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Table talk …

April 23, 2012


Today is Saturday. We are going to a Flea Market in Centro do Rio. We will walk fifteen minutes to the bus stop and then a short bus trip.  We had originally planned it as a tourist jaunt looking for possible gifts, souvenirs and a teapot, – since sadly my daughter’s most treasured pot had broken in her recent move. We had been managing with a rather small substitute – sweet but socially inept!
The buying of daily requirements can be difficult here in a favela even for those with reasonable income and when planning to buy a basic need such as a dining table.However circumstances and overtaken us and it had become mission of need. Until recently ‘Amy and her partner had managed without a table using a suitably draped upturned box – uncomfortable and inappropriate when entertaining. Before this they had found table alongside a skip. It was in need of significant repair and for the boy without carpentry tools and skill this could only be temporary. He did do a temporary fix with some wire and the legs to keep it balanced at least.
Within six months and during our visit the table collapsed – this time beyond repair. So breakfast was served on the upturned box once again now with four of us it was squashed and uncomfortable – an experience not to be repeated.
I have learned since that the table about thirty years old was built of cheap pine in the traditional jacaranda Brazilian style, a folded semi circle that could open out to a circle when entertaining. It had a graceful turned centre leg and three elegant feet.
To replace the jacaranda replica;  economically, was out of the question but there was more to consider; not only the bus journey home but the carrying of it up the hillside and through the paths and steps of the narrow alleyways of the favela.
And all before supper!
In the end we did find a table that fitted our needs and budget.  After a short taxi journey to Lapa a  beautiful area of Rio undergoing much regeneration; the main street was an avenue of fine antique and secondhand shops. However, unlike English shopkeeper’s Brazilian shop owners are  not tied to an expensive franchise; so their shops are are not littered with advertisements -such as ‘tables are us.” Although there were a few pieces of furniture displayed on the pavement inside furniture was piled this way and that. It proved difficult to venture inside and more difficult not to be tempted by other delights.
We did discover that even secondhand furniture is expensive;  the table, rather than a dining room table with fine turned legs is a kitchen table – robust and stable, that can be used in the kitchen when a more desirable piece comes along – cost over 100 pounds.  Very expensive for a simple table; four legs and a top.  This goes along way to explain why scavenging and making do is still the first option even amongst the up and coming.
Although now the temperature was around 34  degrees the table did get home on the bus and up the mountain side without a hitch.  And soon the table was scrubbed and draped to give it a sophisticated air and set for supper.  It will not be a feature of ‘Homes and Gardens’ but  hope it will the centre of a happy home for a while and I will remember the day fondly.

 

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