My morning routine highlighted an interesting thing I’ve discovered about Brazilian construction standards: the internal courtyard. In many buildings, including my hotel, certain parts of the apartment face an internal yard, which allows Brazilians to be collectivistic even in their most private moments. As I was brushing my teeth this morning, the sounds of music came into my bathroom from its window, which is facing the internal courtyard. One of the guests was singing in the shower. Just now, as I am writing these lines, another neighbor’s whistling is keeping me company in my solitary evening (kitchen window is also facing the same courtyard).
This morning also reminded me of a very famous Israeli poem, “Dira Lehaskir” (Apartment to rent), which goes through the apartments in one particular building and lists all the different neighbors… which also reminded me of a Russian poem about 44 birds that lived in one apartment (one was a dishwasher, another a housewife, another a cook, etc. etc.).
Sometimes it feels like all these neighbors are like these loud birds that live inside my own apartment..
Back to my point from a few posts ago, it was once again proved that there is something about me that inspires confidence. Today, on the train back home, I was reading my book and minding my own business, looking as anti-social as ever. In short, my standard public transport look. Then the guy next to me asked me how many stops is it to the one he needed to go to. I replied quickly, trying to minimize the amount of words I use, and thus the potential of detecting my foreign accent. Of course, this attempt failed. The guy started asking where I am from, and what am I doing here. Again, I tried to keep my answers short, so that I don’t have to discuss the story of my life on a public train. Based on my previous experience, I thought that perhaps I get into long discussions because I am too much of a cooperative conversation partner and if I just nod and not say anything, people will give up. NOT SO.
Without me asking, the guy decided to tell me the story of HIS life. He used to live in Botafogo. He is dentist for people with special needs. His son is deaf but studied 2 degrees and now is working in whatever. He followed with the history of special needs dentistry in Brazil, etc. etc. Thankfully, his stop came quickly and he got off the train (not before telling me to add him on Orkut). I feel bad, but at 8pm, after a full day of work, the last thing I want to do is be someone’s sounding board. I think I really need to work more on my anti-social expression.
Speaking of work. Today I was also grateful for Brazilian’s lack of concert rules, when browsing my phone helped me escape the task of patiently seating through a 2 hrs presentation with never ending Q&A, all in Portuguese. I either have to perfect my Portuguese, or download more interesting apps for my phone. I also could imagine how corporate America used to be in the 1960’s, when today’s speaker was explaining how to incorporate into the company’s strategy concepts from MGMT 101 , to the great awe of the guests present. Corporate Brazil seems to be a gold mine for the top american consulting firms. This is an interesting opportunity….