São Paulo Diary: Things That Drive The Tupi to Drink, Part 12

The nightmarish tênia: a question on this year’s FUVEST regarding worms incorrectly identified the squid as a segmented worm, like the common earthworm.

My wife decided to sit for the FUVEST — a local rough equivalent of the SAT and GRE entrance exams — in order to try to for a slot in postgraduate library and information science (biblioteconomia) program.

On FUVEST, and the culture and economics of the vestibular (entrance examination) in general, see also

In a year in which she had to manage the logistical nightamre of a hairy move from North to South America, and despite having not taken the standard test prep course, she passed both rounds with flying colors and got in.

I am extremely proud of my wife. She is one smart cookie, and I think library science (knowledge management) is a groovy field of study for her — though I would still prefer to see her completing, and publishing, that novel of hers.

It has UFOs, ghosts, machine guns, Raul Seixas, and lovingly described scenes of lambada festivals in out-of-the-way places, among many other things. It is rich in folklore, ennui and Brechtian estrangement effects.

She went yesterday to register for her course. She was told that due to an error on her FUVEST registration form, she may not be allowed to matriculate.

The form had asked her to identify the high school she graduated from, by its unique identifier.

But the high school she graduated from, a unit in a network of private high schools, no longer exists.

She decided to mark down another unit of the same network of private high schools that does still exist.

That unit, of course, has no student records indicating she studied there.

She came home fairly drunk last evening, wailing and saying she feels like she has had “perjurer” rubber-stamped on her forehead in indelible ink.

Which is just awful.

Brazilians tend to hate bureaucracy with a passion, and the country has a reputation as the most insanely bureaucratic of any major economy in the world, developed or emerging.

I think this might be an example of why.

As far as I can tell — and the poor woman was too distraught to explain the issue thoroughly, mind you, to the extent that it actually makes any sense at all — the error on her form resulted from the fact that the form was defective.

It might, for example, have included a line for “Other” and “Please explain” so that she could have indicated that she attended a high school that no longer exists and therefore does not have an identifying code.

“Our rules are byzantine and incoherent, but it is entirely your responsibility if you fail to follow them to the letter.”

She will find out if she will still be allowed to matriculate tomorrow.

I spent the evening fanning her brow and murmuring encouraging words into her shell-like ear. I expect to have to do the same this evening. The woman is an emotional wreck.


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