A candid description of my trip from NYC to rural India and finally to U. of Michigan, Ross School of Business. Go Blue!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Home and Away

Well, I've been back in the states for nearly a week and a half now, and I am still adjusting. I've gone from a culture where people my age are married with 5 kids, don't eat meat and don't show their knees in public, to a place full of binge drinking, mini skirts and constant networking. It has been quite overwhelming to say the least, but I am enjoying every minute of it. Here's a recap of what's been going on:

Saying my goodbyes in Udaipur was incredibly hard. I had really gotten to know my Udaipur host family in those last few weeks and will miss them greatly. They are such a cute family and took such good care of me. I plan to keep in touch with them, especially about the marble importing.

The hardest goodbye by far was with Namrata. I know that if we were in the same country she would be a best friend and she is such an amazing person. Luckily my mom has a ton of calling cards left over so I plan to chat with Namrata as much as possible. I miss her so much already.

The last week in India I stayed in Jaipur for three days and did some sightseeing. I was pretty much on my own the whole time (aside from the lovely cockroaches that visited me in my hotel room, and one even somehow accompanied me back to Jersey- however he died shortly thereafter from culture shock and turnpike pollution). Jaipur is the biggest city in Rajasthan and kind of nice but not nearly as nice as my beloved Udaipur. It's really crowded and I got bothered a lot by men- rickshaw drivers, random beggars, etc. Men would quite frequently basically walk into me in order to bump into my chest. Didn't appreciate that so much.

On Wednesday I took a bus back to Delhi where my host brother from Dungarpur, Chickoo, met me. He took me to his Architecture School campus where I freshened up and then we did a little Delhi sightseeing- non-tourist style. It was a holiday that day which was great because the streets, particularly Connaught Place were empty. We did a lot of shopping and bargaining which was so fun although I didn't have much room left in my suitcase to buy as much as I would have liked. We went to a coffee shop and Huka bar that was right across the street from the famous IIT. Then we said our goodbyes and I hopped a rickshaw to the airport. The flight back was pretty uneventful once I got past security.

I was back in New Jersey on thursday August 17th and then went for a fun happy hour in NYC that night to say goodbye to my friends. Then bright and early Monday morning I headed out to Ann Arbor for the next adventure of my life: Business School!

It's been so much fun so far but classes don't start until tomorrow- when reality will set in. I've met so many cool people, lots of people from India and even a good group of people who are also interested in microfinance. As of right now I've decided to continue focusing on microfinance and have already signed up for a Bottom of the Pyramid class based on CK Prahalad's book. Saturday was also the first football game, which was very cool. I have never experienced anything like that before, especially since my undergrad wasn't a big football school. 109,000 people were in the stadium that day!

Anyway, just to finish up my blog (for now at least) here's a little bit of reflection on my trip:

Greatest Moment- Completing my case study book for PEDO

Scariest Moment- Probably waiting in the dark at the Mathura train station that night I took the overnight train to Delhi.

Craziest Moment- Getting surrounded by violent barking dogs in Jaisalmer.

Coolest Moment- Monsoon palace in Udaipur at Sunset

Funnest moment- bargain shopping with Jon, Liz, YeYe, and Ryan in Pushkar

What I'll miss most- the people, the people, the people!!! Particularly Namrata, Baby, Shweta, the Mehtas

Anyway, thanks so much for reading along over these last few months and feel free to email me should you have any questions or comments. I may continue updating off and on in the future as I continue to get involved in the field of Microfinance.
thanks again and Namaste.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

My bedroom in Dungarpur

My bedroom in Dungarpur
Originally uploaded by jennif102.

Me in a Sari w/ Mr. Vyas

Me in a Sari w/ Mr. Vyas
Originally uploaded by jennif102.

Sweta and I play dress up on the last night

My host mom in Udaipur and I at Fateh Sagar lake

My bathroom in Dungarpur, told you I was roughing it!

My bathroom in Dungarpur, told you I was roughing it!

Goodbye Udaipur!

Wow, I can't believe the internship has come to an end. I just submitted my final report to my supervisor at PEDO, an impact assessment about women from the Self-Help Groups selling Hindustan Limited Products through a program called Shakti. Hindustan Limited is owned by Unilever, and they make stuff like soap, shampoo, toothepaste, etc. Anyway, I don't have much time to write so here's a quick recap of what's going on:

I said goodbye to everyone at PEDO on Tuesday. The week before, Mr. Vyas' mother passed away. She was living with us and was a sweet lady, but she was in great pain ever since her husband died earlier in the year and she had a paralyzing stroke from the shock. As a result, Mr. Vyas, his brother and their wives had to go to this mother's village for a two week mourning period. So unfortunately I didn't get to see much of him toward the end of my internship but he kept me busy nonetheless. After a week, all the men in the family had to shave their heads as it's traidition amongst the Brahmins after a death. For the last week in Dungarpur Baby, my host sister, had to go to a microfinance conference in Chennai, which is in western India. So with my supervisor and his wife gone, the only people in the house were me, Sweta, my host brother Atikool (back from Russia), and my two little host cousins, Hillary and Maggie. On Tuesday we went to Mr. Vyas' birth village where the family has to stay until August 15th when the mourning period ends. It was good to see everyone one last time and say goodbye properly. Even my servant was there helping out so I got to thank him in person. As rough as adjusting to life in Dungarpur was for me, it was such an amazing experience and the family was so wonderful in how they opened up their home and hearts to me. Specifically, I will miss Sweta (host sister-in-law) and Baby (host sister) the most. On my last night, Sweta dressed me up in a Sari, which I'll post a picture of.

Back in Udaipur, it's been one last week of hanging out with the interns and friends I've made here. We had a fancy goodbye dinner, where I unfortunately had allergic reaction number 5 (apparently fancy dining is a culprit for nut allergies). I took a meeting with a guy from one of the NGOs who is setting up a new microfinance group within his organization, and I am hoping to help out remotely and maybe return for a project over my christmas break or next summer. I've also spent a bunch of time with the weekend host family and getting to know them better has been great. My host father owns a marble mine, and myself and the other Capitalistic Intern, Olen, are going to hopefully work with him on setting up a nice marble importing business in America.

Today, most of the interns left for a flight to Delhi where they all will scatter and return to their various parts of the world. We had one last slumber party at Namrata's two nights ago, and saying goodbye was tough. We had such a great group of people and everyone got along. They are all wonderful people and I feel priveleged to have gotten to know them. I only hope we all stay in touch.

Now today, there are a few of us left behind and hanging around. I had to scratch my Goa trip because between flight costs, monsoon season, and India Independence Day, it just got too difficult and expensive given the short time frame I have for travel. Instead, I am staying here until tomorrow night when I'll take a bus to Jaipur, the biggest city in Rajasthan. I'm excited to see it because it's obviously a not to be missed destination. Hopefully I'll meet some interesting people there to keep me company. Then on Wednesday morning, I'll take a bus to Delhi. My host brother Chickoo from my Dungarpur family is studying Architecture in Delhi and we plan to meet up at the bus station and hang out all day. Then, ta 10:45 PM I catch hoepfully what will be a high security and safe flight home to the big NJ. I get in at 4:35 in the morning and plan to be out on the town in NYC by happy hour that evening.....so if you want to meet up you know my number.

I'll try posting again from Jaipur to reflect more on my internship experience and will load some pictures up above.