Brazil carnivals

7 Craziest Carnivals of Brazil that you must do!

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The Carnival of Brazil is an annual extravaganza that begins 51 days before Easter on a Friday afternoon and ends on Ash Wednesday at noon. Sprawling on the white sands of the Copacabana beach, casually sipping a Caipirihna while looking out at the ocean; ah, the mind does a samba at the prospect! While the most famous carnival in Brazil is undoubtedly the one in Rio Di Janeiro, there are at least a dozen other places in Brazil that throw a mean carnival…

Rio Di Janeiro

Brazil carnivalsTripped out!! Photo Courtesy: Miratico

Needless to say, the Carnival of Brazil in Rio Di Janeiro is a hotspot for locals and backpackers alike. The highlight of the Carnival is of course, the parade, filled with revellers, floats, and adornments from numerous samba schools which are located in Rio. As the parade is taking place in the Sambadrome and the balls are being held in the Copacabana Palace and beach, many carnival participants are at other locations. Street festivals are very common during carnival and are highly populated by the locals.

Sao Paulo

Brazil carnivalsAll that glitters IS gold. Photo Courtesy: Carnival bookers

Hordes of people head to the Sao Paulo Carnival every year, to party their noses off and to experience unique aspects of Afro-Brazilian culture. Unlike Rio, the main days of the Carnival are Friday and Saturday with the top samba schools competing for the prestigious championship trophy; the winners of which are declared on Ash Wednesday. Over 30,000 spectators at the Sambadrome are transported into frenzy as the sights and sounds of the samba schools begin to work through their bodies. Tickets are available across a range of prices, so you can be sure to find one in your budget!


Brazil carnivalsWe’re here, we’re queer! The Florianapolis Gay Carnival. Photo Courtesy: Mister10

Florianapolis, a less populated Brazilian city located on a verdant, mountainous island in the south of Brazil, also offers a chance to party like crazy during the Carnival and enjoy some well-deserved beach time. The Florianapolis carnival is a diverse mix of samba, street parties and parades. As a build up to the Carnival, several small parties happen through the course of the few weeks preceding it. This includes the famous and hilarious Florianapolis Gay Carnival. The carnival hosts the Pop Gay competition, a beauty contest for drag queens and transgender people.


Brazil carnivals

Trio Electrico Trucks, the moving boomboxes! Photo Courtesy: Wanderlust wonderings

The Bahian Carnival, in the Brazilian state of Bahia, is celebrated mainly in its capital, Salvador. One of the main attractions of the Carnaval da Bahia is the presence of Trio Elétrico trucks, which is a generic reference to trucks or buses carrying musicians around. The Carnival attracts hordes of music lovers, and is an important platform in itself for musicians across the country. Beer lovers would love to hear that 10 million liters of beer are consumed every year in Salvador only during this event!

Salvador seems to have high crime levels, so it would perhaps be prudent to take safety precautions, and read up in detail about the Carnival by means of blogs, before making a trip to the city.

Recife and Olinda

Brazil carnivalsIt’s one giant, colourful family! Photo Courtesy: Picssr

If you wish to take a slice out of the magic of the carnivals in Brazil, and do so, on a shoestring budget, your best bet would be to head over to Recife and Olinda – colourful and multicultural cities in the northeast. You can get to Recife by flight or road; Olinda has no airport or bus station, but is only 7kms from Recife and local cars make short work of the trip. It’s totally ok to dress up weirdly, fill your hair and face with glitter, wear shoes you don’t mind throwing away on Ash Wednesday and become BFFs with total strangers!

Porto Seguro

Brazil carnivalsNutty crowd!! Photo Courtesy: Vitrine de Costa

Porto Seguro hosts a crazy Carnival and hedonistic bash, replete with round-the-clock music, footloose dancing and partying! It’s a little less wild than some of Brazil’s famous, but it lasts until the Saturday after Ash Wednesday. For cultural buffs, the Festa de São Benedito, which involves colourful, traditional dances and regional foods, is celebrated in the Cidade Histórica. Children blacken their faces and perform African dances from December 25th- 27th.


Brazil carnivalsHow FUN is this!! Photo Courtesy: Blick

It is no coincidence that Paraty contains the word Party in it because Paraty loves to put on a great festival, starting with has its own odd version of Easter Carnival. Hundreds of young revellers dance through the cobblestone streets and during Holy Week beautiful torchlit processions take place. Paraty hosts a unique carnival. In Paraty’s Mud Carnival – the costumes that its participants wear is black sticky mud which is smeared on their bodies!

Planning a trip to the carnival??

We have three words for you… Vai, Vai, Vai!

So, go head, take your pick of the lot and head over to Brazil and prepare to let your head down for the biggest carnival in the world! It looks promising as hell!!

Feature Image Courtesy: Rough Guides.



Brazil carnival

Why I will never go to the Brazil Carnival!

By | Blog, Brazil | One Comment

It’s that time of the year again…

February. The month when more people sink into depression than any other! Needless to say, Valentine’s Day is at the heart of both this month and the cause of utter despair amongst our lot.

But, come February, in a country far far away, people are anything but depressed! Our irmaos and garotas (boys and girls) in Brazil are gearing up for the wildest parties in the world- the infamous Brazil carnival!!

Party, party, party!

Brazil carnival

Photo Courtesy: Factfile

Dancers of a samba school parade on a float

Interestingly, partying may seem the most consistent activity that Brazilians indulge in. Celebrations start in most cities in Brazil in November, because, ‘hey, December is round the corner!’ And January is spent in mild but regular partying, because just to go cold turkey on festa (party) just isn’t something they do.

Just about when Brasilieros are recovering from late last year and early new year’s excesses; they have to prepare for a week long celebration of culture, love, life and everything in between.

It is tough being a Brazilian… you will agree.

Carnival, and yes, it actually has a religious significance!

Carnival falls about 46 or 51 days before Easter, depending on which travel website you happen to read. They say that the tradition originated with the followers of the Roman Catholic Church indulging in sins like alcohol, meat and mind blowing sex one last time before the onset of Lent. That is the boring period when you have to abstain from all the things mentioned earlier. Which means you basically give up on everything that is ACTUALLY good before Easter comes around.

Now leave it up to the Brazilians to take sins and celebrations pretty seriously. At some point, the Carnival became a week long affair, and my native friends say that the Carnival spirit is on for the entire month.

