воскресенье, декабря 31, 2006

New Year's Premonition

Friday afternoon, as I passed in front of some fancy café on 58th St. near Fifth Avenue, I began to think about how hard it is to find a café, or any sort of cozy spot near where I live, except for Starbucks, which, alas, does not have enough personality to become my place of choice.

(Truth be said, the Starbucks near my home has a beautiful view to the Metro-North trains, which run quite often in the morning rush hour, making that café the perfect place-to-be before going to work. But I rarely go there, because it is out of the way to my subway station.)

In fact, the problem is really finding a café where I would enjoy going often, for the drinks, for the location, for the decoration. It doesn't have to be close to home, it just has to be a place where it would make sense to go to in order to spend well a few dollars, as well as a few minutes of my life. As it is nowadays, minutes of my life are gladly spent in many locations, but hardly with so much pleasure at cafés in general.

This made me think about a certain charming café in my hometown. At Dom Soccatto I spent not a few minutes, but many pleasant hours of my life talking to friends and drinking espressos. It was not my only café of choice in Petrópolis, but it is the one whose image returns most vividly to my mind when I think about these adorable corners of my city.

And, since we are talking about Petrópolis, I feel I should point to my readers a wonderful page I found a few months ago (it was in Summer, to be less vague), from which the image above is taken, and where visitors will find a few more beautiful mementos from long-past ages in that foggy and nostalgic city set amidst the mountains. I wonder if, one day, reminiscences of that café on Irmãos D'Angelo Street will arouse the same nostalgia for an unexperienced epoch that these faded postcards summon to one's mind nowadays.

среда, декабря 13, 2006

A Few Facts About My Grandfather

On the day of my parents' wedding, my grandfather Solon disappeared. Not a very unusual occurrence (read below), and then it was very clear that it was meant to show he did not approve of the marriage. His brother walked the bride to the groom inside the church. Guests at the wedding thought that "Solon" looked younger.

Once he discovered he had to undergo an eye surgery. Not a very big deal, but it would scare my grandmother. So he disappeared, and a couple of days later, when my grandma and my mom were thinking about calling the police, he re-appeared, his eyesight corrected.

Before anyone could think about chatting online, he - and many other people around the world, obviously - used a short-wave radio to communicate with users far away, in his case as far as Argentina. He kept the radio in a shack in the back of the house, which functioned as a sort of office. On the wall, a poster of the winner of the National Soccer Championship in 1989: the glorious Clube de Regatas Vasco da Gama.

He had one of the most awesome things mankind could invent: a typewriter that used a different font, something more akin to a very correct and uniform cursive handwriting.

Since I had come here, he had started sending me postcards occasionally. He and my grandma. They are postcards from the seventies, the eighties perhaps. Some of them still show the old differential diacritics that were used before the reform in 1981 (e.g., "Govêrno Abreu Sodré - Secretaria do Turismo"). Some of them show roads, bridges, buildings of concrete, very uninteresting things perhaps; to me, they are beautiful mementos of a strange-looking Brazil, one in which new roads were novelties that figured in postcards, and one in which people wrote "periòdicamente" or "relêvo" like this, with accents.