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:
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:|