Monsoon Me

It’s been a long summer here, which means it has been raining like crazy. It is my second monsoon since moving here, and this one has been much stronger. The weather can definitely be a damper on the mood, but it’s not too terrible. At least it’s cooler and not as humid! These past few months I have started taking the train to work, since I am travelling a longer distance now. It can be tiring to struggle against people in tight quarters, but it is also a great way to see parts of the city I wouldn’t otherwise. The Mumbai Local is definitely the city’s cardiovascular system. When the train shuts down, the city shuts down.

The entrance to Khar station, where I get on my train to Kandivali

My redesign work on the app (current version here) has been slowed down a bit, but it has moved forward. Hopefully work on implementation will get started next month. Through the fall, however, I will be working on a second project as well. My company has been interested in the disruptive possibility of blockchain, or distributed ledger, technology for a few months now so I will be helping to manage the development of a prototype to build interest among our group companies. I am going to continue working with Mahindra SmartShift (the logistics company), but spend a little more time on this other project as well. I am looking forward to the shorter commute!

My approaching train, C for Churchgate, heading south after work

I have learned a lot this past summer about teamwork and what it means to be part of an organisation. I have always been a solitary worker, avoiding group projects and seeking out private space for my studying. I have had to make a concerted effort to be more flexible and communicative with my team. It’s a tough balance between being proactive while also not getting in the way! But it’s obviously rewarding as well. I am able to accomplish a lot more when I have help from people whose skills complement my own.

My user research partner, Pranshu, at a customer’s shop (wearing the company shirt!)

At some point I would like to learn to be a full stack developer so that I can be more self-sufficient as a designer. For someone used to working on their own, it can be frustrating to lose momentum, in learning and in implementation, because I don’t have the knowledge to actually make the thing I have designed. I have avoided learning to code because it didn’t come easily to me, but if I want to be the team member I aspire to be, then I need to be able to make my ideas real without taking time away from someone else.

Office birthday selfie (after cake)!

So maybe that means I will be back in New York for a bootcamp sometime soon! Not sure yet, but that seems like a real possibility. I have definitely been a bit homesick for a real American summer through all this rain. It has really become an 18 hour/day down pour. That hasn’t stopped me, however, from appreciating the beauty of Bombay in all its gritty glory.

Plastic banana crates outside a warehouse in Andheri East

I can’t believe it has been a year already since I arrived here! In some ways it feels like so much longer and in others it feels like it has gone by so fast. Watching (and participating briefly in) the human towers for Dahi Handi was one of my first immersive experiences here.

Neighborhood kids practicing towers for Dahi Handi festival

By making an effort to meditate in the mornings, I am hoping to increase my presence and awareness this fall. All the better to appreciate the amazing aesthetic moments all around me!

Anti-pest fumigation at my local park

I also moved into a new flat this summer, since my other roommate moved in with another friend of his. I am with two of the other kids from the program now, both of whom I like a lot. And we have a balcony now!

Receiving a rakhi band from Margaret, a girl I volunteer with sometimes

One of the coolest memories I will have from the past few months was Raksha Bandhan, or Siblings day. On this festival, girls tie bracelets around the wrists of their brothers or platonic friends, blessing them and giving them a sweet in exchange for a promise to protect them in the coming year. I did this ceremony with the girls from the the home that I volunteer at, and it was a touching experience. They were all so eager about it! I guess they miss having brothers around.

Fishing boats and ferries at a wharf to Alibaug

Another highlight was a trip to Kolkata with my girlfriend. Although we missed our flight home because of traffic from the rain, we had loads of fun exploring this proud and delicious city. Kolkata was the capital of British India for most of its rule, and so it has a lot of European architecture and a strong feeling of cultural fusion. Kolkata is now the capital of the state of West Bengal, as well as the nation’s cultural centre. The trip cemented my opinion that Bengali, or Bong, food is my favourite kind of Indian food. It has a fruitiness and tang that can’t be easily compared or described. I have been trying to improve my Indian cooking skills a bit this summer, but I don’t quite have the palate for it yet. I will keep trying! I hope to cook and trade stories with many of you when I get back stateside.

New Market, established in the 1700s, on a Sunday afternoon
A mausoleum at Park Street Cemetery and street art of a melting rainbow
A stately old mansion

Please send me an email or a postcard to catch up! And I will send you one if you email me your address. Mine is:

Hicons Residency, Flat 502

26th Road

Khar West 400050

Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

The Victoria Memorial, the most prominent colonial relic in Kolkata