Below is an English translation of my article for the Brasil Post (Huffington Post). Enjoy.
“Não existe amor em SP” (Love doesn’t exist in SP), sings Criolo in that beautiful song of his. I must admit, I was inclined to agree with him when my Paulistano wife and I first moved to São Paulo from London just over two years ago.
During my first few months here the city felt like an impenetrable and ugly concrete jungle whose dense canopy consisted solely of bland high-rises. And, of course, there was the bumper-to-bumper traffic, smelly rivers and turnstiles on buses, which even now still baffle me.
Much of this I recorded on my blog, the book is on the table, which I started after my wife and sister-in-law thought my stereotypically grumpy British observations provided an amusing outsider’s perspective on life in São Paulo. Continue Reading
It was during my walk along the Minhocão – São Paulo’s grotesquely endearing monument to the car – that I first spotted it: an islet of tiled perfection in a city full of fractured and forgotten pavements.
An isle of tiled perfection (otherwise known as a ‘curb extension’). Note, the Minhocão in the background.
Unlike the pragmatically Ilha Grande (big island) and Ilhabela (beautiful island) which sit along the coast between Rio and São Paulo, mine is no island of exotica but instead one of Ballardian concrete.
Why, though, my fascination with a slab of paving in an unremarkable neighbourhood like Santa Cecília? Aren’t those ‘real’ islands on the Atlantic coast infinitely more interesting? Perhaps, but thousands of words have already been written in their honour; they’ve been Trip Advised to death.
What interests me are the ignored curiosities on our streets, and taking the time to stop, notice and appreciate them. As psychogeographer and novelist Iain Sincliar observes: ‘Walking is the best way to explore and exploit the city…allowing the fiction of an underlying pattern to reveal itself’. Continue Reading