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A Life Worth Living

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Serene Christ.
For Panorama click here.

The beat – A party everyday – Razor’s edge. (Map this!)

The beat is loud and thick, it reverberates in my chest. All around us are bodies gyrating, dancing to a drunken singer with a voice made rough and gravelly by cigarette smoke and bad living. The favela hums with excitement and taxis crawl forward through dense million man march crowds at a speed where the needle is glued to zero. They are the spillover from the Samba school because they don’t want to pay to dance or can’t pay to dance and they dance to the music echoing from the Samba school as it mixes with home-made frog amplifiers and decibel drag racer wanna be Volkswagens. Inside the Samba school gravel guy screams over the pulsing crowd bathed with complexion unflattering neon light and lonely neglected Caiprinhas stand diluted with ice cubes. This is Rio where the meter of life is pegged to eleven.

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View from Carmen e Fernando. For Panorama click here.

There is a party everyday, every single day. There is music, debate, pinga and a constant stream of artists, relatives, neighbors and unidentified hangers on. Santa Theresa is a tightly knit community and everybody knows everybody and everybody is somebody and nobody is excluded. At least nobody worth mentioning. The party keeps going past our bedtime but no worry there is another tomorrow and magically there will be beer, Caipirinhas, and pinga. On this merry-go-round you can get on and off as many times as you like. This is Rio where everyone eats all the candied crab apples all at once and gulps them down with Caipirinhas.

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Copacabana beach from Sugarloaf. For Panorama click here.

It is the razor’s edge, life honed to perfection and infinitely worth living. Everywhere there is the happiness of wild abandon, a frenzy of life to be lived NOW, for in the shadows lurks the reaper. A stilletto, an aging revolver, or an automatic weapon can stand in for the scythe. For most the blow will never fall but it quickens the pace and warms the blood. There is nothing like the threat of death to realize the value of life, a life not worth risking is a life not worth living. The Samba drum beats are the ticking of the clock thumping you in the chest like CPR, bringing you back to life. Don’t waste your time, live, dance, and have Caipirinhas.

Rio has the most dramatic geography of any city I have visited and it is very close to dethroning Rome as the most interesting. South American in every sense it is not a European wanna be like San Francisco, or Toronto. A Hell-Bound train, it is time to stop the clock.

12 Responses to “A Life Worth Living”

  1. fred says:

    Okay, I’ll bite, what’s a “Caipirinhas”? Inquiring minds want to know.

  2. Neena says:

    Hi Fred,
    Its a bit like the “alacran”, except that they use Cachaça (distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane) instead of mezcal. So lime, sugar, Cachaça.
    Click here for more info on it than you probably want to know.

  3. Jerzy says:

    And should I add- a totally addictive sweet killer. Once you tried a caipirinha there is no way back.

  4. Shreesh says:

    I think it would be close to impossible to make a caipirinha outside Brazil as the limes here have a distinct taste…

  5. Suhasini Taskar says:

    Shreesh & Neena,
    Seems like Rio is the place to visit some time in life. But for the safety issues, it appears to be similar to a nice city but with a distinct character of its own and “Be happy and merry” attitude. With the present happenings all over the world, we need to have some of that over here.
    The whole North America is experiencing unusually harsh winter weather conditions with 3 inches of snow in Las Vegas and in Malibu, California. Minneapolis (where we live) is no exception where temperature had plunged to -15 0F. The stock market is tipsy turvy everywhere and the folks in Mumbai are still failing to understand how a small number of cruel Pakistani Muslim terrorists held the city as hostage for over two days.
    Thus a positive attitude in this current situation is very much needed.
    Shreesh and Neena, myself and Daddy wish you a Happy and prosperous New Year. We are looking forward to Guttu’s visit during the holidays.
    Aai.

  6. abeline says:

    Dear both, what a beautiful piece of writing and great characterization of Rio. As to caipirinhas – aaah to compare them to alacrans is sacriligeous. A big lemony caipirinha in Brazil is sheer heaven, and can’t seem to be copied anywhere else. Perhaps it is the lemons and rum.. Mmm, enjoy!!

  7. fred says:

    Now, I believe it is my duty to speak up against this scurrilous denegration of the alacran, which according to 100% of the experts polled was unsurpassed in excellence when it comes to your tippling pleasure.

  8. I’ll take Scotch myself. Another drink you must acquire a taste for.
    As for the 24/7 party, I’ll pass. New Orleans did it to me. Have a GREAT NEW YEAR!

  9. Neena says:

    I think my favorite of the publicly available drinks is the pisco sour. It is a bit more complex than caipirinhas. Of course, if we were to include those made at home, the alacran would be my first choice. Nothing beats having a drink with friends made from fresh limes fesh from the Oaxacan market and mezcal that you yourself have lovingly selected.

  10. Brennan says:

    I arrived in Rio 20 years ago, almost to a day. From then until Carnaval it seemed like the whole place was pulsating (and it wasn’t just the caipirinhas). I object to calling SF a “Euopean wannabe”, but comparing it and Rio is apples and oranges. Rio and Cariocas are incomparable. I don’t think I’d go back.

  11. Lakshmi says:

    Just back from Rio and read this post again. Its very well written you guys! It really captures the spirit of Rio. As for Caipirinhas, I’m a fan of Maracuja based one, it beats the lemon caipirinha hands down.

  12. Shreesh says:

    Hi Lakshmi!

    I’m glad you had a good time in Rio, it is hard not to. Did you dance in the Samba schools, go to the Favelas, drink lots of pinga?

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