Liebster Award Nomination

I was lucky enough to receive the Liebster Award, by Meghan of Travelingking. Make sure to check out her amazing blog and follow her adventures! Thank-you so much, Meghan, for the nomination!

The Liebster Award was created to help new bloggers connect with each other, and spread awareness about bloggers who have less than 200 followers.

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Here are the questions I have been asked to answer…

  1. Where are you from?

I’m from Cardiff, Wales, but I study in Birmingham, England. I have one more year left of university and after that I don’t know where I’m going to live!

  1. What was it that first motivated you to travel?

I was very fortunate and privileged to receive a means tested bursary that allowed me to attend a GDST school. During my school years I went on trips to Berlin, Krakow, New York, Washington DC, Paris, Croatia, and China. In sixth form I volunteered with the 5Cs charity in Belarus. A returned volunteer from a charity called Project Trust gave a presentation at my school, which led to my decision to teach English in Senegal for my gap year. I now give these presentations myself, and haven’t stopped travelling since!

Beijing, China
Beijing, China
  1. What is your best travel memory?

This is a ridiculously hard question, but now I’m looking down the list I can see a lot of them are very hard… It’s going to have to be something from Senegal. I lived with an amazing host family who I became really close to, so I think the best memory is really just being accepted into their family, and the community of Joal. Probably just the last week of my stay in Senegal, when my Wolof was the best it’s ever been and I had so many friends to say goodbye to, which made me feel like I was leaving my second home.

Joal, Senegal
Joal, Senegal
  1. What festival would you like to visit the most?

I was sure that I would go to Coachella when I studied abroad in the States last year, but sadly, going there from New Orleans would have been far too expensive. I still hope to go one day. I’d also really like to go to Primavera in Spain, and so many others. I’ve been lucky enough to attend the Saint Louis Jazz Fest in Senegal, Jazz Fest New Orleans, Voodoo Fest, Buku Music Fest, Glastonbury, Green Man, Bestival, and Reading Festival.

Buku, New Orleans
Buku, New Orleans
  1. What has been your scariest travel experience?

About six months in to my stay in Senegal I got mugged. I was feeling extremely comfortable and stupidly put all of my valuables in one bag. I was in the capital city, Dakar, and the next day I would be picking up my sister from the airport and travelling to the Gambia for my Easter holiday. When I got out of the sept-places (taxi) around 9pm, with two of my male Senegalese friends, three guys ran up to us and grabbed our bags. At one point I honestly thought we were going to die. It was like being in a nightmare. After they left I was screaming so much and crying and had to run into the road to hit car windscreens in the hope that someone would stop and pick us up. Luckily someone did. When we were in the car I noticed blood on my arm but I didn’t feel physically hurt. I thought maybe the adrenalin had numbed the pain. This wasn’t the case. It turned out that my friend had been stabbed in the head and the arm. We had to rush him to hospital where he was given stitches with no anaesthetic. Fortunately none of us were hurt too severely and my friend is completely fine now. Someone even found my passport, though I lost everything else, that was definitely the thing I was most happy to get back. I just kept reminding myself that this could have happened anywhere, I could have been in any city. We were just really unlucky, as this kind of violent crime is extremely rare for Senegal. I have returned to Dakar since and it’s been completely fine.

  1. Where is your favourite travel destination?

I love travelling to lots of different places, rather than having one favourite. However, I will probably go with India. I did an internship in Bangalore for two months, and also visited Pondicherry, Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, and Jaisalmer. India is incredible beautiful, the people are lovely, and the food is amazing – especially as a vegetarian.

Flower Market, Bangalore, India
Flower Market, Bangalore, India
  1. What’s the strangest food you’ve ever eaten abroad?

As I’m a vegetarian I haven’t eaten too many strange foods, although I did become a pescatarian for a year in New Orleans. I guess these foods are going to seem really normal to most people but for me it was weird eating crawfish and muscles. I couldn’t bring myself to try catfish or alligator – the other Louisiana delicacies. I did try a fried Oreo in America though, that’s pretty weird.

Crawfish, New Orleans
Crawfish, New Orleans
  1. Do you prefer travelling solo or with company?

