A Series of Unfortunate Events (plus selfies and cricket) – Week 3 with the Bharti Foundation

Picking up from the boy’s last post, last Sunday was a busy day of walking through a creepy village, attempting to find a recommended restaurant, where we finally and miraculously ended up after getting lost between several narrow and pitch black streets. Four colourful Bihari platters later, we moved onto the Lotus Temple, where more people looked at us rather than at the actual famous attraction. At around auto numviewber five, and just on time to see the sunset, we arrived at Lodi Gardens (or prime photo-opportunity location), and felt transported into an almost mythical setting where ancient ruins interspersed the neatly kept lawns. Finally, India Gate was the last stop on our rather rigid schedule, as we had gladly taken the advice of an Indian woman who suggested it was best seen at night.

That same night we sat at another table for dinner, which was unheard of considering we had basically assigned seats from the very first evening, and we joked that we would be cursed – it apparently came true the following day.

Andy was ill, and couldn’t take part on our first day of research on the field. On our way back, our car was stranded in an ocean of rainwater – previously the Delhi roads – we were even told that Delhi traffic and road conditions turn into mayhem during monsoon season, yet we found it hard to believe how they could possibly get any more chaotic. Well, we certainly believed it when we were forced to abandon our car and wade through the disturbingly opaque waters to reach the bank of safety, after our driver had decided to risk the floods to skip traffic, causing the car to become grounded in a pothole, waking us up with a jolt. We stood on the bank helpless, except when we again assumed the role of photographers documenting the entire towing process. After the car was
exceptionally quickly towed, again reaching hard-ground, on our treacherous way back paddling through the murky waters, Chris suddenly disappeared. Half of him had been swallowed up by some sort of disguised manhole. However horrific for him, the sight of a smartly suited man drenched and shocked just made us all laugh hysterically, not helping Chris one bit. To top it all off, the journey back to the guesthouse took a staggering 4 and a half hours, at least we had time to dry.

Despite the curse, our field-day conducting primary research on the quality of education at a Delhi government boysa-school exceeded all of our expectations. Everybody we questioned responded extremely enthusiastically and we were able to gather all the results we had hoped for, through questionnaires, focus group discussions and activities designed around the students. The school staff were so welcoming to the point of even repeatedly force-feeding us with homemade Indian dishes we “just had to try”. Several samosas and plates of rice pudding later, we were invited to play cricket. A swarm of children surrounded us, their eyes focused on the ball Andy was about to throw to Chris. We played for a while, with the entire school coming out of their classes to witness Chris’ amazing first go at the game and Andy’s confident proficiency. However, when it was our turn to make a name for us female cricketers, one of us used our rounders skills impressively whilst the other, to put it nicely, failed miserably (we’ll let you guess who is who). The game came to a natural close when the children’s excitement moved from the ball to selfies, turning the pitch more into a mosh pit.

The week continued with more field-visits, ending with another government school in Delhi, this time a much larger and all-girls school. Here we had the chance to survey a larger number of children, and also to facilitate an extremely interesting discussion with teachers, regarding their opinions on the barriers to quality education. Our visits will continue for a few more days, and we look forward to more interesting insights into the Indian education system and, of course, to the inevitable ensuing selfies!

GEO Bharti Interns

Week 3 at NISM: Beaches, Banks & Beginner’s Swimming

Saturday

Tim’s birthday celebrations ended early on Saturday morning and the monsoon hit hard during the daytime, so we spend most of it relaxing around the guesthouse and researching things to do in Vashi, as well as our travel plans for after the internship.

