Thursday, December 06, 2007

Some videos from Brazil

Football: one, two, three

Forro (a type of music/dance): one, two

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Last thoughts about Brazil

I’m not sure if I can put what I saw about the culture into words. You really have to experience it. The thing about Brazil that really jumped out for me was the people and how they live life. People just seem happy, not happy because of being contempt, but happy from having fun. Brazilians know how to have fun. They are also laid back and fluid. Little planning happens, but things somehow manage to work out at the end. Things are not organized. And it’s not rude to back out from earlier ideas just because you no longer feel like doing something. Maybe they’ve found the right balance. It’s silly that we send out emails days before, make dinner reservations at such exact times with an exact headcount, and do things we don’t feel like because we committed to them days before.

The culture in Brazil is also different from Asian cultures that I’m used to in a big way. Most of those places have a strong sense of obligation, various kinds of formality, and many implicit forms of expectations from others, all of which can often result in stress and unhappiness. I didn’t find those in Brazil. People are warm and friendly, yet relaxed like Europeans when it comes to social situations. People are friendly and help you, but they are not overly hospitable to make themselves or you uncomfortable. I have never seen such warm friendly people with relaxed space between them. I think it’s the best of both worlds.

People generally love to dance and party. My favorite was a woman in her 40’s who told me that she goes dancing 3 times a week: once with her husband, once with her girlfriends, and once alone. Of course, this is only possible since people have maids at home who take care of kids. Not everyone is a party animal. I met my fair share of people who like to go home early and just chill. But unlike here, it’s a choice they make and not one made for them by some silly rule that close down places.

Finally, Brazil – like the US – is a country full of immigrants with a sad history of slavery. But unlike the US, there are no racial boundaries today (there is still a class division based on money and education, but that is universal). Brazil is a real melting pot. And most people share the same culture, food, and music. It’s not like the US where different groups of people watch different TV shows and often live in segregated neighborhoods. I can’t describe what a typical Brazilian looks like. They have a lot of diversity in their features and color, mainly because so many have mixed heritage.

Enough from me. Go visit and see for yourself.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Futbol Pilgrimage and Pictures

I had a chance to watch one football game in Brazil. The game was originally scheduled to be in the Maracana (the largest stadium in the world). But the Police had a concert so the game was moved to a smaller stadium. I reached the stadium an hour before. The ticket was about $7 for the best seats. There was live samba music outside and inside the stadium. And people were singing samba songs throughout the entire game. About a third of the people were dancing. The game was an exciting 3-0 victory. The experience was amazing. The energy level was unbelievable. There was a trophy museum for the team. Some of them went as far back as 1915. I’ve not seen so many trophies in my life. This is their sport. That's why they are the king of Football.

I met a girl from Belgium at the game. She is a 767 pilot at the age of 26! She started taking flying lessons at the age of 17 before she was able to drive. So her mom had to drive her to the airport for her to fly. Irony! The two of us visited the Maracana the next day. We got a little lost, went around the stadium, jumped over a construction site, went down a fence, and found ourselves on the field! A few people were preparing for the Police concert. Finally, somebody approached us and told us that we should not be here on the field and asked us to leave. He tried to sell us VIP tickets to the concert with a backstage pass. We later found the Futbol Museum.

See the photo gallery below. There are a few short videos to give you a sense of what it was like.