Brazilian Expressions II
Full Transcript - Episode 5
Neo visits Mogi, Jay visits Colorado, the Selic slides, and the British vote...
J: I like the idea of just having a different intro every time. I mean, otherwise, it’s just…kind of almost boring.
G: Hello and welcome to another episode of The Samba Buzz!
J: Live from Studio Y in São Paulo.
G: In the middle of a thunderstorm.
J: In the middle of the thunderstorm. It’s raining cats and dogs out there.
G: Raining cats and dogs. So we are here again and we have another action-packed episode. Why are we here, Jay?
J: Well, we’re here to provide everybody with some…a little bit of entertainment and to help everyone who is interested in improving their listening skills.
G: We are dedicated to helping people who want to improve their listening. Um, so we have a weekly podcast and this is number 5.
J: What do we have coming forward? We have some things about culture, some things about differences between United States or England and Brazil; a little bit about, er, our way of thinking…our way of experiences – so different experiences. What’s it like for a gringo to live in Brazil and survive also in Brazil.
G: That’s the most important part actually.
J: Yes, a-an…I-I have something related to that a little bit later. I’ll get back to that.
G: So we look forward to sharing these experiences with you, and we have our regular sections, er, for those who haven’t listened to the pod before. We start the pod with ‘What Caught My Eye’, which is a light-hearted look at the recent news items. And then we have the main section, which c-could be an interview, or could be a discussion about life here.
J: And then of course we have the Grammar Guru to close it out.
G: The English Guru, please!
J: Th-the, oh, I… I prefer the American Guru, but ok!
G: So let’s get rolling for another pod.
J: Let’s go. Woohoo!
G: Before we begin, Jay, you said you’ve got a survival experience you wanted to share.
J: Yeah, it’s-it’s more like a, er…well it’s a survival experience and also a little bit about the daily occurrence of just driving to work in São Paulo, which I-I’m sure that most people can relate to. Er, if you know there’s… If you’ve been to São Paulo you know that there’s a lot of traffic. Many days you’re stuck in your car, waiting hours and hours to get to work.
G: Which is no different to Detroit or London or…
J: No, but I mean the traffic is pretty heavy in São Paulo.
G: Er, ok.
J: Um, what people don’t know is that I don’t use a car, I use a motorcycle.
G: You do.
J: I do. And in the past I used a bicycle but that wasn’t really so practical, especially when it rains. Like-like now it’s raining.
G: Yes. Right now I wouldn’t want to be on a bicycle.
J: So, I have a motorcycle and for what I do, the motorcycle is the most practical way of getting around because a car is…is just too expensive and it’s…because of the traffic it’s not practical.
J: Er, for example, if I have a class on Avenida Paulista and then I have to go to Santo Amaro, by car that’s going to be hour and a half…an hour in route.
G: Yeah, for sure.
J: But the motorcycle, that allows me to get there within about fifteen or twenty minutes.
G: Providing you survive.
J: Providing I survive. And that’s why I call it the survival story. So, as I just explained, I use the motorcycle every day. Er, and I have two stories that are related to, let’s say, the ‘uniqueness’ – let me call it that of living in Brazil. In the first case, for an American, in my case, to get my motorcycle driving license… you might ask w-what does he have to do? Of course I need to go through tests and get my local license. But that would actually cost me quite a bit of money. Imagine, I would have to… I’ve been driving all my life. Right?
J: I drove in the United States. I drove in Argentina, and I drove in Europe.
J: So, I think I know how to drive. But when I came to Brazil, they wanted…the local laws would require me to get a new driver’s license and go through a new procedure, meaning I would have to take all of those-those-those theories and sit in the classroom and then take a driving test with some instructor that doesn’t know how to drive.
G: That’s interesting cos I didn’t have to do that.
J: Well I found a way around it.
J: And that’s why…what I’m saying. So what I did is kind of like a …
G: A little jeitinho.
J: I-I did a jeitinho. Yes, it’s-it’s like a sneaky little way to get around it. But what I did was, I went to my home state of Colorado and I got my driver’s license there.
G: What? Your Brazilian one?
J: No. I got my United States driving license in Colorado. That cost me a grand total…so I-I had to go through all of the procedures because it was not…no longer valid. So I had to do the written test. I had to take a driving test. I had to do an eye-test.
