Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Shirt

Here is my first attempt at sharing valuable insights to a Global Network.

Friday, August 19, 2011

International Congress in Kenya!

I am now about an hour away from boarding the plane for Kenya. To give you a snap shot of the experience about happen, consider these numbers:

63rd Annual AIESEC International Congress.
10 days at the MMU Hotel and Conference Centre, metres from Nairobi National Park.
Up to 50 000 virtual participants.  tune in Live starting August 20th
111 countries with delegates in attendance

This is when we get to see who is in our network, what we have done this year, which direction we are going, and why AIESEC is relevant to the world we live in.

Pretty stoked. http://www.ic2011kenya.org/

What's the Difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut?

Two weeks.  And being in Oman. I have two awesome haircut experiences on my trip so far.  

1. I wanted to get a haircut for 10 rupees (20 cents) under a mango tree (UMT) in Chandigarh, but the girls at my trainee house were very strongly opinionated about the risks (diseases...).  As an alternative, they offered to cut my hair for free on the balcony, which was beside a Guava tree (BGT), so I accepted.  Now, when you get offered a free haircut, you lose all ability to provide insight to the style and quality.  Lets just say two sets of safety kitchen scissors takes a damn long time to get a trim, and you end up with racing stripes on one side of your head.

2. I wanted to visit a 'Turkish Barber'.  For 2.5 OR (Omani Rials) you can get one of the most precise haircuts known to man.  They are artists, not barbers.  The second part of this epic hair cut was the straight razor shave.  I purposely held off on shaving for a few days just to get the full value out of the experience.  I quite literally did not see stubble for 3 days afterwards.  I suspect lasers were used.  A complete face and head massage were included and the experience turned me into a better man.

The Middle East During Ramadan

This is a unique experience that is completely different from anything I have ever witnessed.  As Oman is a devout Muslim country, the rules are followed closely and I am amazed.

1. No eating or drinking during the day.  If you are caught eating in public, I was told that you could be fined and put in jail (for a little while) to learn your lesson.  All those times when out of habit you would just stop by the water fountain or grab a bottle of water are when this rule becomes most apparent.

2. Everything is closed during the day.  Stores were open earlier in the morning and then close from about 10 am until 7 pm.  The night is filled with feasting and socializing.

I wouldn't say that I followed all the rules, but I respected them and followed the routine.  We wouldn't eat all day and then all gather for a dinner, and then a post dinner dinner again around midnight.  Any sightseeing we did during the day made sightseeing in India look crazy.  It was like going through ghost towns, there were no cars on the road, no people at the beaches.  Ramadan, very interesting experience.

Landed in Oman! Hello Raf, Luxury Cars and the MC Villa!

O MAN

I never thought that I would be writing from the Sultanate of Oman to the good people following the blog.  It is so cool to go to a country you know absolutely nothing about.

Oman is located immediately beside United Arab Emirates and is one of two Absolute Monarchy's in the world.  The country is fairly wealthy, clean and peaceful.  The climate is desert hot with a nice sea breeze coming of the ocean and the water is warm and highly swim-able.

First noticeable difference I made: it is not India.

The pace of life in Oman is like going in reverse compared to India.  For the first time in recent memory, I am just chilling.  This country is like a desert beach where everyone has a car, air conditioning and not much to do during the day.  The people are relatively laid back, and there are relatively few of them.  Only 3 million people in Oman.

I was greeted by my friend Rafael, who was the AIESEC Laurier national coach from AIESEC Canada last year and advised us on all sorts of obstacles.  His team of 4 people on the AIESEC Oman national team live in a 3 story villa in what would be the suburbs of Muscat (the Capital).  A couple interns also live in the villa and add a nice spice to the place.

I noticed about Oman was that luxury cars are quite prevalent, the people are quite humble and friendly, and Shawarma, Sheesha and Fruit Juice is incredible, accessible and cheap.

Bargaining - How to get ripped off and learn from it!

While travelling, you will likely come across some items that catch your eye. Once a vendor sees you have some money in your wallet or a credit card, you are in their playing field. Now, before making any purchases, there are a couple rules you should follow:

Question yourself
What would a similar item cost back home if you bought it at a normal store?  If you don't know, then don't buy it.  You are likely going to get caught in a rationalization that "well I would never be able to get it back home." Fact: we live in a globalized world, you can get anything anywhere.  If you can't, then it probably isn't legal.

Is this the only place in town that sells these sorts of things? It almost 100% isn't.  If you act disinterested and start walking out to look elsewhere, you now have the power.  I have seen merchants, who with complete conviction of their selling price 5 minutes prior, cut their price three quarters as you walk out the door.  As said earlier, this is their wonderland, you are no different than every other silly tourist that walks through their shop.

Did I plan on buying this when I set out today? If not, then you will most likely get caught walking away with something you don't need.  Gifts are always nice, and when a good one comes along it that seems perfect, walk away.  The vendors can smell 'the giving spirit' and will butter you up like a grilled cheese sandwich.  If it was a perfect gift, then it will be the first thing you go looking for at the beginning of your next day.  Sleep on it.

Bring a Local
“Don’t shop anything inside or outside the Taj, they might be very expensive, in the evening I will personally go with you so they can keep the price low”.  This is what a friend of mine warned before venturing out into the tourist world.  What did I do? Well I rationalized buying a marble picture frame because I had a perfect picture to put in it.  What was I told when I returned, that it was worth 1/10 the price I paid for it.  Locals know the reality best, and if they don't, well then they are at least good at bargaining in the local language.

Everybody is Getting Paid

Classic trap: When you hire a guide to show you the Amber Fort, the Taj Mahal, the Golden Temple or any other point of interest, you will wonder an hour later why you are standing in a Textile store, a spice shop, a marble shop, a Restaurant or Hotel even though you didn't ask to be.  This is because the guides get a small percentage of whatever your gross purchase is.  What does this also mean, well it means that they have no interest in you getting a "great deal".  On the way to the store, they will tell you about the high quality and that the place is fixed price.  When you arrive, you will likely get a sit down chat about the creation process and given some tea or juice to get comfortable.  This is the best trap because they have you convinced that their is nothing else like the store, and that now is the only time to get such quality goods.  Ever wonder how many stores exist in a country with over a billion people? Tons!  

So, when you walk out and are reassured by your driver and guide that you made an awesome purchase with complete sincerity, you probably got ripped off.  The conflict of interest is designed into the system.  