I always prefer company. I think it’s great travelling with organisations as you always meet the nicest people and make great friends. This is definitely true for Project Trust, and Career Journal International. If you think travelling with these kind of organisations seems too expensive (which believe me – I did!) look out for travel bursaries and scholarships. After doing an application and an interview, I received £800 from the University of Birmingham to go to India, and £500 to go to Senegal through my secondary school). I have a bit of a fear of doing anything by myself. I recently went to London and saw the Carsten Höller exhibition at the Hayward and ate at the Southbank market alone, which was embarrassingly pretty good going for me.

Carsten Holler Exhibition, London
Carsten Holler Exhibition, London
  1. If you could only travel in one country, which would it be and why?

This is another crazy difficult question. At the moment I think I’m going to have to go with the USA because it is so vast and so varied. You have incredible cities like New York, Chicago, and New Orleans, as well as National Parks, some of the Seven Wonders of the World, etc.

Chicago, USA
Chicago, USA
  1. How long have you been blogging?

I started blogging when I moved to Senegal, so that would be four years ago.

  1. What inspires you?

People.

I am nominating:

  1. Tansu from Tastingwithtansu.com
  2. Elizabeth from elizabethpilar.wordpress.com 
  3. Olivia from oswildlife.wordpress.com
  4. Anju from travelingnoodles.com
  5. Rachel from theworldinaweekend.com
  6. Carlotta from nomadswind.com
  7. Keren from year-34.blogspot.co.uk
  8. Lucy from lucycheseldine.wordpress.com
  9. Cammy from wanderinglesbies.com

Instructions for Nominees:

  • Create a blog post on your site, answering the questions that I’ve provided below.
  • In your post, be sure to link back to the blog who nominated you with a thank-you and shout out) (aka myself, Ciara from CIARA COHEN-ENNIS)
  • After completing the questions, add a section for your nominees. Select, list and link other bloggers with under 200 followers. Provide these instructions. Finally, create 11 questions for them to answer.
  • Notify your nominees and provide a link to your post so that they know what to do.
  • Once you’re done, come back here and comment with the link to your post so I can check out your answers.

Questions for nominees (and visitors!)

  1. Where are you from?
  2. If you had to live in another country, which would it be and why?
  3. What is the luckiest thing that has happened to you while travelling?
  4. What festival would you like to visit the most?
  5. What has been your scariest travel experience?
  6. What travel destination most exceeded your expectations?
  7. What’s the strangest food you’ve ever eaten abroad?
  8. Where did you make the best friends on your travels?
  9. If you could only travel in one continent, which would it be and why?
  10. Do you prefer travelling in large cities or smaller towns and in the countryside?
  11. Where did you feel the most at home while abroad?

The Indian Dowry

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While I was working for the New Indian Express last summer, I interviewed the author Shiv Kumar Thakur. His first fiction novel, Price Tag on Love is about the dowry system in India, how it is still alive today and why it does not work. Kumar Thakur is an engineering graduate from Siddaganga Institute of Technology, Tumkur and has since worked in the IT industry. However, his passionate opposition to the dowry system and racial discrimination led him to write Price Tag On Love, to make other people more aware of the problems dowries cause to everyone involved.

Kumar Thakur recently posted an article that was published in the Times of India, about a woman who was forced to give one of her kidneys to her husband as a dowry and subsequently committed suicide. Due to these kind of cases, more people should be made aware of dowries that are anchored in Indian society and the fact that something needs to change.

Learn more about Kumar Thakur’s novel by clicking here.

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International Work Experience Bursary Information

Ciara Cohen-Ennis (BA Drama / English Literature, 1st year)

International work experience bursary winner working as a journalism intern with New Indian Express

Ciara’s role

Ciara worked for a month and a half for the Indulge Magazine at the New Indian Express newspaper in Bangalore. Her duties included conducting interviews and writing articles and reviews for the paper, as well as proofreading and editing. Published weekly, Ciara’s articles appeared in print virtually every week. Other tasks she was assigned by her editor included contributing to fashion it-lists, society pages, film, restaurant and food reviews. She was also given the autonomy to provide her own suggestions for articles or features in the magazine. This included working on a Home and Style page, for which she interviewed the owner of a garden boutique. Examples of Ciara’s published work include The whole nine yards, an article about a new independent shopping initiative.

