Friday, 2 December 2011

One of the things Your Life Is An Impossibility misses most about the nordeste is the region`s rich sense of local pride and culture. From the myths and legends of carnaval ,to the rather farfetched idea that Recife B won the Campeonato Brasileiro in 1987, the ghosts of history, both true and imagined, stalk the land.

Even from 2000km away, one name is hard to forget – that of Lampião, the famed robber prince of the sertão. A form of nordestino Robin Hood, Lampião brought terror to the landowners of Pernambuco, Alagoas and beyond during the 1920s and 30s. Despised by the authorities for being a murderer and thief, and for the brutality of his methods, he was lauded by large parts of the population for representing local pride, bravery and honour. Lampião and most of his band of cangaceiros, including his lover Maria Bonita, were slaughtered by police in 1938. Their heads were cut off (Maria Bonita was decapitated while still alive) and paraded publicly as trophies.

But YLIAI has happy news for the good people of the sertão, and beyond. Lampião rides again! At least the robbing and thieving part. Less so, the local pride, bravery and honour.  

YLIAI first realised that the spirit of Lampião was alive when dealing with Brazil`s Leading Telephone Company and Internet Provider. The company cannot be named for legal reasons, but we`ll call them Oi. The first signs of banditry came a few months ago. YLIAI, a customer of said company for over four years and nearing the end of his contract, decided to transfer his hard earned loyalty points to another loyalty scheme, as he is apparently entitled to do. No problem, he was informed by BLTCIP. The transfer was soon complete. It was only at the very end of the process that BLTCIP put a gun to YLIAI`s fevered brow and demanded a taxa de adesão, or an administration charge, of R$20, for the internet based, fully automated transfer. As with all the best swindling, YLIAI had to doff his cap to BLTCIP`s derring-do.

Derring-do indeed. Undeterred by the thought of capture, our modern day cangaceiro was soon back at the scene of the crime, demanding further tribute. And what an inventive golpe it was. BLTCIP, when contracted as an internet provider, provide free home installation, and even a free modem. What they don`t provide (and why would they?), is free liberação, and everyone knows an unliberated internet is just no fun at all. R$15 for liberação, muttered the sinister voice on the telephone. It was the kind of voice which implied violence. YLIAI could almost feel the cold steel of the pistol on his forehead.

It was only later that a reeling YLIAI discovered that it wasn`t even BLTCIP doing the robbing! It was one of BLTCIP`s trusty lieutenants, a third party internet provider who again can`t be named for legal reasons, but who we`ll call Terra, to whom BLTCIP had given YLIAI`s number! Dastardly!

And suddenly, the charming rogues were everywhere. Another of Brazil`s upstanding telephone companies, whose proper name again cannot be used here, but who we`ll call TIM, put YLIAI very much in mind of Maria Bonita, the Juliet to Lampião`s Romeo. Unlimited 3G internet, screams Maria`s flashy blue advertising campaign. Unlimited! Caramba! YLIAI is hooked. And sure enough for the first five clicks of the mouse things zip along speedily enough. Then there comes a brring, brring sound, telling YLIAI he has received a message from Maria. Maria`s internet service is unlimited, says the message, but you`ve reached your daily limit, and so your access speed will be reduced until tomorrow. Sure enough, it takes YLIAI a good twenty minutes to open his favourite website, www.cooltinyspeedostowearatthebeach.com.br

He calls Maria, explains his frustration, and is told with chilling logic that presumably makes sense to someone, somewhere, that Maria`s 3G internet access is unlimited, and if you think about it, it`s just the velocity that might not be.

YLIAI weeps. He releases a great howl of frustration. They`ve taken me for everything I`ve got, he cries, and worse is to come. Creeping through the shadows towards him he can see the cable TV company, and the electricity company, and the vehicle licensing bureau, and….

He resolves to act. Only one man can help. Papers clutched in his sweaty little hand, he runs as fast as he can to the offices of PROCON, the Dark Night of modern day Brazil, here to protect the citizens of Gothania from vagabonds such as Lampião and Maria Bonita.

But as he gets closer he notices the streets are clogged with people, all of them weeping, all of them looking as though they are victims of crime. By the time he can see the building, the crowd is so thick that he can hardly pass. YLIAI looks around with horror, and sees there are thousands of them, all people just like him, all trying to get inside the doors of PROCON, all holding their papers in their sweaty little hands…