Friday, 29 April 2011

A fruit a day keeps the doctor away

The huge variety of fruit is one of the things you first notice when you arrive in Brazil. Umbú, Cajá, Pitanga, Acerola, Graviola, Caju.. the list is endless…

And learning all the names is a challenge I am yet to overcome and which is made more difficult by the fact that many simply don’t exist elsewhere or there is no name in English. Fortunately you don’t need to know the name or the pronunciation in order to eat them so with the honourable aim of vocabulary building I have been devouring fruit every day at breakfast. Here’s a picture of my breakfast plate which features the following fruit:

Caqui (looks a bit like a tomato, I am told we call it the Japanese Persimon)
Carambola (Starfruit)
Kiwi (this one is easy!)
Mamao (Papaya)

Fruit salad in São Paulo, Brazil

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Cute Words in Brazilian Portuguese Part I

Cute words in portuguese
As my command, if you permit me such a verb, of Brazilian Portuguese improves I am starting to enjoy the subtleties and nuances of the language. One of the fun things about Brazilian Portuguese versus Portuguese Portuguese is the very direct and pragmatic way in which the language is adapted. New words are created at ease with little worry about the fit with traditional Portuguese resulting in very cute combo words such as the ones below:

Revista = Magazine SO Revistaria = Kiosk/Newsagents
Similarly Bicicleta = bicycle SO Bicletario = Bikeshed
Absorver = to absorb SO Absorvente  = Sanitary Towel
Café = coffee, Manha = morning SO Café da Manha = Breakfast
My favourite: Moça = girl SO Aeromoça = Stewardess! Brilliant! 

ps. Personally, I am all in favour of making new words even if the purists say the existing ones suffice. Language is alive and kicking and should be constantly evolving. More cute words to come, I´m off for my morningcoffee..

Monday, 25 April 2011

The world's hardest hitting Anti-Smoking Adverts

Anti-smoking advert in Brazil

As a non-smoker who has lived the last 5 years in Spain, a country which is in the world top 10 for the number of cigarettes smoked per capita as shown in this graphic, I was pleasantly surprised by how few people seemed to smoke in São Paulo and in Brazil in general. In fact on the same WHO index it is ranked 74 out of 121 countries, well below all European countries with the exception of Norway. 

However, it seems like it hasn't always been that way and even today there is relatively high tobacco consumption amongst children in some areas. Hence, the Ministry of Health's rather aggressive no-smoking campaign which I noticed in a roadside restaurant yesterday. Originally launched in 2002, the law made it obligatory for cigarette packaging to dedicate 100% of one side to health warning images. The official images were designed to shock and they did but even so in 2004 they were made more high impact and today the images displayed in shops and packacking are from a third set of images released in 2008 which are amongst the hardest hitting I have seen anywhere in the world. Let me know what you think of them:

Anti-smoking advert in Brazil
Anti-smoking advert in Brazil
Anti-smoking advert in Brazil
Anti-smoking advert in Brazil

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Amazing 6D cinema in Guaruja

Whilst at the beach at Guaruja (São Paulo state) I wandered into a local market and observed that 3D cinema is in fact old hat, the big hit now is 6D films. I never new Brazil was so advanced in cinematic production but since this discovery I will be blogging from completely new dimensions so be ready for some mind-bending entries... 

6D cinema advertised in Guarujá, São Paulo

Friday, 22 April 2011

Getting around the no-advertising law in São Paulo

If sandwich man advertising were mentioned to you, you would probably think of a nineteenth century man in a sandwichboard somewhere on the main shopping streets of Paris, London or New York. A few still exist but are a dying species due to the development of far more efficient ways to target pedestrians and drivers. In Brazil, however, the recent changes to legislation which restrict billboard, hoardings and street advertising means the sandwich people are back! 

At first I was very surprised to see so many people at roundabouts and intersections holding up signs but it seems that by exploiting the abundance of cheap unqualified labour, many companies work around the law and continue to advertise by employing people to stand on the streets and hold up their adverts. Presumably as they are not fixed (the person goes home at the end of the working day and takes the sign with them) they don´t legally count as billboards…

Below are some of the “human directionals”, to use a terrible advertising word, I have seen since I got to São Paulo two weeks ago. As you can see, sometimes they are dressed in corporate colours too:

Example of sandwich advertising in São Paulo

Example of people carrying advertising in São Paulo

Example of human advertising boards in São Paulo

Friday, 15 April 2011

O Clone (The Clone)

O Clone

I was having lunch in a canteen style neighbourhood restaurant the other day and I noticed there was a telenovela on the TV so I asked which one it was.  It turns out it was a re-run of O Clone, an all time classic telenovela (soap opera) based in Morocco. The first series’ plot is exceedingly complicated and I struggle to remember it all but in case you are thinking it’s a strange name to give to a soap opera, think again. One of the lead brazilian portuguese-speaking arab characters (oh, yes!) is cloned after his death when a close friend clandestinely inseminates Deusa, a lower-middle class woman, with some sort of human cell material derived from one of the other characters! And thus a new character is born who thanks to the introduction of a 10 year timelapse takes a key role in the second series. Great stuff.

If you are already hooked see below for a couple of clips from the series, it’s emotional stuff. So much so, it was dubbed and also became a huge hit in non-portuguese speaking South America and apparently arabic phrases were incorporated into the local language amongst followers of the series, quite an anthropological curiosity. One guy who was not so happy was the Morrocan ambassador to Brazil who apparently didn´t appreciate the stereotypical image portrayed of his nation, no idea why he thinks that….

