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Interning at the Bharti Foundation – India

Mhairi from Newcastle and Annie from Boston University tell us about their internship with the Bharti Foundation in India as part of our global internship programme. To find out more about the programme, exclusively for Newcastle University Business School Stage 2 students, visit our website.

Week 1

When we landed we were pleasantly surprised with the organization of Delhi airport. It was super easy to navigate around and we were picked up with no problems at all by the driver from the guesthouse. The roads in Delhi are chaotic to say the least-cows, dogs, people, rickshaws, motorcycles, lorries, funnily enough even cars, were squeezing themselves into any available space on the “road”. The people at the guesthouse are so hospitable and friendly and there is a wide variety of food choices- no Delhi belly yet!

The second day we decided to visit Ambience Mall due to Annie’s lack of everything (Air China lost her bag). We hailed a rickshaw which was an experience in itself. This is the first time we realized how foreigners get ripped off- make sure you agree the price before you get in the rickshaw! Security is very strict at the mall, there are metal detectors and men with intimidating rubber gloves… every brand name you could find in the UK and USA was there.

First day of work: Our office is at the headquarters of Airtel and it’s been considered one of the best places to work in Delhi. We would all agree- it’s very modern, well air-conned and has unlimited free tea, coffee and biscuits. The people here are so friendly and helpful and very keen to give us advice on the do’s and don’ts of Delhi. It’s a very chilled and stress free environment, whenever a meeting takes place, phones are always going off which helped to relax us when we gave our initial presentation.

The cafeteria is amazing, it has a huge variety of food, from Subway to an Indian buffet to a Costa Coffee-we are spoilt for choice. People come and go as they please to the office, mainly to avoid rush hour which we love because it means a lie in! This week we got our first taste of monsoon season which is great for bringing the temperature down however not so great if you get caught out in it…don’t think even an umbrella would have saved us.

We ventured out to CyberHub which is this huge fancy outdoor place with loads of bars and restaurants ranging from Nandos and Dunkin Donuts to Indian food- we went for Hard Rock Café to to mix it up a bit from the usual curry. Looking forward to getting out to explore Delhi this weekend.

Week 2

 

After an exciting first week settling in at the office, we were all raring to get out and explore. Friday night we found ourselves back at the familiar Cyberhub. Drinks in Cyberhub are only slightly cheaper than Britain, however be warned as Sam wasn’t too happy to find that his basic beer was more expensive than the girls’ fancy cocktails.

On Saturday we took the very easy to use metro into Delhi-every hour is rush hour on the metro so be prepared to get extra close to the locals. When we got out of the station we were bombarded with rickshaw drivers and taxi drivers insisting on us taking their cab. We got talking to one overly friendly driver who convinced us to walk with him down several shady side streets to his “cab” before we eventually came to our senses and remembered the golden rule our parents had drilled into us from a young age… An Ola cab (very similar to Uber) later and we finally got to do some sightseeing-our first destination was India Gate. We experienced lots of staring and are featuring in many an Indian family photo. The buzz of Indian fame quickly wore off just as the heavens opened and once again we were umbrella-less and drenched to the bone-refreshing though! We’d been advised to go and see the President’s House so ordered an Ola and were on our way. We rocked up to the high security gates and rolled down the window to ask them to open them for us but we were saddened to learn you need permission from the Prime Minister to get in??????? Didn’t Modi know we were coming?????

A couple of hours undergoing the chaos in Delhi absolutely drained us so we called it a day and went back to the hotel and got Dunkin Donuts delivered instead. Baby steps to sight seeing in Delhi…

Back to work on the Monday saw us do a mini practice research project which involved us making questionnaires and then giving another presentation. We also got to enjoy all the June birthdays in the office with a little party downstairs with lots of cake and nibbles which allowed us to mix with the rest of the Bharti employees. Later in the week we went back to Ambience Mall to go try out an Indian cinema-they have spicy popcorn!! As we all got comfy in our fancy recliner chairs an announcement was made, “ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the national anthem!” All taken aback by this we were slow to make it our feet but did so awkwardly and confused whilst everyone around us belted out the Indian song…it was a funny experience.

We’ve been given our official project details so the hard work has begun and 2 weeks of field work to look forward to get us out and exploring more rural India- so no more donut deliveries for us…

Week 3

 

This week was full of travelling, sight seeing and very little air conditioning. At the weekend we hired a driver and took a day trip to Agra to see the famous Taj Mahal. We ended up being persuaded (he followed us around until we agreed) to get a guide, however, although none of us were that fussed about the history, he was a fab personal photographer and knew all the key snap spots so it paid off. The Taj was really impressive especially with all its hidden illusions, was well worth the 5 hour drive there and back. After that we made a quick trip to Agra Fort, which was massive, and then headed on home.

 

 

That same night, we decided to explore some of the Delhi nightlife…and that is when we realised that there is nothing more fun than partying with Indians. The next morning, we decided to take a tour around Delhi. We went on a ‘Hop on-Hop off’ bus, where we first stopped at Delhi Haat. Here, there were various choices of almost all cuisines of food. There were also many small shops where we decided to buy souvenirs and practice our bargaining skills. Our next stop was at Humayun’s Tomb which was uniquely and beautifully constructed. The vibe was so calming here that we just sat and enjoyed the view on the grass. Finally, we stopped at the Red Fort where we got swarmed by many Indians who wanted to take selfies with us. Shockingly, we were the only visible foreigners there. We decided to wrap up our journey here because we realized we had to catch a train at 7 the next morning!

