I found a soul in Sao Paulo
Sao Paulo Travel Blog› entry 45 of 80 › view all entries
It is always interesting to note the subtle and not-so-obvious but strong peculiarities of any given culture / country. By the time I arrived in Sao Paulo, I was already close to completing my 2nd week in Brazil and I had time to reflect on the cultural nuancies of Sao Paulo and Brazil as a whole. However in bustling Sao Paulo, I found more than just that....
From the time I arrived in Sao Paulo till the time I reached my mate Richard's house, it was close to 2 hours. Sao Paulo is after all not just the largest city in Brazil but also the largest in the southern hemisphere. It also hosts the world's 7th largest population within an urban area.
The busy city that it is, one of the first things I noticed is the way how people commute. Yes i have seen harried people utilising the public transport networks in huge cities like Bombay, London and Sydney but those were not quite like this. The moment you navigate the 12 line complex metro system, people are literally running from one train to another.
Despite the rush hour madness the sexy people of this country never fail to find the time to kiss in the buses, in the trains of the metro system, on the street, in parks you name it.
I quickly learnt the interesting antics of hand gestures here. In Australia, New Zealand and India when you make the 'fantastic' gesture by getting your thumb and index finger to touch at the tip with the remaining 3 fingers pointed straight out; here in Brazil, it means you want to have sex for your a creating a 'hole' with your index finger and your thumb!! So one should use the thumbs up gesture to convey 'fantastic'. My mates also taught me that slapping the back of your 4 fingers of your right hand against the palm of your left hand means 'f@@king'.
Sao Paulo, despite being so busy and of course the rest of Brazil is still one of the most relaxed easy going cultures i have ever encountered. If I knew Portuguese, I would seriously consider moving here. Here people truly know how to be easy going and laid back unlike some developed cultures who think they are but by far, they are not. In Brazil, you can buy a beer and varieties of alcohol from a street / beach vendor, a corner store, a grocery shopping centre such as the equivalent of Woolworths (Australia / New Zealand) and so on.
Virtual strangers invited me to their house for drinks or / and food. They were just happy to have someone new in their company. Brazilians are one of the most hospitable people I have encountered. However I noticed the hospitality of Brazilians differs from the renowned hospitality of Asia and the Middle East. In Asia and the middle east, i feel hospitality revolves around the home whereby a host calls you over for meals with the family and to spend a few days in their house at absolutely no cost to the guest but in Brazil I noted, the hospitality revolves around taking people out and about although one should chip in a little money.
It is not uncommon to hear "Voce es Bonito / Bonita" (You are handsome / pretty) from strangers. I read and saw for myself first hand the way how latin guys hit on women. Seated at the restaurant with my couchsurfing host and his male and female friends, the boys sitting at the next table started hitting on the women at our table professing undying love and kissing their hands while they smiled sheepishly and politely replied back stating they did not believe them. Vanessa later told me they were just average in their demeanour and that other guys are way more aggressive. I read in online guides and saw first hand latin guys putting their arms around females they never met before as their first point of communication!! Here I heard there are 7 females for 1 male and 9 females for 1 male if you take into considering the number of gay men around.
Sao Paulo houses several important monuments, parks and museums. Myself, for the most part of it, being interested in neither of these, dedicated my week in Sampa to keeping it simple. I just spent time with the locals be it chilling or kayaking, tennis playing or home dos and soaking up the culture. This may be one of the busiest metropolises in the world but people always found the time to be hospitable. Richard who had hosted me while he was a student in Egypt, hosted me again with his delightful mum, here in his home city Sao Paulo and invited me yet again to stay with him. Augusto met me on 3 occasions all up; had me home for lunch and invited me to stay with him the next time I am in Sao Paulo.
Just as Tony Bennett once sang, 'I left my heart in San Francisco', I now say Sao Paulo may be one of the busiest urban centres in the world but thanks to its people, I found a soul in Sao Paulo....