own apartment and her own clients.

Very entertaining book to read and for some it probably works as a guide. The clients were happy to share their stories with Bruna, who at many occasions acted as a counsellor.

It’s the positive side of prostitution and how some can get lucky that is portrayed in this story.

Bruna did use drugs and not everything was fancy pansy. The fact that she had an education and came from a wealthy family plays a big role. She starts her own blog gaining unexpected popularity, through the business she meets her husband, leaves the prostitute profession and lives happily ever after… like Cinderella.

Bruna Surfistinha is the pseudonym of Raquel Pacheco.