Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Mayday in Rio

So, yesterday was my first day at IMPA, and after 2 months of bumming around, I was keen to get to the instt and sit in an office and pretend to work. 2 mins away from my flat, there was a direct bus and I got here in less than 30 minutes. I thought all the stories about buses being very slow in Rio were exaggerated. Showed up here before 9, and then hung around the campus for about 30 mins. Soon, I realised there was nobody around except a few security guards. Since it's a research institute, with no undergrads, I figured people showed up late or whenever it suited them.

The campus is beautiful, and though it doesn't overlook the beach, it's surrounded by a forest. It's green, quiet and the main building is bright and airy. Had a nice time walking around and finally bumped into a professor. He told me it was Mayday, and everything in Rio was closed. This was the third time in succession in the last 8 months that I'd showed up in my new department on the wrong day. In R'burg, it was Unification day weekend, in Paris it was the Christmas/New Year break, and here it was May day.

Anyway, I managed to plug in my laptop and surf for a few hours and then decided to head back as it was so quiet. On the map, Ipanema beach looked very close, but it turned out to be much further. Took me almost an hour to walk there, and lugging a laptop and not wearing anything remotely resembling beachwear, I looked like a real misfit on the beach. Since it's a big holiday, it looked like half of Rio was hanging out on the beach.

Thankfully, my flat wasn't too far so I headed back, changed and went back to the beach. Walked all the way up from Copacabana back to Ipanema, and realised there was a big concert going on. As it was a holiday, it was packed and there were lots of vendors selling alcohol and food. It was loud, crowded, colourful and very lively. It went on forever I think, but I headed back to my flat around midnight and could hear the music even as I went to sleep. As a first day in Rio, it was a nice introduction.


Rahul said...

I've been reading your blog (silently, since you left Paris) and enjoying it greatly. It sounds like it was good for you that India was out early in the world cup.

Enjoy Rio... my image of the place is coloured by the movie "City of God", but no doubt it's much better than that.

bandafbab said...

India losing was the best thing to happen for my travelling. I saved a lot of time and money. Rather than spend a month watching a farce unfold, with nobody close to challenging Australia, it was far better to spend a month travelling in Venezuela and Brazil.

So far Rio's fine. I think "City of God" is the only movie about Rio that I've seen, and it's not the best introduction to the city. Though it's been barely 2 days I haven't heard or seen anything bad, but I've been a bit paranoid while walking around.