Thursday, August 30, 2007

Random Walk - Brazil

Aug 18 2007 - Aug 25 2007
7 days of absolute fun and pleasure in the land of coffee, soccer, the samba and world famous beaches - Brazil.

Brazilian steak houses, playing with the waves (ipanema, copacabana and buzios), sleeping on sands, hours of beer-pong sessions, random bar hopping, a crazy hang-gliding jump, four wonderful hours in the sea, the best discotheques in Rio, Corcovado and The statue of Christ Redeemer - Random Walk Brazil produced probably some of the most enjoyable days I've ever had.

Good enough to relax one of the spirits of the blog and post pictures of others. Here is the group of 16 that makes the GSB RW Brazil 2007 party.

So this is what happened...

Aug 18 2007

Rio is two time zones away from Chicago and approximately 12 hrs away. We traveled by Delta Airways - Chicago to Atlanta and Atlanta to Rio. It is pretty much like taking the overnight train from Chennai to Bangalore, only here you wake up to see a touch down among trees in a muggy Winter day in Rio.

Aug 19 2007
We were picked out of the airport by Maria, our tour guide. We then traveled to Ipanema Plaza, where we stayed for the next 2 days. The hotel is 20 yards from the famous Ipanema beach and our first day was spent living with the waves in this beach. We had a pre-arranged Brazilian Steak House dinner to attend, following which we tried to taste a bit of the Brazilian night life - with very little success. Sunday nights, apparently, are not the happening ones in Brazil.

Aug 20 2007
Hang Gliding, Impromptu Songs & Dancing the night away...
This was the Crazy day. We woke up and traveled to São Conrado, a nearby cliff for a hang gliding session. The jump was bloody awesome - to put it mildly. I'll upload the video on youtube sometime soon. We returned from the jump, and spent the rest of the day in relaxing and playing beer pong.

We went to a restaurant in downtown Rio for our dinner. During dinner, one of my tour mates decided to infuse some fizz into the tour and decided to sing for the group. The fact that the restaurant also had live music helped her and we were witness to two good songs, sung quite well indeed! From here, we decided to go to a discotheque and reached one halfway up the same cliff from where we performed the hang gliding jumps. The place played some lively music and we had awesome fun dancing the night away...

Aug 20 2007
Buzios is a 2.5 hr drive away from Rio. We traveled in a bus and viewed the amazing Brazilian countryside all the way. Buzios is also a small resort town, with a good retro look to it. We stayed at the Buzios-Perola (meaning pearl of Buzios), a very impressive resort. The first day in Buzios was spent in leisure and more beer pong sessions.

Aug 21 2007
Catamaran tour & more Impromptu songs
This was to be a day in the sea. We spent four long wonderful hours in the beach, with nothing but the sea in sight. The Buzios has lot of small land patches around in the sea and some of them make for wonderful little beaches - very private. The tour took us to many of these and we were lost in nature's glory. We even spent time in one of the beaches, which i think was by far the most scenic of all.

We returned in the evening and had dinner in another Brazilian style restaurant, where they had live music again. This time, another participant sang a few songs for us with the band.

Aug 22 2007
Beach Day
Thursday had no activity in the list and so we hit the beach. We spent time playing with the waves again, and some of the guys tried some surfing in those really strong waves. We also played some volleyball in the beach, which was good fun as well.

In the evening, we had dinner in another Brazilian style restaurant, and tried searching for some good dance bars, but returned to our rooms after multiple failed attempts.

Aug 24 2007
Bye Bye Buzios, Brazilian Sea food & Baronetti
We headed back to Rio on Friday morning, and reached our hotel around noon. We immediately jumped into our beds for some rest as we knew that our last night in Brazil would be long.

We had dinner arranged for us at a very nice Brazilian Sea Food restaurant. The food was yummy and the setting of the place done very well. We enjoyed our food and were also shown glimpses of Brazilian Samba dancing. The spring festival must really be quite a spectacle.

By this time the guys had come out with a short list of all discotheques in Brazil and heard opinions of multiple people on what would be the best place to go. Baronetti stood on top of every one's list, and so we headed there. True to every one's suggestion - the place was very awesome and the group had a rocking time, dancing till 5 in the morning.

Aug 25 2007
Corcovado & off to the windy city...
The last day in Brazil started with a trip to the Corcovado and the Statue of Christ Redeemer. We travelled by bus to the foothills and took a train from there to the top. The status is an awesome sight in itself, and the view of Rio from atop the Corcovado is just breathtaking. We had more Brazilian food on the way back to our hotel, where we slept the remaining of the day.

Our flight was at 11:30 PM and we were dropped at the airport by our travel guide. Twelve hours later, we were in O'Hare and an hour later, I was home...

We've had so much fun at Brazil that most of us are still recuperating from the trip. I can fall asleep a any place at any time of the day, and i am positively sure that this is not jet lag. Many of us fell sick and are now much better.

Whatever it took, the Brazil trip was worth every penny and and every second of it. If i were to do it again, I will - just give me the same group of people!!!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Have i lost weight???

