February 15, 2009

I'm the Slime

I'm getting a lot of mileage out of that quick jaunt up to Ibitipoca last week.

On our way back we pulled over at a rest stop that had lots of beautiful Ipê trees blooming in front. I thought we were stopping for a quick bathroom break.


Turned out C was being sly. He knew there was a game going on - a friendly match between the Brazilian and Italian national teams. By the time I emerged from the bathroom he'd already ordered coffee, found a seat and even gotten permission to have Dharma tied to the leg of the table.


It was just a little rest stop out in the sticks. With a flat screen television. Naturally.


Brazil is usually about 5 years behind the US in the mainstreaming of technology. Sometimes more - they just enacted the law that allows you to keep your cell number if you move to a new company. Flat screens have been around for a while, but in the last year or so they have become ubiquitous. There is hardly a bar, waiting room, doctor's office, corner ice cream stand without one. There's even one in the post office.

This prevalence I'm completely convinced is firmly rooted in the country's dual obsessions with futebol (soccer) and their copycat version of Big Brother. (It's in it's 9th season. The final episode last year brought traffic to a halt on the main avenue outside of an electronics store.) You wouldn't be able to stay in business if you didn't provide unfettered access to the national past-times. This theory was further substantiated by a recent lawsuit against Casas Bahia, the large national discount furniture and electronics store.

A man bought a T.V. that turned out to be defective. I'm not sure of the exact details, but the store gave him a hard time to exchange it. He went a couple of months without a television and brought a case against the store. Nothing strange here and the judge ruled in the man's favor. But it was in the judge's official written statement of the ruling where things got squirrelly.

The judge, in awarding the man $R6000 (well beyond the cost of the television) for emotional damages, said:

"In modern life, there is no way to deny that a television, present in almost all homes, is an essential item. Without it, how would the plaintiff be able to watch the enjoyable shows like Big Brother or the National News or a game of America vs. Macaé, or principally a game of Flamengo, [a soccer team from Rio notorious for their rowdy fans] of which the plaintiff has declared himself to be a fan? If the plaintiff were a fan of Fluminense or Vasco [two other teams from Rio] having a television would not be a necessity because he would already be suffering even without one."

The judge, as it turns out, is also a fan of Flamengo.

(btw, extra credit goes to whoever can identify the source of the post title!)


Danielle said...

I wouldn't call soccer a national past-time...more of the national lifeblood. My boyfriend is the same way about soccer-- except with the Sao Paulo teams. Yesterday was apparently a big game (Corinthians vs. Sao Paulo) and we also stopped at a rest stop to watch it on our way home from his parents' house. And then of course when we get home we have to watch all of the replays and analysis and blahblahbah

Good luck with the teaching...especially with high school kids! They're like robots in both countries. Are there any adult schools around you? I get the impression that you're far away from cities.
My boyfriend's family lives close to Campinas, but we live about 5 hours northwest, in a city called Sao Jose do Rio Preto. :)

Mrs. S said...

I am SO excited to find someone in Brazil living in Minas Gerais! I came here by way for Emily (I saw a comment you left her!). If you don't mind I'll add you to my reader and read past posts! I am almost certain i will be in Ipatinga, MG very soon and I am trying to soak up as much information as possible!!

lovelydharma said...

lol! Yes, the national lifeblood. Our weekends revolve around whether or not there is a Fluminese game happening.
Actually, we don't live so far away -- it's kind of deceptive. We're in Juiz de Fora, crazy bustling city. But we have a sitío about two hours from the city and we have dreams of one day living there more than in the city.

Mrs. S! add away! It's a great adventure here, but doesn't that make life exciting. Keeps you on your toes. We can share stories about learning to be a good Brazilian housewife (lol!)