People of Character: Nowhere Man

DSC_1853Let me give it to you straight: Nowhere Man is a no-nonsense kinda guy. Not in a cruel, brutal way (although if you’re trying out a new haircut, or think who might have put on some weight, let me tell you now that his opinion is not the one you want to hear), but in a direct way.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s a kind man, but he’s a rare breed: the kind who assumes that, if you’re asking a question, it’s because you want a straight answer. And a straight answer is what he gives you every time, without disappointing.

Which means (quelle surprise) he’s not always great with people. But before you write him off as a heartless sociopath (which I assume is what you’ll do if you ask what he thinks of your new haircut or if you’ve been putting on weight), give him a chance and read on. Continue reading

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People of Character: This Charming Man

DSC_1879Everybody knows This Charming Man.

Unlike Her, who’s mostly a literary version of someone’s alter ego (please don’t tell Her that – she’d kill me), This Charming Man is far more elusive. He is different things to different people, part prince charming, part regular guy. He’s stylish knowledgeable, attentive – but at times impossible to pin down (understandable, seeing as he didn’t have a mobile phone when I first imagined him circa 20 years ago). He comes from a good family (which isn’t always free of complication), and he’s sure of himself – which means he doesn’t have everything figured out all the time, and that’s still ok. Continue reading

The fun of time travel

It will not surprise me in the least if you tell me you’ve never heard of Sao Jose do Rio Preto (although I was really amazed to discover there is even an English language Wikipedia page dedicated to it).

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Rio Preto is a town deep in the Sao Paulo state countryside, almost exactly half-way between Sao Paulo city and Brasilia. Together with its towns (which were at the time little more than overgrown farms), it was the setting of some of the most memorable summer vacations of my childhood. My grandmother had a lot of family there, and it was where I first discovered my love for movies, and where I first tried fruit straight from the tree. The thing I love most about this place is that, even though it is “the” commercial centre of the region, rumour has it it insists on lying to the census, so that it can still be officially referred to as a “town”. Never mind that it’s apparently tip-toeing dangerously close to one million inhabitants.

After several years away, I took the five-hour drive with my mother to see our family. As we drove closer and closer and could see Rio Preto taking up a considerably larger part of the horizon than I remembered, one thing became abundantly clear:

Toto, this is not a small town anymore.

After the initial shock of disorientation, It came as a surprise that a few things remain the same:

The kindness of people. My mother and I were received by our extended family like two long lost children.

At around mid-day, you’ll be able to fry an egg on the sidewalk. Rio Preto is mostly still farmland. The average temperature year-round is 23C, but in the summer, this can go all the way up to the high 30s. It is dry, sunny, and absolutely glorious.

Patience is still a virtue. By definition, you shall not be in a rush if you’re in Rio Preto. A loose sense of timing reigns; people are often a little late, and you are forever forgiven if you are on time.

Out of space…

I’ve been absent for a little while. But I haven’t given up. Mostly, to be frank, I’ve been trapped under a mass of drafts which accumulated over the years. Which begs the question: how does one go through life writing drafts without a decent filing system?

Allow me to explain. As a teenager, I had the tendency to arrive at appointments, lunches, dinners, dates and parties too early (a habit I regretfully let go of over the years). I would normally have one of three things in my handbag to entertain me as I waited: a book (normally a leather-bound one by Tolstoi, with my great-grandfather’s initials engraved on the spine – I was that kind of snob), a pen and some paper. In the absence of paper, I would shamelessly walk to the nearest restaurant and ask for some paper napkins. In the absence of a pen, I would shamefully ask strangers if they had one to spare. Continue reading

When suddenly, in the still of the night…

The Kichen

BRI, WAKE UP.

It wasn’t a loud voice. But it did wake me.

It was a woman’s voice, which sounded like it was coming from somewhere far away, echoing from a dark abyss somewhere. I woke up and immediately looked to the window to check if there was anyone there (we live on the fourth floor, but after you live in a big city some habits die hard). There was no-one there. Continue reading