Zumbi dos Palmares - Antonio Carlos Jobim - Rio de Janeiro
Mario Cravo Neto - photographer - Body and Colour
Jobim by Verinha Ottoni©

It was my last trip of the year 2000, and I must say that I completed nearly all the programme that I set myself at the beginning of the year 2000. It was hard and expensive and I ended the year badly as far as economics were concerned, but my life is getting back into shape again. I went to Rio to try and sort out my documents and view the situation of where I will spend my "elderly time"!!!???

To my amusement - I only went for one week - they were having four days of holidays??? I arrived Tuesday afternoon so went directly to check on my debits in the offices and try to find out how I could pay??? I did not understand. I have been living most of my life outside Brazil so I do not understand their priorities of life there???

I was invited to have dinner with Lea Millon, the music producer and her very charming son. I nearly had an attack of raging hormones when he gave me a special hug!!! We had salmon in mango sauce, all well displayed and served by the wonderful DENAIR - really very nice.

Next day, 15 November, I felt very ashamed but I could not remember that it was the Republic day, so Bank Holiday. Heliton and Therezinha Aranha, friends from childhood, made a special feijoada (black beans) the famous Brazilian dish made mainly in Rio de Janeiro. But in other areas they have different types of beans, served with rice, and a green Brazilian vegetable. The husband made the canapés and sausage with onions - SIMPLY DELICIOUS. They have a beautiful house in the very expensive area of Rio, Recreio dos Bandeirantes - with a marvellous swimming-pool, a lot of tropical plants, Baroque sculptures and I drank guarana!!! Again I felt very loved!!!They cooked specially for me!!!

So Thursday and Friday no food - just offices.

Saturday morning I had appointments with officials dealing with my mother's flat and then to the best hairdresser for my hair, feet and Brazilian waxing - I went out a new woman!!! I felt wonderful.

I was supposed to see my beautiful uncle, an airline pilot and his children and grandchildren in connection with my grandmother's business affairs, but I was told it was not necessary so I decided to stay quiet and read my documents when I received a telephone call from friend Ernani who said they wanted to see me badly, so although I was very tired I got a taxi and went to them for a kiss and a hug!!! I didn't realise I was so late in leaving the flat which overlooks the Copacabana sea.I arrived at the friends' house at 10 o'clock at night - my lovely friends that will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in December with a mass at the Outeiro da Gloria with their sons, daughter and grandchildren. They were very charming and sweet to me and I was very pleased that I had managed to get there in order to have their affection which I really needed. The wife Maria Enila, made empadinhas of cheeses, mango juice and cake, all for me. Of course, I really felt very loved.Then her son, my very best friend dentist Marcello, came and introduced me to his daughter Cleo, five years old and already quite a singer, who sang specially for me; a very beautiful girl. So Marcello got his guitar and sang with his daughter - very grown-up songs - I was very touched and tearful. He took me home. I really did have a wonderful evening.

On Sunday I went to Barra again to see my beautiful nephew Marquinhos. He hugged me and said "don't go" which made me cry - such a sweet little boy. Their flat overlooks the Barra area.

I was disgusting late for lunch with Simone, Yvonne - childhood friends - and their mother D. Hilda - did another most delicious Brazilian lunch FOR ME - Cozido vegetable with meat and two Brazilian sweets; very nice indeed. I arrived too late and they started the meal as they had got fed up with waiting for me. Anyway I met the new arrivals in the family - babies grandchildren of D. Hilda. I ate everything and was very pleased with all the attention and loved the hugs and all the family news including reminiscing about our childhood. I left at nearly midnight!!!

Monday - my last half-day - was a Bank Holiday again??? They were celebrating Zumbi dos Palmares, also know Quilombo dos Palmares from Serra da Alagoas, North-West of Brazil, a black leader who inspired films and music and the Brazilian legends who - for the first time - was getting a celebration only in Rio de Janeiro. He was against slavery and that ended during his time 112 years ago. Brazil is the country with most black people outside of Africa, also the country with more Italians outside Rome and the country with more Catholics outside Italy??? Whilst the Italians do not allow the church to decide for them the Brazilians let the church interfere in their political decisions.

However, the ONU is organising in South Africa in August 2001 a meeting against racial discrimination,xenophobia and all forms of intolerance. (For example, black people in Brazil get paid 50% less than the white.) The black people in Brazil are celebrating with books; they are becoming more visual in theatre, TV and, of course, in the music world. The focal point of the Afro-Brazilian celebration is the exhibition by the photographer Mario Cravo Neto "Body and Colour" including a book of the photographs. The title of the exhibition is "O Negro de Corpo e Alma" celebrating the 500th anniversary of the discovering of Brazil, now showing in Sao Paulo. The exhibition features the saints of the African religion and the people of Bahia. The photographer is the son of the famous Brazilian sculptor Mario Cravo Junior. The black Brazilian is now becoming powerful as in the USA.Really???

They are also celebrating in Brazil now the 10th anniversary of the death of Antonio Carlos Jobim, after whom the most important Brazilian airport in Rio de Janeiro is named; a celebration of his music. They are recording a CD and a DVD of his music including other singers and this will feature music not heard previously; they are also producing printed music (songbooks) of his work.

In 1999 Gal Costa released the double album "Gal Costa Canta Jobim" a tribute to the fifth anniversary of his death. He died on 8 December 1994. The album was recorded live in Sao Paulo with 24 tracks of music by Jobim; a really magnificent album with love songs, Bossa Nova. Gal, with her crystal-clear voice sang half in English "The Girl from Ipanema". I read that Jobim's dream was to do a piano concert together with Gal in a very intimate setting. Now, with the computer's help and Gal's voice Jobim's dream could be realised. Gal also said that she would like to do with Jobim what Ella Fitzgerald did with Cole Porter "sing it over and over again".I think this album celebrated the great Jobim and 'sister' Gracinha very well. That is how I call her because of the love which united us to D. Mariah her mother. I do think she sings beautifully. Sister, you are great!!!

In New York Sotheby's and Christie's are dedicating an auction-sale to Latin-American art. The Brazilian artworks are valued at one million dollars including the works of Candido Portinari and Di Cavalcanti. It is all thanks to Helena Rubinstein of cosmetic fame as she started to collect Brazilian art in America and her collection is going to be auctioned by Christie's.

Another feature about Brazil is that the young teenagers of middle/upper classes get excited about mixing with the lower classes. They think it is fashionable to "slum it" as it were. They like to go "downtown" into the street and, in some cases, drugdealing clubs etc. They find exciting but don't realise the danger.

My last goodbye lunch was one of my favourite Brazilian dishes. Again, at the home of my childhood friends. They prepared a beautiful table FOR ME - salad well-presented with gorgeous prawns, black beans, angu and chicken and my favourite vegetable - green but bitter - jilo. All this accompanied by guarana and pineapple juice. This involved two cooks. They also prepared a lovely sweet but Mara forgot to offer me any!!! However, they were very sweet, hugging me asking when I would return to live there, so much affection and love. When I saw the photographs I had taken it almost made me want to return - I intend to return next year for the coconut sweet that they forgot to give me. I hope they keep it in the frig!!!

I know I only talked about food, but in Brazil people are so hospitable, the food so wonderful that I have to mention it, and to make sure I get invited back, I have to mention EVERYBODY who has entertained me!!!

I did see the man with the very bushy eyebrows at a party in London recently but - apart from saying "good evening" - he ignored me. I love impossible things!!!!!!!!!!

Verinha Ottoni.

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