As may be expected of a blog, it is an ongoing affair. For the moment, we publish here three types of texts that suit the definition of a blog.
- in English: texts that Touché and Guy post with a certain regularity at LinkedIn.
- in Portuguese: contributions of Touché to Brasil com Z, a blog by expat Brazilians about the countries they emigrated to. The cooperation stopped some time ago, but Touché's texts are still interesting.
- in Portuguese, Dutch, English and even French: whenever we travel, we send newsletters to friends in several countries. At first, these messages appeared only in Portuguese, later a Dutch version was added, and in 2016 we were crazy enough to add a French and an English newsletter during our stays in New Zealand/Australia and Costa Rica. We will progressively post some of these travelogues, going back in time.
Note: the latest post is at the top. Use the menu at right or scroll down to older messages.
Touché at LinkedIn
When is the right time to move? To move to... where? To move, simply. Just as it reads, the question so often made is not ‘where to’ but ‘when’.
In general it is not easy to find a reply to this. We are stuck with so many tasks and obligations that rarely (can) take the time to just stop and have a talk with ourselves in the mirror. What do we see is not always the image we would like to see... because mirrors have no mercy and expose our frustrations and hidden sadnessess. That means, it demands bravery and courage to face the image reflected in front of us.
However, this is the only place to get answers to questions that keep knocking at our internal doors and we want it or not, either we take the decision and enter the meeting room where our emotions and dreams are gathered waiting for us or we will keep on postponing actions that are fundamental for our life quality.
Ready now. Let’s do it, it is me and me, I’ve got to have this conversation or I won’t feel I’m worthy my own image, that face I recognize as being me. Fairy tales tell us about moments of vanity as being the reason for going to the mirror. Not exactly so. Most of all, mirrors are there to tell the truth... even if what is expected is the confirmation that there is nobody more beautiful than myself.
With all respect for psychologists and other professionals who are there to listen and try and help you to find better ways for your life, mirrors are more effective... and less expensive. However, they are more demanding. Meeting yourself though the mirror requires not only the mentioned courage but above all honesty. Are you ready to look at yourself and admit you’re doing wrong? Ready to confess you’re not taking good care of your life and that of the ones you love? Prepared to confess your omissions regarding important matters like health, ecology, peace, respect…? Are you willing, but deeply willing to try and change your way of living? Briefly: are you open to move?
We don’t learn the art of monologuing in schools. Most societies even call ‘crazy’ those who talk to themselves, who can create a world of honesty to live in. We practice techniques on how to be interviewed... by someone else. But the main point is missing: we should talk to ourselves first, even as a possibility to keep a nice and enriching conversation with others.
And it is only when we do this, when we recognize that we are stuck with fears and conveniences that we will get the answer to this crucial question: when is the right time to move?
Most probably the right time is now. Let’s move. On.
Notwithstanding the undeniable importance of dictionaries and encyclopedias, linguists who value culture as fundamental for any activity involving translating certainly agree that getting to know different places is extremely important to master this work. Of course this means… traveling, yeah!
Ok, ok, the so many new ways to get to know other countries and learn different languages have become an alibi for the lazy translators and a consolation for those who would need to get better paid to realize the trips they consider interesting for their development. You can sit in front of any computer of any size and ‘watch’ the world happen and speak. And this is great, Options are fundamental. Always.
On the other hand, there are many people who do have the financial means to travel and do not do it even if they admit it would help them live better, be it as a professional or simply as a human being who is curious about what is this planet all about. Why is that so? Well… leave the possible explanations to psychologists. Tourist agents, just like some kind of linguists, won’t ever agree to that and even less be able to understand such an attitude.
