In September 2007, a bonanza came my way that I never dreamt of, and it was an opportunity to represent our company at a trade fair in Sao Paulo, thanks to the inability of someone from our office to attend the fair. Till then, Brazil meant only football for me, but that fortune opened the gates not only to Sao Paulo but also to a few other cities in Brazil, besides, another eight countries in South America. I had been fortunate to visit Sao Paulo around 10 times since then.
From Dubai, it was a long haul journey to Sao Paulo, almost 21 hours between the doors — from my room to the hotel room — with 15:30 hours non-stop flying time. Sao Paulo is a clean city with wide thoroughfares that are well connected to the link roads at frequent intervals. Avenida Paulista is the best, safest place to put up in the city, and it is easier to move around from this place as it has metro trains, frequent buses and enough taxis plying around. All metro trains in the city run underground, and one can travel from anywhere to any other place at a cost of Real 2 (USD 0.42). If you ask me whether São Paulo is a safe place or not, well, I will say that I never faced any security issues. However, one needs to be careful while going out, particularly at night.
The Brazilians are the most jovial and go-lucky people I had come across. There is always that ‘carnival spirit’ in them! Anger-management gurus will have a tough time finding a job in Brazil 🙂 Weekends throw up roadside performances in the evenings in São Paulo. The sights of a Saturday evening from São Paulo are captured in the following video:
An open-air movie theater at Paulista Avenue.
Some restaurants in Brazil have a peculiar system of billing. One can choose food from buffet menu, get it weighed and pay according to the weight. It is a good system as there is no wastage of food, and one has to pay only for what one wants to eat. Rice is a staple food in Brazil. However, they eat only small quantity of a bowl size for lunch or dinner but along with an array of vegetables, both fresh as well as cooked, and fish or chicken. At buffet or during regular lunch, Brazilian plates will have a variety of vegetable dishes with only small quantity of rice. Even the Chinese and many other peoples from different countries, I had seen them taking only a bowl of rice around 100 gm at a time. Incidentally, our Indian doctors say we have to take only 100 gm rice in a day as a source of carbohydrate. Barring spiciness, Brazilian foods are closer to Indian food.
I was delighted to see a Brazilian man wearing traditional Indian dress and selling Indian ancient books like Bhagavad Gita, Upanishad, etc. at Avenue Paulista in Sao Paulo. What more needed as he greeted me with “Hare Krishna!” I had a chat with him. He is a member of ” Centro Goura Ntai,” which has the mission of spreading Indian spiritual values in Brazil. To know more on this, visit www.centrogouranitai.com.br and harekrishnafranco.com.br.
During another visit in 2011, I met another man, Ujwala Das, a Brazilian, in the streets of Avenue Paulista, selling books on Hinduism. The book featured in the picture below is titled, as translated, “Words of Wisdom,” a manuscript on various Hindu books. He, too, greeted me with ‘Namaste,’ so did I elatedly. I spoke to him and learnt that he had visited India many times. He conversed well in Hindi. There are two mediation centers and a Hindu temple in São Paulo.
If you want to experience and enjoy sunny times, winter chills and a little bit of rain within the same day, then go to São Paulo as this is the way the climate loves to frequent the city diurnally. And these three phases come after one another during a day at short intervals!
Parque Do Ibirapuera is a good tourist spot to visit in the city. It is the most visited and the largest park in South America, with a spread of 158 hectares. The park is a venue for leisure, jogging, walking, cycling, etc. It has a few cultural monuments as well as a museum housed at its premise. I saw a lot of people jogging and working out at the park
Once I was in the city in the run up to Christmas. The city gets decked up well to celebrate Christmas. A Christmas Carol video from the city:
I had a chance-visit to “Frei Caneca Shopping Mall,” which was mainly for gays and lesbians though it was open to all. I never saw such a dedicated shopping mall or similar place for the LGBT community in any other country. It is a 3-storey building with lots of shops, and I could see good-enough crowd.
The Republic Day of Brazil is on November 15. I was in the city on such an occasion, a holiday. Avenida Paulista thoroughfare was blocked for traffic in order to allow people to have the space to spend the holiday. I saw them celebrating the holiday in a sportive way as men, women, boys, girls, children, youngsters and elders alike were seen cycling, jogging, walking , skating, strolling, etc. The Brazilians spend enough time to sweat out outdoors, little wonder then that they have enviable physique!
I visited other cities like Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, etc. Visit to each of these places has enough loads of memories to write separate blogs. So stay tuned for them soon 🙂
Thank you for the visit to my blog, and I wish a good day to all!