For my first post of 2014 I’ve decided to write a tongue-in-cheek account of very subtle things Brazilians excel at in comparison to us Brits. Let me know what you think!
“I know what you will say about Brazil when you get back to England” joked my Brazilian friend last year. “People will ask ‘was your favourite thing about being in Brazil….the beaches?’ and you will say ‘No!’‘What about the women?’
‘The weather?’ Then you will look at them, smile and say, ‘My favourite thing about Brazil were the lines. Like a Brazilian, now I just love waiting in lines!”
Before moving to Brazil I assumed that Brits were amazing at standing in queues, after all, it’s something we pride ourselves on. ‘Brits know how to queue’ I used to tell myself. But over here people have an unbelievably high tolerance for queues, more so than back home.
A few weeks ago I waited in line 50 minutes to get into a night club, then once inside I waited another 25 minutes in line to get some drinks tokens. After I’d bought these, I then waited 10 minutes to get served by the barman. I was then REALLY surprised when I walked over to the dance floor and found that the people there were not dancing in a line!
Why was I surprised? Because Brazilians absolutely love lines. In fact, I’m pretty sure that most of the time they join lines just for the fun of it, without knowing what is at the front.
But do you know what, it isn’t only their love of lines that raise a few eyebrows from me, it’s the amount of unchallenged pushing in that goes on in them too.
“Oh no, we wouldn’t say anything” have said many of my friends when I’ve asked them why they let people queue jump. “It’s just not worth it. I guess it’s not our way of doing things”.
Brazilians might look incredibly passionate and feisty whenever the cameras are on them during international football matches, but stick these same people in a long queue with a few people pushing in, and they’re likely to say nothing. Queues and pushers-in are like Kryptonite for Brazilians, for whatever reason they just grin and bear them.
For this reason, Brazilians are (probably) better at queuing than you are!
“Excuse me, can you take my picture?” Asked a solitary Brazilian women once when I was on holiday in Rio. Before I’d had the chance to oblige I’d been handed a camera and instructed on where I should point it.
“It’s that big button on top” this women smiled optimistically.
“Alright” I said, now focusing on the little screen in front of me. “In three…”
After hearing the beginning of the countdown this woman turned her body to a 45 degree angle and tossed her long, brown locks over her left shoulder.
A hand was then placed on her hip, showcasing five perfectly polished and preened nails.
This woman’s lips were then pursed into one hell of a pout.
After taking the picture I showed it to her and she contemplated it for a moment. She then told me she wasn’t very pleased with it (I’ve since learnt that Brazilian women are never very pleased with the first picture taken of them), and she asked me to take another.
The reason I found this so intriguing was because the women I know from back home would never dream of asking someone to take their picture and then pose like they’re on a shoot for America’s Next Top Model; let alone ask for a second like this.
In comparison, British women seem much more inhibited when it comes to having a camera in their faces, a little more awkward. Brits would probably only ask a stranger for another picture if they’d blinked or unwittingly displayed a double chin; and they definitely wouldn’t channel their inner Gisele for the shot. But women over here seem much more comfortable with having their picture taken, they really go for it!
For this reason, Brazilian women are (probably) better at having their picture taken than you!
#3 Ali G Impersonations
People in Brazil are pretty expressive, if they’re not hugging you they’re kissing you or punctuating what they’re saying with plenty of gestures. For example, if you ask any Brazilian to tell you about a time they were in a crowded place, it has been scientifically proven that they will feel compelled to do so by turning their palms up, squeezing their fingers together, relaxing them for a moment and then squeezing them together again. “It was just so busy” they will tell you…mid crab impersonation!
My favourite Brazilian gesture is not this one though, it is one Ali G made popular in the UK back in the ‘90’s. When he was pleased about something he used to hold his thumb and middle finger together, then whip his index finger back and forth to make a clicking noise. “Respect” he used to say, usually against the backdrop of a laughter track.
When the character of Ali G eventually wore thin, the public tired of this finger clicking fad and it died out.
But it was never an Ali G thing over in Brazil.
I was once in a Portuguese class when I surprised myself by being able to bust out one of the complicated sentence structures I’d been practicing the week before. “Yes Andrew” encouraged my elderly teacher, “yes!” And to show just how pleased he was, he whipped his fingers back and forth (just like Willow Smith does with her hair).
I was as mesmorised at what I was seeing as I was impressed. You see, I can’t do it. When I try it sometimes happens but I can’t do it on cue, not like a Brazilian can. And when I say ‘a Brazilian’ I am deliberately including ALL Brazilians. Male, female, young and old….I have yet to meet a Brazilian that can’t do it!
And for this reason, Brazilians are (probably) better at Ali G impersonations than you!