Day 3

Saturday 7 August 2010
Late afternoon, sunny, 35ºC.

I decide to spend today covering the Avenida from bottom to top, then top to bottom, along the central pavements that border the 5-lane road down the middle and separate it from the parallel side roads and pavements.

People/ Vignettes
– I approach the Avenida once again on the eastern side at the bottom and see the same homeless man I saw on Day 2, lying outside the closed-up Guerín Shopping Centre.
– Close by, another tramp sits, propping up a lamp-post.
– There are a lot of tourists today.
– A man and his husky on a lead. They’re walking along, the husky on one side of some low railings separating the flower bed, the man on the other.
– Two women on a bench: one has a florid baseball cap; the other is leaning into her to speak. It’s a lively, two-way conversation.
– An old white man and a middle-aged black man sit at either end of a bench – they do not speak.
– An ill-looking man, with his trousers hitched up around his calves, sits on a bench staring at the ground, smoking. He has a wedding ring and a gold watch. He yawns.

– A group of homeless people (including the transvestite I saw on Day 2) gathered around a bench chatting. The bench seems to be a home – possessions are stacked up behind it.

– A tall man sitting erect on a bench, tapping his feet to some tune that must be inside his head.
– A man with his two young boys on either side. He has his hands full of heavy grocery shopping, and the kids are helping, also carrying bags.

– A jolly young couple waiting for a bus. She feigns she’s going to hit him, he feigns a flinch. They’re laughing and physical; they hug.
– A pretty young girl, mid to late teens, sitting on her own on a bench, looking melancholic; perhaps she’s been stood up?
– A middle-aged lady brings her bag up to her face as she moves out of the shade of the trees into patches of sunlight.
– A man on a bicycle, in his 50s with a pony-tail, free-wheels down the pavement, dodging pigeons.
– Two teenagers, one black, one white, cycle up the pavement in first gear, music blaring from a phone.
– A large group of tourists from Surinam (written on the bag of one of them), looking a little lost and stressed out.
– The same woman begging that I saw on Day 1. This time the ad is for McDonald’s McFlurry.

– A man with a lookalike dog.

– In a café, a policeman is at the bar; on his belt are handcuffs, a pistol, a gas canister, a truncheon … He’s talking jovially with another customer about the big game tonight.
– Three young women at a table. A fourth comes in and there is a flurry of kissed welcomes.
– The waiter folds up tablecloths and puts chairs on tables; it’s closing time.
– There’s no work for the cook, who leans against the doorway to the kitchen, chatting to the waiter behind the bar.
– The security screens are wound down on the windows, and a waiter cleans the coffee machine.
– A very smart man striding up the Avenida in a shirt, tight jumper, shirt and tie, and wearing a flat cap. He’s carrying two litres of water in their polythene wrapping.
– A young couple walking down the Avenida, each talking on a phone held to their left ear.

– The traffic noise is naturally much more intense here in the centre of the Avenida.
– A man taking his husky for a walk … the dog makes a rustling noise as he runs through the flower bed.
– The sound of the breeze through the trees (when there’s a lull in the traffic noise).
– The squeal of brakes as cars stop at lights.
– A man with his arm hanging lazily out of a car window beeps impatiently.
– Dry leaves rustle as they slide and skip across the pavement in the breeze. A gentle, pleasant sound.
– The distant rumble of a plane passing overhead.
– The rattle of a tourist’s suitcase on the cobbles.
– A police car passes with lights flashing, and there’s the sporadic BARP of its siren.
– A car usher whistling to attract parkers.
– The whoosh of a water-blaster, cleaning the façade of a building.
– Crickets in the trees.
– A mother sparrow feeding her chick, and his urgent chirping for more, more, more.
– The rustle and crunch as you walk through the leaves on the ground.
– The hum of the Metro through a grille in the ground.
– The squirting, hissing noises of a coffee machine being cleaned in a café closing up for the day. The chink of salt and pepper pots being collected and stored.
– The crack of ring-pull cans being opened.
– The clunk of a taxi door being closed.

– The beauty of a sycamore trunk.

– A belching of exhaust fumes from a bus.
– The benches are all occupied.
– A station for checking air quality, with a moribund pigeon alongside.
– The corner of Avenida da Liberdade (‘Liberty Avenue’) and Praça da Alegria (‘Happiness Square’)

– Rubbish piled up next to the Metro station.
– The sycamores resemble bars.

– A shop: “Hippie Café: Convenient Store”
– There’s a lot of leaf-fall already. Some get trapped on a grille from the Metro.

– A new notice posted up by the person accusing local officials of conspiring to sell young children for their organs (see Day 1).

Freedom is a lie
Democracy is a lie
Human rights is a lie
Children’s rights is a lie
This is Nazism, Fascism.

– A couple on a bench. He’s sitting, she’s lying with her head in his lap. Their dog is sitting on the ground in front of the bench.

Me: Posso tirar uma foto?
Man: Sorry?
Me: Can I take a photo?
Man: No thanks.
Me: It’s for me.
Man: For you?
(A look of bemusement)
Me: Yes, it’s a good one.
(I take the photo)
Me: Thanks.
(The man shrugs his shoulders).

(End of Day 3)


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