Much has already been said about the importance to learn different languages to keep the brain ‘young and fresh’. Let’s objectify: there is no better school than life. Here, we can say that there is no better language school than the place where it is spoken. Because nothing can replace the atmosphere around a language. What could we include in this concept? Body language, smells, colors, climate, nature… life enfin. We can illustrate this idea just by remembering the many words used for ‘ice and snow’ in Inuktitut. The anthropologist John Steckley noted in his book White Lies (2007) that 52 is cited as the number of different terms. Obviously this is not the only case on earth where the environment proves to be a strong element influencing a language (dialects are part of languages, yes?).
This is it, kids. Let’s travel and learn. Let’s travel and use our knowledge. Let’s travel and enlarge the horizons of our life, because life, babies, is really too short to just be sitting in front of machines while letting the brain mummify.
Let’s live languages!
The undeniable truth is: we all have only twenty-four hours to live a day. Oh.. how come no scientist was capable to reverse this fact so far? Dunno. I’m not a scientist, I just repeat what they proved to be provable and never heard of any opposite line of thought in this sense. Strange as it may seem, there are some matters to which there is unanimity in the world. The number of hours in a day is one of them. So far.
Unless the reader is one of the scientists who might be busy researching on novelties about time, you will agree with me that it would be a matter of minimum common sense to try and use these few twenty-four hours in the most enjoyable way. Well, each one has a personal view about fun and this has to be taken into consideration. Only religions have a definition of good life which applies to a whole community. But you don’t need to follow a credo to get to know what a nice life is… or do you?
Suppose you don’t. Probably you don’t. Many people like to search their own definitions for the uncountable concepts that surround our life. Replay then: suppose you don’t need nor wish to follow what others determine as good life to you. You think of yourself as a creative and rather intelligent person, you are able to conceptualize good life quality and find a practical way to live accordingly.
So, ready with the theoretical phase? NOW the real thing starts!!! Because probably your concept/definition of good life/having fun or matters of the sort just doesn’t fit in the twenty-four hours limit established by scientists! One option is to try a basic mathematical operation and multiply 24 hours by an indefinite factor – resulted from minor details as your bank account vs bills to be paid at the end of the month, availability of other people who you would love to have with you in your good life plan, the weather, the health of those involved – and if you come even with a reasonable amount of hours and all the various other factors just stop all the activities that are causing discomfort and immediately put your fun in practice...f or as long as possible.
The other option may be a bit more drastic: just cut the bullshit and be happy. NOW. Life’s too short, it is only a small count of twenty-four hours called days. Don’t run, just stop running, slow down and relax. Everything will be fine.
This is life.
Everything's gonna be alright. Remember the song?
Thanks, Bob Marley!
The consequences of the fast changes in our world can be observed everywhere and in almost all types of activities. Together with a new concept of aging, which includes the freedom to decide not to sit in front of the tv after retirement and to look for new ways to remain active, daily life has become more similar everywhere. In our societies, where work takes most of our 24 hours, the day is filled with many appointments and commitments which do not leave much alternative for those who love to do everything ‘the old way’, neat and pretty or likewise but also quick and efficient as modernity requires.
Scientists keep busy with the creation of new gadgets that can make our rush rush go smoothly but that’s how we end up caught in an irreversible situation of being users of devices and equipments we could not even suspect would ever exist and specially not be needed desperately to keep pace with our time.
Take computer as an example: nobody asks if you ‘have’ one but how good can work with yours. Laptops became school notebooks and it may seem awkward if a student goes to school without one. The same goes for digital cameras (analog cameras are museum pieces), gps (yes, there was a time when roadmaps where part of a trip packing) and… the big hit: smartphones! The point is: how do we adjust? It is not exactly a matter of ‘why’ but ‘how’. The refusal to take part in these changes brings as consequence our auto-exclusion from reality, which is not an intelligent, wise or practical way of living.
Even if we consider these technological miracles predominant in rich countries, the success of smartphones is something undeniable as an international wonder. They are used in the most improbable places and circumstances. Due to their existence and absolute priority as personalized hi-tech, we now look like a world of autists and all the criteria of strangeness has changed: nowadays the one who goes around speaking without an interlocutor is not a crazy guy anymore but a super normal person who would definitely look abnormal if he/she would refuse to use such a device.
