Fiat does the Samba !

The day started early with a visit to the Fiat Automotives in Nova Lima, an hour’s drive from FDC. Brazil’s infrastructure and cleanliness is amazing- not a single pothole on the road, the drive is very pleasant anywhere, I am yet to see a single plastic bag, papers or any other form of garbage on the roads and ofcourse none of our friendly dogs, cats etc that we find on Indian roads.

We passed by Arcelor Mittal’s factory too. Brazil does have a lot of iron ore and several other natural resources. The traffic at 7.30 in the morning was heavy but strangely enough no one was honking !

We couldn’t take our cellphones inside Fiat’s factory premises, and we had been told to leave our cameras behind anyway. While Wong told me that my sari might get caught in an assembly line, some other gentler souls like Kavita and Mano were mitigating that risk by willing to form a cordon around me :):) I finally may have to act on my plans to unfriend Arun – he stuffed his ears with the ear plug so he can’t hear me speak :(:( We had to wear disposable plastic eyeglasses and ofcourse use the foam ear plugs as we walked around the assembly line and the paint shop. We didn’t have a lot of time, so just got to see a few cars being worked upon in different parts of the assembly line. Fiat entered Brazil in 1971 and since then has gained 23% market share and is the highest selling car brand in Brazil. This particular facility has a capacity of 810,000 cars annually, seven cars roll out minute and nearly 3300 cars are produced everyday. There are 19 models and nearly 270 variants. Interestingly Brazilian factories, offices experience less than 2% absenteeism. This particular Fiat factory has 30000 people working. The tour ended with a presentation by their director Project Management who spoke of all the various things that Fiat has accomplished. The Brazilian sincerity and heartfelt “guest” service was again in evidence at Fiat.

We got back for a late lunch and got into class by Prof Paulo Paiva who has been a minister twice. He spoke about “Doing business in Brazil” and inclusive growth – on many slides we could have replaced Brazil with India and just continued talking … Prof Paulo was very knowledgeable but his accent was strenuous for many of us to follow. Now I know exactly how an American feels speaking to someone with a strong “mother tongue influence” 🙂

Just an interesting statistic – our dear Akhilesh Bhaiya’s state Uttar Pradesh alone has a population of 200 million while all of Brazil a country 2.5 times bigger than India has a population of 192 million !!

The night was young and our night tour of the city started at 630 pm .. Belo Horizonte is stunning at night as viewed from the “viewing point”, a few people digested the next day’s lunch while doing the steep climb before reaching the viewing point. Seen from the height of the viewing point, it’s almost as if the sky has come down on earth. The night ended at Gamboa a Samba bar – with live music and a Samba teacher. The teacher was good and we tried hard .. But we’re just as successful as Fiat in India so we did a Suzuki in Gamboa – danced the way we know, freestyle, anything goes, close to Bhangra :):):) atleast we got the whole bar laughing !

Long day but an awesome one ! Now to become a gold digger at Ouro Preto tomorrow.

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