Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Indians in Brazil

November 8, Rio de Janeiro: According to the Indian embassy officials there are some 350 Indian families in Brazil, and about 20 to 25 in Rio de Janeiro. What I gathered during dinner chat at the magnificent restaurant adjacent to the lake was that there are about 800 Indian families in Brazil. Yes! Rio has around 25 Indian families. So the absence of an Indian restaurant in Rio comes as no surprise. I also feel that the so called Indian food served in many foreign restaurants are actually more to attuned to the international palate.
A Google search throws up names like Rajamahal and Natraj. But these restaurants have shuttered and never earned any reputation as good food joints.
Yesterday at the dinner at the Arab restaurant I discovered many things about India and Indians in Brazil. Here in this country the maximum number of Indians are in Sao Paulo and the rest are spread across mainly in Rio, Brasilia, Manaus, Sao Jose dos Campos and Curitiba.
With the exception of Sao Paulo and Curitiba, getting Indian food is like a dream come true for Indians in Brazil. This is one country that allows 32 kilos for two baggages if you travel by air in economy, business or first class. This enables many Indians to get their favourite food from India. Pulses are not available and there isn't a single grocery shop that sells Indian food stuffs here.
I remember while dining at Tandoor in Sao Paulo ten years back, Mr Lakhi Daswani had mentioned that he procured all his Indian raw food stuffs from his daughter in USA.
I further came to know at the dinner table yesterday that one Keshwani family owned a restaurant called Swadisht in Curitiba which is very good. Vimarshan, who plays cricket for the state team in Brazil often takes a two-hour flight from Rio to be at the Swadisht and play his matches.
I met Professor Krishnaswamy Rajgopal who came to Rio 41 years ago to set up a chemical laboratory. He liked the city and settled down here. He is one of the oldest Indian residents here and is engaged in doing a lot of good work to promote Indian art and culture with his wife Mallika.
Prof Ramaswami teaches at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. I asked him about Praca Calcuta and the Bose statue. He told that it was a square in front of a 17th Century old Church in Governor's Island of Rio. The Park is named in honour of a Bengali mercenary soldier who fought for the Portuguese and died on the island around 1827. His was known as Bose and a bust of him was erected at the square.
The Professor was very dissapointed with the fact that local Indian community did not get an appointment to meet Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh during his last visit to Rio. He informed me that the shooting of Dhoom 2 took place in Rio.
I also meet Mr D P Shrivastava, CEO of pharmaceutical company called Agila. It was very kind of him to drop me at my hotel.
Mr Shrivastava, whose company has invested 150 million dollars in this country, was very annoyed with the fact that when Anand Sharma visited Rio he and his colleagues tried several times but could not get an appointment with him. He had no idea if it was the fault of the consulate or the minister. But they felt very humiliated waiting for him in vain.
With the members from UNA African region group
He mentioned to me that Anand Sharma did not turn up at the reception organised by the Consulate in Sao Paulo with the Indian community. Mr Shrivastava told me that that they looked for moral support from the Indian government and too they do not get. Mr Shrivastava is married to Jharna, a lady from a Bengali family in Burdwan.
The recent oil discovery in Brazil has prompted many companies to set up offices. Another gentleman who joined us at the dinner was Mr Arjun K Rumalu who works for a US oil company.
With WFUNA members
India-Brazil relations began on a rough note over Brazil's support to Portugal during the decolonization and annexation of Goa by India. But, of late, with the coming of the BRIC era (Brazil, Russia, India, China), the two countries, labelled as the top emerging economies in the world, have come closer to cover grounds and forge economic and cultural ties.
Vimarshan and his group of Indian friends organised the Diwali get together on 4th of November for the first time in the city. Everybody was in a party mood as they met just a day after. During my foreign trips I have always felt that an Indian cannot forget his culture. In fact, the farther he is from his country the greater the desire to go connect with his roots.
Today afternoon I, along with few WFUNA colleagues, went to an Italian restaurant next to Ibmec University. In the morning the United Nations Associations of Africa region and the Latin American UNAs decided to support me which meant assured support for the elections. This should help me win the elections for the post of Treasurer at WFUNA easily. Nobody had filed nominations for contesting the polls till 5 pmthe deadline set for declaring me the Treasurer for a three year tenure.
Thanks to all UNA countries for reposing their trust in me.
ess bee

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