Feminist, anthropologist, writer and co-founder of Agora Juntas, a collaborative feminist hub in Rio de Janeiro.
THE CITY TALK
HOW IS RIO INFLUENCING AND INSPIRING YOU IN YOUR DAILY LIFE ?
I'm still trying to understand why I am here, why I still want to stay here and why I want to die here! (laughs). Why? It is very hard for me to understand this attraction and desire. I believe that Brazilians are very creative. They are because they have to be. People are entrepreneurial because they need to survive. I guess that is how I have been feeling since I moved here. How do I survive? How do I create? How do I resist on a daily basis?
So I would say that Rio is inspiring but it is also a difficult city. You have to really love the city to stay. I see a lot of foreigners who go away after two years. Why stay and resist when you have a choice? This is a difficult question.
MAYBE IT BEGAN WITH THE INEXPLICABLE FEELING THAT YOU JUST FOUND HOME HERE?
Yes maybe I did. I found a community here. I’ve built so many beautiful relationships here. I think that is what makes people stay attached to Rio despite maybe different countries and opportunities. The truth is I didn’t have that in New York. There, people don’t really build communities. Everyone is a little bit on their own and focused on work before anything else.
DO YOU HAVE A SECRET PLACE HERE?
Maybe it is this place we are at right now; Café Sécreto.
I guess my secret places here all have to do with food because that is what I most miss about NYC. So I am always looking out for places with good quality food. It must be really hard for you, coming from Paris (laughs). There's a guy from New York actually, who has a pizzeria here called ferro e farinha. He just opened a second one in Botafogo called South Ferro. I kind of felt like I was at home there. Oh, I think my real “secret” food place is Fica. It is also run by two women and it is inside a vila, still in Botafogo. I like places inside vilas, they are more peaceful. It is located right next to a great hairdresser. Anyway, these women specifically made a cafe in which you can stay as long as you want. They will never kick you out. That is why they named it “fica” (which means “stay” in Portuguese). It is also baby friendly. I really like these women-run places.
When women create, it feels different.
BEST STAYCATION PLACE IN RIO?
At home! (laughs).
Maybe more in terms of neighborhood, I would say Botafogo. It has such a cool night life. I really don’t like Ipanema and Copacabana… If you want to be in the Zona Sul then I would recommend to go to Gavea or Jardim Botânico. Obviously I love my neighborhood (Catete/Flamengo), I go to the Aterro do Flamengo all the time to play tennis, I love going to Tacacá do Norte which is a very traditional place from Paraná that has the best açaï. It is not the most exciting neighborhood because it is residential but I love it. I like having a beer on Praça São Salvador, it is laid back. I would not like to stay in a very touristic neighborhood.
WHAT IS THE TYPICAL GIFT FROM BRAZIL THAT YOU WOULD BRING BACK TO YOUR FRIENDS WHEN YOU VISIT THEM IN NEW YORK?
I have brought back a lot of sarongs, jewellery from Nordeste and tapioca which is different from tapioca pearls that are sold outside of Brazil.
WHAT IS YOUR CARIOCA GUILTY PLEASURE ?
I feel really guilty going to the beach. I think that has something to do with coming from NYC. I also feel guilty seeing other people going to the beach, like « guys come on, it is a Tuesday!».
So if I want to go to the beach I go to Ipanema, during a week day, and even though I rarely do it (maybe once every six months), I just feel really guilty afterwards.
TELL US SOMETHING TRUE ABOUT RIO.
I do think that Cariocas are very friendly and very curious. And I like that, because I am a very curious person too.
WHERE DO YOU FIND THE BEST BOOKS IN RIO ?
I love used bookstores. There is actually a bookstore on a bicycle! This guy cycles around the town selling his books on his bike, it is really cool plus he sells a good selection. Last one I bought from him was JK Rowling’s the Last vacancy… And last time I saw him I told him my dream would be to have a feminist bookstore and as I love to bike, I could extend the concept to doing what he does, only specialized for women (laughs). I wish there was more initiatives like that.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY IN YOUR LIFE HERE?
I don’t have a really strong routine because I work on different projects, so depending on the day, it will be totally different... But for example let’s take tomorrow: in the morning I have to prep for a meeting which will take place in NY next week, in the afternoon I have a meeting at PUC with a friend who wants to interview me as an American point of view on Brazilian feminists movements and then in the evening probably come back home and work more on the programming of our occupation at Agora Juntas.
THANK YOU SO MUCH ANI! XX
More on Ani here and here.