Ciara Cohen-Ennis

Ciara enjoyed her internship immensely, noting that, “I loved interviewing locals for the society pages. It was really interesting to get out of the office and meet people, learn about their businesses and projects and then get to write about them and see the articles published. I got to meet the former editor of the Hindustan Times newspaper, Samar Halarnkar, who is also a father, cook and now published author. Other people I have interviewed include Nina Bual, who started a group called I Love Indiranagar, which involved nine businesses such as a bakery, gardening shop, spa, restaurant, music venue, etc. The businesses started a rapid loyalty scheme for customers to gain rewards from their shopping. I got to meet all of the owners and learn a bit about their lives and how they came about starting their businesses and got to know each other. All of their products were original and many had one-off, unique items. It was really interesting to hear their stories and see how their work developed.” However, it took a little time for her to adjust her style to that of the paper, “I had to rewrite some articles two or three times to make sure that they were fitting with the rest of the magazine. The editor wanted my writing to be extremely descriptive and full of colour so that the reader would get a sense of the place or person that I was writing about. Having only written for the Birmingham Tab and the university newspaper, Redbrick, previously, my work would hardly be edited or altered, so it was interesting to see how a professional editor would view my work and ask me to change it.”

Skills learned

Skills that Ciara developed during her placement included interviewing, writing and proofing. She also feels that, “my general writing style has also improved, as I am typing up articles on a daily basis and learning from others who work at the paper.” Whilst these will assist Ciara in her career goal to become a journalist, her work during the summer has also helped her to identify that, “I would also like to shadow a journalist and keep getting experiences by writing for local papers in the UK as well as at university and abroad. I think it may be a good idea to also do an MA in journalism so that I can further my knowledge, skills and experience… It is very important for me, now, to get work at a paper or magazine in the UK, so that I can understand how journalism works in my own country more, as well as in India. I have also started a blog while I’ve been in India and plan to keep this up when I return to the UK, so my work is always being published and companies are able to observe my writing and experiences.”

Employer’s thoughts

Ciara made a very positive impression on her hosts at the New Indian Express, who observed, “Ciara was extremely versed and comfortable in her position with our company. She showed a strong understanding of journalism and writing with an emphasis on lifestyle features. She was capable of completing stories well before the deadline, testament that she works well under pressure without compromising on quality. She was productive, pleasant and positive to work with, and her commitment towards the paper surpassed my expectation of an intern. She is a fine asset, a wonderful co-worker and she is welcome back any time she likes.”

Posted on Friday 25th October 2013

Last Week In India

Our train back to Delhi for Jaisalmer caused yet more problems. It turned out that we had booked our tickets for the wrong day and had to buy Sleeper Class tickets instead of Second Class AC, which was a big downgrade and meant that we didn’t really have reserved seats. However, with our luck, we managed to find a super friendly Indian man who spoke to the ticket officer for us and made sure no one got to angry when they realised that we were in their seats. We were looking forward to reaching Jaipur, when most of the men would be getting off the train, but as we neared the station, I was more reluctant to see them go and wondered who would replace them. The friend we made told another guy to keep an eye on us when he had to leave the train and for a few hours, we managed to get some sleep. Yasmin and Claire were on the bottom bunks, so when they awoke, they noticed that other passengers were sitting on their seats next to them, which was a bit of a shock! I didn’t experience this, as I was on the middle bunk. The train had become packed in the brief time that we were asleep and many people were standing up in the corridors, so you couldn’t even walk down them.

When we arrived in Delhi, the traffic was horrendous and it was rainy and muddy. We passed the slums and saw many disabled beggars and people missing limbs as well as a group of boys shooting up, under a bridge. It was not a particularly nice welcome to the capital city. We were feeling absolutely disgusting, have been on the train for 18 hours and not being able to shower. Yasmin arranged for us to meet Aishwarya Dravid, Editor of The Viewspaper, a newspaper written by young people. She took us to a really nice part of town for lunch at the Smokehouse Deli, and as soon as we got there, we rushed to get changed and freshen up. After lunch, Aishwarya took us to the airport to get our flights back to Bangalore!

