By Larry Ludwig
April 22, 2014

My connection down here starts with an uncle (American) and two aunts (Brazilian) over in Rio de Janeiro, and a cousin (son of the uncle) and his wife (both Brazilians, Carioca’s actually, Carioca the term for native-born Rio de Janeirians) and their two children & grandchildren and in-laws who live in São Paulo. São Paulo is where I live most of the six months I am down here (that is all the time allowed per annum with a Brazilian tourist visa). My first trip/visit was back in 2008..when I fell head-over-heels in love with the people and culture… with its special emphasis on FAMILY and FRIENDS… family & friends come before money, personal prestige, material status. When ever a good (well just about any plausible) reason can be found to have a get together, be it a bar-b-que (churrascaria), or a cafezinho, aka a cup of coffee” (can be just coffee for a few moments or a gathering lasting several hours with libations other than coffee–sometimes cerveza/beer or the all-powerful caipirinha–sugar-cane cachaa liqueur mixed with sugar, ice cubes and lime slices), or be it a birthday party, whatever, Brazilians do get together, and do so often. When that occasion is a family affair, it is everyone gathered together, from great grandma to the great grandkids. And when the nuclear family wants to dine out at a restaurant, the parents go with all the children, be they 3 months old on up. Many restaurants have supervised play rooms for the kids. It is totally common for the children of one family to commune with the children of another, going from table-to-table sharing toys, coloring books and the like… and of course, for the moms, grandmoms and aunts of one family to ooooh and ahhhh over the kids of the other families, and vice versa.

Brazil also offers a super plus for seniors, namely how seniors (along with pregnant women, parents with baby infants, & people with disabilities) are treated. Seniors get all types of respect here… ride buses and subways for free, are admitted to museums for free, as well as public restrooms without. Seniors also get 50 percent off tickets to any theatrical event from hard-rock to high-end opera (and sometimes admitted without charge to symphonic events) Best-of-all, best-of-the best in a land where waiting in line can be a curse, seniors go to the front of the line in any government facility, as well as at banks, post offices, most stores, and even better, at the airport. There we go to the front of the check-in line, to the front of the security line, to boarding the flight first before all other passengers. In many facilities there are separate lines for the five categories mentioned above as well, thus by passing long tedious waits for service. There is also reserved seating on buses and subway cars for those five groups, a privilege generally honored by non-senior passengers. Many times I have experienced younger women and men getting out of their seats in open-seating areas, offering me their seat when I am standing in the crowded buses and subway cars.

And as may have been implied above, older folk are included in social events together with people of all ages. Seniors are not shunted off to a rest home, nursing homes or some sort of senior ghetto. Families try their best to keep their parents and grandparents at home; going to a nursing home or assisted living facility is only the last, last, last resort. As a consequence, one feels younger, one belongs and stays active in the community… And men for sure (to a lessor extent for senior women), do have an active social life, and I mean active, until one basically drops from exhaustion. Last week a local newspaper featured an article noting that Brazilians stay sexually active, for instance, at least into their 70’s, if not 80’s. (Oh one is considered a senior at age of 60)

That’s it for tonight… well not quite. One of the other perks of living in the São Paulo area is the access to cultural events… of all sorts. All accessible either by foot, a few blocks walk, or 15 to 20 minute bus or subway rides, or short taxi rides. Myself, I lean to the classical arts, and basically have freaked out going to symphony and coral concerts, theatrical play productions, ballet/modern-dance performances and opera. Somehow of the other, have become a Patron of the Coral of the Cidade de S. Paulo (the Chorale of São Paulo City), a member of the A Sua Orchestra OSESP (Friends of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra), a season ticket subscriber to the Theatro Municipal of São Paulo Opera, and a rabid fan of the São Paulo Companhia de Dana (São Paulo Dance Company). The latter even included me in their annual DVD summarizing their progaming for the 2013 season (giving me my 15 seconds of fame, (8 seconds in English, the other 7 seconds in Portuguese). The video was shown on national TV three times… well that means 45 seconds of fame. (I am about 40 percent fluent in Portuguese these days). I do write occasional commentaries/reviews of some of the musical/dance performances seen here in São Paulo (and once in a while over in Rio de Janeiro, about a six hour drive distant), three of which have been published on the www.gringoes.com website, a site for English speaking foreigners living in Brazil. The site as a circulation of some 20,000.

