It was one hell of a summer this year. Even wearing the finest quality cotton cloths wouldn’t withstand the amount of heat hitting my body every second in a day. Every morning when I left my home, I would look fresh as a daisy but one trip to my office was enough to wilt all the morning freshness out of my physical being. And the Brazil summer they say, was only just beginning.
I couldn’t bear this Brazilian heat. It was a new job and a new place but me being from the Canadian country-side, you could imagine my state to adjust to this very new and different environment. I hadn’t even packed my cloths properly to commemorate my move to Brazil’s most talked about, hottest place: Rio de Janeiro. I had moronically packed all my thick-full sleeved tops and corduroy pants and jeans and tight knitted leggings.
The first day I entered my new work place, I found my fellow colleagues (all dressed in shorts and extremely informal sleeveless and deep necked tops!) look up at me with pity and amusement in their eyes as they took in my ensemble. I was the only person who was dressed from head to toe and sweating profusely, making me look like I had just got out of a hot water tub, fully dressed.
My boss called me to his cabin and gave me my first assignment as a travel reporter- change my wardrobe, visit the beaches, bathe in the sun, do a bit of snorkeling and surfing, socialize with the hottest Brazilian men (and women too if you are into it!, he added with a smirk), let your hair down and have some fun, the Brazilian way!
I was taken aback. Never had I had a boss who ordered me out of his office just to have some fun. Waiting for the cache, I asked him tentatively, “So you want me to just go out there and have fun? And I suppose you have a dead line for me to come up with an article of my expeditions?”
The boss gave a loud laugh before saying, “This is Brazil my dear, and this is how we roll. And also I just can’t bear to see you come here in your military outfit. You need to blow off some steam. Forget you are in Canada. I order you to get out there to the beaches and just have some fun and also find someone who helps you change your wardrobe” he eyed my baggy jeans and full sleeved shirt with pity. “So I’m giving you a few days off. Report back to work in a few days when you are dressed like you belong to the festive carnival!” And that was how I was shooed off from my work place on an extended holiday.
With a boss like that, I was starting to like Brazil already! But where do I find someone who helps me fit in comfortably with the Brazilian wardrobe? I hardly knew anyone here. I visited the nearby beach from my office that afternoon. I saw men and women sprawled over the hot sand, soaking up the sun in just their bikinis. I just couldn’t remember the last time I wore a swimming suit. May be 20 years ago when I was about 8, I thought sadly.
I sat on one of the beach chairs under the umbrella, sipping coconut juice and watched those beautiful Brazilian ladies in their skimpiest bikinis, showing off their curves so confidently. May be the boss is right; I really need to blow off some steam. But I can’t just wear a bikini all of a sudden. I don’t even know how to carry myself in those things. “I probably look like some red sausage bumbling about on the sand!” I said out loud in exasperation.
“Honey, if I were you, I would look gorgeous in a bikini I tell you that”, came a voice from my right. I looked sideways and noticed a pretty girl with long brown hair and in an even prettier sunshine yellow and flowery dress, sitting cross legged on the beach chair and staring out at the sea.
“Oops, sorry I didn’t notice you sitting here. I was just talking to myself and hadn’t realised I said the last sentence out loud”, I said in embarrassment.
The girl just smiled and looked at me, “I’m Kyra by the way. And judging by your look, you are very new to Brazil, am I right?”
“Hi Kyra, nice to meet you and I’m Nancy. Yep, you are not the first one to notice it today!” I laughed.
And soon we got into talking. Kyra was here on a vacation and she was on a fashion and make-over expedition. When I pointed out to her that she looked more fabulous than ever with her current ensemble, she laughed her pretty girly laugh as her sparkly blue eyes looked into mine and said “Well, maybe I’m on an expedition to give you an overall make-over”.
“You know, I really would appreciate that. You look like a girl who knows where a good buy is. So if you are not busy or anything could you hang out with me on a shopping spree?” I asked glad to have found someone to guide me through the unknown shops on the Brazilian streets.
Kyra got up from her chair and put on her big hat. “I’ll be glad to accompany you. So come on Nancy, let’s hit the shops right now. But first you’ll need a big hat and lots of sun-screen. Never let your skin get burnt. It’s a real pain I tell you”, winking at me, she led me to a small cosmetic shop and made me buy one of those Lakmé products with lots of SPF.
“Hey look, that girl on the cover of the sun-screen lotion, she looks exactly like you, with yellow dress and all” I showed her the cover.
“Well how about that! Maybe I’ve done some modelling that I don’t know about!” Kyra said making me laugh. I was glad to have befriended this witty, care-free humorous girl.
That evening, Kyra and I had visited about two dozen shops all over Rio and that included me burning quite a big hole in my bank balance. Nonetheless, with Kyra’s help I was able to buy really good stuff that ranged from glittery accessories like stoned necklaces and bracelets and feathery ear rings to fabulous clothes like breezy, flowery dresses that were so popular in these parts (and which incidentally complimented my ample curves to my surprise!) and many colourful and fun looking sandals and foot wear.