It is understandable that youngsters are most vulnerable to possible misuses of new artifacts, not only because of the natural curiosity that characterizes them but because they show an openness to move on while oldies tend to stick to mummified rules no matter how stupid these can be. The new forms of communication are a crucial challenge for oldies. It is easy to dress more casually, very nice to travel everywhere with a backpack, fantastic to take dance lessons or enroll in any course but accepting smartphones seem to be particularly difficult for people above fifty as they are not a free choice but an unavoidable fact. You either live with it or… you live with it unhappily.
How do we deal with the smartphones wave? Clearly we can’t pretend they don’t exist. Nor can we do as if the dynamics of social moments haven’t changed. Nowadays people don’t hold their phones but have them as an integrated part of the hand. And expecting someone to give you 100% attention while talking is almost offensive. Because life can not be life without the smartphone taking part of it.
This issue is a matter of utmost importance for the dialogue between generations. If parents, educators, administrators, people who are there to transmit knowledge and experience deny the youngsters the possibility of living the world as they create it, then the dialogue will be broken. Youth is swinging with music, it is a moving stage and we can’t try and stop new generations from being what they are: the wonderful and only possibility to change and improve life.
Isn’t it amazing that some people can communicate with sooo many friends through the different social media while you sit wondering how to manage to make a simple call and say hello to someone you cherish? Honestly speaking, this fact should lead to deep analysis about how we are getting things done. If it IS possible – and it seems to be – to share our feelings and experiences and ideas and beliefs and political goals and and and with a lot of people at the same time, then maybe it is time to stop and look at ourselves in the mirror standing in front of those who can’t manage.
How many hours a day must we spend in front of different screens to be able to follow what is happening in the world AND with our so-called friends, the ones who so generously share all types of information varying from the latest device invented to stop you from thinking to the importance of clicking to donate money to lost causes for lost whatever in the middle of nowhere? No, we cannot not share, we cannot not support, not help, otherwise we are no good people, no good… friends.
Maybe life became too easy and therefore too difficult to be lived just as ‘it should’. Because we know that everyone should be respected, all oldies should be entitled to be loved and cared for by their family, all children should be protected from adult’s abuse, everybody should have appropriate schooling, housing, eating and be in good health. We know the principles and laws regarding human rights, children’s rights, animal rights... we just don’t know how to make them work.
Global communication does NOT mean we’ve acquired the possibilities to solve everybody’s problems, nor that we became super beings who can just extend our arms and embrace the world. We are charged with the heavy obligations towards our living fellows but we don’t even see the faces of those with whom we should sympathize. Not because we don’t care, no, but just because it is practically impossible to feel so much for so many people all the time. We are now dealing with figures, statistics and graphics, but emotions are not statisticable, nor graphicable. Nor globalizable.
Our mind can be as big as the universe, our eyes can see the stars far away. But our arms... well, they can just reach and hold those who are really close, here and now. This is our reality. This is how we try to survive long distance love.
For some decades now human beings are becoming more and more department-ed, as if our unity as living beings has been erased from scientific, technical or even medical books. For example, long ago, there was something called ‘doctor’ who studied our functioning and how to help us recover from possible dysfunctions that cause illness. Nothing like the-one-who-knows-about-diseases-and-how-to-cure them. Sure not. Most of all, the medical doctor was a Friend. He (in the past there were practically no women in the profession) would share your life, visit your home and drink tea with you, talk to your family and even attend special events – not restricted to helping your kids be born.
Handyman needed at the Roman theatre of Regina (Badajos, Spain)
Yes. Doctors would talk with you in a friendly and personal way! It was later that experts called psychologists replaced this art by the listening-without-getting-involved practice. Later.
If we already had the multiple medicine-man, what about people who were able to create tools, instruments and all sort of artefacts without any concern about ‘intellectual property’? Whatever existed as possibility for production the final result belonged to the group, period.
