Day 2


It’s almost 11 p.m. I spent part of the morning with Madalena, her daughter and son, while I charged my camera and computer. I was told about Dona Zeninha’s arrest and torture. Rafael, the son of Célia Carneiro took me to meet the Vasco family. From there I went back to the cemetery. The trees are blossoming now, I smell Jasmin-Manga flowers. It’s hellish hot today. On the way back we stopped to meet Célia. She shows me old family photos and the house. In the evening I went to the public school and watch eighth graders rehearsing their end of the year play. Watching the protagonists, the most attractive boy and the most attractive girl in the class, reminds me of Jørgen Leth’s Perfect Human. I propose to remake the Perfect Human with the kids and offer to make a musical teaser for their play in exchange of their participation. They accept. I meet people who work in the school and I ask them if they know who are the oldest inhabitants of Austin. I explain I'm researching the place’s origins and history. A professor says I should talk to his uncle. We schedule the interview for tomorrow. I talk to some elders who are being alphabetized for the first time through a public education program that helps illiterate elderly to leaning reading and writing. Two narratives of the origin of Austin start to emerge: the wealthy families and the humble people. There is a democratization of experiences tho, it is small enough that everyone is connected and affected by each other stories to some extent. The houses are very central to people’s lives, it is where it all happens. As I hear the stories, I understand that the street was much more central a few decades earlier, that people mingled more, as they spent more time outside. Not anymore. The people who grew up in that climate and saw it go away, my parent’s generation let’s say, resent the changes. The peace, calm and playfulness of the old days are said to have been replaced by the noise, pollution, and confusion, which led to a self imposed semi confinement in the house. There is a lot of green around still, despite the rapid pace of urbanization. There is a thin visible layer of dust covering everything. They have brooms’ stands hanging outside in front of every grocery store. I think of the redundancy of the brooms for them. You can’t keep the dust away, it only moves around. There was a movie theater before. No more. It seems like good things come and go. Austin is just a stop on the train to Rio. In Austin there are people who remember the first things: the first television, the first car, the first gas station, the first grocery store, the first asphalted street. Yesterday Seu Zezinho explained to me that the pillar in v shape sustaining his house’s porch was inspired in the “fever of Brasilia”. When the new capital was built everyone wanted to have a modern style house. The midwife, the healer and Dona Zezinha, all among the first inhabitants, have died in the last few years, before I arrived here. Women seem to outlive men.

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