Summary

I will never know for sure how much of a 'tourist premium' I paid for various trinkets, gifts and personal items, but I can assure you that every time I went shopping, the same pattern existed.  As a Canadian, I haven't been trained to low ball prices and threaten to walk out of stores or leave something I wanted to buy behind.  I now know, through experience (and a couple hundred dollars of being over-charged at least), that when I shop in a bargaining country, I will:

1. Question my Purchases before even thinking about getting out the wallet or credit card (maybe even leave the cash/credit at the hotel)
2. Bring a Local, or at the very least a Ukrainian (they are insane bargainers from what I witnessed)
3. Know that the same convincing routine is rinsed and repeated over and over, and that there is a conflict of interest between you and your guide/driver.

Get a Suit Tailored in Chandigarh!

For about $375 Canadian, you can find yourself in a tailored suit, tailored shirt, nice tie, new shoes and matching belt.  How did such a miracle come about? Iqbal Sons Tailors, that is how.

The whole process begins with buying your fabric for the suit and shirt.  Wool suits are the norm and the is a full range of fabrics from 4000 Rupees and up.  There are textile shops all over, but I went with the recommendation of Raymond Fabrics.  This is a fabric chain and charges a little more, but the quality, service and selection are all well above average.  Once you choose your suit fabric, shirt fabric and the matching tie, you get to visit the Sons.

At Iqbal Sons, located in sector 17 shopping area (near a Sony Erikson showroom), you will get completely measured and asked what kind of style, cut, number of buttons etc.  It's a cool experience.  They take about a week to finish an order and charge about 3000 rupees ($60) to do a suit ($5) for a shirt, but they do a cracking job.

Matching shoes and belt to round off the equation, and now you can dress like you own that suit. 

Blogging Blitz

For the first time in weeks I have a few hours to catch up on my blogs.  I'm not going for quantity over quality, just trying to say everything on my mind before life gets ahead of me again.  You may notice a lack of pictures.  They exist and are quite possibly my favorite collection to date, but the upload speeds are questionable, so I will put them in the posts retroactively.

Now this isn't a season of prison break, so pace yourselves.  I'll be without Internet from now until September 1st, so I'm trying to pre-compensate.

Enjoy

Living in Suite Sixteen: Hand wash your Laundry!

Just a heads up to any interns arriving in India.  You have to get your hands dirty to get your clothes (almost) clean!

I had a nice little post ready about my flawless step by step system to hand washing clothing.  One learned through trial and error, over soaping and under soaping, with full body rashes and smelling like french fries, with a hilarious sun burn and a nearly a week in commando mode.

But instead, I will just let you know that there aren't washing machines in the trainee houses in Chandigarh, at least not in Suite Sixteen Panchkula, so prepare to be humbled folks.  Its a cool experience, unless you are coming from somewhere where there are no washing machines, then its a normal experience.  

Agra and the Taj Mahal

For those of you following the blog closely, you remember the plans to visit the Taj Mahal under the moonlight?

Well, of all the days in the year that I could be in Agra (2/365) and all the days that are a full moon (4/30), I also managed to coincide with Ramadan (1/12).  During Ramadan (called Ramzan for India), night entry to the Taj Mahal is not allowed.  I explored the possibilities of getting a view (helicopter, cannon, large trampoline) but each guide, driver, and local assured me this was not possible.  That said, anything is possible in India.

While we were visiting the Agra Fort during the day, I saw a small crack in a wall along the highway about 2 km from the Taj.  Through this opening, you could shimmy up on to some construction material and get a long distance snap of the Taj.  Now, I will be honest, the picture was crap, but under the influence and under the intent of seeing the Taj at night, I got my satisfaction.

Seeing the Taj Mahal from both the site itself (incredible) and from the distance of Agra fort (maybe five minutes drive away), we caught some beautiful sights and a powerful sense of something greater than any one individual.

Honest opinion, the outside of the Taj was incredible, but the inside creeped me out, as it was a tomb, there was a scary undertone that I can't quite explain.

Staying in Agra - M House Hotel is 5 minutes walk from the Taj

On our recent trip to see the Taj Mahal, we checked into a great hotel in Agra.  A fellow AIESEC member and his family are the owners of 'M House Hotel', only a five minute walk from the Taj Mahal and a 5 minute taxi ride from the Agra Fort.

The rooms were 1200 Rupees per night, which we were able to put either 2 or 3 people into comfortable.  For what worked out to about $6 per person, this was an excellent value.

Amar and his Mom
On the ground floor of the Hotel is the Qaisar Bagh Restaurant, I tried the Butter Chicken and was quite pleased.  The hotel and restaurant were clean and comfortable, affordable and friendly.  I would strongly recommend this stay to anyone, AIESECer or not.

Call M House - +91-0562-3242800 (www.hotelmhouse.com)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ever considered 3 months in India?

To be honest, about 2 years ago I had decided I wouldn't travel to Asia because it was too far out of my comfort zone.   Even if you had asked me 12 months ago where I would be now, I don’t think I would have described the following:


I was an intern at an 850 student public school in a town adjacent to Chandigarh, India in the Punjab / Haryana state. My daily routine included arriving to St. Soldier’s Divine Public School around 7:55 am, where I was given my schedule for the day.

Each day I started out with 1 hour of an interest activity. This included coaching Basketball and Field Hockey. From 10 am to 2:30 pm, I rotated around classes from 2nd Grade to 11th grade, where I shared global perspectives, taught effective public speaking skills, and strived to learn universal similarities of youth (and some Hindi too). 

School ran from Monday to Saturday, but allowed me the flexibility to travel on my weekends. In 10 weeks, I  travelled to Jaipur, Shimla, Amritsar, Kausali, Agra and Rishikesh.  I hiked through the Himalayas, did yoga with Gurus, visited ancient forts, and saw the Taj Mahal.  A monthly stipend covered my accommodation (a short 5 minute walk from the school), along with basic food costs. I lived with 15 interns from 9 other countries who worked at a variety of school’s and NGO’s. 

Sure, it may not revolve around the professional development or money making endeavours you would expect from a summer job, but I now have 10 weeks of developing as an open minded, global minded youth with a wallet full of photo’s, business cards (AIESEC helps with the professional side...) and memories to take home.

So, when I stated at the end of August last year that I would “get a summer’s experience working in India”, I may not have envisioned the description above, but I am proud to have done exactly that.

If you have a few months free and no plan this year, I know a school that might be of interest to you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Living in Suite Sixteen: Hot Feast!

An awesome Take-Out and Dine in spot in Sector 16 Panchkula (5 minute walk from the Suite Sixteen Intern House) is 'Hot Feast'. +919815100028

They have a good variety of Indian and Chinese snacks and meals.  Recommendations include:

  • Honey Chilli Potatoes
  • Tandoori Chicken
  • Chicken Fried Rice
  • Szechuan Chicken
  • Sweet and Hot Soup


For under 200 Rupees per person, you can get well enough food to go around.  The delivery is pretty fast too.  They know us by name and have always been friendly.

