Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fellow countrymen

Today, my first day at work, I sneaked out for a long lunch break to take a look at some apartments. To see an apartment here in Brasília you need to find the apartment you like online (or call a real state agent and see if they have any in the neighborhood you want) then call them to reserve the apartment key for you, then you go to the real state office, get the key, go to the apartment, check it out and return the key. This makes for a considerable hassle since real state agencies are scattered around the city.

As I was coming back from seeing an apartment and waiting for the elevator to go to the real state agency I see a 50 something guy approaching and, without missing a beat, asks: where are you from? A question like that, from a complete stranger startled me and I wondered if it was directed to me at all. Seeing no one else I answer:
"I am going to the real state agency."
"No, I asked where you are from."
"I was born in Bahia..."
"Really? I am also from Bahia! Really? So you are my fellow statewoman! Where in Bahia are you from?"
"I was born in Alagoinhas..."
"Wow, I'm from x."
I never heard of it, but just nod on... and he takes that as a clue to go on:
"Do you know Milton Santos?"
Me, trying to minimize conversation:
"Yes." Although I had no idea who he was talking about.
"So who was he?"
S*! Caught on the spot!
"He was... He was... "
And as the guy kept waiting anxiously:
"Sorry, I don't know."
"You don't know him? Are you sure? He was a great man!"
And this goes on and on as we head into the elevator, and surprise, he gets out on the same floor as me and continues chatting while I return the keys and all the way until I head back into the elevator to go down. He wasn't nasty or too pushy...  but it did feel weird. I guess I have just lived too long in places where strangers don't look at each other in the elevator, let alone talk to them!

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