RBI Internship: Week 3
Week 3 – Blessed for life By Bertie and Ben
A cracking start to week 3 of our stay in Pune, receiving a life-long blessing from the local god Ganesha in the Dagadusheth Halwai Ganapti Temple.
We began the day by visiting 3 local Urban Cooperative Banks in Pune, organized by our mentor, to undertake some primary research to help with our project. The meetings with CEOs, staff and the like were very insightful as they gave us first-hand examples of the problems they face in microlending to the urban population.
After multiple coffees, biscuits, nuts, crisps and souvenirs which the banks kindly offered to us, the final bank went as far as to take us to the most impressive temple in Pune, home to the god Ganesha, where we were truly immersed in the culture. This experience was surreal to the say the least! Just 3 weeks earlier we were enjoying the post-exam period at home and suddenly we were at the front of a bustling temple and having just been blessed by the monk, we were waving a flaming metal plate in a clockwise motion (as instructed by the locals) as everyone burst into prayer and began clapping. To be brutally honest, we had no idea what was going on, but it was a very entertaining and enjoyable experience!
On our evenings, mid-week, all the focus is on ping-pong. Initially it was a great way to wind down on an evening after doing our work and exploring Pune. After multiple hour-long sessions it’s safe to say we’ve completely drained the fun out of it and become extremely hyper-competitive, backing our chances in the 2020 Toyko Olympics.
After acclimatising to Pune life, we ventured on our first sightseeing trip-the mountains of Panchgani. Our 4-hour trip was filled with anticipation and excitement to see huge waterfalls and incredible landscape. We had taken into consideration that Monsoon season had begun, with waterproofs at the ready, but could not expect the conditions we came up against. Our first stop was a view point across a vast valley-or what was meant to be…instead we were met with a wall of fog! Nothing to see here. With spirits still high we travelled further up the mountain, in search of a waterfall. Our guide dropped us off and we quickly realised the rain was no English drizzle. Walking down steps in a 1-inch river of water, we took back our teasing of Ben who had come in sliders. The sound of crashing water soon reached us, once again with thick fog. Luckily, we caught some brief moments where the clouds parted revealing a stunning view and just how high up we really were…and then it was gone.
After a domino’s pizza-more to take us out of the severe downpour than to fill us up-we decided to try our luck once more and visit the ‘Elephants Head’ viewpoint. It wasn’t third time lucky. High winds and driving rain caused the group to split, with half pushing on to see this ‘elephant’. We reached the end of the path and, minus a few gaps in the cloud, the weather didn’t provide the ending of the trip we were hoping for!
A second, more local trip took us to Aga Khan Palace. It was here that Gandhi, his wife and secretary were held in prison following the launch of the Quit India Movement. Held inside the beautiful grounds and palace were many artifacts and statues related to a man held in such high regard both in India and globally. Having learnt about the history of the RBI and India’s currency in the first week, it seemed only right to learn more about the face of the Rupee notes.
We finished the day at another one of Pune’s shopping malls. Phoenix Mall dwarfed those previously visited though and we look forward to exploring the rest of its many floors another time.
Until then, alvida!
Bertie and Ben