Português of the Week

comemoração - celebration

Monday, May 16, 2011

Vasco Marches On

Last week was the quarterfinals of the Copa do Brasil.

It was a nail-biter.

Vasco da Gama's two away goals in the first-leg stalemate meant Atlético Paranaense and their "fanáticos" needed a win to advance. Vasco only needed another tie.

Kalle, my funny Finnish friend, and I got to São Januário stadium too late (like a couple of idiots). Tickets were sold out. Instead, we joined the hundreds of Vascainos in the streets outside the "Caldeirão". Spending the ticket money on beer was our new goal.

Early into the second half, Atlético capitalized on their first and only chance of the game. A typical Vasco breakdown of defense allowed a black and red uniform to sneak a breakaway touch past a diving goalie. Silence in the street. More beer.

70 minutes later, Vasco decides to make a change in their formation, substituting in veteran attacker Elton. This proved to be touch of managerial genius. A 75th minute cross finds the super-sub's head around the penalty spot. Golasso!

Vasco fends off the opposing attack and finishes the game in fine form.

The street's reaction:

Vasco will play Avaí on Wednesday, a Cinderella team who knocked out São Paulo last week. Tickets have already sold out, but I don't mind celebrating in the street again with these dudes.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tour de Chapéu

After nearly one month of living in the concrete labyrinth known as Chapéu Mangueira, I've finally recorded a video of my daily ascent. Note the long narrow passageway between the street and the stairs. It's such a segue, literally and metaphorically, into my magical neighborhood. Every day I feel like I'm walking through some kind of teleporting machine--like the CS Lewis wardrobe, spitting me into a land of snow witches and talking beavers.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Um Dia na História

It was long, ugly and ended in a shootout

This sentence can describe either one of the events that shook Rio de Janeiro yesterday--each elbowing  the other for Globo's front page.

Flamengo beat Vasco and Obama beat Osama.

Being anti-Fla (South America's most popular football team), I was on the losing side of the former. In defeat, I accepted the insults hurled at me, clutched proudly the logo of my Vasco jersey, and walked home with an emotional limp. With the latter, however, I can consider myself part of the victory…right?

So why do I feel like I've lost both?

One Tuesday, at the beginning of my junior year of high school, I walked into my 7am class to a group huddled around a TV. The camera was fixed on two skyscrapers, one spewing smoke into the blue sky. A few moments later I watched, live, as a dark object flew into the undamaged building. The rest of the broadcast, like Manhattan's streets that day, is a dusty cloud in my mind.

Roughly 35% of my life has happened since that day. Over one-third of my life has been spent hearing about the war on terror, about Afghanistan, about Al-Qaeda, and about Osama bin Laden (all sometimes used interchangeably).

 The second I heard about bin Laden's death, I was struck with a sense of justice, of resolution. I felt triumphant. Like I've been watching a Disney movie for 10 years and finally witnessed the bad guy fall off the cliff into the fog and the crashing of waves. Fade out to end credits and a Phil Collins song.

I knew immediately, before seeing any live videos at the nation's capital and NYC's ground zero, what the reaction would be in the United States. Masses gathered. Flags waved. Signs. Banners. Smiles. Cheers. Whistles. High-fives.

Perhaps I could imagine the celebration because I had just witnessed one hours earlier. Flamengo chants echoing throughout Rio's streets. Fireworks. Hugs. Spilled beer. Dogs barking. Funk music blasting. Even that guy that sits by the pool table and says nothing...even he was screaming. 

Something is unsettling about this.

Why do we celebrate the death of a human being the same way we celebrate our favorite team winning the championship? Should these two incredibly different aspects of life invoke the same emotions? Is it because competition is built into our DNA, or maybe that government is more successful with its country at war?  

Maybe we can learn from our celebrations instead of spiral into another endless reciprocity of death. Although, judging by our history, I can't think of a more appropriate fate.

It is in this blogger's humble opinion that the human species should focus on a more dangerous enemy than ourselves--one that used to be on our side--our planet.