First month in Delhi

Hello all,

For my second entry in the AIF blog, I am as yet unsure of what the theme should be. Should it be about how great work has been or how I haven’t gotten sick yet? Should it be about how I always seem to find a way to be in the way of someone or how ridiculously poor my English gets after a long day of work? Because of the myriad of things that could be discussed, I’ll stick to some initial impressions.
First of all, I, in spite of everything this city loves to throw at me (traffic, noise and people, mostly all at the same time), I am really enjoying my time here. Sometimes I pine for a mountain retreat but at the end of the day, I feel at home here. Part of this has to do with a surrender to the dynamics of this city, which requires putting up with its stress by shrugging when the 15th auto-driver rejects you and continuing to smile. The other part is the perspective provided by various site visits to the poorest of the poor communities in New Delhi where people persevere in spite of conditions that I could not even begin to imagine living in. In terms of providing perspective on my own standard of living, my worries and fears, this fellowship has already been a success.

Regarding less brooding topics, my work here has been very fulfilling thus far. As I mentioned in my first post, this period of work reflects a new stage in my life and I must say that I’ve enjoyed it thus far. The small startup that I’ve been paired with is at an exciting stage in its existence and it is therefore equally exciting to be a part of it. Furthermore, I feel like a valued member of a team, something which is always a nice aspect of work, dispelling my initial fear that I would have to fight to get out of the intern stage.

At home, too, the dynamics have worked out very well. Contrary to our sarcastic exchanges, I am glad to have my two housemates’ company, which has made landing in a foreign city so much easier. For example, exploring the city and sampling its delicacies has been so much more fun with my fellow fellows. It has also been a boon for my meager cooking skills, leading me to check off  “Learn how to make Chapati and Dhaal” from my long checklist for my stay in India. I’ve always known I loved food, but I have never been in a country where this passion for consumption has been so indulged. I’m waiting for the dreadful day when I am no longer excited by the thought of having a tiffin for lunch or going against all good judgement and eating panni puri from a street vendor. Luckily, if my current habits are any indication, that day is as yet far off.

What challenges remain are twofold: One is to get a clearer idea of what I’m actually supposed to be doing at my company. As indicated above, I do not lack for work, but it still feels very scattered. This is part of a larger post-college crisis that has me constantly asking what I’m actually good at or what I actually like doing, now that the incentive of credits, essays and exams has been removed. Secondly, to put into writing a refrain that my housemates and I often repeat to each other, I need some friends. This is not to say that I tire of their company, far from it, I wish to continue our explorations of the city and our laughter at our respective silliness. Yet living in another country, another city and truly experiencing it can only be done if you get to really meet some of the people that live here every day. Even other expats would be nice, since everyone’s experience in another country is different, and sharing these experiences would only make me more aware of my own experience, since you can never have too much self-reflection and perspective. I trust that with enough time off from work and a willingness to meet people, even this lack of friends, leading me to conclude that I will live a very fulfilled life here.

Best wishes to all,

Lorenz

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