Tag Archives: what even is this keyboard do caralho

chegou a turma do funil…

”]”]Well, I am moved in and heading off to Rio for Carnaval.  Jeez.  It seems like every time I move, I am also under strict time limits.  But anyway, I did it, I have my key, I had a few celebratory beers (not the ones above) with Gera, and it’s bus time.

Also, look you guys: ;:?zzzzzz!!!  My laptop works with the internet at my new place!  É destino!!!

And apropos of nothing, let’s marvel at a country that drizzles olive oil on its cheese before eating it for dinner.  This is precisely why I’m not exactly, as ladies’ magazines would say, bikini ready–but that stops nobody in this country (you should see some of the bus fashions here), and it’s certainly not going to stop this gringa.

*The title of this post is from a pretty famous Carnaval song and it more or less translates to “The funnel class/gang has arrived.”  As in beer funnel.  Yeah.  If you’re into that (Big sis, I’m looking at you again), you can hear it here.


Greetings from technology

I am writing this on my phone. What a novelty. On the plus side, i can punctuate! On the minus side, i hate touch screens.

In other news, I am going to Rio for Carnaval, somewhat of a last minute decision. I am also theoretically moving into a new place today, but in typical Paulistano arts scene/other people who don’t work until evening fashion, I woke up at a friend’s house in Lapa at noon and have only just started packing. Also, have yet to coordinate with my new roomie. Ah, well, when in Rome…

I have also started haunting Liberdade, which is the Japanese section of town and very close to my job. Food there is super cheap and good, and yesterday I went into this little arcade mall and bought an adorable backpack that was clearly meant for some less than half my age.  Super cool story, I know.  One of my students is taking Japanese in addition to English, and his sensei works in the same building as I, and I am starting to think of picking up another language. We shall see.

Lastly, today in ridiculous building names: Edificio Prince of Edinburgh.

bullet points: free time edition

Kids, the title says it all, or most of it.

But friends, I had a really rotten day the other day.  I wanted to murder someone, or myself, because of a number of reasons (including the ever-present condition of not being able to find the damn colon on my keyboard, so pretend there’s a colon here) heat wave, lack of aircon, close living quarters, cats, having no control over my lunches (ie, rice and beans during a heat wave), the fact that Brasilian salad isn’t salad but rather old undressed lettuce and anemic tomatoes, the other fact that I was getting inquisitioned and side-eyed for taking second helpings of ‘salad’ instead of rice and beans at lunch.  Etc. etc. etc.  It was all too much for a girl to bear.

However, I don’t stay unhappy for long, and the heat wave brove, so I am back my usual jovial self.  Here’s some things that have been on my mind now that I am feeling less aggravated(COLON)