Also most enjoyable, are visits to the principal art museums in São Paulo, MASP, the Museum of Art of São Paulo, and Pinacoteca. (The third, the Ipiranga Palace Museum is closed several years for structural renovations.) MASP is of the traditional national art gallery mode found around the globe, with limited samplings of the world’s greatest artists. Pinacoteca, on the other hand, features mostly Brazilian painters, and is my favorite galllery. Yes, I have fell in love with the works of Brazilian artists, Almeida Jnior & Pedro Amrico in particular. They hold their own against many of their European counterparts. I prefer Pinacoteca over the somewhat stuffy, formal more stodgy MASP. Pinacoteca is relaxed, welcoming. One never knows when a security guard might break out in beautiful song walking the hallways, or a Broadway inspired tap-dance routine to break the monotony of hushed gallery offerings. I go often to Pinacoteca. But one does remember, the museums are usually closed on Mondays. (I have yet to visit the Museum of Sacred Art however.) One also can catch magnificent international traveling on-loan exhibits, like 2012’s Impressionists’ paintings on loan from Paris, France’s Museu dOrse, and last year’s exhaustive works of the Italian Renaissance, all on display at the Bank of Brazil headquarters here in São Paulo. And remember, seniors get in free, and best of the best, go to the front of the line–with form 2 to 3 hour waits as a rule.

Not quite on the level of performing arts is my membership in the Sociedade Philatelica Paulista, the São Paulo Philatelic (Stamp Collecting) Society. Brazil produces copious amounts of collectible postage stamps, and has an avid collector-base nationwide. The Society sponsors stamp shows (featuring selling and trading of stamps/envelopes/covers/postcards, as well as heavily research postal-history displays) very much like and up to the same level as those taking place up in the States. Being the live-long stamp-collector that I am, spent many blissful hours and hours perusing potential finds/treasures of Lithuanian philately… my speciality, at the São Paulo shows.

Have also spent some time in the interior of São Paulo State, visiting Haras Mineral, a horse-stud farm & equestrian riding school. The farm raises Lusitano, Andaluz, Criola and Brasilian Hipismo breeds for formal dressage/equitation riding (including partaking of jumping events such as those of the Olympic games).The Haras owners/instructors are champion equestrians themselves, competing in dressage/equestrian events both in Brazil and abroad. Hopefully, these visits to the São Paulo hilly countryside will facilitate tours of USA visitors to the Haras, as well as generate the exchange of equine semen between the USA, Brazil and Europe.

I indulge in other Brazilian cultural areas as well, including soccer matches in Rio (at the world famed Maracana Stadium, the “Holy Grail” or worldwide soccerdom, which originally held up to 250,000 spectators (now only 80,000), and here in São Paulo (only 60,000 at the Morumbi Stadium). The games can take place day or night (in summer months, evening, thanks to the heat and humidity, most games start around 8 to 9 pm). The noise levels, the exuberance of the fans is something else altogether, worth a descriptive separate email. Other sports that capture Brazilian interests, could say fanatically so, are volley ball and Formula 1 racing. Even discovered a new sport (for North Americans), futvolley…where volley ball is played like soccer. with the ball touching only feet, legs, head & chest, the ball being served by a kick of the foot. Super kool to watch. Also have enjoyed the typical Sunday-at-the-Park experience, where families and friends peramble, jog, or roller blade, bicycle, or skate-board past picnickers, volleyball courts, swan and carp filled ponds, vendors, museums, musicians (especially guitarists) serenading the throngs, with lots of “seeing and being seen” fueling the enjoyable ambiance.

