13 May 2007

Thumbs Up, Brazil

Nowhere in my travels have I encountered a gesture as omnipresent as the “thumbs up” in Brazil. I imagine it would (almost) be possible to travel the country only communicating via “thumbs up.” “Good morning” – why bother moving you lips - “thumbs up” does it. “How are you?” - of course you raise your thumb waiting for the response, which predictably will be a “thumbs up.” “Don’t worry about it,” “everything is OK,” “take it easy,” “I will buy it,” “I like you,” “I am happy,” “we are friends,” or simply “OK,” all of these messages can be communicated easily in Brazil with the magical “thumbs up.” I am convinced that “thumbs up” even saved me from trouble. At night walking down a dark street and approaching some even darker figures hanging out in the ally, I confidently gave them the “thumbs up”; they had no choice but to respond in kind and grant me safe passage.

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