Searching the world to find myself – Looking back at 2015

The new year is already one week old, but only now have I finally found the time to thoroughly review the past year. I have already done a small review in September, six months into the internship and after about half of us had already left Pune. I am not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, instead I found that looking back into the past year and at what worked and what didn’t is a much better way to figure out where you want to focus your energy in the next year.

Continue reading “Searching the world to find myself – Looking back at 2015”

One Month Later – 1. Thoughts about Things

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So many memories ….

Wow, so yesterday it’s been exactly one month since I left India. Sometimes it feels like ages ago, surreal and almost like a dream, and sometimes it feels like it’s only been yesterday, and I catch myself seeing news and events and restaurant recommendations from Pune thinking about going there as well, only to realize I’m several thousand kilometers away on a different continent.

Continue reading “One Month Later – 1. Thoughts about Things”

Retrospection—The Last 6 Months*

Wow, again, I’ve been terribly undisciplined with updating this blog o.O Sorry! But once again, routine caught up with me and there was not much to write about. Since I’ll be going on another holiday with some friends from Germany this month though, I’m sure there’ll be at least one other blog post from me this month.

Today, it’s been exactly 201 days since I’ve stepped foot on Indian soil. Six and a half months have passed, Magarpatta City has become my home, colleagues have become friends, complete strangers have become Batch 18, and Batch 18 has become a second family. Only seven of originally twelve interns are left, the rest having left for Germany again. For the longest time, the 15th of August was supposed to be that dreaded day where more than half of us would leave again, but in the end, things came very differently. Only two of what was supposed to be seven left on that day, with two extending their stay for another three months and three leaving a few weeks earlier because of job offers from Germany. By now, a new batch of interns has arrived, taking over our positions as “The Interns™” at the Crest offices while we’ve become part of the regular day-to-day-work routine.

On the one hand, February seems so far back with all the things I’ve seen, done and experienced in the last few months. On the other, I can still remember how I arrived in Heidelberg late in the evening on February 18th, my bags packed for 9 months of India, dragging my bags up the stairs at Heidelberg station because the escalator was broken. And that was one very big staircase. I remember seeing my room at the Hip Hotel for the first time (Prague themed!), having drinks with the other “chosen ones” with whom I would spent the next 6 or 9 months, I remember watching movies and TV shows during the 8 hour flight (Nightcrawler and Pride, both movies I would recommend, and the first episodes of Penny Dreadful and True Detective, which I found rather ‘meh’). I remember arriving at Pune airport early in the morning, driving to our apartments, seeing my new home for the first time. Eating at some of our now favourite restaurants for the first time, seeing Laxmi, FC and MG Road for the first time, buying my first set of Bindis, my first Kurta. And in only 73 days from now, I will be taking that same way back, just the other way around. “Firsts” will be replaced with “lasts”, and then a new chapter will begin. What or where that will, I don’t know. All I do know is that no matter how much saying goodbye hurts, no matter how painful change can be, it’s all worth it in the end.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”— Albert Einstein

With the internship ending very soon and knowing that many of my fellow “Batchies” have found jobs in Germany, I have to ask myself what I want to do from November onward. The last 6 months have taught me so much about who I am, what I want to do, what I don’t want to do, what person I want to be, and what kind of person I don’t want to be. I’ve grown so much, and yet I still have a lot more growing to do. I have a better idea of what I want to do professionally now, but even more importantly, I now where I want to go personally. But to get there, I still have a very long way to go and I certainly won’t reach it by staying in the cosiness of my comfort zone. So while my Indian adventure may soon come to an end, the next adventure is hopefully right around the corner.

Me Journal Editor
What am I even doing someone needs to take Photoshop away from me

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Goa Mosaic
Our first big trip to Goa on Easter 2015
A Bloody Brit Day Out at Da High!
A Bloody Brit Day Out at Da High!
Some wonderfully weird people ....
Some wonderfully weird people ….
... that made the last 6 months truly unforgettable!
… that made the last 6 months truly unforgettable!

*what a pretentious title.

From Dublin to Berlin to Pune

Hey Guys! ♥

The last one and a half weeks were full of contrasts and opposites for me. Last week practically started in the most un-Indian way possible, with me and some friends celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at the Irish Village in Koregaon Park. The place is absolutely lovely, outside you can sit in cozy little huts and the beer was good enough that even I liked it! And you should definitely try their “It’s got to be Irish”-Cocktail, made of Bailey’s Vodka, Gin and Triple Sec. Yeah, I definitely had to stop myself from drinking more than one, it was so good.