And of course, what is a visit to Brazil without exposure to Samba, be it at formalized exhibitions, free classroom evenings, street concerts, or impromptu rapid-fire-foot-stepping, and I mean super-velocity feet movement, spur-of-the moment dancing. Can happen anywhere, be it on the cable car up to the Christ Statue in Rio, or in one’s condominium’s lobby. Is, one can say, exhilarating, spiritually uplifting !!

Oh yes, and what is a visit to Brazil without a day at the beach, especially the sipping of caipirnhas and batidas; watching or partaking impromptu matches of paddle ball, bad mitten, soccer and volley ball; strolling/strutting the sands showing-off one’s stuff in mini-thong bikinis. It would take a lengthy email to describe that wondrous aspect of Brazilian culture. Oh well…

And no matter where one might find himself in Brazil, always to be found are indoor/outdoor dining facilities featuring a mouth-watering churrascaria or feijoada. The former is the Brazilian version of a Bar-B-Que featuring grilled meats, the latter a pork and black-beans presentation, both accompanied by scores of side dishes, one could say, additional main-course dishes, and lots of tempting salads, fruits and deserts. Mostly served buffet style, others are served as a rodizio, where a never ending stream of waiters approach your table with various cuts and various types of meat, be it beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, rabbit, you name it. There are also restaurants specializing in Italian pasta rodizios. with at least seven different pasta dishes on offer; other establishments serve pizza of many varieties followed by an open ice-cream bar of unending flavor choices. There is even one Mexican food rodizio in São Paulo. Can be brutal on those on a strict diet.

Hope this somewhat fills you in on my goings on down here Brasil way. enough for tonight.

As they say down here, abraos (hugs), and if particularly exuberant, abraos e beijos (hugs and kisses)

Larry

PS. It is Holy Week here in São Paulo now… with street processions, special masses and the many Catholic Church rituals associated with Easter. Unlike the USA, however, there are no Easter Eggs of the North American/European variety. No boiled eggs decorated with designs and colors. No drained-hollow eggs painted with patterns and a rainbow of colors. No wooden eggs of the Ukrainian/Polish variety painted in intricate designs. Only chocolate eggs filled with small toys or candy-fillings, elegantly wrapped, costing from $5.00 upwards towards $100.00. The shops selling these chocolate treasures were jam-packed yesterday in a last minute buying spree. These eggs are de-rigeur, a must-must for all children, and similarly one’s parents/grandparents, but especially the kids. Easter itself is a four day national holiday, starting today, Friday, and lasting to Tuesday morning.

Previous articles by Larry:

Brazil: A Beautiful Day in the “Hood” – Bless You Beethoven
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By Jon Lemmens
April 22, 2014

The first couple months after I moved to Brazil I could barely understand people when they spoke to me. A conversation would typically involve me explaining that I couldn’t speak Portuguese very well and then attempting to ask my question or state my request. I did manage to get a haircut and buy bread by pointing and saying a couple of keywords.

I have now been in Brazil for a little over four months and still have trouble understanding people when they speak quickly or when I listen to someone address a crowd of people. However, if I speak to a person one-on-one and I understand the context of the topic, I can hold a lengthy conversation, which I did last weekend.

I will provide you with some common expressions, words, and actions that you should be aware of.

Remember that expressions and mannerisms will differ in different parts and different cities of Brazil so my experiences are only a partial representation of Brazil.

General Points about Brazilian Portuguese

Brazilian Portuguese is distinctly different from European (Portugal) or African Portuguese. Some people compare the language difference to be similar to the difference between England’s English (Portugal Portuguese) and the United States’ English (Brazilian Portuguese).

Depending on the city or region you visit in Brazil, you will encounter distinctly different accents and thereby affect your ability to understand Portuguese.