Repairing and fixing was a day-to-day activity. And even if progressively some ‘repair shops’ began to open, it was no big deal when something needed repair. The famous ‘do-it-yourself’ appeared much later as a slogan to justify individualism. Here we are talking about a much more human way of doing things: solidarity. Someone has a talent, somebody else has a different one. Let’s help each other and keep going. No big deal to learn either, you know, you teach. Simple, easy and… efficient!
Well... as technology evolved we were wrapped up in a package called ‘independence’ which has proven to be highly profitable for those few who sell knowledge and very very impoverishing for those millions who just need some help. Now the name changed to ‘technical service’ and yes, it costs lots of money and does not require any special friendly contact, on the contrary, no satisfaction and you get your money back! Not necessarily... but you can always try...
If our own body has become an intricate puzzle divided in uncountable pieces demanding different geniuses to make each small piece fit harmoniously with the others, what to say about the so many objects surrounding our personal puzzle? No idea how many they are but we sure became dependent on their good functioning to be able to function ourselves. Dependent, I said? oh... terrible!!! So much done in favour of independence and look where we got!
Experts, specialists, highly trained people, courses, workshops, conferences, certificates, diplomas... an endless vocabulary to explain our incapacity to change a bulb! More and more is written about the need to be a super mega something in order to get the privilege of finding a job which will pay for the simple pleasures of life like restoring an old shelf, waxing the car or remodelling an old dress. And so on and so on. No good? Bye bye. Buy buy. A new one. And be aware of too much studies: you might end not finding any boss to evaluate your degrees!!!
It’s getting too complicated, my friends. All we need is love, yes John Lennon. And all we need are handy men!
I myself have some minor things that need fixing. No need to send a letter of motivation, just drop by and we have a coffee together while you do your work, all right?
What about those nice plans we’ve made last year? Did we move further to get them executed?
We don’t want to consider ourselves inefficient and we are not liars. We’ve made commitments with other people but, most of all, we’ve taken responsibilities with our personal life, meaning that our future is what this is about.
It is easy to make a plan, even easier to dream. But if plans require a strategy and dreams are just free thinking, all the progress and beauty will vanish and become frustration if we just sit and wait. Nobody will realize our plans for us. No dreamers can make our dreams come true!
Maybe the project itself is not what really matters but the energy that keeps us going when we are building our projects to make them become a reality. Decision, focus, action contribute to our self-esteem and give the pleasure of feeling useful. Dreams are the basis for happiness and should never be disregarded, specially not taken as something unimportant. All great ideas start from a dream. All good realizations have a dream as a foundation stone. Art in all forms of manifestation can only be created if someone is crazy enough to try and do it.
Keeping our minds busy leads to better quality of life. Movement, be it mental or physical, makes the world turn and this is the way people can develop their talents. The rhythm of hearts dancing the music of life. No matter where, how, with whom, we need to fight for our plans and the time is now.
The first month of 2017 is passing and almost reaching its end. Time to look in the mirror and ask what have we done so far so that February will not find us sitting and being so surprised that time passes so fast, etc. We all know that. Let’s do what has to be done. It is never easy but losers do not speak the language of development.
Yes... there will be failures, probably frustrations too. But success is not only reaching a goal but the immense satisfaction brought by believing we can get there. In small steps, in drops... just learning a new word each day we come to write stories of people who effectively did something to make this a better world.
This is our text.
We keep talking about the importance of learning how to express ourselves in different languages – and here ‘different’ starts from considering our mother tongue as the ‘usual’ one – and while all this bla bla goes around the world we seem to forget the ‘real thing’, the most international and probably the oldest way of communication that is, body language.
What we transmit without using words does not require much explanation even if there are some gestures, movements and looks that strongly differ from a culture to another and can cause rather embarrassing situations! Those have to be taken in account and we should learn how to deal in a good humoured mood with unpredicted laughs or even horrified faces caused by some cultural misunderstandings. However those facts don’t account as the most frequent. Generally speaking anywhere and anytime just anyone can clearly perceive what a person is expressing through a non-verbalized way.
