Sunday, November 14, 2010

Internship, City, Oh My!

Hey guys. Now that I’ve had a little more time to settle into Hyderabad and completed my first official week of my internship I think it’s time for an update.

First on the job. I work for SKS NGO which is the ngo attached to SKS Microfinance, one of the largest microfinance firms in India. The corporation has been in the news a lot lately for some shady business dealings but the ngo is completely separate. The mission of the organization is to eradicate poverty worldwide. No biggie, right? As of now they work in two areas—the Ultra Poor and Education but are looking to expand into disaster relief. That’s where I come in. I am working with the executive director, Sanjay, on the preliminary research needed to develop the new program. If all goes well with a grant we are waiting on, that means a lot of trips into the field to talk to the people who are affected most by floods and cyclones. How are they affected by natural disasters?  What are the disaster preparedness plans in place? Are they getting the services they need? Etc. For now though I am doing a lot of reading about the topic, especially in Andhra Pradesh (the coastal state that Hyderabad is in), where cyclones and related flooding can be a big problem.

The most exciting part about my job so far is that the office is located in the SKS Microfinance building, which for Hyderabadi standards, is like a skyscraper. I have a security badge, I take an elevator to my floor, and I even have my own cubicle! I’ve never worked in such a corporate environment before, which is exciting and new for now but I’m sure will wear off in a matter of days. My first day there was so intimidating, I was nervous to even get up and use the bathroom. I sat at my cubicle all day reading and taking notes, and everyone kind of ignored me because they didn’t know what I was doing there. 

The next day things got a little better when I was invited to eat lunch with the crew. This was an experience in and of itself. The top floor of the building is the cafeteria for all 6 floors below it. The room is packed and loud—very reminiscent of middle school lunch-time. For what cost me less than a dollar I go this huge metal tray with a piece of naan, rice, and four little bowls of different vegetables and sauces, and oh yea, no silverware. I spotted the ngo people across the room and had to weave my way in and out of the other tables to get there. Absolutely everybody in my close radius was watching me. I’ve come to get used to the stares but at that very moment--being the only white girl in a huge room of strangers on my second day of a new job I am already intimidated by-- at the moment, I started to sweat. I pictured myself tripping and getting food all over my clothes, like what happens in the movies. Anyways, I made it to the table ok and ate lunch with some of my coworkers. Everyone eats with their hands, correction, hand (you only eat with your right hand here because the left one is supposed to be used in the bathroom). They seem to have a lot of fun at lunch- they talk and laugh and share each other’s food from home and all of their hands get messy but it’s of course completely normal. Since then I went with some of the education people on two site visits and am feeling much more comfortable at the office. I can tell already that this is the type of internship where I will have to initiate my own deadlines, the specific research to focus on, and even friends within the office.

As for Hyderabad, my first impression of it is BUSY. My house is located off of a main road that is always clogged with tons of traffic. There is a lot of pollution, a lot of traffic, and a lot of honking. Any trip outside of the house feels exhausting because it can wear you down quickly. So far it strikes me as a place with different shopping/commercial areas, packed with people, and connected by traffic-y high ways. I have found some unique coffee shops and hang out spots but as a whole, I am not in love with this city yet. I’m trying to understand what it’s all about, where its’ heart is, like for Charleston I would say low-country culture and the beach. For Hyderabad, I am still searching.

No comments:

Post a Comment