felt slightly frustrated over my last week in India, feeling like
I have seen very little, and a two month trip to a place as vast
as India seems almost pointless. Saying that, I have realised what
great friends I have made and fantastic times I have had and feel
a real sense of achievement for all I have achieved.
at Vijit's 20th birthday party on Saturday, which incidentally was
another great night spent with numerous trainees. I even got to
the stage where I had a slight stagger and made some inappropriate
jokes. But anyway, there were some trainees who were working in
Chandigarh and visiting Delhi for Independence Day and a "decent
night out". I got to chatting to one of them and, as you do,
"So where are you from?"
"Cool, that's where I'm going next week."
"A place called Fowey, my dad owns a boat down there."
"Ha, that's where I'm from! Regatta week, right?"
"Yeah, blimey. Small world."
This is totally irrelevant but I find it highly amusing... The population
of Fowey is around 2000 and the population of India is 1 billion
- by some strange coincidence our paths crossed at a house party
in Delhi, to talk about an insignificant boat festival on the Cornish
coast. He was only the fifth Brit I had met in the whole of my stay.
the new members selected, all that remained was the introductory
training seminar. It was two days of intensive learning, and a great
thing to be a part of, especially when you consider I had been a
major part in making the recruitment happen.
the end of the two days, the Executive Board did a presentation
thanking me for the work I had done over the past two months, and
gave me an AIESEC T-shirt as a present. It was one of the definite
highlights of my trip, as it was a total surprise and really made
me realise what a difficult but rewarding experience this had been.
I know I leave India with far more friends than I arrived with and
that's a great feeling.
you know that 15 August is India's Independence Day, and 59 years
ago India was under British colonial rule. It's not something I
have ever given much thought I have to admit, although I'm sometimes
reminded by my Indian friends, especially when I complain about
being ripped off, "You were ripping us off for 200 years Andrew,
200 years..." All in the best of spirits of course!
I thought I should somehow acknowledge the event, so in the evening
around 9pm I headed down to India Gate to see if anything was going
on. I think this is my favourite part of Delhi. India Gate is the
huge archway built at the end of the Second World War in order to
commemorate Indian soldiers lost in the war.
stands at the end of a long road called Rajpath and at the other
end is Rashtrapati Bhavan, the President's house and just adjacent
to that is the parliament building. It's a totally structured design
similar to the setup of Washington DC. What this means is that either
side of this long road, Rajpath, is designated parkland which is
free for everyone to use.
this particular night, the park areas all the way from India Gate
to the President's house were packed with families picnicking and
spending time together. It was such a pleasant atmosphere, and good
to know that either side of me could be both the richest and poorest
families in India.
had a couple of set backs in the last week. It seems just as I have
tried to get things done, something has happened which has stumped
my progress. It's been, if I'm honest, highly demoralising, and
I've taken it as signs that it's time to go home.
instance, come Monday, all my AIESEC work was finished and I decided
I would finally book a trip to Rishikesh and Haridwar, a trip I
had already had to cancel a couple of times. After taking the 12km
journey to the station, I was told by the tourist bureau I needed
a passport to book a ticket.
worries I would simply book them at the same place as everyone else.
Two 30-minute queues later, I still had no ticket, and was becoming
quite unsightly and uncomfortable from the heat. I went back to
the tourist bureau to ask where the office that actually sold tickets
was. The man behind the desk then told me that I needed a passport
to book tickets and anyway the train I wanted had no remaining reserved
space. Fantastic - two hours wasted at the station.
spoke to Vijit to ask about alternative ways of getting to Haridwar
that night, only for him to say, "you should have told me you
wanted to go when we spoke earlier, my brother has just left on
business, you could of gone with him"!
is of course my fault, as someone said, "why didn't you just
book your tickets on the internet a couple of days back?" which
was of no help at all but a fair point.
bit of organisation and I would be significantly happier at this
very moment. But everyone seems to get days like that here in India.
Poor Phillipe - in two sneezes had two different pairs of glasses
catapult from his face to the floor and smash into tiny pieces all
in about an hour. I mean what are the chances? Incidentally it was
Friday the 13th which is a bit creepy, but once again, with a sigh,
you just have to say, "it's all part of the experience".
my last night, some AIESEC members and trainees joined me for a
meal at an Italian restaurant.
it was the same restaurant as I had my first meal when I had arrived
in Delhi, and the area looked significantly different to how I remembered.
When I was there last, I felt on edge and it looked slightly foreign
and even run down to me, but now it seemed like a really nice place.
the meal, we went onto a bar which had the best DJ in the world.
It was even hard not to feel slightly emotional with Guns n Roses
and Dire Straits blaring out the speakers. It was a great way to
finish my trip, and quite touching to see how many new people I
had met, and now knew quite well. It's the network of trainees and
nights like this that I will miss most about India I think.
be honest I have never missed the UK as much as I have over the
last couple of months: just the simple structures and stable climate,
so in many ways it's comforting to go home.
it feels like I have hardly even begun with India; it's such a diverse,
huge and unique country, that its almost like going to a museum
half an hour before closing, or reading the first page of a good
book. I'd like to be here on a longer traineeship when I'd have
a lot more time to adjust to the differences, learn about the culture
and see some of the amazing places it has to offer.
many ways its been the most challenging 2 months of my life, but
I leave feeling like I've been on a big adventure, where everyday
has held something completely different and exciting. I've made
so many friends, and have memories that will last a lifetime. What's
more it's simply increased my appetite to see India and I know I
will be back as soon as I can.
by Andrew Webster