Following the India Route – Part Four

Hey Guys! ♥

Here’s the promised update on my first few days in India. This post is going to be very pic heavy with some facts about Pune/Magarpatta City to help you get an idea of where I’ll be spending the next nine months.

After our arrival on early Monday morning, we only had a few hours of sleep before our first appointment in India. Since that appointment was a Pizza Party at our flat though, waking up wasn’t all that hard 😉 Afterwards, we had a quick tour of our future offices and were shown around the most important places in Magarpatta City, before we went to exchange money and buy some things such as breakfast foods and a few kitchen/bathroom appliances (most things were already in our flat, but you know you always need a few things more) By then I was so exhausted that I couldn’t do more than drop on the couch 😀 I have to admit, after the first day I still didn’t really feel like I was in India. Since we went straight to Magarpatta City, which is a highly modern, Western inspired complex with our apartments, offices, and a few malls inside of Pune, walking around there felt more like walking through London’s Chinatown on a particularly hot summer’s day than walking through a real, Indian city. Of course there are predominantly Indians living and working there, and all the street/shop signs are both in English and Hindi, but the streets are far less crowded and chaotic than outside and the atmosphere is really Western in our little “safety bubble” here.

One of our office buildings at Magarpatta City SEZ
One of our office buildings at Magarpatta City SEZ
View from our dining room
View from our dining room

On Wednesday I finally got a chance to leave Magarpatta City and take a Rickshaw to the “real” Pune. As soon as we left Magarpatta we felt like stepping into a whole new world. Dirty huts at the side of the road, trash on the streets, and lots of dogs, goats and pigs! (Didn’t see any cows though, unfortunately). And the Rickshaw ride itself was quite the experience, too! The bargaining can be quite annoying, but it’s very well worth the hassle 😉

Here are some pictures from Laxmi Road in Pune, to give you an impression of the difference between Magarpatta City and the real Pune!

Laxmi Road
Laxmi Road
Ganesha at Laxmi Road (my favorite Hindu god for some reason ;))
Ganesha at Laxmi Road (my favorite Hindu god for some reason ;))
Flower stalls in front of a temple at Laxmi Road (too bad you can upload smells yet!)
Flower stalls in front of a temple at Laxmi Road (too bad you can’t upload smells yet!)
Laxmi Road in Pune, Maharashtra.
Laxmi Road in Pune, Maharashtra

Magarpatta City, where we are staying and where our offices are also located, is a 430 acre “city within a city” located in the Hadapsar district of Pune. It is basically a high-end, Western-like gated community inside the city of Pune, which explains the harsh contrast between life inside and outside of our little safety bubble. Besides offices and residential buildings (so called Societies), Magarpatta also houses several large in- and outdoor malls, gyms, sport facilities, a police station and everything else you might need in your day-to-day life. While Magarpatta is exceptionally quiet, orderly and almost arcadian, Pune is … well, very Indian as you have seen 😀 While the hustle and bustle of a typical Indian city can be very exciting and intoxicating, I am also eternally grateful to have the opportunity to retreat back into our bubble whenever I fell like it. With a little more than 8 million residents and a density of ~ 8,700/km², Pune easily outdoes every European city, but pales in comparison to other mega cities like Delhi or Mumbai.

So far I have to say, my experience seems to be rather “India light”, and except for a little cold the first few days (and some technical problems at the flat) everything has been going rather smoothly. I even seem to develop a taste for spicy food, which is surprising me more than anyone else. At least I haven’t had anything yet that I couldn’t eat because it was too hot (I’ll keep on trying new dishes until I reach my limits! :’D)

But for now, I’ll leave you with some more impressions from Pune!

Shisha Cafe

Live Jazz at Shisha Cafe Koregaon Park
Live Jazz at Shisha Cafe Koregaon Park
Shisha Cafe in Koregaong Park
Shisha Cafe in Koregaong Park
The view of Laburnum Park (our Society) from our "balcony" on the ground floor ;)
The view of Laburnum Park (our Society) from our “balcony” on the ground floor 😉
They even have Christmas Trees here! Kind of ....
They even have Christmas Trees here! Kind of …. (click if you want to see the actual “Xmas Tree” price tag :D)
Banana tree in the park across from our offices
Banana tree in the park across from our offices
Enjoying some fresh coconut water in front our offices during lunchtime. AS YOU DO.
Enjoying some fresh coconut water in front our offices during lunchtime. AS YOU DO.

See you soon! ✿✿✿

Following the India Route – Part Three

Hey Guys ♥

By now, I have finally arrived in Pune!

Laxmi Road in Pune, Maharashtra.
Laxmi Road in Pune, Maharashtra.

