I love asking people questions. Sometimes, I wonder if this is the reason why I liked the name “Mark” so much, my little question Mark—he still doesn’t get the joke, though.
I can’t help it, I’m curious about other people’s perspective on the word, their life, tiny details I notice and can be explained so easily by someone who knows better than me, random bits of trivia and new ideas. You talk, you learn.
So, I ask questions. Where are you from, how is life, do you like living here? Most people like to talk about something—the key is to find out what they are passionate about.
I can see what Brazilians are passionate about. They love going to the beach, they like to drink, men are definitely more into butts than breasts, they seem to enjoy life, hanging out in groups, music, party, football and sports in general. This is a rather simplistic view of Brazil, almost a cliché—I know. But I haven’t been able to dig much deeper. Chatting with Brazilians isn’t easy.
Oh, people are polite, kind even. They are remarkably well-behaved when drunk (more on Carnival later…). But they are also very even and calm. They don’t complain loudly—in fact, except when they party, Brazilians aren’t loud. They aren’t particularly curious about foreigners and they seemed almost annoyed with us for not knowing stuff completely obvious to Brazilians. Occasionally, people simply repeated whatever I hadn’t understood louder, much like a cliché of the American tourist shouting in English hoping foreigners will understand the language better (hint: it doesn’t work). Brazilians didn’t even seem curious about other parts of their own country or other ways of life. Their perspective seemed to be “this is my life, my little world and I’m fine with it.”
Which is a perspective as good as any other, I guess.
Yet, I wonder how life is for Brazilians. I can see how diverse the country is—even in a city like Rio de Janeiro, a middle-class sixtysomething in Copacabana has very little in common with the sixteen-year-old kid from the favela. Just the way they coexist and occasionally meet on the beach or in the street is fascinating to me. Maybe that’s why Brazilians stick to their own world—it’s just an easier way to live without envy or resentment.
I didn’t have any long and insightful conversation with Cariocas but I observed them. Here are the people of Rio de Janeiro, a collection of candid shots taken all over the city during the week before Carnival!