A new book has been released set in Sao Paulo.
You remember me telling you that when you enter a bar you will be given a comanda that you must not lose at all cost? Well guess what happened to me last night? Having drunk one or two fizzy drinks more than is probably advisable, it came time to leave and I put my hand in my pocket for my comanda. It was gone! It wasn’t on the floor. I checked two other pockets. Not there. Then I thought about the Italian supporter stood behind me. She couldn’t have removed it from my pocket, could she? Being unable to find it I confronted her about it. No, she said, she had not taken it. Meanwhile, my girlfriend was busy trying to resolve the issue with the staff who were very helpful and managed eventually to identify everything we had consumed. I took my wallet out to pay and guess what I found. Displaying uncommon sense after ordering my last beer I had put the comanda in with my wallet where it would be ‘safe’. Needless to say I apologised to the staff, the bemused Italian girl and to my girlfriend and the world continues to turn.
And so back to today and Neymar is sporting a new haircut which must challenge the worst world cup haircuts of all time.
Brazilian magazine has published a list of ten projects that were not completed in time for the World Cup, some of which may never be completed.
In the US on HBO, John Oliver presented this brilliant summary of all that is wrong with FIFA:
And just when you thought it had gone away the true significance of the ball thing in the opening ceremony has been discovered:
And finally, some footage of what it sounded like in Sao Paulo when Brazil scored their goals:
So the first day began with scattered protests. People so proud of what they are doing they feel the need to wear masks. People so outraged at the lack of money for education and hospitals they decide the best thing to do is to burn telephone boxes and sign posts that the council is going to have to replace using more of its scarce resources.
Most Brazilians you speak too are not particularly happy about paying a quarter of their salary in tax and then having to pay extra for private schools and healthcare but the general consensus is that the decision to host the World Cup cannot be reversed and that the best place to voice their discontent is in the polling booths later in the year. This image posted to facebook sums it up:
President Dilma decided not to make a speech at the game having been booed last year at the opening game of the Confederations Cup. Even a brief appearance on the stadium monitors brought derisive chants. According to Brazilian public opinion pollsters Datafolha, the majority of the Brazilian public are, as they always have been, in favour of the World Cup.
Also, despite all the noise, President Dilma is still the most popular presidential candidate and, if history can be believed to repeat itself, a Brazilian victory in the World Cup would be very good news for a Dilma re-election.
One of the major gripes of the Brazilians is the amount of corruption that still exists in the system but, after last nights game, and after the questionable officiating in the Mexico v Cameroon game going on at the moment, conversation is moving to corruption of another kind. Brazilians completely accept that Fred’s dive last night was not a penalty but, just as no-one really minded the dubious penalty Michael Owen was awarded against Argentina in Japan in 2002, no-one is really complaining.
The first significant event of the match however was Marcelo who was unable to steer the Hull City striker, Jelavic’s, powerful back-heel away from the goal. Within minutes social media had cranked into action.
But’s not possible to end this post without mentioning the tremendous opening ceremony which even Brazil’s own press described as scoring the first goal against the World Cup. Here’s a selection of twitter comments about the spectacle and an image doing the rounds ion Facebook comparing Brazilian singer Claudia Leite to popular children’s cartoon Galinha Pintadinha:
The fireworks started at about 10:30 this morning which either means that large consignments of drugs are arriving or people are starting to get excited about the game today. The number of trucks blowing their horns as they pass by suggests the latter.
Preparations around the state capital are reaching their climax although it seems that rather too much reliance has been made on Google Translate for the preparations of menus and signs as illustrated by this collection put together by Mega Curioso featuring 16 hilarious translations of signs and notices made for the world cup.
Throughout the morning of the opening day protesters have started to gather, first at Carrao where one shirtless man cooly drinking a fizzy drink was arrested by a team of riot police who have clearly received considerably more training than was evident in the protests of a year ago. The police used tear gas bombs to disperse a group of protesters that were fewer in number than the hoards of photographers, cameramen and journalists mixing with the protesters despite requests by police to get out of the way. Unfortunately the journalists could not have understood the police shouting at them in Portuguese to get out of the way and a reporter from CNN was injured by shrapnel from one of the bombs.
