The World Cup Final

Sao Paulo, Brazil
June 30, 2002

It’s been two months since dad’s funeral and I’ve been back on the road since. First Cuba… now Brazil… next Korea. I was just home long enough to do laundry and I’m on a plane again. Some say that people travelling around a lot either have identity issues and can’t find a belonging anywhere or they’re running away from something. Maybe I’ll figure it out one of these days. Twelve hours later, we are in Sao Paulo.

Restaurante Huang Hei was hard to find. It’s three in the afternoon, and we have just gorged ourselves out and the place is about to close. We sit and chat a bit with our story subject, Lee Ho Shau. He offers us Brazilian coffee. It’s heavily pre-sugared espressos served in tiny paper cups and commonly available free of charge from Japanese thermos to customers in all restaurants. I love Brazilian coffee, but I wish they would serve it sanssugar. It’s a diabetic nightmare and I’m trying to watch my girlish figure.

Jun and Luis Celebrating
Jun and Luis Celebrating

After lunch, we wander around picking up ambient here and there. A big-breasted cop tried to bust us for aiming the camera at her. You won’t believe me, and neither did she. I was really shooting the cityscape behind her coincidentally large breasts. Once again our “fixer“ guy Cheuk comes through.

It’s day of the World Cup final and Brazil is expected to win its fifth championship – penta, penta. Cheuk’s Japanese friend Jun picks us up at the hotel this morning. He’s flopping around in a huge green and yellow clown’s hat. He looks more like he’s geared up for St. Patrick’s Day… but oh… green and yellow… the Brazilian colors… right. We park at a designated corner and hook up with Luis before catching the subway to Avenida Paulista. The trains are jammed with screaming soccer fans.

As we approach the oversized LCD monitor in the boulevard, Brazil scores and the crowd goes wild… beer bottles, champagne, firecrackers and other more insane projectiles are flying above my head. Where’s that safety helmet when you need it?

I get separated from Cheuk in the crowd. But I still have Luis and Jun, which is more important. I’ll stick with them for the morning. Jun is good for Luis. He’s a roly-poly six feet something overgrown kid. Not your average Japanese. He’s right in there… bobbing up and down huggin’ and kissin’ anyone willing. Luis is more typically reserved Chinese… watching the game on the giant LCD from the sideline. Maybe Jun will bring out the wild soccer fan in Luis eventually.

After many projectile-dodging feats and keeping my camera dry from champagne showers, Brazil scores their second goal. The band behind us is blaring.

Eureka! Jun and Luis are hugging and dancing like wild native Brazilians. It was over just like that. But the party has just begun and will continue into the week. Some mistook us for Koreans and congratulated us… I guess for wiping out their competition. I wonder what it’s like at home right now. My loft in Toronto is sandwiched between Korean Town, Little Italy and Little Brazil.