Here is the Menu:




Thursday, August 11, 2011

Physiotherapy, Accu-pressure and the 50 Rupee Massage

For all of those with aches, pains and sore muscles, I have come across a physiotherapy/accupressure/message spot that will fit even a student's budget.

One of the teachers at my school is an apprentice at a doctor's home office, and from 5 pm to 8 pm Monday to Friday, you can go for any sort of muscle therapy.  If you have any inquiries, please contact Mr. Fakhru Deen at +919988665330.

Now this is not a luxury spa, more of a small ground floor residence with a couple rooms, a half dozen patients, soothing yoga music, and a friendly doctor and his apprentices.  But for 50 to 100 Rupees per session (I've had my wrist treated for a soft-tissue injury, and a couple full body 20 minute massages) you can't help but feel good.  The treatment is for the ordinary Jane and Joe, sort of a social work initiative.

The home office is in sector 20-B, 1037 in Chandigarh.  It is about 5 minutes walk from the main market.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Learn the Language and Getting Around Chandigarh

Some Basic Vocab coming at ch'ya. It took me a couple months to realize that a basic knowledge of Hindi, about 100 words, is necessary to function here.  I have been able to survive off the following, and would recommend developing an awareness of the language before coming to India.  Once you get here, practice makes perfect.  These may not be perfectly spelled or pronounced, just English transliterations.

Being Polite

Please and Thank You: Don't even try the Hindi versions.  Most people just use English for these two expressions.

Greetings and Introductions:
You can even ride elephants in Chandigarh!

Namaste - A more formal greeting.
Aap Kaisi Hai - How are you?
Me Tik hu - I'm fine
Achhe Hai - I'm good
Bahut Badia Excellent
Aapka Nam kee ya haiWhat is your name?
Mera Nam “your Name” – My name is “your name”

Talk about the Weather:

Mosem Acha Hai - The climate is nice today
Bohat Gurmi Hai - Too hot today
Mosem Humus Hai -  Its humid today
Mosem Barish Hai  - Its raining today

Negotiating with the Auto Rickshaw Drivers.


A fact of life here is getting from point a to point b.  Over a 2 month period, you could easily be over-charged an accumulated 5000-10000 Rupees if you aren't prudent on the daily about your travels.  Here is some basic Lingo to get to know:

Kitne? - How Much?
Mujhe rate petta hai - I know the rate
Yahan tak janen ke "number" Rupees lagta hai. - To go to this place it costs on "number" Rupees
Ratt nehi hai, din hai - It is not night now, it is day now
Chello Chellay – Let’s go!
Bayan -Left
Daanyan - Right

One to NineEleven to NineteenTen to Ninety
EkGyaraDus
DosByaraBees
TeenTerraTees
CharChodaChalis
PanchPandraPachaas
CheyeSollaSaath
SaatSaatraSattar
AathAathraAssi
NoNabdeNabde

And you will most likely hear the word "Sau" (sow) every time you ask the price of an auto-rick shaw.  This means one hundred, and also means the price is probably 40.


To further assist with your negotiation tactics, I have put together a basic map.  I have a PDF version of this bad-boy on my phone for quick reference whenever I am out.  Once you can quick reference where you are going vs. where you are, you can start jumping in on group Rick-Shaws.  Jumping a group Rick Shaw on a major route should never cost more than 20 Rupees a person.

Download this and put it on your smartphone.  Or just print it :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Who wants to see the Taj under a full moon? August 13th!

So, as I have just booked a flight out of Delhi on the evening of August 14th, and I finish work on August 12th, there is a nice little 52 hour period lying between.

Turns out that there is a full moon on August 14th at 12:10 am and I am going to bust a move to get there.  This is going to take some serious effort, coordination and maybe some usage of the 'foreigner card' but I have the strong intent to see the Taj under a full moon!

Anybody who would like to join me, I've provided all the logistical info below. 

Taj Mahal Info:

Timings: Every Day, (except Friday), Sunrise to Sunset
Night, 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM (On Full moon night, two days before and two days after)

Day Fee: Rs 750 (Foreigners)
Rs 510 (Citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC Countries)
Rs 20 (Indian)
Entry Free for children below 15 years of age

Night Fee: Rs 750 (Adult, Foreign)
Rs 510 (Adult, Indian)
Rs 500 (Child 3-15 Years, Indian & Foreign)
Entry free for child below 3 years of age

The timings of visiting the Taj Mahal are set by the Archeological Survey of India. The Taj is opened all days of the week except for Fridays, when it is opened in the afternoon only for those who have to attend prayers at the Taj Mosque. The timings are from sunrise to sunset. Tickets are available throughout the day from the western and eastern gate, and at the southern gate tickets are available from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The tourists can spend any number of hours inside the Taj complex from sunrise to sunset.

Night viewing at the Taj Mahal, from 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM, is allowed only on five nights in a month: one, on the full moon night, two days before it and two days after it, except for Fridays. However, night viewing is limited to maximum 400 people per night, divided into eight batches of 50 each and each batch is allowed to visit for a maximum duration of 30 minutes. The tickets for night viewing have to be booked one day (24 hours) in advance from the booking counter located in the office of the Archeological Survey of India, Agra Circle, 22 The Mall, Agra, Uttar Pradesh in between 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.


Retrieved from http://www.tajmahal.org.uk/timings.html

Cultural Lunch

This past Saturday was the AIESEC Chandigarh Cultural Lunch.  From 12 pm to 4:30 pm a world of cultures and flavours was thrown into the  mixing pot, with some Panjabi spices of course.


"AIESEC Chandigarh is organizing Cultural Lunch for all its international trainees to give them an oppurtunity to showcase their culture, aswell as take a sneak peak into the various cultural backgrounds in India.

All international trainees were invited the event, participants dressed in their national clothes and the brought along cuisine prepared from their home country so that everyone could dig in to taste the world of flavor present here in Chandigarh."



The Lunch even got some coverage in the local news:



Chandigarh, July 30
The local chapter of AIESEC organised a cross-cultural lunch for people from 30 different countries in the city. Members from Russia, China, Ukraine, Poland, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, turkey, Germany, New Zealand and many other countries relished Indian food.
They came dressed in their country’s traditional attire. They danced to various numbers. AIESEC members ensured that the foreigners got the taste of Indian culture and food.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

22 hours in Rishikesh

Inside the Little Buddha Cafe
 With only two weekends remaining in India, it is now time to get aggressive on my checklist.  After a delicious cultural lunch in Chandigarh (more about this elsewhere), we had two options for a day trip.

