Category Archives: N’importe quoi

Small change – big words

a little insight into the Brazilian language*…

As far as I have noticed, any noun in Brazil can be modified by adding a

  • ão – making it a ‘bigger’, or
  • inho / inha (depending on gender) – making it smaller


  • Jogão – an eventful, big game (of, let’s say, football)
  • Favorzão – a big favor
  • Favorzinho – a small favor
  • Chuvinha – fine / little rain
  • The famous cafezinho – a small / quick coffee
  • works also for chazinho – i.e. tea

Sometimes however, the meaning of the words shiftes ever so slightly when marked by such a suffix:

  • Peixão – big fish – also synonym for a woman with curves
  • Peixinho – small fish – also synonym for the boss’ favorite in the office

Beyond the meaning, comes the wish-thinking in the form of problemazinho – a little, a small problem. While grammatically, problemazão exists as well, no Brazilian would ever admit that you are just confronted with a such.

Which leaves us – last but not least – with obrigadão – a big thank you for reading!

* Technically português do Brasil as opposed to português do Portugal. Only that I have absolutely no idea about the latter since I’ve never been there.


Only in Brazil

Having traveled quite a bit – and read about it – I have come to terms with the fact that cars in some countries drive on the right side of the road and in others on the left.

English hand

What startled me however was a sign in my neighborhood that announces a sudden change from right to the left hand, or as more appropriately called here English hand – mão inglesa.

Englishly handed

Is it to check if drivers are awake? Or to see how much confusion one can possibly create? And will we ever know?

What’s the Finnish word for sunset?


Yes, I know: This joke only works in German but I couldn’t resist. Still, ‘sunset’ is an interesting concept so far up in Northern Europe. After months in Brazil, with a timely sunset at 17:30 sharp and pitch-black dark soon afterwards (yes, I’m living this close to the equator), a sunset around 22:00 and dusk past midnight had an irritating effet on our biorhythm. Namely that we woke up very early only to find that most shops, museum and tourists attractions opened not before 10:00, in some cases even 11:00 am.

This gave us however ample time to find and enjoy the best espresso of the city, if not the entire country. Having achieved this much, we spent our two and a half days in Helsinki by visiting the fort, the harbor, various markets, an open air museum and walking from one end of the city to another.

Die Gänte

Wenn Gans meets Ente, dann gibt’s Gänte.

To the right, a normal sized duck. To the left, the youngster – proof of an interspecies relationship?

Foreigners meeting abroad

Italians : outright joy combined with the immediate switch of language. If from the same region, some family link will be eventually uncovered.

Germans: Slight annoyance. Yet another German; there are so many in every freaking corner of this planet. Maybe a switch to German if nobody else is around and some friendly chatting but not necessarily so.

Belgians – Wallonian and Flemish: Irritation then enjoyable surprise. Speaking English, it is actually possible to communicate with each other and chat about beer, chocolate and the stupidity of Belgian politicians.


  • Compared to Gare de Lyon, Gare de Midi is a rather provincial and quite little station, judging from the sheer amount of people and the number of those that are running.
  • Hmmm, the smell of a pine forest after a day of rain.
  • The regret of not having a camera with me to take pictures of the may-bugs (Maikäfer, hanneton)… I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen one before.

Motivators for change

I have been thinking about this fritten revolution called for in Belgium at the celebration of the 249th day waiting for a government. Besides fries, there is obviously one other important Belgian symbol: Beer.

Even as a German, I have no problem admitting that Belgium beer is very good, especially the abbaye ones. And not only this. It even seems that beer initiated most inventions in human kind:

Beer – the origin of agriculture, the wheel, maths & writing. Who would have thought? But coming back to the real issue: Why not to make beer the national symbol, change the name of the country to Beergium and elect a beer king/queen every four years? Once you are drunk enough, language barriers won’t matter. At least this much is for sure.

Dirty laundry

Actually, not laundry and not even dirty – just the yellow bag full of paper I put out on Tuesday night, got me into trouble. Le service de la police administrative of Ixelles accuses me that I left the paper bag outside for rubbish collection on a Wednesday. As the rubbish bags are really an ugly side in the city, it is forbidden to put them outside the house outside the official collection hours.

If ever you have been to Grand Place on one of the collection days, you know that it doesn’t help an awful lot. Piles and piles of white, blue and yellow bags give Brussels a dirty, creepy, poor look. But noooo, the problem is not the bag, it’s when you put it outside. Sure thing.

Anyway, I did put the bag out on Tuesday night – during the right hours – but the rubbish wasn’t collected as it should have been on Wednesday morning. Do I still have to pay the 80 euro fine? Or am I supposed to come back from work and check? That would not surprise me at all in this city and that’s something we’ll find out soon. The email contestant les faits is sent; let’s see what answer I get.

Transparency promoted.

You don’t have to say the whole truth. 76% is enough.

Don’t be too honest. Otherwise your conscience might come and haunt you.

That’s not a good moment to tell the truth. The day after yesterday will be better.

Good bargain?

As a child, I used to be very ticklish. Also, I was able to read in the car.

Nowadays, I’m not ticklish at all and reading as much as a map will give me nausea.