This week we the interns, along with our coordinator Jitesh, ventured to the rural areas of India, investigating the impact of teachers’ training. After a 6-hour train ride (more comfortable than sitting in an airplane), we arrived at Amritsar, Punjab. Exhausted though we were, it was worthwhile to visit the Jallianwala Bagh, a memorial of national importance, and the legendary Golden Temple, a place of worship. What amazed us is not only that the architectures and walkways are built stunningly, but also that the pious devotees will wait in line for hours to visit the interiors of the Temple and get blessed by the priest. In order to show respect, girls and boys all had to cover our hairs with scarfs.

Out in the rural schools in Punjab we were certainly challenged by the language barrier, especially when conducting interviews and focus groups with students and teachers! Fortunately, Jitesh was on hand to help us out with our research and he also showed us a variety of excellent places to eat in the evenings, not all heros wear capes. Jitesh wanted to show us the Pakistan border as there is an aggressive military ceremony each night which usually ends with people both sides of the border shouting abuse at each other. However, the evening’s proceedings were cut short as an extremely dramatic monsoon swept in flooding the stadium and everyone left earlier than anticipated wading through the flood, the cleanliness of this water was very questionable which sped up our retreat to the taxi. The schools we visited were scattered across Punjab and we had several long car journeys to get to the schools, looking out the window of our air-conditioned car gave us a particularly interesting insight into rural life in India which is definitely a contrast to life back at home.

Overall, we had an extremely busy week, our visits to schools was exhausting but well worth the effort, the kids were great fun too as we played with them and posed for countless of selfies on demand.

Week 4

This week has been fairly quiet as it has involved long days at the office collaborating all of our data we had collected from our week in Punjab last week. We had over 100 graphs, tables and pie charts to fit into a brief presentation next week. After work one day, the girls decided to go and see a Hindi rom com at the cinema. After the vigorous security search when we entered the mall we were greeted with it again going into the cinema. Unlike back home there is no way of sneaking food in as you have to leave your bag behind if you get caught with snacks. Annie found this out the hard way!

After the cinema, we decided we wanted to take a break from the normal curry, roti and rice. We found ourselves back at the famous Cyber Hub. There, we saw a Taco Bell…the British were completely clueless on what it was and eventually discovered how much they are missing out on amazing Mexican fast food.

This week was also Annie’s 21st birthday! We celebrated by ordering an Oreo cake and various other desserts (or as the British say, pudding) …and yes, we got desserts delivered right to our door.

On Friday after our dinner at California Pizza Kitchen, we happened to see a typical Indian concert where the bands were playing hard rock music but the audience didn’t seem to be quite engaged (probably because of the heat??). After all, this was another interesting experience, besides listening to the Hindi music on radios on the roads everyday.

Over the weekend, we went to a unique restaurant. There, they made a dish called “Dodha Brownie Bath Tub”, and when they served it, it was literally brownies in a bathtub. They added in chocolate foam to make the bubbles, and this was probably the best brownie dish we have ever had. The most interesting part was the vessels they served our drinks in. One was served in dried ice, so it was smoking when we got it. And another was served in a glass mug, which is odd for a cocktail. The views from the restaurant were exceptional as we were sitting on the rooftop.

 

After this we decided to see what else Delhi nightlife had to offer and ventured out further and found ourselves at another bar. There was some fun dancing and, by Indian standards, some expensive drinks! We danced with some very enthusiastic Indians and had a bit of a laugh with them and found their enthusiasm very entertaining.

Two more weeks to go!

Week 5

Mhairi tell us about her penultimate week

Again, this week has been filled with busy, long days at the office trying to finalise our report which is currently 95 pages !! A lot of cutting down to do in the next few days. At the weekend the girls decided to head to the salon for some well deserved pampering one afternoon (we’d planned just spending a couple of hours there, however, being India timings, a couple of hours turned into 7 and we didn’t leave till 8pm!) We each treated ourselves to a hair spa (basically getting your hair washed with a fancy head massage), a manicure (Indian version involves an arm massage and getting your knuckles professionally cracked), a pedicure, and a facial treatment (the staff not only massaged your face thoroughly, but also massaged your back). Notably, the Glow Facial is worth having a try since the staff is very experienced of revitalizing your face while making you relaxed at the same time. Although Annie’s sensitive skin did end up being irritated a bit, it did become softer and smoother afterwards.

After the spa, we went to another restaurant that had a rooftop bar in Sector 29 Market. Loads and loads of bars and restaurants there and a camel to ride if you got bored.

On Sunday evening we got the sleeper train to Jodhpur from Delhi for the final part of our field work, which was certainly an experience to behold. We had 5 spaces on the train and there were 3 beds in very close proximity so there was a random Indian man in amongst us and Jitesh. I had an odd experience when I was woken up by someone pulling on my arm, I was naturally very confused especially when I realised I didn’t recognise who it was. Luckily they just walked away and I went back to sleep, they must have thought I was in their bed or something. Anyway, we arrived in Jodhpur safe and sound with a reasonable nights sleep ready for our final week!

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