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
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

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.