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In my last week of working at Indulge, I typed up my interview with Arundhati Ghosh, the Executive Director of the India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) and went to a cooking course media event with another intern, Paige. It was a really fun event and we got to meet some other journalists and photographers, such as Thammy Raman, who we later went with to a club called Loveshack and met some of his DJ friends, as well as our friend, Viren.

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Thammy also came with us to UB City for an Art Bengaluru exhibition, which was amazing.

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Viren invited us to a Mini Cooper Fashion Show at F Bar the following night. I was expecting it to be a catwalk show but it seemed more like an after party, where the shows were displayed on the TV screens but it was a club night with an open bar. Due to the 11.30pm curfew in Bangalore, we ended up at an expat after party, so I had about three hours sleep when I got back before I needed to leave for the airport and fly to London.

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It was really sad saying goodbye to the other interns and my colleagues at Indulge, as well as the friends we made in Bangalore. I am very much looking forward to going back to India sometime when I finish my studies.

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Day Trip To Jaipur

Our bus from Agra to Jaipur was pretty horrendous. Because we were travelling as a three it meant that one of us should have been sharing a bed with a stranger – a middle aged Indian man. Opting against this, the three of us curled up into one bed. You would think we’d be warm with all that body heat, but the AC was broken and cold air was blasting on our heads and our feet. At one point, Claire tried to stick a plastic bottle into the AC to block it, but nothing seemed to work. When we reached a service station, I asked the driver if there was any way to make it less cold, to which he replied ‘no’. Luckily, there were some unreserved seats below us, so we left the bed and sat down in the slightly warmer part of the coach, which greatly improved our journey. The bus was delayed, so we arrived in Jaipur at 4am instead of 2am. The hotel manager picked us up from the station and tried to get us to fill out a load of forms when we arrived. After filling one out, we whinged so much that he let us go to bed and do the others in the morning. We had two showers each in the space of four hours and set our alarms for 8am. At 7am, I got a phone call from our guide saying he was at the hotel. I complained and said we were planning to meet him at 9am, but we had to settle on 8.30am and quickly got ready to meet him. He drove us to Amber Fort, which was absolutely beautiful and we had an elephant ride to the top. Unfortunately, we later discovered that the elephants were being hit and mistreated. A German traveller that we met on a train showed us a photo that she had taken of one of the elephants being hit with a metal stick.

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Despite this, we had an incredible day in Jaipur. It’s also known as the Pink City, due to the walls of the old city being painted. There was an amazing view from the Fort and the palace was covered with jewels and mirrors. Our guide later took us to a gem cutting factory and jewellery store, as many precious stones come from Jaipur, as well as a textile factory where we saw prints being made. When we separated from our guide, we went in search of a post office to send some cards. While Yasmin and I joined the ridiculously long queues, Claire waited outside and got chatting to a man who said he had a wife in Cambridge and he was originally from Hampi. He showed us little passport photos of his wife and his daughter. He then told us that he would take us to his shop in the old city. We wanted to go there anyway, so we got into a rickshaw with him. When we reached the old city, it was raining heavily, and a police officer jumped into the front of our rickshaw. It turned out that our driver didn’t have a license. We considered hopping out at this point, but for some reason, we waited to see how it would all pan out. The officer let our driver get away with a bribe and our friend from the post office told us that we were just five minutes from his store. Almost half an hour later, we weren’t there and were starting to get annoyed. We tried to ask him to turn around and started thinking that we were idiots for going with him. However, by the time we reached the store, it actually turned out to be really nice. A little more expensive than we’d hoped, but I got to try on a sari, drink lots of complementarymasala chai and bought a really nice top for about £3.50 as well as five silk scarfs, for half the price that they cost in Bangalore.

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Indian Independence Day

Independence Day marked the start of our travels to the North of India. I went with two other Indulge interns, Claire and Yasmin. Everything went smoothly with our flight and when we reached India Gate, we met up with an event organiser and entrepreneur, Viren, who we knew from Bangalore. We joined a mass of Indian families flying kites and Viren gave some money to a little boy who was selling bracelets, so that he could join us. Afterwards, Viren gave all the kites away to a group of kids, which was really sweet. A crowd gathered round us and started taking photos, before we knew it, we were approached by a TV crew who asked us to say ‘Happy Independence Day’ in Hindu on live television. Unfortunately, we had a really short time in Delhi before we had to get our bus to Agra. We jumped in a rickshaw, but because of the crazy one-way system in India, we almost missed the bus and seemed to be driving further and further away in the opposite direction to the station. The three of us in the back of the rickshaw were completely silent, terrified that we had ruined our whole trip. Thankfully, as we ran into the bus station, the people working there told us to calm down and walked us to the bus, which hadn’t even left yet. Our bus to Agra was really nice and comfortable, giving us false hopes for the transport on the rest of our trip.

