Ahmedabad, India: An Introduction to a New Place
Spirituality has to be one of the biggest and most influential aspects of life here in Gujarat…that is, besides diarrhea, crazy driving, and early morning peacock squawks. It’s been almost two weeks since we have arrived in Ahmedabad, but my perspectives have already shifted so much. While I have enjoyed every moment in India so far, it is by no means a vacation. We live life according to the ‘3 Cs’: Confusion, Curry, and Camaraderie.
Confusion. A week in to the internship, I still could not give a complete answer to what I was supposed to be working on. My partner, Tony, and I are constantly met by contradicting statements from two supervisors who I can’t confidently say know our names. Even with a ‘two step forward, one step back’ approach, I think we are finally making progress. We are working with the Industrial Forging & Casting Cluster of Baroda, about a two hour drive from EDI’s campus. After interviewing managers of four units within the cluster, Tony and I seek to tackle the issues of Accessing Finance, and Employment within the cluster for our research topic. Despite our recent progress, however, I have come to realize that most things here are completely left to chance. Take this example: Had Tony and I not played soccer every night, we would not have met Abhishek, who would not have told us he lived in Baroda, so he wouldn’t have joined us for our trip, which would’ve left us without an interpreter, rendering us utterly incapable of getting back to EDI’s campus. Thank goodness for soccer! Over the next two weeks, Tony and I will be venturing back to Baroda to conduct more intensive research. This time, without Abhishek. We are up for the challenge!
Curry. The occasional western meal has broken up an otherwise 40 consecutive curry dishes. While it sometimes can be a bit repetitive and induce questionable stomach interactions, the food has been delicious. As a vegetarian back home, the state of Gujarat is, for the most part, 100% vegetarian—heaven for me! While hard to distinguish between dinner and breakfast at times, the variety, and spice is wildly different to any western cuisine. Having a nut allergy has required me to be a bit more focused while eating meals, but with one painful exception, I have been safe and successful. EDI provides us with three meals a day, but that has not stopped us from venturing outside of the campus to find local authentic eats at the various sites in the city. With four weeks of curry left, I definitely won’t go hungry, but a slice of pizza wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
Camaraderie. This is a great group of nine extremely diverse gentlemen. We are comprised of students from USA, UK, Malaysia, Gibraltar, Bulgaria, and Sweden. We had absolutely no issues immediately immersing ourselves in friendship with open minds and positive attitudes. Though we stay within the confines of EDI for the work week, on the weekends we’ve traveled as a group to the Arkshardem and Adalaj Temples, the home of Mahatma Gandhi, a Mall, the Law Garden Market & Park. Tomorrow, we plan to leave Gujarat for the first time, and travel to the state of Rajistan to visit Udaipur. I greatly look forward to this trip, as it will be a nice group sendoff before we spend our respective times in different areas researching different clusters for the next two weeks. Other than our group of nine international students, there are hundreds of local Indian students studying for the post graduate degrees at EDI. Slowly we are familiarizing ourselves to the point where we can not only actually remember the names of the local students, but consider them friends as well.
No one expected this internship to be peaches and cream, but our positivity and adaptability has led us to enjoy every aspect of this adventure so far. If the next four weeks are half as interesting as the first two, then we’re bound to have an amazing time.