By now, you may want to know what exactly happens during the Carnival.

Trust me you don’t want to know (so really, you DO wanna know).

No, I have never been to the carnival in Brazil; but the four months I did travel in Brazil, Carnival was recurrent in every conversation.

Dancing to the rhythm of life.

Brazil carnival

Photo Courtesy: Noticias

Vocalist of  the ultra famous band Timbalada

There is one thing which makes the carnival in Brazil special. Be it the world famous one in Rio, or the one in Salvador, Recife or Florianapolis; and that is the beautiful amalgamation of music! Anyone who has spent time listening to Bossa Nova, Samba or Batucada already knows what I mean. If there is one country that can beat all the others on the back of the richness and variety of its music, then it is Brazil.

And it is during the Carnival that all of Brazil’s musicality comes raging out on the streets. The country’s best musicians and groups perform amongst a sea of people. The one in Salvador is known for its blocos(groups) of Afro-Brazilian musicians and the Rio carnival was made famous by the performances in the Sambodrome. If there is one fun-filled, foot tapping crash course to Brazil’s musical side, then it has to be the Carnival in February. Check out this article for carnivals other than the world famous Rio carnival.

Carnival means colour.

Brazil carnival

Photo Courtesy:

The nutty carnival culture!

If music isn’t an intrinsic part of a country’s culture, then what is? Right? Beyond the groovy and soul stirring music, the carnivals are also a great display of Brazil’s cultural diversity. It is in the carnivals that, if you look closely, you notice the melting pot that is Brazil. The carnival represents most of Brazil’s ethnocultural aspects from the European dominated southern region to the north eastern one which has a greater African influence. All of this also gets reflected in the smorgasbord of colours that each of the Carnivals and their performers offer.

And if all of this along with gazillion litres of Beer or Cerveja is not enough to make you heady, then there is something else. Sensuality…

Sensuality, the biggest attraction?

Brazil carnival

Photo Courtesy: LiveInternet

Eye candy much? 

Brazilian carnivals are the annual display of the country’s sensual and liberal side. It is an open secret that things tend to get a bit frisky at the carnival in Rio, but other cities are not too far behind. It is not just hearsay that in Rio, you can walk around and kiss people of the opposite gender(and your own,or both, whatever floats your boat). Depending on the colour of the ribbon you tie, it can start from a peck, to a kiss…ending all the way in the sack. So if a girl or boy lets you tie a particular colour, it means they are in agreement with what comes next.

Curse yourself if you are still struggling to tie a ribbon to that girl in college(or at work), with whom all you want to do is, well… talk.

There is of course gross competition among the carnivals. When I spent two months living in Salvador, the capital of the north-eastern state of Bahia, my friends there were hell bent on proving that the carnival in Salvador was crazier than the one in Rio. Check this article for how crazy the carnival can get!

“Many married men excuse themselves under the pretext of running an errand, just to go to the carnival streets and steal a few kisses before returning home. No wonder it is during carnival that men develop a sudden interest in running errands!”, exclaimed a Baiana(Bahian woman) friend.

And that is why I think I do not want to go to what probably is the best cultural and human extravaganza in the world. Because, it might be too much for me to handle. It might be a challenge to digest this extra sensory madness.

That is why I am going to see you at the carnival in 2018. It is always great to take on a challenge…

Voce concorda? 


They play music at my Capoiera class in Rio, Brazil

How Four Months Of Travel In Brazil Changed Me…

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Brazil, even as I type the word brings back memories of the wonderful months I spent in this Latin dream of a country. Most of us have heard about Brazil’s passion for football, its beautiful beaches and pretty women. So I am not going to try and tell you something different. About how traveling long term in this country changed me as a person for the good.

Not everyone knows that Brazil is the only country in Latin America where Spanish is not spoken. They speak Portuguese there, and your beginner’s Spanish won’t take you too far in Brazil. But if linguistic challenges excite you, then homies Brazil will have you hooked. And that is exactly what happened with me when I got off the flight at Guarulhos international airport at Sao Paulo some 16 months ago.

A personal desire had brought me to Brazil. I was to live in Salvador, a city on the northern coast of the country, famous for its African heritage. It was here that I was to learn to play drums and learn about a fascinating afro-brazilian religion called Candomble. Two months was my plan, but I ended up staying four months in country. That is how much I loved Brazil.

But apart from the good times, when I look back, I realise that the experience did manage to have a positive impact on my personality. Here are a few ways I feel Brazil changed me.

I hardly knew anything about the history of Brazil, one of the most diverse nations on earth.

Brazil is all of 500 years old, but its history still manages to be more fascinating than many other countries. A former Portuguese colony, Brazil is an interesting mix of indigenous, European and African cultures. It is also a grim reminder of the horrors of colonisation and the trans-atlantic slave trade. And as a slow traveler, I had ample time to make observations and ask questions. Today I can say that I am slightly better informed about one of the most relevant countries on the planet.

If you are interested to know a bit more about Brazil’s history, you might want to watch this documentary:

My taste in music sucked.

African music concert in Salvador, Brazil

An Afro-Brasilian music concert in Salvador, Brazil.

As you can see, I also have a taste for self-deprecation. Though I have always loved music like most people, my choices were pretty limited. It was in Brazil, that I was introduced to a whole new world of music. From learning to play drums in a Candomble terreiro to going for music concerts, most of my life in Brazil was about music. And it is through music that the African heritage stamps its imposing presence on Brazilian culture. Brazilian music has many genres which include(but not limited to) Samba, Batucada, Afro-brasiliera, Bossa Nova, BMP, Funk; etc. The country is a music lover’s delight, and it will make complete sense if you want to visit Brazil only to listen to great music.

Here is my favourite afro-brasilian music set:

I was awkward while interacting with women.

Many men(and women) I know from my part of the world find themselves awkward around people of opposite sex. Even more so if the setting is even mildly associated with romance. The thing is, our society does not really prepare men and women to be comfortable with each other(though there are exceptions). It was Brazilian people who taught me to be completely comfortable with my attraction towards another person.

Brazilian men won’t wait a minute to make their attraction known to a woman. But women there aren’t far behind either. Brazilian women are known to take the lead when interested. Now I don’t mean to say that everything about Brazilian romance is perfect, but I can safely say that Brasileros can teach us Indians a thing or two about romantic encounters.