Sunday

We were up early to catch one of the notoriously packed and difficult to embark Bombay trains (thanks Nandini for the help)! We had an action-packed day which included visits to the Aquarium and Planetarium, a delightful feast at BBQ Nation and a tour of Isckon Temple which is dedicated to Ganesh. However, the highlight of the day was us cautiously paddling in the choppy and suspiciously cloudy Mumbai waves whilst a few of the boys bravely/ foolishly stripped off and jumped straight in. Nandini, our supervisor, then decided to show us all up, and in true Mumbai style, waded in fully clothed.beach2

Monday

Back in the office, we spent the day researching for our projects. Having had little success running in the humidity, Nellie and Grace were keen to find another way to exercise. And so, after work, went on a mission to go swimming. After traipsing round 4 different pools and being rejected from each for various reasons (e.g. “what are you doing – this is for children only”), we decided to call it a day and returned home, dry and disappointed. Whilst some of us opted for the traditional cuisine for dinner (see picture), one of the Edinburgh interns took it upon himself to whip up a slightly ad-hoc and questionable spaghetti carbonara, much to everyone else’s amusement.

Tuesday

Things got really interesting at work when we were given our first opportunity to use NISM’s unique simulation trading lab. In the morning, we were briefed on the software, which is linked directly to the Bombay Stock Exchange in real time. We then spent the afternoon competing amongst ourselves to win our grand jackpot of 400 rupees (about £4.50). After work, following on from Monday’s debacle, Grace and Nellie finally found somewhere to swim, even though it meant accidentally crashing a ladies-only beginner swimming class with a very strict dress-code. Luckily, the swimming teacher offered to lend us caps, and was kind enough to ensure that they were colour coordinated.

Wednesday

Another fascinating day spent in the trading simulation lab, learning more about the different types of trade order and ways of hedging our bets.

Thursday

We were up early and on a bus into Mumbai to attend India’s first ever ‘Quanteminar’; a conference about Quantitative Analysis, organised by NISM in partnership with Mumbai University. We were honoured to listen to several influential speakers (such as the CEO of the Bombay Stock Exchange) present on a range of technical yet fascinating topics. The experience was enhanced by the fact that it was held at the Sofitel Hotel, and we were treated to a continental breakfast buffet and lunch, during which we were able to network with the speakers and other attendees.

Fridayquantenimar

Today we visited the Bombay Stock Exchange, where we were given a lecture on the Indian Economy from a trading perspective and the chance to stage a debate in the original outcry trading floor. Then we moved onto the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Central Office, where we were fascinated to learn more about their recent role in development, as well as traditional Central Bank functions. We had a fantastically fancy lunch at the RBI with their employees and a cameo appearance from our very own Sandeep, Director at NISM. The food was plentiful and delicious although we were all quite confused when it was followed by the traditional Indian breath-freshener ‘Paan’, which consists of areca nut wrapped in a large betel leaf, and is supposed to be chewed and then swallowed. In the afternoon, we were taken on a tour of Mumbai’s Monetary Museum by the curator, who helped us to finally understand the Indian metric system, involving lakhs and crores, as well as giving us a slightly-less riveting explanation of the 1835 Indian Coinage Act.

All in all, it’s been a hectic week, and although we are looking forward to relaxing at the weekend, we are excitedly anticipating more time spent in the trading lab at NISM and the opportunity to meet more local and interesting people.

Week 3 on our SEWA Internship

group

SEWA Radhanpur women and us.

Last weekend we went on our first trip out of the state of Gujurat to Udaipur in Rajasthan. It was our first time taking a sleeper bus in India and boy was it an adventure! We booked our tickets online and set off an hour early to get to the bus stop, knowing we’d get lost. However we soon realised that the address we were going to was taking us way out of town and was definitely not a bus stop! It was midnight and after many futile tries to call the bus company the Uber driver had had enough. Thankfully, he agreed to take us back into town to another address we hoped was the actual bus stop. We arrived at the address 5 minutes before the bus was scheduled to leave and was hopeful that we’d be able to catch the bus in the nick of time. However once we got out of the taxi it became apparent that there was no order to where and when buses came and went. We frantically ran up and down the street following the directions from friendly locals who were sending us in completely opposite directions. Ten minutes had passed so we had to accept defeat!

