Translated literally this means outside of deadline. I have just looked up the word ‘prazo’ in my Portuguese/English dictionary, and was surprised to find that the term ‘deadline’ even existed within the language spoken in Brazil!
Punctuality is not normally used to describe Brazilian character, and my recent experiences relating to keeping to an agreed date, let alone time, had led me to seek a definition, mainly out of curiosity but also out of a sense of frustration and powerlessness that has been so evident among people here who have taken part in the recent protests against corruption and mal administration in Government.
Not that I would wish to compare my three broken appointments with Elektro, the public electricity utility company, with the experiences suffered by families left to suffer, waiting in hospital corridors.
Mine has been a trivial matter, but none the less, it serves to illustrate what is fast becoming a national disgrace as we approach 2014 and the World Cup.
FIFA has repeatedly voiced concerns about delays in construction schedules for stadia that are being built to host the great event. President Dilma has made reassuring noises and attended a gala re-opening of the famous Maracanã stadium in Rio following extensive modernisation. The critics have continued to publish unwelcome details of unfinished work, despite being given a yellow card by Government officials desperate to avoid unwelcome publicity. One stadium has been opened amid a fanfare of propaganda only to be closed again following discovery of faulty structural steel which was condemned as being dangerously unsafe. The bullet train project, planned to ferry fans between Rio, Sao Paulo and Campinas at speeds unheard of in Brazilian terrestrial transport, has not even begun.
Tickets went on sale recently and no doubt there will be the usual bun fight among fans to secure the coveted slips of paper that will allow the privileged to witness the grandeur of such a popular event. I imagine that forgeries are being produced as I write, amid the favellas of Rio and Sao Paulo.
Brazilians are certainly opportunistic and never leave a golden opportunity, which happens only every four years, to pass by without extracting every last centavo.
Imagine the scene therefore, as the passion rises to its crescendo next July and flights to Brazil are packed with football crazy gringos en route to a 90 minute heaven. Hotels are already pre-booked and a whole new sector of dormitory accommodation is rising to cope with the demand for what will be the biggest tourist attraction in Brazil since the discovery of gold in Minas Gerais.
As the tumultuous throng join with their Brazilian hosts and surge towards the field of green and gold for the tournament of nations, swaying rhythmically to the sultry sounds of samba, then breaking into the chants of the terraces to proclaim their invincibility and certainty to become champions of the world, they will be stopped dead in their tracks by a discrete little notice pinned to the entrance way doors.
‘A fora de prazo’
© 2013 Alastair Kinghorn