I wasn’t completely accepting of diverse range of sexual preferences and expessions.

Friends I made at the LGBT party in Brazil

Friends I made at a LGBT party in Salvador, Brazil.

By no means was I a conservative when it came to homosexuality or other alternate sexual preferences, or so I thought. It is one thing to say that you are okay with something, and another to actually mean it. I remember that at a certain level I was uncomfortable watching two men kiss.

Again, Brazil managed to change that. In Salvador, I went to many LGBT parties and tried to immerse myself in this culture. It was only when I kept witnessing men wooing men, women wooing other women that I began to accept alternate sexuality completely. Today, I am a strong supporter of LGBT rights in India, and it has to do with the time I spent in Brazil

I wasn’t as fitness oriented.

Me and my friend & Capoiera teacher Mairton at their apartment in Rio

With my friend & Capoiera teacher, Mairton. Fitness is a way of life for him like many Brazilians.

In my previous life as a publicist, work ruled almost all parts of my life. Things like family, fitness and relationships took a backseat. While I am yet to figure out relationships, it was Brazil which made me more fitness focused. Brazilians are famous for their obsession with fitness. Now while it can sometimes go overboard, but mostly it is a good thing. Every evening, the beaches are crowded with people taking a jog or playing volleyball and other sports. It is easy to get positively motivated about fitness in Brazilian cities like Rio and Salvador. It is because of Brazil that I am seriously thinking of moving to a coastal Indian town and making my lifestyle more fitness oriented than it is.

This post is by no means about looking at Brazil with rose tinted glasses. The country has its problems and I am aware of them. However as a traveler who stayed in Brazil and made some fabulous friends, I still will remember the country for its positives. Also, to be in a country where the culture is completely difference from yours is a special opportunity.

If you ask me, each one of us has to find their own Brazil. And I wish you luck with that.

Tips To Travel In Brazil For Thirty Days With 900 Dollars

By | Blog, Brazil, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Rio De Janeiro, its beaches and mountains are stuff that travel dreams are made of. But, Brazil has a lot more to offer than the ‘city of gods’ and it is about time more of us make real plans to visit this Latin American powerhouse. There is one problem though; Brazil isn’t the cheapest country to visit. Even with the slide of the Real(Brazil’s currency), the country remains a challenge for many a backpackers. Also, if you are from countries with a weaker currency than Real, then a budget trip is not going to be the easiest thing to do. And hence I am guessing  you could do with budget tips, like I needed them while traveling.

I spent four months in Brazil, extending my visa once. That was because I fell in love with Caiprinha(Brazil’s national cocktail), Soterpolitanos(residents of Salvador) and Cariocas(people from Rio De Janeiro), and I just did not want to leave.

So here it is; Eccentrips tips on how to travel in Brazil for thirty days with 900 dollars. If you do a long stay in one city, use workaway or are active on couchsurfing the cost might be lesser. This guide is for the backpacker who wishes to travel to a few places in Brazil for thirty days and is willing to do so without throwing his money on everything that comes his way.

Where to stay? How much to pay?

Hammock in Itaparica. Hostels and relaxed home stays are the way to go.

Rio has more hostels than you can imagine, and most of them are pretty decent for the price they are offered at. Hostelbookers is my favourite site for booking hostels, because somehow they have one or two cheaper hostels listed which aren’t on other sites. But it would be fair to have a budget of 800 INR/ 12 USD/ 40 Reals per night, either for hostels or Airbnb. I used Airbnb way more than I used hostels while traveling, they were partners on my travel project called ‘The 12 Project’.

However, the best thing to do is to use Couchsurfing. If you are already active on the platform, and you speak English, there is a strong possibility that you will find hosts in Brazil. And the more you travel cities beyond Rio and Sao Paulo, the better your chances are of finding hosts on CS. In Salvador, I was able to live with Couchsurfers for 60 days. Yes! I kid you not. It helped that I was happy to help them practice their English.

So make a target to get hosted at least ten nights in that month. And no, it is not impossible to find those many kind Couchsurfers in Brazil.

Tips summary: Hostelbookers, Couchsurfing, use your English language skills in exchange for accommodation.

Is the food yummy? And, expensive?

Feijoada - The national dish of Brazil

Brazil is a journey of sights, smells and flavours. The country won’t disappoint even if food was the only reason for your travel. The Buffet al kilo lunches are filling, extremely delicious and come with a wide variety of options. If you go beyond the tourist areas, you can find such meals for 12-15 reals. Generally lunch is so heavy that Brazilians have only three meals, they are not really big on evening snacks.

In cities like Rio, they make really good and filling burgers which cost 8-10 Reals depending on the area and type of establishment. My favourite early dinner in Rio was a burger with juice and then a cup of sweet creamy something. That was Acai. Want to know what it is? Read this post on Brazilian dishes. I am sure you would want to try it too!

Acai and juice can he had at 3-5 Reals each in corner joints. So you would do good to have a look at what your area has to offer. The other option is to cook one meal. Brazilian service is not very fast, so cooking a small meal sometimes may mean the same amount of time. Also, looking for B & B’s is not a bad idea; it saves both time and money.

Tips summary: Cook, eat local and look for B & B’s.

Getting Around?

Metro in Rio, they are relatively safe and reliable.

Commute generally costs between 3 – 4 Reals per ride in most Brazilian cities, Rio and Sao Paulo being the most expensive. So it does make sense to plan your day and ensure you aren’t taking more rides than required. Cities in Brazil are massive, so it isn’t like you can walk around at leisure either.

Also, Brazil’s long distance transport is probably the most expensive in Latin America. Sometimes flights can cost the same as buses on certain routes, so look for good flight deals. I took a flight from Sao Paulo to Salvador which cost me just 6000 INR/90 USD/ 285 Reals.  But to get back to Rio from Salvador was way more expensive by flight. This meant I had to take a bus, a 30 hour long one. Yes, really!

That bus cost me about 6300 INR/ 95 USD/ 300 Reals, more than the flight from Sao Paulo to Salvador which is a longer distance.

So it would be safe to say that you will need about 18000 INR/ 270 USD/ 860 Reals for local and long distance transport for a month. This should allow you to take 3-4 long distance rides. Best is to focus on one region or maximum two while traveling in Brazil. You do anything more than that, then your costs will multiply. Plus, Brazil is such a huge and diverse country, trying to see too much in a short time would not be doing justice to places you visit.

