Senso Comum, Por Favor
by Gresh Samtani
It’s 19:30 on a Wednesday night, and I’m seated at my desk at home, Bublé on the music player….. It’s a comfortable setup. I have not done anything the whole day but sleep and watch movies, spoiled rotten by my wife’s delicious cooking. It’s good to be back home.
Life’s been good. Amidst a few uncertainties and some important life decisions to be made like everyone else, it has been a blessing.
A few weeks ago, Lessa and I returned from our deferred honeymoon in Brazil. We went there to watch the World Cup, and as tiring as it was...It was a beautiful 35 days.
I don’t think my wife will ever forget the day when we flew back to Indonesia. We had been traveling for more than 22 hours, since we gave up our original flight tickets to two passengers who had an emergency to fly to Jakarta in return for business class tickets back home and travel vouchers. It was midnight when we arrived and it was a full flight. She was in front of the line queuing for our bags when an older man budged right in from behind next to where she was. While she was ticked off, she still kept her cool, until he started picking up bags and passing it to people in his travel group, and in the midst of all that, he had not only hurt her, but also told her off for being in the way. In return, she took a stand and confronted him for not queuing like everyone else. In his defence, he said that since it was common practice, his action was justified. To that she said that it is exactly because of such kind of mentality, and lack of common sense, this country will never develop. He had nothing to say.
You see we had just returned from Brazil during the time of the World Cup, and while we were warned about pickpockets, possible riots, and were very much aware of the possibility of disorder with the amounts of people that would attend the games, we were taken aback by all the organisation and orderly conduct that was in place, except of course for the rowdy fans we would meet once in a while, from one country in particular. Diplomacy bars us from naming that one country. It must be true then, what one FIFA official said to me... It does take 4 years to plan and execute any one of this global football events.
Brazil is a beautiful country. No, wait... Beautiful doesn’t even begin to describe it. It’s a work of art. From the ancient walkways in Salvador, to the beautiful architecture in Brasilia, this country had it all. Wait, before I continue, let me not forget Rio, one of the most marvellous cities I have ever seen. To those of you who have been to Brazil and traveled the world, I might be on the hyperbolic side. In my eyes, it was a Mona Lisa: not perfect and not the most beautiful, but with a finesse and form satisfying every sense. A total masterpiece.
I remember this one night in Rio, the night of the World Cup finals, which we had watched from the Copacabana Palace Hotel (must visit). We had to walk about 5 kms back to our rented apartment at Rua Saint Roman in Ipanema. Well, on any other day we would’ve hopped into a taxi and reached back in a matter of minutes, but I guess, that night The Man Upstairs had other plans for us. The roads were congested. Taking a taxi back would’ve not made sense as everything was at a standstill and the sidewalks were filled with returning fans, mainly Argentinians walking back to their lives away from the disappointments of the night.
The walk back took us about 90 minutes, and an overweight (not proud of it and in the process of rectification) me, kept complaining as to how exhausted I was. The walk was endurable until a certain point wherein we had to climb a seemingly infinite flight of stairs in the dark of the night leading to our destination. At the instance, two particular thoughts clouded my mind, firstly, that I would not make it up, and the second thing being that we were entering a dark alley, and I wouldn’t want to risk our safety. I then suggested that we look for a taxi, but my superwoman wife was already on the way up those stairs.
The next day, during a city tour of Rio, we learnt, that those stairs we took, led to a favela, a Brazilian traditional street, and our apartment was in a favela. One of Michael Jackson’s infamous video clips was also shot in a favela in Rio. Our city tour took us to The Christ Redeemer Statue in Rio, The Sugar Loaf Mountain, not to forget the breathtaking beaches.
All in all, we got to experience everything in Brazil; from watching the world cup games from the backmost seats, to having Jurgen Klinsmann right in front of us screaming that we all create noise for the US team. From being attacked by a wild parrot, to walking at the throat of the magnanimous Iguassu Falls (the Devil’s Throat). From not being allowed to board our flight, to being bumped to Business Class. From eating food with flies, to the finest carpaccio with Oliver Kahn.
That was then, here is now. The adventure has come to a pause, read it again, it’s come to a pause and not an end.
The promise of days to come seem nothing but better if not already excellent.
Except, there is that one day my wife will never forget... The day she stepped back in the country she calls home. There is one other day she will never forget... That day, a couple of weeks later, when she read in the paper that during the open house of the next term’s vice president, a young boy was killed amongst a stampede of uncontrollable humans. A life taken simply because crowds of people thought queuing in an orderly fashion was not common practice.
Like the Portuguese would say: Senso comum, por favor.