Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back to São Paulo

When I woke up in the plane this morning over Brazil, I popped an eyelid open and looked out the window at the sunrise over the clouds. (Couldn't resist snapping a picture with my trusty iPhone -- the Brazilian guy in the seat ahead was doing the same thing.) I was already filled with anticipation. Brazil really feels like a second home country to me. I get excited thinking about the people I know, the fun of speaking Portuguese again, the fun of catching up on what is going on, even the food.

It is wonderful to get back to São Paulo for a couple of days. I have been here a lot off and on over the last 33 years, including living here 9 months in 1989-90, and teaching at the University of São Paulo. I get hungry for a taste of big city life now and then, even thought Austin is certainly easier to live in.

The city is much too large and sprawling, when you look at it from the air, as in this photo, flying in, it is overwhelming. It goes on forever before you even land. A number of people argue that huge Third World metropolises, surrounded by rapidly growing slums, are one of the main faces of the world's future. Planet Slum, one book by Mike Davis, calls it.

The surprising thing is how green small parts of it can be. People cultivate trees or at least a few shrubs between buildings. The green is almost more delightful, sandwiched into such a sprawling mass of concrete, as the view from my hotel window, at the very nice but trendily and oddly named -- Golden Tulip Interactive, shows. The breakfast room looks out onto the garden by the tree -- a nice oasis.

So time to go walking in the city, enjoying a little observational update a la de Certeau, as I walk to meetings and get re-acquainted with one of my favorite cities.

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