Thursday, June 18, 2009

Things I miss about England #6: What you hear is what you get. I`ve got to be careful here, because what I`m about to say could be taken the wrong way by Brazilians. So, a disclaimer: I`m not saying Brazilians are liars, I`m just saying that, despite their best intentions, what is said and what happens often seem to have almost no relation to each other. And this is perfectly normal and accepted.

One reason for this, as I`ve already mentioned recently, is that Brazilians tend to say what they want the other person to appear especially when it comes to accepting invitations. But, more than this, and I have dozens of stories about this, plans are made in all sincerity but with some unspoken small print that this may not actually happen the way we said it would. For a Brit this can be exasperating.

A small recent example: we enjoyed a lovely evening with our church group on Sunday. We made plans to go out for acai (see below) afterwards. The rain was pouring down. In the car I asked my good friend and fellow-acai fan Paulo where we would go to eat. He told me the place, which I knew and so I asked my question:"But, surely there won`t be space for everyone inside the small shop because nobody will be outside in the rain?". He barely batted an eyelid. "Of course there`ll be space!". And, when we arrived there wasn`t space...

...but one enterprising waitor put two tables together, wiped them clean and said we could squeeze under the awning. As soon as we sat down the other waitors told us we couldn`t sit there as it obstructed their passage out of the shop (bearing in mind nobody was out of the shop as it was raining). My wonderful wife took the opportunity to teach them a lesson or two about customer service but when they failed to budge we walked off to find the next one. Strange, I thought, but hadn`t that first waitor said we could sit there?

Later, back at our friend`s apartment, we were told that there was soup that Gloria could eat. But after a few minutes word came to us that there was no soup, it had been finished. So we quickly took a starving Gloria home to give her food there. Most of these stories weren`t the fault of any person or individual but rather the roll of circumstance in Brazil which somehow invariably leads us to unusual situations far removed from what we had imagined earlier. Sometimes its annoying, but I guess the main thing is to view it as an adventure.

Things I love about Brazil #9: Sao Joao. Many foreigners know Brazil for its festivals of carnaval. However, for many Brazilians, it's the June harvest festivals that people reall look forward to. Carnaval has come to symbolise extravagance, sexuality and at times a reckless disregard for order. Sao Joao is about folklore, traditional food and costume and dancing. Our kids are going to various Sao Joao parties over the next week and so are we. I need to get my costume sorted so I can dance the quadrilia (vaguely like a barn dance) with my rather excited wife.

Things I miss about England #85: Horlicks.

Things I love about Brazil #13: Acai. I mentioned and described acai back on this post. I`ve grown to love it. It may look like an oil slick, but it`s heaven in a bowl.

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