Only someone from the UK would move to Brazil, start a blog and then write their first post about the weather. Only someone from the UK would bother to write a sequel.
And this, I guess, doesn’t do much to challenge the depiction of us Brits as a bunch of grumps, whose approach to communicating with strangers – to whom they’d probably prefer not to have to talk to in the first place anyway – typically consists of half-hearted utterances lamenting our perennially mild and temperate climate.
Or perhaps that’s just me.
Yet, whilst we may be the weather-forecasting, small-talk champions of the world – let’s face it, there’s not much else we’re good at these days – the more time I spend in São Paulo the more I realise that we are not alone.
There are others.
For a start Brazilian football commentators seem to be more obsessed about British weather than we are. Next time you watch a Premier League game on Brazilian TV count how many times the commentators mention how cold or rainy it is – even when it’s not that cold or rainy. It’s enough to warrant some sort of drinking game.
My favourite example of this was a recent Champions League match wherein the ESPN commentator remarked upon some slight drizzle.
“And it’s 15 degrees in London, and it’s raining as usual”
Meanwhile, outside my window in São Paulo a bibilical storm was causing whole part of the city to grind to a halt with flash-floods.
“And the second half begins. It’s 15 degrees in London and it’s still raining a little.”
Indeed, just look at that drizzle.
Two things happened on Tuesday (18th) that made me think a bit about my status here in Brazil. Firstly, it was International Migrants Day, a UN ‘celebration’ which member states and NGOs are encouraged to observe through:
…the dissemination of information on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, and through the sharing of experiences and the design of actions to ensure their protection.
Secondly, with a grand total of four votes (including one each from my wife and sister-in-law), my blog was deemed worthy of an “honourable mention” on an expat blog website.
What interests me are the different connotations the words ‘(im)migrant’ and ‘expat’ have in terms of immigration. This has been something that has bothered me for a while, not only because I’m living outside the UK, but also because the issue of migration has dominated most of my adult life – both professionally and personally. For example, apart from seeing my wife be subjected to ridiculously strict immigration controls in the UK, you may also be aware that prior to moving to Brazil I worked with asylum-seekers and refugees as a social worker. Continue Reading
You may have noticed that I categorically failed to deliver the sequel to my last post – Six months in São Paulo – Part 1. Alas, travelling encroached upon my writing time and to finish it now would seem a little odd given that it’s almost nine months since I arrived in the big SP. As such, a review of what I’ve learnt might be best left until the biggy – my one year anniversary.
Besides, whilst I was appeasing my South American wanderlust (well, for a couple of months maybe), I discovered something infinitely more interesting about myself and which to share with you today.
And this great awakening is?
Well, whilst travelling I started to find myself becoming defensive of São Paulo. Yes dear reader, it seems that I may have subconsciously acquired an affection for the place, an affection that makes me defensive when other people are critical of it. Continue Reading
I think it would be difficult to ever accuse me of being jingoistic, given that I once interviewed the British National Party (BNP) in order to challenge their views on ‘race’, and that for most of my working life I’ve worked with refugees and asylum-seekers in the UK. A flag-waving nationalist I certainly am not.
Indeed, my displays of patriotism tend to be confined to pulling out my retro England football and cricket shirts when there is an important game or tournament. Of course, I also support teams that represent Britain, although I don’t own any British sports apparel as I’m pretty sure it’s definitely not cool to wear a lycra Team GB Athletics kit when you’re out and about in town.
Not sure how well this would go down in the bars of São Paulo
Nevertheless, when you live outside your country of origin, as I’ve discovered over the past six months, you inevitably compare and contrast life with that to which you are accustomed to back home. In turn, this reinforces a sense of self in which you learn very quickly just how much where you’re from does in so many ways influence who you are and how you think and act. Continue Reading