Dinner without Distractions

It is Saturday night, and it’s dinnertime.

We move two tables next to the swimming pool. Our hosts Leandro and Viviane set them with white tablecloths and light candles. For a second the night is about to go up in smoke as the cat discovers the fringes of the tablecloth – one table with candles and an open bottle of wine wobbles back and forth dangerously, but we manage to steady it in time.

Leandro has roasted different kinds of meat sprinkled with salt in the oven. The roast, as the Brazilian tradition goes, comes with rice and beans, and I prepared a salad of rucola (rocket) and tomatoes.

I treasure the evening. For the care with which dinner is prepared and served, and for the good company of our new friends.

Conversation without Distractions

What I cherish above all is spending time with people without being distracted by digital appliances. The interesting thing is that it’s only a couple of days later that I’m aware of this absence. I’m sure this is because the evening felt so natural, so “as it should be” that I wasn’t aware that this setting isn’t that common anymore.

Brazilian Roast with Rice and Beans (©Coen Wubbels)

No cell phones ringing, no blaring TV in the background, no mandatory looking at somebody’s images on a laptop or Ipad (“Check this out. Um, it’s got to be here somewhere, let me see,” resulting in having to watch how someone scrolls through lists endlessly). There is not even a digital appliance in sight.

The Need to Connect With The Entire World

Often we feel the need to be connected with the world 24 hours a day. To know what’s happening with everybody in our circle of friends, acquaintances and people we have never met, under the condition that the information is provided digitally through twitter, facebook, email, texting, by phone or on television. In the meantime we are completely missing what’s going on with the person that is sitting across from us at our table.

In the cool evening breeze of this Saturday night in Manaus, alongside a swimming pool that is beautifully lit, while savoring succulent pieces of meat and side dishes, the four of us are having a conversation. We talk about our lives, cultures, interests, challenges, and dreams, and listen to what the other has to say because we genuinely want to know. We focus on another person’s words. We register them, think about them and respond to them.

Days later, when reminiscing on this evening, I realize it was special. Having a night like this, without digital distractions, has become a luxury.

All photos by Coen Wubbels. Follow him on Instagram here and here.

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