Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Good bye Rio

From Rio: A spectacular aerial view and it was love at first sight. Rio casts a spell on millions and I was no exception.
As my visit drew to a close, I went on a tour of Rio city with my World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) colleagues. Rio, with its sun-lashed beaches, mountains, seas, rain forests, waterfalls (picture), promenades and stunning landscapes, is indeed one of the most picturesque cities in the world.
Being a Sunday, the sea front was a sea of humanity. The magnificent beaches along the coast linked by tree-lined roads were choc-a-bloc with people.  
Copacabana and Ipanema -the most famous of the beaches - sure lived up to their reputation.
Umbrellas spread like specs of colourful dots on a sandy canvas stretching as far as the eyes could see. No wonder! Rio is the most visited city in Southern hemisphere with the highest density of people (per sq km).
Being on the beach is Rio's way of relaxing. 
The locals and the tourists all blend in. Noon time we went to one of the famous Portuguese restaurants called Antiquarius (picture) in the Leblon area. The restaurant is reputed to be one of the poshest in whole of Rio. There was an impressive array of breads for starters and much else. But I, a veggie, had to make do good with tomato soup and salad.
It is really surprising that a city of nearly 13 million (including Rio's greater metropolitan area) has no Indian restaurant. In all,there are some 20 to 25 odd Indian families in Rio and about 350 families in Brazil. In contrast, there are nearly six million Japanese in Brazil, one of the highest outside Japan, quite like the Indian population in Durban.
I could not meet Ira Pandey's son Aftab Pandey. Ira has translated my mother's auto-biography Anya se Ananya. It is due for release at the forthcoming Jaipur Literary Festival. Aftab came to meet me in Hotel Royal Tulip but I was out at that time.There was a mis-communication with the phone message. I also spoke to Avi Mehta who hails from Jodhpur, Rajasthan. He visited India last year after almost two decades. I met many other Indians based in Rio.
Rio has countless attractions but I say the famous steps of Escadaria Selaron (picture), in the Lapa and Santa Teresa neighbourhood,is a must see. It is a work of art by Chilean-born artist Jorge Selaron who started renovating the dilapidated steps in 1990 by putting different shapes of blue, green and yellow tiles – the colours of Brazilian flag. He also used ceramics and mirrors and accepted tiles from all over the world.
I saw, near the starting point, tiles with pictures of Indian gods (pic) which I captured in my camera. 
There are 250 steps measuring 125 metres long which are covered in over 2000 tiles collected from over 60 countries around the world.
Another free tip is that one must try out the guarana drink – an extract from a local fruit famed for its stimulating effects. Guarana is also available in cans like Coke. Different flavoured extracts from guarana are available in the market just like the various types of tea. It is very refreshing and energetic. Some people swear it improves cognitive skills.
There is always a time to say good bye to good things. Leaving Rio is like a chain smoker trying to quit smoking. In an hour I shall be on my way to the airport to avail my 3 am Emirates flight to Dubai.
Good bye Rio.
ess bee

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