The Electric Pickynicky

Last Sunday, we were out having a business lunch with associates, ha ha, I’ve always wanted to say that… as if I was talking business. I’ll start again. Eh hem; so after chatting, laughing and drinking some cold beers (which I really didn’t want (ha ha…)), we were heading home.  I prefer to be at home on Sunday evening, we both have a busy week, my wife more than me and being out past 7pm is a little dangerous for us both. The night beckons and with that, more cold beer.  All it takes is one, then we’re dancing Samba on tables and getting in when the sun is sliding over the Bh mountain range. So we chase the sun home, trying to get in-doors before the darkness drapes all around us. Then its feet up, DVD and Japanese. I mean food of course, we don’t sit there with some Japanese bloke we don’t know. 

But then, my wife received a phone call, and suddenly we’re zooming through the streets of Belo Horizonte. 

“Eh hello wifey, DVD shop?” 

Not that my wife actually ‘zooms’ anywhere, she is probably one of the very few Brazilians who turns into a formula 1 driver when they get behind the wheel. They all think they’re Ayrton Senna over here, hence why there around 350,000 road deaths annually in this country.  Please excuse the sudden depressing statistic. But imagine, that’s the population of Cork* city in Ireland. Imagine everyone in Cork being horrifically killed in one year. Sure that would be terrible like. 

I don’t like surprises, well I do, but only if I’m doing the  surprising. And I don’t like plan making, again, only if I’m planning them. Basically, if you have anything on your mind, you really have to clear them with me even before putting on your socks. 

My wife ignores this. 

“We’re going to a thing on the street”, she says. 

““A thing on the street”? I don’t know Vanessa, it sounds shite. I don’t think it’s a good idea, let’s get a DVD” 

I had no idea what it was and I had already dismissed it.  A thing on the street…jaysus, it must be shite, mustn’t it? 

“It’ll be good, Flavia and Mariana called me and they’re there already” 

I like Flavia, she’s good fun, and has always included me in on things and been really patient with me regarding my up-take of the Portuguese language.  She’s bouncy as I say, nothing to do with her breast size. I mean is she’s full of energy, loves life, loves to drink, and I appreciate that. She’s a dentist here in Bh. She’s also been known to take an odd line of cocaine, sometimes even before a root canal on a Monday morn. She doesn’t know I know that, hence why she’s always wondered why I never considered her when I was searching for a miracle worker regarding my teeth. 

“Sorry Flavia, but I don’t believe in mixing friendship with dental work, it’s not personal. It’s a …European thing. Seriously.” 

It seemed to work. She never asked me about it again. But I do see her eyes wandering from eye-contact south to my dentures every now and again, examining them. Well, it’s either that, or maybe she’s just off her head on the coke and her eyes are beginning to roll. 

My wife seems to be surrounded by good people. Genuine people. Mariana…well, she’s the exception to the rule. I disliked her the first day I met her. In my book, she did the worst thing possible within 10 seconds of us being introduced. She offered her cheek to me to be kissed while she kissed the air around mine, and then the other. I ..fuckn… hate… that. The next time I met her, I decided to offer my hand instead. What I got instead was one of those ‘wet’ hand shakes, i.e. not a firm handshake as handshakes are supposed to be, and to add to the insult, she looked the other way while she was doing it. I should have shot her. The kissing the air, and the wet handshake are personal pet hates of mine. I thought of Tom Cruise and his famous line in that movie. My version would have been “you pissed me off at hello”. While I thought about this,(and giggled to myself a little), I held onto her hand little longer, and was squeezing it a little too much too. 

“Ai!” (How Brazilians say “ouch”) 

“Jaysus Mariana!. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to crush your hand like that, it was an accident…opps”. 

Although Vanessa was talking to another group at the time, I could still feel her eyes boring through me. If she was Superwoman they would have been splitting me in half. My wife’s now aware of my ‘love’ for Mariana, and she is also aware of the fact that Mariana can be a real idiot. Mariana is the only one who’s not aware of it. Why is someone like this, friends with my wife? you may ask, well; they go back. They’ve known each other since childhood, and to my wife that counts. To me, it’s gone-off bread, throw it out, but I’m kind of brutal like that. My wife on the other had is a nice person, so even if you’re a bit of a dick, she will give you the time of day. If my wife could market patience she would be a millionaire twice over. Good for me actually, coz I know very well, to be married to me you need reserves of it. I’m lucky to have a good person as a wife. 

“Jesus, the coke taking dentista and the bitch from Belo. Wonderful” 

“But Keith, they’re my friends” she says with a cheeky smile. 