After we regained our breath, Plan B was to find a ticket office where we could buy another ticket. The ticket office at what looked like a bus station was closed so we hopelessly tried asking some locals. We started talking to a man who knew pretty good English and soon we were surrounded by men trying to help us out (or find out why four foreigners were running around the place like headless chickens). One man insisted that he knew where it was and offered to take us there. We got to what looked like a shop lot on the side of the street and was instructed to sit and wait next to these two girls. They looked like they were waiting for a bus so I asked which bus they were waiting for. To our amazement they were waiting for our 12:45 bus that had been delayed by an hour! We couldn’t believe it!

The bus experience was the equivalent to that of the Knight Bus from Harry Potter. It felt as though we were going to tip on the top bunk, and the horn was the driver’s best friend. When we finally made it to Udaipur, we were relieved that we even made it. We immediately took a rickshaw to the City Palace only to find it closed, so we waited until it was open. We explored the City Palace and Udaipur and then rested at our hostel The Bunkyard, and spent the rest of the evening on the rooftop overlooking the water. That night, the monsoon rains finally hit and we experienced our first proper monsoon thunderstorm. There was a power outage so everyone in the hostel gathered around a single light talking and playing music. It was a great experience for us as we got to converse and share stories of India with others staying at the hostel.

On our second day in Udaipur we visited the Clock Tower and climbed to the very top! Afterwards we put our bargaining skills to the test and purchased some tchotchkes to bring home.

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View from The Bunkyard.

During the week we took a trip to Radhanpur to see the SEWA Hansiba textile museum.  This three and a half hour journey outside of Ahmedabad had many twists and bumps but we enjoyed the journey and scenery on the way there. Once we arrived, we were greeted and immediately shown the museum which displays many communities worth of clothing and blankets. Each piece of textile had its own history, whether it was 150 years old or intricately detailed. We then had a lovely lunch made by the SEWA women. We also had the opportunity to speak with a few of the SEWA women about what they do for the women in Radhanpur and how they started. One very interesting question we were asked, and not expecting, was how women are treated in our respective countries. We came to the conclusion that everywhere women are fighting for equality.

GEO SEWA Interns

RBI Week 3: Seeing the Sights

Namaste, time is flying by and week three is proving to be the most exciting week yet. We, Valentin Ayer and Dominic Oulton, are finally getting acclimated to Pune and want to begin travelling outside

rbiweek3of the city. Originally we were planning on visiting the animal reservation in Gir, however due to Monsoon season the conditions were not ideal. Currently, we are working on planning a trip to Goa. An Indian province and former Portuguese colony, Goa is known for it’s gorgeous Portuguese white-wash architecture and beautiful beaches. It is located about twelve hours south of Pune and we are planning on taking the night bus – we’re looking forward to it!

Last Friday we got off work early and the Reserve Bank supervisors took us site seeing a long with visiting central bankers from neighboring countries. Our first stop was the famous Aga Khan Palace built in the 19th Century and made famous by Gandhi’s 2-year imprisonment after his decision to launch the Quit India Movement. During his time there both his beloved wife and close secretary died. In fact, all of their ashes, including Gandhi’s, are buried there and the palace has been turned into a museum commemorating Gandhi’s journey and legacy. After, Aga khan palace, we went to Shaiwar Wada, a medieval fort in the middle of Pune. The views from the wall and towers were beautiful and the garden was quite nice. We capped off Friday with burgers and steaks at the Hard Rock Café as we all missed western cuisine. It was a lot of fun and Dom volunteered for a burger eating contest; he ended up getting first place while also setting a new café record.

During this week we went to the zoo in Koregaon Park and got to see a lot of animals ranging from buffalo weighing a metric ton to white tigers and leopards. We’ve also attended some lectures which were generously planned by the RBI for us. The first one was rather serious and involved India’s monetary policy arbiweek32nd the structure of banking system; we learned a lot about the specific challenges India faced and how their policy was tailored to it. The next lecture was more informal and involved Indian art, culture, and spirituality. Through this lecture we learned about the identity of different regions of India and the sheer diversity in language and culture throughout India.

