Just a thought....
Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Wednesday picture overload

The title should warn you ; )

Once it was light, a bus-ride away, I found myself staring at a dull grey sky, a penetrating drizzle just missing the overhang where we were waiting for the metro to pull up.

The metro was crowded, as it always is at that hour of the morning. I was pressed up against the door, my favourite spot - aside from the actual seats, the door is the best place for purposes of being able to breathe. This photo was taken with my camera hoisted over everyone's heads. It is the reflection in the glass of the door.

I got off the metro at a stop I don't usually use. Now tell me, if you were a foreigner and only knew that 'saida' means 'exit', would you be able to find the exit using this sign? It amused me.

I took the bus to the British Cultural institute, a place that is rather familiar to Tat and I. It is the only English library in the city (pity it's so far) and the location of our favourite pub *grins* I wasn't there for social purposes though, but to do a test.

There were a bunch of us. I didn't count, but I would guess around 10. My little chair/desk thing squeaked every time I wrote something and sounded exactly like Specs' squeak. The test was meant to take 2 hours. It took me one hour. It was, for me, easy and for once, it involved some interesting vocabulary. For the written part, I had to develop a lesson plan, then write an essay justifying my choices. When I left, there were three types of expressions on the faces of those remaining: those who were still at the start and struggling, those who thought I had nothing to write and therefore surely failed and those who guessed I was a foreigner and found the paper easy - they were less than happy. I hope the moderators got my paper after all that. We had to leave the paper on the desk and go home and the moderator was nowhere to be seen.

The fancy Institute premises is a tiny hop away from some less 'chic' roadside...

Luckily, it wasn't too far from the brand spanking new Faria Lima metro station, which, in itself, isn't all that fancy, but the metro itself... ??

The new metro is almost beautiful. The seats are padded (ok, the padding is pure imagination, but still) and the whole lot is sparkly new. The yellow was a site for sore eyes too. I could get used to this. Oh and no separate carriages!

The metro line lies between the series of glass doors, which slide open to allow one onto the carriage. A nice security man asked me if I was lost when I was taking this photo *laugh* I appeared appropriately flustered and moved on ; )

Two metros later, I got off at another new station. This one is about 2km away (about a 20 minute walk depending on pace) from home. I promptly got lost. This station is way above ground, as you can see. There were familiar landmarks on both sides. The info guy sent me in the wrong direction. 10 minutes later, I had my bearings in place and went walking...

The area is heavily industrial, but offered some intriguing sites : )

I got home in time to snag some lunch and head out to young Maria Fernanda. My other classes had all been cancelled for the day in honour of the 'big test'. Maria Fernanda decided she was going to be teacher for the day and wanted to teach her red monkey to speak English. Too cute.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Countries South Africans can travel to without a visa

So.... these are the places where I'll get a fuss-free welcome (kinda). Just figures. Now that I've been through the hullabaloo to get to Brazil, if I were coming here now, I wouldn't need a travel visa.


An article in Wiki....

"In July 2008, South African passport holders were amongst those singled out by the United Kingdom during a global review[17] as likely to require visas by the end of 2008 unless the countries in question take measures to reduce the perceived risk they pose to the UK. This finding came after the uncovering a major multi-national people smuggling operation involving the fraudulent issuing of genuine South African travel documents to foreign nationals. During two trials that concluded in July 2007 and January 2008 in the United Kingdom, it was revealed that at least 89 Indian citizens had been issued with South African passports by corrupt officials in South Africa's Department of Home Affairs, and that these passports were subsequently used by those Indian citizens to enter Britain illegally. During the trial, a witness testified that one of the scheme's ring leaders boasted of bringing 6000 illegal immigrants into the United Kingdom on fraudulently issued South African passports[18][19][20]. The United Kingdom introduced new visa requirements for South Africans on 3 March 2009. From 3 March 2009 to 1 July 2009, South African citizens who had previously entered the United Kingdom and had evidence of their visit in their current passport (i.e. a UK entry stamp) were exempted from the new visa requirements. As of 1 July 2009, all South African passport holders require a visa to enter or transit through the UK.[21]"
Let's just say that makes me a little more than mad... So that's why we no longer have free travel to the UK! I did wonder.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Job hunting

I'm always keeping my eye out for jobs, both here and overseas. The local ones often provide me with entertainment... like this one...

