I have officially been here for 8 full days it had been a bit of a whirlwind. This city is chaotic, beautiful, confusing, and wonderful all at the same time. I am living at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in the Indian state, Maharashtra, within the area known as Chembur.
So far this past week, a part from getting familiar with the area and recovering from jet lag, I have been working on registering with the Foreigner’s Registration Office (FRRO), while also coordinating with Childline to begin my field placement this week. I’ve also acquired an Indian phone number for while I’m here because I will be working in the field and it will be important to stay in contact with my superiors during my internship.
My 3 roommates have been wonderful and have been helping me get my bearings of the area. Petra (Czech), Sofia (German), and Olivia (Austrian) are all studying at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences as well and have been here for a range of 4-6 months already. They have shown me the local markets for grocery shopping, helped me buy my first kurta (a traditional Indian shirt), navigate Airtel for my cell phone, and introduced me to rikshaw rides.
This city has the most beautiful and richest places I’ve ever seen, as well as the poorest. In one cab ride you can pass a 5 star Four Seasons, 38 floor hotel and then minutes later drive through a slum with blue tarps for roofs and tin for walls. Before coming here, I heard that there was an enormous gap between the poor and the rich, without a middle class. Now more than ever, I see how very true that is.
There is also a lot of pollution in the city. My roommates have warned me that my health may waiver if I’m not careful to cover my face with a scarf during rikshaw rides and while traveling. All the vehicles are diesel, and garbage is burned regularly in the city for disposal, so the city has a constant layer of smog over it.
I met with my field coordinator at Childline yesterday and am looking forward to my field placement. I will be working directly in the slums with children and shadowing at the call center, as well as analyzing data pertaining to Childline’s program implementation.
Since I wasn’t working at my internship for my first week, I tried to fit in as much “touristy” things as I could. I went on a city tour of Mumbai with TISS and saw the Hanging Gardens, Haji Ali Dargah, and various museums and mosques. I went to the Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal Hotel in Colaba. I also visited Bandra and took the train to the mall, Inorbit. I went to a common student bar by campus called, “Hot Spot.” The people at TISS are so nice, and it’s been fun learning about where everyone has come from. I’ve met students from France, Germany, Austria, and even a few from America.
Even though it’s only been a week, I already feel very comfortable and situated. Mumbai is my temporary home and I’m excited to see what the next 9 weeks bring!
The picture featured is of the mosque, Haji Ali Dargah on the Arabian Sea.