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March 31, 2009



I'm a conversationalist. I love nothing better than a good conversation and it doesn't really matter with whom. But I'm a bit selective; I won't start conversation with just about anybody. Sometimes I'm happy to stay in a bubble and just observe the world around me.

Alan, on the other hand, is a Brazilian at heart. He talks to EVERYBODY and has the talent to get a bunch of people to talk to each other. When we moved to Toronto he decided to take public transit to work. Everyday he saw the same people on the subway platform at 6 AM and couldn't understand why nobody talked to one another since they obviously recognize each other. So he just introduced himself and started introducing people to each other and soon enough the 6 AM crowd on the platform all knew each other and would chat about their weekend.
My friends joke that we can't leave Alan alone in public for 5 mins without him making a new friend. So much for Canadians being reserved...


Hello, Gringa, I just wanted to know how clever, insightful and real fun it is to read your blog. I'm a brazilian from Rio Grande do Sul living in London, and I must admit I read all your posts from the begging to today. I hope you turn all this good stuff into a book some day. Vamu pra frente, que atras vem gente! Tchau!


Concordo com você Rachel, e só para provar a sua teoria, aqui vai um início de conversa sobre um tópico totalmente diferente.
Hoje aí no Rio de Janeiro alguns militares irão comemorar os 45 anos do golpe militar de 1964, é revoltante, aqui vão alguns links.
Reportagem no UOL:
Crítica do site do PT:

Fica aí a dica se quiser escrever sobre este assunto.
Gosto muito do seu blog! Você tem uma excelente visão crítica do Brasil.

Até mais,


I was very surprised when I first moved to California to see they act the same as Brazilians when it comes to making conversation with strangers. Waiting on line at Safeway, at gas stations, elevators, there’s always somebody initiating a conversation, and I also feel like I'm part of world.


Hello Rachel. Perhaps a not well succeed one but as my blog is about Brazilian Culture for foreigners and also for Brazilians, as far as I try to do it in a good English once it's not my native language, I really enjoyed this post because I think you made a nice acurate observation about that aspect in our culture and I wish to make mention of this post in my blog, unless you don't authorize it ok? Anyway, congratulations. It's fine!


Great post,

For many foreigners who have spent time in Brasil, this art of conversation and the great warmth one feels among both strangers and friends is the most wonderful and unique thing about Brazil. In so many other places (northern europe and the USA in particular) people are alone for many hours a day. In crowded cities people can go for days without saying a word to anyone. This increases ones sense of isolation and dislocation.

The rest of the world could learn from this particular brazilian trait. I'd be interested to see whether this correlates with rates of depression/mental illness in brazil. Perhaps something for another posting Rachael?




Nice post Rachel.

I´d just like to add some extra information: There´s a city in Brazil called Uberlândia (Minas Gerais state) that is exactly the opposite of what you just have said above and of most of people make of Brazilian culture.
People here won´t talk to you even if you´re dying on the street, and it doesn´t matter if you work with them everyday, study with them or live with them in the same condo. They will ignore you. That´s kind of funny because outsiders always get surprised when they come here, because "Minas" is well known for the hospitality of its people.
What a shame...
Such a good city, such boring people....


I hate talking to strangers and used to hate when old people (they love to talk) would talk to me on the bus.
Here in Toronto a lot of strangers talk to me when I am walking my dogs, they ask about their age, breed, name, and always tell me how cute they are.
Once, a yongue lady asked me if I had pet health insurance and told me a sad story about her yorkshire and how expensive is having a sick pet here. Well, half an hour later she stopped talking and left.
On summer I went rollerblading and took willy with me because he was fat, and then we would have some fun together for 10 minutes and loose some weight. It was really hot, so that's when an old lady stops me and starts arguing very angry that it was hot and I should not make my dog run because he was to small and was to tired, blah, blah, blah.
I have thousands of stories of strange Canadian talking to me on the street or on the public transportation.
When I walked my dogs in brazil just few people would come and talk to me, but when you get into the bus.... They never shut up!


I have a sense that while this may be very true in Rio and the northeast, the further you go south in Brazil the less it applies. I'm from Santa Catarina and although I find people there generally friendlier than in London (where I currently live) they are definitely not nearly as 'talkative' as cariocas.

I don't want to be the 'chata' who repeats the 'beware that Brazil is a very multicultural country' thing - I think that some generalisations about Brazilian culture can and should be made - however on this particular topic I'd be cautious of having Rio as a basis for generalisation.


Ernest Barteldes

You know someone is a visitor to NY when they start a conversation with you. I experienced that when away in New Orleans, Miami and Kansas City. You don't see much of that in New York, where you can go to Happy Hour and sit with a newspaper as you nurse your drink.

In a way, I do like the respite of the lonely crowd, when I can sit by myself in a Starbucks or a bar with a book and be left alone. That would
never happen in Brazil. Or in Kansas, where I went three years ago to attend
a funeral. As I sat at a restaurant after the services (there was no reception, my dad and uncle are too damn cheap), everyone that walked in wanted to talk to this stranger.

