I’ve got some great friends. Some older, some newer. I’m going to the Catholic University today, with one of my very new friends who teaches there. I might try to meet someone from the Computer Science dept (Informatica), but will probably just have lunch and a wander. Apparently the food there is great. It’s one of those eat as much as you like buffets for around £2.
Had a problem with a cheeky bastard on the plane and was almost arrested, but luckily I had the back up of a bunch of people (fleeting friends) who had witnessed it. To summarise: shitty plane (TAM), limited leg room, he was in front of me and immediately as he sat put his chair all the way back and sometimes I would move and slightly touch his chair. I’m sure his girlfriend had something to do with it (concierge psychology). He was constantly pandering to her whims. She wasn’t even pretty. About 20 mins before landing he decided to say to me: “voçê é muito folgado“, which I now understand as “you’re taking the piss”. I asked him why and he just kept repeating “çê é folgado“. “What does it mean exactly“, I asked in Portuguese, “‘coz I ain’t doin’ anything on purpose“ and “I’m not from here so I don’t understand exactly what it means“. This triggered a response along the lines of “…I don’t know what it’s like in your country…“ (“no seu pais“) to me. I was starting to not feel welcome. A bit like the last time I went to Greece, but that, like this, was just a few isolated incidents with some assholes, similar to this one, but I won’t go into any details now, to spare some of my oldest friends any embarassment 😉
So I stared at him, while his head was turned profile to me and said, in English, “go fuck yourself“. “O qué“, he asked (“what!?“), so I repeated it for him: “go FUCK yourself“. And then things turned extremely comical, although I was quite worked up at the time and was even shaking when the plane was landing… He said he was gonna tell the stewardess. “Go on“, I said, “good“. A few minutes later he told a passing stewardess that I was “muito folgado“. She turned to me and asked me if I can hear what the gentleman is saying. I said that yes, the reason he is saying these things is because I may have touched his seat when I dared to move a bit on this 13 hour flight from Milan to São Paulo. She just smiled and left.
When we finally landed, he made a move as quickly as he could, with his little bitch of a girlfriend to the left and front of the plane. I stood where I was, but forgot my book (“The Torso“) in the seat pouch. So a lady sitting behind me pointed it out to me and then we started chatting. She explained that folgado means someone who takes up a lot of space, relaxed and sort of spread out. Ah, it’s not so bad I thought. Then others joined in, saying that that guy was the real folgado.
While queueing at passport control, the cheeky bastard who was quite a bit in front of me, told the security guard something, then turned around and pointed at me, and said, “that’s him“. The security dude was ridiculous. The questions came thick and fast: “Do you speak Portuguese?“, “Give me your passport“, “What is the purpose of your visit to Brazil?“, “Where are you going to stay?“, (answer: “Porto Alegre“), “What’s the address?” , (answer: “aaaaah…, rua vinte quatro de …“), “The NEIGHBORHOOD!?“, (answer: “Moinhos” (the poshest part of town, like saying Chelsea in London). That calmed him down a bit and we all took a deep breath.
Two ladies who had been sitting to my right and were now just in front of me in the queue, took the opportunity to get involved and help me out. They told the security nazi that I was reading my book through the whole trip and that, if anything, the people behind me kept disturbing me rather than I disturbing that guy… They said that that cheeky bastard was the real folgado. Security dude asked them if they were Brazilian, they said yes, he thanked them, gave me back my passport, I told him the same thing I had told the stewardess and he said: “Ok sir, sorry, welcome to Brazil“.
They kept me at passport control longer than usual, claiming that there was someone else with a similar name who had recently entered the country… etc. Bullshit. Then I had to step into this weird machine that blows some air while you stand there. Very very strange. After I finally got into Brazil proper it was hilarious to see cheeky bastard struggling to collect two trolleys full of baggage at the reclaim, while the girlfriend was nowhere to be seen.
The flight from Milano had been delayed by a couple of hours, so I missed my connection to Porto Alegre, together with a bunch of other people going to a bunch of other parts of the country. They put us up in a posh hotel. So posh, that when I came down for breakfast with my flip-flops on I got some strange looks. Flip flops are frowned upon in Brazil, funny that, given that havaianas are one of their biggest fashion exports. One of my friends here in Porto Alegre got told off at the school she works in for wearing them and now they have even introduced a bye law sort of thing that’s banned them, by law.
I hooked up with some of my oldest friends in São Paulo. It was great to see them. The two things everyone is talking about in Brazil at the moment are Cirque du Soleil and the story of a couple who allegedly killed their child by throwing her from a window in São Paulo.
Apparently anyone’s who’s anyone in São Paulo and Porto Alegre and will go see Cirque du Soleil despite, or maybe because of the price of the tickets (200 to 400 reais = £63 – £126). As for the other story, the most interesting fact for the contributors to this blog is that the husband, having a university education, goes to a special all comforts prison, whereas the wife goes to a common prison with drug addicts, prostitutes etc. The class system is alive and kicking in Brazil and whether you’ve got your flip-flops on when you go see Cirque du Soleil doesn’t really matter, as long as you’ve got a university education.
Went to the swimming pool yesterday. I used a friends card to get in, no problem, but on the way out I got some terrible stares. I think they’re on to me. The pool was nice. Outdoor, heated. Most of the lanes were taken by the swim team, but I had a lane entirely to myself for most of the time. But, I kept thinking, “what do I say“, if someone asks questions about my membership. The card clearly states that it’s non-transferable and I don’t look that much like my friend. Do I say it’s my card, and risk being banned and possibly getting my friend and his wife into trouble, or do I say it’s my friends and I thought I could use it, and act like I don’t speak the language and possibly get my friend and her husband into trouble… etc.
So I’ve decided to play it safe and go there with my not so old, but older than new friend and pay for a months membership, if they’ll take me as a guest. When I was last here they said that it can be done and it’ll cost 150 reais (~ £47 today, but maybe £50 tomorrow), alot of money but at least I won’t be plagued by doubts of whether I am folgado or not.