Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Hola!

I really must post more often. I feel terrible about how I have been neglecting the blog, especially since I compose posts in my head all the time and then lose them before I commit them to Blogger. As usual, I do have my very good excuses for not having posted - a week away in Brazil, back with a bang to mothering a sick and clingy child, never-ending jet lag and catching up with all the piled up work and e-mails. Anyway, now the jet lag has gone, Ayaan is much better and the pile of work is starting to look manageable so I guess it is about time I told you about my trip.

To start with, there was the travel. It’s over eight hours of flying time to London, atleast three hours in transit and then another 11 hours to Sao Paulo. Thankfully I got promoted last year and that allows me to travel by business class. And I have to say that the British Airways flat bed in Club World has got to be the most awesome invention since air travel itself. Thanks to that, I was tired but not exhausted since I managed to sleep a lot during the flights!

I transited through Heathrow both ways but it almost felt like I was back in Mumbai. The number of Indians that work in that airport is beyond amazing – I would not be exaggerating too much if I were to say that the place was run by Indians. The guy at the luggage x-ray was an Indian. So was the lady at the Boots counter. The bookshop counter was manned by two Punjabis chatting away to each other in their native language. And I overheard two cleaners bitching in Hindi about the mean canteen lady!

I did not get around much in Brazil itself. The meeting was in a small town called Campinas that is over two hours away from Sao Paulo and there really wasn’t much to see over there. I could have taken some time off and seen the sights but at a week, I was already stretching the limits of the time I could spend away from my other job as a mother.

Even in the free time I did have, we were not encouraged to go out on our own. Most of Brazil is too unsafe for foreigners to just roam around on the streets. Walking out of your hotel for a leisurely stroll is tantamount to asking to be mugged. It is pretty common for thugs to hold a gun up to you and demand that you hand over your money/ car and if you value your life, it pays to comply. Most of the houses and apartment buildings in the prosperous parts of town are protected with high walls, razor wire and electric fencing. Mumbai suddenly felt like a really safe place – heck, Delhi suddenly felt like a really safe place! Additionally, the local guys don’t know a single word of English so if you were to get lost, there was a good chance you’d stay that way.

So on the day I arrived, the office arranged for a car to take us to the biggest shopping centre in town. It was nice and all that but it was….well, it was a shopping centre, just a lot larger and more expensive than anything in India. I actually had more fun when one of my Brazilian colleagues took me to a supermarket to stock up on the local goodies – coffee, chocolates, a local liquor called cachaca (pronounced cashasa) and the mix to make a cocktail called caipirinha with it, and a local energy drink called Guarana, that I totally fell in love with.

The amount of meat they eat in that country is just not funny. Everything else is a side dish. There was meat for lunch, breakfast and dinner and just in case that was not enough, there was meat for the coffee breaks as well. I think I ate more meat in the four days that I was there than I normally eat in an entire month. On one of the nights, our hosts took us to a restaurant called Montana Grill. The menu card there actually had a cow drawn on it with arrows pointing to various parts and mentioning the delicacies originating from each of them – I can imagine how anyone who is not a hardcore non-vegetarian like me could get severely turned off by the place! The only thing I missed out on was the Brazilian national dish known as feijoada – I believe that they take a really long time to prepare it and so it is prepared only on Saturdays and I left on Thursday.

The people there are really nice. They are warm, friendly and hospitable and went out of their way to make our trip enjoyable. The men are quite nice looking but it’s the women who really catch your attention. They have the most lovely skin colour – like a bit of coffee mixed in milk and they tan really beautifully. (I got the ultimate compliment - a waiter at the restaurant asked one of the guys if I was Brazilian!) The men are really chivalrous too – I have got quite unused to men holding doors open for me or waiting for me to pass through before they do – I have to admit it is something I could get used to. It makes you feel quite nice. The other interesting bit of social etiquette is the kissing. I am used to greeting people at work with a handshake at best but in Brazil, a kiss on the cheek is the standard way to greet even a colleague at work. It took some getting used to but it felt quite natural and not at all inappropriate by the end of it. It makes sense doesn’t it – you’d be much less likely to have a nasty confrontation with someone at work if you had just kissed them!