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The Taj Mahal was amazing, obviously. We were approached by a tour guide in Agra and agreed to go with him. He led us down a back route and passed by his house, then reached a dead end with a dark staircase leading down. The three of us stopped when we arrived there and I suddenly considered that maybe it wasn’t a good idea to go down the dark staircase, when we had no idea where it led. After a minute of panicking, we decided to follow and it was completely fine, so we then felt a bit awkward about doubting him at all. The Taj Mahal was really busy and we did all the standard tourist photos before going inside. Getting a guide was a good idea, as it meant we got to skip all the queues. Getting out was a bit of a nightmare because it was absolutely boiling and people were pushing and shoving to get through a tiny door, while others were trying to get in. Apparently four people died there in summer from dehydration.

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We had a great evening in Agra and did a bit of shopping for Taj Mahal t-shirts, elephant print trousers, jewellery and postcards. After that, we stopped off at the first restaurant we could find, Relax He Relax, owned by the friendliest guy ever, Sanjay. He kept saying that his food was the best in India and if we didn’t like it, he would give us our money back. Surprisingly, it probably was one of the best meals we had, though we ended up with three paneer dishes – a bit of an overload. Claire managed to cut her arm on a rusty staircase while we were there and Sanjay jumped into action, sending one of the waiters to the hospital to pick up a tetanus jab. He then gave Claire the jab himself, in the restaurant! Sanjay even sent a waiter to the bus station with us to make sure we got there safely.

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A Night in the Desert

Sleeping on sand dunes under the stars may sound romantic, but I can reveal that it was probably the worst sleep I have ever experienced. We moved slightly higher up on the dunes to avoid the dung beetles that were flying around and crawling over us, but this meant that the wind was stronger. Imagine eating a bowl of sand, rubbing sand in your eyes, inhaling sand and then being buried in sand and you may understand how we felt that night.

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Aside from the sleeping, our time in Jaisalmer was great. It was definitely the hottest place we went to. I’d go as far as to say it was almost too hot. We were sweating buckets. We managed to completely mess up our train tickets and not confirm them, so we were on a waiting list. Luckily, we met some Indian sisters who were unbelievably generous and gave up one of their beds so we could stay on the train. Not only that, but they spoke to the train staff for us, gave us their phone number in case of any trouble, took down our confirmation details so they could check up on our transport bookings… No matter what awful things seem to happen to us (all bloody transport related!) we seem to come across the kindest people ever who take us under their wings.

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So, as soon as we got to Jaisalmer, there were about a million people waiting outside trying to take us to their hotel or restaurant. There was a sign up at the train station saying ‘beware of catchers’ – people like that who aren’t legit. Us interns, along with a German traveller we met on the train, went for some lunch and then got picked up by Trotter’s safari company. We had a quick look around the market and then drove 45 minutes to the desert, jumped on our camels and trotted off to the sand dunes. It was a really relaxing evening (despite the pain of riding camels – do not wear lace pants if you plan to go camel riding yourself!) We met lots of other travellers and volunteers from Germany, Hungary and Belgium. The owner of Trotter’s seemed perfectly normal at first, but in the desert he revealed that he was a palm reader and could tell our past, present and future. He refused to do this in front of other people, so he took Yasmin aside to read her palm initially. I later had my palm read, and was told I would be rich, that everything was fine with my family, my heart was empty and I wasn’t sure who to trust. This man clearly had a gift. I highly recommend doing a camel safari with Trotter’s, but please choose the option of sleeping in a tent!