Brazil’s language has a number of rules that affect how you hear and understand the language.
Brazilian Portuguese uses articles to differentiate between male/masculine and female/feminine subjects, objects or nouns.

Example 1 – O João (John) may sound like Oi John” and A Lisa may sound like a Brazilian is calling you “Alisa.” The “O” indicates a masculine subject and the “A” designates a feminine subject.

Example 2 – Na cidade (In a city) or no pas (In a country)

Em (in) is neutral
Em (in) + o = No (masculine)
Em (in) + a = Na (feminine)
De (of) is neutral
De (of) + o = Do (masculine)
De (of) + a = Da (feminine)

Example 3 – A Caro = the expense. O cara = The guy.

Example 4 – Brasiliero/Brasiliera or Americano/Americana

Example 5 – Obrigado (said by a man) / Obrigada (said by a woman)

Commonly Used Pronouns

Eu = I = Sounds like “you” or “yew.”
Voc = You (singular) = Sounds like “vou say.”
El / Ela = Him / Her (singular) = “El” sounds like the letter “L” and “Ela” sounds like “ey la.”
Nós = Us = Sounds like “Noy shh.”
Vocs/Eles/Elas are the plural forms of the previously mentioned pronouns.
The Alphabet

The Brazilian alphabet appears similar to the English alphabet with some distinct differences.

The phonetic translations below are how I hear the translations and interpret them into English and not the official interpretations.

“C” – The letter C can have a “ka” when the C stands alone or “sh” sound when written as CH.
Example – Cachaa (sugar cane brandy) sounds like “ka sha sa.”

“H” – The letter H is called an “ag.” The H is silent at the beginning of the word.
Example – História (a history or story) sounds like “is toe ree-ah.”

“R” – The letter pronunciation sounds like “eh he” (erre). When you have two “Rs” the sound will sound like an H.

Example 1 – “Correr” (to run) sounds like “ko haare.”

Example 2 – “Cachorro” (a dog) sounds like “ka show hoe.”

“” – The has an “S” sound.

Example 3 – Praa (a town square or plaza) sounds like “pra sah.”

Sounds In Portuguese

“O” – is a nasal sound that appears in the middle of the word and can be difficult to pronounce. I try to pronounce the similar to the word “OWN” but with the OW sitting over the letter N OW/Nnn. The sound should be made with your mouth in a smile and with your lips closed.
Example – Avião (An airplane) sounds similar to “A vee ow nnh”

“ES” – is the plural of “O” and sounds like “oynes.”

Example – Avies (airplanes) sounds likes “A vee oynes.”

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By Chip Kishel
April 1, 2014

A story of a young American boy and his family living in Brazil from 1962 to 1964.

School Starts

Much to my dismay, school started in early August, nearly three weeks earlier than in the States. After all I was below the equator and the season in Brazil was late winter, so I thought.

Escola Graduada de São Paulo

As mentioned in part 1 of this series, the school bus was not like the ones I was accustomed to. The school bus may not have been a school” bus at all, but rather a bus for hire. I recall the interior of the bus being plain, but the front dashboard and windshield was decorated with hanging colorful balls and religious icons and decals. The school was 3 to 4 years old, as I was told, and isolated on a hill about 45 minutes from home. (Note: I Googled my school today, 50 years later, to find it surrounded by a crowded metropolis) My new school had a three tier playground with external hallways. Unlike schools in the states, this school served grades kindergarten to 12th.

What I did not expect was the practice of hazing new kids. Not only was I in culture shock, but now I’m picked on for no apparent reason and always by more than one at a time! Let’s review my thinking to this point in my story. Within four weeks of leaving my home in the USA, I sailed on a Coffee Ship on the Atlantic for two weeks, witnessed the rescue of two people floating in a small boat in the middle of the Florida straits, escaping Cuba, sunburnt red and throwing away their suicide pistol as they were hoisted up the Jacobs ladder and finally disembarking in Santos. Then, transported to a home in Brooklin that was surrounded by broken glass topped walls. I could not speak the language, got swindled out of money and was jumped by three Brazilian kids. (My gifted switchblade saved me.) Now I need to fight in my school… and I’m 10 years old.