The position is for an English teacher with a school:

"Total fluency and advanced level of knoledge. Preferenci is given to those finishing their B.A em Letras . Applicans will be trained and we offer good pay. To work in Vila Mariana near Santa Cruz Subway station."
I am also amused by the fact that a trade name here is called a 'nome fantasia' or 'fantasy name'. That about describes it, huh?


Vir dié wat sukkel met Afrikaans tik, veral daai kappies en doitjies...

Char. Keystroke 1Keystroke 2UnicodeChar.Keystroke 1Keystroke 2 Unicode
á Alt+0225Alt+160 00E1Á Alt+0193- 00C1
â Alt+0226Alt+131 00E2Â Alt+0194- 00C2
è Alt+0232Alt+138 00E8È Alt+0200- 00C8
é Alt+0233Alt+130 00E9É Alt+0201Alt+144 00C9
ê Alt+0234Alt+136 00EAÊ Alt+0202- 00CA
ë Alt+0235Alt+137 00EBË Alt+0203- 00CB
î Alt+0238Alt+140 00EEÎ Alt+0206- 00CE
ï Alt+0239Alt+139 00EFÏ Alt+0207- 00CF
ô Alt+0244Alt+147 00F4Ô Alt+0212- 00D4
ö Alt+0246Alt+148 00F6Ö Alt+0214Alt+153 00D6
û Alt+0251- 00FBÛ Alt+0219- 00DB

I'm so lucky! I have a keyboard that doesn't need fiddling to get the right keys. I need to find something like this for Lithuanian now. So far, I only have the č (Alt+269), which I need to be able to type my name.


Friday, 24 September 2010

Reminders of pleasure

A book Tat bought me, Eating mangoes naked by Sark, asks "What brings you pleasure?" There are bubbles to write in. I filled them in yesterday, after this lilac sunset. The sky was truly lilac and blended with the trees which were a mass of lilac jacaranda blossoms. Sadly, the photo doesn't show that very well.

So... What brings me pleasure?

birdsong in the morning while the world is still
sunsets through the trees
the first splashes of rain after a hot day
a fresh wind on a hot back
surprise gardens
the crunch of autumn leaves underfoot
friends who 'stop by' just to say Hi

unexpected smiles
the cat voluntarily jumping onto my lap
or kneading my belly prior to sleep
watching her stretch in the sun
the dog burying his nose under my arm
or jumping and dog-laughing
watching him gather his blankie under him
the bird having the trust to come up and nibble my hair
seeing her hop with eagerness over fresh greens

Did I say 'smiles'?

seeing those I love find happiness in a moment
waking up and finding my skin and hair co-operating for once
inside jokes when I'm on the inside
getting surges of creativity and being able to act on them
having a lesson where the student is engaged
and actually learning something he/she can use
someone actually 'getting' a joke I tell

sinking into a soft bed at the end of a day's work
immersing myself in delightful smells
lavender, lemon balm, rosemary, chamomile
fresh green apple, peaches, oranges
cut grass, baking bread
butterflies flitting, dragonflies glinting
fun music, soothing music, music to move to

Did I say 'friends'?

free lessons and people willing to teach
(even if they don't think they're teachers)
people who share their worlds
so I can travel vicariously
good food
finding great ingredients at perfect prices and quality
experimenting with new dishes and having them actually taste good
laughing over old... uh... mishaps

Oh there are so many things!

What brings you pleasure?


In die somer as die son soos 'n kaartman
agter die berg afgesak het en die lug laat
agterbly soos 'n vuurkool wat afkoel, lê die
skemeraand soos 'n sagte lou skaduwee...
~Alba Bouwer~

Living the week out

It's been a strange sort of week. I had a couple of student cancellations, which had me sleeping a little later in the morning, but still made me a little miffy. I can't afford the time off. No problem, I did enjoy my sleep-ins. 6am is a whole lot better than 4:30am.

This photo is of a painting on the wall of a school near the teens. Take away the masses of books and you have what is often my teaching setup, except not all the students look that sweet and I wouldn't be writing on my lap ; )

As Tuesday was International Peace Day, so I went through the Tsuru story with MF on Monday and folded some origami cranes. Nice lesson. She was really excited.

