August 12, 2008

The Art of Forgetting Things

Woke up pretty late this afternoon – perhaps from the accumulated fatigue and not sleeping properly on the couch last night – Almost 11 a.m. Missed the breakfast again, and I had a bucket load of clothes to wash. Used the fabric detergent Paul gifted me and put the clothes to dry in the hostel verandah.

Karima came along all excited to start the day and asked me to hurry up. We were going to MASP (Museu de Arte, São Paulo) and later to the Ibirapuera Park. After Tori changed some cash (we walked through the Carimaru market first) and Karima helped me activate my SIM card, we took the metro to Trianon MASP. Plans to meet up with Bebeto didn’t materialize.

MASP was a very pleasant surprise for me – firstly, entry was waived off on Tuesdays, so we got in for free – but what I pre-conceived as a boring museum, in fact turned out to be an incredible experience with some of the most exquisite, detailed and breathtaking art I’ve ever seen.

Half way through the museum visit, got a SMS from Bebeto around 1:30 pm “Man, your flight is at 6 pm, not 10! You need to be at the airport by 4!”

Whoa – what a lifesaver! Did my quick goodbyes to Karima, Tori and Paul and dashed off to the hostel. 2:15 pm. Gulped down a Guarana, packed my bags, bid adieu to Tarcisio, Ana, Juliana and my dear friend Husam – and rushed out at 3 pm. Reached Tatuape station at 3:40 pm. Doing fine – and finally reached the airport at 4:15 pm! Not bad :)

Checked in, cleared formalities and flirted with the TACA stewardess.

Had a cappuccino and a delicious sanduiche de frango (chicken sandwich) and was on my way to… Ecuador.

Writing this while having a nice meal of chicken rice with Inca Cola (from Peru) and Johnny Walker Scotch Whiskey. Viva Ecuador!

August 08, 2008

Forro Night

Woke up after catching three hours of sleep, at around 9ish this morning. It’s raining outside, so I did some quick web surfing, took a shower, did a Skype video call with my family back home while watching the Opening Ceremony to the Olympics. My friend Bebeto gifted me a cool ‘Petrobras’ jacket to keep warm and off we headed to Avenida Paulista for lunch.

Shopping Center 3 – the place was packed with lunch hour rush. Note to self: Next time, come a couple hours later to skip this rush.

While Bebeto shopped for some caipirinha mixer kits, I was busy chatting up the cute chick at the t-shirt store with my broken Portuguese and some hand gestures thrown in. My first inspiration to learn the language well enough to converse with such ivory statues in the future.

Back at the Praca da Arvore Hostel, Ana informed me about Samba/Salsa nite so I stayed in. A tall, dusky, demure woman – Mara Santos taught us our first samba, salsa moves. At the end of it, she threw in a surprise – why not head out for the night and go to a real forro club!

Meanwhile, got an SMS from Bebeto about another party happening at Blue Pub with the CS gang. So I headed there first, met up a bunch of Paulistanos as well as gringos over some great Skol beers.

After about an hour, I joined the hostel gang again and we headed to the forro club – Canto de Ema. What a spectacular experience!

Forro is different from other forms of salsa/samba, in that it uses the ‘symphonie’ instrument and has easier steps. The passion in the dance form is simply beautiful. Met two beautiful girls, one Brasilian and the other Portuguese – both of them spoke perfect English.

While taking a beer break outside, this guy walked in to our group and introduced himself as Roberto – making friends is so easy here! We managed to converse in broken Portuguese and English respectively, but it was good fun. Some more girls joined in. Later I watched Roberto and his girlfriend dancing, and I could bet my bottom dollar, they were the best damn couple, swinging and swirling to the forro music with the most amazing grace I had seen. Ana taught me some dance moves and surprisingly I managed to pick it up pretty well.

The final stop of the night was of course, food! Stopped by an Arabic joint called Habib’s – the best darn cheese and chicken esfihas (think mini, soft pizzas)! Retired at around 5:30 in the morn. What a day!

August 06, 2008

Day One in Brasil

Reached Brasil (São Paulo) last evening around 6 pm, roamed the airport for info - yellow fever vaccine info and mobile prepaid card. Didn't manage much (not knowing Portuguese sucks!)

I had options of taking a cab to my hostel (R$ 110) or a bus and metro (this was tougher and i would get to learn more, so i took this option) ;) spent just R$30 with this option. And got to see the way locals travel. Nice.

Reached the hotel around 10 pm, checked in, freshened up and made some friends. This hostel was the best decision - beats staying in a hotel any time! Full of young ppl from around the world in dorms (mine is a 10 bed dorm with just 2 more guys) - the other one is full!

So anyways... one of the guys said they were going to the karaoke place nearby (around midnight) I went there and joined the ´gang´. Grreat fun! People singing, dancing, drinking (beer is just R$ 2.50 or Rs.70!!!!) and celebrating the birthday of a random girl (everyone here is super friendly).

Today (August 6) is technically Day 1 for me - woke up at 10 (i was one of the earliest ppl to wake up!), showered, ate breakfast (R$3 bcoz i missed the free breakfast... hehe), and I went out in the market to check out things. Bought a phone card for R$5.50 but again, not knowing Portuguese got in the way of trying to get other things done. So I need to brush up on this some more. Much more. With time it´ll get easier.

Now I'm making plans for exploring São Paulo - right now, I'm online to check out flights to Ecuador.

Over and out for now....

August 05, 2008

Celebrating my 28th Birthday – Viva Brasil!

Sitting at the lounge at the Mumbai International Airport sipping on some white wine, I toast to myself on my 28th birthday – I was actually doing this – going to Brasil and Ecuador – South America ahoy!

As the land of sun, sand, exotica and wilderness beckons me, I am reminded of Paulo Coelho’s character in The Alchemist. This was meant to be.

Next Update: From Brasil!