1. Go to Shimla and explore.
2. Go to Rishikesh and explore.

Since I have already been up to Shimla, and I heard that Rishikesh offers adventure tours, we decided to go with plan b.  Just a heads up: This trip was jam packed, it's always wise to plan before leaving, and travelling with S. B. is directly correlated to extremes in physical/mental exhaustion and sheer hilariousness. 

5 of us agreed on Rishikesh about an hour before arriving at the bus terminal.  We had hopes of river rafting, bungee jumping, massages and spiritual/religious experiences.  Again, some pre-planning would have lead us to knowing that during the monsoon season (July to Mid-September), White water rafting, body surfing, cliff jumping and Bungee Jumping are closed due to high and dangerous water levels. The only options we came across on short notice were Jungle/Mountain Treks, Exploring the City, and Visiting Temples. 

Take a Dip in the River Ganges (a source waterfall)
Here are a few of the things I would recommend.

1. Hotel - Shri Sant Sewa Yatri Niwas - 200 Rupees each, Yoga at 7:30 am, overlooking the Ganges

2. Little Buddha Cafe - Slow Service, Delicious Food.

3. Jungle Trek from Temple down to Base of Mountain - 800 Rupees each, roughly 6 hours.  Includes a 15 km drive up the mountain.  Hike begins at the Shri Kunjapuri Temple at the peak of the mountain.  A trek through the jungle leads you to multiple waterfalls, rice-fields and small rural houses.  Booked at the Hotel.

4. Within the City - There are more temples than I can count, so I won't go into too much detail.  Just walk around and explore.  Also, there are a number of small markets where you can find Nepali trinkets and Indian Clothing.

Oh Man! Going to Muscat!

For anyone getting a visa for the summer in India, be aware that August 15th is Independence Day.  Not knowing this, I was given a 2.5 month working visa valid until... August 15th.  Until recently, I was planning on getting a one week extension so that I could fly to Mumbai and spend 5 days with the AIESEC India National Team before heading to the International Conference in Kenya.  Unfortunately, a trip to Delhi during office hours would be necessary to process the paperwork, and with only 2 weeks left in Chandigarh, I'm not willing to give up the opportunity cost of a day at school.  I will however squeeze in a trip to Agra on the last weekend before departing.

So, what to do?

Google says it looks pretty good.
Go visit Rafael Pilliard Hellwig in Muscat, Oman! I honestly never thought I would go to Oman, but am now super keen.  Entry visa can be obtained at the airport for up to a one month stay for about $15 CAN.  Oman is about halfway to Kenya from Delhi, and the cost of the Delhi-Muscat-Nairobi flight is only $40 different from the Delhi-Mumbai-Nairobi trip.

Flight is booked, accommodation confirmed, airport pick up confirmed, sunscreen packed.

I will start putting together my to-do list Oman Edition! 



Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer Regional Conference Epic

The first of its Kind in India.

I had the pleasure of being an International Facilitator of AIESEC India's Northeastern Summer Regional Conference.



For those who were there, you were part of an incredible experience that has my mind still deep in reflection about myself, our organization and the power of 150 high potential leaders collecting their minds over 3 intensive days in paradise.

A sincere thank you to the those who are proud to let me be a part of their AIESEC experience, I truly hope you live your words and realize your dreams. Thank you to the one who will provide belief if ever mine takes a vacation, words that resonate in my mind.  I now appreciate the difference between giving up and giving in, two very distinct concepts that I promise to share further.

This was the first AIESEC conference that I feel refreshed coming back from, emotionally and physically. Thank you to the Member Committee of AIESEC India, the Local's and Int'ls Facilitator Team, the AIESEC members who are so eager to learn, and the international delegates who took the plunge. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How about Indian Food Tonight? Basic Lingo.

Okay foodies, get some napkins, because this post is going to be delicious.  I am going to say it straight up, if you don't like Indian food, you don't know happiness.  The flavours here are so rich and distinct that they make Donald Trump look like your Uncle Lawrence.  Yeah, the one who you don't hear from much, the one who watches wheel of fortune and aspires to be an earthworm farmer.  That Uncle Lawrence.

Here are some words you will need to know to unlock the gateway to taste bud Vegas:

Aloo - One of your common vegetables - but you won't find these potatoes frenched and fried.  Often used as a stuffing in other dishes, like parantha's or samosa's, and spiced with turmeric..


Gobi - Another common vegetable, Cauliflower is often spiced or deep fried and provides a simple and delicious side dish.


Parantha/Chipati/Roti - A staple starch served with many dishes, this is like a thick tortilla/pita made of whole wheat flower.  They can be served plain, lightly covered in oil, or even stuffed.

Naan - Thank you president's choice for providing a pale comparison to the original in Canadian super markets.  The real stuff is doughy, fluffy, crispy, buttery goodness that absorbs gravies and sauces like a boss.  Fresh out of the Tandoor oven, this is the necessary side dish to any night out.

Murg/Murgh/Murghi - Pronounced 'Moorg', this popular ingredient is the staple of most non-veg dishes.  Especially used in the Panjab region, this tasty bird is widely used in dishes that are Savoury, Spicy, Sweet and Saucy!  Best recommendations are Butter Chicken and Tandoori Chicken, though there are thousands of recipes.


Paneer - Indian Cottage cheese. Paneer is used as a the vegetarian counterpart in many common dishes.  Things like butter tikka paneer or stuffed paneer parantha's are an easy way to get your protein fix when on the no-fly hindu diet.



Sunday, July 24, 2011

Why does it take longer in India?

One simple rule I have learned in India is that everything takes longer than you expect it to, so enjoy the ride.

I know stereotypes aren't always true but IST (Indian Stretchable Time) is bounded in my experiences.  I recount this tale as accurately as possible from a very recent experience.

If you don't have time to waste reading a random Canadian's Sunday morning adventure, skip to the end now. Just note that I left Sector 49 Chandigarh (friend's house) to relay through my trainee house in Sector 16 Panchkula with a Final Destination of Sector 21 Panchkula (Approx 15 km total).

This morning I woke up at 7:30 am and decided that I would spend the day catching up on blogs, re-connecting with friends and family, making a couple videos, etc.

I needed a quiet, secluded spot, with friendly people so the White-house seemed perfect.