And why is it so? Elementary, my dear! Because most of what is said by body language relates to emotions and that is international! People crying hardly and exceptionally mean something else than sadness; shining eyes are a clear (of course) sign of joy and happiness; open arms certainly give you the feeling of being welcome; laughs make you want to laugh too; seduction has some special ways to be expressed (and surely not difficult to decodify); speedy or slow movements let us know about what is happening, etc. Even more understandable are the messages sent by the face being the eyes particularly communicative. It doesn’t require too much intelligence to know when someone is in pain. Or sleepy. Or tired. Or fed up. Or anxious, or or or. We communicate.
Smiles also supply good information: it is not so difficult to make the difference between a ‘plastic’ and a ‘I love you’ smile. Plastic smilers never smile with the eyes! They sell that (tiring, argh!) movement of their lips together with some idea/product and never get to touch your heart with it. On the contrary, smile lovers bring light to your life and they are – very fortunately – highly contagious. Irresistible.
Dance, dance, dance. The music of the universe calls and teaches how to discover the meaning of life just by following the rhythm of the sounds around. Nothing more beautiful and meaningful than the heart beat! It is only when we can learn how to embrace and share our warmth that we achieve deep communication.
Yes, I definitely prefer body language.
Globalization has brought us to this simple fact: English is a must. You can’t just think of anything regarding other cultures if you can’t manage expressing yourself in English. Nobody asks you if you like it or not, they just take it for granted that you can do it. Punt.
Tanum petroglyphs: do you know the language? (Tanumshede, Sweden)
This assumption is not only a pre-requirement for the work market but also for any business relationship in general. In case you still don’t have a reasonable level of knowledge of English and consider touring around another country where the language is unknown to you, you should either start thinking on planning your excursions through a travel agent or sharpen your linguistic abilities, what now means at least being in condition to use some words in English. Unless you’re really good with body language…
So, you accepted this fact and can already read this text? Good. It’s a real positive point for you.
But it can happen that your curiosity for other countries, people and cultures goes beyond the possibility of making contact in English and you find it interesting – or even fun – to learn other languages. Wow, here you go and after some time you become bilingual. This is a plus in your CV and a new window for your personal growth.
And because the excitement of getting to know two languages has caught you, here you are, ready to move to your next studies and open to the fact that as you keep on going into this direction you’ll be soon called a polyglot. Huh? Me? Yes... that can happen, if you don’t stop studying languages, my dear curious kid! Watch out, you became skilful in three languages! Trilingual is a bizarre concept but that's where you are now.
However, in spite of the strangeness of these terms, you go on. You’ve been stung by the language-mosquito and its trace is in your blood, you can’t get rid of it anymore. Surrender. Choose and start learning the fourth language, the one that will set you in this very strange group of people: the polyglots. This sounds very weird...
If you’ve ever met a polyglot you know they are real and that they seem to be human too. But it’s not every day that you bump into an element of this species, right? Be aware of people who can speak so much! Beware of polyglots specially for they can speak a lot... in different languages.
But you couldn’t help it, you got the feel, you fell in love with the new forms of oral and written communication and now you are labeled forever. Polyglot. It is a very weird adjective and seldom used to define normal beings. Be ready for the suspicious look when someone comes to know you belong to this species. Furthermore, be prepared to be treated as a troglodyte. What is a polyglot by the way?
This may seem too naive or even too dumb but I’ve come to the conclusion that not necessarily the huge spectrum of possibilities internet offers to those who search a simple way to share what they know makes things that easy to the searchers as it possibly should. You try and try, google, wikipedia, whatever and still you don’t find what you’re looking for.
What's the bird's name? Pütangitangi (Karekare, New Zealand)
You think it’s all about exercising patience and you’re a perseverant person. Most of all, there is this objective fact, the undeniable reality: the information you want is there! It exists and is available, most probably free of cost, and what? You just can’t find it!
