Tag Archives: Travel

BRAZINDIA

combo flagYou are what you experience. Those experiences shape the way you think about everything from food and places to people and culture. It also creates bias, which I am when discussing Brazil and India, two beautiful countries with beautiful people.

handshake flagMy first visit to Brazil (1996 – wow, 19 years ago) left an indelible mark on my life. I had a productive professional time meeting with various companies and an even better time as a tourist of Rio de Janeiro and the Carioca culture. I have always joked that the one deal I did close was meeting my wife, Leticia! Ever since, I’ve loved getting to know more of the people, the music, food, and culture. We’ve traveled far and wide in Brazil and I’ve had a long-standing desire to live there someday for full immersion. Yes, the country has its problems with crime, drugs, and corruption but the beauty of Brazil is that the people are truly happy.

I then had the opportunity to travel to India (2000 – 15 years ago) on business. It was a short 2-week jaunt to a developing city, Ahmedbad (now major industrial city) between Mumbai and Delhi. I had a wonderful time working with a group of enthusiastic and positive Indians that are friends to this day. I remember flying home thinking how similar the Indians were to my Brazilian friends in terms of culture and demeanor. Ever since I have preached the commonality of these two cultures and here’s why:

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Demographics:

  • Population: India #2 (1.3 billion) + Brazil #5 (200 million)
  • Size: Brazil #5 (8.5 million km2) + India #7 (3.3 million km2)
  • Traffic + city crowds – controlled chaos!
  • Wildlife: Amazon jungle and tiger reserve parks
  • Long coastlines – Brazil’s beaches get the crowds while India’s don’t; one has tiny bikinis and the other has full pants!

Religion:

  • Largest Hindu + Catholic countries in the world. India is also the largest country for Sikh, Jains, Bahai, #3 for Muslims, and top 10 for Buddhists!
  • Weddings: Big, colorful, and expensive events!
  • Carnival in Brazil and Holi festival in India

People:

  • Super friendly and live life in the present.
  • Social butterflies: Watch the social interaction of each and hands wave, arms move, bodies gyrate to complement the words spoken.
  • Cool cats: The men act cool everywhere!
  • Spontaneous and loud: Don’t be surprised to see kids jump into a museum fountain or ladies screaming to be heard.
  • Gorgeous self-confident women! My personal bias speaketh.
  • Indian slums + Brazilian favelas: Slumdog Millionaire / City of God
Two of the Top 5 @ Miss World

Two of the Top 5 @ Miss World

History:

  • Colonial to independence.
  • Portuguese – Brazil + Goa/Kerala states in India.
  • Government democratic chaos known for corruption.
  • Both have had female leaders. Go Girls!!

Economics:

  • BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India, and China.
  • The great divide: Billionaires along side masses of poverty.
  • Agriculture: #1+#2 in world sugar production – sweet!
  • Both countries are always on the cusp of breaking through but…

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Entertainment:

  • Wonders of the World: Taj Mahal & Corcovado.
  • In the arts, both are growing at a fast pace to world acclaim.
  • Brazil has its bossa nova music and India has Bollywood.
  • Cricket is to India as futebol (soccer) is to Brazil.

 This certainly does not do justice and you simply have to open your eyes to see the amazing people of both cultures. Once you do, you will find that we are all quite similar despite our different backgrounds and that it is better to compare positively to the masses than react negatively on the actions of a few. Thank you to all my Brazilian and Indian friends and family!

Namaste & Beijos

Happy New Year!

Since my first experience studying abroad nearly 30 years ago, I’ve loved to travel. Part of it is the exploration, part to reflect and appreciate what you have at home. To us, this year is equivalent to “living a dream” which is not always easy but does provide great perspective on life. To that end, I want to take a moment to reflect on how proud I am of my family and to encourage you to live your dreams in this New Year.

This Christmas Eve on the small remote island of Gili Gede, we celebrated with a feast among travelers. There were a dozen of us and we shared fresh fish, mashed potatoes (Leticia’s request), and plenty of healthy vegetables with Indonesian sauces including spicy peppers! All of us were at home last year for Christmas and none of us knew that we would be traveling here this year; thus, the human planning concept is short lived based on this small survey. Similarly, Leticia and I had talked about this dream trip for years but even last Christmas we didn’t know or plan on this to come to fruition but we’re certainly glad it did!

