Each May for the past hundred years, gardeners have succeeded — with the help of hairdryers, miracles, and the greenest of fingers — at coaxing thousands of exotic plant species into full bloom at precisely the same time. But the Chelsea Flower Show isn’t about the quest for the perfect begonia or the latest composting techniques. It’s about the carat count on your fingers and how debonair you look in a panama hat.
In Oxford, that city of dreaming spires, there is a bewitched hour, before the moon has set and before the sun has risen, when thousands upon thousands of squiffy students, druids dressed as trees, and hanky-wielding Morris dancers line the ancient High Street. The rite they are observing — May Morning — is just as ancient.
Bottle the pheromones in Rio de Janeiro during carnival, and you’ll become a billionaire overnight.
It’s no surprise that the heart of carnival pumps faster in Rio than it does anywhere else in the world. In a city of seismic social disparities, it’s the one time of year when it doesn’t matter if you measure out your wages in handfuls of beans or if you live in the most expensive gated estate in the Southern Hemisphere. Instead, it’s how many kisses you steal in a night and how many samba steps you squeeze into a second that count.