Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Brazil, Brazil...

I left home and set off for Cultura Inglesa in my Chevrolet (General Motors). As I didn't have lunch, I decided to pop in to Teresina Shopping to grab a bite. Food square seemed to offer many options. Brazilian food is quite good, and as I don't cook typically Brazilian meals I looked forward to eating something different.

I looked around and the first place which caught my attention was Arabian Grill. Hummm... Few metres away there was Light Meals which is also called here a self-service restaurant (a posh version of a popular “pay 5 quid and eat until you explode” in London). McDonalds on the corner turned me off. Next to it, there was Cookie's, which is a good place, as long as you had your lunch and you were heading for dessert. No way. I decided to go to Riverside Shopping, hoping to find some local food. Bob's caught my eye. I didn't feel like hamburger, sandwich or milk shake. I've had enough. I wasn't hungry anymore. Opposite to Bob's there was Brazilian Coffee. That'll do. At least it had “Brazilian” in a name...

When I was having my Brazilian drink and a piece of cheesecake (I couldn't resist) I received a text message: “I'll be 30 minutes late. I run into some problems”. That was my VIP student, who was going to be late. Something I'll never understand: how come, surrounded by “English world”, people can't be punctual...

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Polish culture is, without any doubt, totally different from the Brazilian one. If I were to describe my life in Brazil in one sentence, I'd copy Sting saying: ”I don't drink coffee, I drink tea my dear...” Well, maybe not literally, as I looooooooove coffee , but sometimes I feel like Quentin Crisp, from “Englishman in New York” song.

To make life easier for any potential Polish immigrant in Brazil, I decided to write few entries in my Polish-Brazilian dictionary:

“Let's meet tomorrow”.
Polish: “I like you. I want to see you tomorrow.”
Brazilian Portuguese: “I like you and at the moment I feel like meeting you tomorrow, but tomorrow, who knows...”

“The meeting is at 5 o'clock.”
Polish: “I'll arrive about 10 minutes before 5.”
Brazilian-Portuguese: “I'll be there around 6 or 7 o'clock.”

Question:”How can I get to the cinema?” Answer: “Go straight ahead for two blocks and turn right. Then take your first left and there you are!”
Polish, option 1: “It's on …. street.”
           option 2: “I have no idea, sorry.”
Brazilian-Portuguese: thinking:“I have no idea but I really want to help you” says: “Take your first left, go ahead for about three blocks, turn left again and there you are! Good luck!”

Question: “I'm organizing a party. Would you like to come?” Answer: “Yes, I'd love to!”
Polish: “When? Where? I'll be there and I'll call if something unpredictable comes up.”
Brazilian-Portuguese: “OK, I'll probably be there and bring some people you've never seen in your life.”

“There are some rules, you can not do that!”
Polish: “Damn! What a shame. I have to find another solution.”
Brazilian-Portuguese: “There's always a way... Let's bend some rules.”

“It costs R$500. Expensive.”
Polish, option 1: “I'll be saving for some time and finally I'll buy it.”
           option 2: “Heh, 5 months without going out, but I'll have it anyway.”
Brazilian-Portuguese: “Ah, no problem. I can divide it into 10 times. In about a year I'm done with the payment.”

“It's raining”
Polish: “No sun again... I hope the rain stops soon.”
Brazilian-Portuguese (considering a person is not from Amazonas state): “What a beautiful day!”

“Alexandre's birthday is in 10 days.”
Polish: “That gives me 5 days to think what to buy and another 5 to look for it.”
Brazilian-Portuguese: “I'll worry about it in 10 days.”

“I saw her entering Pedro' car.”
Polish: “They know each other.”
Brazilian-Portuguese: “They have an affair.”

“My dictionary is not finished yet.”
Polish: the same meaning.
Brazilian-Portuguese: I wonder what this would be...

Sunday, May 09, 2010

How to commit a crime and get away with it.

It was a beautiful Saturday morning in Teresina (Piaui, Brazil). The sun was shining, birds were chirping, the temperature was still relatively low (who cares anyway with AC in the car) and I was happily going to work.

The last turn, a ride under newly bult bridge and there it was, waiting for me... Various red and white cones narrowing the passage of the road, directing cars into a narrow part where few nice men in khaki uniforms were kindly pointing vehicles to stop. The traffic control police.

A wave of heat went through my body in my air conditioned car. Naaaaah... Why so scared... The car is new, papers in order, no worries. I relaxed a bit and with a smile opened the window handing in my licence and car papers. The police officer had a look at the documents, went around the car and finally spoke to me: “Madame, your driving licence has expired 3 months ago”. I didn’t understand at first and I was looking innocently at the guy. “Excuse me?” My green eyes met a hard dark-eyed stare. The man patiently repeated his statement. In moments of distress my speaking skills tend to disappear and Portuguese vocabulary gets terribly rudimental, so the result of my explanation was rather poor. The police officer just looked at me, smiled and said: “I don’t like to let people drive without a valid driving licence, but I’ll make an exception. Just make sure you validate your papers asap”. I could start breathing again, coming back to my normal colour.

When I finally got to work I found out I could have been heavily fined, had my car detained and driving licence taken.

What saved me that day? I believe it was my blonde hair and green eyes which are unusual here. After all in the kingdom of blind one-eyed is a king. Who would fine a king...