But first things first, before Batch 18 was ready to embark on our Indian adventure, we were invited to a two-day introduction seminar in Heidelberg, Germany. We arrived there on Wednesday, February 18, and stayed at the Hip Hotel, which is absolutely fabulous! Every room is themed after another city of the world, which made for some great dinner conversations! I was staying in room Prague, which was stunningly beautiful and exactly to my taste: A giant canopy bed, white “brick” walls, and an antique street lantern as the main light source of the room 🙂

My room in Heidelberg :)
My room in Heidelberg 🙂

Heidelberg Prague (2) Heidelberg Prague (3)

After a few welcome drinks on Wednesday, Thursday was the first day of the seminar, followed by a lovely dinner at the Heidelberger Kulturbrauerei. Friday evening and all of Saturday were free, and we used the time to explore Heidelberg and enjoy the cold and the rain for one last time before our departure to more tropical climates 😉

Castle ruins in Heidelberg
Castle ruins in Heidelberg
Collapsed tower at Heidelberg Castle
Collapsed tower at Heidelberg Castle

Sunday was the big day. After one last breakfast with lots of Nutella and Croissants, we were picked up to go to the airport in Frankfurt/Main. The last few hours on German soil for the foreseeable future! The flight itself was rather uneventful, although I wished I could have slept a few hours more. Instead, I made extensive use of the in-flight entertainment program. I watched Nightcrawler (which was … good?), The first episode of Penny Dreadful (could be interesting), the start of True Detective (didn’t quite get into it), and the first half of Pride, which was wonderful, but unfortunately the flight was over too fast so I still have to finish it sometime 😉

And then, at ~ 4 am, we finally arrived at Pune International Airport! After spending quite some time with customs/health inspection/border control, we finally stepped outside into the Indian air in the early morning! The weather was absolutely wonderful, our pick-up was already there, and off we were to our flats!

My home for the next nine months!
My home for the next nine months!

After a tour of all the flats and some important information, I finally went to sleep at 7 am, only to get up about 4 hours later to unpack and get ready for our Welcome-Pizza-Party, but more about that and our first few days in Pune with the next post 😉

See you guys! ✿✿✿

Following the India Route – Part Two

Hey Guys ♥

By now you know how the application and selection process for the internship went, but the really stressful part was only just beginning. After the first few days of euphoria and disbelief and then euphoria again, it was time to settle matters in Germany and prepare everything for my departure to India. I got the call on December 1st, which meant there were only 2 ½ months left before my departure in February. If you’ve ever spent a considerable amount of time abroad, you know how many annoying things need to be taken care of. I’ll take another assessment center any day before going through that again 😀

The first things I did were quitting my current job, and then tell my landlord that I was already moving out again. Suddenly, I found myself on the other end of the apartment hunt, which was certainly a welcome change 😀 I actually had to take the ad offline after only 30 minutes because of the number of applicants. I quickly found someone who wanted to rent the apartment, and my landlord was generally okay with him as the new tenant, but was a bit worried about the fact that he was a professional musician and would practice inside the flat. Which is how I found myself in the middle of a privat concert played on a 300-year old baroque violin to see if the neighbors would mind. They didn’t, and that was one more obstacle out of the way.

Now it was time to get a passport (including a frantic, but ultimately successful search for my original birth certificate) and all the recommended vaccinations (including a frantic, but ultimately unsuccessful search for my vaccination card). By now, the assistants at my doctor’s office know me by name, which isn’t too surprising considering that I went there almost every day to get vaccinations during January! Tomorrow I’m finally getting my last rabies shot, and then I’m done 😀 Throughout the weeks following our acceptance for the internship program, we kept hearing back from Springer regularly, getting new information, tips, but also to-do lists with things we needed to prepare for our stay at Crest in Pune. After we received our official employment contract (aka proof that I was going to move to India), it was time to cancel my broadband and electricity contracts, which worked surprisingly well (and quick!).

And then the last big step: getting a Visa. Thankfully, Springer supplied us with an extensive folder of all the documents necessary for our application, plus a handy guide on how to fill out the online application form, which meant that the actual application wasn’t all that complicated (despite a few hiccups and uncertainties). They even reimbursed the fees for our Visa applications! On Friday morning, I went to Frankfurt to apply for the Visa in person, and after less than 45 minutes (including the time it took me to take a passport photo) I was already leaving again. Monday evening, I already received an email saying that I could pick my passport up again. At first I ignored this, thinking that it would be stupid to pick the passport up before the Visa was ready, meaning that I’d have to go there twice, but then I realized that it probably meant the Visa was ready too so I went there today. After waiting for another 15 minutes or so, I am now finally in possession of an Indian employment Visa 🙂

Well at least it's not the worst picture of my face I have so there's that
Well at least it’s not the worst picture of my face I have so there’s that

Now, you might have noticed that there are certain topics you’d expect in a post about going abroad that I didn’t touch upon, namely flights, accommodation, health insurance, … That’s simply because I did not have to prepare anything in that regard! Springer offers their interns what they call the “100% sorglos Paket” (“100% carefree package”), including free flights to and from Pune, shared apartments, and health insurance. They even went as far as sending us a list with books available at our apartments, prepared by the present interns in Pune, so that we wouldn’t have to carry heavy books with us that were already in our apartments. I guess when you work for a publishing company, a certain level of bookishness is to be expected 😀

And just like that, there was only one more thing left to do: saying goodbye to family and friends in Germany. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to say goodbye to everyone in person, but I was able to have one last dinner with my amazing (now ex-) colleagues and will spend the next ten days or so traveling through Germany (and to the UK!) to say goodbye to as many people as possible. That should get me prepared for the flight to Pune 😀

In two weeks, the preparation days will start, and I’ll probably update you then with a post on German-Indian communication, cultural differences and how to live and work as a German in India 🙂

See you then! ✿✿✿