Many of the cameramen were wearing protective helmets, a precaution adopted after a cameraman, Santiago Ilídio Andrade, was killed when he was hiit in the head with a flare during protests on February 6.
As I write at about midday, the protests have moved to Tatuape, about 11km from the stadium, where groups of young people the Globo news network is describing as ‘baderneiros’, rioters, are taking the opportunity to smash up whathever they can find and are lighting fires in the streets. They’re actually nearer our house (9km) than they are the stadium.
I’ll update you all on the aftermath of both the riots and the game tomorrow as I’ll have drunk too much beer to write anything coherent this evening.
Enjoy the game!
Once you’ve arrived in Sao Paulo and you’ve recovered from the shock of the size of the head on your beer, you’re probably going to start to feel a bit peckish. Depending on where you chose to buy your beer there may be several options available to you. You may have chosen a restaurant for your beer in which case you’re probably sorted already depending on the type of cuisine you’ve selected. Bars do a range of food depending on the level of poshness but unlike the UK where beer it typically limited to pubs and restaurants there are a range of alternatives for beer drinking in Sao Paulo.
1. The Padaria
Essentially a bakery but the padaria is much much more. It’s the place you can go for your morning coffee, pre sugared (cafe puro if you want black or cafe pingado if you want it with milk). They also have a range of ‘salgados’ (savouries) ranging from coxinhas (pron. kosh-ee-nya – chicken surrounded by dough in covered in breadcrumbs) to pao de queijo (cheesy bread).
Any time between 07:30 and 10:00 depending on the quality of the padaria, it’ll start serving beer. Beer is available in cans (latinhas – pron. la-chee-nyas) or in pint bottles (garrafas – pron. ga-ha-faz). Beware – despite it’s name a ‘long neck’ is actually a little bottle (about 330ml). There is usually a range to choose from, it’s all fizzy lager but Original, Serra Malte or Heineken probably has the most taste but on a hot day even the bog standard Skol or Brahma can be refreshing. Bohemia is usually marginally more expensive but there’s little difference taste wise.
Throughout the day many padarias also become restaurants serving a wide range of food nd some even have buffets that charge by the kilo. You select the food you want, then your plate is weighed and you pay for the amount you have selected.
After about 6pm many padarias also serve pizza by the slice and they have a range of baked and dairy products you can buy to take away.
2. The Boteco
The boteco is a bar/cafe which has many of the features of a padaria but without the large range of bread products and food choices. The quality of a boteco varies considerably from very chic and very expensive to very filthy and cheap. The toilets in the latter variety are an experience in themselves. The food choices in a boteco are often more limited but usually include salgados and sometimes, in the posher types, a wider variety of food. The beer options are usually the same as a padaria but the more posh botecos may offer a selection of bottled beers from around the world.
3. The Feira
If you are lucky enough to go to a Sao Paulo street market then as well as enjoying the wide range of fruit and vegetables, make sure you try pastel, deep fried pastry filled with cheese or meat. Near to a pastel stall is usually someone selling caldo de cana, juice made from sugar cane which is very sweet and very delicious.
4. The lanchonete
A lanchonete is a cafe, halfway between a boteco and a restaurant. A popular dish is the ‘prato feito’ which normally consists of rice, beans (the south american kind, definitely not baked) and some kind of meat. On Wednesdays and Saturdays they normally do feijoada (pron. fey-jwa-da) which is beans mixed in with bits of pork. Fridays they’ll probably do fish.
5. The restaurant
If you want to go for a sit down meal there is a large range of Italian, Chinese, and Japanese restaurants. The best place for the last two is probably Liberdade which is where you’ll find a wide range of asian restaurants and a few karaoke bars.