Needless to say, the first months in Brazil for me were pretty crappy and I developed a hatred for everything Brazilian. One additional aspect about tropical countries that never crossed my mind was insects, especially fleas.

The Beebe house came with a dog named Blackie. Blackie was an older dachshund who took a liking to me. I vividly recall waking up one morning and itching really bad in my shorts. When I opened up my shorts and gazed down, I was bitten dozens of times… everywhere. I can just imagine how those fleas must have felt to have found a fresh Lilly white boy to feed on. I still recall my mother dosing my crotch with alcohol.

Boredom

To add to the culture shock, fighting, swindling and getting my crotch washed with alcohol, there was no way to escape boredom. We had TV, but American shows were old and dubbed. There seemed to be more advertisements than programs, but that did not matter as I had no clue what they were selling unless it was Coca Cola. We had radio, but the music was Samba and types I could not relate to, or once in a while, a 50’s rock n roll tune that felt like a minute of home. So I invented my own entertainment.

Streetcar Fruit Toss

The streetcar tracks ran parallel to the walls surrounding the Beebe house. At one corner stood a tree large enough to hold me and overlook the tracks. The streetcars had a loud bell they rang at intersections. This alerted me to be ready to toss. I wish I could apologize to those people who got hit with bananas, watermelon rinds, oranges and apples. My game abruptly ended one day when my aim was off and I broke a window. The street car stopped and the operator came to the gate yelling something in Portuguese. Our maid took the heat and my father paid him 1,000 Cruzeiros, which at the time was worth about US$3.00.

Chip Kishel and his wife Agnes reside in the small town of Sylvania, Georgia. Chip works for Houghton International as a contract Site Manager for Koyo Needle Bearing LLC. Chip’s hobbies include custom vintage Honda Motorcycle Restoration and his wife is an accomplished equestrian trainer specializing in dressage, cross country and stadium jumping.

Previous articles by Chip:

Brazil: 50 Years Past Part 1

By Alastair Kinghorn
April 1, 2014

You might be excused for thinking that Brazilians have no modesty worth talking about, let alone enough to make up the subject of an interesting article, but there you would display your ignorance of Brazilian etiquette and completely overlook how social contrasts and extremes affect the individual’s attitude towards appropriate behaviour.

Carnival is the clearest example of this, when it becomes acceptable for people to dance almost naked in the streets, to kiss strangers in public and for men and women to flirt outrageously.

For the remainder of the year this behaviour would be taboo, especially if the participants are married or members of one of the evangelical churches.

But in Brazil, what is normally acceptable is difficult for a foreigner to understand.

Take the beach as an obvious place to start.

Brazilian swimwear is famous and rightly so. The ‘fio dental’ is clearly the briefest of all bikinis, but it is very rarely worn topless, in Brazil at least. Public display of naked female breasts is not only immodest; it is illegal, except within one of the few nudist areas. Having said that, the sheer quantity of naked flesh on display is sufficient to prompt a startled reaction from even the most well seasoned observer. I remember my dear old dad remarking to me as we jetted back to London after a holiday in São Vicente, that he had never seen so many bottoms in his entire life! He was 80 years old!

Even in the street, rather than focussing on exposing her breasts, Brasileiras take the attention of the male gaze toward their buttocks, which are considered to be the most sensual part of the female anatomy, and to their cleavage, but her nipples are firmly left under cover.

Hence short skirts are very short indeed, shorts are minimal and tops plunge towards the midriff, but underneath there lurks a brassiere that would survive attack by shell-fire. Nipples are a no-go-area.

Enough of your leering about near naked Brasileiras! I hear you clamour! What about the men?