J: And I had to get the document and then of course pay. So what do you think that cost me in terms of time and money? They didn’t have a poupa tempo. That was just the normal DMV, which is the Department of Motor Vehicles in the United States. I paid twenty-five dollars…
J: …and it took me about three hours to complete the entire procedure.
J: So I came at 8 o’clock and I was done at about 11.30.
J: Not bad. So but then I still only have my United States drivers license, which they do not recognize in Brazil. But, because there is some kind of an agreement between the United States and Brazil regarding driver’s licenses, I got my-my United States license validated in Brazil. Of course, in order to do that I had to get it translated…
J: …and officialized. So at first it had to be documented. The document had to be done by a…what do they call…a tradução juramentado…
G: Yes, a notarized translation.
J: Notarized translation. That cost me R$200.
J: And then I had to go to DETRAN. I had to pay all of the processing fees, and registration fees, and I dunno – whatever else fees that they thought of, and that cost me about 400.
J: So the total process in Brazil cost me around f-five hundred fifty or six hundred Reais.
J: In the United States that would be $25.
G: Right. So it’s about six times as much.
J: But that was still cheaper than if I had gone to a local driving school. I would have had to do, I think, about 30 hours of, er, of classroom work…
J: …plus another, perhaps, ten hours of driving, so that of course, in the end, er, much cheaper.
J: Gee, did you have…happen to have anything local for this week’s news?
G: Funnily enough, I do! Um, I have something from Mogi das Cruzes. Do you know where Mogi is?
J: Yes. It’s not in São Paulo.
G: It’s in the State of São Paulo.
J: It’s in the State of São Paulo but yeah, outside of the city of São Paulo.
G: It’s not far from the city.
J: A half hour away, I believe.
G: Um, and the next question is – ‘do you remember The Matrix’? Did you ever watch the first Matrix movie?
J: Yes, I loved it. That was great.
G: Do you remember that, um, scene where the hero, Neo, and his side-kick, Trinity, they have to rescue, um, one of their gang from the government building?
J: Yes, that was in the first movie. Right.
G: That was in the first movie, yes. And they arrive at the government building and they have to go through the security check, and Neo pulls back his coat and he’s full of guns n…
J: Yes, er, he’s fully loaded and he just starts shooting everybody. Blazing.
G: Exactly. Well, we had something quite similar in Mogi das Cruzes, funnily enough.
G: Um, there was a guy who needed to go to the court and he arrived at the courtroom and…
J: Fully loaded and fully armed!
G: …he got to the, er, reception and he admitted to the receptionist that he was…
J: Carrying guns.
G: …carrying some knives, as it happens.
J: Oh, knives. Ok.
G: And it seems he showed her one or two of the knives and she said, ‘fine, you can come in.’
G: And so he came in.
J: W-w-what kind of a courtroom is it? ‘Oh sure, carry…bring your weapons in here. Oh, you’ve got an AK47…a bomb…it doesn’t matter. Go ahead!’
G: I-I don’t know why she would let him in, necessarily, but, um, yes maybe she felt intimidated or something like that.
J: Well, at least he’s up front about it.
G: Yes. H-he’s actually accompanied by his aunt and his lawyer at the time, so maybe-maybe the other two…his aunt must have looked innocent enough.
J: Those lawyers let you get away with everything, don’t they?
G: So he was on his way… Funnily enough they were on their way to, um, to get a signature to renounce their inventory process of some sort. So I guess maybe somebody had died and…
J: So, basically, somebody died and he was going to waive his rights to claim on the money, basically.
G: Yes. And as he got close to the court, um, one of the security guys happened to notice - this guy’s seriously carrying some weapons.
G: So they stopped him, and they kind of arrested him, and they found – 18 switchblades; 6 big hunting knives, like Bowie-knives…
G: …um, 3 what we would call truncheons in England – batons, police batons, um, a vest. He was wearing…he was carrying pepper spray. He had some handcuffs. He had…
J: But at least he didn’t have any guns, right?
G: …latex gloves.
J: L-latex gloves?
G: Yeah. Two-two cell phones and, interestingly, he was carrying 103 pens!
J: What in the…what in the devil is he going to do with the pens?
G: Well, apparently, he’s a collector.
J: A pen collector.
G: He’s a pen collector. So he was…
J: And a knife collector.
G: …he was carrying 103 pens, and they reckon the value of these pens was R$3000.