Another pro tip: Stock up on food & snacks before you take long bus rides. The highway restaurants where the buses make pit stops are ridiculously expensive.

And Activities?

My Capoiera class in Sao Cristavo, a suburb of Rio De Janeiro

Brazil is a country of active people; even on the beach Brasileiros are always doing something. Yes, that is for free. But parties, excursions, music concerts are not. And that is why you will need to keep a budget for that.

Keep looking for complimentary shows and concerts (there are quite a few during the high season) through hostels and other websites. But a budget of 8500 INR/ 125 USD/ 405 Reals should keep you going without feeling that you are missing too much. You could also take Capoiera lessons like I did. There are other free things to do in Rio which you could have a look at.

The other tip is to attend Couchsurfing events. There are some really cool CS events in Rio and Salvador. Most of them are ‘bring your own’. It is a great chance to meet new people, enjoy the beach and dance. Because, you know, money or not, Brazilians know how to party.

Tips summary: look for free things to do, attend Couchsurfing dos, go to the beach and request locals to let you participate in fut-volley.

Here is an easy table of tips for you:

Type of expense Indian Rupees(INR) Brazilian Reals(BR) United States Dollar(USD)
Accommodation 800 X 20 = 16000(get CS hosts for 10 nights) 765 240
Food 600 X 30 = 18000(try to cook one meal at least once in two days, look for B & B’s) 860 270
Transport 18000(daily transport + 2-3 long rides) 860 270
Activities 8320(for a few parties and music concerts or other activities that you like) 397 124
60,320 2782 904

But the cerveja? Oh, you mean beer?

Brazil is a good place to have beer (is there any place that isn’t good for beer?). The best brands change as per the state or region you are in. But a pint is about 3-4 Reals, in smaller shops you can get them for less than that too.

My favourite is Skol, which is pretty popular in the Nordeste or the North-East.

Now that you know, how much it costs to spend a month in Brazil, just look for flights and start saving. For dying without ever having visited Brazil, would be a bit unfortunate. Just kidding!

And when you get there, let the people know that I love them!

A typical Bahian lunch plate

Seven Mouth Watering Brazilian Dishes Beyond The Feijoada

By | Blog, Brazil, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Brazilian beaches make for a pretty sight. And it’s more than the sun and sand, if you know what I mean (wink). But the food table in Brazil offers equally tempting sights. Dishes in Brazil are varied due to African & Portuguese influence. 

The hero of Brazilian cuisine is ‘Feijoada’ considered the country’s national dish. Most Brazilian’s swear by it, and some don’t remember a single day when they have missed the flavorful stew of lentils, pork and beef. However, Brazil has many more dishes to offer beyond this famous stew. Here are seven dishes I will go back to Brazil for.


Tapioca crepes make for a delicious Breakfast

Brazilian breakfast is usually light as lunch is the main meal for most Brasileros. But that does not mean that it is not delicious. Quite the contrary, actually. One of my personal favourites is Tapioca, which are crepes made out of Tapioca flour. These thick, crumbly and supremely delicious crepes are served with cheese and doce de leite(creamy caramel sauce).

These crepes are also available through the day with a variety of fillings like chocolate, cream, coconut cream and others.


Cuscuz is another breakfast specialty in north eastern Brazil

This dish traveled from Northern Africa through the slave trade to Brazil. This dish is very famous in the north eastern part of the country and is usually served for breakfast. Cuscuz is made of cornmeal, which is then steamed and served with butter and sometimes sugar.

It is light, fluffy and a lovely start to the day.


Moqueca, is a vegetable and seafood stew that is beyond delicious

This one of up is right up there in the list of my Brazilian favourites. After a swim, nothing can beat the taste of spicy Moqueca with rice. This stewy delight is made with onions, tomatoes, salt water fish, shrimps all cooked with coconut milk.

Heavenly, is a pretty apt word to describe the resultant stew. They say that the best Moqueca to be had is in the island of Itaparica just off the coastal city of Salvador in north eastern Brazil.


Caruru, is a delicious condiment but also important to the cultural life of Bahia

This is another hot favourite of Baianos(people from the north-eastern state of Bahia). Made with okra, onions, shrimps, palm oil and toasted nuts, it is a popular dish in Candomble and Umbanda festas(Afro-Brazilian religions).

Caruru also becomes a part of a snack called Acaraje which is next up on this post.


Acaraje is a bit like a staple snack in Bahia, north eastern state of Brazil

Image credit: Fiesta Hotels Brazil

 This dish will always hold a special place in my memories. I was learning to play drums in Salvador as a part of the 12 challenges I was taking around the world. Back then every evening I would have this filling snack for dinner from a stall. Even thinking about Acaraje makes me long for those days.  

But Acaraje serves more than just nostalgia. It is a mish-mash of vegetables, dried shrimps, vatapa and caruru, all packed into a thick fritter made of black eyed peas. Some say it is an acquired taste, but for me it was love at first bite. And, though sipping beer with your Acaraje is not really a thing in Salvador, I found the combination to be pure joy.

Sweet Pizzas

Sweet pizzas are quite the rage in Brazil

Pizza at ‘Restaurante Seara’ in Salvador, Brazil.

Brazilians have this unique ability to take anything and make it their own. Take their pizza for instance, apart from their wide range of savoury toppings, they do sweet pizzas. Yes, sweet pizzas! 

The best known sweet toppings are Banana com Canela(Banana with Cinnamon), Brigadeiro(mixture of sweetened condensed milk and chocolate powder) and Romeu e Julieta(guava marmalade and white cheese). When I was first told about this, I wasn’t sure if sweet pizzas were a good idea. But after eating at my friend Brene’s ‘Restaurante Seara’, I have changed my opinion forever.


Acai smoothie made from the berries from the Amazon forest

Some non-Brazilians refer to this as Acai bowl. But during my stay in Brazil, I don’t remember locals calling it anything but Acai. This thick smoothie made from Acai berries from the Amazon is a health kick starter. These berries are known for being anti-oxidants and wildly delicious.  

At any local juice joint in Rio, you can ask for bowl of Acai and top it up with mouth watering condiments. It is one of the few dishes that fills you up, is delicious and yet only good for you body. 

