Thursday, 9 December 2010

No Back Door Entry: Deal Breaker

No Back Door Entry...but There's A Great City View
We thought Christmas was coming a little early this year, with the long-awaited sale of our flat in Sao Paulo looking like it was really going to go happen.  But e-tidings received from the almost-buyers yesterday quashed our festive joy:
"We were at the apartment again over the weekend and identified a problem that we hadn't noticed upon our previous visits: the property does not have a service entrance.  This seriously depreciates its value, since the circulation of maids, supermarket delivery men etc will pass through the living room.   Besides this, just imagine when it comes to taking out the rubbish.  Sorry for the inconvenience but we will not be proceeding with the purchase"
Just imagine, indeed.  Oh well, I guess for Brazilians the whole back door entry thing really is a big deal, and not just figuratively.

It's true that our place is rare in this respect.  The layout of most Brazilian city dwellings reflects a culture in which domestic chores like cooking, cleaning and shopping are performed by hired domestic staff.  Usually, an out-dated kitchen, laundry facilities and a maid's bedroom and bathroom comprise a dedicated service area tucked at the recesses of the property, with it's own access.  These are areas in which the owner barely ventures, let alone lingers.  (FYI potential buyers, ours has all that except the apparently crucial door)

Aside from the fact that unused maid's rooms are great places to stack suitcases and junk, the architectural norms of Brazil are completely at odds with my lifestyle.  I love cooking and hosting.  In my dreams I have an open-plan kitchen (they call this a "cosinha Americana" here in Brazil, oh the irony) where friends drink cocktails and eat heart-shaped canapes while I effortlessly throw together prawn ceviche and home made profiteroles.  In these dreams I suppose my guests would be witness to the demeaning task of - shock, horror - kitchen waste disposal.  But isn't that the whole point of having made Mr Becoming lug a a 50 litre, chrome, Brabantia 'touch bin' back from a recent business trip?


  1. Tasha ! As we were closing yesterday the sale of our apartment, the woman who's buying said : My only problem is the size of your service area because I have one maid, one baba and one driver to fit there !!! I couldn't believe it ! good luck ! Listen, if you are not yet with Coelho Da Fonseca I know a super energetic woman there if you need her phone number.

  2. Sorry about your flat but this post definitely struck a chord with me. We've just moved in to our Hong Kong flat and have a dedicated 'service' area out the back too. Sadly no helper yet. I asked yesterday at the gate to our building 'Where do I put the rubbish?' and after lots of miming, gesticulating and saying trash? bins? garbage? I got the answer, 'Maybe I tell you later.' Hmmm. Meanwhile the bags pile up.

  3. @Annabel
    Bet you are missing your 'what's for dinner darling' dream kitchen! Good luck with solving the Chinese trash-garbage-rubbish mystery and bring on your HK blog...?

  4. Oh wow, what a fabulous place! And a great location too! We just signed a 30 month lease near by (ughhh 30 months???)! I wish you luck with this, brings back memories of selling my place in Denver, even americans can find silly things to bawk over!

  5. That's two American digs in under a week. Se liga :)

  6. @Paper plains
    Hi. Am following your blog. If you hear of anyone looking for a place, let me know! Beijos