I learnt some very minimal Portuguese, which I shall now proceed to show off:
Hola (hello)
Si (Yes) and Nao (No)
Obrigada (Thank You) and Por Favor (please)
Grande (Big) and Pequeno (Small) – very important when they come at you with huge chunks of meat in the restaurant

And finally, to make up for complete lack of pictures from my trip (forgot to carry the camera), I leave you behind with this piece of blog trickery…

Your Sexy Brazilian Name is:

Samara Torres

30 comments:

  1. This is very nice blog. do you konw Mozilla Firefox web browser?I really loved it,I hope you may want to download and try. thank you.

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  2. Hey thanks for remembering to post a beach picture ;).

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  3. [Mosilager] I aim to please...

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  4. Whaaaaaaat
    how can u forget to take ur camera !!!

    baaaah !

    hope ayaan's feeling better now.

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  5. Worth waiting for your post- what happened to my comment??

    very nice account and congrats on pormotion and biz class

    Ticiana Cabral - that is my name in Brazilian

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  6. I am going to brazil in march for spring break...cant wait..
    and you are right about desis at heathrow...the same thing i noticed when i went there in 01

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  7. that dish is like brazilian chilli:-) We have brazilian BBQ place near our place:-)

    Hope Ayaan feel better soon..

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  8. Grande Obrigada! मुगाम्बो खुश हुआ|

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  9. [Once Again] You should be glad that I didn't because all you would ave got to see would have been pictures of the hotel, the airport, the shopping centre and lots of meat (not of the kind that you would be interested in :))

    [Artnavy] Or shall I say Ticiana :)

    [Coldair] What fun! I would love to go back there for a actual holiday.

    [Mommyof2] Well I have never had chilli either :(

    [Mosilager] I suspect that might be the grammatical equivalent of saying 'Bada Shukriya' :)

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  10. Portuguese and Spanish must be closely related.

    Glad Ayaan is feeling better. Glad you had time to post.

    And I think that if you visited most North American households, you would find an overly-zealous obsession with meat, too. When I was at home cooking for my dad, you picked the meat first, then decided what would go with it. We eat much less meat now than we did then, mostly because it is expensive to eat that way! But I don't care for meat more than once a day. Many people still eat it at every meal. (Though sadly, refined carbohydrates make up the bulk of most Standard American Diets. But I won't go into that here! :-P)

    Have a great week!

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  11. hey, im dissappointed about there being no pics too :(

    and portuguese must be very similar to spanish, which i know a little of.

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  12. Rohini i haven't read your blog in a long time - so i'm going to leave comments on a lot of previous posts, cos i just simply HAD to comment.

    about ayaan's limited voabulary - karan is exactly in the same boat. at 19 months now, he pretty much says exactly the same things ayaan says - except that the things he says in hindi,karan says in malayam. i was pretty worried about it initially, but now i am happy (same as you) that he atleast has started speaking this much and like ayaan, karan also responds very well to instructions and comprehension is excellent even though he hasn't learnt yet to verbalise.

    about ayaan's biting, pinching, pulling hair - karan does it a lot too. infact he bit every kid in his creche till it had become embarassing for me to go there to pick him up everyday. anyway based on some research i did, i found out that one of the main reasons for biting (apart from the obvious teething) is the inability to communicate/frustration at not being able to communicate. other kids in the creche had begun to speak. anyway, his biting reduced drastically when we (meaning, my hubby,me and the people at the creche) started trying to intepret what he was feeling or wanting to say. things like "i want to go out", "give me cheese" "i know i'm dropping water all over the place but stop taking the cup away from me"

    about the C-section....my story is almost exactly the same as yours. had a pretty normal pregnancy. all my life people have told me that i have "child bearing hips". waited impatiently for pains to start, had only mild cramps, inserted some pill which didn't do the trick and then even pitocin didn't work - so c-section was ordered since otherwise the baby would otherwise be at risk. i too was awfully disappointed and cried at lot before the operation. i still feel disappointed sometimes and cheated of a normal delivery (and believe it or not, going through labour pains for my son) and are really hoping that next time around i can have a normal delivery.
    karan came out with a conical thing at a part of his head, which apparently could have been the part where he was stuck (anyway that went away after about 2 months).

    last night for his bed-time story, i told him the story of his birth - how they brought him to me for his feed and how i sang to him, and he listened without interrupting even once (which as you know for a toddler with an intention span of like5 seconds is very rare). i tell you these kids can understand every thing although they dont speak!

    sorry for the long long comment...but like i said earlier, i just had to comment!

