Fish curry with a side order of porn – Nina Sangma

Strip club in Brazil
Strip Club in Brazil

 

Till you’ve been to a male strip club or clube de mulheres in more refined terms, courtesy your best friend’s mother, life will have had little meaning. All that throbbing testosterone in one night will give you a head rush to put it mildly.

But if you aren’t as lucky to get this sort of orientation to brasileiros, you may want to hit the beaches between Sau Paulo and Paraty. Some of the most breathtaking (and I’m not prone to using words like breathtaking) so trust me when I say that these are some of the best kept secrets of the Brazilians.

Paraty to rip, Brasil
Paraty to rip, Brazil

 

 

Rio Beach
Rio Beach

Susegad, there’s a term in Portuguese. Even rolling it on my tongue feels relaxing, like you’re about to dive head long into nothing. Like a delicious wallow in the mud. In so many ways Brazil is like India with its sub continent size natural beauty. But that’s where the similarities end. Brazilians live like it’s their last day on earth. The party is on everyday. From the block parties with some of the world’s most beautiful, surgically enhanced bodies on display, to the funky being danced to the sounds of samba, life’s a beach. Indians live preparing for death. They live poor and then die rich.

Brazil isn’t some kind of utopia, they have their share of drug related crime but you know what? There is no rape. Something I as a Dilliwalli with my fertile imagination couldn’t fathom. But on to happier stuff.

Salvador
Nina in Salvador. Just Posing!

When you’ve done the rounds of the beaches and clubs and really want to get under Brazil’s skin, take a cheap flight to its sweaty armpit. Salvador is on the north western coast of Brazil. It’s the former headquarters of the slave traders when slaves from West Africa fresh off the boat would be auctioned to other parts of Brazil.

If you’re feeling adventurous leave the comfort of the air conditioners and head to the little Pink House on the waterfront in Salvador.

Our pink house by the shore in Salvador
Our pink house by the shore in Salvador

You will be met by Jose with the house keys, and led into a house the size of Amala bai’s kholi in Kamatipura. But the size of the house is inversely proportionate to the gigantic size hearts of the other favella dwellers. Or if you’ve had enough of the fishing village, take the elevator to the old town. Order a moqueca, Brazil’s version of the prawn curry and enjoy it with a few cold beers. You may even get a side order of porn courtesy the tonsil hockey playing couple at the opposite table.

Carnival Brazil
Carnival Brazil

moqueca or fish stew in salvador

If that isn’t your idea of a fun night, your evenings can be spent in the company of Jesus and gang.

Christ the redeemer in Rio
Christ the redeemer in Rio

A motley bunch of kids who will insist on entertaining you with their song & dance routines. Inspired of course by the daily diet of novellas or saas bahu serials you and I are familiar with.

Our neighbours in Salvador
Our neighbours in Salvador

In fact if I were ever to write my own cheesy novella it would go something like this:

Last summer I chose to spend in the festering jungle heat of Brazil’s northern coast in a Pink House by the water’s edge in Salvador. It’s the kind of place where you sweat your body weight, pleading with sleep to take over your melting body. Instead what slowly took over was the stench of the receding tide. It filled our nostrils and it filled our senses in a space that drained you just to survive. No place of frivolous pleasures this; except at the bottom of cool long Caiprinhas every night at La Boca near the sea front. A year later I’m writing about bodies, sweaty throbbing bodies in another part of Salvador.

He came to us in the old town near the whipping posts of slaves. His teeth whiter against the black of his glistening skin. And he talked… about this thing called Candomble. Like mice following Pied Piper we stumbled down narrow lanes, inside anal by lanes, our aching feet silently screaming on the cobblestones.

Brasilian girls in Salvador
Brazilian girls in Salvador
Carnival in Rio
Carnival in Rio

 

Strains of music, lit houses, primitive drumbeats; voodoo stares, leading into a womb filled with myrrh, slowly curling smoke. I sat watching transfixed, the intoxicating dance of men and women in stiff white calico dancing in a trance. Then one would collapse, twitching in a fit of ecstasy and be taken away. That’s when I looked at Nazia, the spell broken. That’s when I saw her ashen faced. That’s when she asked,” Are there dead people here?”

Don’t forget to
Dance the funky at a block party in Ipanema
Leave all and any shiny thing behind in the hotel room. No point attracting unsavory creatures
Get pissed farting drunk and display foot in mouth disease while chatting up a cute stranger on the street
Take a day trip to the remote islands off Salvador
Eat at the por kilo canteens like the locals.
Say obrigada with a smile. It works like a charm every time.
Show your index finger. It means Brahma the ironically titled No 1 beer of Brazil.

(Nina Sangma, Travel Editor, HilleLe)

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