Last week I chaired a Financial Times conference in London, flew to São Paulo and did the same there.
Our subject in both was the “millennial generation”, those aged between 18 and 30.
I am not in this age bracket, but the conferences prompted the question: if I were starting my career now, would I prefer to do it in the UK capital or Latin America’s most powerful city?
For ease on the eye, you would surely choose London. São Paulo has some greenery, but nothing to compare with London’s parks. While some of London’s suburbs have a brick-and-slate dreariness, São Paulo’s vast stretch of high rises surely appeals only to the most ardent architectural modernists.
Road journeys in both cities are unpredictable. I was told to leave at least an hour for a five-mile taxi ride in São Paulo. It took 11 minutes, but that was at 7am. One of our mid-morning conference speakers found himself snarled.
The clatter of helicopters, both morning and evening in São Paulo (at one point I counted eight immediately overhead), suggests many of the wealthy prefer not to leave these trips to chance.
London is safer. My São Paulo hotel receptionist told me to remove my watch before I went out, unless it was a cheap piece of plastic. (I rolled up my sleeves to show would-be assailants that I don’t own any sort of watch.)
The statistics say such caution is justified. London had 1.6 murders per 100,000 people in 2009, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. São Paulo had 10.8 – although the homicide rate in both cities has almost halved since 2003.
统计数据表明，这种谨慎是必要的。联合国毒品和犯罪问题办公室(UN Office on Drugs and Crime)数据显示，2009年，伦敦每10万人发生1.6起凶杀案，而圣保罗的这一数字是10.8起——尽管自2003年以来，两座城市的谋杀犯罪率都下降了近一半。
In cultural offerings, London’s advantage is overwhelming, but it has had centuries longer to accumulate its riches. Greater São Paulo has a population of 19m. As Larry Rohter, the veteran New York Times correspondent, points out in his book Brazil on the Rise, in 1870 its population was 31,000. There is some exciting new Brazilian art and the São Paulo Museum of Art has a fine collection.
在文化演出方面，伦敦的优势非常明显，但伦敦之所以文化底蕴更深，是因为它的历史比圣保罗长几个世纪。大圣保罗区有1900万人口。《纽约时报》资深记者拉里•罗特(Larry Rohter)在他的《巴西：一个国家的崛起》(Brazil on the Rise)一书中指出，1870年，大圣保罗的人口还只有3.1万。巴西有一些激动人心的新艺术，圣保罗艺术博物馆(São Paulo Museum of Art)也很不错。
The weather: no contest. It was warmer and sunnier last week at the start of São Paulo’s winter than during London’s fitful summer.
What is it like to be young and ambitious in the two cities? Both conferences heard from entrepreneurs and community activists, as well as from policy specialists. The young Brazilians were notably more downbeat than their London counterparts. Bia Granja, co-creator of youPIX, “the largest internet culture festival in Brazil”, complained about the lack of tolerance in the country, saying: “I’ve never seen so much prejudice in my life.”
This pointed to a startling difference between the two conferences: in spite of São Paulo’s rich racial mix, every speaker and almost every conference delegate was white. The same is true in the city’s upmarket neighbourhoods and restaurants.
This is not to oversell the UK capital’s tolerance: shortly after our conference there, an Islamic centre was burnt down in the wake of a soldier being hacked to death in the city’s streets.
But the London panels and the delegates were more varied and optimistic. They were more mobile too, including Bobby Kensah, a UK-trained lawyer with an award for his pro bono work, who now lives in Hong Kong, and Rokhaya Diallo, a French anti-racism campaigner who popped over for the day. Ms Diallo was worried about how her English would hold up. It was fine.
但伦敦的发言者和代表更加多元化，也更加乐观。他们的移动性也更高，比如在英国接受教育、曾因公益工作获奖的律师鲍比•肯萨(Bobby Kensah)，目前生活在香港，法国反种族主义者罗哈亚•迪亚洛(Rokhaya Diallo)那天也到场了。迪亚洛担心自己的诚博娱乐城网址不利于沟通，结果没事儿。
The São Paulo conference began in English, but most of the Brazilian speakers switched to Portuguese. There is nothing wrong with this: why shouldn’t they speak their own language in their own country? The few foreigners present had simultaneous translation headsets.
The problem is that Portuguese is, as one of the Brazilian panellists said, spoken “only in Macau and some places in Africa” (she seemed to disregard Portugal). It is striking how few people in São Paulo, even in luxury hotels and shops, speak any other language, and how few foreign publications are on its newsstands.
Even though Brazil’s growth has slowed, its rich natural and agricultural resources suggest it has brighter prospects than the UK. In manufacturing, Brazil, unlike Britain, makes complete civil aircraft. That is perhaps why its citizens feel less need to look further afield. São Paulo talks about Brazil. London talks about the world.