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For our children, however, it has been 5 months total since we informed them about our family dream. A considerable shock that you aren’t going back to school, that you’ll be without your friends, that your life will be turned upside down for all intensive purposes. To an adult, it may sound glamorous but to a young developing person, it can be devastating. Despite the brief time to digest and the losses of a normal day-to-day lifestyle, these two wonderful children have explored, grown and embraced our travels in a wonderful way.

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Our high energy, full of friends, and busy as a bee daughter, Louisa, has been the most affected. She has sacrificed her first year at a new school (although several friends of hers say she is not missing much), her team sports, and, most of all, she has had to shelve her daily interactions with her friends. Yet, this young woman embraces our travels in a way that would impress anyone. She has jumped off bridges, read more books, planned and served meals, volunteered to help the environment and adapted to different cultures in a life changing way. I am excited to see what will become of Louisa as she continues on this journey and thereafter because I’m confident that she will accomplish great things in life.

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Now Sebastian is a different breed. When we told him about the trip, he paused, thought, and proceeded to ask several detailed questions about the trip for him to better understand our goals. At the end of it, he said, “This sounds great. I’m in!” His demeanor has not changed since; in fact, he is our spiritual leader in a way as he carries the optimistic attitude that is much needed when things go wrong (and right). He takes the edge off tense moments and has a natural ability to get along with others – he has easily adapted to playing with other boys everywhere we go. On top of all that, he loves the virtual school program and has performed better than ever; he attests it to the fact that he doesn’t have the other student distractions! Regardless, we are proud parents as Sebastian carries his loyalty strong and practices the Camp Dudley motto: The Other Fellow First.

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Now before wish everyone a Happy New Year, I’d like to mention my lovely wife, Leticia, who has steadily come into her own on this journey. I compare it to a drive down to Key West in that the farther you go, the more relaxed you become. Leticia, of all the people in our family, needed a break from the jet setting corporate world. I can’t say enough about the quality time the rest of us have enjoyed with her. On top of which, I’ve seen this bubbly warm and curious personality come to life. If it’s not family time, then Leti’s enjoying a new book or exploring the culture, speaking to locals, and absorbing the experience to its fullest. In my opinion, she is going to return with so much more to give in her next endeavor that whatever she decides to do will result in pure success and greater happiness for her and those she touches.

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It’s a challenge to express in words these life experiences and the unity of our family. You see photos of sunrises and sunsets, Mother Nature and wildlife, the hikes and scuba diving, but it amounts to so much more when we share the experiences together. I am thankful to my wife, Leticia, and our love connection that continues to grow. I am thankful to my children, Sebastian and Louisa, for being much better children than I ever was and I look forward to seeing you both continue to grow.

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Happy New Year to you and your family!

may you live your dreams in 2015!

Landed in San Francisco

Our final farewells to Florida were this past weekend. Our daughter, Louisa, wished for an early birthday celebration so we threw a surprise party that completely shocked her; friends gave her photos to hold onto for her travels. So sweet and that is what friendship is all about. We already miss our friends and saved champagne to celebrate our return in June.

While I wish for smooth sailing, of course it was not to be. We stuffed our bags late into the night for a 5am ride to the airport. We knew right away that we had a problem. On the positive side, Sebastian and Louisa are fine with their packs – great job kids! The bad news is the parents that don’t practice what they preach; ugh, our stuff is too much and too heavy. To give you an idea, the handle on Leticia’s carry on broke as soon as we boarded the plane. We will correct this in San Francisco when we get our bags. Problem #2: AA forgot our bags along with 35 other passengers on the nonstop flight from Miami! Let’s hope that this is a one-time experience.

Nonetheless, we arrived safely in San Francisco and I have to say, we are already feeling like seasoned travelers thanks to the bumps. We have a week to regroup, say hellos and goodbyes to family and friends in California. Leticia is finalizing the tech side of travels like phones and computers; the funny part is that AT&T (phone) and Comcast (internet) are awful here – knock on wood for the future!

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