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"Caution! Leprechauns Crossing!"
“Caution! Leprechauns Crossing!”

The following Friday, we were invited to the launch of a new restaurant here in Pune called “Mahlzeit”. You probably guessed it, it’s not exactly traditional Indian cuisine 😉 Instead, it’s a Berlin Street Food vendor, owned by a German-Indian guy from Neuss. I have to admit, I’m quite relieved to know that I can still get my healthy dose of Currywurst almost 7.000 km away from home 😉

mahlzeit at Koregaon Park
mahlzeit at Koregaon Park
Now that's a menu to my taste
Now that’s a menu to my taste
As good as any Currywurst I've ever had
As good as any Currywurst I’ve ever had

So, after spending the last week reminiscing about my old homes in Germany and Dublin, this week I needed to get back to my new home in India. So on Saturday, Marina, Steffi and I decided to go Sari shopping at Laxmi Road. And what an experience it was! After entering the shop, we had to take off our shoes and sat on the cushioned floor. Then the salesperson just started throwing tons of fabric at us, which we could examine, touch, and discuss excessively. After we finally had decided on one fabric each, it was time to get wrapped up 😉 The salesperson expertly draped us in our chosen fabrics, and I think I speak for the three of us when I say we felt a little bit like princesses in our new clothes 🙂

Kolam in front of flower shop at Laxmi Road
Rangoli in front of a small shrine at Laxmi Road
Kolam at Laxmi Road
Rangoli at Laxmi Road
Post-shopping selfie!
Post-shopping selfie! (c) Marina Hahn
Sari sneak peek :)
Sari sneak peek 🙂

The following Sunday, Marina and I decided to defy our weariness and go to the temples on top of Parvati Hill. At 5.45 in the morning. By rickshaw. That was probably the first (and only!) time I was actually really freezing cold here in India 🙂 The largest of the temples, Parvati Temple, is dedicated to Parvati, the mother Goddess, wife of Shiva and mother of Ganesha. All in all there are five different temples on Parvati Hill, but at least in the morning the temples did not seem to be the main attraction for many visitors. There are several common areas on the temple grounds, were we could see all kinds of people jogging or doing yoga or push-ups while blasting hip-hop out of their cell phones. So our intuition was once again right, and bringing my yoga mat that morning definitely paid of 🙂

View over Pune from Pravati Hill
View over Pune from Parvati Hill
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Sunrise over Pune

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Shrine at one of the temples
Shrine at one of the temples
Parvati Temple
Parvati Temple
Apparently, not every temple is as holy as the others ....
Apparently, not every temple is as holy as the others ….
Yoga-Selfie!
Yoga-Selfie!

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Goodbye-committee downstairs of Parvati Hill
Goodbye-committee downstairs of Parvati Hill

The next Monday, our big time had finally come. To celebrate Gudi Padwa, the Hindu New Years’s celebration, Crest decided to have a so called “Traditional Day”, where all the employees were expected to come to work in traditional Indian clothes. And yes, that meant us interns, too! Before that, us Sari-Girls however were still faced with the almost insurmountable task of wrapping ourselves into our Saris! Countless YouTube videos were watched, but the right Sari wrapping technique still seemed elusive to me. In the end, we had no need to worry though, since a whole bunch of our colleagues practically dragged us into the washroom to re-drape our Saris in a more expertly fashion 😉 By then, I was definitely feeling like a real Disney Princess 🙂

All of Batch 18 in our best traditional clothes
All of Batch 18 in our best traditional clothes
Sari-Girls!
Sari-Girls!

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Shweta, Swati and me! :)
Shweta, Swati and me! 🙂
bad quality selfie just to show you my bindi and earrings
bad quality selfie just to show you my bindi and earrings

We really do look quite lovely, don’t we? 😉

This weekend, we’ll be getting a private tour through Pune arranged by one of the colleagues, and if everything pans out the way it is supposed to be, I might get some truly amazing pictures 🙂 I don’t want to tell too much though, or might just jinx it 🙂

See you! ✿✿✿

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! ✿✿✿