Friday, August 19, 2011

Incognito or not.

Our situation in Brazil has been quite funny.

At my job I work with mostly internationals, speaking Spanish and English more than Portuguese. After lunch with a few colleagues the other day, when I was explaining about ids and other documents in Brazil one of them asked me (in English):
"And how do you know all this?" she asked.
"I'm Brazilian and my husband is Indian, so we've had to navigate the maze a bit..." I replied.
"Oh... I guess I made the mistake of assuming you are American.". 
Yup, she did. 

Then yesterday when I was calling some language classes to ask (in Portuguese) about Portuguese classes for A:
"I would like to know the time of the classes..."
The lady replies: "It depends on the level, I guess yours is advanced?"
I would have liked to blurt out: "As advanced as yours, are you going to be taking them as well??" What the hell? Portuguese in my native language!

And in the mean time, as long as A. does not open his mouth he is taken to be Brazilian. People don't quite know which part of the country he comes from but he's been making up jokes about coming from some faraway place in the Amazon that most Brazilians have not heard of, just to crack up after the second sentence. 

I guess it all goes back to how to define fitting in. I would definitely like to be recognized as a local. But on the other hand, as A. has been experiencing, Brazilians are very friendly towards foreigners, so at least there is no negative in being taken for a gringa


  1. Identities can be very confusing, and getting more so all the time. Of course, as a Brazilian, you are an American. But let's not confuse the issue even more ;)

  2. Hi Miss Footloose!
    Just came back from commenting on your blog.
    I've tried to argue the "American" case before and for a while I was defensive about it (meaning aren't people from all Americas American??) but I've given up... But still up for a good debate over beer :)

  3. Good to see you back! As usual, I'm constantly amazed by both of your journeys across the globe!

    ~ Krishanu

  4. Hi Krishanu,
    Good to see you around here!