6. A Curry
OK so there are some restaurants near the centre which will offer you what they think is a curry but if you want a decent curry you’ll need to get the metro south to Santa Cruz and go to Samosa and Company where you’ll find the best curry in Sao Paulo. Trust me.
p.s. My mate Pete also recommends Tandoori. Going to check it out asap. yum yum
Bureaucracy in Brazil is a running joke but it’s no joke to Brazilians who encounter in their everyday lives. I was reminded of the ugly arm of Brazilian bureaucracy when my girlfriend needed to transfer the ownership of her car from her father’s name into hers.
A quick consultation of the gov.uk website tells me that in order to transfer car ownership in the UK you need to complete section 6 on a form, sign section 8 of the form, get the buyer to also sign section 8 on the form, give the buyer part of the form and send the rest of the form to the DVLA. No fees, no proof of identity, no authenticated impressions of the car’s chassis and engine number plaques.
Even if you don’t have the correct form you only need to write to the DVLA with vehicle registration mark, make and model, exact date of sale, name and address of the new keeper, and your signature. Oh how trusting we are in the UK.
In Brazil it requires an initial visit to your local Detran which, if you work in another area during the week, means a visit on a Saturday where they will helpfully inform you that your signature needs to be verified by a Cartorio, a public notary, which you will discover does not open on a Saturday.
Having certified your signature during the week you return to Detran the following Saturday where, not having checked the previous week, the staff inform you that the finance company your father used to buy the car had still not notified Detran that the car had been paid for despite the finance company had been telephoned to confirm this transfer would happen the previous year. Obviously the finance company does not open on Saturdays.
The week is spent speaking to individuals in the finance company who insist it is necessary for the father to go to Detran personally to declare his ownership of the car despite the fact that he lives hundreds of kilometres away and does not have a car as he has sold it to his daughter – the one currently threatening to sue the finance company if they do not transfer the ownership by Saturday.
Various additional trips are required to Detrans who, on each occasion, inform said daughter of other requirements/fees/documents/hoops which require to be fulfilled/paid/obtained/jumped through before the transfer can be made and all the time the transfer deadline is looming after which time fines will also be levied.
Her experience reminded me of my first experience of Brazilian bureaucracy when I first arrived. For those arriving in Brazil to work or, like me, on a permenant visa, there is a requirement to register with the Federal Police and obtain a foreigners identity card.
The Federal Police website, though difficult to follow, did contain information about where I should go and what I should take with me so off I went and, after a two and a half hour journey from Sao Bernado do Campo, where I lived, to Lapa, where the Federal Police live, I joined the queue at Window Two on the second floor where the helpful staff had directed me.
After a considerable queuing period the helpful member of staff at the window informed me that the items of identity I had brought with me were not actually the ones they wanted but, not to worry, she had a helpful sheet of A4 paper which listed all the things I did need and that once I had collected all these things I should return.
This I did, with a spring in my step confident that I now had documentary proof of everything I would need to get my foreigners card and, having gathered the now growing pile of papers together headed back on the two and a half hour journey to Window Two where the helpful member of staff told me it was all very nice that I had bothered to bring everything they had listed on the A4 paper but that there were a couple of extra things I would also need that they hadn’t bothered to tell me about on my previous visit.
No matter, these additional requirements could be fulfilled easily enough by visiting a local internet cafe, if I could find one. Eventually, after trudging around the streets of Lapa in 30 degree heat, I did find one and managed to print the missing items and hot foot it back to the Federal Police building where the entire staff appeared to have gone to lunch for a couple of hours.
After another consultation which resulted in a trip to the bank, to join another queue, to pay the application fee, I was now in a position where I could be given a time to join a different queue to wait for the person whose job it would be to type my application into a computer.
The Brazilians the Federal Police employ to perform this task reminded me strongly of the kind of teenagers who fill their summers working in holiday camps or as chalet staff. They seemed to spend a large amount of time gossiping about one thing or another and much less time typing actual data into actual computers.
At last, one Friday, my opportunity arrived and I took a seat opposite someone who looked like they enjoyed baladas (Brazilian night clubs) and funky (Brazilian…er…well not quite music) considerably more than inputting data into a computer. Tap tap tap…the first three letters had been entered, how exciting, and then….oh dear…the system has gone down.
