RBI Internship: Week 1
Week one at RBI – A lot of Curry!
In order to acclimatise to our new environment Ben and I arrived into Mumbai on the Saturday before our internship commenced. Spending the night in Mumbai, we were immediately struck by disparity in wealth that was apparent just from the short journey from the airport to hotel. Passing by shanty towns it would be mere meters and you would come upon a luxury hotel, fully equipped with airport level security. It was also our first introduction to Indian roads which always promise to be an edge of the seat experience. After our evening meal we spent the night chatting to an extremely friendly Indian couple who gave us the entire lowdown on Indian food (although the names of practically all the dishes have escaped us), politics and a little insight into what we could expect over the next four weeks.
The following day the remaining five members of our clan arrived and upon meeting our chauffeurs at the airport we began the four-hour journey over the mountains to Pune. Having arrived at RBI’s beautiful campus we were shown to our rooms upon which were overcome with a moment of pure ecstasy and jubilation; we could watch England’s world cup game on the tv, albeit with Hinglish (mix of hindi and English) commentary and the questionable post-match analysis of David James.
There was one individual who did not share this sense of excitement however – Murray. Not only was he Scottish, but he had also lost his baggage during transit to Mumbai. After a series of phone calls and emails, it appeared that the baggage was in Heathrow, and would be delivered to the Campus at some point throughout the week. After the first work day, when Bertie selflessly lent clothes to Murray, the surprisingly Westernised retail infrastructure of Pune was vital to ensure he was not left with purely a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. Any item of clothing that one could buy in the UK is available in India, and it is even standard that work trousers be tailored to perfection free of charge. It later appeared that Mumbai airport was not enthusiastic about delivering the luggage, and thus a trip to Mumbai is in the offing for Murray.
Our first full day at the RBI commenced on Monday morning after a hearty breakfast of various curries, chapati, omelettes and coffee. We were invited to a meeting with the board of the CAB where we had an introductory talk and were acquainted with various staff members. We were then taken on a tour around the campus, the highlight being a look around the archives engaging us on an interesting journey back in time to where the RBI began in 1935. After a short walk around the archives we were called for lunch, to the dismay of the curator who determinedly ensured we come back at a later date. More curry for lunch, followed by some initial reading on our project topics tied up our first working day.
A tiresome first day had us eager for more curry, but first we explored some of the close by streets that Pune offers. After a few minutes of waiting for the traffic lights to turn red allowing us to cross the road, we realised that red, amber and green all mean “Go” and that normal road rules do not apply in India. As always, watching and learning is an effective technique in unfamiliar places, so after observing a local man effortlessly dodge and weave his way through the traffic we followed suit successfully. Following a short walk, our appetites had grown substantially and we devoured our fourth curry in 24 hours. After being demolished at table tennis by some of the local residents of the hostel, we called it a night and got some well-needed sleep.
The rest of the week has been fantastic, we are all very comfortable living at the hostel and are still enjoying the numerous curries throughout the day. The work has been interesting and we have all met our mentors assigned to each project gaining advice and direction on our work for the next few weeks. In the evening we have been enjoying the pool table, table tennis and gym facilities, unsuccessfully trying to counteract the vast quantities of food we have been consuming. We have also ventured further into Pune including trips to a number of shopping malls and a nearby temple named Chattushringi.