On Tuesday, going in to my paediatrician student, I encountered Barack Obama! Yep! 'Strue! It's something that's been amusing me for a while now, but I waited till I could take a photo. We're in a major election run here. This guy claims that people tell him he looks like the famous US president, so he decided to capitalise on that and changed his name to Rosamar Barack Obama. He has a site where you can see him clearer. He stands handing out his voting details in São Paulo's main financial district. He has designs on being a deputado federal (something like a state senator).

This photo was taken just before lunch. By 4pm, it was raining.... really raining. The day went from this...

to this...

in around 2 hours. Yes, that was taken from a moving bus. Guess who had no umbrella : ) The bus was leaking from the 'sun' roof, a 'lid' that gets opened to let air flow through on hot days. Needless to say, it no longer sealed. I was grateful to be home after my swim. Yes, we were rather water-logged. Apparently there was massive hail storms elsewhere and serious damage. We were, luckily, just plain wet. Welcome to São Paulo's summer rains!

I did manage this photo on my way home in honour of Peace day. It's a scrap yard. I'd like to believe they were promoting peace, but I suspect that they just used the graffiti'ed (how do you spell that anyway?) boards to make sides for their cart...

That's right. The photo is ugly, dark, blurry... but you can't expect more from a moving, dirty-windowed bus in the rain. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday found me as sick as a dog. Let's just say, ugly stomach bug/poison issues. I still don't know what caused it. I started getting sick on the Tuesday, but by mid-morning on Wednesday, I thought I was dying.... or was at least wishing death would come quickly. I don't 'do' stomach issues with a great deal of grace.

BUT... I did wish I was out clothes shopping! São Paulo discovered colour! Trust me, this is not the norm.

On my way to MF, though, I found myself draped over a wall, trying to keep my stomach in place and praying for a passing breeze. Over the wall was this scene. I kept my stomach in place long enough to appreciate the scene ; ) Perhaps because the lines had a somewhat steadying influence and over the wall was a lovely little breeze. I was in a proper sweat by that time. I called Jurgis and asked him to cancel MF. I dragged myself home, fell on the bed and slept for a few hours.

Thursday was one of those days where the world smiled back. I love days like that. I think it helped that I was feeling so much better. The teens weren't total monsters. We definitely did the right thing in splitting them. I caught a beautiful lilac sunset on the way home.

Before getting home, I stopped in at the bakery for today's bread. While waiting to order, myself and the elderly lady next to me were staring at a little girl, around five, who was drilling holes into the packets of Maria Mole (it's like a really, really soft and airy marshmallow). Her mother was standing over her, also looking down at the products. I went up to the little girl and, in my sweetest 'favourite aunt' voice said, "Linda, não faz isso." (Pretty girl, don't do that) and I super-gently pushed her hand away from the packages. The mother just about laid an egg and told me in a very uppity tone that she is the mother (no duh) and if I have a problem with her kid, I'm to talk to her, not the kid. The old ducky next to me rolled her eyes and smiled at me. It was that kind of situation. I said, well, next time, just stop your kid yourself and teach her well. Eh. The whole situation amused me. I chuckled all the way to the bus. I can't help wondering how she'd have reacted if I'd tapped her on the shoulder and said, "Scuse me ma'm, but your brat is drilling into the Maria Mole."

Today was delightful! It's been drizzling on and off. The sky has been very grey all day, but the air outside is so fresh, I want to bottle it and save it for later!

Happy Braai Day!!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Rainbow in the wind

It was a really early morning and I was very inclined to be grumpy. You know one of those 'hmph!' days? Luckily I got over it. The sun tried to come out this morning, but finally gave up at lunch time. There was a frisky wind playing around too. What do Brazilian kids do when it's windy? And often if it isn't? Fly kites. It's something I love and hate here. Those kites are flown among the electrical cables of busy roads, but they're quite a sight, especially one like this. This little guy had just been given his kite and was told to keep it still... I think the 'pull' of the kite, those colours and a playful wind was more than he could resist : ) He made me smile.

Tomorrow is International Day of Peace, so I prepared a lesson on peace and the tsuru birds... and... I actually managed to fold 3!! Then I actually managed to teach MF how to fold one. She was so thrilled with herself and not surprising. I also taught her how to fold a heart and she gave one to her sister. Her sister, Zara, is a sweet little thing that usually squirms and holds up a hand that she doesn't like touched, but she wants to show she can "High five". Zara has so many health and mental issues. Much of the time while MF is in class, little Zara is undergoing therapy. Today, she was actually 'chatting' like baby talk (instead of her usual grunts) and she giggled when I tickled her neck. She actually cranes her head to get tickled. Her smile is an absolute joy. One of her favourite places is under this plastic-covered chair while we're having class.

