Bubba: “Ok, I think I get it now. I come out of the house and go to Sabará, there I turn right, cross the road and take the first road to the left and that’s the fair?”
Nujor: “Yeah, just make sure you go to the people on the right-hand side to have your pastel, not the left-hand side. The people on the left-hand side will start hassling you, calling your attention to them, like they do in Morocco or Brick Lane”
Bubba: “Oh, ok, so because they are so loud, I should ignore them and go to the people on the left”
Nujor: “Yeah, that’s right. Well, at least that’s what I always do”
Lanja: “Nujor takes the side of the weak and the oppressed”
Bubba: “Oh, and where can I find an ATM near here?”
Nujor: “On Sócrates. After your pastel you keep walking until the end of Sócrates…”
Bubba: “Ah! The fair’s on Sócrates?”
Lanja: “No, the road the fair is on leads onto Sócrates”
Bubba walked out of the house, to loud fucken’ barks from Nujor’s crazy fucken’ homosexual dog, and made his way, panting, up-hill to Avenida Nossa Senhora do Sabará. He smelled the familiar smell of toasted ham and cheese sandwiches being cooked at Bienal, the padaria on the left, mixed with the sweet smell of coconut bread and super-sugary coffee. He turned right onto Sabará. The air was polluted as the sun was struggling to shine through the clouds and the smog of Zona Sul of São Paulo. Housewives and maids were out shopping and gossiping. Just the way Bubba likes it…
The people on the left didn’t even look at Bubba as he sneaked a peak at them on his way straight to the friendlier looking people on the right. “Um de pizza, um de frango com catupiry, e um caldo de cana“, he said, in his gringo accent. “Com limão?“, asked the nice lady. “Huh?“. “Do you want lemon in your sugarcane juice?“, asked the lady, in Portuguese, of course. “Ok“, said Bubba. “Would you like to take a seat?“, she asked and Bubba said “yes” and just stood there. “Well, take a seat then…“, she said and pointed to the plastic chairs and metallic tables next to her deep fryer… “Gringo estúpido“, she thought, and smiled to herself…
Soon the pasteis and caldo de cana were brought over. They were delicious. Just the way Bubba had expected. He had had it described to him many times by his drinking buddies all over the world: “You haven’t lived if you haven’t had pastel and caldo de cana in a fair in São Paulo, man!“, was a typical line he would hear on a drunken’ Wednesday night in any Irish pub in New York… And here he was, finally sampling it.
He was also very careful to not get burned. Another drinking buddy, this one he had met in a strip joint in Singapore, had told him how when he first tried pastel, he bit straight into it and got burned on his lips, then turned the pastel around, bit into it again, and got burned again! So Bubba was careful when eating the pasteis. Oh yeah, and he added a little bit of cachaça to his caldo de cana. That’s something that no fucken’ drunk Dutch guy had ever told him to do, it was all his own idea.
He sat sipping his improvised cocktail while thinking how clever he had been. A bit like fried chicken breast with a sliced egg on top. Two different food products from pretty much the same source. A bit like publishing a bunch of academic papers based on ONE idea. That’s not something that Bubba would’ve thought of though, but does it really matter, for the purposes of our story and Bubba’s adventures in São Paulo?
There wasn’t much else happening in the fair. A couple of fruit stalls and one or two people selling made-in-china plastic shite. So, he sat a bit, enjoyed the food and the drink and headed back to Nujor and Lanja’s. Walking back, down Pajaú, minding his own business, a tennis ball fell out of the sky and almost hit Bubba on the head. Bubba picked it up and walked a bit, looking for an opening among the trees to throw it back into the tennis court. As he threw it, a middle-aged woman walking just ahead of him started talking.
Lady: “You should’ve given me the ball. I would’ve taken it home to my dog, ha ha, he he. They’re rich, they’ve got enough balls…”
Bubba: “Oh. You should’ve told me…”
Lady: “They have enough balls. BLOODY RICH BASTARDS. You know how many balls fall here? They don’t even come to pick them up… they’ve got so many.”
Bubba: “Well, you should’ve told me before…”
The lady shows Bubba a bag of some powdery stuff: “you know how much I paid for this? 7 reais, for fucken’ flour! My master is gonna have a heartattack…”
Bubba: “That’s expensive”
Lady: “7 FUCKEN’ REAIS! Fuck me!”
Bubba got back to Nujor and Lanja’s house, stuck his head up above the garage door just to piss the fucken’ dog off and then walked in through the front door to watch the maid do her stuff: pick up each item on the bookshelf, remove dust, place back in original position, repeat for next item until there are no more or it’s 6 o’clock: time to go home and do same in own house…