Sunday, 9 May 2010

Soup or Salad?

Você e Brasileira?

I was asked if I was a Brazilian yesterday. I love that I can blend into this city and be considered by the locals to be a local. Being a country of immigrants means that you can be blond and blue eyed, brown hair with olive skin, or have black hair and brown skin and you can all call yourselves Brazilian. Being of chinese descent I've noticed this ease of (or lack of) assimilation in some of the other cities / countries I've lived in. I've had some people ask me if I speak English, where I'm from (even when I say New Zealand, they ask me whereabouts that is in Japan!) or been given directions to the airport - all based on the colour of my skin.

Yes, I know I hold the same stereotypes and have made exactly the same assumptions before. Being exposed to so many different people in Sao Paulo has already made me so much more open minded. People here have a strong connection to their history but at the same time they consider themselves Brazilian first. Ask a New Yorker where they're from and you're likely to hear Irish-American, Italian-American, Chinese-American, Japanese-American etc.

I have always remembered this analogy I read once. Some cities are like a salad. All the 'vegetables' live next to each other, tossed together, but still separate from each other.  In a soup the ingredients are not only in the same pot but they are blended together, their lives are intertwined. Sao Paulo is a soup. Despite where people (or the vegetables) have come from they are they all eventually become one and the same.

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