Sunday, November 28, 2010
Condominium life, Brazil
"Notice- infringment of articles 35 and 46 of R 1, you are advised in accordance with article 67
"Occupant without a key to the entrance gate using the wall as an entrance in the absence of a nightporter*, if seen by third parties putting the security of the condominium at risk, an irregularity seen by our camaras on 17 November and 00.30 hrs. Florianopolis, 20 of November 2010"
*customarily the nightporter would open the gate.
The wall in question is about 50 centimetres high. I did have a key but I carry so many that it's easier to climb the wall than to find the right one.
The condominium is run by a diminutive fat man with a beard and glasses that seem too big for his face, who has an intense love of rules ( he is called a sindico). He has no sense of humour, but he has been fair. However, he has a bunch of sidekicks who are quite unpleasant, and who enjoy catching people infringing the rules. I guess it makes them feel somehow complete. There are many rules, so the sidekicks are generally very happy people.
I was putting my little business cards in the mail boxes in the condomium, not realising that this was an infringment of the regulations. The janitor, an old man with a lined face and a limp came to me, and said, "You know that isn't permitted. But don't worry, I didn't see anything."
So I thanked him, what a decent old guy, I thought: he warned me, but he didn't make a big deal about it.
But the following day, when I was being questioned by the Sindico about climbing the condo wall, up steps the janitor- "he was putting card in the mailboxes too", he said to the sindoco, gleefully.
So I asked the janitor, " Why did you lie yesterday? You said you wouldn't mention anything?" In response, the janitor started shouting, "go away, go away!" and limped off.
I guess he saw a chance to curry favour with the sindico (who to his credit chose to ignore what the janitor said), and if that might cause me problems, or he might have promised otherwise, so be it. The janitor has a slyness that I've seen a few a few times with people form the island: a rapacious peasant quality, in which immediate private gain is the only objective.
The little story illustrates a number of features of Brazillian life:
The janitor pretends to be my friend. Fake friendly abounds here. If you come here as a holidaymaker its charming, but once you live here and realise it's fake it loses its appeal.
Making promises you have no intention of keeping because it will make you seem more likable (this is especially common with invitations, and takes the form of, "what are you ding next weekend? I'm going to invite you for a drink/ to meet my wife etc. They don't mean this at all- they are trying to be charming, but it is confusing and annoying.).
3. Rule obsessed.
I think, because their public spaces are degraded by violence, squalor, grafitti, filth, stray dogs, sewage and violent mayhem, and they've in large part abandoned them, Brazillians become obsessive in the readily controllable zones of the home or condominium. There also might be a Portuguese element here of legalistic pedantry.
Rules are not evenly handled: the security guards in the offices I work are considerably more pleasant to some than others, depending on their status- Brazillian society is very hierarchical.
Because I ride a bicycle (I suspect) and in Brazil only students and poor people ride bikes one of the security guards thinks it's acceptable to speak down to me. Or maybe she is just a rude cow.
4. Obsession with security.
Actually. it would be pretty hard to steal anything from here at night. None of the apartments have ground floor windows, the apartments are close together and nestle about a courtyard.