Tuesday, September 1, 2009

One Afternoon at Habib's, or When Old Telenovelas Never Die

After a couple of meetings today, I went book and DVD shopping at one of my favorite bookstores in the world, Livraria Cultura, which has five different spaces -- one bigger than your average Borders-- in a small mall on Avenida Paulista. So many new books on Brazilian media that I got footsore standing and looking at them. So I took a break, going kitty corner across from the back corner of this mall on Rua Augusta, to another of my favorite places, one of the world's most interesting fast food joints, Habib's, which serves good, cheap Lebanese fast food: kibes and esfihas instead of burgers, although they will sell you a burger and fries, if you must. Not much to look at, as you see here, but a lot of good places aren't.

Sitting there happily munching a small snack, I noticed that everyone in their dining room was more than usually glued to the large TV hanging from the ceiling, so I glanced up, too. And what was showing but a rerun session (TV Globo calls mid-afternoon reruns the "Vale apena ver de novo" -- "worth seeing again"-- series) of Sandy's favorite telenovela, which features an Indian girl who is apparently the reincarnation of her boss' long lost (murdered it turns out) and beloved wife. Here you see her and a friend looking at the soon to be boss' house, to which she is curiously drawn. He breeds and creates roses, so she is further drawn to his greenhouse.

So then before long I was literally watching one of THE crucial scenes of the whole nine month telenovela, where the girl is strongly, inexplicably drawn to the one rose that he created for the lost wife. They are indeed destined for one another TahDah! (although it takes MONTHS for their seemingly pre-destined romance to work out--but that is indeed how this genre works).

Some things are just too overwhelmingly melodramatic to die! The whole restaurant clientele, except the ones actually working, was raptly watching this scene. So it is pretty clear that Sandy's tastes run close to the core of what rivets the Brazilian audience most. (I have to admit that I kinda like this one, too.) One of those moments where personal life and our lifelong, ongoing ethnography of media and Brazilian life completely merge. Cheesy but cool.

1 comment:

Temeculamom said...

I'm just jeaous that you found cheap Lebanese food nearby! My hometown had a great Lebanese deli for many years, but it has been closed for quite a while now, and I miss it.