It seems like yesterday that I showed up to India severely under dressed in a bright red University of Maryland sweatshirt (I try to blend in with the locals when I travel).
This has been an incredible journey. I wanted a program and location that not only interested me academically but would also explore the indigenous culture and I definitely got that out of this trip.
The people I have met along the way are what I will remember the most. From my first ride in a “Delhi Helicopter” with our crazy driver JP to Bhopal, our driver and guide out to Jaipur. The anecdotes from executives we met with at Avery Dennison and Tata Steel detailing the evolution of business in India, and the amazing mission the founders of the Ashraya Initiative have taken on. I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet with so many amazing people on this trip.
The class got together for final presentations and a wrap up meeting over lunch before folks start heading to the airport for flights home. It’s going to be weird not moving lock stock with thirty other people. On a more personal note, I haven’t been more than 15 feet away from Justin since we boarded a plane together in D.C. nineteen days ago.
While I was checking out of the Taj, I realized my next breakfast would probably not be a 5-star all you can eat buffet complete with bottomless double espressos. The accommodations within the program have been great but I have to admit that I’m glad I came over a few days early to explore parts of India on my own. That first morning we must have sat on the side of a traffic circle for 15 minutes watching the cars jockey for position. It was like television! I still don’t fully understand the bucket in the shower. The good news is I got to experience a little bit of everything while I was here.
Our flight didn’t leave until 5 AM so we had plenty of time to kill after our final group lunch. A group of six of us left our bags with the concierge and headed out for one more afternoon of sightseeing around Mumbai. We followed up a trip to a Hindu temple and public garden with a stop at a commuter train station just before rush hour. Wow! And that’s all I’ll say about that. The stragglers still waiting behind for late flights decided to coordinate for one last group dinner. We met on the roof deck of the InterContinental hotel along the waterfront for dinner, beers and one more Indian sunset.
After PriceWaterhouse Cooper finished tallying up our tab Justin and I headed back to the Taj, picked up our bags and headed across Mumbai to the brand new Four Seasons hotel to kill some more time before our flight. A couple classmates were up on the roof top bar with local friends.
During the first half of my trip I tended to focus on the foreignness of everything around me. Why are there campfires everywhere? Who owns that cow? As the trip went on I started to observe more and more material culture similarities between the U.S. and India especially among the young people. It’s a little ironic that I went to India to learn about this foreign culture and how to conduct business there and one of the last things I experienced was something as American as apple pie, a nightclub with hip hop music, over priced drinks and people trying to be seen.
When we landed in Delhi I remember telling locals that we were here for twenty days. The unanimous response was something along the lines of, “you’ll barely see India in 20 days!” I know that I saw and experienced quite a bit, but I understand now what they were talking about. I really only got the tip of the iceberg and for that reason I’ll have to come back.
It’s been an amazing 20 days!