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Drive thru banking and churching

Drive thru banking
Not only has extremely high traffic levels and lack of parking caused a helicoptor boom in the city, it has also produced some interesting product innovation such as drive-through banking (so you don´t have to park to get out and use a cash point). Bradesco  has 10 such facilities in and around São Paulo - it's certainly not going to help the city smog levels but it's an interesting way to avoid the horrors of parking in São Paulo. I'm told it's been around for years in the US but never seen one in Europe before...

And if that seems kind of boring how about drive-through churches? Yes, churches! This is a very spritiual country and apparently at peak prayer times there's a lot of congestion around templo da Vila Mariana (southern São Paulo) so they launched a drive-thru service! And for those of you who speak Portuguese this is what the local pastor from Igreja Universal (IURD) has to say:

                        "O propósito do pastor Osvaldo Volpini, o responsável pelo lugar, 
                        é atrair quem esteja parado no trânsito e necessite de um apoio 
                        espiritual de emergência."

                        "Tão rápido quanto uma loja de fast food, um pastor do drive-thru 
                        entrega ao motorista um folheto com os horários dos cultos, 
                        faz uma oração e um pedido de oferta à igreja. Coisa de cinco minutos."

I like his business-focused mind. Maybe I'll hire him...

Drive thru Church

It's not just Pastor Volpini these guys from IURD are every advanced - they've got a hallelujah iphone app and an integrated shopping channel on their website. I'm definitely going to see if some of them want to switch businesses...

Helicoptor Overload

helicoptor flies over são paulo

I don´t even have to look out of the window, I can hear them. The rhythmic sound of the blades chopping up the air outside fade in and out so regularly I am already becoming oblivious. Low flying helicopters are everywhere! When you´re at street level and buried beneath the skyscraper forrest they´re not so noticeable but get a bit of altitude and you it’s a chopper spotter’s dream!

I read this week that the posh end of Vila Olimpia around Rua Funchal which is one of the areas we are looking at renting out an office has more heliports than bus stops. Just a statistic of course but stop and think about that, a small segment of a business neighbourhood has 25 heliports alone!  Most of these buildings were built in the 90s already with heliports on top so it’s not exactly a new phenomena.

By the way some people call this area Vale do Silício paulistano (Paulistano Silicon Valley) because Google, Microsoft, Intel, Symantec etc all built their offices there.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Espresso with lime (café com limão)

Coffee with lime

It seems that some restaurants put a series of optional extras on your espresso saucer: cinammon, lime, cane sugar lumps etc. I was very impressed and being an open minded sort of guy I thought I´d throw everything in and see what happens.. it definitely hits you a little harder than your average coffee but in future I think I´ll save the limes for the Caipirinhas!!!
ps. Has anyone seen the coffee and lime combo before?
pps. Be warned this is what happens to Brazilians when they mix cachaça, coffee, sugar and lime

Sunday, 10 April 2011

I gotta limbo feeling

lim·bo 1  (lmb)
n. pl. lim·bos
1. often Limbo Roman Catholic Church The abode of unbaptized but innocent or righteous souls, as those of infants or virtuous individuals who lived before the coming of Christ.
2. A region or condition of oblivion or neglect: Management kept her promotion in limbo for months.
3. A state or place of confinement.
4. An intermediate place or state.

This morning two strange things happened. Firstly I woke up at 07:30am with no help from my alarm clock, something I very rarely do. Secondly (and possibly a direct consequence of the first) I remembered my dream, something I even more rarely do . And the strange or not so strange thing is I actually dreamt I was still in Madrid so my unconscious brain must be in denial about the reality of living in a hotel room in São Paulo in a world of limbo, no house there, no house here, half my belongings with me, the other half still to be shipped, and a bodyclock which is stuck half way between two time zones. Taking a long haul flight and arriving just before a weekend means most of what I´ve done since arriving has been eating, drinking and resting, the closest feeling I know is being on holiday except this time your friends missed the flight and there´s no flight back! Below is another slightly more exciting example of extreme limbo

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Radio calling on your mobile?

I landed at 5:15am which means yesterday wasn´t quite my first full day in São Paulo but it definitely felt like it. The old memories of Brazil came flooding back every time I looked out of the window, spoke to a local or had some food and I remembered why I chose to come here. But the biggest surprise of the day was when I went to try and buy a mobile phone. They started talking to me about radio calls (conexão direita) which completely threw me (radio signal yes, but radio calls?!!) It turns out that the operator, in this case Nextel, has a separate network on a proprietary frequency which enables handset to handset radio calls. It also enables multiple handset calls at low cost. I haven´t tried it yet but it seems it is hugely popular in Brazil due to it being very cheap to use and works well in places like São Paulo. The most similar product you may know is the Walkie Talkie but  apparently unlike Walkie Talkies the conexão direita works long distance as it combines radio signals with the cell phone network. Pretty smart!

Obviously I figured all this out later so there I am in the shop, completely confused as to why there are 2 ways to call someone and 2 different tariffs! I explained to them this was for me a brand new technology that I have never seen before anywhere in Europe and the guy responded that it´s new in Brazil too, about 10 years old he says!!

Anyway here’s the latest Nextel campaign featuring Neymar (the guy’s becoming a huge media icon):

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Expectations are low

Four hours before my flight and despite our vast combined knowledge of Google search functionality my boss and I have unsuccessfully found a short term apartment rental option in central São Paulo and have almost failed to find any accommodation at all. Consequently our humble lodgings for the first 4 days will be the Holiday Inn in Parque Anhembi. Judging by Google street view the area has few redeeming features..

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