Week three of our internship passed in a blur of work, curries, and another interesting field trip. On Wednesday afternoon we began our 700km round trip to Ratnagiri, a successful district in Maharashtra. After a six hour drive we arrived at what we would describe as the Indian equivalent of Centre Parcs, a quiet set up of guesthouses subtly placed into the landscape.
We were welcomed by a traditional Ratnagiri dinner, including an interesting pink drink, apparently consumed to aid digestion. After a few games of cards, we settled down for the night. The next morning we awoke to luscious rolling hills and views to die for, enticing us into an early morning stroll and breakfast served amongst waterfalls and the chirping of birds. After breakfast we drove to meet Mr. Radhakrishnan, the district collector of Ratnagiri, a very important man who is instrumental in the smooth running of Ratnagiri. Masala tea, nuts, and biscuits were followed by an in-depth talk on the many roles that they fulfill at what in England we would call their ‘council.’ It was interesting and eye-opening to realize how much work is involved to ensure their district remains a thriving hub of activity. They are involved in almost all aspects of Ratnagiri, including tax collection, the education system, and the police force, as well as the development of Ratnagiri to adapt to tourism.
After a tour of their extensive archives, we hopped back onto our trusty minibus for lunch at the seaside. We had neglected to consider that perhaps during monsoon season, the beach wouldn’t be quite what we expected. Lunch consisted of more curry, and a taste of their famous Alfonzo mangoes, before saying goodbye and beginning our long journey home.
With our deadline fast approaching, the rest of the week consisted of meeting with our mentors and cracking on with our projects. At the weekend, we visited the legendary German Bakery, infamously the site of a terrorist bomb in 2010, which killed 17 people. The mystery illness struck again on Sunday morning, after a quiet Saturday night, and we took the opportunity to relax and recuperate for the next half of our internship. We are looking forward to what the next 3 weeks bring, and continue to throw ourselves into the unique culture of India.