As for our work, it is coming along very nicely. We’ve just finished our research and have begun outlining and writing the actual report. In fact, our supervisor kindly organized for over 70 bankers to take a survey which we created in order to gather data on our subject: Financial Consumer Protection in the Financial Services Industry in India.

India is colorful, loud, pungent, intense, and we’re excited about our next three weeks here.

GEO RBI Interns

 

Saris, Scots and Stock Exchanges

Our GEO interns working at NISM, Mumbai tell us what they’ve been getting up to during their second week!

Friday

With the first week of our internship finally concluded, the team ventured to Inorbit mall to celebrate with Western food as a refreshing break from the buckets of (amazing) curry fed to us by NISM. We stumbled upon an American restaurant called Chillis, for an evening of meat and Western charts music. However, the highlight of the night for Nellie and Grace was discovering the gem that is the Happiness Station.

Saturday

After an early start the team got ready for a trip to R City mall in central Mumbai, organised by our supervisor at the institute, Nandini. After wnism1hat the locals consider a short trip across Mumbai, of around an hour or so, we arrived at the mall to be greeted by a giant hamster ball connected to a spinning price discount board which can only really be described as The Price is Right meets Gladiators or some other form of competitive Saturday night television. We were then taken to a restaurant serving up traditional Rajasthani cuisine, which looked rather overwhelming with all 3 courses served on one plate. Although it was delicious some of us weren’t too convinced by one dessert which can be best described as having the consistency and taste of a wet sponge. We were then given free time to explore the mall, resulting in the girls embracing what India has to offer (though we feel some may suit it more than others).

On returning to the guesthouse we had the pleasant surprise of 3 other interns from Edinburgh University joining us. The new group bonded over drinks and football. However, for some of us (especially those of German origin) the extremely tense penalty shootout between Germany and Italy at Euro 2016 created quite the calamity…

Sunday

We had a lazy Sunday spent recovering from a busy first week with some of us exploring more of Mumbai.

Monday

We had a hectic morning filled with literature reviews being analysed by our supervisor Sandeep to assess their suitability, whilst also re-designing the groups and work delegations to incorporate the other interns. Following this we decided to introduce the Edinburgh students to our “local”…Tight Bar Round 2!

Tuesday

Sandip Ghose, Director of NISM, informed us in a board meeting that seemed rather professional that our research projects would be changing to focus primarily on financial literacy and education in India, different from the projects we had originally chosen. In addition, we were told that the next day was Eid, an Islamic festival, and that we would be given the following day off which took us by surprise (not that any complaints were made!).  Back at the guesthouse in the evening everyone played the hat game involving a lot of hilarious acting by Jack (Edinburgh Uni) of several different celebrities including an inventive acting out of Tigger.

Wednesday

Up bright and early we ventured into Mumbai to visit the Gateway of India, a famous historical monument built in the 20th century to welcome Prince Charles. It has since been used as an entry point for prominent visitors including British governors until India gained its independence. We then stopped to grab breakfast which was made amusing by Jack mistaking a fellow British tourist as a waiter and proceeding to give him his order. The rest of the day was spent wandering around Mumbai taking in the sights, sounds and smells (of which there are plenty).

We also visited various prominent buildings associated with India’s economy including the Bombay Stock Exchange and RBI institute, which we will be revisiting soon with our supervisor for an in depth tour and chance to meet influential employees.

After a tiring day on oNism2ur feet  we decided to collaborate the group’s’ financial knowledge to succeed on the Stock Market … or rather the Stock Exchange Bar where drink prices fluctuated in a similar manner to actual stocks.

Thursday

We returned to NISM refreshed from our mid-week break and began to immerse ourselves into our projects, including consulting the vast library within the NISM institute, which we have been gratefully given permission to use.