  • Found a Brasilian to listen to Television and watch L’Age d’Or with!  Didn’t expect that I would succeed in finding someone here with the same random tastes I have.  So–hooray.
  • The country’s obsession with panettone.  Granted, this is getting less pronounced the further away we get from Christmas, but it’s still baffling to me.  It’s a Christmas bread, but it’s really just everywhere around here.  Panettone, in all the grocery stores!  Panettone, in a themed subway shop of its very own!  Panettone, on all the tables and in all the kitchen of random people I visit!  Just when I thought that maybe I was making too much of a big deal about this, I sat back and started watching novela the other week.  One scene was in a kitchen.  PANETTONE ON THE KITCHEN TABLE!  Yes, Big Panettone has a firm stranglehold on Brasil–to the point where they are winning big product placement in Globo Novelas.  Or so I imagine.  I asked Ma why everyone liked panettone around here, and she seemed super nonplussed.  ‘Maybe because it’s really easy to make?’ she ventured.  But panettone is actually sort of a pain in the ass to make.  ‘Oh, then I don’t know.’  So…yeah.
  • I think some dude in a car called me rapaz the other day when I crossed the street, which sort of translates to ‘boy’ or ‘bro’ or something–but definitely masculine.  Then again, it could have been a figment of my imagination.  In other news, this other dude sat down next to me on a bench while I was waiting for the bus today coming home from work–I almost never get to just flop down because I’m always running to catch the bus so I was really looking forward to enjoying my time just staring around–and started, I don’t even know, hitting on me. His main objective was impaired by the vital fact that I could barely understand him, though.  He kept insisting I was Italian or something, and he was super inquisitive, so I just asked questions back.  ‘What?’  ‘What do you think?’  ‘Why Italian?’  But mainly I just gave him really confused and annoyed looks because I was tired and he was sitting really close and I had no interest in telling him anything.  He kept telling me to go somewhere across the street with him.  Nothing doing, dude.  I may look Italian (?) but I’m not stupid.
  • I have found heaven, and heaven is in Centro, past baixo Augusta coming from Paulista way, in Bar Estadao.  It’s called pernil, and it’s sort of a pig leg thing.  Do yourself a favor and look at the pictures of this food marvel.  The best news for me–and for everyone in the world, really–is that this place has been open for ages and also never closes.  So (hint hint) if you come and visit me, I will take you there, possibly multiple times.  Many thanks to my aforementioned Television-listening, surrealist-film-watching, Brasilian-author-recommending friend Gera for taking me there for the first time.  I wanted to take a picture of this pork (!)-farofa (!)-rice-potatoey goodness, but I was too busy eating.
  • On that note, I very well may (fingers crossed) be moving out this week to somewhere that’s not an hour away from work in good traffic.  Don’t get me wrong–an hour’s commute is actually a short commute here, and it’s not the worst.  I work in the evenings though, and so I have to leave before rush hour even starts, which results in a lot of wasted time in a lot of random cafes, waiting around for classes to start.  My hopefully future roommate is training to be a helicopter pilot and has an insanely smooth voice.  He’s a friend of my friend’s best friend, which is how these things work.
  • I’ve been trying to speak a lot more Portuguese with a lot more people.  This means…talking with random security guys at banks (key phrase Eu nao sou recepcionista! = I am not a receptionist!), getting to know the people who work in the reception of my building (key phrase Se Deus quiser = if God wills it), and basically bumbling around asking people to repeat things and smiling sheepishly.  People like Gera and my future roomie, who don’t really speak much English with me, are forcing me to get more agile with the language, and to pick up more slang.  My favorites are(COLON) sei la (which I’m not sure actually literally makes sense in Portuguese, but it means ‘I don’t know’), tipo (which means ‘type’–used like we use ‘like’), and negocio (which means ‘business,’ and people use it if they are searching for a word they don’t know or can’t remember).
  • This week in funny building names I bring you…Edificio Royal Place.
  • Lastly, I have a theory.  Allison, you’ll be thrilled.  Here goes.  The older Brasilian men get, the more they look like Jorge Ben Jor.  If anyone wanted to assassinate the great legend himself, I posit, it would be extremely difficult because, well, I have personally seen about a billion old men on the sidewalk who could work as his body double.  No joke.  Jorge Ben Jor at my bus stop, Jorge Ben Jor in a wheelchair chilling on Paulista, whatever.  It’s definitely JBJ, too–he has that just generic enough look.  You would never see a billion older men running around looking like Gilberto Gil, for example.  (See reference pictures.)  So anyway, that’s something I keep noticing around these parts.  The closer to God, the closer to Jorge Ben Jor.

Ma just said the words ‘cheeseburger with cheddar’ and now I have saudades.

Planes, trains, and automobiles

You`ve already heard about my bus triumphs, but what about the other methods of transit here in this giant city(question mark)  Planes, trains, and automobiles have been on my mind a lot, since transportation is rather a big theme in the beginning and intermediate EFL world. As you can imagine.

(And before I continue, let`s get this part out of the way.  Ma`s keyboard seems to have changed overnight, and now I can find neither the colon, nor any of the proper accents for Portuguese words, nor quotation marks and apostrophes.  Ugh sei la!)

First, the automobiles.  I arrived here in Brooklin my first day by taxi, and that has been the extent of my taxi adventures so far–thank God, because they`re expensive!  I have ridden a few times in Marilia`s sister`s boyfriend`s car (to a bus stop, natch), but I`d say that the most memorable car trip I`ve had so far was this past weekend.  We were at a bar in Butanta with some friends, who invited other friends to join us…you know how it goes.  One of this friends had a car and offered to drive us back to Brooklin, where people would crash in the apartment until the morning.  Okay, cool.  This girl had a special car because she was paraplegic, but that`s not even the interesting part.  She was a terrifying driver (some drivers of stick have an alarming way of braking suddenly) and we had 7 people crammed into this tiny clown car and had to drive casually past the police to get on the highway, so half of us were sitting on people`s laps and trying to bend over and hide under the windows.

Secondly, the trains.  Picture this.  I am at Sao Bento, which can get semi-dodgy at times, and it`s 10 pm.  I am with a friend and we want to get to his house in Jabaquara, which is straight down the blue line.  Nobody is moving through the turnstiles: yes, the system of swipe cards is broken.  (I found the colon!)  The crowd is pissed (inclusive me, as I just observed a 3-hour lackluster lesson in beginning English and I am HUNGRY), and there are a few harried policemen trying to keep peace.  There`s no way this will go on much longer.  This is Brasil, my friend says.  And he`s right: a lone guy darts through the turnstile.  Suddenly the floodgates break.  People everywhere, flouting convention because they want to get home!  The two policepeople try to get a grip on the situation, and they almost do, but a tired crowd without answers is an unhappy crowd, and in an uncharacteristic move–in the States I am quite the rule folower–I go through the stile and keep walking.  A free subway ride.  Oh, Brasil.