So these were my top seven picks for dishes from Brazil beyond the Feijoada. There are many more delicacies in the melting pot called Brazil. So get there soon, even if food is the only reason. 

Hope you liked the post, if you have any favourite Brazilian dishes, share with us in the comments. Also, feel free to ask us questions about food or Brazil in general and we will be happy to answer 🙂

The Acai image does not belong to Eccentrips, however, we cannot find information on the source. If you own the image and do not want us to display it here, let us know and we will pull it down.

Five crazy facts about Brazil

Five Crazy Facts About Brazil That You Probably Didn’t Know

By | Blog, Brazil | 2 Comments

It is the country which gave the world Samba, Capoeira, Pele, and of course, Gisele Bundchen. Of course, I am referring to the crazy country of Brazil. This powerhouse of a country of over 200 million in Latin America is a religious, multi-cultural and ethnic melting pot. And not just that, it is also home to many of nature’s marvels (most of the Amazon forest is in Brazil, remember?). You probably already know this & don’t need me to tell you all these things.

But some of the crazy aspects of this massive country’s culture are mostly lost on travellers. So we thought it might be a good idea to give you a flavour, of idiosyncrasies of Brasilieros. These were things I noticed in my four month long stint in the country, feel free to add if you know more.

The crazy joke of an election:  

Tiririca, who used to play a clown on TV is now a deputy

Image credit: Jose Daymom

One evening while sitting with Brazilian friends, and smoking you know what, I was told that Brazilian elections are funny. Now, you may say, ‘what’s the big deal homie? Politicians everywhere are unintentionally funny’. But Brazilian ones are on a different level.

Well, first up voting is mandatory in Brazil, and most people have no or very little faith in politicians. So, somewhere along the way the trend of ‘joke candidates’ started, and continues till date. ‘How funny are the candidates?’ you ask. ‘As funny as they can be’, I would say. Some of the candidates in the last few elections have been Obama, Wonder Woman, Jesus and many other popular figures. Of course, none of them were real, candidates spoofed these figures in the hope that they would get voters’ attention. Isn’t that crazy?

A really funny story is that in the mid-20th century, residents of Sao Paulo actually voted for a Rhino over politicians for the city council elections. A more recent example is ‘Tiririca’, who plays a clown on TV, and he decided to run the elections for the state deputy as a joke. His campaign was satire against politicians, and contrary to his own expectations, people actually voted for him. He now represents the state of Sao Paulo in the chamber of deputies.

I strike, we strike, you strike:

Strikes are a way of life in Brazil.

Image credit: Agencia Brasilia

While in Salvador, I saw these posters with ‘Estamos en greve’ everywhere. It was a friend who explained this to me later. Bank employees were on strike. Brazilians are used to strikes. It is almost as if there is a calendar of strikes, ask most Brazilians in the state of Bahia. Depending on the month they will tell you the institution that is on strike. Most of them happen generally for salary hikes. But still why it happens every year, is beyond my comprehension. Inflation too high? May be.

In Salvador(capital of the northern state of Bahia), when the bus drivers go on strike, without alternate means of transport, its holiday for the entire city. But the really crazy situation is when cops go on strike, yes the cops! It is almost a purge like situation with all the criminals coming out of the favelas to loot residents for as long as the strike lasts. Remember ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, when bane traps all the Gotham cops in the sewers, something like that. Every one recedes into their gated communities, getting out is thought of as plain stupid.

My friend Brene who runs a restaurant told me that he drives around delivering food during the policia strike. Sometimes, he ferries his customers to and fro from their homes. And, of course for safety, he has a gun with him while doing so.

Undies for good luck:

It is a custom to welcome the new year in white clothes in Brazil

Image credit: Wikimedia commons

Where I come from, we wear underwear for boring health reasons. Count on Brazilians to lead the way in making the underwear a crazy cultural phenomenon too. On New Year’s Eve, Brazilians, especially in the coastal cities wear white to usher in the New Year. But there is an interesting twist, they wear coloured underwear. Reason – coloured undies bring good luck.

So, red underwear means you will find love or romance the coming year. Similarly, orange means good luck for your career, yellow for prosperity and green is for health.

And since you are in Brazil, showing off a little bit(or, a lot) of your underwear is not just accepted, it is actually encouraged.

Pichacao – paint the town red, or black

A building covered in Pichacao

Image credit: Wikimedia commons

If you ever find yourself on the streets of Rio or Sao Paulo, you will notice cryptic tags in black or white paint on many buildings. Welcome to the land of Pichacao. This form of street art is known as tagging. In Brazil they call it Pichacao.

Pichadores, people who practise this are known so, tag walls with their signatures. Brazil has a fairly liberal attitude towards street art, but Pichacao has few supporters even within the graffiti community. Practitioners claim that it is their way of asserting their identity in a country with grave income inequality.

Most of the Pichadores operate in the dead of the night, and compete to tag places of importance. The more difficult the access, the more praise the Pichador gets within the community. I spent a crazy night tagging the city with these guys once, you can read about that here.

The Most Important One – The Brazilian Thong:

The thong, arguably, makes Brazilian beaches better than others anywhere in the world

Many of us have heard and may be seen pictures of the Brazilian thong. Here is some good news, the Brazilian thong is not an exception, but the norm on Brazilian beaches. Where I come from, it’s a bit of cultural shock considering most Indian women prefer to take a dip whilst fully clothed. And in Brazil, things are exactly the opposite. You may feel out of place if you aren’t in a teeny weeny bikini. That explains the craze of the famed Brazilian bikini wax.

Ladies do not be disappointed – even Brazilian men, who are equally fitness conscious, come out in modest swimming briefs. So, Brazilian beaches are a delight both for the male and female eyes.

Well then, ready to take a trip to experience these and many other eccentric facts about Brazil. And if you know others, let us know in the comments. We are all ears.

Also if you want to experience some eccentric things in Brazil, read up our post on Rio and Salvador.