Interestingly, this was the last of my 30 days I had to register before I became a member of the criminal fraternity by flouting Federal Police immigration rules. Two more queues, one to get a new appointment and the second to extend my the 30 days by the required period to cover the new appointment date.
I returned on the appointed date. My details were input by another balada/funk loving teenager. I was handed another piece of paper and told to wait in yet another queue for photographing (despite the requirement to supply a number of passport photos) and fingerprinting. This completed, the piece of paper became by temporary identity document for the next year while my actual identity card sat in a queue waiting to be laminated. The only problem with this was that the piece of paper was only valid for six months, so after six months I had to return to get a stamp saying my six months could me extended for another six months after which I returned to the Federal Police for what I hoped would be the final time to collect my lovely card which I now treasure having been through so much to get it.
alterta cidade, brasil urgente, brazil, burned alive, Cinthya Magaly Moutinho de Souza, crime, crimewatch, danca do alarme, death, dentist, homicide, london, mark hillary, new york, safety, sao paulo, washington d.c.
Sao Paulo`s reputation for crime precedes it. There is even a popular tune, to which my daughter knows all the moves, Danca do Alarme, constructed around the catchy tones of a car alarm. In some ways this reputation for crime is justified but, as Mark Hillary points out in his book, Reality Check, the reality isn’t quite as bad as the reputation.
When I first arrived in Brazil I held the view that all this talk about how dangerous Brazil was reflected a popular fear of crime rather than high level of crime itself and I resolved to look up the crime statistics to find out. I never did, but thankfully Mark did, and the statistics reveal that, in 2008, Sao Paulo had a state homicide rate of 14.9 per 100,000 people in the population compared to a mere 1.1 homicides per 100,000 in London. At first glance these statistics would seem to speak for themselves until you realise that the national average in Brazil was 26.4 and that the Rio homicide rate per 100,000 was 34. As Mark points out, the same statistic for Washington D. C. of 21.9 is considerably higher than Sao Paulo state though New York is considerably lower at 6.4.
My perception that crime was all in the mind of the Brazilian had been fuelled by the primetime Crimewatch style programmes Alerta Cidade and Brazil Urgente which air every weekday evening and are the equivalent of Daily Mail TV as the latest crimes caught on CCTV are replayed over an over again while the star of the show, a right wing bigot, adds a commentary of scaremongering slop. However, since then my attitudes have changed somewhat. My epiphany on the road to Damascus was a reasonable sized pebble which passed through the window of the vehicle in which I was travelling and struck me squarely on the forehead.
As I clasped my bleeding head with a palm full of glass I had no idea what was going on but fortunately the driver of the vehicle realised straight away and, rather than stopping, accelerated onto the next police checkpoint. It seems that such events are all too common in Sao Paulo, a criminal throws a rock at a car, the car pulls over, the occupants of the car are robbed. Thanks to the quick thinking of the driver we were not robbed however I needed 12 stitches and bear a scar to prove my story. Since then, on a stretch of road not much further away, I have witnessed two cars being robbed and was fortunate/unfortunate enough to be on a local bus on my way home when it, but not the passengers, was robbed. I am now much less complacent about crime in Sao Paulo. Everyone has a story, my friends boyfriend was murdered, my girlfriend witnessed a robbery, another friend saw a motorcyclist in the aftermath of a shooting.
My house was burgled in London when I left a window open, bags would go missing if left unattended in pubs but the stories of crime in Sao Paulo are both more frequent and more violent in nature. Last year, it seemed the most dangerous occupation in Sao Paulo was that of a dentist. When robbers broke into the practice of Cinthya Magaly Moutinho de Souza who was only able to offer them the equivalent of £19, they set her on fire and the 47 year old later died from her injuries. Bizarrely the incident inspired a copycat killing of a dentist in Sao Jose dos Campos and dentists all over the state simultaneously emptied their bladders and reviewed their security.
The homicide rates which Mark quotes in his book ignore the fact that in 1999 the homicide rate in Sao Paulo was 69.1 per 100,000 way above the national average then of 44.6 so perhaps it’s the memory of violent times which creates the fear of crime, perhaps it’s the personal anecdotes from this period or the particularly violent nature of some crimes, or the aggravating media coverage. Statistics may be falling but Sao Paulo has a long way to go before residents feel safe walking the street at night.