Friday

The day was dominated by birthday celebrations for Tim, one of the Groningen interns. Not only did we arrange to have birthday balloons and doughnuts brought to him at work, but our supervisor also presented Tim with a present on behalf of NISM. The excessive sugar from the doughnuts lead us to have a productive afternoon continuing our work on analysing the masses of data available to us. In the evening we visited Bandra (the “Shoreditch of Mumbai”) to celebrate the birthday at a fantastic Japanese restaurant before sampling the nightlife and getting the chance to collaborate our cultures through some fantastically awful dancing.

GEO NISM Interns

 

 

RBI Week Two: Insights

Our second week started off with a well-deserved celebration. After finally focusing our research and fully delving into our projects, we travelled across the chaotic streets of Pune to land in BBQ Nation, a rest bite from curry (the real excuse however was Nick’s coming of age!). The night, characterized by a continuous supply of skewers and unlimited dessert, was culminated with Will’s dance moves in a visit to Miami, a favorite with Pune locals.

Visiting the resting place of Mahatma Gandhi.

The next day, after an early morning struggle, the squad compensated the festivities with some historical sightseeing. The Chatushshringee Temple, dedicated to the reigning deity of the city of Pune, was our first destination. Situated on the mountain side, the view from the summit held a treat, a glimpse of the city from above. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking the streets of Pune, where Jaz and Cristina endorsed another ancient tradition, henna. Although very intricate it was surprising how little time it took to complete.

Midweek the usual work routine was interrupted by the celebration of Eid Mubarak, a Muslim religious festival. The following day we left the office for a visit to Ahmednagar Central Bank, the oldest co-operative bank of the State of Maharashtra. The long bus ride, was made short given the shared stories and interactions with central bankers from a diversity of countries, including Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

During the presentation given by the CEO of the co-operative bank, we could not hide our surprise when first Dom, and then all of us, got presented and awarded a gift, as a gesture of thankfulness for attending the meeting. In contrast to western introductions, the Indian culture showed to be a lot more personal and gracious.

When our meeting concluded, we hopped back on the bus and were taken to a women’s self-help group. As part of any rural ceremony, they granted us the power of concentration, by painting a little red dot in between our eyebrows, and topping the paint off with rice. Paint that we later feared could be permanent due to its high water resistance.

To conclude the week, we were fortunate to meet and talk with Anna Hazare, India’s modern Gandhi. His wisdom and inspirational speech highlighted his motives and actions towards achieving a more sustainable and connected community. Although innovative, ideas such as the ban on tobacco and alcohol may not be very suited to the west … Who can say no to a cold one at the end of the day?

We cannot wait to see what the following weeks have lined up for us. Namaste!

GEO RBI Interns

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 uWhere did Mr. SS Patel go?nderperform, 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

Discovering Delhi, Punjabi Dancing and Indian Hospitality: Week 2 with the Bharti Foundation, India

The team headed into week 2 free of illness and high in spirits. Saturday saw us venture into Old Delhi, the original city before the British built the new capital in 1947, via another pleasant metro ride that is putting the London underground well in its place. We felt this was our first taste of ‘real India,’ and getting lost in the backstreet markets unintentionally added to this experience. We finally made it to the Red Fort after stopping for masala dosas on the way. The fort itself was bredelhiathtaking, and was in remarkable condition considering it was built from sandstone in the 17th century.

On Sunday, the team headed to Qutb Minar in a cosy 36°C (in hindsight, wearing a grey cotton t-shirt was a huge mistake). This was a monument built in 1193 by Qutub-ud-din Aibak immediately after the defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu kingdom. This marked the start of a 5 century long Turkic Muslim Dynasty in Delhi

Sunday night gave us our first taste of Indian ‘disco’ at Cyber-Hub, a collection of upmarket bars and shops in Gurgaon. Our attempts at Punjabi dancing seemed to amuse the locals, although the compliments of two Germans gave us some hope. However, the conversation soon turned to ‘Brexit,’ and the team decided to call it a night there and then.

