A friend of mine in Brazil left the hectic megacity of São Paulo in the 1970’s to live a quieter life, a thousand miles or so to the north west, in the state of Mato Grosso.
While there, he got to know some native Brazilians of the Xavante people. And he brought one of them – a young man called Rubens – with him on a visit to São Paulo.
Rubens had never seen a large town before, let alone a city on the scale of São Paulo. So, before anything else, my friend took him to the top of a downtown skyscraper where he could take a proper look at the place.
The young Xavante took his time, staring out at the city, which stretches off as far as the eye can see.
He didn’t say anything. He walked across to the other side of the building.
There he looked down at the same urban scene, sprawling in the opposite direction.
Still he didn’t say a word.
So my friend asked, “O que que você acha?” (“What do you think?”)
Rubens replied, “Não vai dar certo.” (“It’ll never work out.”)