Sorry the hiatus. I love the word "hiatus" and am always looking for ways to worm it into my writing. Anyway, sorry for the sporadic posting. General end of semester busyness is to blame. Also, our internet has been dodgy but then so has everyone else's across the city. I think (with the opinion of a complete layperson on these matters) the servers are melting in the summer heat. It has been hot around here.
Too much to write about. I love writing and rarely seem to encounter writer's block. On the contrary, I often have the opposite problem which I will call "writer's flow" meaning I have a bunch of stuff to write about but not enough time to do it... how frustrating.
So, just two stories from yesterday...
Nelson the jovial dentist. Rachel (with kids in tow) was in a medical centre near here for another reason and was stuck for a place to sit and wait. Nelson the jovial dentist let her use his waiting room. He was so jovial, jolly and kind-hearted we decided to make him our family dentist. (Scroll down to November 7th for my first impressions of the man).
So far, he has proven to be a great dentist, just inefficient with his time-keeping (a problem, it has to be said, for 95% of Brazilian medical professionals). He works for 10% of the time and banters for 90% of the time. When he's not bantering his cheerful assistant takes up the mantle. Unsurprinsgly, they both banter with me about my two small children, endlessly. Yesterday he even showed me he had a picture of Gloria on his cellphone... In turn, I learned about his older son (who is studying computer science at the university) and about my dentist's passion for cycling and also that the procedure he was using on my teeth was invented by a Brazilian dentist from Sao Paulo who has the extraordinary name "Iraildes Jesus de Deus". All this with the astonishing view from the 16th floor of the medical centre of Natal's via costeira and north side beaches. And all this with piped Celine Dion and Enya coming out of his CD player...
Brussel sprouts. Another tale from the supermarket. One of my first destinations upon entering the hallowed aisles of Nordestao with my shopping list in hand and empty squeekless trolley is the back of the veggie section, where a cooler resides with imported or special goods which are only occasionally stocked. I'm always dying to know what they've got in. Sometimes the price is extortianate for something that is relatively ordinary in the UK: fresh mushrooms, asparagus, fresh broccoli and rocket salad spring to mind. But, yesterday, for only the second time that I can remember, they had brussel sprouts. These dozen sprouts looked a bit dissheveled for the price I was paying for the quantity contained but I went for it anyway as I was to buy a roast chicken and potatoes in order to fix a faux English roast lunch for Rachel.
At the check out the two baggers suspiciously eyed my brussel sprouts. One of them muttered something to his colleague along the lines of "what the @*$# is this?"
I decided to chirp up at this stage with an explanation. I accounted for the fact that I was a gringo and that this was popular where I came from. Both baggers, who were what Americans would call "blue-collar workers" and who may never have spoken to a foreigner before, returned a look of utter incredulity. Neither of them had any idea how to continue the conversation at this point. Eventually, one of them asked me something so fast I had no idea what he said. After a couple of repititions (where I apologised - like a true Englishman - for not speaking very good Portuguese) I got the gist. He was asking me what it tasted like. I confidently began my reply. "They taste just like small cabbages!". However, inexplicably, the word for cabbage had, without telling me, taken a hike out of my brain and I was left open-mouthed saying: "Tem sabor de.... de.... de... a coisa que voces tem ai... esqueci o nome!". At this, both baggers wore expressions that suggested they were conversing with a recent fugitive from the nut house.
I smiled and chuckled inwardly. It should never have been this hard, surely...
"Couve" is the word for cabbage, which I remembered, of course, once I was in the car park and on my way out.