 Now, on my journey some things were avoidable, some were by choice, but here is the timeline:

7:40 am: Called the Tuk Tuk (taxi company) - Busy
7:42 am: Called the Tuk Tuk (taxi company) - No Answer
7:44 am: Called the Tuk Tuk (taxi company) - Busy
7:47 am: Left my friend's house (who had offered that I spend the night to catch up on some sleep) with the instructions that a tuk tuk should cost approx. 100 rupees to get home to Panchkula (about 10 km)
7:51 am: Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Didn't speak english
7:55 am: Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Wasn't going where I was requesting

8:00 am: Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Wasn't going where I was asking, so I just jumped in to get closer to my final destination
8:10 am: Arrived at Sector 17 (approx halfway between start and finish) Cost - 40 Rupees
8:15 am: Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Denied his request for 100 Rupees, he refused my offer of 50
8:21 am: Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Wasn't going where I was asking
8:30 am: Jumped on a Bus that said "Housing Complex" which is very near to my home in Panchkula - The most relaxing part of my journey. Cost - 10 Rupees
8:45 am - Got off at my bus stop, only 1 km to my trainee house.
8:47 am - Went to get a Auto Rickshaw, was told to wait in an idling Auto Rickshaw while the driver was chatting with friends.
8:50 am - Got out of the Auto Rickshawafter I had watched others just flagging them down from the street for 3 minutes
8:52 am - Flagged Down a Auto Rickshaw - Laughed at the drivers face as he asked 80 Rupees to drive me 1 km - didn't even counter offer.
8:53 am - Flagged Down a Auto Rickshaw - Jumped in along with 4 others to drop me at me sector. Cost 10 Rupees

9:00 am - Got to my sector, ordered some Aloo Parantha's for take-away breakfast and stopped by the grocery store on the short walk home.
9:15 am - Arrived home to refresh, eat my breakfast, and have a nice little chat with my housemate as I got my things together. Washed a pair of pants that needed washing.  It was a good time to do so as there is a nice drying breeze outside and I have been going commando for the last few days.


11:15 am - Left to flag down a Auto Rickshaw to go to the White-House (my quiet spot, 5 km away).
11:17 am - Got a call to join some AIESECers at a Cafe 10 minutes from my house, impolite to turn down this opportunity.
11:21 am - Finally found a store that sells Jockey underwear and undershirts, refreshed my collection for 500 rupees ($10 approx). 

11:30 - 1 pm - Chilling and chatting with Aseem and Pranav, completely trumped my pre-planned journey.


1:15 pm - Instructions that a Auto Rickshaw would cost maximum 60 Rupees to get me to my final destination.
1:20 pm - Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Was proposed 100 Rupees, Requested 50, was denied
1:22 pm - Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Was proposed 80 Rupees, Requested 60, was denied
1:25 pm - Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Wasn't going to my location
1:27 pm - Two dudes on an Activa (scooter) stopped to tell me about their website. They wanted more clicks from outside of India. I told them I would look at their website if they negotiated a Tuk-Tuk for me
1:29 pm - Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - The driver had no idea where I was going, even giving him an exact address.
1:31 pm - I said I would tell my friends about the website if the two dudes offered my a lift closer to my final destination. They agreed
1:35 pm - Dropped off 2 km from my final destination. Go to themagicmobile.com
1:38 pm - Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Wanted 100 Rupees, I offered 40, no deal
1:39 pm - Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Wasn't going where I was going
1:41 pm - Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Jumped in a group tuk tuk heading closer to my final destination, paid 10 Rupees
1:45 pm - Dropped me off at the Overpass bordering on Sector 20. I was going to Sector 21, so close.
1:47 pm - Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw- Learned that if you are facing a direction different than where you intend to go, prices are immediately doubled because they assume you are clueless. I laughed at their offer.
1:49 pm - Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Wanted 80 Rupees, I wanted to pay 20 - Got angry at me when I suggested anything less than 30 telling me that it was a fair price.

2:01 pm - Decided I would just walk as I was frustrated. Asked a police officer the correct direction, he confirmed that 20 rupees was a fair price to pay for Auto Rickshaw
2:10 pm - Stopped to get Baskin Robbins Ice Cream, which was nearly the same price as my entire journey to date, but oh so worth it.
2:16 pm - Tried to Flag down a Tuk Tuk - They continued to ask prices of 60 Rupees and up. I refuse to pay more than 20 for such a short journey.
2:20 pm - A car drives by with two dudes and stops, they ask where I ask where they are going, Sector 21 they reply, I say great, they say hop in.
2:25 pm - Some small talk, they arrive home and drop me off to continue my journey (only 500 m or so). As I am leaving, one see's the sleeve of my T-shirt and excitedly asks if I am from AIESEC. I say yes, and he says he is too! Thank you Aarkriti for hiring helpful people into your portfolio ;)
2:29 pm - I am looking for the specific house number in the neighbourhood. 50 houses before where I expect to find mine, the numbers stop counting up and start counting down. Lost and confused I ask a gardener - who points me in one direction. Somewhat skeptical, I ask a passing car's driver - who points in another direction. To confirm either of the two's story, I ask a third person, who points me a third direction. 
2:31 pm - Scratching my chin, the car's driver returns and tells me to hop in, he and his family will help me get to my final destination.
2:37 pm - After doing some circles, we find the White-house and I am greeted warmly by Gurin's family and dog Donut.

For those of you who made it through, I hope you can relate.  For those of you who have ever wondered why and intern is running late, they have probably hit something similar. 

I can only guess that I was over-quoted nearly 500 rupees total from almost 15 different Auto Rickshaws in a 6 hour adventure to go 15 km.  All in a days work.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunrise and Sunset in Amritsar

10 pm Friday. Caught a bus from Chandigarh to Amritsar.

10 pm Saturday. Caught a bus from Amristsar to Chandigarh.

Following is a quick photo summary of an epic 24 hours in Amristsar, home of the Golden Temple.

Golden Temple

Wagha Border


Free Advice


Definitely Call 'Rama' +919888026303 if you are looking for a good tour guide of the city. For 200 Rupees each, he guided us for 12 hours to 3 temples, a museum, breakfast, lunch, dinner and the Wagha Border. Really good driver, he had space for 9 people.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Round Two!



Just got accepted as an International Facilator for the AIESEC India Summer Regional Conference.

Here's the ditty:

Friday, Saturday and Sunday this weekend (July 15-17) in Koti Resort near Shimla.  Yup, Himalayas baby.  The Agenda for the conference looks stellar, there is a track to help AIESEC Members and then a track to help any Internationals who are doing internships in India (Register using this link http://bit.ly/SRCforIntl).

Our Faci team is looking solid: Steph from Canada, Eloy López del Río from Spain, Tim Murphy from the UK, Yulia once again from the Ukraine, then Aseem, Syed, Aarkriti, Verma, Arpit, Prateek and Archita from our big favourite India!

