You know you can master a foreign language, and are at ease with the country’s culture when you are able to eavesdrop on people’s conversation while waiting in line at say the bank, post office, supermarket or bus stop. The best is when the people talking don’t think you understand that they are talking about you, and just as you step off the bus you say something very pleasant to them in their langauge and they all think, “S**t, do you think she heard what we said about her?”
This morning I had the pleasure of eavesdropping on the conversation of two Brazilian women in front of me while I was waiting in line downtown. It was your typical conversation between two brazilian ladies. Last Night’s Novela Episode!
Novelas are Brazilian soap operas in a mini-series format. There are about 120-150 episodes, shown every night, from Monday to Saturday, over a period of about 5 to 8 months. The plots are filled with familiar themes – love, jealousy, forbidden love, reason, sanity/ insanity, differences in social class, and are mixed with more taboo themes like homosexuality, racism and urban violence. Often, the couple kissing in the first episode will be the same couple kissing in the last episode, though their relationship will endure many trials during the season.
The current ‘Must See’ novela of the moment is Caminho das Índias, or Way/Route to India which takes place over a period of 20 years and deals with beliefs and values that separate the East and the West.
I am not a regular viewer of this program, which began back in January. Having ever only watched the last fifteen minutes one night ‘just to see’, and aside from what I have read and heard in the media, I couldn’t comment on the shame of one charater, the jealousy of another, and the one we should all pity. I just smiled at the ladies as they went on chatting about the characters and exchanging feelings in regards to their actions, “my, how jealous he is!” or “oh and poor [name of character, that I didn’t quite catch], poor poor thing”, and “how she goes on!, but her jewelry is pretty”, “Yes! I saw some like that in a shop….”
Brazilian women are pretty friendly, atleast in our part of the country. If you smile, you are immediately part of the conversation and it is thus very easy to talk with complete strangers. After a while, a third lady joined the two and the conversation turned to the third lady’s children, a three year old daughter and her new little brother. The mother talked about the mild jealousy of the eldest sibling towards her little brother. She was describing something that I have seen Thibault also do. Yeah! I thought, I can share now and join in the conversation, since we all know that I have been listening the whole time. So I said, “yes! my eldest does the same thing, when he sees his little brother being held with his bottle, he wants to also crawl in my lap to have a bottle.” So we went on about this concern for a few minutes, and before you knew it, it was the ladies’ turn in line. They took care of what business they had and when they left, as Brazilian women often do, they each said “chao” to me with huge smiles, like we could have all been good friends.