Sunday, December 16, 2007

Theo and Tom back home. Rach and I and Nelson have had a fairly uneventful weekend by our standards after we said goodbye to Tom on Thursday. It's been great fun having the boys around. I think, if they don't mind, I'll use some of their pictures - taken from the perspective of people who don't usually live in Brazil - to add a bit of spice to this blog. Here's the first one from Theo. The view at night from Rachel's parents' 21st floor apartment in Recife looking back over the city.

It's the end of the semester as we know it (and I feel fine). This last week I've been saying goodbye to my students, some of whom I've taught for a year. It's a strange thing - you spend 2 and a half hours each week for 10 months of the year with these people talking about everything from personal life to interests and hobbies to politics and beliefs and then its over so abruptly, and I probably won't teach them ever again and some I won't ever see again. This is a sad fact as they really all are wonderful characters, or "figuras" as the Natalenses say. Fortunately, they all passed their courses and did well. I hope their year with the "gringo" improved their speaking and listening of English. They certainly helped me with my English grammar.

Nakedness: a cultural comparison. Somehow at one point last week the conversation with Tom, myself, Amy and Rachel's cousin Hebinho turned to the topic of Brazilian versus English perceptions of public nakedness. Brazilians are a funny lot - their view of nakedness seems somewhat paradoxical. Being a Catholic nation and up here in the northeast quite a conservative people, public nakedness is out of the question. Topless bathing is illegal, and the idea that somebody would streak at sports event or cycle naked through university campus (a frequent occurrence in York) or moon a politician is out of the question.

Anyway, although Brazilians don't condone outright nakedness they seem to draw the line at about 1 inch shy of nakedness. Some of the bikinis and speedos round here leave little to the imagination, let's say, and nobody has any problems with this. One amusing example what I'm talking about presented itself this Saturday. On TV was a Samba dance-off - in the style of American Idol or X-Factor. Scantily, and I mean VERY scantily, clad women came onstage and strutted, and I mean REALLY strutted, their stuff for the judges, the audience and the viewers at home. During one performance one such lady's bra thing/ boob holder - which consisted of some delicately balanced threads - came loose and more or less fell off and she finished her performance clutching her chest. Oddly, she didn't appear in the slightest bit embarressed about it. The male presenter joked, "anyone here want to help her put that back on?" Now, you may be wondering, why I, a married Christian man, would be watching this sordid display? Well, the truth is, the show was on a widescreen TV close to our table in a family restaurant beamed to us as we ate our lunch. According to Brazilians, a 99% naked samba competition is clearly all-age viewing.

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