A candomble festa in Salvador, Brazil

The Time When I Danced With Gods

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I still vividly remember those nights from my childhood in Udupi. It is a town on the coast of the southern Indian state of Karnataka. Sitting at the inner edge of a human circle, surrounded by family members and acquaintances, I would marvel at the spectacle unfolding in front of my eyes. A bare chested man with a colourful headgear, smeared in vermillion and with blood red eyes would slowly get possessed by a spirit to the beat of drums. I’d feel the thrill of fear running down my spine slowly, like a caress. But this benevolent spirit, known as Panjoor-lee, was the guardian ghost of my extended family. We met him once every year in human form to express our gratitude, but also to discuss our problems.
Back then, little did I know that two decades later I would be experiencing something similar. This time though, I was not in Udupi but half way across the world, in Brazil. It was in Salvador, the first capital of Brazil and beautiful city on its northern coast, that I got introduced to Candomble and Umbanda. It was a pleasant October evening when I was at the festa, similar to the others I had been attending in those weeks. 8-10 people dressed in what resembled cow-boy outfits were dancing in a circle. The evening grew into night, and the music and dancing kept pace. The dancers were in a trance, almost as if they were connected to a higher energy. Some of them sang loudly with their eyes closed.
What was this festa? Who were these dancers? And, what was this religion?
I went to Brazil as a part of  12 challenges I wanted to take around the world. The challenge in Salvador was to learn to play drums. Most of Brazil’s afro-brasilian music comes from this city. Interestingly, closer to the trip I stumbled upon Candomble, a syncretic religion with elements of catholicism and pan-African faiths. Some people said that a lot of the music Brazil is famous for finds its roots in Candomble terreiros(houses of Candomble) of Salvador. I decided then, that I would not learn drums at a music school but at a Candomble terreiro. It was my attempt to understand not just the music but also its roots.
But to learn to play drums at these religious ceremonies was more challenging than anticipated. Most musicians grow up learning to play in their neighbourhood terreiro, and there is no formal process. Despite that I was lucky to find one terreiro where the head musician was happy to teach me. The next four weeks were filled with frustration and exhilaration. I would show up at the terreiro every evening and walk back couple of hours later hoping that the next day I’d be able to play the drums better.
Festas or parties at Candomble terreiros meant time for the community to get together and praise their gods. The house would be decorated, mostly in white, after a thorough wash. Food, drink and beer would be kept ready. Closer to the evening the festa would begin, and slowly one after another priests would get possessed by spirits of their gods. They would then spend the rest of the evening singing, dancing and drinking. People would line up to seek blessings in way of hugs from the priests.
But if you are wondering who the spirits were, then you are like me. I had similar questions, and this is what I learnt.
Candomble came to Brazil through the Atlantic slave trade as the slaves brought their culture and religion along. Despite forced conversions into Christianity and persecutions, the faith has managed to survive. In Candomble, gods are known as Orixas(pronounced as ori-sha), each one of them having specific characteristics, likes and dislikes. Essentially, these Orixas are ancestors who have been deified. The dance, music, singing, alcohol and other rituals come from the religion’s African roots. And when the priests are possessed, they are manifestations of these ancestral spirits or Orixas. They have the place of pride in every Candomble festa, and they must not be disrespected in any way. So if they ask, you oblige. If they ask you to dance, well, you dance.
Back to what I was up to at the festa. It was my last evening in Salvador and I was to play drums, along with a few others. It would be my first time in front of an audience. The nervousness, chaos and everything else got to me and I played worse than even my own expectations which were to be honest, quite modest. You can read about how I felt that very moment in one of my earlier posts.
The evening would have turned out to be pretty depressing, had it not been for the Orixas. Just as I left the drums, hoping that I would make a quick and quiet exit, one of the Orixas caught hold of my hand. She wanted me to dance. Like I said before when an Orixa makes a request, you oblige.

A few minutes later, I was still smiling and dancing, surrounded by gods in Brazil, and with beats from Africa. I learnt then that there is no misery that music, dance and friendship cannot attempt to heal. And also that life can be more magical than your childhood dreams were, you just need to have the courage to chase them.


Fascinated by Candomble? Want to know how to experience more of this religion? Read here.

Put your, put your hands up, in the church

When I Went Inside an Evangelical Church in Colombia

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It was during my travels in Brazil, that I took notice of the Evangelicos(Protestant Christians are known so in South America) and their church. A friend mentioned that there was a rise of Evangelicals, that challenged Brazil’s relatively liberal attitude towards an individual’s sexual preferences. Homosexuality is a no-no with most Evangelicals. A Brazilian gay friend’s Evangelical family hadn’t accepted him for years, precisely for this reason.

As if that wasn’t enough, there was an Evangelical church at every corner of the favela where I was learning to play drums. Their prayers were intense and the pastors were no less than motivational speakers. Only that they are a lot more animated and commanded greater control over their audience. People would raise and sway their hands up in the air, many with tears in their eyes during these services. It seemed bizzare, even to someone who was born into Hinduism, a religion with 30 million gods and roughly the same number of rituals.

The Church opportunity in Colombia

Some good advice on the walls of the church

Good advise that I have never followed, on the walls of Church of God.

But it wasn’t until I reached Colombia that I had the opportunity to understand Evangelicalism a little better. A friend of mine had invited me to an Evangelical church which his mother was a part of. Equipped with some difficult questions, I rode my cycle to interestingly named ‘Church of God’ in Southern part of Cali, Colombia’s third largest city. The service started with a smartly dressed pastor talking people about the power of being good; etc. Regular stuff, isn’t it? I was almost thinking the afternoon was going to be a mighty boring one.

Plus, a shot too many of aguardiente the previous night meant my eyes had the propensity to shut at the hint of anything boring. But things did get interesting after a while, the famous hands in the air sequence soon came into play. Most people at the service went into deep introspection mode while doing this. Then, live music followed and a girl with a soulful voice sang songs of Jesus(though that is purely a guess, she was singing in Spanish).

The church prayer circle

A prayer circle at the church I visited

When the service dispersed it was time for the prayer circle. These circles can be quite intense too, it is common to spot people crying. It was then, that I was put into a spot. One of the pastors invited me to join the circle and wanted to pray for me. And since I accept all invitations except the ones that involve hara-kiri, I obliged. There I was in the circle with the pastor and others asking the Lord to bless me and keep me safe in my travels. Though I wasn’t sensitive enough to cry or even feel the ‘high’ that believers do, I did not mind the prayer and the positive energy. I also wanted them to pray that thousands of cute Colombian girls should fall for me, but good sense prevailed and I kept that to myself.