I will be delivering two sessions this time! Time Conscious Team Management  & Book, Run and Record your Meetings.  Can't wait to see everyone there!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pink Fort

Here are some highlights from a weekend trip to Jaipur, best known for a superabundant variety of forts and the area known as 'the Pink City'.

We arrived around 2 am in Jaipur after 7 intensive days of AIESEC conference action, therefore the only thing to do was to get up at 8:30 am on Canada day and make a move to attack this fort city.  I'm not going to go into tireless detail about the different forts and their history, and their secrets ;) but I will do a photo blog recap!

Amber Fort, Home to some 250 secret stories
Jaigarh Fort, Overlooking all of Jaipur

Delicious Dinner and Entertainment at Chokhi Dhani















Very Illegal View from Nahagarh Fort


Hawa Mahal, Nice View but the Lighting wasn't great.
Sunset on the City Palace, Goodnight Maharaja

We managed to hit Amber, Jaigarh and Nahagarh in about 8 hours on the first day.  We then proceeded to shut the club down 'Canada-Day-Style' until early the next morning.  We got a slow start to the second day and headed straight for the Pink City.  We definitely missed out on Jantar Mantar, which was too bad.  It closes at 4:30 pm.  Not to rain on the king's parade, but city palace was a let down.  Too expensive and not enough cool-factor.  The second night we hit up Chokhi Dahni, which is an epic little Rajastan themed village. For 400 rupees you get access and inside is similar to Oktoberfest (minus the abundant beverages).  You can ride a camel or an elephant or a donkey or whatever you'd like there for super cheap.  Late night we caught a bus out of Jaipur. 

All in all a must see city in India, quite spectacular.

Monday, July 4, 2011

I'm Back!

Just catching my breath. More shortly...

What I have gained in the last 13 days:
  1. The importance of honest and thorough feedback.
  2. The importance of forgetting about minor details or ego and putting the whole before the self.
  3. Public speaking abilities to groups up to 400 people.
  4. A reputation.
  5. Experience to Storm, Form, Norm, Perform, and Adjourn a 7-nationality team in 192 hours.
  6. Confident delivery of 45 minutes sessions on both time-conscious team management and "book, run, record' an efficient team meeting.
  7. A experience based understanding that tired is a state of mind.  You are capable of 100% or 0%.  Completely asleep or completely awake.  Don't sissy dance in the middle.
  8. More hard lessons about managing your current situation and that of many 7000 km away.
  9. A good friend who will find his way back to India after a much needed rest in Singapore.
  10. An globally-experienced mentor who kindly shared some wisdom and will find her way back to Singapore for some much needed rest.

What I have lost in the last 13 days:

  1. A belt, a camera case, an international power adapter and a pair of flip flops. 
  2. Sanity, due to a conservative estimate of 24 hours sleep in the last 192 hours.
  3. Any pre-conceived notion that motivation, performance or results have anything to do with sanity.
  4. At least 5 pounds.
  5. One specific impression that Arya or Derek declared about India.
  6. My patience; which led me to become confused/frustrated with a situation.  
  7. Any caring of personal hygiene or personal needs.  I will shower if told to, sleep when I need to.
  8. A sense that my trainee house is empty.
  9. A direction with my local committee.  I am trying to give autonomy and truly believe the pulse is strong, just waiting to see it showing on the monitor.
  10. Another pair of sunglasses.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Intrigue

I had a very interesting conversation with a veteran AIESECer.  His words of wisdom focused on 'Intrigue".

During our recruitment, I had a personal mission to be as informative as possible with the AIESEC opportunities and structure.  I told friends, family, strangers and peers about all the things that AIESEC offers.  This was an overwhelming sales pitch that few understood.  Good thing I'm passionate.

In an effort to simplify things, here is what I say to someone who has never heard of AIESEC and asks what it does.  Rather than tell them all the ins and outs (which have confused my friends and family), I will only speak from experience.

In 7 short months, I attended youth impact conferences with 300 delegates in both Edmonton and Ottawa. I have traveled to India to teach and recruited a graduate from China to work in Waterloo, Canada.  While in India, I facilitated a 400 person seven day national youth conference with other internationals from Russia, Ukraine, UK, Nigeria and Romania.  I will be flying home through Kenya to attend an international youth conference with 600 delegates. I have connected with hundreds of people through business ideas, leadership thoughts, dancing, drinking and impromptu road trips.

I lead a team of 5 dedicated colleagues to accomplish national and internationally achievements.  My personal network now includes like minded individuals from Brazil, India, Kenya, Ukraine, France, China, and Japan to name a few.  I am supported by my university's Co op program, my university's business school, my university's arts council, our international business program, our city's mayor, CEO's of local businesses, my friends, and most importantly my family.

If you want this experience, or more, then make some time to ask about AIESEC.

JFDI List Item: Attend the June National Conference in India

I have just been accepted as 1 of 6 International Facilitators for AIESEC India's June National Conference!

This is an intensive 6 day conference from June 24th to June 29th that draws 400 delegates from across the country and international talent from around the world.

Known as "JNC" this is the biggest national event in the AIESEC India calendar.  The conference is dedicated to the development of Team Leaders and Executive Board Members from AIESEC India and abroad.

Our International Facilitator team includes: Carson Kolberg from Canada, Leo Szivo from UK, Amalia Ghiban from Romania, Katia Kovalchuk from Russia, Laura Nwabia from Nigeria and Yulia Kuzmenko from Ukraine.  We have a combined AIESEC Experience of  15 years and 55 attended AIESEC conferences.


You can live stream in on the Conference at any point: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/aiesec-india---june-national-conference-2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

AIESEC as a Co-op Experience

I would like to share this with anyone who is considering pursuing an international co-op job or international working experience.

In order to pursue a job abroad, please review this list.
  1. Making money is not the priority.
  2. Taking a Holiday is not the priority (though weekend trips and 'pre-start date' and 'post-end date' trips are excellent opportunities to explore)
  3. You embrace challenges.
  4. You are adaptable.
  5. You are bilingual or are actively learning a second language.
  6. You will share your experiences.
International co-op opportunities are available to anyone, but not everyone is suited for an international co-op job.  You must realize that working abroad will be considerably different than working locally, offering challenges and rewards that, from personal experience, are widely recognized by your university, your peers, and globally-minded employers.

Working Abroad requires you to step outside your comfort zone and expect the unexpected.


AIESEC as an International Co-op Facilitator

This post was created by Carson Kolberg, 2011 President of AIESEC Laurier, one of 1600 local AIESEC Committees.  AIESEC is a not-for-profit, student-run organization with over 60 years specializing in an international working exchange program.

