Last summer I was fortunate enough to be accepted onto a program called ‘Make in India’. This post is about my experience and what this program has to offer. Just a little warning it’s quite long but I hope you enjoy reading.
As the name suggests, the program was in India for 2 weeks. It was the first two weeks of July, just when the monsoon season was starting there. This program was supported by UKIERI and delivered by IndoGenius. There were around 60 of us on this trip and we had the best time.
‘Make in India’ is a program based on exploring India’s manufacturing industry. Honestly, before the program I didn’t except to do half of the thing we actually did. I was very excited because I was going to India for the first time without my parents. Coming from an Indian background and having family in India just meant I was always locked down to do things with in boundaries, whenever I visited before. ‘Make in India’ changed this.
We were going to visit 5 different cities which excited me the most. Two of the cities I had never visited before. We started off in Mumbai then followed by Ahmedabad, Udaipur, Jodhpur and ending in Delhi.
Meeting new people
I’ve always liked meeting new people and making new friends but there’s always that fear about people not liking you or you not fitting in. I was worried for no reason everyone on the trip were so nice. Groups are always formed naturally but that didn’t stop anyone from talking to others. The IndoGenius team were the best, they always made us feel like welcome and were always there to help us.
We stayed in hotels every where we went. After a long and busy day it was nice to come back to a comfortable hotel. Everyone was in groups of 3 for rooms which was nice. I loved my roomies. The best hotel was the Ahmedabad one, I think we actually had the best room too. It was so big and we had a big swing in our room. The Udaipur hotel had a best view. You could see the beautiful lake and palaces from our window.
India’s transport services have actually improved a lot since I last visited. I was amazed. We mainly travelled by coach around the cities. From Mumbai to Ahmedabad we travelled in a train. It was a sleeper train so you basically get your own bed which was so much fun. It wasn’t new for me as I already experienced these kind of trains in my previous visits. Ahemdabad to Udaipur was a 6hr long journey in the coach, but was fun because of the wonderful company and the same coach also took us to Jodhpur which was only a few hours away. We also had stops in between to refresh ourselves. To get to the last leg of our trip we flew from Jodhpur to Delhi. The whole flight was full of the IndoGenius team and 60 participants with a few exceptions.
On the second day of the program we got a chance to have a tour around Dharavi. It’s one of the largest slums in the world. When people think of slums, they think of poverty. Not going to lie I thought that too. But that was before I experienced this, I wouldn’t have if I went to Mumbai with my family. After the tour I realised that the families living there have a normal life like all of us. They live and work in their houses and many of the supply most of the products you find in the markets around India. You wouldn’t even know that it came from there. This experience really changes your life and the perspective of the way you think.
There isn’t a lack of Artisans in India, all of them have a different talent. We met a guy who creates ‘Mata ni Pachedi’ which means “behind the Mother Goddess”. They are basically temple hangings or backdrops. We got an insight of the history and saw the guy actually creating it in front of us. I was amazed it was all freehand. He told us he had been doing this since he was 10. We also visited an art museum in Gujarat.
I never expected to visit the biggest denim mill in India and the oldest too. They supply denim to so many big brands. We had a tour around the mill to see how raw cotton is processed into denim and literally saw every stage. I never knew how many stages there actually are until we visited Arvind Mill. This wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t gone on this trip. We also visited factories that make clothes for other companies. They usually get the design from the client and produce the garments for them. To hear from these kind of factories was a huge help to me in the future.
Being a fashion student myself, I was most excited about meeting designers. We met two designers in Delhi who were both top designers in India. We actually went to one of there studios/factory. Tarun Tahiliani’s studio was amazing. The interesting fact was that all the men sewing and the women were finishing off the garments and adding little touches to it. The embroidery in most factories is also done by men. I still couldn’t believe we actually met the designer and saw how a fashion brand in India works.
Textile & Print
Jodhpur was where we were introduced to the amazing people that naturally dye their fabrics and use mud & iron printing. We were luck enough to have our own time creating masterpieces to take home with us. We also tried doing some embroidery at a factory in Gujarat, the guys teaching were so patient with us.
Although I knew some history about India, coming from an Indian background, I learnt so many new things. I would like to credit the co-founder of IndoGenius, Nick for this. He literally told us the history of the places we visited. We also had tours of Mumbai on bikes in the morning by an actual tour company, so they told us about history of the architecture and other things around Mumbai. The Ahmedabad heritage walk was also fascinating as my family are from Gujarat. There’s so much history trapped inside every wall in India, all you need are the right people to tell you. I’ve been to Gujarat every time I’ve visited India but never have I been to the Ghandi Ashram. You can find everything you want to know about Ghandi there.
We didn’t get much time to shop but we did get to visit the fancy mall in Ahmedabad, it literally looked like a mall you would find here in the UK. Very modern and chic. In contrast to that we visited the Dilli Haat, located in Delhi. A market full of delicious food and amazing crafts. Every craftsman gets a 15 day period for a stall and then a new craftsman will take their place. People travel from all around the country to come and sell their handicrafts. I got some amazing scarfs to give as presents.
The heart and soul of India in my opinion is its culture. Everywhere we went we saw people from different communities/religions living as one, very different to the UK. Not only did we visit hindu temples (mandir) but also mosques. The second day in Delhi, we performed a ‘havaan’ with the whole team in a local hindu temple. The Lotus Temple in Delhi is the prettiest architecture. Shaped as a lotus, hence the name, and open to all faiths. This was actually my second visit as I had been there before with my family but its a pleasure and so peaceful.
Travelling around India
I’ve never actually travelled a lot in India, so when I saw that this program offers that I was so excited. Travelling with the wonderful people that were on the trip made it even more exciting and fun. It is one of best things I have ever done and this trip has really made me think about more travelling. The food was great every where we went. I did avoid meat because I didn’t want to fall ill.
Fun & adventure
Flying fox, a zip wire course. Who would of thought we would be doing that in India. This was so much fun. I’m not really scared of heights but I was a little scared along the first wired, there was only water underneath. Then I just got used to it. We also had a pool party in Jodhpur at the hotel on the first night there. There was a DJ and food, it was just the best night.
Dance & Yoga
Two things that are actually very popular in India are dance and Yoga. Every morning there was either a dance class or a yoga session. The dance classes were so fun, we performed for the British council in India on the last day of the program followed by a dinner.
For any student it is crucial to have a strong network. I got a lot of contracts through this trip. I basically took the opportunity to ask for business cards, as did the others. From designers to factories to artisans, anyone could help you through your career. I love keeping contact with other participants of the program, we have all become great friends.
And finally what skills did I gain from this trip? I have discovered things about me that I didn’t know before. For example, my love for embroidery. At university, I always used to avoid embroidery because I never knew the techniques but I learnt some through this program. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge about things that India has to offer, and honestly I wouldn’t mind living there now. I spoke quite a lot of hindi to store owners and people around the markets, I think my hindi did improved a little. Networking on this trip actually helped me because I haven’t really done much before.
I loved going on this program and never once did I think while applying that I would actually get accepted. Anyone who is thinking of applying, go ahead and do it. They also do ‘Study in India’ & ‘Digital India’. I also believe they have opened up more programmes that are focused on individual areas, so definitely check their website here.
It’s the best experience I’ve had thanks to the IndoGenius team. I wish I could go again. We did a lot more than what I have actually said in this blog, but if I spoke about everything then this post would probably be twice as long.
Hope you enjoyed reading the post, let me know if you have been on a trip like this. Also don’t forget to follow my blog.