Well funnily enough it goes much stranger for them, as the Brazilian male will happily display his genital bulges , his ‘builder’s bum’ and some of his genital hair, on the beach, in the supermarket, on the street, almost anywhere! The ‘sunga,’ which is the briefest male beachwear, is very popular among single men and much admired by young and mature women alike. It is very tiny and made of the sheerest material, so that it becomes almost transparent when wet. Next comes the ‘bermudas’ which begin with a waistband that starts below the hip, then hug every contour down to the thigh before ending cut to the knee. The more daring or perhaps those who have more to display, wear ‘bermudas’ tailored in lycra.

In summer it is common for men to be bare chested almost everywhere, except for banks, smart restaurants and other more formal areas. ‘Six pack’ abdominals are ‘de rigueur’ for the aspiring Brasileiro. If this were not enough, the Brazilian male has a very strong attachment to his genital region, and that is his hand. It seems as if he is constantly seeking reassurance that everything is still there and intact. Quite unselfconsciously he will reach down and give himself an affectionate pat, sometimes a good scratching will then ensue and then a re-arrangement of his precious equipment before returning his hand to whatever else takes his fancy. Which is probably his girl-friend’s behind.

If he is on his own, or especially with his amigos, he will mercilessly taunt unaccompanied females with vocal appreciations of the most immodest nature, all of which is usually met with a haughty response.

All of the aforesaid is however in public, and little or none of this behaviour will be displayed within the privacy of a Brazilian house, especially while entertaining visitors.

First of all, the house is separated into the areas where guests are normally received, and those where outsiders will seldom be invited. You are unlikely to be given a tour of a Brazilian house beyond the sitting room. Bedrooms are frequently shared, especially among poorer families, but perhaps in an effort to recover some degree of privacy, they are seldom put on show. In a similar fashion, dress codes are curiously altered towards a much more modest arrangement. Skimpy bikinis and provocative clothing are fine for the beach or for showing off in public, but not usually welcome at home unless you are in the pool. While staying with close friends in their house, I made the mistake of coming from the bathroom wrapped in a large towel after taking a shower. As I returned to the bedroom allocated to me, my partner lost no time in telling me that this was much frowned upon.

Very strange indeed, I thought, especially since we had just returned from a party where there had been played over and over again, the then hit song;- ‘Move your body very sexy’ on the dance floor, accompanied by enthusiastic gyrating by all attending, complete with explicit body movements to illustrate the indecent verses being shouted aloud!

Tut! Tut!

Shameful!

And in public too!

2014 Alastair Kinghorn

Alastair is an expat originally from Scotland now living in rural south eastern Brazil close to the city of São Paulo. He has led a variety of lives since leaving school at the tender age of seventeen. In the merchant navy he spent six years travelling the world including a trip to Rio and Santos in 1971. He then tried his hand doing a series of jobs in London as;- Mini Cab driver, Fashion allocator, Warehouse manager, Meat factory worker, before deciding to become an architect. He then went north to the Scottish Highlands for the next six years. Worked there as an architect, and as skipper of a pollution control vessel on the Moray Firth. He opened a shop selling stationary and art supplies. Started an arts group with an annual exhibition, became a member of the Community Council and ran as candidate in local elections, before returning south to London in ’86; due to recession in the Highlands. Worked in commercial architects practices in London during the ‘Yuppie’ years, before yet another recession hit the construction industry. Entered Local Government as an Estate Surveyor for Westminster City Council, then as Technical Manager for Camden and finally Repair Centre Manager for Greenwich. Took early retirement in 2006 and emigrated here to Brazil. Settled in Peruibe SP for three years before moving to Pedro de Toledo in the foot-hills of the Jureia mountains. Married and divorced three times I spend my time between my sitio, working part-time in a local imobiliaria, writing, photography and listening to classical music. Alastair decided to create Brazil: The Ghost of Ayrton Senna
A Scotsman in Brazil