Gunjan Day 2: “I’m Not Like the Others”


Everyone here keeps saying how I’m a different CEEDer than others. For one, I’m already in tune with the Indian culture since I grew up in an Indian family; it’s only the lifestyle to which I’m not accustomed. On top of that, I look and talk like everyone else: slipping in some Hindi (or Punjabi) in between the English – with a Canadian accent, of course. I can’t say I’m not going through culture shock though. The stigma of Indians being late (which my family definitely lives up to) has so far been justified, with a slight hiccup in my airport pickup plans. Not to worry, though; I had a great conversation with the woman security guard.

For the first two days, I stayed with a Vice President of AIESEC Mumbai, Yesha, and her family consisting of her parents, brother, and sister. I have to say, nothing will match the feeling of that shower I took at her place after such a long travel. Staying in this house was an experience in itself, for I have never met (let alone stayed with) a Jain family before. I got to try different foods, experience one of their religious holidays and meet their extended family too. I definitely hit it off with her little cousin, who became a model for me!

Yesha and I are so similar that it made our almost two days of chilling and touring around Mumbai so comfortable. It feels like we’ve known each other forever. She understands my love for photography, and so she took me to Crawford Market, a place full of fruit and vegetable vendors who love getting their pictures taken. We also drove around on her scooter and went to the Gateway of India, the Taj Hotel, a dhobi ghat which is where those who do other households’ laundry wash the clothes, and innumerable other places. And she lives right beside Chowpatty Beach, meaning I got to see and be on the infamous Marine Drive so often!

We also got pulled over by cops in her car twice! The first ones gave me my first ever exposure to the corruption of the Indian police and government systems; I saw my first bribe. They didn’t even have a particular reason for pulling her over in the first place…the papers that were missing were another  story. The second ones let her go as she only took the wrong turn as an honest mistake.  Aside from the Local Committee and a couple other Vice Presidents who have just become my new favourite people due to their love for classic Bollywood songs, I haven’t done much AIESEC work yet. Now, I’m in Silvassa at the prep for the national conference. I’ve met Local Committee Presidents and past Vice Presidents from all over the country and, as soon as the conference starts tomorrow if not sooner, I’ll be in full Indo-Canadian exchange mode. Til then, I’m off to explore the resort!

P.S. there’s toilet paper at this resort!!!

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