You take a plane from an urban jungle of busy roads, favelas, manic buses, chatty taxi drivers, infinite lines, colorful outfits, provocative women, machista men, rowdy children and overall chaos that Rio de Janeiro represents and land in Frankfurt, Germany.
You are welcomed by utter silence. Empty terminal, empty border control hall, empty baggage claim, few people are quietly shuffling around the terminal hallways. You pick up your luggage (which arrives 2 seconds after you step into the claim area), and head through automatic doors of the Green customs line. Clearly marked signs in English show you the way to the lower ground, and after about 5 minutes, you have already bought your train ticket (4 Euros) and are comfortably seated in the nearly empty train headed to the city. Again, the train is practically empty and the few other passengers (all middle-aged and dressed in beige or gray) are quietly staring in space. 10 silent minutes later, you are in the city center, ready to explore.
It’s a public holiday, and the weather is quite nice, the streets are perfectly paved and lined with nice green trees. The buildings around sport handsome balconies with pots of flowers and manicured lawns. There is only one thing missing in Simcity – the people!
I have been to Frankfurt to several times but never before I noticed this artificial, almost stagnant air about it, which was at such stark contrast to Rio’s atmosphere. It was great as always to meet my dear friends (The Greek Lady and The Crazy Spaniards) and catch up on our lives (They said that I am all grown up now… I guess they still remember me as the crazy 21 year old that joined their banking analyst class and used to pass the training course either sleeping or drawing portraits of the people around her).
I asked them about my perceptions and they confirmed them to an extent. They talked about the great quality of life the Germany offers (good salaries, low cost of living) but how for them, it lacked the vibrant livelihood of their beloved Madrid.
As always, this made me think about how the environment we are in affects our happiness and how difficult it is to do that cost/benefit analysis on what is more important? (For example, Which combo is better:Clean streets, safety, efficient transport system & boring stability or chaos, dirt, crime, beautiful landscapes, happy people, ever-changing dynamic reality)