Work this week had us focusing on preparing for our research that the team is due to conduct next week in two New Delhi Government schools. Monday involved a presentation on our preliminary research task. On Tuesday, the team visited the two schools that will be used to conduct our research. The team was pleasantly surprised by the schools, as they had very good infrastructure, and there seemed to be a very healthy atmosphere among the students. The hospitality was outstanding; we were near force-fed a selection of Indian snacks such as samosas and halwa, complemented with chai tea. Our research is broadly trying to improve the quality of rural education in India and this field trip gave us a unique insight into what we wanted to find out next week.  The remaining 3 days of the week were spent producing our final research methodologies after consulting with Bharti team members.

The team is looking forward to another weekend exploring Delhi, and spending four days in the field next week (trying not to think about four days without air-con). Onwards and upwards!

GEO Bharti Interns

Week 1 at NISM: Tuktuks, Tight Bar and Too Much Tandoori…

Saturday

We landed in Mumbai in the afternoon, where we were picked up and taken straight to the guesthouse. We were greeted by several very enthusiastic members of staff, who practically force-fed us a huge selection of curry the minute we walked through the door. We met our delegates from Groningen and Boston and then, jetlagged after our delayed flight, headed to bed for an early night.

Sunday

Having had a good night’s sleep and, falsely believing that we had recovered from our jetlag, we headed out to explore the local area. The first thing we noticed was how crazy the roads here are, resembling a particularly aggressive game of Mario Kart. We made it about 200m from the guesthouse before we realised that at some point in the next six weeks we would have to risk life and limb and cross the battlefields that are the Mumbai roads. After about 5 minutes worth of feeble attempts to ‘make it halfway and wait’, we decided to man up and made a run for it. We quickly learnt that this is the only way to get around. Whilst walking we had our first taste of monsoon weather (which we were thoroughly unprepared for) so decided to head back to the guesthouse. Luckily, we had accidently walked in a huge circle and made it back in no time at all.

Monday

We had our first day of work, where we met all the staff at NISM and were introduced to the company. Everyone was super friendly and we wnism week3ere delighted to find that the staff bring round cups of chai tea at almost hourly intervals throughout the day. One of these rounds was served with crisps and biscuits in a thoughtful nod to the British culture, much to the shock of the local staff. The highlight of the day was probably the hairy rickshaw commute with several adrenaline-inducing close calls with fearless buses. In the evening, we were all jet-lagged and exhausted so we stayed in and watched the football (sorry for the reminder Will).

Tuesday

Work was good, but the day was stolen by the discovery of staggeringly cheap beer at Tight Bar – a fluorescent haven with a noughties-Bollywood fusion soundtrack and entertainment in the form of Mr Bean playing on the big screen.

Wednesday

Work was slow to start with but we all enjoyed our orientation on the Indian culture, banking system and politics. After work, feeling slightly worse for wear, we decided to recover by doing some exercise. We found a lake nearby and whilst completing two laps of it, discovered it was a popular hangout/ make-out spot for local teenagers who seemed to find our very western neon fitness outfits rather amusing. As we strolled back, suffering in the humidity, the monsoon came to our aid and gave us a much-needed impromptu shower. When we returned to the guesthouse completely drenched, the security guards made little effort to hide their amusement at our naivety and lack of waterproof clothing. We returned to (yet again) a feast of vegetable curry, and discussed our longing for red meat and cheese.

