Monday, July 18, 2011

Taka min yando?!

I have been sorrowfully lazy lately. A function of stress and winter. The good news is, I know from experience, when I get back to the exercise habit after an indulgent absence, that first good jog feels incredible.

Perhaps when I get back from my trip, I'll break back into the Zesty Life with another Paulista pleasure--night running in Parque Ibirapuera.

Total feel-good vibe.

The subject reminds me of a story. Me, sozinha, a rental apartment in Praia Brava, Florianópolis, May 2007. That's off season, you see, being the beginning of conceptual "winter"--though I still spent my days in my swimsuit--so there was hardly anyone around. Moreover, Praia Brava is not very accessible without a car, so basically, I spent a fortune on a taxi to and from a supermarket on Day 2 of my 10-day holiday, where I armed myself to the teeth with food and wine. Feito.

At that time, I still had a 50-word Portuguese vocabulary. Still, I made friends with the only living soul around, the young porteiro (the guard at the gated complex), Ricardo. I remember telling him (well, elaborating via charades, really) the recent news story involving Lisa Nowak. That was when I learned, after a great deal of gesturing, that the Portuguese word for diapers is fraldas, a hard-won boost to my vocabulary that I never forgot.

One day as I left the complex, waving Tchau! to Ricardo, he called out to me from his booth:
Taka min yando?
...or was it
Taka min yando!

I paused, confused. I quickly scanned through my shortlist to find anything, anything, similar...nope, nada, I have no idea what he's saying to me.

He repeats himself:
Taka min yando? (or !)
...numerous times, and now I am convinced he's speaking Japanese. I nod a weak "uh-huh" and smile in agreement with...whatever...and shuffle off... still repeating the syllables to myself, futilely, in the hope of discovering their significance.

Months later, sitting in class at Brazil In Chicago, I learned that the verb conjugations of "estar" (one form of "to be") are almost always shortened in spoken Portuguese: estou (I am) becomes , está (you are) becomes tá, similarly to the English trimming of gonna, havta, wanna, et cetera. A ficha caiu. A light goes on.

Tá caminhando?
Are you going for a walk?

Another unforgettable lesson. And, yes, I think I will.