The first few days in USA have been crazy, and a lot of fun of course!!! There's been a lot of running around, walking, hard work (read carpentry), less sleep (intentional), random food and what not! I am sure i have lost a few pounds ;)

After reaching the USA on the 14th evening, I went to the University and school on the last3 days, and i have been walking like a mad dog that's lost its lunch. The fact is, the U of Chi campus is amazingly HUGE. So it takes a lot of walking to get from point A to point B. Considering that the university campus is amazingly beautiful, with lot of greenery and wonderful lawns - i shouldn't really be complaining. The university is a nice collection of old styled buildings (but just in the exteriors. the interiors are as modern as u'd get them) and beautiful gardens. In between all these old style buildings and the many homes nearby - the modern GSB building really stands out.

I had to visit the Office of International affairs once everyday in the last 3 days, to register my arrival and get a few signatures and supporting documents that would be helpful during the trip to Brazil. I visited the school and i must admit that it does stand up to its reputation of being a very very good looking building. We just randomly checked a few places/rooms, since we dint have a lot of time. The cafe in the school serves awesome food, but is a bit pricey. Otherwise, things look good. I want classes to start!!!

In between all this, I picked up my laptop from my classmate (actually - the classmate lugged it to a club where i was partying and delivered it to me. so it isnt "i picked" really) and i SO love it. speaking abt gadgets, I guess i will most probably be going the iPhone way. There are a few things to think abt, before i shell out the dough. Let's see...

Since i had almost no time for any of the furniture companies to deliver the furnitures to my home (f i order online i.e.), my home is still unfurnished. I still sleep on the carpet. There are a lot of domestic things to take care of - but they can all wait till i get back from the trip.

We had a kick-off party yday in a downtown club yday, and I've finally met my trip mates. It is already 8:30 AM here and i should meet them in the airport at 1:30 PM, and i still haven't packed. No, I still don't know what to pack ;)

So, off i go to handle packing woes part 2...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

In the Windy City

I reached Chicago yesterday evening [CDT of course ;)] after a long and tiring flight journey from Chennai. The short version of it is that the entire journey was good and hassle free. The flights were on time, I could bring all that i had packed in my two bags, my bags reached Chicago in 99.99% good condition and I had no issues/delays at Immigration (time taken = 5 mins) or Customs (time taken = 5 seconds).

A classmate had booked a cab for me already, so reaching my apartment wasnt too difficult. The studio is awesome, has a good view of Lake Michigan and the resident area and I'm feeling at home already.

I have a long version coming up very soon, with more description and pics of course ;) But that has to wait till i get things set up over here, and perhaps for the Brazil Random Walk to get over as well.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

All set to move

After months and months of planning, preparation, essays, data sheets and interviews, and eight months after the famous Chicago GSB admit call came in, and after getting to know most of my class through emails and facebook groups and orkut and what not - it is now time for the real thing. In less than 30 hrs, i will board my British Airways flight to Chicago.

Packing is 95% done, i still have to wrap up minor things in the cabin luggage. All the entries in the multiple to-do lists have a "done" marked against them. I still have one more dawn and one more dusk to see in my home city, and then i move to a new city and to my new home.

Flying to Chicago on Tuesday night, flying out to Rio on Saturday evening and flying back to Chicago after a week - I'm looking forward to every step in what is gonna be a long journey before i settle in one place. Hopefully, I will have a lot of fun in the next week or so, and i am sure the fun factor is only gonna keep exponentially increasing over the next year and 9 months.

The last week has been a bundle of farewell events, and the dinner with friends from high school clearly tops the list. It is definitely difficult to bid adieu to folks with whom u literally grew up :) I guess i have officially said "bye" to all the people i should say bye to. Tomorrow, some more phone calls, some more "bye byes", and then I'm whoosh...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

My first Laptop

I just ordered my first laptop, with lot of help from a classmate who's in Chicago.

It is a Lenovo Thinkpad T61. If everything goes on well, the laptop should reach the first destination in abt a week or so, from where i pick it up on reaching Chicago.

Cant wait :)

The week that was...

It is less than 2 weeks for my flight to Chicago and a lot has been happening.

I traveled to Bangalore for the weekend. There were a few college friends there whom i wanted to meet and bid farewell before i took off to the Windy City. I did meet them and had a real gala time or so to say. I also met two other friends who have been very influential in my life at different stages - and I was meeting both of them after a very long time. It was very good to meet them in person and spend time with them.

Bangalore is a city that i never liked, and the city has given me back as much as i have given it :) Guess the city wanted to give me a farewell gift as well, and hence i came back with multiple complications in my body. A throat infection, a minor stomach infection, a slight cold and a bad fever!!! After a visit to the doctor and two days of rest, i felt much better today morning. Since I lost 2 days in taking rest, i had to get up when possible and get things done. So i did some shopping today, completed a few minor tasks and visited some more friends to bid farewell.

I feel much better now. Tomorrow and the weekend, my mom has lined up appointments in the homes of numerous relatives. The fact that some of these appointments require me to make cross country rides doesn't help at all. Anyway, it is something that must be done and hopefully i will have fun riding around the city, after days of inactivity coz of the fever et al :)

PS: An update on my previous post, yesterday i got to know that i will not be able to avail the 3rd luggage offer from British Airways, because i booked the tickets through my company's travel agent. So I am back to packing my world into two bags :(