I did had my doubts when we entered the bikini shop (I suddenly became very aware of all the extra pounds that I had put on recently) but Kyra insisted that I bury my shyness and discomfort as women of all ages and sizes walked around happily in bikinis. “So you have got absolutely nothing to be shy about. And a woman your size is considered sexy, not fat!” she reassured me and that made me feel a lot more comfortable as I solemnly bought two pairs of colourful bikini’s myself.
The next day, I woke up with excitement. Today Kyra had promised to take me out for some sun bathing and relaxation. So I wore my new flowery dress, and sun glasses and pink slip-ons and headed out of my place to the beach. Kyra was already lying on the warm sand, applying sun-tan lotion and she looked amazing in her blue bikini. As I approached her, Kyra grinned at me and said, “Come now sun-shine, let’s see that pretty bikini we shopped last night”.
I was hesitant at first as I eyed my surrounding for any on-lookers, but there were so many men and women disrobing, it really didn’t look like I would be the centre of attention. With a sigh of relief, I removed my dress and lay down on the sand. “Don’t forget your sun screen”, Kyra reminded me again.
I reached into my bag and pulled out Lakmé sun-expert and was in the process of applying some of it to my back when I heard Kyra call my name from a distance. I looked up to see her running towards the sea with a surf board in her hand. I got up and ran to catch up with her in my red bikini and I heard a few wolf whistles at me from random Brazilian guys who were playing volley ball nearby. I imagined gleefully that I might look like a life-guard from the Bay Watch series!
“Kyra, wait-up! I don’t know how to surf!” I called to her, but she was already far off into the sea and she just waved for me to join her.
“I could teach you how to ride the waves, if you like miss.” I turned around to see an attractive Brazilian guy in shorts. “I am Emmanuel and I teach for the beginners”, he added in a strong accent. So I found myself a hot tutor too!
For the next two hours, I graced from being ridiculously clumsy on the surf board to actually sitting on it at least once. Emmanuel was a good tutor and very patient too to handle all my clumsy antics and I immediately took a liking towards him. “You come here every day and I teach you, eh?” he asked me hopefully and I nodded my head in excitement and waved him good-bye for the day.
I saw Kyra drying her hair and galloped towards her with a weird grin on my face. “I see somebody found a new interest in surfing!”She laughed at me seeing that ridiculous look on my face. “Um, you know how it is...” was all I could manage to say without blushing like a little girl.
That night, Kyra took me to an awesome pub by the sea shore and we had a blast with tequilas and martinis. Boosted by our drinks we both invaded the dance floor and I felt like the night would never end. And I bumped into Emmanuel on the dance floor too and we got to know each other more. The night was turning out to be magical after-all.
The next few days were as exciting as the first day on the beach. I was hanging out more with Emmanuel both on and off the beach as we went snorkeling, paragliding and he even taught me how to skate. And gradually, I saw very little of Kyra. She was always around whenever I had any wardrobe or make-over emergencies. Other than that, she used to magically disappear from my sight.
Very soon, my extended vacation had stretched over a week. And within this span of time, I had changed from being a shy, introverted Canadian girl to this care-free, fun-loving and almost-tanned-enough-to-be-called- Brazilian Woman.
I had never given much thought to my wardrobe or make-over’s. Back in my Canadian home it really didn’t matter what I wore as anything I wore would be covered by a thick jacket and a scarf. But in Brazil, one had to be in their bare minimum in order to withstand the heat. And all thanks to Kyra, she had helped me out when I needed proper fashion guidance. Now I can confidently walk into a bikini shop and select the one that suits me the best. Kyra helped me overcome my silly fears and shyness. And only because of that, I was able to talk and hangout with Emmanuel. Kyra lit up a side of me that I didn’t know existed in me till now.
And where is Kyra now, do you ask? Well, Kyra is a part of me. She is that bubbly-sided personality in me who lights me up from deep down. Like you, even I thought Kyra was a different person altogether, until recently, when I looked into the mirror, a pair of sparkling blue eyes stared right back at me and that’s when I realized, me and Kyra were the same person.
There’s always a Kyra within every girl. You just have to trust yourself and boost up your confidence to bring her out!
P.S: After two weeks of a wonderful vacation, it was time for me to get back to work. I walked into my work place in one of my flowery dress and all my colleagues gave me happy thumbs up as some shouted "Aye Caramba!!" and my boss’s voice drifted over to me from his cabin, “I see the vacation indeed helped you fit in. Welcome back Nancy and I expect your travel report by tomorrow. Now get to work!”
P.P.S: Well as I type now, I’m ending my travel report with a double post-script. This is Nancy, signing off and Kyra says hi too!
This post is written for "The Lakme Diva Blogger Contest" and my post on IndiBlogger can be found here.
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