The more you search the less you feel you’re coming to any positive result. What started as a simple need for an information keeps growing to become a difficult task, then moves to a cruel challenge until it transforms into a monster who wants to see you die of frustration and disappointment. You’ve always thought of yourself as a normal person but you start to doubt if your intelligence is below the average criteria to determine basic functions, because searching AND finding something on internet is the basic of the basics, no?
No point on sweating, cursing or even crying: you don’t get anywhere. The computer looks at you with that ironic and critical smile that computers dedicate to those who can’t talk to them in a civilized way. You’re the dinosaur, the rhino of modern times and all the medals and diplomas hanging on your wall are good for nothing. No matter how despaired you can be this machine remains silent and shows no mercy towards you.
Help! cry for help! At least ‘this’ you can do, no? Go to the ‘help’ page! No. Most sites don’t approve you doing this at first. You’ve got to read the whole list of FAQ before you’re allowed to act as a crying baby. Oh, yes, you’ve got to learn that FAQ means ‘frequent asked questions’. Great. The only problem is: usually your question is not a frequent asked one and you know why? Because it is too simple...yes…
Go to ‘forum’ then, but don’t be upset and take your time to fill in a profile that will open the door of paradise to you. You can’t access the forum without being part of the group...It’s logical of course but it is not what you planned when you opened your computer to look for an information. Don’t panic, you’ll fill in all the items in less than one hour! Got it ready? Did the site confirm your subscription? Be happy, take a beer from the fridge, call your friends and let’s celebrate: you’re now part of a very special community and everyone who’s already there is only willing to help and eager to read your questions: they will make them feel very intelligent.
Well, making other people feel intelligent was not exactly the idea when you started the whole thing but as long as you can get this bloody information it is even nice to know that you could make other people happy on the way. Go on, write your doubt and wait for some good-hearted and competent collaborator who will be having fun answering to this little dummy who does not know something so elementary.
Sorry: the little dummy is yourself. Let me rephrase it: the little dummy is me.
Maybe you’ve read this just out of solidarity. My compliments and sincere thanks.
I don’t think there is need for too many discussions on this matter. Not only because we live in a globalized world, which implies the necessity to open our vocabulary to new words and terms aiming at making more money, but also for some less ‘serious’ reasons, like personal communication, emotions and poetry.
Around the world it is almost taken for granted that if you want to establish a successful business relationship you have to speak English. If you don’t but your company is wealthy and strong in the market, you can always use an interpreter, that’s what interpreters are for, right? This is settled: we use English as a bridge, discuss terms of contracts, sign the papers and bye bye. Let’s get back to the real thing, that means, let’s work hard to get more people around the conference table.
But this is not really what ‘human communication’ is about... ’people who needs people are the luckiest people in the world’, says the famous song and this is very true. We can go just anywhere around the planet and will always see people sharing their emotions – which is the only really international language. Tears and smiles, love and pain, wonder and despair... nobody needs books or courses to understand the meaning of an emotional expression. No need to study, sharing a feeling requires ‘only’ the basics of being an animal: sympathy. We are alive, we are animals. We share emotions. Punt.
On the other side, in order to exchange ideas, principles, morals, hopes... we need to speak the same language as our interlocutor. Body language plays an important role here but is never enough to make people come to an understanding about what has been said or expressed. In short: if you want to learn about people’s thoughts you have to speak a common language.
We know that art speaks for itself but not all artistic expressions can be grasped without words because literature relies on the knowledge of languages, to be perceived. We can feel the rhythm of a poem but we can not relate it to our various worlds if we do not know the message being transmitted. That is so.
Poetry requires the ability of knowing languages. And this is a lovely reason why to learn a new one: it allows us to enter in the wonderful unknown caves of another culture. There lies poetry.
Languages open doors and windows to our lives. And this can be the way to learn more about ourselves, about the others and help us find peace and understanding among all of us.