Monday, June 7, 2010

Cross cultural flirting

For the last 10 days a friend from Thailand was visiting... and then just yesterday we had this interaction:

N. (Thai girl): Why do Brazilians look away when you look at them?
Me: What do you mean?
N: If there is someone staring at me and I stare back they divert their gaze...
Me: Well, in Brazil staring is considered very rude. So if someone is looking at you and you realize they will quickly look elsewhere. If they insist on looking at you and you look back it is considered flirting (when the other party is actually someone you'd be interested in... old ladies staring at you does not count as flirting though).
N: Really? I think I have flirted with over 10 guys so far!!

Later in the evening when N., A. and I are at a party:
N leans over to me: I think that, by Brazilian standards, a guy is flirting with me...

Less than 2 minutes later the guy walks over and is indeed all over N. She has a bfriend though, so the Brazilian had no luck, despite all his attempts. Guess N learned quickly!

And this is also funnier because I am pretty shy and could never get myself to look back at any guy that looked at me. And now she just came over for 10 days and got the hang of it really quick! Guess being Asian and used to staring helped :D


Today we got back from a long weekend out of town. We went to the colonial town of Ouro Preto, in the inland state of Minas Gerais. We had a great time there... but suddenly I realized that time is flying!!

So here is our schedule for the Brazilian time...
June 7th - Travel to the Amazon for work
June 10th - Travel to Brasília for work
June 12th - Meet A. in Brasília and stay until next day
June 13th - 15th - Finalize work and pack up the apartment in Rio
June 16th - Head to Piracicaba (where my mom lives and where Brazilian wedding will take place)
June 19th - Wedding!
June 20th - Head out traveling with a couple of friends for a week
June 26th - Drop friends off at airport in São Paulo
June 28th 1am - Flight to India!

Quite crazy... let's see how I make it to Hyderabad!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Grocery shopping: finding what you want

One of the best things of living close to downtown in Rio is that everything is walking distance. After several years in the US, this is quite refreshing and not owning a car feels liberating!

Until you need to go grocery shopping... I mean, there are 2 grocery shops within 10 minutes walk from our apartment, but they are small and cluttered. For their size they carry an amazing assortment of goods, and sometimes I wonder how they make it fit. But the problem is that you never know what you might (or not) find there. Fresh groceries usually arrive one day a week, so salad is usually unavailable for 2 days prior to a new delivery for example.

Usually cooking is planned at home, and when at the grocery shop things have to be adapted or completely changed because some ingredient or other is not available that day. At first this lead to some interesting interactions with the clerks: "I swear I saw the tahini right here yesterday!". And while the "disappearing" goods were somewhat exotic, I understood that they could carry a low stock on it and therefore if 2 people decided to buy it on the same day they might not have any left for the next customer. 

But then yesterday I wanted to buy chickpeas... nothing uncommon for Brazilian cooking (although most of it is imported from other countries) and I had had no problem finding it last week. Grocery store #1 did not have it... At grocery store #2 I asked for chickpeas and the guy looked at me and said: "Ah, that's a brand of black beans, right?". WTF?? Conclusion: no channa masala for dinner...

Any shopping mishaps lately? Or while traveling?

PS- Carrefour, Sam's Club and even Wal Mart have stores here in Rio... just that these stores are usually placed in the outskirts of the city, where people drive to and therefore can take more home than what they can carry.