You may remember roughly a year ago England beating Brazil at Wembley. You may even remember where you watched the game. I certainly do because it was in a pub in the British Consulate. That’s right, a pub in the British Consulate. Doesn’t it make you feel proud to be the citizen of a country that considers serving ale to be a consular service?
Fullers Pride and Old Speckled Hen were the Government’s choice and the evenings entertainment was rounded off by a post game gig courtesy of a Brazilian Beatles tribute band.
It was an excellent evening but the Government doesn’t deserve all the credit. The idea was actually the brainchild of writer Mark Hillary whom I was introduced to on the night and later shared two terrifying car journeys to and from Rio to watch England and Brazil play the inaugaural game at the new Maracana using Mark’s spare ticket.
Mark has written a book for kindle called ‘Reality Check: Life in Brazil through the eyes of a Foreigner’ detailing his experiences of moving to and living in Brazil and, although his reasons for moving to Brazil are not exactly the same as mine, his experiences are often very similar and reading his book has inspired me to share some of the events which came to mind when reading Mark’s experiences.
He starts by introducing the reader to the complicated system of levers and pulleys which constitutes the Brazilian beaurocracy it is necessary to negotiate in order to become a legally registered foreigner and perform essential tasks like opening a bank account or getting a job.
In my case I had a bit of warning that I would be going to Brazil so I thought I’d get a head start and organise my CPF, the Brazilian national insurance number card which, as Mark points out in Reality Check, is needed for just about everything including paying money (for example to pay a bill) into someone else’s bank account. So I picked up a form at the Brazilian Consulate in London which, by the way, doesn’t serve caiprinhas, and organised an appointment to lodge all my details.
The consulate obviously phones the details through to the Brazilian equivalent of HM Revenue and Customs, Receita Federal, because the phonetic variation between the English and Portuguese alphabets was about to cause me months of work struggling through red tape to rectify the error.
The gaff hinged on the pronunciation of the letter ‘i’. In England we pronounce it ‘eye’ but in Brazil it is pronounced ‘ee’. Whether someone at Receita Federal was trying to be clever practicing their English or whether someone at the consulate got confused which language they were speaking I’m not sure but the result was that instead of having Michael on my CPF card I had Mechael.
On arrival in Brazil I tried to rectify the problem and was told that, even though I was in no way to blame for the mistake I would nevertheless be required to pay to get it fixed.
This involved a preliminary visit to Receita Federal where I was told I could take my chances queuing with the hoi polloi in the morning or I could arrange an appointment via the internet. I chose fhe latter but had to re-arrange the appointment when a couple of hours sat in a bus in the traffic jam from hell caused me to miss the first appointment.
Even paying the fee involved taking a small invoice, boleto, to the government bank, Caixa, emptying everything metalic out of my pockets into a small plastic tray so that I could walk through a revolving door which would check I wasn’t trying to smuggle in any concealed weapons. Then, having tried to explain to an attendant the type of service I required, I was given a ticket for the correct queue, I waited and waited, unable to use my phone in case I called my friends to tell them it was time to rob the bank. Eventually my number came up and, fee paid, I was ready for my appointment this time leaving a ridiculous amount of time for the bus journey so that I would arrive on time.
Traffic was not an issue the day of the rescheduled appointment but rain was. Anyone who has lived in Sao Paulo will know that the phrase ‘raining cats and dogs’ is an understatement. Every day in the summer, at about 4pm, thd heavens open and it starts raining horses and cows. The roads turn into rivers and most Brazilians simply wait in doorways until the heaviest part of the shower has passed but mad dogs and Englishmen with appointments at the Receita Federal tend to make a dash for it and, as a consequence get soaked.
So for this reason I sat dripping in front of a very nice tax official who changed my details and printed me proof.
