By Gringo Blogger
By way of introduction Im a foreigner whos lived in São Paulo city for a few years. I came here for romantic reasons with the hopes of finding a job, like many gringos (only to find out that getting work in Brazil is a near impossible task). So Im not your typical wealthy gringo. Thankfully I am now working part time in a great job, but am still on the Holy Grail-like quest of finding full time work. I married my girlfriend early last year, so have some idea of the highs and lows of a multicultural relationship.
In my blog Im just documenting some of the day-to-day events that happen to me, amusing or not, to give an impression of what its like for a gringo living in the bustling metropolis of São Paulo, and Brazil in general. Its at times also meant as a tongue in cheek look at gringo life, so shouldnt be taken too seriously.
This weeks blog isnt wholly about Brazil, but does relate to a recent celebration in Brazil and some cultural aspects. Anyway...
Buying womens underwear is always a harrowing experience, or at least entering a womens lingerie shop. I thought Id go and buy some pyjamas for my wife for "Dia Das Namorados" (Brazils equivalent of Valentines Day, which occurred a week or so ago on June 12th). So there I was, a couple of weeks ago in a São Paulo shopping centre.
I did a quick window shop between the three lingerie shops at this particular shopping centre, and picked the one that looked the best, and had some reasonable pyjamas in the window (although they looked a bit "old lady"). One "problem" I find with shops in Brazil is because unemployment is high, and employing people is therefore cheaper, shops are often loaded with staff. So when I walked through the door of the lingerie shop I saw a group of employees, which succeeded in magnifying my embarrassment factor.
I smiled weakly, and thankfully someone came over to help. I mumbled about pyjamas, and she asked if they were for me, which interrupted my train of thought... "err, no, for my wife!", I replied in Portuguese. Anyway, they had a section with much more variety than the window, but nothing spectacular. So I asked if they had something more... delicate, and she lead me to another area which looked a bit frightening... full of frilly things! Anyway, they did have some gorgeous pyjamas there, so I opted to buy those. Then she asked me if I wanted to buy anything else... panties, bra? To which I blurted a "No!". I should add I was the only person in the shop, and the eyes of the entirely female set of sales assistants were following me wherever I went... I should have worn sunglasses.
Anyway, she took the selected pyjamas to the till and then asked if I wanted to buy any underwear. Again I was confused, but she said the Portuguese word for male underwear, so I asked if they actually sold mens underwear. She pointed to a little corner and then proceeded to bring over several pairs of things before I had a chance to decline. I was then prompted to check the material quality of a pair of boxer shorts, which I reluctantly did. I told her that unfortunately I didnt need anything else, just the pyjamas. I paid, and waited for the pyjamas to be giftwrapped. The problem with lingerie shops is wherever you look theres something embarrassing, so I spent the next few minutes shifting my gaze, although thankfully the assistant and the cashier were making small talk about me being English... my skill with Portuguese etc.
Im not sure if I ran out of the shop once I had the carrier bag, its possible!
Do you have any comments on Gringo Bloggers blog? If so send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and well add them to the article.
Previous articles by Gringo Blogger:
Brazil Blog: Fishing Trip Part 3
Brazil Blog: Fishing Trip Part 2
Brazil Blog: Fishing Trip Part 1
Brazil Blog: Feira Frustration