I also keep making the inevitable mistake of taking the CPTM at rush hour.  The CPTM is the commutery train here in Sampa, and one of the stations is right by Ma`s apartment.  The second time I took it, I was still getting used to Brasil, and I got really spooked by the close quarters and people talking about me like I couldn`t understand, and I vowed not to take it again.  However, after today, that trip was like a walk in the park–and yet, today I handled the even more hellish voyage so much better!

I just came back from Shopping Eldorado, which is 3 stations up the Emerald line.  How bad can that be, right(question mark)  In Sao Paulo at rush hour…you have no idea.  I got in with my shopping bag, and the train was crowded.  I almost didn`t make it in the car before the doors closed, actually.  With each station, more people packed in–to the point where, manners be damned, everyone basically knew each other really well by the time we reached the stop before mine.  Body odor, awkward body part contact, the works.  I raised my eyebrows convivially, in a sign of mutual suffering, at the female coworker of the guy whose butt my hand was forcibly pressed into.  Isso nao e vida, she had said as people crammed into the car (This isn`t life, or maybe This is no way to live.). 

Shit, I thought to myself, I have to get off at the next station.  No time to be timid.  This was not going to be easy, since the door was barely in sight and I really hate making a scene.  I readied my shopping bag, I shifted my weight a bit so that the people directly around me perceived that I was preparing to make a move.  The train stopped.  I shouted.

Licenca, pessoal, quero descer! (Exuse me, people, I want to get off!)

Ela vai descer, vai descer! went down the line. (She`s getting off, she`s getting off!)

Ahhh, vou tentar pelo menos, I shouted jovially (I`m going to try, anyway).  I shoved and elbowed and smiled, and finally I was on the platform.  A helpful set of hands birthed my shopping bag out of the melee behind me and into the free air, I shouted a `Brigada! (Thank you!) and the doors closed.  Oof.

That was actually, I think, my biggest victory here so far.  This is no place for the timid.

Some more impressions

More bullet points!

