Friday, 5 January 2007

Brazil Places – Praça Pateo do Collegio

When I did a presentation course at college, a fellow student bravely stood up in front of his peers and announced in a camp voice ‘Today, I’m going to tell you about campanology - which, for those of you who don’t know, is the study of bell-ringing.’ We sniggered greatly. I’d never met someone who was interested in such a thing before. But I was young then. Opinions change with age. So maybe it is a sign of my age (I won’t say maturity) that one of my favourite things in Sampa is O Sino de Paz - The Peace Bell - in Praça Pateo do Collegio.

I came across it by accident on a Saturday afternoon, never having heard of it before. The noise it makes is as dolorous as Big Ben or any other large bell when sounding alone, and it’s not particularly pretty to look at - a 2ft high bronze bell-shaped thing hanging from a stone frame. Nor is it ugly though. The only good thing about it really is that it just hangs there alone in the praça, next to the entrance to the Museu de Anchieta. Because it is situated as such, anyone can ring it! For free!

It has a small demolition ball dangling from a chain inside, and a rope hanging down to head height, making it look like some gladiator’s weapon. It is just begging to be struck, but nobody seemed at all interested in it. I was. Any chance to make a different noise and my eyes will light up. For once, there was nobody around to stop me. I read the blurb about why it was placed there, pushed the rope away, and then swung it as fast as I could towards myself.


Oh wow. What a miserably beautiful sound (or beautifully miserable sound even) resonated around the praça. The skatekids stopped and looked over. The students in the museum queue turned as one. They all stared at me, waiting, wondering in silence. Perhaps it just seemed silent because my ears were ringing for far longer than the bell, having been so close. My brain was too. By the time it stopped, everybody was getting on with their lives again, but for a few seconds they had been all mine!

After all these years, I have some appreciation of the art of ringing a bell, but not to make a tune, just one big noise, like a gong. Once is more dramatic. The world peace I had wished for (like any good contestant in a beauty pageant) doesn’t appear to have come true yet. The world may not become a better place for me or you ringing that bell, but I guarantee that at least you’ll walk away from it feeling better.


jessica said...

that was a nice little story. what city is this bell in?

Ana Verônica said...

that's great. I know this place but I didn't know about this bell... maybe because I always walk there worried about violence and everything... but you give me a good idea. tanx!