For those who want to know... we passed! *grins* I made a really good supper and one of my favourite TV shows is coming back. Make that two. Ah yes... life is clearly windy enough for rainbow kites and otherwise good : )

Friday, 17 September 2010

Fun at the park

This should make at least one person I know smile (and possibly plan another backyard project that involves an excellent leg workout and happy kids)

Sunday, 05 September 2010

Life is good... in Lithuanian

Photo taken by Jurgis at Marceliukes Kletis

As you know, I'm trying to learn Lithuanian. So far, I'm enjoying it. It's completely different to any language I know (yeah, I know SO many haha!).

One lesson I really enjoyed and which I've been meaning to blog about for a while now is the simple:

How are you?
I'm fine, thanks!

Lithuanians take the "I'm fine" to a whole new level and one I really like.

First, to break it down:
Kaip = How
gyventi = the verb 'to live'
good = gerai

So a question would read:
Kaip jis gyvena? = How's he doing? or How's he living?

The answer... ?
Jis gyvena gerai! = He's doing well! or He's living good!

Taip, Gyvenimas yra Geras! (Yes, Life is Good)

Asta, as I'm still learning, please, please feel free to correct me : ) There may well be grammatical issues with this post.

What is it about finally managing to have a hanky or a tissue ready for a sneeze that actually prevents the sneeze from happening? Sneezes time themselves according to how unavailable your wipe-wear is.

Saturday, 04 September 2010

Dusty Saturday - Drizzly Sunday

Our long (for São Paulo) drought has been broken. Fine rain is penetrating anything that can be penetrated today. The air is crisp and I can actually see the edges of buildings. This photo is what our sky looked like at 5pm. A powerful sun, still fairly high in the sky, reduced by pollution and dust. We'll breathe better now. The week was one of coughs and sore throats with the dust and pollution. Somewhere in all that, I got myself a cold. Blegh. I'm not sure if it was from the girlie who was liberally sneezing her germs onto every surface of the bus or from the guy in the one-square-meter lift who felt the need to call his maid on the lift's phone to tell her what to make for him for lunch, so that he could shake the flu he had. I mean, it was so much effort to pop back into his apartment to tell her in person. It's way more fun to distribute your germs on a phone that other residents use too.

This was in the building where I met my new student. She's a paediatrician - oh the stories she can tell! - and really sweet. She wants to improve her English, as she's studying  Kabbalah (made famous by Madonna) and their meetings are in English. Her eyes lit up and she excitedly pointed out my bookmark I have clipped to my folder: "You can if you Believe you can". "That's exactly what we believe!" It seems that my lessons with her will be very interesting.

My cell phone died on Thursday. It literally got crushed. The LCD screen had excessive pressure applied to it. Jurgis eventually opened it up. He wanted to know where I might have done that. I suggested he takes a bus with me one morning. Now I have a bit of a problem. My students seem to have no idea how to connect to a land-line. They either call or text me on my cell. The cell is also important for random things like calling to find out if I must get bread on the way home or calling the student to tell them I'm on the wrong side of a flooded marginal (highway) and may be somewhat late. Buying a new cell phone was one expense that I definitely do not need right now, but it's funny how one starts justifying a new purchase. I spent some time surfing through cell phone models online. Two things happened. One - I realised how out of date my little cell phone now is and two - I realised how many super-cool features the new ones have at less than what I paid for my old one. So I bit the bullet... I'll be paying for it for the next millennium, but in two weeks, I'll have my new cell phone, a fairly basic model, but some folk will be glad to know it comes with a teeny weeny little camera ; ) Sneak pics, folks!

Our national lottery was won last night - R$92 million. I got one number right. I think it's trying to tell me something.

Our neighbours were having a shindig that lasted most of the night. Jurgis said he was tempted to get up onto their roof and pelt them with eggs. Last week, they seemed so nice. They keep this up, war may just break out. Of course, they're sleeping the day away now.

I think the only way I can catch up here is by going to my contacts one by one and seeing what they've been up to. I must still prepare lessons for the week. On the bright side, kinda, Tuesday is a public holiday, so I only have the teens once this week *does the Snoopy dance*