A Travellerspoint blog

Life is a Telenovela

overcast 18 °C

Well, I promised the next entry would be less heavy... Here comes soap! I just had dinner in a great little Japanese restaurant in Liberdade, São Paulo's Japantown (São Paulo has the world's largest Japanese population outside of Japan.) Next to me at the counter where I was eating my yakissoba a Japanese man who spoke no Portuguese but was apparently visiting his Brazilojapanese relatives sneezed for a full ten minutes, which made everybody in the place laugh. Full blast on the TV, the telenovela (soap) Páginas da Vida (Pages of Life) was on. There was a lot of emotion as one of the main characters had apparently become paralyzed, but when the (female) doctor massaged his legs, slowly working her way upward towards his thighs, he got his feeling back, and all the characters cried.
Soon though, the real drama was happening in the restaurant. On my left, a girl who was meeting her boyfriend at the restaurant was getting increasingly worked up and after a while she was inconsolable. This was happening right next to my yakissoba, which I still managed to eat (with chopsticks.) Anyway, I suppose you had to be there. Or maybe this scene needs Bret Easton Ellis. More later!

Posted by Alex-H 16:38 Archived in Brazil Tagged postcards Comments (0)

Baby, Baby

You Must Try The New Ice-Cream Flavour

Brazilophiles will instantly recognize the title of this blog as a line from Baby, a song by Caetano Veloso, made famous by the 70s psychedelic rock outfit Os Mutantes.
Baby is all about appreciating beauty in ordinary things around you (You know, you must take a look at the new land / the swimming pool and / the tits of your friend / the dirt in my hand) It also invites the listener to 'try the new ice-cream flavour'.

Brazil is the new ice-cream flavour.


This is a cajú, not to be confused with the cajá, which is a completely different fruit with a much blander taste. The cajú is the fruit that grows underneath the good old cashew nut (recognize it there on top of the fruit?)
While you can get cashew nuts just about anywhere, I have yet to come across the fruit anywhere outside of Brazil. The same goes for the cajá, the acerola (cherry-like), the ugly, but tasty graviola, the bizarre cupuaçu (it tastes of hospitals) or the purple nectar-of-the-gods called açaí.
The point of this fruity analogy is that Brazil is a parallel universe that the rest of the world is (still) pretty much unaware of. It is also a country about to (finally) leave its mark on the world in a big way.

Brazil's 180 million people inhabit a country that is exactly the same size as the United States of America. The other big European adventure in the New World, the other melting pot, Brazil is in a way a perfect mirror image of the U.S.A.

Brazil has always been something of a sleeping giant. Great possibilities... but no cigar. All that has been rapidly changing, though. I went to Brazil for the first time in 2000 (and again in 2003 and early 2006) and it is clear that changes are afoot that are not unlike the changes that happened in Ireland in the 1990s, the early years of the Celtic Tiger.

Lula, as Brazil's recently (last October) re-elected President is affectionately known, claims that in 10 years time, Brazil will no longer be a developing country - it will be a developed country, like Ireland, The Netherlands, or indeed the mirror image, the U.S.A.

Who knows what will happen next. For one thing, we could all be watching Brazilian telenovelas (soap-operas) very soon, or practice capoeira like we practice yoga (some of us already are :) ) Brazil's influence on the world as an awakening superpower is likely to be cultural (and economic) rather than politcal or military. Brazil offers a fresh look at life, a new philosophy, a new ice-cream flavour. And believe me, it beats Cookies 'n' Cream.

Check back soon for more. A less philosophical piece next time, I promise... but I had to explain the title somehow!


Posted by Alex-H 02:00 Comments (0)

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