J: Oh my god. Seriously?
G: Yes. Um, anyhow his defense was that h…although he admitted to carrying all these weapons, which was a little unusual, um, his defense was that he hadn’t actually threatened anybody.
J: Well, which is true.
G: Well, again it depends on your point of view, but the fact you’re carrying all of that stuff is kind of intimidating, so isn’t it?
J: Yeah, that’s a…
G: So you’re…you’re kind of implicitly threatening people.
J: Huh, interesting.
G: Anyhow, that was my story. I thought that was something different to share with you today.
J: Definitely. And nobody died in your story, so you…
G: And nobody died, yet, no.
G: And he’s gonna get tried. He’s gonna get tried before a jury.
J: But, but for what? He didn’t do anything!
G: It just says that the crime carries up to 4 years in prison.
J: But w-what’s the crime? He…he…for carrying weapons?
G: Um, I-I guess so, and probably carrying, er…
G: …weapons in a public building, maybe?
J: Ok. Well, good for him.
G: Good for him.
J: My local news this week is, actually really important. It’s not the most sexy news. I mean we like to do funny stuff and, er, some things that are, er, attractive. This is actually really important for the economy. Er, the news is that this week the Brazilian Central Bank has lowered the Selic rate. So they-they’ve actually lowered the interest rate to the lowest point ever.
G: So what do we call the Selic in English?
J: Selic? That’s going to be what the Fed use. The-the-the Fed rate.
G: It’s the rate the banks lend to each other, isn’t it?
J: Exactly. Um, and that’s as cheap as it’s ever been in Brazil – 4.5%.
G: Yes, that’s interesting, isn’t it?
J: Now, that might not be so good for the…for like individuals but for companies, that’s certainly important. Because that means now that if you want to expand your company, then you can lend (sic) money from banks or…cheaper than it ever cost before.
G: Well that depends on the type of company, because if you’re a small business then probably you’re not going to benefit a whole lot…
G: …from these lower rates.
J: Exactly. So it’s probably just for the bigger businesses.
G: Cos the-the…the main problem is – I was listening to this on the radio this morning and, um, – the main problem is the spreads are so high – and that’s basically the difference between what the banks charge each other when they borrow money and what the banks charge the regular guy on the street like you and I.
J: And that’s how the banks make their money.
G: And so the rates for things like the overdraft – the cheque especial as they call it here – is (sic) still in the 200 percents, that sort of thing.
J: Yes. Which is totally absurd.
G: So if you look at it as a percentage – the percentage of Selic has come down, like 30%, but the percentage of the regular lending has come down like 2 or 3%.
G: Basically, in terms of boosting the economy, it’s not going to make much difference. So it’s a kind of strange relationship between the Selic…
J: But it’s still positive.
G: …and interest rates in general.
J: I-I would argue that it’s still positive, simply-simply from the fact that, in addition to the Banco Central reducing their Selic rate, Standard & Poors, which is the ratings agency that looks at Brazil and evaluates Brazil as a…as a risk factor, has actually upgraded, er, Brazil, and we are one step closer to becoming investment grade.
J: Woo-hoo. Th-that which is big news, certainly, not for the individuals but for foreign investors, meaning other governments that want to buy Brazil bonds.
G: Also, some funds can only invest where there is investment grade. So…
G: So, um, some…some people cannot invest in Brazil.
J: Yes. So the-th-the perspective for, let’s say, future (sic) is a little bit brighter for Brazil, certainly with these two news (sic). Of course that’s not going to affect us in the short term, meaning the next three months but probably six months down the road that’s going to mean more investment coming to Brazil, and hopefully, companies will borrow and grow.
G: One negative aspect of the, er, rate change, however, could be a further weakening of the Real, because obviously the Real becomes less attractive now because people get lower returns on investment here.
J: But you know, t-t-to judge all of the, er, pros and the cons of this, we actually should get somebody in here that knows a little bit more about this than just two gringos.
G: About it, th..than two gringos, yes. Um, yeah, let’s get an economist on. I happen to know just the guy actually, so let’s see if we can get him in, and we’ll…
J: Ok. Let’s see…let’s bring in an economist here, n that will, er, hopefully bolster our, our credibility!
G: We’ll get him in the hot seat and we’ll grill him!
J: Yeah. That sounds like fun.
