Tola Adesola gives a week-by-week account of her month-long internship working in our India Office in the heart of New Delhi.
My first week was brilliant! All potential nerves were long settled through constant contact and correspondence, so I felt at ease long before my first day. It didn’t take me long to settle in to my new routine. Working hours in India are from 10am to 6pm, which is only one hour different from the UK. The office was very small and cosy and everyone was friendly so the atmosphere at work was great. I didn’t stay too far away and it only took me 30 minutes to get to work each day (which includes the walk to and from the metro!).
The office was located in great area very close to Janpath market, which I was able to visit often on my lunch breaks, as well as the centre of Connaught Place which is full of high street stores and a beautiful park.
The office environment was great to work in. While going about my work conducting thorough research and making numerous calls, I always had bottled water and was served tea throughout the day. Every lunchtime, Pinkyla (the executive assistant with whom I shared an office) made a great effort to have me try all the different Indian foods. This was a great learning experience as I didn’t now know how varied and vast the different cultures of India were! I tried delicacies from the south and the west.
During my stay, a very large festival known as ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ was taking place, which lasts for 10 days and celebrates Ganesha. It is widely celebrated in the west of India and as my host is originally from Mumbai this was celebrated greatly in the home I stayed at.
At the weekend, I managed to visit Khan Market, a very upscale market in Delhi known as being one of the richest markets in the world. I also visited most of the tourist attractions in Delhi such as the Lotus Temple, Delhi Gate, Qutb Minar and Gandhi Smriti.
By week two I was fully engrossed in the research I was conducting. As response was slow, it required patience and determination. By the second week I was seeing an improvement in my communication skills as well as my ability to innovative. As time was limited, I quickly learnt that if a certain method was not working I needed to change it and come up with a new approach. My weekly check-ins with Ellen in the University office as well as corresponding with Aprajita and Pinkyla in the Delhi office reassured me and gave me the confidence I needed to act upon my ideas. I also learnt that I had to change my way of speaking and adjust my approach depending on who I was conversing with.
My lunchtime adventures continued as I explored nearby areas, and Aprajita and Pinkyla were very kind and brought in different home cooked meals for me to try every day.
We had lunch at Parikrama, an amazing Indian restaurant that revolves! I was able to view Delhi and see the beauty of the city at various angles (as well as try more new Indian food).
At the weekend I was able to travel out of Delhi to Agra and experience the beauty that is one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal! It was a two-hour drive from Delhi but it really was worth it. Learning about the history and culture of India was very interesting.
By this week, I had arranged and scheduled a fair number of phone calls and Skype calls, so work was taking a positive turn. The results of my research were picking up and everything was running much more smoothly than at the beginning.
I also felt immersed in the new culture I had been introduced to. My host’s daughter was an actress and had acted in a few films, so I found myself watching a lot of Bollywood films and reading the Bollywood tabloids! It was very interesting learning about Bollywood and the different movie stars.
During lunchtimes, I was a frequent visitor to the Cottage Factory, also known as the Cottage Emporium, which sold everything you could think of. One lunchtime Aprajita and I decided to have lunch at the Cottage Café which sold heathy smoothies and sandwiches.
At the weekend, I visited Dilli Haat & Sarojini Nagar market where I bought some jewellery and a sari. My host family taught me how to wear a sari and took me to their local temple.
By this week I had finished the bulk of my research, and I began quantifying my data and recording it in my report. I still took a few calls, but for the most part I was dwindling down. However, my last meeting was in the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) with Dr A. Didar Singh. He is not only an employer but also an alumnus which was very insightful and helpful for my research.
As it was my last week we had an office leaving meal at a Chinese restaurant, which was very tasty – it was Chinese food with an Indian twist.
I also visited Lagpat Nagar Market, which was not too far from where I was staying, and had henna done. It was a nice way to end my trip!