The experience was near complete, except one thing – a chat with the pastor. My friend led the way and helped me translate since my Spanish was pretty poor back then(and continues to stay the same). The pastor seemed quite forthcoming, probably he hadn’t anticipated my unpleasant questions. As expected, the pastor told me that the only real god was the one they believed in and the real knowledge was in the Bible(old testament). ‘You may believe in some other god, that does not make you bad. I can only pray to our god so that you start believing in him. And may be that is the reason why you are here. But whether you believe in him or not, you will always be welcome here’, I was told when I asked if it was true that Evangelicals do not accept other faiths.

On homosexuality, he said, ‘We do not hate homosexuals, even they are welcome here. But yes, we will make the effort to cure them of the disease. Because the Bible says, not I, that there are some rules in life.’

That was that, their position on homosexuality and other religions. My questions meant that an invitation to a long chat was unceremoniously withdrawn. It is true that Evangelicalism is not as inclusive as other faiths in Latin America. But it definitely is a force to be reckoned with. So much so that the Catholics are worried. The National Catholic Reporter reported a decade ago about the threat from Evangelicalism in Latin America. Since then, the evangelical movement has only strengthened. So clearly, a fringe religion it is not.

The best part

Food about to be served to the faithfuls at the church

Food, glorious food.

Just when I thought that the day at the church was over, something I love more than my faith was on offer. That was some lip-smacking food. And let me put it this way, I came for the faith but stayed for the food. At least in that sense I was a convert.

Capoiera class in Rio De Janeiro

How To Stay Safe In Rio(Or Anywhere In South America)

By | Blog, Brazil, Eccen-Tips | No Comments

With its beautiful beaches, mountains and infectious energy, Rio is the toast of the world. There are many awesome things to do in Rio, including some not-so-common ones which we put together. But many travelers are concerned how to stay safe while traveling to the Cidade Maravilhoso.

It is true that despite a drop in crime rates in the city, staying safe continues to be a common problem.

I spent a few months living in Brazil and many others traveling through South America. With advise from locals on how to stay safe I managed to enjoy my time without any unpleasant incident. Here are tips from my experience that should, hopefully, help you too.

Hide your cameras.

Yes you read that right! Most Asians click pictures like they were getting paid for it. But in Rio or other South American cities – showing off your big camera can be considered downright stupid. If you pay attention you will see that Brazilians do not carry around their DSLRs and there is a good reason for it. It makes you susceptible to a mugging attempt. Kids skimming the streets for valuables will immediately notice you.

Streets of Rio are filled with stories of kids snatching cameras and running away. And trust me when I say that you probably won’t be able to keep up with them unless you are an Olympian.

Forget being flashy.

Yes, it’s a vacation and you might want to use your best clothes and accessories. But if you want to stay safe, then skip the flashy stuff.

I own only one gold ring, and I had kept it safe in my backpack throughout my entire trip in Latin America. And most of my local friends, agreed that it was a smart thing to do.

Know your plan.

Well, Facebook would have ingrained in you by now that ‘travel is about getting lost’. May be, that’s true. But there are rules while you are in South America.

It is good to know where you are going and whether it is safe. So if you are making a day plan in Rio, ask your hostel/hotel staff for advise regarding places you plan to visit.

Don’t go to the favelas!

If you want to visit a favela(poor areas in Rio and other Brazilian cities), it is better to do so with a well established tour group. Many of Rio’s favelas are still controlled by the drug mafia. So you don’t want to become a news item which states ‘a tourist walked into a favela and got kidnapped by the bad guys’.

However, there are a few favelas which are safe for tourists to visit. A couple of them are Vidigal(where the trail to Dos Irmaos starts) and Rocinha(said to be the largest favela in Latin America). But still do ask around about the situation when you visit. And don’t go to a favela unless you are absolutely sure about your safety.

Never walk alone:

In a way this is the extension of knowing where you are going and what you are doing. Though it is never a foolproof safety method, it is better to be with someone than alone in Rio.

I made the mistake of walking alone late at night once and almost paid for it.

Coming back after a party, I decided to walk a couple of kilometers to my host’s house.  I soon realized that I was being followed. Instinctively I knew that I was about to be mugged. I started running towards the neighbourhood restaurant which was still open. That is how I managed to save myself.

But it is a mistake that I never repeated throughout my trip.

Sounds too good to be true? Then may be it isn’t that safe.

This rule holds good for most parts of the world. It could be anything, a pretty girl making a pass on you though you know that you don’t look like Tom Cruise (or anywhere close to him). Or someone makes an offer that is just too good to be refused.

Let your objective self take over and evaluate the situation before you commit to anything. May be asking for help or getting a local involved might help.

And the last thing, don’t be too white!!!

There are 500% more chances that you will be mugged if you are a white person with blue eyes. There is absolutely no research that backs this data, and I am only bullshitting.

But on a serious note, it is true that light skinned tourists are more susceptible to petty crime. Most people in the world equate white with rich, and Brazilians are no different.

You may be a penniless backpacker. But if you are white, then you have to take more precautions than your super rich brown friend has to. It sucks, but that’s the way it is.

Travel is one of the best ways to learn to deal with uncertainty and also appreciate the diversity of this planet. And though I would be the last person to ask you to pay heed to stereotypes, but caution can sometimes save a lot of heartburn.

So save these tips or share them with friends who are traveling. Because ignorance is not always bliss!

You can also watch these tips on video on our YouTube channel and share with others who might need this.

A pichador signing a community meet up document in Rio De Janeiro

Five Eccentric Things To Do In Rio

By | Blog, Brazil, Rio De Janeiro | 2 Comments

‘You only live once, but it does help if you get to be young twice’ said someone about Rio De Janeiro.

These are the lines from an eighties movie known as ‘Blame it on Rio’. The movie is set in Rio with the characters vacationing in the beautiful Brazilian city. The story is about how they push the limits of acceptability.

We, at Eccentrips, try to avoid looking at tourist destinations with rose-tinted glasses. But it is tough to keep up that attitude while in Rio.

But, there is more to Rio than its famous beaches and clubs. And here is our list of eccentric things to do in the ‘city of gods’.

Trek to Dos Irmaos:

Dos Irmaos are the iconic twin mountains that seen in many a postcard images from Rio. However, not many tourists know or consider that the possibility to trek to these mountains. On a good sunny day you can get a panoramic view of the city with most of its beaches and high rises of the south zone.