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Sickness, Travel and Work

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I’ve been pretty ill with possibly a mild version of dengue fever, which is caused by mosquitoes, last week, so I missed a fair bit of work and slept practically all day, every day! Before that, the deputy editor of Indulge in Bangalore, Aakanksha, was diagnosed with dengue, so it’s been a somewhat stressful in the office trying to get all our articles in with people being ill. Luckily, we’re both back in work now and I have to say, I really missed it. My plans to visit Hampi and Kerala also fell through because of this, unfortunately. It seems like I’ll have to come back to India another time to do more sightseeing.

When Aakanksha was out of the office one morning, only Phil, another intern, and I were in. A PR team from Nickelodeon were due to visit with Shaun the Sheep and we were a little unsure what to make of the whole thing. We posed for a few photos with a man in a costume and then left…

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Phil and I also got to go back to the Mercure to do a review of a Chinese Food Festival. It was an all you can eat buffet, which was amazing. We’ve done a few other food reviews recently, one was a Lebanese restaurant called Byblos on 100 Feet Road and another was a Thai place on Brigade Road that I went to with two new interns, Yasmin and Claire. The food was great, minus the weird ice and jelly dessert. There’s almost a totally new group of interns now since I arrived and tomorrow I’ll have to say goodbye to the first ones I met.

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Claire and I have been working together on a Home & Design gardening page recently. We’ve been to the annual Lalbagh Flower Show, which was extremely busy and full of stalls and beautiful displays. We also interviewed the owner of Sunshine’s Garden Boutique, who is an expert in Bonsai trees and also teaches workshops. She was really kind and even gave us a goody bag with a notepad, pen and candle holder in.

Last weekend, Claire, Yasmin and I went to dinner in a lovely Greek restaurant called On the Edge on the 13th floor of the Barton Centre on MG Road. We were meeting a journalist, Mark Austin, who found Yasmin on twitter and teaches on the route to Mysore in a multimedia and journalism college. It turns out that he also lived and worked in Japan for many years, though he grew up in Edinburgh.

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On Friday, a group of us went to an expat pool party at the Chancery Pavilion. I decided not to bring my bikini, as I’d been ill and wasn’t drinking. I also didn’t really think that anyone would get into the pool. However, at one point in the night, everyone seemed to get pushed in, in their clothes! Luckily, I managed to avoid that and spent most of the night dancing and at the buffet with some of the others. It was still a really fun night, the expat parties that people throw here are definitely extravagant.

This morning, Claire and I went to a rock climbing centre on Residency Road. The people that worked there were really friendly and happy to answer our questions. There was also a young girl there who had won lots of competitions in climbing, so we got to see her scaling the walls before having a go ourselves. We’re about to head off to interview another woman now, called Arundhati Ghosh. She’s the Executive Director of the India Foundation for the Arts and has done loads of fundraising for the arts, as well as being trained as a classical dancer and a poet. I’m looking forward to meeting her before she makes her way to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which I sadly don’t have time to go to this summer.

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I’ve left the most exciting news till last… This week, Claire, Yasmin and I are going travelling up North! We’ve booked flights from Bangalore to Delhi and from there, we’re getting a bus to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, then to Jaipur for an elephant safari, to the desert for camel rides in Jaisalmer before going back to Delhi to see the Red Fort and some of the bazaars. We’re doing all this from Thursday to Monday, which is pretty insane and we’ll probably be exhausted the whole time, but I’m still looking forward to it immensely.

Happy Independence Day!

Interning at Indulge

I’ve been in India for three weeks now and it’s flown by. I’m working for a newspaper in the Indulge lifestyle magazine, which comes out every Friday. This is briefly what I have done for the magazine so far, a few of the articles will come out in the next issue.

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In my first week I interviewed Megha Arya, a flower designer who mastered in Ikebana in Japan. She was really kind and welcoming and gave me green tea and cupcakes as soon as I got there. She has also studied in Singapore and Thailand and is really interested in the spiritual, therapeutic side to flower arranging and doesn’t like using anything artificial.

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I’ve been to a few book launches, the first was for A Married Man’s Guide to Creative Cooking by Samar Halarnkar, journalist/chef. His book is a funny compilation of recipes and stories about his life and growing up. His mother encouraged him and his brother to learn to cook and be self-sufficient from a young age, so he’s now trying to get other men to do the same, which is great.

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The second author I met was Shiv Kumar Thakur, who was promoting his first novel, Price Tag on Love. It’s about the dowry system in India, which he strongly opposes, as well as discrimination which goes on in the country based on the language people speak or the region they come from.

