Sunday, June 21, 2009

Things I love about Brazil #3: The Brazilian flag. It's a global symbol, it sums up the colour and optimism of a country, it's unique and unlike any other national flag, it can only be the Brazil flag - the famous green background, yello diamond and ble orb with "Order and Progress" written across the middle surrounded by stars, one for each of Brazil's 28 states.

Brazilians are in love with their flag and celebrate it, along with their national anthem and their country or, at least, the promise their country holds. The flag is ever present in Brazil. I took the top photo recently of just one flag flying at a junction. I only noticed on my way home that every half a mile had another flag flying. In that respect, Brazilians are not unlike the Americans and their love for the star-spangled banner. However, whereas Americans display their patriotism in displaying their banner on their car bumpers or front lawns, Brazilians attach the flag, in other ways - perhaps to their clothing, their shoes (the flag is an integral part of the Havainas brand of flip-flops) and even their supermarket wheelchairs (see above).
Sports, though, is the sphere where the flag is most known. Adriano, my paralympian friend and student, has the flag on his swimming cap (and that of his daughter, above) but it's the volleyballers, the capoeiristas and above all the footballers who display the countries colours so prominenantly. Before 1950, the Brazilian football kit was all white. When they shockingly lost the 1950 World Cup on home soil the national crisis was such that it was decided a new kit should be designed, one which would give the players pride in their country. Ironically, it was a Uruguyan (so says Alex Bellos, a British journalist, in his book Futebol: The Brazilian Way of life) who won the state-sponsored competition to design the kit. His yellow shirt with green trim, blue shorts and white socks are now the stuff of legend. The yellow top, worn by football fans of any and all national backgrounds is the most well-recognised sports design in the world.

And it was all based on that extraordinary flag.

Things I miss about England #30: the radio. I can't really say I miss the Union Jack, and even though it's been hjacked by parties of the right wing, I think it is a stunning flag. It's just that I am surrounded by the thing on a day to day basis in a language school which uses the British flag as one of its strongest marketing motifs. So, instead, I'll say here that I miss the radio in English. IN the car, in the kitchen, in the supermarket. I'd just like some good old-fashioned English radio.

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