Wednesday, June 1, 2011

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.

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