Michael in India

Michael, a junior from Memphis majoring in business, with minors in Advertising and Spanish, is participating in SMU-in-India this summer. He will take courses at the Mudra Institute of Communications in Ahmedabad, in partnership with SMU’s Temerlin Advertising Institute, and tour the country, visiting various monuments and industries.

Photos from India 2

Michael, who is now participating in SMU-in-Spain, sends a few final thoughts and photos about his summer with SMU-in-India:

IMG_3915_2.jpg Left: After leaving the Mumbai airport, we had our first experience with Indian traffic. We were stuck in this mess for a few hours.

IMG_3946_2.jpg Right: During our stay in Mumbai, our hotel was a short walk from this view of the Arabian Sea.

IMG_4128_2.jpgLeft: During the study program, we went on a number of industry visits including an ad agency, marketing and research firms, television broadcasting stations, and more. This is a picture from the Mudra advertising agency in Mumbai.

IMG_4359_2.jpgRight: During the last two weeks of our trip, we traveled around India.

Our first stop was Jaipur. This area of India is full of old palaces and forts. One night at our hotel, a group of traditional Indian dancers put on a show for us.

IMG_4450_2.jpgIMG_4477_2.jpgHere are two group pictures from the Amber (or Amer) Fort in Jaipur. The fort complex was very ornate and was situated on top of a mountain.

IMG_4608_2.jpgLeft: In Jaipur, we rode elephants and camels. While we rode these animals for fun, many Indians use them in their daily lives.

IMG_5003_2.jpgRight: Visiting the Taj Mahal was a surreal experience. The beautiful structure is full of detail and has a romantic story. After visiting the Taj, I can easily understand why it’s considered one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

IMG_5311_2.jpgLeft: On our last day in India, we visited the Baha’i Temple in New Delhi. By the last day, I was very comfortable in the traditional Indian attire. In this picture, I am wearing a kurta pajama.

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Photos from India

I have been in India for over a month. While I haven’t recently updated my travel blog, I have been taking pictures and keeping a travel journal.

Michael_2904.jpg Left: We took classes at MICA (Mudra Institute of Communications in Ahmedabad) and explored the city of Ahmedabad for the first 20 days of our trip. Our classes focused on advertising, marketing and the rapidly changing Indian market.

Michael_2995.jpg Right: Here is my plate at a Gujarati (Indian food from a certain state) restaurant in Ahmedabad. This organization of food is very common – the separate dishes on the outside with breads on the inside.

Michael_3038.jpgMichael_3082.jpgLeft and right: There are a few local villages near the MICA campus, so on our trips to and from campus, these are ordinary sights.

Michael_3131.jpg Left: Our first interaction with local village people occurred when we visited the Sun Temple at Modhera. We felt like celebrities – local visitors approached us and asked if we would take pictures with them. Initially, they thought the pictures could be printed instantly. After the concept of digital photography was explained, they gave us an address so we could send them copies.

Mailing addresses are interesting in India – many involve landmarks of a town or village. For example, an address might read: On a specific street, next to the school, opposite the shopping center, in a specific town or village. I hope the pictures make it to them.

Michael-1375.jpgRight: This is a group picture in the step well adjacent to the Sun Temple at Modhera.

Michael_3581.jpgLeft: In Ahmedabad, we visited Gandhi’s Ashram on the Sabarmati River. He lived and worked here for more than a decade during the Indian independence movement. In this picture, I am learning how to spin thread from cotton in the house where Gandhi once lived.

Michael_3735.jpgRight: This is a picture from the Sunday Market in the old city section of Ahmedabad. There were tons of people and the market was flooded because of the monsoons.

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Crossing cultures in India

We began our first full day in India with a lecture on the socio-political and cultural environment in India. The lecture covered a wide range of topics, including gender issues in India, controversial viewpoints of 9/11, racism and more.

Michael%20India%203.jpgOn our first trip into the city, we went to Iscon mega mall, a gigantic retail mall in Ahmedabad. I guess I didn’t expect it, but there were many popular American and Western branded stores like Nike, Adidas, Levi’s Jeans, Tommy Hilfiger and Wrangler, to name a few.

In terms of development and progress in India, the amount of disparity is astounding. On a given road, there could be malls like Iscon right next to a village of people living in tents. On this road you will encounter cows, camels, stray dogs, tons of people, cars, motorcycles, autorickshaws and more. It’s strange to see cows wandering the streets. What’s stranger is to see them wandering on a street next to mega malls and in the middle of traffic.

As our last taste of American food for a while, we went to Pizza Hut for dinner. While the standard pizzas like cheese and pepperoni were available, the menu was considerably different. I had a cheese pizza – fortunately, it tasted the same as it does in the U.S.

Right after the waiter brought us our food, the power went out. While I was surprised when this happened (there wasn’t any kind of stormy weather), it seemed to be normal for the locals and employees. Luckily, the outage didn’t last very long.

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A warm welcome to India

After traveling for two days, we took a 5 am flight out of Bombay, or Mumbai, and finally landed in our final destination of Ahmedabad, located in the state of Gujarat. After arriving in Ahmedabad, we were picked up by a bus and taken to the MICA (Mudra Institute of Communications Ahmedabad) campus.

Before coming to India, I had heard and read that in India people live in three different centuries at the same time. While I never actually believed this, after the bus ride to the MICA campus, I began to see truth in this idea I once doubted.

They say that for everything that is said about India, the exact opposite can also be said. Even though I have only been here a short time and really haven’t had the chance to see much, this statement seems to be eerily true.

It’s monsoon season in India so it’s extremely humid and pretty hot too. Many of the roads are covered in water, yet this doesn’t seem to slow people down. In attempting to combat the not-so-pleasant weather, people in India use their air conditioning aggressively – at times it can get pretty chilly. Even though the weather is less than desirable at times, the campus is beautiful and exotic.

welcome-to-india-400.jpgWhen we arrived at the MICA campus, we were greeted by a group of students. They gave each one of us a bouquet of flowers and a red mark on our foreheads. While it’s the first time anyone has ever given me flowers, it was a very unique and special way of welcoming our group into the MICA community.

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On my way to India

The day is finally here – I’m on my way to India. Even though it’s been planned for quite sometime, I’m only now realizing that I will soon be in a place completely different from anywhere I have ever been.

For months family and friends have been asking me, “Why India?” As I sit in the Chicago airport preparing to depart for London, I still lack a definitive answer. I guess I am going to India for an experience. I’m not looking for just any experience, but one that will open my eyes to a part and culture of the world that is completely foreign to me.

As I await departure, I am filled with mixed emotions – I’m excited, yet scared; anxious, yet reserved. Who knows what’s in store for me during the next 5 weeks?

My goal for this trip is to be as open-minded as possible and to try tons of new things. I have been making lists for weeks and have been packing for days, and departure day is finally here. I am more prepared for this trip (in terms of packing) than any trip I have ever taken; yet, having no idea what to expect, I must admit I’m a bit intimidated.

I am prepared to be overwhelmed – or at least I can only hope that I am. Whether I am ready for it or not, I hope this trip will prove to be one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life in all possible ways.

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