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  13. oh oh, and about the romance in a different avatar - you put it so beautifully. i think i'll just forward your blog to my hubby to show him how much I love and appreciate him!

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  14. Very cool post. Sounds like a good trip. We'll be passing through Heathrow in a couple of months. I'll check out your observations.

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  15. [Talena] What with Jai becoming almost completely vegetarian, we hardly eat meat at home anymore. I have been pretty slow to introduce meat to Ayaan but we started with chicken last weekend and he quite liked it!

    [Sudha] Believe me, if I had any pics - they would have been disappointing too since I didn't really get around much there.

    [Lawyermama] Thanks for your nice, long comment. Good to hear from you and to hear about the similarity of your experiences - it is so reassuring bit. On the talking bit, you will see it suddenly change. I wrote that post about a month ago and in that time Ayaan has suddenly tripled his vocabulary!

    [Alan] Believe me, it will be pretty hard for you to miss..

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  16. that is awesome that you could go visiting countries we wouldn't normally dream of.
    Nice recount of Brazil trip.
    You know, these are the kind of travelogs that interest me than the brochures.
    Thanks!

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  17. Hey Rohini! Haven't been able to comment on your posts lately - I just upgraded my work-laptop to IE 7 and set up stricter cookie handling (thats the control freak in me again :P) and for a long while yours was the only blog that wouldn't open. Well, finally figured out which cookies to allow for your blog and all is ginger-peachy now :)

    Loved reading your account of the trip. And totally agree about your observation regarding Indians at Heathrow. You'd feel the same if you were to go to certain (or most?) parts of New Jersey! In Jersey City, I even found "Ganne Ka Ras" and "Paan" being sold on the roadside!! Enjoyed it thoroughly but the Indians living there seem to think that the place should look as dirty as their hometowns in India too. A friend of mine deliberately threw the empty disposable cup on the road-side to get a full "India" experience. Uggggghhhh!!

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  18. that was an informative post:)

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  19. the birth story is also very informative:)..waiting for ur next post

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  20. [Rads] Thanks though I have to admit most of my travels take me to places like Chennai and Hyderabad. Trips like this are pretty rare.

    [Gettingtherenow] Guess you can take an Indian out of India but you can't take India out of an Indian. What I find even more irritating is people who behave like model citizens abroad but litter like pigs the minute they get back into India.

    [Shikha] Thanks. Next post coming up soon. I have a 4-day weekend coming up so should hopefully be able to squeeze one in.

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  21. Rohini,
    Hello from Aliuscha Coelho (my brazilian name):)

    Nice travelogue

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  22. Hola Samara Torres!

    You've been tagged. :)

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  23. HIIIIIIIIII!!!! JUST got back home and so am on a running blogging greeting spree!! its great to be back in the blogsphere!!

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  24. HIIIIIIIIII!!!! JUST got back home and so am on a running blogging greeting spree!! its great to be back in the blogsphere!!

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  25. HIIIIIIIIII!!!! JUST got back home and so am on a running blogging greeting spree!! its great to be back in the blogsphere!!

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  26. HIIIIIIIIII!!!! JUST got back home and so am on a running blogging greeting spree!! its great to be back in the blogsphere!!

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  27. I love the kissing thing, my roommate and half my friends here are either Brazilian or from other South American nations. They're super fun but things can turn nasty when they're angy! Love the Latin passion though.

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  28. "[Alan] Believe me, it will be pretty hard for you to miss.."

    I've noticed a similarity when driving by the main Microsoft campus at lunch time.

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  29. [Orchid] Thanks.

    [Sue] Tag coming up soon

    [Grafx] Welcome back! You were missed.

    [Raindrop] Isn't it cool? You instantly feel more connected. On the other hand, a handshake creates distance.

    [Alan] :)

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  30. You were right!

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