Through AIESEC, there are a large number of 4 month and 8 month opportunities available.  If you only want to work in Western Europe or Australia, you should probably just stick close to home, because AIESEC requires you to be flexible and open minded.

Some of the greatest opportunities are in developing countries, outside of most people's comfort zones.  But this is where your experience will set you apart.

Your next step, if you choose AIESEC as a platform for finding international working experience, is to attend a AIESEC Exchange Participant Information Session at your local university.

Please explore my Blog for further insight's of an Arts/ Communications Co-op student, and katieshudson.blogspot.com for insight's of a Business student.

Some additional facts:
  • AIESEC facilitates over 10 000 student working internships per year
  • All AIESEC opportunities cover the cost of living in your destination country, but do not cover the cost of flight, insurance, visa, service fee or additional travel.
  • Internships are offered in all fields of Management, Technology, Development and Education
  • China, Brazil, India, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia and Colombia are some of our 107 destination countries.
  • Business, Science and Arts Co-Op students all have opportunities to work abroad.



Monday, June 20, 2011

Intent

I had a conversation last night with a friend about 'Intent'.

Working abroad is a challenging adventure.  Choosing the country, the city, and the job.  Convincing your family, your friends, and your wallet.  Getting the vaccinations, the flight tickets, the working visa, the health insurance, the travel insurance, and the packing list done.  Saying your good byes and learning how to say hellos.

All these things are the challenges you will face before you have even left, and I am sure you can find many more.


Everyone will have different first impressions and first experiences when they arrive at their foreign destination.  These are all based on your mental preparations and your physical preparations.  I will not get into detail about these, because everyone must learn their own preparation needs.

During our conversation, my friend and I were speaking about all these little details and how many different factors affect your trip.  Of the whole list, the only step that will carry you through from start to finish is convincing yourself.

We realized that only two things can happen when you arrive.

You will either want to stay or want to go home.  Intent is the difference between the person who stays and who leaves.

If you undertake an AIESEC internship, or a trip in general, and want to leave, then it is your decision and your decision only to do so.  If you choose to go abroad, before you even start packing, state your intent.

"I will work abroad in India for the summer 2011" This is my intent since August 2010.

My advice is to firmly understand your 'intent' because this will carry you through any obstacle.  Intent is the difference between someone who embraces a challenge and someone who gives up on it.

I have been extremely satisfied with my trip so far, but that doesn't mean I haven't hit all sorts of obstacles.  By stating my intent and understanding it, I overcome challenges and enjoy the experience.



Thursday, June 16, 2011

Unofficial Chandigarh Tourism Video

I was speaking with a man about travelling and tourism.  I asked where in the world he would like to go.  He paused for a moment, and replied: "Before I take the chance to travel the world, I want to know my own country.  How could I appreciate what else there is before I knew what I have right around me."

Its been two weeks in India, and I feel as though I am living a micro version of his philosophy.  Sure there are a million places to go and a billion people to see, but before venturing off from the city limits, I would like to know what it is that makes Chandigarh 'The Beautiful City'.



I can't promise continuous video updates, but I can promise to continue collecting HD footage whenever and wherever I see fit.  If you leave a comment on the blog, show this blog to a friend, or help me reach 2 000 views (see the counter in the bottom right of the page), I will post another one.

A large number of these people agreed to participate in my antics.  Some of them clearly had no idea what was going on, some were promised to be featured in a small Chandigarh Tourism Video (did not mention unofficial) and some were just excited to see a foreigner.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Suite Sixteen

I moved into the Trainee House!



Rather than pictures, I have made a movie for this experience.  These are my first impressions and a quick tour of the house known as Suite Sixteen.  

Monday, June 6, 2011

Somewhat Opinionated Facts about Chandi and India

Hello Everyone,

I asked the 10th Grade (standard) class to share some facts about Chandigarh and India.  Here is a list of responses.

About Chandigarh:

  • People of Chandigarh are very polite and this city is very clean and beautiful.
  • Chanidgarh is very very beautiful city out of all cities.  And we can see fashion and fashion all around us.
  • Chandigarh is very green.  Famous temples are there.
  • Chandigarh is the first planned city of India.
  • It's a nice place to hangout with friends and the night life of Chandigarh is amazing.
  • Chandigarh is famous for its architecture and landscape.  It derives its name from the temple of 'Chandi' - goddess of power and 'Garh' - the fort.  It is the first planned city of India, by Le Corbusier.  It has the distinction of having a unique world - acclaimed Rock Garden by Nek Chand.
  • Earlier, the Chandigarh capital was also called the 'Tricity' because of Panchkula and Mohali as adjacent cities but with the mushrooming of other towns like Zirakpur, Kharar, etc... with considerable population, it is better called 'Chandigarh Capital Region'/
  • It is one of the most clean places found in India.  You won't be able to find clean places like it, except Kereh (Situated in Southern India).
  • The people who live in Chandigarh are good in their nature.
Facts about India:
  • India is known for its spirituality and respect towards elders.  In India, you can find all types of culture and religions.  Unlike Canadians, Indians like spicy food.
  • India has the second largest population in the world.
  • Most popular food of Punjab - Sarsa da Saag, Makki di Roti.
  • National Animal of India - Royal Bengal Tiger
  • The influences of Hinduism and the past tradition of the caste system have created a culture that emphasizes established hierarchal relationships.
  • India is one of the oldest civilizations.
  • 'India' got its name from River Indus.
  • India is the largest democracy in the world.
  • India has the largest number of post offices.
  • India has the world's highest cricket ground in Chail, Himachal Pradesh.
  • India has very rich religion and customs.
  • Vedic Culure (Indian culture) is the oldest culture in the world.
This post was technically outsourced...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Dear Farewell

Hello Everyone,

I know this blog is about my experiences in India, so pardon the temporary departure as I share a more personal note.  Regardless of where you are, life always continues and ends everywhere.

It is with considerable sadness that I bid farewell to our family dog.  At 12 years, one month, I knew that this summer would likely be her last as I departed for this adventure.  I am very happy to have spent time with her before and taking some wonderful pictures.  Emma lived a full and happy life, with summers swimming and playing at cottages, winters getting lost (literally, she was white) in the snow, and far too many afternoons and nights sleeping on couches and beds that she knew were off limits.  This cleverly oblivious animal provided us with headaches, heartaches and plenty of fond memories.

The the choice to have her put to rest was proper as her medical condition would have become severe quickly and lead to considerable pain.  At noon on Saturday, June 4th, 2011, and surrounded comfortably by my family, Emma was put to rest.

Whether in India, or in Canada, this news would have been difficult to learn, but having prepared mentally prior to the departure gives me some comfort.  Knowing that my family and friends are only a click, skype chat or call away also brings plenty of comfort.

