Love, pain, intensity and contrasts: this is my São Paulo
São Paulo is not a place for the faint hearted, it makes you grow a thick skin. And writing about it, where I lived half of my life, brings up deep and buried feelings that once made me so much want to be there and to be part of something special. As a result of living there, I also made friends who became family. Is blood really thicker than water? I wonder.
Many years after, I was consumed by a huge desire to leave. I needed to release myself from this place in order to start appreciating it again. São Paulo can awaken emotions of love, resilience, passion, hate and aversion within us, all equally intense, at the same time that makes us live as if it's the last day of our lives.
There's a popular expression which says that "working ennobles the man". When in São Paulo, people take this motto literally: to work is the highest goal in the Brazilian capital. Usually, this is also one the main reasons that attracts and keeps us there. There's so much opportunity in the Brazilian capital! Despite the chaotic environment we must cope with every day, São Paulo boosts us with a tremendous energy and uplifts our spirit with a huge drive to keep on going.
I cannot say that São Paulo is a beautiful city. But it can be extremely attractive. There are magnificent restaurants of international and Brazilian cuisine; superb hotels to stay in; bars and nightlife that cater to everyone's tastes; plenty of museums and galleries (the contemporary art scene is evolving a lot); festivals and, of course, the best street carnival in in the country. Bear in mind that it's quite expensive, though. These all mingle with grey skies, street dwellers, endless threads of open-air wire and excessive noise in traffic. But somehow, we get used to it.
However, the best part, in my opinion, are the relationships we benefit from. In São Paulo, we meet the most wonderful and warm people in the world. I remember it as if it was just yesterday when I arrived at the age of 18 with a bag full of dreams and aspirations. I came across tender friends who made me feel at home. This was the fuel I needed to grow, to carry on. The same fuel which many other millions of "paulistanos" or foreigners need every day. São Paulo can beat us down, as can any other huge financial and cosmopolitan capital, but there's always someone ready to take our hands and relate to our struggling.