Monthly Archives: March 2014

Imagina na copa

“Imagina na copa” – “Imagine, during the World Cup …” is currently one of the most heard & written sentences in Brazil.* Short, concise and said with a hint of resignation, it describes the current mood.

After years of strong economic growth and an increasing global popularity, culminating in the bid for the 2014 World Cup, a noticeable slow-down has set in. The World Cup, though not to blame for the situation, demonstrates that the foundation on which the development of recent years rested is still quite wobbly. The underlying weaknesses, may they be social, political or economic,  are as present as ever: mismanagement and -planning, corruption, poverty , inadequate education, inflation, etc.

The stadiums aren’t getting ready on time, infrastructure projects are delayed or cancelled altogether after the contracts went to the sons of mayors or senators. At the same time, rising bus and tomato prices** , minimum wages which don’t cover the cost of living… the list of misgivings long. The World Cup which was meant to show the new ascending, strong and self-confident Brazil is becoming more and more a demonstration – some may say the cause – of the country’s problems.

Baustelle Flughafen Sao P
Still, no need to be all that pessimistic. Instead, let’s focus on the best there is in this country. No, not the great landscapes, not the beaches, not the Samba or the Carnival, but the Brazilians themselves. They are outgoing, friendly and helpful, especially with foreigners . To spend time with family and friends, is incredibly important for Brazilians; so is good life. Above all, a good meal with carnezinho – a bit of meat (the ‘bit’ is not meant literally) – is very much appreciated, as is an evening on the beach or in a bar, with live music and sip of cool beer***

In the coming weeks, I’ll be publishing more posts about Brazil, looking at this vast, fascinating country with its sunny and less sunny sides. Mas primeiro: seja bemvindo!

Baustelle Flughafen Brasilia

* The complete translation , including what’s not said, roughly corresponds to: “Imagine only how things will work out during the World Cup if already now…”

** Prices for public transport and food are a particularly sensitive issue, especially after the protests last year during the Confederation Cup .

*** Beer is served in Brazil chilling cold (-3° C). We’ll have to clarify why separately.


A kind of starfish?

Nevermind that I think that the German word for starfish – Seestern i.e. seastar – fits much better; I have no idea if this actually is one:

Anybody out there who happens to know? If you are curious – I don’t want to make people jealous – this is where I found them:

On demand language skills

Today, I had one of those moments where I just wished not to understand other people. Of course, it’s a good sign that I understand by now almost anything or anybody when it comes to Portuguese.

But when I had to wait today in a ministry, these two people next to me… How to say this politely? I do not care what you had for dinner. And no, you don’t need to call your daughter to ask her how the pudim was she had after lunch. And no, I don’t want to know that you are accused by everybody in your family of having too many midnight snacks.  And so it went on and on and on for the entire 60 minutes waiting time…

It was one of those moments in which I longingly remember the blissful time when I would simply continue reading my book because I didn’t understand and  in which I very much wish that language skills could be momentarily suspended.

Infelizmente, não é possivel.

Why 2014 is already over in Brazil

Yep, that’s right: the year 2014 is already over. Actually, it never had a chance.

Let me explain: the year in Brazil – as in working year – starts once Carnival is over. University courses start, you get work done again, administrations function normally. Kind off…

2014 however is different. First, Carnival was late – only in the first week of March and as it lasts till Wednesday, people spent the remainder of the week on the beach or recovering from hangover. So technically, the year should have started on March 10th.

Only now is the perfect moment to strike (a greve). The federal police is striking and the post, the workers in the harbors, train conductors and hospital workers are joining them in one part of the country or another. Striking – you have to admit it – is an excellent way to spent the time till the Easter holidays in April.

After Easter, it’s already time to prepare a copa – the World cup. Nobody of the right mind down here is expecting to get any kind of work done during the world cup. The days a seleção – the Brazilian team – plays have already been declared public holidays. For all other games, the city in which they are played can also declare a public holiday.

Then comes the winter holidays and afterwards it’s already time for the general elections in October, during which Brazilians are called to vote for the members of parliament in the states and the federal state, senators, governors and of course, the president.

Till the newly or re-elected governments really take effect – fim do ano – end of the year which starts right on time the 24th of December and lasts till Carnival 2015. Or more precisely the Monday thereafter.

I’ll let you do the count.