10 things you should say in Brazil

I got inspired by this little kid’s message (and brilliant marketing stunt) and decided to share my insights on how to make yourself liked more by Brazilians (which is, by the way, the only effective approach to getting anything done).

1. “Parabéns” (congrats!) – use this to compliment on every achievement, no matter how trivial it may be

2. “Que legal! Adorei!!!” (So cool! Loved it) – similar

3. “Nossa, que calor, não aguento mais” (oh my god, I can’t stand the heat anymore) – temperature records are a favorite topic of conversation. Plus Brazilians think that all gringos come from cold places so they will be happy to know you are suffering a little extra.

4. “Nossa, o transito estava horrivel” ( oh my god, the traffic was horrible) – similar to the previous one

5. Profusely apologize for arriving late and justify it by saying you became Brazilian (they find this really cute)

6. “Caraca” (dammit) – saying this in a loud and surprised voice always makes people laugh

7. Thank people for everything and anything – being polite is highly overrated here for some reason so that’s a good thing to abuse. “Eu que agradeço” (it is me who thanks you), is a good one to use as often as possible as soon as you hear any sign of “obrigado” (thank you)

8. Talk about how much you love Brazil – this one is actually easy as often we gringos appreciate more things about this country than its natives.

9. Tell people that you are an avid fan of their football team – a good strategy is to ask first and then fill in the blank in “que legal! é meu time também. Parabéns!” (So cool! It is my team too. Congrats!)

10. Share personal stories at work. Colleagues love hearing about your life and family history, even more so if you are a foreigner. Making oneself a biotype of the private life of the exotic gringos scores a lot of points and proves you aren’t “cold” (a common reading that Brazilians make of what in the States would be called “professionalism”).

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Trust or Paranoia

Ever since I have moved to Brazil, I got to accept and even appreciate many things that were very different from my previous life. I learned the language, I got used to changing plans and tardiness (which actually fit quite well my own personality), I developed a skill of understanding social queues of the very high context culture (ex: I will think about it = I am not interested/ I don’t like your idea), etc. I fully embraced the fun-loving lifestyle of the cariocas (Rio’s inhabitants).

Unfortunatelly, one thing I could never get used to and I am not sure I will ever be able to is the ability to trust people. I constantly face situations in my personal and professional life when an issue is discussed with much enthusiasm and future plans are made (aka “let’s do this project!”), and then the person simply drops off. Despite people’s best intentions, I feel that it is virtually impossible for cariocas to commit to their word. They mean well, but then they just forget about it, or simply change their mind and are too conflict avoidant to ever bother letting you know. There must be, of course, rare exceptions, but I personally never met any.

Professionally, this makes things very complicated because you have to do everything yourself if you want it to be done within a certain time frame and adhere to a specific quality standard. Or, there is an option to pay someone a very high price for his or her services, just because he or she is known for being trustworthy but even then the quality is not really guaranteed.
On a personal level, it is very hard to form deep friendships. Because “deep” is correlated with the person’s mood of the day/month.

This issue of trust has been bothering me quite a bit and I have been thinking that perhaps I’ve become paranoid until I have recently met another gringo that told me exactly the same stuff. I finally felt like I am not alone.

I am not sure how can one come out of this loop as I cannot do business in Brazil dealing only with foreigners. I also don’t believe in living in a place without being immersed in the local culture (unless it’s the USA).

Would be interesting to know if people had different experiences.

When am I moving back?

Recently, I  have increasingly been getting questions about my future plans. My landlords wrote to ask if I am planning to stay in my apartment. My mother informed me of new companies moving to their town and offering good opportunities for me to consider. My grandfather was asking me what are my future goals – Do I want to stay a manager, do I want to become a CEO of a company? Do I want to have my own company? My little brother was expressing opinions about my marriage prospects and how he and EVERYONE are worried (?!?!!). And about hundred others asked how long do I intend to stay in Brazil and where will I move next?

The answer is that I have no idea. I have created a magical world around me in this crazy country. I have more than everything to be grateful for. I live in a place where winter does not exist. I have an excellent group of friends locally – they are funny, smart, fun, supportive, open-minded and loving (you know who you are).  I also have a spread out network of similar individuals who have been visiting me constantly and sharing their time with me.  I have been meeting a slew of interesting,weird, creative, different types of people that have exposed me to crazy and innovative ideas and experiences. I cannot sleep properly most of the time, nor sit quietly for more than 5 minutes, because my head is so full of ideas and I cannot make my mind stop running. I am always running somewhere and doing something. I have my sad moments and difficult times, but those never last very long because the next good thing happens, and there is no time to mop around. Finally, I already feel at home here. I speak the language and I get the culture, and how to navigate within the local chaos and irrationality.

Getting to this point has not been easy at all and required a lot of will power and effort. So when I have to think about leaving it all behind and starting all over again. Where would I even go? I just block this train of thought completely. Plus – how can I think about trading happiness for a promise of happiness? Now, that’s crazy.

Maybe it’s something related to the excellent points brought up in What Happens When You Live Abroad? 

Who knows?

Brazilian fashion

In my rare visits to the mall, I ran into this store – featuring mannequins with the desired shape here – small waist and biggg bunda (butt). Why not, indeed?

Also found another photo in my archives of some typical gym clothes I hopefully will adopt as well some day.

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Funny things about Brazilians

I saw the below post and thought it brilliant.. What I know about Brazilians

I guess what I would add to it would be
1. Brazilians are obsessed with Disney – they all go to Orlando multiple times – and not necessarily with their kids, they dress up as Disney characters during Carnaval. They like everything with the traditional Disney characters on it.

2. Brazilians are very brand oriented. But they don’t know too many brands. For men, it would be Lacost or Polo. For women, Michael Kors, Guess and Luis Vuitton constitute the top achievement in terms of fashion.