Anything is Possible in India! Week Two with SEWA
I don’t know about you, but Josh likes to chat with his Uber drivers. On the ride to La’Atelier, a continental restaurant that we were hoping would satisfy our fix for food that isn’t curry, Josh got to talking to the Uber driver about the traffic and how crazy it is when Shari pitched in and asked if the Uber driver had ever gotten into an accident. “Yes, of course!” was the Uber drivers emphatic reply. Then he chuckled and added, “anything is possible in India!” He is quite right, and we have decided to adopt this saying as our motto for this internship.
Where else would you see monkeys, elephants, camels, and horses mixed in with the traffic? Where else are there a hundred different types of curry? Where else could it be 40o Celsius with the sun shining brightly and by the next day pouring rain?
Not only are there these physical differences in India, but the work environment is unlike anything in the UK or the US. Our team, interning for RUDI, is analyzing the sales of a district that is not performing as well as others. This project includes compiling data, hypothesizing what is causing this district to underperform, interviewing pertinent people, and coming to a conclusion to present to the district. This week, our team was supposed to make a day trip to the district in order to begin performing interviews of the district coordinator, customers, and Rudiben*. However, this visit hasn’t happened because the district coordinator, Alkaben, did not respond to our various emails from last week. Though she didn’t communicate with us through email, she did come in to the office this week for their monthly RUDI team meeting. This allowed us to begin interviewing Alkaben, with the assistance of our director, Mr SS Patel, as the translator. In the midst of our interview, Mr. SS Patel took a phone call (something that is commonly done during meetings). After waiting 30 minutes, Alkaben announced it was time for lunch so we all dispersed. Despite being reassured that after lunch we would all meet up to complete the interview, the whole group never reconvened and we had to leave at 5:30pm without completing the interview.
As we have come to notice, this lax schedule and go with the flow habit seems to be the nature of all business in India. Working in this environment has required us to change our mindset and adapt to these obstacles. We have rescheduled our visit to the Anand District and set a date to complete the interview of Alkaben. Rather than waiting to complete these activities before moving on to the next problem analysis, we have begun making surveys for the next stage of our project. With two weeks behind us already, we want to make the most of our time here and continue completing those tasks that we can.
In line with how quickly time is passing, both us, the RUDI team, and the SMS team are setting our sights on visiting places outside of Ahmedabad. We have already visited many of the tourist attractions nearby, so we hope to go to Udaipur this weekend to see what possibilities it has in store. Maybe the next Uber driver that Josh talks to will have another inspiring quote for us. We will keep you in the loop.
GEO SEWA Interns