The views are not the only highlights of the trek. To get to the trail, you need to walk or ride pillion through a favela called Vidigal, an experience in itself. And not just that, you get to trek through a forest right in the heart of the city. With a little luck, you will be able to meet these famous citizens of Rio as well.

A Marmoset close to Dos Irmaos mountains at Rio De Janeiro

Take a Supervia train to north zone of Rio:

As a tourist, you are likely to take the metro that cuts across most of the tourist hotspots in the south zone. But most citizens who fuel this megalopolis live in the not so wealthy north zone.

To get an idea of how an everyday Carioca(resident of Rio) lives his life, take a supervia train from Central do Brasil to Japeri or Santa Cruz.  The train coaches are old (though they are being modernised) and the supervia line has a completely different feel than the metro line. Young boys sell everything from Cervejas (beer) to snacks and from rechargeable batteries to CDs & DVDs.

A word of caution though, you might want to step up your guard even higher on these trains. Though everywhere in Rio caution is advised, these trains are well known for pick-pocketeers. But one of these train rides will tell you more about life in Rio than the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana ever can.

Train to Japeri from Central Do Brasil in Rio De Janeiro

Take a Capoiera class:

Capoiera is a martial art form that interweaves dance and music. It is a part of the Afro-Brasilian herirtage of this Latin powerhouse.  This dance cum martial art routine is a great way to stay fit and get introduced to Brazilian music.

It is easy to take a Capoiera class in most of the tourist hubs of the city. If you don’t find an advertisement, then just spot capoiersitas on the beach. Just walk up to them and ask if you could try some of their moves. Knowing the friendliness of Brazilians, I would be surprised if they refuse

Hang out with graffiti artists:

Most cities in Brazil encourage street art and some of the best murals are found in Rio. It is possible to get on a street art tour with some tour operators.

But even cooler than that (and a lot more difficult to do) is to hang out with graffiti artists. I was able to spend some time and get to know a different kind of street art community known as Pichadores. They are known for tagging walls of Rio using black or white spray paint.

You might need to ask around or send messages to facebook groups for graffiti art in Rio to get access. But spending time with graffiti artists will be, like they say, a night to remember.

Picadores in Rio showcasing their unique signatures

Visit a dance party:

Now you may think, what the hell does this guy think? That we will go to Rio and not dance???

Of course, all young people go to Rio to party. But beyond the clubs of Copacabana and Lapa, which are frequented by tourists, lies a world of urban dance that we absolutely know nothing about. Some of the dance forms are baile funk, baile charme and others.

I managed to visit a Baile Charme party in Madurerira, a suburb of Rio, along with friends. The party was organized under a flyover and it was preceded by a beauty contest. When you visit these parties, you realize how seriously young Brazilians take their moves. They dance as if they are a part of a choreographed video. And though it might be impossible to keep up with them, their sexy moves and loads of eye candy will keep you occupied.

Who knows, your first or next Brazilian date might come from one of these parties?

Baile Charme party in Madureira, Rio De Janeiro

No matter what you do, you can never get enough of this city. Rio is that city where you don’t know where the night leads you, where everything is possible. Even a second youth is an easy possibility.

And whatever happens, you can always blame it on Rio!

My Eccentrip: The Secret Challenge In Rio And How The 12 Project Has Changed

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This is a picture from mi teleferico(My Teleferico) in La Paz, Bolivia.

I am writing this while I am still in the highest capital in the world. The cable way was inaugurated last year to give city commuters some respite. It is one of the most unique and picturesque commutes one can take anywhere in the world. In many ways, it signifies the leap that Bolivia is trying to take(I was here five years ago). Read More

Eccen-Tips: Five Films On Brazil You Must Watch

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Films – both feature & non fiction documentaries are a great way to fast track one’s understanding of a country or society.  Before I came to Brazil, it was difficult to find information on which movies/ documentaries to watch. That is primarily because, Brazilians only speak Portuguese and none of their movies are dubbed. Most aren’t even available with English subtitles.

While Cidade De Deus is probably in your hard disk already, there are others that merit your viewing attention. Read More

My Eccentrip: Surviving A Thirty Hour Bus Ride From Salvador To Rio(And Other Stories)

By | Blog, Brazil, Eccen-Tips, Eccentrip | 2 Comments
After spending fifty days in Salvador, in the state of Bahia, I was on my way out to my next big destination on a Kaissara bus. This destination has been a dream for the past five years, it is called Rio De Janeiro.

But as usual I was running late for the bus. Partly because sadness had taken over my entire being, making me slow. The thought of leaving friends, music and Candomble(a religion I had come to love) had almost thrown me into depression. Read More

Eccentric View: Why You Will Miss The Indian Poor In Brazil

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This article was first published on

Beautiful women, good beer, even better beaches and soul stirring music. This side of Brazil should help you forget that Brazilian cities are quite unsafe. Thankfully, the locals won’t let you forget that. Safety here is a real concern. Every conversation steers towards safety in minutes, if not within seconds.

Almost all of Brazil suffers from a crime epidemic. Reports suggest that the average crime rates have been dropping in the past decade. Still, it would be fair to say that these are the most dangerous cities in the world. Read More

My Eccentrip : Two Things That Can Get You High In Brazil( And The Challenge Called Concentration)

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I now feel like a local in Salvador, have been here for 45 days. Every day is filled with new experiences either linked to my project or with the idiosyncrasies of this city.

The first capital of Brazil, the largest African city outside of Africa, the soul of Brazilian rhythm and the city which throws the best carnival. There are many ways to describe Salvador. Unfortunately, alcohol, drugs and violence also form a part of this description. Read More

My Eccentrip: Why Brazilians Want To Know My Caste(And Other Stories)

By | Blog, Brazil, Eccentrip, Uncategorized | No Comments
Let’s agree that Indians(and most citizens around the world) think Brazil is beaches, bikinis, football, favelas and carnival.

I hear some of you screaming ‘but, Amazon too!’

Well, yes, that too.

Brazilians on the other hand have been surprising me. ‘Are you Brahmani?‘ someone asked to know if I was an upper caste Hindu. Some other times people wanted to know whether Dalich were still treated badly. It took me a while to realise they were referring to low caste Hindus – Dalits. Read More