We park and head to the street thing, which is on the junction of Goncalves Dias and Paraiba street, which is in the Savassi part of BH, considered to be the trendy part of town. 

The truth was, the thing was no ordinary shitty thing at all, it was a very organised cool thing in fact. What was impressive was they’d actually put down slabs of turf everywhere. The junction was completely covered in grass! On top of this, they had puffs for people to sit on, shades to block the sun. There were mini-swimming pools sporadically placed around the area for children. Huge hammocks swung from the many trees that line the streets of BH in which 3-5 groups of children seemed to be testing their durability. Guaranteed when they do finally break after 25 children climbing into one, they will look at it, then run, cry, point and blame the tree. I always think that if children are going to be used as slave labour in some parts of the world, they should work in test centres of companies, they have no concept of anything. Give them a product, get behind a wall, video them for 10 minutes, if they don’t blow up. It works! 

There was a futuristic type machine placed in the middle of the grassed area, which earlier had been used to give away fruit juices. There were stalls put up where you can purchase alcohol and cigarettes. The cafes on the corners seem to be doing wonderful business selling pastels and soft drinks. An added bonus was the 20 portaloos, girls and boys. Flashy. 

“Nossa Senhora…olha isso!” My god check this out. 

“This is no street thing babes, this is an electric picnic”. 

“Sim meu amor!, electronica pickynicky” 

And it was, people were sitting on the grass, and enjoying a Sunday picnic. I was shocked, we hadn’t heard anything about this. The only thing that was missing were the hippies. Well, when I mean “missing”, I mean they just weren’t there, which was kind of strange, even with their smelly hair, they tend to sniff out things like this a mile away. Maybe the Policia Militar in their cute little way ‘stopped’ them as they were coming in. 

So we made our way to the picnic area. Vanessa had spotted Flavia, and was motioning us over. Flanking her, cigarette in hand, shades on at 7pm, was Mariana pretending she hadn’t seen us and looking embarrassed by Flavia’s frantic waving. 

“Jaysus, here we go”. Waving back, with a perfect fake smile. 

Then a minor miracle. 

“Kaychy…Kaychy…over here!” 

Adriano is my best buddy in Brazil, and has been since I arrived here. He has become more than a buddy, more like a brother. He’s had helped me a great deal since I landed here. Words like authentic and genuine do not describe him enough. Although sometimes either does ‘pain in the ass’, and ‘dick’. Adriano takes pleasure out of my pain in the fact that nobody can pronounce my name in Brazil, actually Adriano only because he speaks excellent English to the point that it’s better than mine, is one of the few people who can say it properly. The problem is that th sounding part of Keith does not exist in Portuguese, and for some unknown reason, the sound becomes a ch sound like in ‘church’ or ‘ketchup’. Therefore they say my name the way they see it – Kaych. 

There’s more. In Minas Gerais Portuguese, words that have an “e” ending are pronounced like our “y” ending in English. For example, the city of Belo Horizonte, “e” is the final letter. In English it would be Belo Horizonty…you get my meaning? I actually like it, it’s kind of cute. And they know that. So, when it comes to an English word that has no translation to Portuguese, they decide to play with the word and make it their own, by adding this “e” to the end of words, so this is what you hear; 

Bandy Aidy (Band Aid) 

Pingy Pongy (ping pong i.e. table tennis) 

Kingy Kongy 

Fastchy foochy (fast food) 

Pickynicky (yes, it’s picnic) 

Hochy Doggy (hot dog) 

Davidchy Bowie 

Sineady O’Connor 

But the king has to be; Vics Vaporub; 

Vicky Vapo-ruby. 

“Kaychy, over here ya baldy fecker”. 

I took my chance. 

“Hun, I’m going to say hi to Adriano.  I’ll be over in a while”. And before I gave her a second to respond, my back was turned and I was gone, although in the same instance, I could feel her kryptonite eyes tearing me a new one. 

I searched, and for a moment, I couldn’t find him, then I got him. He was swinging in one of the hammocks. 

“Hey bitch, enjoying yourself? you’d want to be careful there bro, that thing you have attached to your body called a fat arse is going to break that thing and the pavement under it”. 

“…shut up” 


“So, you just chose not to tell me about this then? great mate you are” 

“Bro, I swear we got here like an hour ago, we didn’t know anything. Flavio told me about it, he was at an event organised by the same crowd. They had money left over, so they put on this, some one told him about it this morning”. 

I could see Flavio sitting there with 2 other friends of Adriano, Leo, and Alicia. I was quite fond of all 3 of them, they were super friendly and good craic. 

