Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Brazil Etiquette Tip #1- If you say you are going! Show up!

Disclaimer: This is true to Sao Paulo where I am from, it's also true to Rio where I have dear friends who confirmed me the same as well as other places in Brazil where I have friends and confirmed yesterday with Curitiba (Parana), Belo Horizonte ( Minas Gerais), Florianopolis (Santa Catarina) and Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul) where Gil lived for a couple of years.

After watching the video from CBS's 60 minutes on several fellow blogger's post HERE, I couldn't take one thought away from my mind.
So, I am starting a new Brazil etiquette tips series. Here is #1.
How ridiculous! how untrue! what a grotesque and unfair generalization of the Brazilian people!
Eduardo Bueno, the guy with the messed up hair and the disgruntled look that said he was at the Porto Alegre Airport in the dark with no electricity for four hours...irritated me beyond comprehension!
He said in an absurd generalizing way that Brazilians are the type of people who say they are going to come to your house for a visit and then they don't bother to show up and that it's ok... NOT TRUE!
Say what?! Are you serious?!


What planet Am I from? Is Sao Paulo that different from Rio or other Brazilian cities? No it isn't, at least, not according to my Carioca friends. Sao Paulo and Rio are very similar in this matter too.
I am serious, if you tell someone you are going to their house in Sao Paulo, you better show up or you won't ever hear from that person again. This is ludicrous to say the least. We are reliable, responsible adults! You better be too! Who the hell you think you are? Cool? No Mr. Bueno, not cool, not cool!!!!!
Behave like any responsible adult anywhere in the world, would you? Brazil is no different.

If you tell me you are coming to my house:

1- I won't make any other plans!
2- I will be ready to host you the way I would expect you to host me!
3- I will have some cool snacks for you ( I usually run to the Mercado Municipal for cool different things!)

Special treats when having friends over!

4- I will be sure to have WINE, sacred where I come from!
5- I will make sure the house is clean and organized (Yes, maybe change the "faxineira" day to make sure the house looks and feels nice and fresh!)
6- The time will be dedicated exclusively for YOU!
7- We will most likely have PIZZA for you, OK, this is a VERY PAULISTA thing to do :)

Pizza making is a usual and fun thing we do in Sao Paulo when we have friends over!

All this and maybe more because I have respect and consideration for YOU if I invited you to my house.
Just the notion that you possibly won't show up just because something better came along, it is unheard of around my circle of friends or anyone I ever heard of, highly unlikely to happen and highly unacceptable where I come from, it JUST DOESN'T HAPPEN.
If I am coming to YOUR house, I will SHOW up and WILL have a bottle of wine in hands, a cultural habit of Sao Paulo people as well. I am not sure about other parts of Brazil on this bringing wine habit.
If you don't show up for no apparent reason, you are an inconsiderate bastard (pardon my french)... and NOT A COOL CAT. Sorry, you are delusional and living in a crazy f..up world of your own.
I have read a few posts in other blogs where people say that they experienced this and people told them it's OK, IT IS NOT OK! NOT OK, NOT OK!
I hope I am making myself crystal clear here :)
I have the feeling that when some people are placed in the position to tell you HOW BRAZILIANS are in this or that situation, they feel they can embellish, they feel like they are given certain powers to generalize and whatever they tell you it's gonna become the universal truth.
This people have NO SHAME and are not reliable and they are fooling you in believing this is one of Brazil's cultural habit and it's not.
Now, you all better show up when you tell someone you are going to their home in Sao Paulo or else just tell them you can't GO, that is the expected thing to do PERIOD!
Ok, rant over! I feel better now!
: )


Paper plains said...

Hahaha, GOOD TO KNOW!!!!! I didn't believe him but at the same time I was a little curious if that seriously happens. I would be broken hearted if we threw a dinner party and people didn't show up. I now have faith, thank you! Where did CBS find that guy?! Why make your people look so bad!?!

Jim said...

I'm sorry to report that this has, in fact, happened to us. I was pissed and let them know I expect at least a phone call to beg off the dinner.

However I have not found it to be common practice.

What is common is for people to agree to meet up at someone's house, perhaps after a show, or after the beach, or after a daytime party -- everyone stands in the street after the first gathering and says "yes, yes, see you there" but then practically no one shows.

Nancy said...

