Posts Tagged ‘Rio de Janeiro’

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.

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?

 

INFERNO

May 24, 2009

Inferno by Patricia Melo. About a boy, Kingie, in Rio living in a favela who aspires to work for Miltão, who runs the drug traffic in Berimbau.

If you enjoyed City of God you should read this book. It’s a different story, more intense, and sadly it’s based on the reality of living in the favela where there’s an ongoing civil war where more people are getting killed than in the Iraqi war. I was so caught up by the story that I’ve taken a break from reading it. I’m hoping for a good ending but I’m not expecting it.

Kingie, who lives with his mother and sister, has no interest in going to school, instead he starts working for Miltão as a lookout boy. When his mum, who work as a maid for an upper-class family, finds out she demands Miltão to stay out of her boy’s life so he can go back to school. That’s when Kingie faces drug addiction at the age of 11, doing whatever it takes to get his next fix.

The book also follows the lives of the people around Kingie. Carolaine, his sister who gets pregnant before turning 15. Alzira, his mother. Dona Juliana, his mother’s boss who’s having an affair. Beautiful Suzana, his neighbour and Miltão’s girlfriend. Fake, Reader, Kelly, Walmir, Onofre, Rosa Maria.

It’s a story about hope, survival, love, loyalty and misery. It’s an inside story, so captivating and it already feels like the best book I’ve read so far in my young life.

It’s the kind of book that probably has an impact on the way people think and possibly change attitudes.