Obrigada Brazil – Term 7

A whirlwind lesson in the culture and business environment of Brazil is possibly the best way to describe this term. It was relatively easy paced only because there weren’t tests during or after the term, but easy paced long days as we all tried to grasp as much of Brazil as we could.

Several lessons learnt – new standards for “guest” service for starters, whether it was Carla asking her mom to buy coffee for all those who wanted or Marianna bringing her little brother to meet us in Ouro Preto and working through her birthday or the chefs in the cafeteria ensuring Bhat and Amit got a “no garlic, no onion” meal every single day, it was a display of “athithi devo bhava” that we just talk of in India.

Second, God has certainly been kind to Brazil like he/she has been to India – beautiful land, with loads of fruits and vegetables of every kind. The mangoes, papayas, guavas, plums, pears, melons – mouthwatering, and just made us all go bananas, which also is available in plenty. Yes, am struggling to go past the awesome caring and food !

In this term, we probably had the highest number of professors teaching us in any one term and many of them were named “Paulo” with different last names. We learnt about globalization from Prof Jay Anand and many of could see glimpses of his friend Prof Kale’s teaching tactics :). The field visits started with Fiat, and ended with Natura in São Paulo. We visited Fiat, Kairos (a sustainable development project), Localiza (a Brazilian super star performed) and then Natura. The words of Prof Aron – “Sustainable development” and the rampant consumption that is depleting the Earth cut deep for many of us. Infact yesterday during breakfast, Vidur and I shared the small pack of butter rather than picking two and wasting most of it. My decision not to buy any more sarees gets extended till 2015 atleast after seeing the video on how the US consumes. It’s also interesting that India and China’s carbon footprint is much lower than the permissible limit while US, Canada and UK are happily gorging from everyone else’s plate and asking us, the developing nations to leave more food on the table ! We need a Bhim to kill these modern day Bakasur’s that will otherwise eat up Mars before we get to taste the Earth. (Refer Mahabharata if in doubt about the characters)

Sajid, Gaurav, Bipeen and I got to fly an Embraer aircraft as we came to São Paulo from Belo Horizonte. We ate Bhel puri and banana chips on the way and loved the leg space and the leather seats ! We had a director from Embraer that spoke to us on the last day about how the company is about innovation and we knew what he meant. We learnt about the use of Ethanol made from Sugarcane – sustainable source of biofuel and how Embraer has flown an aircraft on Ethanol. Btw Azul airlines is much recommended, they took off on time, landed on time and they have Embraer airplanes. The four of us managed to reach the hotel 30 minutes before the larger group that had travelled to another airport even after a 95 kms ride from the Confinas airport ! The Caesar hotel in Belo is recommended but not in São Paulo – the rooms are much smaller, service not so good, and the breakfast spread doesn’t even have cream cheese :):) besides other stuff.

Sanchita’s bag arrived much after she did, yes, it appears baggage can get lost even on a one hour point-to-point flight !! Anyway the incident helped me discover the “mean” side of Arup, and the pleasure that Feroze took in teasing Sanchita.

Speaking again of food – carry a small electric kettle or cooker. The rooms don’t have a kettle for us Indians to make hot tea or coffee and the only thing hot that Brazilians make and Indians like are the gorgeous Brazilian women :). Tea is a challenge, so carry your favourite and if you can’t survive on “yoghurt rice”, salad and small red chillies as a vegetarian, then carry pre cooked food. Language is a challenge, and don’t let any chef make “Maggi” – thanks to Wong, we managed to waste very little of the watery “Maggi” – ok, now the “fiasco” is recorded on cyber space and Sanchita, you can continue to tease me about it.

The streets of Brazil taught us why cleanliness is refreshing – even São Paulo, a city that has 20 million inhabitants is cleaner than many of the Indian cities with lesser population. The early morning traffic was clearly a challenge – there were kilometres of road choked with traffic as early as 8 am when we were going for the Natura visit. I was also fascinated by the garbage segregation at every place with clearly marked separate bins.

This term, Feroze’s ability to sleep with his eyes open failed him … Wong could have had make-up done on him and he wouldn’t have woken up and several others who were inches away from snoring in class :):) no the classes were not boring, it was just the food and so much of it.

We learnt more from Prof Paulo Vicente about India than we knew ourselves and he has never visited India ! He knew his facts and all the history – fascinating session on the last day at Belo. Fascinating and sad that India features so far behind on almost all metrics and the world’s economic history or just history is so Western centred. There is no mention of the Indian or middle eastern hegemonies – Mughal, Chola (they had an imperial navy) or Ottoman. Also fascinating how the 60 of us couldnt agree on how our respective state was depicted on the territorial analysis. Will need to read more of Prof Vicente’s material and watch out for the crisis he predicts in 2018.

Corruption, ineffective politicians, rich resources and democracy bind Brazil and India together – we have a lot to learn from each other and we should, especially from the mistakes we make. The Earth it appears will be inherited by us – with our population growth rates, and demographic dividend, lets make it a sustainable development.

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