Sunday, 25 March 2012

What sort of business is that?

Things have turned a bit surreal with the neighbour upstairs.

Few weeks ago he did lots of “home improvement” or work by the sound of it! Since then we have not heard the “printing press noise”. What we hear now is from  the bathroom: constant water running down a big fat toilet pipe coming from the upstairs’ flat, and running through our en-suite bathroom (Brazilian plumbing!!!!) . Sometimes it stops but most of the time the water is running pretty much all the time.

So there it is, the guy upstairs is not printing false money anymore (or whatever his dodgy business was!) he has changed his business model!
I mentioned it to my friend Nayla (one of my neighbour) and she reported back to me after the “condominio” meeting.
Apparently there is a massive increase in the water bill. It went up from 5,000 reais monthly to over 9,000 and climbing! Nayla mentioned at the meeting about the water running nonstop. Now we do not have individual water metres so the bill is shared by all.

I could have predicted what would happen next.

First the lady in charge of the “condominio” put a notice about this but no one reported a leak. Then they decided to inspect the 2 flats above mine. Obviously dodgy neighbour refused to let anyone in. After putting pressure from the owner of the building he agreed. By then the water running stopped. After checking his flat the building’s taff said the noise I heard was from a washing machine. Yeah right! 24h, 7 day a week nonstop full blast water running!

And predictably as well, soon after the flat inspection, the water running noise started again.

Now I ask the question: what sort of business uses so much water?  I am wondering if it could be related to drugs. After all, now that the local favela Rocinha has been cleaned and local super villain Nem recently put in jail (he got caught fleeing Rocinha hiding in the boot of an Angolan diplomatic car – you could not make it up!!) there must be a gap in the market for supply of drugs!?

I vaguely remember a documentary  about the Amazon forest and the cocaine production. Did it use lots of water? Anyone specialised in Cocaine production please kindly let me know. We could be onto something here J.
I am afraid I am rather ignorant of that stuff! I am old school, my only drug is booze!

On another totally unrelated subject I am pleased to report that Alistair bought a V-Strom! (That’s a bike for those not on the know!).

For me, we went to BMW dealer in Barra yesterday , and stuffed our face with free cakes, sandwiches and coffee (hehehhe!!) , but came out empty handed. I had my eyes on the G650GS because they offer a very low seat for vertically challenged people like me! Bad news is that despite what it says in the Brazil website, BMW do not offer that choice in Brazil and when I sat on the bike it was too high for me. Can’t be bothered to lower it. So BMW is out!

I will make my way to the local Honda dealer and I think I will get the much cheaper and smaller CB300 with a full tank of 18.4l! Cool baby!


Now I just need to get my container (still detained by custom) and get my riding gear so we can actually pick up our bikes!
Soon we will start our road adventures!  The Franglais-riders are back J! Well almost, depend on Custom! L


Friday, 2 March 2012

How hard can it be...

…to get an appointment with your bank manager at an HSBC Premier branch.
Now the HSBC Premier account is used by many expats as they (in theory) speak English. The branch I talk about is in Centro.

1st email sent to 3 contacts at the Branch; I ask to have an appointment so I can be included in the bank account of my husband now that I have my permanent Visa and docs sorted. No answer.

2d email: asking that someone acknowledge my email. My email is forwarded to another person who came back to me saying she needs all the docs (my passport etc… to include me in the account)

3rd Email: I have the docs when can I come to show them to you and sign whatever needs to be signed?
Asnwer; I am being dumped to a 5th guy, saying again that they need my passport and docs proving I am resident here.

4th email: Yes I know you need these docs, I have them, when can I come to sort this out?
No answer.

5th email (5 peoples cc-ed by now): Can I get an answer? (I start to be pissed off by then!)
Answer: for inclusion into my husband account I need  to provide my passport etc…

6th email: (I am starting to lose my sense of humour at this stage): I (f*ck*ng!!!) have the docs, when can I come?????????? I enclose photos of all docs to prove I have all in order.
Answer: we cannot use picture we need to see the real docs.

7th email: that’s why I am asking for an appointment!! (GHHHHHAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!)

8th email: So???????????? Any answer?
Answer: we need to see the docs.

9th email: ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Tempted to send abusive email). I know I need to show you the docs, can I come next Friday lunch time
Answer: come Friday lunch time you will meet XYZ.

Moral of the story: don’t ever try to get an appointment, just turn up and make their life hell until you get what you want!

How hard can it be … to do a bill payment online using your HSBC website.

Our container is about to arrive in Brazil. Hurray! Now we just need to get through custom clearance (twice for some reason! Once at Santos where the boat arrive, then again in Rio. Oh dear we will never see our stuff ever again!!! ).

Anyhow, the company dealing with Custom is called FINK. They send us a bill we need to pay for their service. It is expensive. I decide to do the payment online.

I manage successfully to log into our account. The website has so many threads and links it is very confusing to know where to go. After a while I manage to find a link that seems to be for financial transfers. The only issue is that I cannot input the bank details of FINK.  I can only key a bar code! I don’t have one in the bill.

I phone HSBC Premier Branch in Centro. 1st person: does not speak English (or Spanish, or French! How the hell did she manage to get this particular job then? This branch in Centro has MANY expats banking there!). I get passed to someone who “speak English”. He does not understand anything. I mix English with some Portuguese. After a long time navigating through the website he tells me that it is not possible to do a payment or transfer without the “bar code”. It is impossible to do a transfer using bank details only! What the hell?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So I have to send an email to FINK asking for a “bar code” to do the payment. They finally send me one.

Now if someone can tell me how I can pay my rent online without a bar code, please send me urgently an email!

After 8 months in Rio I feel like I seriously need “Anger Management Classes”…

On the plus side there may be a way to get a work permit for me… all thanks to “Jeitinnho”. Let's see! 

Meanwhile we will be off kayaking in Botafogo Bay this Saturday… beats a raining cold run round Tesco in grid locked London any time J