Thursday

After a busy morning at work of further lectures on India, we were treated to an afternoon spent watching a fantastically cheesy and very long Bollywood movie called ‘3 Idiots’. Although we didn’t always understand the humour, or the need for so many unanticipated breakouts into song and dance, we were thoroughly impressed by the sporadic, emotionally deep moments (we never knew that scuba diving was such a soul-searching experience that it required a 10 minute of atmospheric instrumentals to a montage of a man crying). In the evening, we went in search of a contender against the classy establishment that is Tight Bar. Although this is a difficult task, we found a close runner-up in Royal Oak Brewery, which offers cheaper drinks to ladies, along with an entirely Bryan Adams themed playlist, which we felt was a reflection of the unsurpassable taste of the in-house DJ (yes, a DJ did this to us).

 

Friday

Today, things got a little bit more serious at work. We delegated projects based on the extensive research and data that NISM have offered us on the topic of financial literacy and financial inclusion. We also had an interesting unplanned debate with Sandeep (another supervisor), about Brexit and his interpretation of the consequences for capital markets. Tonight, we are heading out to continue our immersion into Indian culture (desperately searching for anything but curry) and our quest for a better ‘cheesy music and aged British comedy orientated’ bar than Tight Bar.

GEO NISM Interns

Week One with the Bharti Foundation

We arrived in New Delhi on the 25th, two days before our first day of work. Our first taste of India was the surprisingly spacious and orderly airport, an impression entirely contradictory to our preconception of a lively and at times chaotic country. It only took us a short drive to get to our guesthouse on the periphery of Gurgaon, one of the myriads satellite cities of Delhi. The drive was probably the first real taste our weary and jetlagged selves experienced of the free-for-all, seemingly ruleless chaos they call roads. With cows one of many avid road-users. An endless chorus of car horns used not as an aggressive technique but more as a spatial awareness indicator. The next morning, we hailed an auto-rickshaw being pedantically cautious of fitting everyone in, before witnessing countless families squeezed in and hanging off the sides of these tiny motorised carriages. An extremely futuristic metro – miles better than the tube and Boston’s ‘T’ with far better security and even a women’s-only carriage – took us to the capital, even though we (the English interns) found it particularly odd that conversing on the metro is allowed. Some commuters even played music out loud, which we all consider a massive faux pas on tubes – it is basically a crime!

ella and andy

We opted for a safe and less intimidating introduction of Connaught Place, the former headquarters of the British Raj. Perhaps sticking to what we know, just for the first day, was a good idea when in India! Within the first 30 minutes of setting foot in the city, we were confronted with our first experience of celebrity: Ella was asked to pose with a whole family of Indians! Unfortunately, we didn’t get to keep the photo… but we were relieved none of us were blonde or God forbid ginger as the fascination would be at an entirely different level.

With the temperature edging 40 degrees and humidity at an unprecedented level, walking 9 andymiles was impressive with only a potato filled – yet delicious – pancake made of rice, a “masala dosa”, to sustain us. We managed to fit in 3 major attractions; including, an open-air observatory (the Jantar Mantar) and despite our best efforts we gained minimal understanding whilst it sadly dawned on us that people built these astrological instruments over 250 years ago, yet we could not even figure them out with the aid of simple descriptions. We also visited an incredibly beautiful and huge Sikh temple (Gurudwara Bangla Sahib), known for its golden dome and pool of water with purported healing properties. We girls came prepared with scarfs to cover our heads, yet the boys were forced to borrow not-so masculine sparkly embellished headwear (see picture!). When naively inquiring into a painting of an enormous diamond, in fact the largest in the world, we were told the British took it and it now lives in one the queen’s crowns. Our guide politely claimed that India had gifted it to the British, despite our unspoken collective understanding that they had of course stolen it…

Our first day as Bharti’s interns was full of surprises: firstly our office building actually resembled a giant greenhouse palace (see pictures) even containing a decorative fountain in its centre. Our day being filled with continuous free coffees and a never-ending buffet-style canteen, we were welcomed by the whole Quality Support Programme team, who were all extremely helpful and hospitable. We then spent the first few days trying
to grasp the incredibly complex Indian education system, as well as the different tools employed in primary research, and we have been commissioned several presentations to show our understanding. So far, so good!

GEO Bharti Interns