England’s John Milton arrived in Brazil on 14 January 1979, when Geisal was President, and the military dictatorship still existed. In the early years he over indulged on churrascarias, feijoadas, black coffee and caipirinhas. He has since slowed down but still plays cricket in São Paulo. He works at USP and is a specialist in Translation Studies.
Where are you from?
What brought you to Brazil?
I tell people I came here to practice my Spanish – and most believe me, then I say I only realised it was Portuguese after some three months – and they still believe me! But the reason is much more mundane, I am one of the many gringoes who married a Brazilian (now my ex-wife), and came here with her immediately after leaving university.
What do you do here?
I began by teaching at Alumni, and also commenced an MA at PUC in 1980. I taught English at PUC and Cultura Inglesa. In 1984 I began working at USP, where I did my PhD, and where I still am. My area of specialty is Translation Studies.
What do you miss about England?
Not too much at the moment. I enjoy watching the comedy shows on television when I am there.
What do you most like about Brazil?
Now I have a wide network of friends and contacts and feel quite at home, but life at the beginning was tough. I found it very difficult to make friends; I realised I had little in common with my ex-wife, and was a member of a rather patriarchal maladjusted Brazilian family, straight out of a Nelson Rodrigues play. For a couple of years my only real friends were from cricket, which I still play. I felt stifled in the marriage and in São Paulo. I wanted to return to the UK, or Spain, where I had spent my year abroad at university, but never had the courage to do so. Little by little things got better as my marriage fell apart! I began getting into university life, and slowly I became myself and now, over 20 years later feel quite at home in São Paulo, though I still think it is a horribly ugly city.
What is your favourite restaurant in Brazil?
I particularly like the traditional Mineiro food, often found in quite simple places in Minas. In São Paulo there are two Dona Lucinha Minas restaurants.
Have you tried feijoada? Did you like it?
Of course. Like many gringoes, I stuffed myself in churrascarias, on feijoadas, on black coffee and caipirinhas. Then I had a digestion problem and have taken things much easier, not drinking black coffee or caipirinhas, and eating meat in moderation.
What difference between England and Brazil do you find most striking?
The differences in light, the length of the days, the outdoors vs indoors life.
What are 2 things you would recommend to do for a visitor to São Paulo?
Don’t expect to find a London or Paris, look under the ugly faades. Avoid the traditional clichs about Brazil.
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