Saturday, May 5, 2007

flux and flow

It is always a culture shock for me when we come down the mountain from Friburgo and into Rio. The house in Friburgo is a Swiss chalet, warm and cozy kind of place and the apartment in Rio is post modern, bare essentials place.
The house sets on a hill inside but on the outer edge of a private condominium, has a view, very little noise from cars or buses and no foot traffic. The apartment is on one of the main streets that runs along the coast (NOT the beach front, no ordinary mortals live on the beach front) from Ipanema to Leblon and beyond. From about 6 am until past midnight the buses run the street, shifting gears and jerking their way aggressively through the cars, bikes, delivery carts and pedestrians that may get in their way. As you can imagine, I do not sleep when in Rio.
Yesterday I walked from the apartment to Leblon, then cut over to Gavea to the University. The sidewalks were as congested as the street. Children on the way to school, children on the way home, babies in buggies being strolled by their 'babas', and old men being walked by their nurses, delivery bikes and college students on bikes, and last but not least, the illegal street vendors and beggars placed strategically in the middle of the sidewalk. I didn't know whether to walk in the flux or the flow. Actually to my American eye, there is no flux or flow. Like the buses on the street, you have to dart through the foot traffic, dodging this way and that, looking always forward, always focused on the task at hand and unlike the buses have a ready apology on your lips.

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