Immortalised in the mid sixties Bossa Nova hit, “The Girl from Ipanema” by Antõnio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, Ipanema Beach has been drawing crowds from around the world ever since. Sister beach Copacaba is arguably just as famous, and the quintessential model for a city beach.
Personally, when I think of a beautiful beach, the image conjured up is usually of a gently curving bay, with turquoise waters silently lapping on a crescent of fine white powdery sand, disappearing into a dense green forest, and most of all, quiet and secluded. I knew not to expect that prior to visiting Ipanema and Copacabana, (it is afterall, in Rio de Janeiro and not an isolated Carribean island) but I guess it took a while to fully comprehend the number of people on the beach. A great equaliser, the beach is loved and frequented by all social classes in Rio de Janeiro, a city of stark contrasts between the haves and have-nots. Everywhere you look, there are parasols and flags flying, with thousands of Cariocas and tourists occupying every square foot of sand, despite it being a weekday afternoon. Most are to be found lounging on the sand, people watching, others playing beach volleyball, football and footvolley, a unique Carioca hybrid of football and volleyball.
X-Pro1 Diaries: She Crosses the Road
The clock read 10:52pm.
The air warm and muggy, it hung like a damp blanket over everything. Beads of sweat formed on your forehead even if you were standing still, the occasional breeze offering scant relief. Late night diners hung around on the corner coffeeshops, largely keeping to themselves as they absent mindedly stared ahead, their cups of coffee producing swirls of steam into the air. Once in a while, a loud rumble of a roller shutter being pulled down announced yet another retirement for the night, as shopkeepers prepared to leave for home. A couple of stray dogs rummaged through the bins, looking for a meal as a cat across the road stared at them, seemingly unbothered.
Then came a clackety clack of heels on asphalt, the stuccato rhythm out of sync with the crickets chirping in the night. A whiff of perfume mixed curiously with the night air.
She crossed the road.
X-Pro1 Diaries: Just Before Dinnertime
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The hour before dinner time is a curious occasion. The working masses are spontaneously poured out onto the streets, evident in their eyes, relief that the workday is finally over. The fading light in the sky heightening the growling in their collective stomachs as they go in search of sustenance, mostly in groups, laughing and gesturing, occasionally alone, with the dim light of their mobile phones upon their faces.
The restaurants and street hawkers are in a frenzy of activity, preparing for what typically is their busiest time of day. Amidst the smoke and smells, the harsh fluorescent light and garish neon, a city is winding down.
Beers are poured, cigarettes lit, tales exchanged.
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A long summer afternoon in New York
There is a huge disconnect with the way she walked amongst the children. You could always see a furrow in her brow. Like she was constantly thinking too hard.
‘Stacy’ her mother said absent mindedly, making sure the steering wheel was attended to, ‘Make sure to clean up your room after you finish your homework. You have piano lessons at 3:00’
It was the second thing she had said to Stacy all day, if you don’t count ‘iron your shirt’. The second was ‘you’re going to be late for school’ during breakfast.
Stacy stayed quiet.
‘I just need to pick up a few documents’ she said, but Stacy was looking out the window. Thinking too hard.
It was the way the water rose from the park ground unexpectedly. The children screamed with open mouthed smiled, either from complete surprise or to indicate it’s ice cold temperatures.
The car began to rise past the NYC heat. The fountains carried on carelessly.
It was the way the sunlight delicately hid behind the clouds that made it so inviting. The way the kids ran around, some with only their knickers on.
Stacy furrowed her brows some more. She didn’t like the way it made her feel. Like she was being mocked. Like every laughter was directed at her automobiled imprisonment.
Stacy unlocked the car and walked out, marching towards the gushing coolness, bracing for the watery shock. They died down the moment her bare feet touched the wet ground. Her freshly removed shoes quietly stared back at her.
Across the street, her mother came through the doors and found the car empty.
‘Stacy what are you doing?’ she yelled across the street.
The fountains erupted, barricading her out view. Stacy furrowed her brows and ran with the children.
Conversations by the Window Seatis an ongoing creative collaboration between Adrian Seah and Romila Barryman, with photos and writing themed around a common love of travel and discovery.
View other Conversations by the Window Seat or read more of Romila’s writing at her blog Daydreamsonlooseleafpaper
Waiting to cross | Daikanyama, Tokyo 2012
Daikanyama, a bohemian and trendy neighborhood of Tokyo, is home to numerous fashionable boutiques, restaurants and cafes and has a distinctly quieter and less ‘full on’ vibe than the more traditional shopping districts of Shibuya or Shinjuku.
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Its snowing in Tokyo! | Shinjuku
Apparently it does not snow all that much in Tokyo, so I am considered lucky to have caught some of it on my brief visit.
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Lady owner of kara-age shop in Ebisu | Tokyo, Japan 2012
The tiny shop seats only about 6-7 diners at any one time, all along the counter, but serves the most heavenly Japanese fried chicken, or one may opt for the grilled saba (mackerel) if feeling a little more health conscious.
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