Tag Archives: music

Tchau Ciudad Marvelosa – Goodbye Rio

We’re closing out our two weeks in Rio de Janeiro, a city that was added to our around the world journey on a whim and as the last stop before we return to NYC. We didn’t know much about Rio other than it had exotic beaches, caiparinhas and great music. What we learnt is that Rio is undervalued.

Apparently we aren’t the only ones enamored by Ciudad Marvelosa (Marvelous City). In July 2012, UNESCO added “Rio de Janeiro: Carioca Landscapes Between the Mountains and the Sea” on its list of World Heritage Sites. That’s essentially the entire city. We don’t blame UNESCO. It’s hard to pick just one aspect of Rio to call marvelous.

One of the most striking this to us was Rio’s landscape. Standing atop Corcovado, where Christo Redentor looms tall, the city is a dramatic mix of lush hills piercing blue oceans and white sands rubbing metropolitan shores.

Brazil opened up a new culinary frontier for us. We never considered Brazilian food as world-class but we now associate Rio with fresh seafood and sushi, perfectly succulent meats and ripe fruits of every variety. While we knew of Samba and Capoeira, we had to come here to appreciate what a central part music and art play in the lives of the everyday Rio. We witnessed several impromptu Samba parties and Capoeira practices from our apartment on Largos dos Neves in Santa Teresa. The neighborhood, young and old, comes out until the wee hours to hang out, relax and enjoy the warm Brazilian air. This video, taken outside our house last Friday evening at about 10 PM shows a group dancing Jonga, people working on their laptops, kids playing around (ok, those are our kids), as well as pop-up caiparinha and grill stalls.

The atmosphere in Rio is the most relaxed of any large city we have visited thus far. Cariocas (people from Rio) take their meals seriously. Even coffee is enjoyed over a good dose of gossip. Importantly, Cariocas are proud of their heritage and city. It is a rare Carioca that speaks English and they make no apologies for it. Every Carioca is excited to show off their city to the world at the upcoming World Cup and 2016 Olympics. We’re not the first visitors to Rio and between the fame of its UNESCO recognition, the World Cup and the Olympics, the city will see a deluge of tourists over the next few years. Ordinarily, a tourist influx raises concerns that a city will lose its charms. However, with its gorgeous landscape and proud Cariocas we’re pretty sure that Cuidad Marvelosa will hold steadfast to its identity.

Rio – we surprised you by adding you to our around the world journey. Thanks for surprising us back.


Filed under Brazil

Career Interview: Cafe Maestro

At what point should Sandeep start paying rent for his office in Istanbul? Every morning he parks himself at Mavra, an inviting cafe down our street. He jumps on conference calls and even hosts the occasional meeting out of a table that has informally been designated as his. The attendant is a very animated and friendly Istanbullu. He greats us with an opera voice booming “Good Morning!”

Mavra opened over three years ago on Serdar-I Ekrem, a small winding street with a colorful mix of boutiques and cafes, a mosque and a church, as well as old buildings undergoing various states of restoration. It’s an ideal place to watch young Istanbullus, particularly the artist crowd. Murat Nergiz has been serving Mavra’ss patrons for a year and a half. While Sandeep worked I interviewed Murat, with the conversation translated by another willing Mavra regular.

What types of people come to Mavra and does that change through the day?

We get all types here – students, travelers, artists, photographer, designers, architects. The owner’s husband is an architect. It is quieter in the mornings and at night we tend to have parties. People like to come here to celebrate their birthdays. We get a lot of regulars as well, like you.

I’m flattered to be called a regular, but what do you think about people who spend half the day here and just drink coffee?

(Murat turns to look at Sandeep, who is engrossed in his screen and doesn’t even notice us) Does he feel good when he is here?

He looks comfortable.

Then that is all that matters. It doesn’t matter if you just get one coffee or eat a meal. Be happy here, that is all that matters.

What is your signature dish?

Our pasta and meatballs. Our chocolate cake is also good, it’s a Turkish cake, very moist.

What is unique about your job?

The owner of this cafe is more of a friend, not a boss in the serious sense. There are no restrictive rules here. I am working here but I don’t feel as though I am a waiter. I am just part of the cafe.

What is behind the singing?

I just like to sing, especially in the morning. I am a writer also. I write poetry about women. Actually, I am just writing about one woman.

Does she know that you write about her?

She knows. She is a mixture of flowers and chocolate. When I see flowers and chocolate together I think of her.

Back home we never had the luxury of spending hours at a coffee shop. If I had to envision an ideal setting, it would have everything Marva offers. The music, a mix of sultry female jazz and oldies, is familiar. Mismatched furniture makes us feel as though it is an extension of our living room. The open doors leading out to the street is ideal for people watching. Most of all, Murat welcomes us as old friends and keeps us coming back every day. Luckily he’s not asking for rent.

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Filed under Turkey