“They had money left over and they used it to host this? They didn’t just stick in their pockets?” 

“Ha ha, not everyone here’s a politician Keith” 

“This is has to be the best thing I’ve been to since I got here. Seriously, this is great! But did they not think to advertise? Nobody seemed to know about it”. 

“This is how BH works brother, info gets passed around using mouth to mouth” 

“Ha ha, excuse me, “mouth to mouth” you say. Well my god, that’s an interesting concept, the world might be a different place if that was the way”. 

“Erm.. what?” 

“We say word of mouth ya dick, mouth to mouth would mean your kissing, but I like the way you’re thinking” 

“Ah really, merde. But the world indeed might be …interesting” 

But he was right, this is way things happen here. People rely on it. There are no multitudes of entertainment magazines advertising what happens every second of the after-work-hour period. It’s kind of annoying, because you really have to stay connected with people in order to see what happening. But as I sat there on the grass, with my friends, drinking some more cold beers, chewing on some Brazilian pastels, watching the children splash around in the swimming pools, their parents’ safe in the knowledge that they were safe.  I thought, maybe that’s the point. Word of mouth = human contact. The bonus about this Electric picnic was that it wasn’t mobbed, you weren’t fighting for a place to sit, stand or just be. There were no queues to get to the bathrooms or to get beers, and it was free. If they’d advertised it, it would have been the opposite.  It seems in this booming country of Brazil, people still rely on this ‘archaoic’ form of communication. It’s easy to see, Brazilians strike up conversations with you any chance they have. Like the Irish, they’ll talk about anything from potatoes to politicians. I have walked by bus stops, kiosks, these tiny coffee stands they have, and seen groups of people of different sizes, shapes, and classes all chatting away with ease. In some other parts of the world, everyone else would be busy with their iPhones either listening or updating their profile on Facebook. Nobody uttering a word to each other. Yes, fine, it got me thinking of the importance of human contact. It also got me thinking about my wife and her attitude to the Mariana’s of this world. 

“Adriano, I’ll catch you later, gotta go”. 

“Cool Kaychy” 


I joined my wife, and I checked the clock. It was way past our Sunday bed time, but it was worth it. We drank more beers and talked more talk. A perfect picnic. I just regretted not having spent all day there. I have to remind myself sometimes that my wife knows me very well, and she knows what I like. So maybe next time, I’ll just say, ‘yes lets go hun, forget the DVD and the little Japanese man’, and stop being so stubborn. 

I thought about human contact, so I talked to Mariana. I made an effort. Superwoman was checking us out, but her eyes were set on stun this time. And you know what? it wasn’t so bad. And I felt good afterwards. It’s like someone said to me a long time ago; 

“It’s nice to be nice”. 

Well, isn’t it? 


*Cork. The second biggest city in Ireland, a statistic they hate. ‘Corkonians’ consider their city to be the real capital of Ireland. ‘Dubliners’, i.e. people from the capital city of Dublin don’t care what the Cork people think. Dublin is the capital and that’s that. Corkonians hate Dubliners. 


Mmm which way..


Shush!.. its Electric picnic.

5 Responses to “The Electric Pickynicky”
  1. “But I do see her eyes wandering from eye-contact south to my dentures every now and again, examining them. Well, it’s either that, or maybe she’s just off her head on the coke and her eyes are beginning to roll.”

    You one funny hochy doggy, Kif. Good stuff. Keep it coming!

  2. dri valadares says:

    ah, agora eu entendi melhor o lancee do vídeo do picnic!

    e você só precisa de um apelido brasileiro pra parar de se incomodar tanto com os kifs e kaytchs. por enquanto você fica sendo o u2groto! 🙂

  3. Isa says:

    Hey! It’s funny to see how an irish feels about brazil! hahaha

    I really enjoy reading your blog, you do a great job. How was for you to watch the world cup game with brazilians?? I am very curious =D

    have a nice week!

  4. hahahah.. what a blog!
    Keith im completely in love with ur blog dude!
    Im from BH, but 2 year living in Dublin.. yea!
    Cant stop reading.. i miss so much BH and its amazing see/read ur opinion about beaga and Brazil in general from a Dubliner point of view! And also so many new words im learning while i read u.. which is great! thx a mil!
    see ya!

    ps: Sorry my english, its ok but talking too much with brazilians, so thats why i gotta improve a lilttle bit!
    Greetings to Vanessa and Flavia! lol

    ps2: btw im attending to EP (irish version) this year!

  5. Fabricio says:

    where did you see that statistics about road deaths?

    see this link and tell me after what you think:

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