Saturday, July 19, 2014

Boy in Brazil

Years ago I picked up a book my dad had recommended.  It was called The Boys from Brazil.  Can't remember once when I was steered wrong with one of his suggestions. The Boys from Brazil was no exception.  A thriller and I remember that I could not put the thing down.

I am blessed with a very good memory and I recall something about the book that is not especially central. That is, while it might take a little something away from the read, it is not a big deal to write that at one point the word "ketchup" is key.

I think a character says something like in a million years I would never have known that it was ketchup. Again, trust me, this does not take much away from the book. I don't assume armies read my blog, but if you are intrigued, I did not spoil the book for you with this mention.

I thought of "ketchup" during this trip likely because I have been a boy in Brazil during the last few days.  Quite an experience.  Every once in a while I have to remind myself that I am on the other side of the Equator, a hoot and a holler East, and it is winter. Of course, I am reminded that this is not home every time I ask a question.  Unlike many countries, it is an exception for a citizen here to understand English.  Of course it is an exception in Boston for most of us to understand any language except English.  Other countries' denizens, though, are typically multilingual.  Not here. There is one fellow at the desk who has some capability, and a bartender, and here and there a few who can make out a couple of words, but for the most part--you better know where you are going.  More than once on this trip I have had to yank out the address of the hotel as I somehow had gotten off the beaten track.  Just a couple of hours ago in fact I had taken a walk and before I knew it I was elsewhere.

It would be a nice thing if there was a key word that you could utter and then all would be safe. Say, ketchup, and you can find out where the bus station is.  I thought my good buddy Siri could help me earlier today when I got lost. but when I called on her services, the message came up that said Siri was unavailable.  If my uncle had programmed Siri it would have read, "You're on your own boychik."

That is the way I have felt some of the time here.  People have been friendly. Conference colleagues a joy and engaging in a way people often are at these meetings.  A guy last night who was feeling no pain had me and a couple cracking up telling me about his exploits during the day as we urged him to get in a cab as his plane was leaving not too far in the future. Still despite the beautiful surroundings, the learning, and the friendly folks, I think the story is always the same.  We are all connected and when we are not it is unnatural. And we feel lost.  It is ironic, or perhaps telling, that I am and have been a loner for much of my life. I enjoy traveling by myself or at least thinking about doing so.  Yet there are times when I sense the discomfort of not being connected.  At those times it would be nice to just say the word ketchup and feel those who are close to you.

To my left as I write this, three women are cackling uncontrollably. They are watching something on a smartphone and it is all they can do to stay on their chairs. I will bet that had they each been watching whatever it was individually, the enjoyment would have been muted.

No comments:

Post a Comment