Week 4 in Mumbai:
We are now over half way through our internship and trip which is rather scary. So far, time has absolutely flown by. Up until this point everything has seemed so new and exciting. Don’t get me wrong everything is still amazing, but we are definitely starting to settle down and find some form of routine. This week has probably been my most productive week so far in terms of my internship with the most progress made on my report. I have been focusing on researching and justifying reasons as to why certain households in designated slum areas are vaccine hesitant and refuse help from healthcare workers and field staff. It is an extremely interesting topic as it combines aspects of public health and human behaviour. This was also one of the quieter weeks so far on the trip, with less extravagant outings which allowed me to make more progress on my report.
On Thursday night a group of us spontaneously jumped on a roofless double decker bus which took us on a 45 minute tour of southern Mumbai. This was such a fun thing to do, especially because we had to duck every minute or so for the low hanging trees! I highly recommend this bus tour, it is a fantastic way of seeing the city from a different perspective.
On Friday, our group got to meet the Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand, Hon Nanaia Mahuta. This was such a special experience and one that only a handful of people get each year. It was an honour, but also a little bit nerve-racking. We had to answer questions about our trip so far, and although the vibe was quite chilled, I really wanted my answers to be good and different from others as there are often quite a lot of repeats with 15 people talking about the same experiences! After this, we went on a night boat ride with blaring Bollywood music. This was quite an experience and definitely not one to forget.
On Saturday, our group traveled to Dharavi: one of the world’s largest slums. I think we got to see the very sheltered and touristy parts of the slum which were much nicer than expected. The theme of this tour was to see how local residents are turning raw materials and rubbish into a business and a profit. Some the businesses we saw sorted plastic and others produced leather. I bought a gorgeous leather wallet engraved with “Dharavi” which I am stoked about. This was another eye opening experience and made me feel quite proud of these residents for turning objects that we only see as trash into a business.
Week 5 in Mumbai:
There isn’t too much to write about for this working week, as everyone has their heads down trying to finish up their projects to minimise stress in the final week. However, we did visit an art exhibition on Sassoon Dock one night and it was absolutely incredible. There were so many funky angles and illusions used to create amazing pieces of visual art. It was so good that some people went twice!
Although week 5 was a hard working week, I was completely fine with this because I knew that Friday, Saturday and Sunday would be spent in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. Once again, Friday morning was an early to start to begin the journey to the airport and beyond! Unfortunately, we were located at the back of the plane which had a bit of a stench but the view of the desert made up for it. For the first night, we stayed in luxury desert tents which were INSANE and so spacious. Luckily for Dan Dan, he got to share the king bed with me 😝 After a calm afternoon on the tree swings, we went on a camel ride which was a fantastic experience. This was not my first camel ride but doing it with a bunch of friends was just amazing. The next morning Caitlin, Tabby, Deklin and I rose early AGAIN for our desert safari trip (the far superior trip – who would want to go at night?). The fast sweeping desert track was awesome and so were the dunes. We got to see the sunrise over the dunes which was just stunning.
On Saturday, we visited the Jaisalmer Fort which was also incredible, and a lake where we rented a paddle boat to watch the sun set.
On Saturday night, we met the prince of Jaisalmer which was such a pleasure, followed by a rooftop dinner and party. This was an incredible night and definitely a highlight of the six week adventure.
On Sunday morning, a small group of us were whisked away on bikes owned by locals to Bada Bagh, a complex owned by the prince and his family. The architecture was stunning and looked like something out of a movie. Sadly, this concluded our trip of Jaisalmer and we flew home later in the day to get ready for our final and busiest week in Mumbai.
If I could sum up the last two weeks in one word it would be breathtaking. The hard work – literally takes your breath away when you realise you made a mistake or how much you still have to do. The sights and the views – also literally breathtaking in their beauty. As an international tourist, sometimes you take for granted the sights and the monuments, but being an intern who is now ‘living in Mumbai’ has helped me to see these structures for what they truly are and what their original purpose was. This allowed me to appreciate them even more and understand just how hard people have to work to create something beautiful. See you next week!