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The Most Uncomfortable Part (For Me) about Life in São Paulo

Late last year I wrote the post, ‘As a foreigner living in Brazil right now, should I be thinking of leaving?’ I did this because:

  • I wanted to give, what I consider to be, an honest reflection of my time here.
  • I felt that I needed to answer why, despite Brazil going through tough times, I am still here.

I was also motivated because, well…I guess I’m used to describing what impresses me most about my time in this concrete jungle. I find that living in Brazil is fun, but it isn’t always easy – and I wanted to make sure What About São Paulo doesn’t pretend otherwise. You see, I love Brazil, particularly this city of São Paulo. It has really got under my skin, and I really wouldn’t want to be living anywhere else right now. But this isn’t to say that I am enamoured with every aspect of life here.

As I will explain in this post, it isn’t all pretty.

andrewcreelmancoverThe following is an excerpt from  my bestselling ebook; Brazil: Life after the Honeymoon Period. If you are reading this blog post between Monday 3rd April 2017 and Friday 7th April 2017….I’m making this book available to download for FREE. That’s right, it’s totally free for Kindle users. Actually, you don’t even need a Kindle to read a copy; you can download the Kindle app onto most computers, laptops, iphones and smart phones.

All I ask in return is that when you’ve finished reading, you leave a review of it on Amazon.

Reassessing how ‘normal’ poverty has become

I’d say that the most challenging aspect to life here doesn’t come from trying to figure out Brazilian culture. Nor does it come from the sort of things that concern a number of Brazilians I know; like the latest currency exchange rates or corruption scandals. For me, it comes from seeing poor people on a near daily basis on the streets.

I have to admit that this can be an uncomfortable experience. Or perhaps it would be more accurate for me to say: it used to be. In order to adapt to my surroundings I know I’ve hardened to seeing these people, but I also know that I’ve had to.

Some good friends of mine from the UK came to visit a few years back and one evening we found ourselves in the unenviable position of needing to use the metro during rush hour. As we waited in line to pass through the turnstiles, out the corner of my eye I saw a guy sitting on a skateboard. He had no legs and was using one of his swollen hands to pull himself along the floor. The other was stretched out in the direction of the passing commuters as he begged for change. My friend gasped as soon as she laid eyes on him before grabbing my arm and looking back at me.

“Oh my God! Have you seen that guy?”

I had, of course, but I’d become used to seeing this sort of thing on a daily basis I wasn’t nearly as shocked by it as she was. So I looked back over at him and then surprised myself by doing something entirely for her benefit. I forced out an expression of sympathy.

I was clearly a lot more detached from what I was seeing than her. Recognising this instantly made me feel uneasy. What really struck me as I considered this afterwards was that I would probably have found it equally as shocking as her before moving here.

There are a lot of people in this city in desperate need of help, and as cold as this might sound, the disabled guy we saw on the skateboard was just one of many. I understand poverty and homelessness are problems around the world and not issues exclusive to São Paulo or Brazil, yet for me, they weren’t things I’d been confronted with before moving here.

Resultado de imagem para sao paulo homeless

Photo credit: http://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/

I actually feel deeply uncomfortable writing these words, but I admit that I rarely allow seeing such deprived people to trouble my consciousness nowadays. They have almost become like ghosts to me, even when they’re stretching their arms out in my direction begging for change. I just don’t allow myself to see them. When I stop for a moment to think about this, I recognise I don’t like the way that I’m turning a blind eye to their suffering.

“But you can’t help everyone, Andrew” reasoned one of my Brazilian friends when I once brought the subject up. “If you give money to everyone who needs it, you will become poor too.”

This might be what I wanted to hear, but it doesn’t change the fact that I now think nothing to walking past desperate people on a daily basis without even pausing for thought. Again, I don’t wish to sound overly negative about the country I’ve come to call home. I love Brazil, but I think it’s important to write honestly about one of the darker sides to life here.

If you live in São Paulo, do you agree with this? What is it about this city that makes you feel uncomfortable?

Brazil: Life After the Honeymoon Period – The Blurb

“Do you want to die?” The thief screamed. “Do you want to die?” He repeated, and as Andrew stared down the barrel of the gun, time slowed down, the air around him became still, and he was no longer aware of anything else happening around him. This was when the severity of what could happen in the next few seconds really hit home. He’d managed to avoid being robbed for a number of years, but not this time.

Brazil: Life after the Honeymoon Period is a memoir about Andrew’s life as a foreigner living in Brazil. He arrived here when the country’s economy was the darling of the developing world and was strong enough to elevate millions into the middle classes. But times were changing, inflation was rising, and a recession was looming. If you’ve ever wondered what it is like to live in a country in the midst of mass nationwide protests, this is the book for you.

Of course, life here over the last few years wasn’t always so intense. Within the book, a number of other questions are also addressed, such as: What was it like to be in the country during the World Cup? What happened at the biggest gay pride parade in the world? Who is this intriguing celebrity – famous simply for having an ass shaped like a watermelon? How possible is it to work as a teacher in Brazil during an economic downturn? And how the hell did Andrew unexpectedly end up being linked, by the world’s media, to São Paulo’s Osama Bin Laden bar?

Where his first memoir Trying to Understand Brazilian Culture was an interpretation of Brazilian culture from a very naïve and unprepared perspective, this follow-up is an exploration of life in the country through a more familiar set of eyes.

Times were changing, and things were about to get very interesting…in more ways than one.

You can pick up your copy at Amazon Brazil by clicking here, Amazon in the US by clicking here and Amazon UK here.

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