Indian Immersion: Week Two at RBI

Given the previous week’s laid back approach to work, the RBI interns wondered if the whip would be cracked on our exceptionally flexible backs (thanks to the continued 7am yoga). However, it has become apparent that this internship is really about exploring India and the culture rather than spending hours working in the office. At the time of writing (Thursday midday) we have only spent one day in the office this week. (This travesty occurred on Monday.) Since then, we have been exploring Pune with great enthusiasm.

Saturday 4th: Although we woke up with sore heads, our desire to make the most of our weekend quickly put self-inflicted illness aside. We made our way to the Shaniwar Wada: a palace fort which is a central feature of Pune. However, on the suggestion of James Wright and his encyclopaedic knowledge of Pune, we made a quick detour to the Pataleshwar Caves first. In the 8th century, a temple was carved out of the solid rock of the caves. Well worth a visit although our cultural naivety was highlighted when we walked anti-clockwise instead of clockwise around the temple. When we arrived at the fort, we were greeted by an intimidating set of gates – the walls are the only remaining structure of the palace; however, it’s actually a very peaceful way to spend the afternoon.

Sunday 5th: This was a down day with not much to comment on except for the arrival of delegates from SAARC countries from other parts of Asia. The previously uninhabited hostel (which is much more like a hotel) was suddenly filled with government advisors and CEO’s from Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Monday 6th: Back to the daily grind.

Tuesday 7th: We went to visit the Aga Khan Palace, a site of historical significance as Gandhi was imprisoned there for 2 years (1942-44) during India’s struggle for independence. This was a majestic building, contrasting with the conditions in which many people in the surrounding area live. It was Jake’s 26th birthday; however as it was a school night celebrations were put on hold until Friday.

Wednesday 8th: We woke early in order to make a field visit to a women’s self help group (early enough to earn a respite from yoga). Face daubed with red paint and anointed with rice we received a traditional greeting and a very informative talk. This field trip truly put into perspective the difference people coming together can make.

Thursday 9th: To honour the SAARC delegates, there was what only can be described as a feast. Waited on hand and foot, we witnessed a cacophony of different harmonies.  Although not a word of the lyrics was understood, the sentiment was much appreciated. To wrap the evening up we were treated to traditional Nepalese wind dancing.

Friday 10th: This is James Wright’s birthday, and we will also celebrated Jake’s birthday earlier in the week. Consequently, Friday evening will be enjoyable (provided Pune isn’t at a standstill because of the pilgrimage which is passing through).