But sometimes I do miss being in conversation with a stranger. It's kind of cool...


imho, this applies to where Rachel is living: Rio. And some other places as well.

but brazilians in general are as talkative (based on cariocas) as americans are not talkative and even rude (based on New Yorkers)... and I am just laughing here remembering of a David Letterman interview a few weeks ago with Will Ferrel, talking how he was bumped around by angry New Yorkers because he is a slow walker... "COME ON?!"

its on youtube... very funny


I want to respond to something someone said above about North America and Northern Europe being places where people don't talk to each other. I think that's a misunderstanding. I think the difference between places like Brazil and the northern hemisphere is more about perceptions of privacy. It's true that strangers might not initiate a conversation if you look like you don't want to talk but if you are open, non-threatening and initiate conversation, people even in Paris or NY will open up and chat with you. I have never had a problem talking to strangers anywhere I've been. Mind you, I don't always want to engage in conversation with a stranger so I'm actually thankful for not being approached if I'm hiding behind a book or computer screen.

But if you have a dog in Toronto be prepared to be approached. As Jeanne mentioned, people will come and talk to you and say how cute your dog is. People love dogs in this city!

I'm beginning to believe that human beings love to converse no matter where they live. All you need is to give them an opportunity.


HA, I love the categories! It's true, Brazilians are great conversationalists. It's nice, sometimes I like to be quiet but friendliness when least expected is the best kind. Brazilian seem to supply most of the unexpected friendliness I encounter in life.

Rachel-LOVE THIS BLOG! Good work.

stella cavalcanti

Existe uma expressão pernambucana que é "conversar miolo de pote". Pote, obviamente, não tem miolo, pote é oco. conversar miolo de pote é jogar conversa fora, conversar sobre nada. Meu pai dizia, também "conversar água prá polícia", que significava a mesma coisa, mas eu nunca descobri de onde essa expressão surgiu.


Alexandra, I just read your post and I have to say I really agree with you. It's not that we aren't friendly up north, we have a very different culture. I honestly think that so much of behavior is directly related to environment. In Brazil it's warm, the clothes are fluid and revealing (NOT in a skanky way, calma), the conversations flow because life is more open. Indoors and outdoors aren't so separate all the time, people live with windows open, literally and figuratively.
Up here it's freezing 8 months of the year, we spend most of the time darting from a heated car to a heated office to a heated home. I find Southerners in the US to be much more outgoing and I honestly feel the environment has a lot to do with the attitudes of the people. It's hard to have a shut in personality in 100 degree weather, the heat is more conducive to socialization, which in turn leads to more outgoing ("friendly") people. Well, in my opinion. But I agree with Alexandra, people around the globe love to chat, some are just more willing to initiate a conversation.

Any thoughts on environment in relation to social behaviors?.............


Ótimo post, mas isso deve ser mais comum aí no Rio.
Aqui no Rio Grande do Sul as pessoas não costumam conversar tanto com estranhos (pelo menos eu, por ser tímido, não me sinto muito a vontade pra abordar estranhos na rua),
uma exceção aconteceu comigo mês passado quando estava vontando de uma viagem de ônibus.

Uma mulher sentou do meu lado e só parou de falar quando eu finalmente cheguei no meu destino. Haja paciência...

Apesar da influência óbvia da personalidade de cada pessoa, sendo uns mais extrovertidos e outros mais introvertidos, eu acho que no geral os brasileiros são mais abertos à uma conversa fiada do que os gringos ^_^

Ah, eu gostaria de te recomendar dar uma visitada nesse site aqui: www.gringoes.com
É bem interessante, tem várias intrevistas de gringos sobre o Brasil e vários artigos interessantes sobre a nossa cultura voltado para os estrangeiros :)


Só corrigindo um errinho bobo que eu cometi: o correto é entrevistas e não intrevistas :P


Rachel, bela análise dos brasileiros e suas conversações você fez! Para uma estrangeira, isso foi muito perspicaz, e concordo em boa parte.

No entanto, é importante ressaltar que nem todos os brasileiros, obviamente, são desse jeito. Aliás, muitos não são assim. Eu posso dizer por mim mesmo, sou péssimo conversador, e às vezes me sinto um pouco incomodado quando estranhos puxam papo comigo. Mas não é por mal, adoro pessoas, mas é apenas meu jeito de ser, mais reservado.

Mas quando começo uma boa conversa, adoro, acho que é uma verdadeira arte! Gosto de ouvir, perguntar coisas sobre a pessoa, e ir "salpicando" um pouco de mim nesse processo todo. Me incomoda pessoas que só falam, odeio isso! Aliás, pelo menos aqui em SP, o que mais encontro são pessoas que só falam e pouco escutam, isso é bem incômodo, porque mostra que a pessoa não está interessada no que você pensa, ou não se importa. Acho que a grande vantagem nisso tudo é ouvir, mas as pessoas geralmente acham que o mais importante pra elas é falar, como se tudo fosse um grande desabafo, ou sei lá. Diz um velho lugar-comum, clichêzão, que ouvindo é que se aprende, por isso tento ser humilde e ouvir muito!


Nicholas Frota

another rule: interruptions are fair game in brazil. in america it's considered rude to interrupt but not so much in brazil.

Nauber Miranda

It is not brazilian, it is a carioca thing. Even me (brazilian from Goiania) was suprised about it when I went Rio for the first time. There are many towns (Curitiba, Brasilia, Sao Paulo) in Brazil where people don't even look at the others face.

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