Unfortunately the nationwide computer system linked to the banks must take a bit longer to update because, despite having informed the bank staff of the spelling mistake when opening my account and having received a bank card with my name spelt correctly I then had to request a new card because I’d forgotten my pin number (I know, I know) and the new card arrived with, yes you’ve guessed it, my name spelt wrong.
By this time I was getting fed up of alarming revolving doors by forgetting to take my keys out of my pocket so was relieved to hear that in Brazil it doesn’t really matter what name is printed on the bank card because no-one really checks, as long as you remember your pin number (note to self not to forget pin).
Reading Mark’s book brought all this flooding back to me and I haven’t even started with the process of getting my foreigners identity card.
If you’d like to see Mark’s book for yourself it’s available from: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00EXBM4X8/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb priced at a bargain £1.02. I recommend you read it and I’ll be posting more reactions to it in the coming weeks.
amazon, beach, booze, boteco, brazil, britto, caipirinha, environment, feiras, football, fresh bread, fruit, graffiti, markets, mata atlantica, padaria, romero britto, sao paulo, spoletos, sunshine, weather
As promised I’ve devoted some time to coming up with a list of good things about living in Brazil. I set myself the challenge of ten which didn’t take as long as I thought. So here it is, in the order it emerged from my subconscience.
I’m not a big fruit eater but whenever I’m asked what I like about Brazil, fruit is always my immediate response. Brazil is heaven for fruit lovers with nearly all the fruit we get in the UK plus a vast array of what we consider exotic fruits at a fraction of the price. Mangoes are particularly good in both value and taste and bananas come in several varieties: ouro, prata, nanica etc. Oranges are so cheap they’re priced by the dozen and a large sack can be bought for less than £3.
These are street markets of the kind we used to have in the UK but have now been firmly replaced by supermarkets. Every area of Sao Paulo has a street market at least once a week and one wouldn’t have to travel very far to visit a street market every day. Each of the markets sells all the fruit and veg one can dream of plus meat, fish, chicken, eggs, spices, shoes, hardware and most importantly a fried snack called pastel and caldo de cana, sugar cane juice. These last two are reason alone to visit a feira.
Perhaps what runs through the mind of the person at the other end of the phone in UK as their voice lifts when I tell them I’m living in Brazil is the thought of sunshine and granted Sao Paulo certainly gets its fair share of that. There’s about a week in July (still to arrive) when it gets a bit chilly which can be uncomfortable given that the houses have no form of heating except hot water bottles if you’ve brought one. And the summer arguably gets a bit too hot but if you like thunder storms you’re likely to get a great one everyday at about 4pm. For me the best weather in Brazil is during the winter. It’s dry and the temperatures resemble that of a British summer. Nice.
Imagine a cafe, albeit without fried breakfast and cups of tea, serving alcohol and you’ve got the basic principle of the boteco. They’re the closest Brazil gets to a wetherspoons and though the beer is much worse and the snacks considerably
more Brazilian they’re still great if you need a quick snack or a cheapish Brazilian lager. I’ll skip the toilets.
Every nation has it’s fancy drink. Cuba the mohito, Mexico the Margarita, Britain the gin and tonic (and Pimms), Germany schnapps, Japan saki, Korea soju and Laos lao-lao. In Brazil the homemade spirit is cachaça, otherwise known as pinga a litre of the cheap stuff can be picked up in a supermarket for about two quid. Like most spirits, with the notable exception of a good single malt, it tastes a bit ropey by itself to the unaccustomed palate but add shed loads of sugar and some lime and you have a caipirinha – nice.
Everyone loves a decent bakery, no more than the Brazilians who love to buy fresh bread daily along with a variety of baked and confectionary goods. Because of this padarias seem to be outnumbered only by chemists and perhaps botecos consequently fresh bread is easy to get hold of and most padarias also double as cafes so a slice of pizza and a bottle of cheapish fizzy lager is always an option.
It almost goes without saying that even the worst beach in Brazil is almost as good as the best beach in England (arguably Bournemouth). If you can ignore the fact of how filthy they get at popular times such as new year and carnaval Brazilian beaches are without doubt excellent. Apart from the sun, sea and sand, there is a kiosk at approximately every 100 metres selling resfreshments, snacks, caipirinhas and cheapish fizzy lager.