G: It’s hard to ignore the fact that tomorrow, in Britain, we have a general election. So the general election has caught my eye this week.
J: Certainly. That’s important for you. Do you think Boris is going to win or lose the election?
G: In the past they talked about how the election was a-a fight for the center, by which they meant the Labour Party and the Conservative Party – the two main parties – were fighting for the center ground of British politics. Conservatives were center-right, the Labour Party were center-left, but everybody more-or-less agreed on how to run the economy, and things like that. And what’s happened over the last ten years is we have seen the Labour Party take a sharp move to the left – um, something so that they are now very similar to what might think of when we think of PT, here in Brazil. And that’s given the right party, the Conservatives, space to avoid the center as well, and move to the right, um, and still be competitive in the election. So what we now have is we have two parties competing against each-other that are both extreme.
G: So what I thought I’d do today, er, just to illustrate how extreme they are, I was going to give you a little quiz.
G: I’m going to give you some of the policies and I want you to tell me whether it’s a policy from the Conservatives, on the right, or whether it’s a policy from the Labour Party, on the left. For me, the choice the British are facing right now is very similar to the choice that Brazil faced a couple of years ago when they had to choose between Bolsonaro and the PT candidate.
J: Ok. So let’s go.
G: So, the first policy. Um, one-one of these parties wants to take Britain out of Europe without a deal, even though studies show that average incomes will drop nearly 10% over ten years.
J: Now, I-I just…well I just happen to know the situation, so I would say that’s the right-right party.
G: That is the right. That’s Boris Johnson’s party.
J: Yes, th-the party in charge.
G: It makes a lot of sense, no? Conversely, another party wants to introduce a 4-day working week.
J: So, that must be the other party then.
G: So that’s the…
J: The Left.
G: The Labour Party. Yes, the equivalent of PT. They actually want to introduce a 4-day working week where people earn the same money for working a day less.
J: Well, actually I think that would go over quite well in Brazil as well!
G: I think it’s a great idea, i-if you actually get the same money for working less, but possibly not good for th-the, er, economy. One party would like to abolish the Monarchy!
J: Oh. That’s a good question. Erm, well, seeing how the left is a little bit more communistic, I’ll say that’s a left wing.
G: That is actually a very left-wing, um, dream to abolish The Monarchy, cos they consider the Monarchy nothing but parasites, living off The State…
J: But they are parasites!
G: …and the hard-earned sweat of the People!
J: But The People have worked! What does the Monarchy do? They sit back and they lollygag, and then they have the… I don’t even know….they don’t even work!
G: They lollygag? What’s a lollygag?
J: They lollygag, they just sit back, and I don’t know. They go to their parties, and wear their beautiful hats, and they...
G: They do that too. But they do generate income actually. Cos they…
J: How does The Monarchy generate income?
G: They attract huge volumes of tourists – to their palaces, to their events that they hold…
J: The-this ba…yeah…the palace is their house. That’s where they live.
G: Well, they’ve got lots of places to live.
J: I would love to have to have people come visit my apartments. I mean if-if they would…please, come to my apartment on the 23rd floor – but it’s not going to happen!
G: But I think the math has been done, and I think, on balance, um, they generate more income than they actually cost.
J: Well, that’s nice. Well good for them.
G: So not necessarily. Maybe on moral grounds you might want to abolish them, but maybe not economically.
G: And…and there’s a party that wants to cancel Brexit altogether. Which party is that do you think?
J: I would s…well I dunno. That I don’t know.
G: That’s actually a third party. It’s neither The Conservatives nor The Labour Party. And for me, that’s the one that makes the most sense, but unfortunately they are not going to get elected.
J: Ok, but w-why would they want to leave Europe? To me that just makes no sense whatsoever.
G: Well they-they don’t know what they want, actually. The official policy is that they will have another vote and they haven’t said which way they would vote if…in the event of a future vote. So they, basically, have left a complete fudge, as they say.
J: That sounds like a…a very weak leader.
G: He’s an extremely weak leader. He’s totally unelectable, which is why, to answer your original question, um, Boris Johnson will be elected tomorrow with a sizeable majority, and he will be able to do what he wants with the Brexit and some of these other, more outrageous, things he’s thinking of.
G: So we’re going to have The Three Stooges – Trump, Bolsonaro…
J: And Johnson!
G: …and Johnson! Os Tres Patétas. There we go.
End of Part 1