week 1 – from Harrow to Hyderabad

It feels really quite crazy to think I have only been in India for only 10 days. It was quite a whirlwind when I first arrived, however I am now beginning to find a routine and feel very much comfortable living in the wonderful city that is Hyderabad.

I landed in Hyderabad at 4am on Friday 10th February after meeting a whole range of weird and wonderful people on the journey from London, including an aunty living in Hackney from Tanzania on a trip to Gujarat, another ‘Tailor’ whose daughter lives on my road and a local Hyderbadi on his way back from a wedding in LA. The latter offered to drive me up to Banjara Hills where I am living during my time here. It’s a shame we have to be sceptical travelling as I really had no reason to doubt this man, but having just arrived I thought I had better be safe than sorry. I did however exchange details and will be meeting the man’s daughter who has offered to show me around Hyderabad!

The first weekend here involved heavy sleeping, exploring my new neighbourhood (including eating my first famous Hyderabadi biriyani and my first Indian thali) and meeting the other volunteers, learning about how we all ended up on the Social Starters programme. Oh and we were also lucky enough to see a talk by the Dalai Lama which was pretty cool. He’s a very humble and funny guy.

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First thali at Chutneys

So Monday hits and our 3 day Social Starters training begins at a very hip and trendy co-working space. We learn all about social entrepreneurship, India, start up methods and core business and consultancy tools to help our Clients. It feels great to be learning new and exciting topics and feels even better to be learning with people who are too aiming to create more socially mindful careers. Lunch includes a full on Indian feast…

Towards the end of the first week I meet my Clients, cofounders of Bamboo House India, Aruna and Prashant. It’s really interesting to hear about their journey and the ambitions and priorities they have for their social enterprise. However, in all honesty, a little overwhelming to digest everything. I’m working on setting really specific objectives with them that I can achieve over the next 5 weeks. I visited their workshop and was invited for tea and biscuits at their lovely house filled with lots of upcycled cool bits and bobs.

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Bottle bricks at Aruna and Prashants house

During the week I also signed up for my yoga classes which so far have been pretty intense and a very good work out, we visited the Birla temple at sunset which was really beautiful and on Friday night we boarded the Indian railway on a sleeper train for our first weekend adventure to Hampi!

Be happy in Hampi they say…a UNESCO World Heritage site in the state of Karnataka, Hampi is certainly several worlds away from bustling Hyderabad. We arrived on our sleeper train to Hospet and took the tuk tuk to the village. I loved the journey on the tuk tuk watching the morning street life. We stayed at a guesthouse across the river which had views out on to the lush rice fields, explored the ancient temples, wandered the local markets and hung out drinking chai at the cool, chilled cafes. It was a perfect way to end the busy week and recharge… and the trains were an incredible part of the trip too!

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Young boy selling (and drinking) coconuts in Hampi
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Sun setting in Hampi

So week one over, its been pretty jam (curry) packed. I’m feeling extremely full and happy here. I love the cool, peaceful mornings and love watching life on the streets. The local people I have met have so far have been very helpful, open and friendly. I get moments in the day where I realise that I’m in India and get all gooey inside. I am also very lucky to be sharing the experience with some very awesome people from all over the world.

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