Murmeli goes India

An AIESEC traineeship in Hyderabad, India

The way to do work, Hinduism, Hyderabad city

I am writing this on the balcony just to get into the right mood. I had work today. Indians are hard-working people. Gotta go along with that. Some people, other trainees and even a friend at work, have said that it would not really matter that much if I did not work on Saturdays. However I would hate to work less than the others. On the other hand, working six days a week will be so hard. Next weekend we are going to Chirupati to see some temples. I’ve already asked for the Saturday off. It will be my first train trip in India. Claire had heard that there are so many tourists there right now that the locals are giving some food away for free. They make so much money with tourism. We just have to go check out if that is true. If not, then we’ll be just some of the tourists the people there depend on.

It has been interesting and fun to watch the people at work. They have coffee breaks together and laugh a lot. Absolutely no one seems tired or frustrated or stressed out. Today they were joking about something and one of them asked “Mikko, coffee, tea?” I took the cup he offered and got some coffee. I joined their company and just listened carefully to what they were talking about. Their laughing and smiling made me smile as well. They asked if I speak Telugu, the primary language in this region, and one of them said they should teach me some. They were really keen on this idea. It was so sweet watching them trying to come up with the perfect first phrase to learn. Finally I learned to say “Are you fine?/How are you?”, which is “bagunnara?”. The reply “fine” is “bagunnanu”. They were funnily interested in teaching me and hearing me use those words. They laughed a lot but so did I.

And then the usual lunch report: rawa dosa, which is three pancake/omelett kinds of things of which you cut little pieces and dip into chutney, chili sauce and a third thing whose name I can not remember. The dish was excellent but at the end there was a bit too little to eat to justify calling it lunch. At lunch I started talking about Hinduism with a friend at work. Other trainees have told that also the people at their work places are extremely enthusiastic or even pushy about talking about their religion. Anyways, I had a really good discussion about the many different gods they have. I learned about Ganeesha, who is the leader of the other gods. Ganeesha has the head of an elephant and the body of a man. Ganeesha is one god that is worshipped by all Hindu. Otherwise Hindu can choose freely which gods to worship (there are millions of them). People pray to Ganeesha whenever they start to do something because Ganeesha brings good luck to journeys and ventures.

Yesterday was a very special day. I had lunch with the managing director of the company. We drove, or actually his driver did, for a few minutes and came to this extravagant hotel which was shaped like a German castle. The building was huge. Over buffet lunch we talked about India, Finland and Hinduism. He has written articles about Hinduism and knows a lot about it. We talked about how many misconseptions even many Hindu have about their religion. The god Shiva is the god of desctruction, but the destruction part is ofter misunderstood. It should be seen as the destruction of the illusion one has about the world. Only once you are able to demolish that illusion and break free from the materialistic way of thinking you can become enlightened. There were a lot of other stuff I also learned about but it would take several pages to put all that here.

After lunch we drove all around the city in his airconditioned car. We went through Ameerpet and Bekunpet to the Secunderabad side and all the way to the Osmania University. The University together with all the different colleges in Hyderabad may have as much as 500 000 students in total. The university governs the colleges, sets the semester fees, takes care of the entrance examinations etc. The campus was really nice. It was the first time I saw a lot of green in Hyd. The area was very big with nearly each departement in its own building with a lot of trees and stuff in between. The students are now on holiday so there were not so many of them around. My boss has been a professor at the university so he knows the area.

On the way to the university area I saw many Christian churches. That’s because in the times of the British Raj (ruling) the British were occupying the Secuderabad area. It is also the headquarters of the Andra Pradesh area railway system. The British established the railway system during the occupation of India. The railway is actually a very respected means of transportation. If I remember correctly, it is used by about 5 million Indians every day. The trains keep their timetable reasonably well and they are also quite safe. The road traffic on the other hand is simply dangerous, judging from the stories in the Traveler’s Tales to India book. Apparently bigger vehicles rule over the small ones and you actually have to make way to trucks or you get smashed! And trying a Tour de India on a bicycle would be suicidal.

After the university area we continued to Charminar. It is the place where the Muslim king of Hyderabad once lived. A rumour has it that there is a hidden tunnel leading from Charminar all the way to the Golconda fort. If you are a shopping freak, you’re addicted to spending money, you enjoy going through tons of clothes to find just the right garment or you want to get a bracelet for your girlfriend then Charminar is the place to go. Ok, the whole city is filled with shops but Charminar has its Charms 🙂 We went down this one street that was like a huge shopping mall. This is the old town where the buildings are much smaller than in the modern city. There are huge amounts of people there, more Muslim than Hindu.

Today was a good day at work. I had fun with the other people there and the actual work was great too. I’m slowly getting over the initial shock that this country – honestly speaking – gave me. The first couple of days I spent nervously adapting to the environment and adopting new ways to live. That is exactly how it is. Suddenly you realise that in many respects you need to totally abandon the life you had been living so far. You don’t know how to live anymore. It is very strange. Yesterday helped a lot, since I saw totally new sides to the city. The Charminar area, the Husain Sagar lake and the university area were a huge relief after many days in the core of Hyd.

I’ve now been here exactly a week. I have not even seen Hyderabad yet and there is a whole lot of India yet to be seen. I’ll get my first glimpses of life outside the city next weekend when we go to Chirupati. Tonight will be a chillout. Claire went to the shop to get some Kingfishers for the whole gang and we’ll just take it very easy tonight. Claire did have an itch to go out, as usual :), but no one else was in the mood. I’m very tired. I finally got to sleep really good last night, in part due to the tiring first week. But I’ll get used to this. Adapting to new things has to do with both the will to do so and the ability to just live with it when you are not really given a choice to do otherwise. Right now I don’t have any regrets about coming here. It will take a lot of courage to really “be out there”, but I’ll do my best to achieve that. I don’t really know what kind of an experience I’m looking for. It takes a lot to astound me, maybe India is the thing that could finally do it. But, of course, it is always up to me 🙂

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July 8, 2006 - Posted by | Being a trainee, Indian life

2 Comments »

  1. Looks like you are adjusting just fine! Have a great second week at work! 😀

    Comment by Tanjuska | July 11, 2006 | Reply

  2. Cheerios to you there far far away, and thanks for all these lovely lively writings from the spot! Hope you’re safe and sound and feeling gooood 🙂 You know, the only news we get here from India are about those nasty Mumbai bombs… Hugs from half-sunny Jyväskylä, 20 C.

    Comment by Mariainen | July 15, 2006 | Reply


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