Delhi and Bengaluru, India, 2016
After months of searching for the perfect Master’s to combine my entrepreneurial and business interests, decision time suddenly seemed to be rapidly, unrelentingly, approaching. With every extra bit of insight gained into the MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management course, the stronger the case for studying at Imperial College Business School became. One particular tenet of the course outline that instantly captured my interest, more than the others, was the option of the “International Study Tour” (IST).
Now before we move on, I feel it necessary to preface my next sentence by disclosing that I suffer from chronic wanderlust…I Always have, and [hopefully] I always will.
Hence, it ought to come as no surprise that, if I had any outstanding doubts about applying for the MSc IEM, after reading the description for the IST module I was officially, wholly and shamelessly sold to Imperial for the price of no more than the offering of a trip to observe the business climate in another country – amongst other things, of course. After two strenuous yet rewarding terms and sets of exams, the IST was finally here, and we were headed for India. Might I add, on the same night we finished our last of 5 back to back exams. Seriously though, who plans these things?! #NoShade
Speaking of no shade (and in no particular order), that was certainly one of the top 5 things that I quickly learnt on arrival in India.
1. The Heat. The unavoidable Heat.
Yes, with a capital ‘H’. Because grammar has no place in 45°C weather. Temperatures which, for information’s sake, are common during springtime – not to be confused with the casual highs of 50°C in typical Indian summers. When we touched down in Delhi, we were met with a wall of heat.
This is also probably a good place to let you all know that being from another “hot” country will not help you. So to all my Africans, Southern and Western Americans, and perhaps even my South American natives – if you are planning a trip to India in the spring/summertime, the sooner you accept that your climatic heritage will put you at no added advantage against the full wrath of the pure unadulterated Indian sun, the quicker you will discover alternative more successful methods of coping. You’re welcome.
- You haven’t had Indian until you’ve actually had Indian.
As a self-proclaimed expert on all things Indian takeout, I certainly wasn’t going to go to India without venturing to discover for myself just how “good” authentic Indian food is. Even if it meant trying a different dish/restaurant for every meal – I was willing to bear the burden and power through. And we did just that!
People, I am now utterly convinced that one must be totally devoid of functional taste buds to not love authentic Indian cuisine – in all its forms. Case Closed. Nevertheless, Indian cuisine is not for the faint hearted. Especially with the frequency and the quantities in which we consumed it. Probably wasn’t the brightest idea in hindsight, as many of us discovered the hard way that Delhi Belly is a legitimate medical condition.
But hey, when in India, right? No? Whatever, it was worth it.
- Keep a watchful eye on India’s Start Up scene
Both in Delhi and in Bengaluru, we visited a range of different companies and got first hand insight into the minds of some of the more tenacious and interesting young entrepreneurial minds the country has to offer. Given their large mobile/internet base (second only to China), it comes as no surprise that Silicon Valley’s big names (FB, Dropbox, Airbnb etc.) have identified that in the next 2-5 years the maximum number of potential users coming onto these platforms is going to come from India and Indonesia.
Coupled with the fact that a total of $5 billion was spent on funding for Indian start-ups, just last year (2015), these facts show trends that any forward thinking entrepreneur and/or investor ought not to trivialise, but rather capitalise off of.
- None of the Pictures and/or Post Cards Do it justice
We’ve all seen the iconic pictures – on posters, postcards and profile pictures. However, after having visited renowned Indian monuments like the breath-taking Taj Mahal, the Lotus Temple, and the umpteen mesmerising monuments in between, I can now say first hand that India’s sites boast a rich cultural history and grandeur that is second to none. Imperial College Business School incorporated several cultural trips into our schedules so that we had a balance between company visits and tours.
And quite frankly, these sites cannot be adequately captured with any lens that is not the human eye itself.
- One week was never going to be enough
As difficult as it still is to believe that we completed a combination of 10+ company visits, panel discussions, networking dinners, and talks, over 2 Indian cities (New Delhi in the north, and Bengaluru in the south), in 6 days, it doesn’t change the fact that it actually happened.
Yet at the end of it all, one of our main complaints (after the Delhi belly) was that our time in India was too short. There was plenty more India to see, and understandably, we wanted to see it – so much so that some of us extended our trips an extra weekend to satisfy what was (quite literally) a burning desire.
Phir Milenge India!
And to all our readers, Namaste.