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“I loved him, and he loved me; the President of your country”, he said, vividly waving his hands, delighted at correctly guessing we were Indians. Before we could think of him as one crazy character of Buenos Aires, he quickly followed up with, “Gandhi loved everybody and I loved what he taught!” That got us all laughing.
That Gandhi had never been the President of India felt like an irrelevant detail. He warmly asked us if his city, Buenos Aires was treating us Indians well. When we told him yes, we were indeed having a great time, he warned us to still not feel too safe. “Don’t carry your camera bag like that!” Another word of caution, of welcome, of an embrace from Buenos Aires!
Not all our exchanges on the streets of Buenos Aires were as whimsical. But in every single one of them, there was warmth and friendship. Could this have been the reason for our prolonged stay here?
Holidays are for football
Groups of youngsters coming together for a game of football was a common sight in Buenos Aires. It reminded us of “gully cricket” played on the streets of Mumbai. We had watched many such matches, on our way to a Sunday errand, players and spectators as engrossed as they would be for a World Cup match!
Since this was Argentina, only the game had changed from cricket to football. Everything else was just the same!
Family time is an outing in the park
It was a public holiday in Argentina. We had stepped out only after the sun was out. We had to cross the Las Heras park to get to our bus-stop. But the park held us up for a good couple of hours.
This is the famous Ombu tree, symbolic of Argentina. It is an evergreen tree and its umbrella-like spread out canopy is perfect for some holiday tree climbing!
The parents struck conversations with us, all the while keeping a watchful eye on the children. We discussed everything from whether we had Ombu trees in India, how they tried to spend time with their children on holidays since other days were too busy with work to how the air was a bit too humid.
Park time is also “hobby time”. This was a common sight across parks in Argentina. Small tables and chairs with a drawing board are set up in a play area. Draw and colour in the garden, along with other children. And once the colours have dried, you also get to take your art home!
Fishing is an important activity in Buenos Aires
The riverfront of Rio de la Plata, (the widest river in the world!) is one of the borders of the Buenos Aires city. We had got a glimpse of this river as we had entered the city by bus. It was so huge and wild, we had mistaken it for the ocean (even thinking bewildered, Buenos Aires is a coastal city?).
The airport is just next to this riverfront. Sitting by the widest riverfront watching the flights take off sounded like a perfect way to spend a cold sunny Buenos Aires afternoon.
Many others, mostly fishermen, had also thought the same. They had all come out to the riverfront in their vans with their fishing rods, hoping to get a good catch. But the weather had made it difficult to catch anything that day. So when this guy caught the fish, his group of friends were all extremely delighted. He insisted that we take a picture of the hero of the day with his prized catch! We were more than happy to oblige!
These guys are all experts at fishing and know their stuff well. If you want to enjoy some fishing by the Rio de la Plata on a sunny day in Buenos Aires, then check the best-suited fishing rod for you at fishing rods | Globo Surf.
Cafes, a big part of the Buenos Aires culture
Catching up with friends? Head to a cafe. A quick business meeting? Set it up at a cafe. Need some quiet to read a book? Finish some work? Cafe it is. Or just have a nice little cup of coffee? That too can be done in a cafe.
Nobody asks you if you are done after you finish eating or drinking. You can spend hours here with just your cuppa! It was one of our favourite places to watch life pass by in Buenos Aires.
But what really stood out for us in Buenos Aires was the free spirited attitude
Artists could freely do their thing
We saw this man on the busy commercial Florida street, in the heart of the business district of Buenos Aires.
This band was cranking out some arresting tunes, which had us glued to their performance on the San Telmo sidewalk.
Be a tattoo artist
This girl, who seemed to be their manager was also a tattoo artist!
Sing, Be appreciated
She came with her companions in a restaurant in La Boca. She was delighted that there were Indians in her audience that day. What a treat it was for us to hear her belt out some Spanish classics. If only we had a Latin American Spanish translator to help us understand the words better! After her performance, she asked us if she could pass off as an Indian! With her dark hair and eyes, we told us she indeed could. With that answer, her beautiful face lit up with childlike wonder!
. . . And while pursuing your passion, doing what you love, earn a living.
No one needed to conform to a stereotype. Their life was theirs to choose.
It was a wonderful painting of hope. What we found so warmly attractive in Buenos Aires.