Ashwin's Co-op Blog

i am in India
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Writing from the Chhatrapati Shivaji (try to say that five times fast, or even once at a moderate speed) Airport, my trip seems to be coming to an end. My final day at the Coffee Day was an emotional one. Like my first day, there was lots of crying, walking around, and employees wondering who I was. My coworkers got me a Kurta, which I will definitely be rocking the next time I need to display my Indian street cred.  I thought about wearing it to the airport but I am glad I did not. It seems the only people here wearing traditional dress are old people and tourists. Close call.

 I will seriously miss working at Café Coffee Day, where the free espresso flowed like water, and also the free water flowed like water. I got some great experience working as part of the marketing/merchandising team while making some great friends along the way. The time went by way too quickly, and I can’t understand how six months in another country isn’t close to being enough time.

 After my last day of work, I flew to Bombay to spend the weekend with my aunt and grandparents at their place of residence. Bombay is a city definitely worth visiting, and my weekend there was not sufficient in exploring it. I am planning to visit India again in a couple years, at which time I will definitely be spending more time in Bombay. You can see the growth going on in the city by the amount of newly-sprouted skyscrapers, and the mass amounts of people. During my time there I was able to see some of the areas that were affected by the terrorist attacks a few months ago. There was one café that had visible bullet holes in the windows and the brick walls, yet the place was still packed with both locals and tourists on a Monday afternoon. This was not an exception, I had seen a hotel the night before that had also been attacked, but now was extremely crowded with a 1st floor restaurant going at full swing. It’s incredible to see these places being so resilient after a devastating attack.

 The final experience in the airport was a bit more exciting than I would have liked it to be. Arriving a punctual 3 hours ahead of time, I checked in my two suitcases and headed to Immigration. After waiting in a line of approximately 50 people, I was sitting with an Immigration Agent. I presented my visa registration permit, which I had to acquire after multiple visits to the DMV-esque Foreign Regional Registration Office. Unfortunately, these chaps had indicated that my permit would expire on December 11th, and today was the 12th. I asked Mr. Immigration Agent why this mattered if I had a multiple entry visa valid for up to a year. Apparently, that does nothing for letting you leave the country. The agent let me know that I might not be able to board my flight to New York. Luckily, he spoke to his manager/boss, and I was sat in the back office of Immigration. The boss didn’t say anything me except “why the delay?” and I was able to explain that there had been a goof on the expiration date.  The boss man shrugged a boss man shrug and the Immigration Agent translated this as a green light, and I was allowed to carry on with my journey home. Until this moment, I don’t think I had ever breathed a real sigh of relief.

This last paragraph is the part (writing from home now) where I summarize what I’ve learned, the value of the experience, and the friends I’ve made, etc. However, my jetlag has left me feeling very disoriented and I cannot bring myself to share these details. More truthfully, I don’t want to even begin listing what I’ve learned and experienced, because I know I’ll end up missing something important. I will only say that everyone who has the chance should go to India, because it is awesome. I hope that helps.

Peace!

Ashwin

an old apartment building, and bombay’s up-and-coming skyline (note the crane.)

instead of rickshaws, bombay’s taxi service came in the form of small sedans made in the 1960’s (a modest estimate).

i found rule #4 odd. i thought people came to these types of hotels strictly for immoral activities.

view from the top of the estate

coffee plants (the red fruits each have 2 coffee beans) coffee being roasted, and some pepper also growing on the coffee estate.

the R&D center and the roasting facility

Many people drink coffee, but not many are aware of the process behind it. After visiting Chikmagalur, I am a well-versed coffee master of the universe. It is pretty much what one would expect, coffee is picked, cleaned, roasted, and then consumed after grinding. Getting to see the entire process was really interesting, learning how different soil, surrounding plants, and even ambient music (no) can affect the final flavor of the coffee bean. 

I was able to visit the Central Coffee Research Institute, where scientists are trying to develop more disease-resistant coffee strains and analyze farmers’ soil samples to suggest nutrients their crop will need. Next was the Coffee Day R&D facility, which met my expectation that pretty much everyone working in R&D gets to wear a lab coat. Here I was able to try a few new beverages and see prototype machines which have not yet hit the market. Finally we saw Coffee Day’s estate, where coffee fruit is picked, and then saw the process of cleaning the fruit to separate the bean, and the grading of beans, followed by roasting. It should be noted that raw coffee fruit does not taste very good. When exploring the coffee estate, we were told by one of the workers not to venture too far into the bordering area, because some elephants had been spotted there. We did not get to see any, but I was pretty content with not seeing any wild elephants. Especially in the wild.

 On the way home, our bus broke down when we were in the forest/jungle. The bus engine would run but the vehicle would not move forward, which is a crucial part for getting home. The sun was coming down, and eventually it was night time. Having your bus break down in the middle of the forest/jungle, some thoughts go through your head. It was nowhere near “deals with God” thoughts, but enough for thoughts like,“I wonder how long we can sleep in this bus for? Will I miss work tomorrow?” and of course, “I hope a herd of monkeys doesn’t break into this bus and steal my sneakers.” Luckily, the bus was repaired after an hour or so, and we escaped the forest/jungle un-burgled by monkeys.