Nine businesses in Indiranagar, Bangalore, have joined together to create a loyalty card program for customers. This includes a spa, music venue, restaurants, shops, etc. The launch was held at The Humming Tree, which is a new venue in Bangalore for up-and-coming bands from all over the world. It also has a European and Mexican restaurant. I got to interview the owners of the businesses and check out some of their products.

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In the office, I’ve been working on fashion page with one of the other interns. Bangalore fashion week starts next Thursday, so I’m really looking forward to seeing the local designers with their Autumn/Winter collections.

This morning I went to the Grand Mercure Hotel for the launch of their Grand Vins. This involved a lot of wine tasting, which I’ve never done before. The guys at the hotel showed me how to wine taste properly and even had funny way of bringing out the fruity flavour by holding the wine in your mouth and breathing in. Apparently this makes it go to your head faster… Bit of a change from buying £5 bottles at uni. I met some really nice people at the Mercure, including a girl who is going to study at Birmingham City University in September. She’s only 20, but has been accepted there to do an MA program. After tasting the wine, we tried our hand at grape stomping. This initially felt disgusting, but we got into it after a while and probably crushed about a million grapes. On my way back to the hotel, I got absolutely drenched. Luckily I was able to get a rickshaw, but the traffic was awful and the roads were really flooded. Happy monsoon season!

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Sights of Karnataka

The first three weeks of living in Bangalore have gone so quickly, I’m really happy to be here for two months instead of one. Two of the interns are leaving this weekend, which is pretty sad, but I’m sure we’ll see each other again!

Last Sunday, we went on a day trip to Mysore. We left at 6am and were all very tired and grumpy on the coach, but stopped off for a McDonald’s breakfast and devoured all their hash browns. We visited Mysore Palace and nearly ended up getting taken to the police station for photographing the inside, which was apparently out of bounds. The guards clearly wanted a bribe but we managed to talk our way out of it. The palace was absolutely beautiful, with a stained glass window ceiling with images of peacocks and the walls were covered in paintings. You weren’t allowed to wear shoes inside. At night, it gets lit up with millions of light bulbs and looks incredible.

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Mysore Palace
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Inside of a church in Mysore
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Gardens of another palace

We also visited the zoo in Mysore. Some of the animals had a fair bit of space to move around in, like the giraffes, lions and elephants, but others were closed off in small cages. There were hilarious signs up around the zoo, depicting a person touching / feeding an animal, bleeding and then being dragged off by the police. At the zoo, a few of the locals asked to take photos with us. We were imaging them going home and showing their friends pictures from the day out ‘look, here are the monkeys, zebras, tigers, white people…’

I went into a place in Bangalore recently, a traditional Indian restaurant with little tables outside and no chairs or cutlery, where people eat quickly on the go. When I got to the counter and ordered a Masala Dosa, the guy serving looked like he was going to have a heart attack, firstly just because I had come into the restaurant and secondly because of my order.

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We’ve been on some really good nights out recently. This is Sky Bar, on the 16th floor of a mall called UB City:

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And this was a Derby after party that we went to with my friend, Haley’s boss, some other interns and his friends:

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There was a live band and it was free entry, free drinks and a free Indian buffet. Something that I neglected to mention was that Karnataka has a ‘Cinderella Curfew’ of 11.30pm. Nights out begin around 8pm and end soon after, as you can imagine. This was enforced by the government a few years ago to keep crime and drinking down.

Following on from this, some places have now started to offer brunch with alcohol and parties that go from 11am until the curfew.This morning, I went to the Grand Mercure Hotel to do some wine tasting. The guys at the hotel showed me how to wine taste properly and even and funny way of bringing out the fruity flavour by holding the wine in your mouth and breathing in. Apparently this makes it go to your head faster. I met some really nice people there, including a girl who is going to study at Birmingham City University in September. She’s only twenty, but has been accepted there to do an MA. After tasting the wine, we tried our hand at grape stomping. This initially felt disgusting, but we got into it after a while and probably crushed about a million grapes.

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On my way back to the hotel, I got absolutely drenched. Luckily I was able to get a rickshaw, but the traffic was awful and the roads were really flooded. Good old monsoon season.

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