I love São Paulo. No, I don’t love it, but I really like it. Or, I like the people here. I mean, São Paulo really is a crazy city, in all ways possible. It has everything! That might sound amazing; it does to me. But this time, with “everything” I mean really everything. That does unfortunately include the bad bits too.
São Paulo, being the large city and important financial centre it is, obviously comes with highly educated people, low unemployment, opportunities and endless leisure activities.
São Paulo have amazing parks, and they are not just used by people walking through or to relax on a bench. No, these parks are full of happy citizens of Sampa and their dogs. The parks have running tracks, bicycles to rent, football fields, tennis- basketball- and volleyball-courts, playgrounds, fauna, museums, free yoga, gardening schools, restaurants, cafés and much more. I don’t have time to list everything!! Whoever thought São Paulo only offers paid activities in a skyscraper was so wrong.
There is also a place called SESC. I have not been there yet, but every time I meet someone new and tell them where I live they tell me that I live close to the city’s nicest SESC and that there I can see theaters, dance shows, go swimming, do gymnastics, take dance classes and learn many other things. There is free internet and plenty of stuff to keep both kids and adults engaged and off the streets and everything that comes with it. I have actually just emailed them to ask about starting a group for kids to learn english. If they provide the kids and the space, then I will provide my knowledge. Let’s see how it goes!
Apart from the leisure activities already mentioned there are also endless restaurants, bars, clubs, cafés, 6000 pizza restaurants, samba schools, language schools, luxury cinema, theaters, concerts, museums, A M A Z I N G shopping (bring someone else’s credit card, with no limit), Formula 1, churches, art exhibitions, markets, jockey club, botanic garden, zoo (for those who like to see animals in cages)… again the list could go on, but one of these activities are waiting for me as the night is approaching.
So yes, it is an amazing city. But what did I mean with the title of this post? Well, if you just open your eyes a little bit more, and analyze those little luxuries that you are indulging in, and question them, then you might just see the other side of things. When you walk into that park, question what the boy is doing helping you find a parking place, instead of being at school or playing with his friends in the park. Question what the lady in the elevator makes per hour, the one who doesn’t know how to read or write and has been hired to push a button for you. Question why the police are corrupt. I question this all the time. It makes me sad. Just like I questioned why the man who had a gun to his face the other day didn’t report his ten thousand dollar watch being stolen. In bright day light.
No, actually, don’t. Don’t question it. Know that it is there. Awareness! We need awareness. And change. But for now, when the shit hits the fan, don’t blame the wrong person. Understand that desperation and ignorance leads to exactly that. More desperation and more ignorance; more crime and more problems. What’s frustrating is that it doesn’t have to be this way. It isn’t an overnight change, but I believe it can change.
They government recently announced the increase in the minimum salaries for 2013, they went up 9% from 2012, to R$678 (€249.82) per month. I am not a big spender at all, I check the prices when I go to the supermarket and chose between different brands. I check the cost per kilo. If I made a much bigger effort, then I would be able to keep my monthly food bill at R$678. But where would I live? And what kind of food would I eat. Nutritional? Don’t think so. Would I study english and learn how to read and write, in order to improve my future? Probably not. Would I envy those people around me driving million dollar cars and spending three of my monthly salaries in one lunch? Probably. Would that bring aggression, hate and frustration to my heart? I bet it would.
I am not one of those people who think money is evil, nor do I think of rich people as bad. On the contrary; I tend to wish I was as smart and business minded as them. Just as there are poor people with big hearts there are rich people with big hearts, but just like there are poor criminals there are rich criminals too. And they are the ones to fear. And when they are in the government, then there is a problem.