Wednesday, August 04, 2010


Here was my night out in São Paulo in the local lingo, more or less.

We went to go balada and came home at madrugada. Balada expansively refers to going out, dancing, drinking, clubbing, having fun and everything in between. Madrugada is an undefined time on the clock that refers to the wee hours of the morning when you stumble home half-consciously.

In preparing for balada I dressed up to the nines in a little black dress. Coming out from my room I was accosted by my host’s brother’s fiancé. She took the hem of my knee-length dress and reprimanded me, saying “Teez!! I will cut all your skirts! They are all too long!”

Her fiancé came out and rescued me by the arm. Only to draw me aside and teach me a song I should be singing tonight to impress people. It started along the lines of “If you think that chachaça is water, cachaça is not water, no.” Cachaça is the national Brazilian liquor that is quite deliciously lethal. The tune was catchy and sure enough, I was an instant hit.

We hopped three different places and were enthusiastically thirsty. When we had ordered enough to sufficiently be categorized as “a lot”, we got ourselves a saidera, which is the free round that bar-owners always give to good customers as a token of appreciation. I became bebada, which happens when you have too much to drink. And the next day I had a ressaca, which happens when you wake up after having too much to drink. When I informed my host’s parents of my ressaca in the morning they laughed happily.

In order to cure this ressaca the traditional way, my friends took me to Mercado Municipal, the municipal market, for breakfast. We started our late day drinking Chopp, a smooth light beer with froth like no other froth on earth. A little bit suspiciously, the more I drank my Chopp the more my ressaca faded. But the point is, how can you not love a country where people drink beer at the market for breakfast to cure hangovers?

I felt ready for anything. Including the hot fresh bolinha de bacalhau which came shortly to our table. A deep-fried bread-crumbed crispy heavenly something stuffed with shredded bacalhau fish and drizzled with a zing of limão juice.

Afterwards my host took me to see the symphony orchestra at Sala São Paulo. We carried a red plastic bag full of passion fruit and mangoes and dende oil we bought at the market, into the elegant concert hall. By now I actually knew how to reject plastic bags by saying, “não preciso um sacola de plastico, obrigada”. But this time the volume of our ransom was too great. My friend said, “Now is not the time to be a silly tree-hugger.” Fine.

So we hastily stuffed the plastic bags underneath our seats hoping no one would notice. But the seats were foldable ones and as soon as we stood up to give our standing ovation, pop went the seats, revealing plastic bags filled with fruit for all to see.

But no one cared. The orchestra was commanding, elegant and graceful. I love watching a swarm of violin bows dip and soar and letting myself dip and soar with them. This is as much a mental state of dipping and soaring as it is a physical one. I literally sit in my seat and something goes up and down, it could by my foot, or my head, or my general happiness. As an added bonus they played Villa Lobos’ compositions. Oh!

By this time I was absolutely content. The balada, so to speak, lasted deliciously longer than I expected. I was feeling very lucky about my life in general.

The Brazilians would say, with this charmingly nonsensical phrase they use to describe someone who is lucky: Ela nasceu com abunda virada para a lua ~ She was born with her butt facing the moon.

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