terça-feira, 24 de junho de 2014

Don´t feel bad because I live in Brasilia. Really.

Patrick Gough, an urban transport planner from San Francisco, said in an article for the NYT that he felt bad for those who live in Brasília, because we´re isolated from each other.

Patrick, I didn´t need to read past the second line to understand that you didn’t leave the Hotel Sector/Monumental Axis circuit before writing. You didn´t even come close do the “satellite cities”, a kind of neighborhood here. But as we're talking about Brasilia, not the Federal District, I will only write about Brasília.

Don’t feel bad because I live in Brasilia, really. Maybe you're right in being shocked by our lousy public transportation and our need to ride cars. But we are not isolated.

I live in a city that, by limited mobility, encouraged me since childhood to spend so much time with my friends that I became part of their families. I remember weekends and even holidays at my friends´ houses, calling their parents “aunt” and “uncle”, spending time with cousins, brothers and friends. This experience gave me many brothers and sisters, ones that aren´t blood-related, but are in my heart.

I live in a city that has no beaches, but we’re proud of our artificial lake. We take our towels, surfboards, kayaks, paddleboats and fill the water every weekend.

I live in a city that has a lot of samba. But it also has forró. It has frevo, maracatu, axé, funk, rock, pop, jazz. Oh! It has a free Orchestra, a world renowned music school, a choro club. There are tons of other good people, struggling to build a strong musical culture in the city. And thanks to this diversity, I have never needed much effort to meet the most diverse Brazilian rhythms.

I live in a city that has no prejudice against people from Ceará, as they do in Rio de Janeiro, or of people from Paraíba, like in São Paulo. This is a matter of pride. The accents mingle here, to the point of not having a distinct accent or having all of them together. I can say "oxi", "uai" and "véi" (common slang from different regions of Brazil) in the same sentence and no one will find it strange. It is completely natural for me to proudly have a mother from Minas Gerais and a father from Amapáand simply be "a typical child from Brasilia."

I live in a city that allows me to have best friends that are rockers, hipsters, catholics, evangelicals, gay, straight, and they live comfortably amongst themselves, go to the same places one time or another and are much more open to diversity.

I live in a city that has a horrible subway and I can’t even take the bus. But there's a lot of people trying to change that: people who help us to know which bus to catch, people advocating the bicycle as a means of transport (after all, the city is fantastic for this). It also has miles of bike paths that may not have been constructed in the best possible way to turn them into a means of transport (yet), but at least they are crowded on weekends.

I live in a city that everyone moves around inside their boxes, also known as cars, but packed the largest urban park in the world all weekend. Packed the clubs and the lakeshore as well. And there are free events in open places like Picnik, Deguste, Quitutes, samba in neighborhoods, shows on the streets, which are always crowded. It also has galleries and museums. It has a Zoo and small parks. And these places are always full. Is this isolation?

I live in a city with blue skies, green grass during the rainy season and red in the drought, which has the coloured flowers of “ipês”: purple, white and yellow. It has white monuments. It has artwork of Athos Bulcão in the street and the artwork of Niemeyer, it has masterpieces of nature in every corner and around the city. And we don’t get tired of going out just to take pictures or nearly fall off the skateboard to register an “ipê” blooming.

I live in a city that allows me to get to a stunning waterfall in half an hour. Or spend the weekend in a small and charming city. Or feel the atmosphere of a "real city", 20 minutes north or south.

I live in a town that has no security, education, or public health. Still, and despite all the bad governors we've had, it's better than most cities in Brazil.

I live in a city that allows me to go home for lunch if I want, or with friends in the middle of the week. That allows me to leave work and have dance lesson, snack and still catch a movie. That allows me to have four social events in one day and go to all of them.

I live in a city that has struggled to build an identity, as we’re still very young. We have a generation eager for culture, leisure and amusement. With very good people making art and valuing people struggling to make it in the art business.

I live in a town where I can eat “açaí”, “tacacá”, “maniçoba”, “tapioca”, barbecue, “baião de dois”, “pamonha”, “carne de sol”, “feijoada”, “pastel”, and food from anywhere in the country like I’m in their regions of origin. Also, I can count on my fingers other cities that have a large number of restaurants and cafes with such quality. Here, I can eat Indian, Thai, healthy, Italian, Japanese, Contemporary, French and various other food without missing the restaurants of big cities.

I live in a city without corners, but with a lot of beer. Because each neighborhood has at least a bar or a pub that is always full. It also has lots of “caipirinha”, “caipisakê”, “caipiroska”, wine and sparkling wine.

I live in a city that doesn’t have football, it also has no tradition in the sport, encouragement, nor investment. But it has basketball, swimming, and street races. It has a population that loves to do sports and not do they go to the gym, they exercise by the lake , in the streets with their bikes and at the parks.

So don’t feel bad for me, because I love this city with all of its problems (and there are many), but especially for all of its qualities. And I'm extremely proud of my generation who strives every day to reduce the city’s bureaucracy and to make it a place increasingly irresistible.