  • Buildings here all have names, which I think is really strange.  Even though nobody refers to buildings by their names and only uses street addresses for taxis and directions, as there are way too many buildings in the continent’s biggest city, each one has some ridiculous name.  My favorite so far is Edificio John Lennon (the John Lennon Building), which is a residence I pass by on the bus on the way home from school.
  • About the bus.  I am almost a pro at riding these things by this point, since where I live isn’t really close to the Metro.  You get to see a lot of interesting things if you go by bus, and sometimes there are interesting conversations on which to eavesdrop.  The frustrating thing, however, is that there is no real bus schedule, so the bus comes whenever it comes.  I stood outside in misty rain the other day fo 50 minutes waiting for the bus to take me to my friend’s house in Jabaquara, when I could have taken another bus to a Metro station and taken the subway from there.  It’s always a gamble.
  • Every afternoon it rains, and I never have an umbrella.  This is most unfortunate, since the only time I ever think about buying an umbrella is when it starts raining and the umbrella hawkers appear out of nowhere to price-gauge the people who don’t like getting wet.  Well, I don’t like getting wet, but I have also become sort of thrifty, so I prefer to either get wet or wait out the rain.
  • It’s impossible to go anywhere in a hurry.  Sampa is known for being the city where everyone is always too rushed to sit back and enjoy life.  I want to know where all these fast people are, man.  Everywhere I go, people are cutting me off just to walk slow and stop in front of me.  After a while, there’s no point in trying to go anywhere quickly.  Whereas in New York, people rush down the stairs in the subway when they hear a train coming, Paulistanos sort of just maintain their glacial pace and are content to wait for the next train.  ALSO, people will wait in absurdly long lines to use the escalator instead of the stairs, and to go through the turnstile closest to the staircase when exiting the subway instead of walking the extra 5 feet to go through an empty one.
  • I have made a rule for myself that I won’t listen to my iPod unless it is Brasilian music, since I need to keep improving my language skills.  This means either (a) I hear a lot more conversations going on around me or (b) I really just space out on a whole new level and think about nothing.  Either way, it works.
  • I might be moving out of Ma’s mom’s apartment.  Which is exciting.  While they have been nothing but hospitable, I feel like a guest who is overstaying her welcome, and I would like to be able to cook again and just sort of hang out and not have to be on my best behavior.  This possible place would also be 10 minutes away from 2 Metro stops, which is also thrilling, since (a) that would force me to be both active AND proactive about being on time and (b) I do not like letting the bus rule my life.
  • In the midst of all this lightness, some serious things have been happening here in the city and state of Sao Paulo.  Sampa itself has a relatively new problem with the emergence of a booming crack market, centered in the old center of the city, informally dubbed Cracolandia, and instead of treating the problem, certain Powers That Be have been treating the symptoms instead, resulting in several arrests, destruction of people’s homes, and a general lack of understanding of addiction as a whole.  Also recently, the favela of Pinheirinhos has been occupied and burned, again resulting in the destruction of homes, lives, and dignity.  There are multiple pictures floating around of the inhabitants preparing themselves basically for war against the police coming to take their homes away.  The sad thing is that the majority of the people who live in favelas are not, as the stereotype goes, drug traffickers and dangerous criminals.  I will refrain from adding my political opinion–it’s not my place, since I am lucky enough to be here at all and am more or less an outside observer–but it is disappointing to see how the vast wealth divide leads to such awful situations, when the Brasilians that I have met, of all classes, are some of the most warm, welcoming, come-as-you-are people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  To this end, I went to a protest yesterday, which started near Teatro Municipal and ended up in Cracolandia.  Was it a smart idea for a foreigner to go to a political protest(question mark)  I’m not sure, but it was a very peaceful protest, the police weren’t involved, and I was interested to see how these things work here.  If you want to know my general impressions, ask me via email or something.  I have a few thoughts.
  • Phones.  I have a prepaid SIM card here, and sometimes I run out of money obsecenly quickly, while other times 10 reais stretches for 2 weeks.  I do not understand the phone plans here, but on the bright side, it seems that nobody does.  If you add certain magic numbers to the front of people’s numbers with certain plans, you are able to reduce the charges or get free texts, but alas, I am not proficient in this sort of special cryptography.  Like I said, nobody understand cell phone billing here, which is why it is common to have phones that accept 2 or 3 SIM cards at one time, so that people can have multiple pay-as-you-go plans and call their friends with different plans from their different numbers–from the same phone.  Whew.
  • Banks.  To get into some banks, you have to press a button.  Does this button connect to a security person, who then lets you in(question mark)  No.  You press the button, and the door unlocks, and you enter.  I’m not sure if this is a safety measure proven to be particularly effective against–I dunno, people who just sail into banks without a point for being there–but if seems like if one is hell-bent on robbing a bank, one little button will not be much of a hindrance.
  • Although I have been speaking a lot of English because of my course, I am also getting used to speaking in Portuguese without thinking about it too much.  The other day I was Skyping with my parents and started explaining something in Portuguese to them without realising that I was using the wrong language.  I also had a conversation with Ma’s neighbor in which I was chatting away (to be fair it’s very easy to chat with Valkyrie, since she loves talking) about bad traffic and the virtues of bus versus Metro (this was right before the 50-minute wait for the bus, actually), and it was only afterwards that I stepped back and realied that I had done that without really thinking.
  • On a related note, different people I’ve polled have all given me different reasons why I don’t seem Brasilian to them.  I am too pale (this is changng), I walk differently, I do not have enough of a butt (yep, someone said that)…  But somehow this seems to be diminishing, since people more and more will ask me for knowledge on the bus.  Yeah, that’s right.  I am the master of getting from Ana Rosa to Avenida Berrini, and I share my knowledge if asked nicely.  It used to freak me out but now I’m like, “Yep, it passes by Berrini, mmm hmm.”
  • I was on Brasilian news the other day!  Ma met some people who work at Rede Globo at some Christmas party, and they remembered that she was going to be hosting an Estrangeira in the new year.  I guess they were doing some piece on foreigners coming to live in Brasil, and anyway, they ended up interviewing me at school and filming me in class and stuff.  The interview mostly went well until we got to one question, very oddly-phrased, about how much money I was earning, and I had to ask the nice lady to repeat it around 3 times until I finally got it.  Apparently the piece aired Tuesday night, but I didn’t see it because I was waiting for that damn bus.  But my face has become capable of turning whole new shades of red in record time here in Brasil, I might have you know.  Which is weird because I never used to blush before.  The other day I went to Padaria Leirense with Ma, and the guy behind the counter was like, “Hey I know you.  You always come in here with her.”  Blush blush, yep, it’s the gringa again.  Actually, yesterday in Cracolandia I saw a little lanchonete (snackish sort of casual restaurant) that was called Lanchonete dos Gringos, which made me smile.  But I did not eat there.  We ended up eating at a place that had gross sandy coxinhas.  Ah well, you live and you learn.

Oh, Brasil.  Oh, this keyboard.  I am getting sick of not having a question mark or the last letter of the alphabet.  I am getting scarily good at planning lessons in minimal time.  I am getting used to people talking about me and thinking I can’t understand, and people talking quickly at me and thinking I can understand.  And now, here are some pictures.

vista do vão do masp



These phone booths are all over, and I love them because they are cute and bright and weird-looking–and also very good if you get caught in a sudden downpour.



ma  masp

vão do masp