Shubh raatri and alvida Emma, you will be missed dearly.



Chabir on a hot Summer's Day

In Chandigarh, a pleasant tradition is carried on.
On especially hot days, a group of individuals will voluntarily gather together to serve a sweet drink to anybody who is thirsty.  Along the sides of the roads, a drink called 'chabir' is prepared in large pots.  According to the local AIESECers, this tradition has very religious roots.  

Along road sides of highways, these booths are set up for individuals trekking across India.  It seems to be a Sikh tradition which carries some elements of good faith your fellow people and to God.  By volunteering their time and preparing this sweet water, people may contribute back to others in need.

Chabir quite literally translates to "sweet".  Though it looks similar to pepto bismol, the flavour is 'flower-like' or 'nectar' like and a much appreciated gesture as the temperature approaches 40 degrees.




Homestay at Gurin's

For my second two night's in Chandigarh, I have been staying with Gurin pal Singh and his family.

A snap off the front Balcony of Gurin's Place.
They live in a lovely sector of Panchkula, the neighbouring town of Chandigarh.  Similar to Siddhant, his family has shown tremendous hospitality and helped me in my adjust period to India.  I have provided a quick slideshow of pictures from his place.

One memorable moment to share was a delightful breakfast of 'aloo parantha'.  This is roti stuffed with a potato filling.  It would be equivalent to a waffle-hash brown.  Thank you to the whole family for being so friendly and accommodating.  

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Back to School


So it’s official: At 7:30 this morning I returned to the playground, the library, the science lab, and the classroom.  Though this time around, not only do I get a chance to learn, I get a chance to teach and share.

The internship that I have chosen is a 3 month educational traineeship (AIESEC lingo for an internship focused on subject education, English development and cross-cultural learning activities).  India school systems takes holidays for the month of June, so for my first month I only get to meet the students who have chosen to take extra activities and classes throughout the summer term.  Unlike North America, where summer school is like extended detention (I apologize to all school board’s for this general assumption, but... I speak from perception), the students here are brimming with energy and enthusiasm.  

The school is called St. Soldier’s Divine Public School and is located in Sector 16 of Panchkula  (which is the town directly beside Chandigarh to the East).  It is a kindergarten through grade 12 school of about 850 students and 40 teachers.  This is the first time that this school has taken an intern, so I am the first ambassador for our program.  This is nice because we have freely discussed what we would like to contribute.

I have every intention of surpassing the expectations while respecting the structure and boundaries of the institution itself.  It would be easy to arrive with assumptions of changing the world and improving the system, but this is not the purpose of my internship.  I plan to learn a great deal from this experience by spending my time actively participating.


For the next 2 weeks, I will be leading morning activities with a small group of about 30 students.  From 7:30 am until 11:30 am, my responsibilities include sports activities (awesome), and PD (Personal Development) classes.  We played basketball today, focusing on passing, dribbling and simple shooting. I chose not to use the BEEF acronym for the jump shot (Ball, Elbow, something, Feet) because the cow is a sacred creature.  PD is a new concept to me and is I have been given some freedom to lead classes.  The criteria for these classes are improving soft skills and cross-cultural development.  We talked about formal and informal introductions in India and in Canada and practiced eye contact, body language, warm greetings and a firm handshake.

School officially begins in the first week of July, so these next couple weeks are a fantastic orientation to a small group of students, the faculty, and the school itself.  I have given the students homework for the first day (what a terrible guy), but the assignment is simple.  They must bring a fact about Chandigarh, a fact about India, and a Question about Canada tomorrow.  I will share these facts with you!

Oh, and this class is perfect for the word a day challenge:  today’s words include:
Yes: Hanji
No: Nahi
Today: Aaj

About Chandigarh and the Tri-City


Chandigarh, also called ‘The Beautiful City’, serves as the capital of two sates: Punjab and Haryana.  However, administratively, the city is not under the jurisdiction of either state – it is administered by the Central government and hence classified as a union territory.

The city derives its name from a temple of goddess Chandi  (the Chandi Mandir) located in nearby Panchkula district of Haryana.  The word Chandigarh literally means “the fort of Chandi”.
Chandigarh is known for its high standard of living, high per capita income, and self acclaimed “best butter chicken in India” (Gurin Pal Singh). 

Chandigarh is part of the tri-city area, which is remarkably similar to the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge situation of my home LC AIESEC Laurier.  The two other cities are Panchkula and Mohali.  I live and work in sector 16 of Panchkula, while Chandigarh has its main AIESEC offices in Sector 25 and Sector 49.

Finding your way around the city is quite easy, as Chandigarh is the only planned city in India.  Major streets are clearly divided into a grid format, and Sectors represent large city blocks.  From any high point in the city, you can see the Himalayas, which begin 60 kilometres outside of the city.  Chandigarh itself is roughly 15 kilometres in diameter and represents 116 km2.

Cost of Living
Panjab University Campus
The common expense for an AIESECer in Chandigarh includes Rs. 4000 for rent and roughly Rs. 1000 for travelling around the city.  The cost of food varies, depending on how often you eat out, and can range from Rs. 1100 – 4000 approximately.

My weekends and entertainment activities will likely represent a good portion of my monthly expenses.  To put this all in perspective, $1 CDN = Approx Rs. 45.  To do the math quickly, I take the Rs. Value, withdraw a zero and divide the sum by 5.  Not the easiest thing to do after a couple beers, but the butter chicken was worth it anyways.

Other expenses include getting my SIM card and pay as you go minutes.  These are crazy cheap!!!!!  Roughly Rs. 1000 would be normal each month.  To put this in context, Rogers would not allow me to put my cell phone plan on pause without withdrawing my benefits.  I have unbelievable features on my plan, so I decided to just keep in active during the summer.  Each month, my bill is about $80.  Sucks.

While eating a 6  inch Paneer Tikki,
 a black out happened, lights
came on just as I snapped the shot.
Raghav didn't skip a beat.
Local Hospitality
Since I have landed, Chandigarh has felt like a safe city to me.  Of course I am under the watchful eye of the local committee, but any interaction I have had with locals has been friendly and warm.  They have helped me adjust quickly by providing a very comfortable place to sleep.  Each night I have stayed with a local LC member and will move into the trainee house soon.  They have also helped me adjust my belly to local food.  We eat home-cooked food in the evenings, and typical student food during the day.  Subway and maggi (Indian Mr. Noodle).

I have also been introduced to the other interns in town and will be getting a chance to meet more in the coming days.  Laurier, I learned a game called skolling!  Let's add it to the Teleco game.