8. Mata atlantica
As it turns out the amazon rainforest isn`t in Sao Paulo, I`ve selected the mata atlantica which, although looks pretty big from the bus is only a fraction of the forest which used to exist before the Europeans arrived. Efforts are being made to reforest part of the deforested area and there is still a small reserve on the edge of the city which makes a great change from the concrete.
Here’s a novel idea that I’m surprised hasn’t caught on in the UK. Imagine a pasta restaurant where you choose the pasta, the selection of ingredients, the sauce and watch it being cooked in front of you. OK so it’s a bit like the mongolian barbeque with pasta but it’s a relatively simple idea and a very easy way for a vegetarian to get fed in a country that thinks ham is a vegetable.
10. atmosphere at football games
Pacaembu, where you’re always guaranteed a great atmosphere even if the football’s a bit rubbish
Finally, it would seem odd to have a top ten list in Brazil with no mention of football but football only just sneaks in because the truth is that the standard of football is not as good as the standard of football in Europe in so small part because all the best Brazilian footballers play in Europe. However, one of the good things about Brazilian football is that, no matter how bad the football gets, the atmosphere is almost always guaranteed to be good even at the most uninspiring of fixtures partly due to the inevitable presence of a samba band keeping the atmosphere ticking along nicely.
I thought of an eleventh. Sao Paulo has some of the most incredible graffiti in the world which really helps to break up the concrete monotony. Sadly there is an enormous amount of tagging which makes many areas look really rubbish but there are also some great works of art and also many murals copying contemporary Brazilian artists such as Romero Britto who is a particular favourite at the moment.
One of the preconceptions I had of Brazilians before I arrived in the country was of laid back, happy go lucky, samba dancing, beach going, fun loving folk who don’t worry much about time but prefer to enjoy their quality of life rather than worry about things like work.
I’m sure that there are many Brazilians which fit this description but my experience in São Paulo has also showed me that the ‘Paulista’ works hard, loves money, gets very stressed and can be incredibly, incredibly selfish.
For a good example of this it is perhaps best to first remind you of the good old British obsession with personal space. This essentially means that no-one should come closer to oneself than an arms length unless they intend on engaging in sexual intercourse or are participating in a contact sport such as rugby or Greco-Roman wrestling.
A subliminal side effect of this obsession is that when walking down the street we put not inconsiderable effort into avoiding other people. This often means making sure that passers by have sufficient space when, say, waiting at bus stops to avoid the hideous possibility of anyone brushing against us.
This is not an issue in São Paulo. Paulistas, and I think it’s safe to make a sweeping generalisation here, take into consideration no-one but themselves when walking down the street, waiting at bus stops or even standing on the bus itself.
A Paulista may, for example, be walking along the street and then suddenly stop without any consideration for those walking behind them. Once stopped, they will make absolutely no effort to allow a passage for those pedestrians who do not wish to wait for a bus to continue their perambulation along the pavement unhindered by gormless morons. You may have noticed I am personally irked by this particular aspect of Paulista behaviour.
Once on the bus the Paulista makes no effort to move out of the way to allow other passengers to get past. Preferring instead to stand in the middle of the gangway forcing other passengers to push past them or climb round them in a most inconvenient manner.
Paulista’s have a preference for congregating around the exit of a bus no matter how far away from their own point of alighting they may be. This practice makes it exceedingly difficult for other passengers to alight at their desired stop, having to push their way past the entire bus population through impossibly tight spaces in order to pop themselves out of the bus at the desired moment like a cork from a champagne bottle.
It is little wonder then that a Paulista with resources chooses to drive. However, the average road user in Sao Paulo gives as much consideration to those around them as the pedestrians. Red lights and indicators are viewed as entirely optional and a Paulista will consider it the responsibility of others to get out of their way when changing lanes. Speed limits are considered minimums rather than maximums.
Ok, that’s it. Grumble over. For the next post I promise you something about all the things I like in Sao Paulo