Yeah, I too have never had someone just not show up to a dinner party or something like that, but I have for sure been ditched, in a major way. My first week in Rio, a friend of a friend (whom I had never met) invited me to meet up at a formatura celebration in Centro on the weekend. After getting lost in Centro by myself on a Saturday (when it is deserted and dangerous, or so I was told), I finally made it to the party. He was nowhere to be found and I couldn't get in without him. Called him and he said he'd be there soon. He never showed up and stopped answering my calls.
It was a totally rude, but I would never go as far as to say all brazilians do this. I've been ditched by Americans as well.

Linds said...

Yeah ditching, to me, is one of the rudest, disrespectful things you could do!

One thing that took getting use to for me though (and it could be a Carioca thing) is BEING LATE. Cariocas are infamous for showing up late for get-togethers, formal meetings, parties, whatever. But sometimes I'm left waiting for 30 mins- an hour for someone to arrive. Not cool.

Gil and Ray said...

Dear Paper Plains,

Mr. Eduardo Bueno is a journalist, he has worked at a Newspaper in Porto Alegre for many years and more recently he has has a popular TV show and also recently discovered the wonderful world of selling books successfully. He has been writing Brazilian History for Dummies type of books and has been irritating real historians who are saying he is twisting historical facts in name of an opportunistic chance to sell lots of books with a simple language that appeals to the youth.
He is a "Glen Beck" in reverse if you ask me, because he is not conservative, but he is as dramatic, opportunistic and CRAZY and learned to say what people wanna hear to make a ton of money! :)
People will show up to your dinner party, but remember that as a common courtesy Brazilians do arrive 30 or 50 minutes late, that is suppose to give the host some wiggle room in case you have last minute emergencies and is running late.
So if you want people to show up at 9pm, invite them for 8pm, some will show up a 8pm, some at 8:30pm and some at 9pm.
This is only expected for private social events with friends. If you are going to a business meeting you are expected to be sharply on time, no excuses.
However, people in Sao Paulo tend to be more uptight and strict with being on time than most, either for private parties or not.
Now, back to Mr. Bueno and your question, "Why make Brazilians look so bad?"
Because he is a sensationalist reporter, he will call people's attention by saying something that it is in fact an absurd.
He would be considered too ordinary if he just stated what the reality is...but HE knows how to turn heads!


Gil and Ray said...


Probably folks in Sao Paulo are more formal and also brutally honest, for good or bad.
I could probably make a comparison of Bostonians and people from Dallas. When we lived in Dallas we used to see smiles and as Gil says, cheese smiles all over the place, but it didn't mean a thing, they are just being polite, it's a southern thing.
On the other hand, people in Boston are not smiling at you until they have a reason to smile at you...and they are misunderstood as cold and rude, this couldn't be further from the truth.
So, maybe, Cariocas are more relaxed, smiles, agree with everything but they really don't mean it...or it could just be a beach culture thing...or you just happened to be around a group a flakes... :)
I just haven't experienced this happening in Sao Paulo with anyone I ever knew, this would drive me bananas...


Gil and Ray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gil and Ray said...

Dear Linds,

I totally hear you! That really pisses me off too, I can't stand to wait...on other people, principally if they don't bother to call to say they will be late.
Perhaps they are just too laid back and that is ok.
This is an easy thing to get adjusted to, just tell people to be at your place 1 hour earlier than what your need them to be.
Always say 7pm when you want to start your dinner party at 8pm :)
But again, in Sao Paulo we are more strict with time in general, so 8pm, means 8pm with very few exceptions.


Gil and Ray said...

Dear Nancy,

You hit the nail on the head, there are flakes everywhere!
Spot them and make sure and stay away from them and you will be ok.


Born Again Brazilian said...

I'm living in Sao Paulo, have made Sao Paulo friends and have never had someone not show up when they said they were going to. However, they will most likely be late. Perhaps the people who have experience Brazilians not showing up just haven't waited around long enough :)
Oddly enough, because I am an American, if I am even 5 minutes late, I will get a phone call. I'm told that it is because it's expected that I will be on time due to my heritage, and if I'm late, they think I'm not coming. Twisted.

Gil and Ray said...

Dear Born Again Brazilian,

You make a good point, expectations in the right place is key here.
I know my brother is always on time, so if he is late, I will be calling him too, out of concern, to make sure he is ok.
My sisters are always a little late, so if they are late, I really don't worry.
All my friends are always on time. I have one aunt that says shes will come but never shows up, but we know it's because she doesn't want to have to face my other aunts picking on her because she has gained too much weight lately and won't quit smoking, so that is a very specific situation and we don't really expect her to show up.
But, I have never EVER invited someone who just didn't show up and didn't bother to call and explained why, if that happened, this person would just not be invited again.
I hope you are enjoying Sao Paulo.
Thanks for your comment.