Friday, March 20, 2009

Soccer, Azul and the Beach – Brazil Diaries

Concluding part...

I thought it’s high time I wrapped up the Brazil diaries! So I’ll try to cram everything else from my week in Sao Paulo on to this one post.

One of the interesting exercises we had was on negotiation and this was on day 2 of classes at IBMEC. Although I didn’t really get much on negotiation from it, it was interesting in that it required us to go to a local grocery and produce market to buy a set of ingredients on a given (tight) budget. Language is such a big barrier in Brazil and that’s what made this exercise challenging for most of us – I had 3 Spanish speakers in my team, hence the “most of us”. Although our facilitator for this exercise claimed that the team with the woman had the most advantage, I can safely say that I had no hand in my team’s success – except perhaps photo-documenting it! But it was a fun exercise – we brought back all of our supplies to IBMEC and feasted on them for afternoon coffee!

Day 3 was probably the best day we Sao Paulo – actually it could be Day 4 too, I’m having trouble picking! On day 3, we visited the offices of Azul, founded by David Neeleman of Jet Blue fame. He has got to be the most down-to-earth CEO ever! He personally showed us around the facilities he had there, and spent time talking to us about what made the Brazilian market different and why Azul’s success was so hard to achieve. That evening, we got to watch Ronaldo take his team to victory in a football game: LIVE! The stadium was packed full and boy, do the Brazilians love their football or what! I’m no big football fanatic, but just that energy and the hype and the way the crowds went crazy every time Ronaldo’s shoe came in contact with the ball – I was jumping out of my seat in excitement! This was hands down the best experience ever!

On day 4, we went to the Embraer factory, which included a tour of the shop floor. It was exciting to see that stuff, especially since I had studied that during undergrad. And then there was the program in the evening. See here’s competition for that game. Symphony orchestra. Not just any orchestra, but Brazil’s best. We got tickets to go this orchestra where apart from watching a breathtaking performance, we also got to hob-nob with some of Sao Paulo’s Page 3 personalities. The performance itself was beautiful; I was captivated by the skill and verve in the music. The whole theater seemed to come alive to the tunes of Mozart and Beethoven and the stillness in the audience was in stark contrast to the spirited performance of the conductor. The person on the saxophone got four encores!

The next day we went on a day long trip to the beach, about 2 hours from Sao Paulo. While friends who went to Rio after this would write this one out, I had a lot of fun here. Since I’m not normally a beach person – I went with a big tube of sunscreen – when I say I had fun, you can tell I had fun! We had a good lunch at a beachside restaurant and soon the whole bunch was in the water. I had a long walk and great conversation with my professor as we walked along the water. The evening came too soon and we headed back to SP, playing card games on the bus to keep us awake.

We flew back to DC the next evening, and so spent the morning going shopping for famous Hawaiianas - actually we just needed an excuse to use the subway!

The week was over in a flash. I think I left a piece of me in Brazil. I loved being away from the Ville, away from email, job search, resume drops, exams, cases… it was the first time in months that I felt free and at peace. I look at pictures from that trip now and we all look so happy. I learnt so much about this country in that one week; in the classroom there was the technical knowledge – monetary and fiscal policies, sustainability… outside of it, I observed people and a different way of life and attitudes. It was exciting. For once, I wasn’t happy to be back in Darden, to the reality that awaited.

1 comment:

Prashanth said...

Looks like you had a brilliant time in Brazil and you actually got to watch Ronaldo in action! Absolutely brilliant. I am all jealous now.

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