India · 137 Days · 25 Moments · January 2019

Incredible India

26 May 2019

What I did really love though, were the Chinese fishing nets used all along the coast. It reminded us very much of the Trabocchi we have in Vasto, Italy, with this association maybe contributing to my positive stance towards this simple yet highly efficient fishing mechanism. We decided not to go for the highly polluting rice boats, but rather choose the eco-friendly alternative. This was on the one hand lovely, as we caught a glimpse of the daily lives of people living in the remoter and smaller channels, on the other it also meant that in order to get to the „captain‘s“ house we literally had to walk through mud and waters whose colour was far from inviting (not going into too much detail, but I guess you get the broader picture). Anyways, overall we had a couple of beautiful days in Kerala, and we ended mum‘s stay in India with a delicious Afghani-Indian dinner and the best gin and tonic in Bangalore. I feel blessed to have spend such quality time with the best mum in the world.

23 May 2019

With monsoons around the corner, I asked my mum to go to Kerala to see „god‘s own country“ (that is how Indians call it) when at its best. As always, she was kind enough to fulfill my desire. So we spent our last days together in this beautiful and quite unique region. What struck me most of Fort Kochi is how major societal differences seem to live harmoniously together - from different religions (the synagogue is next to the Catholic church and the mosque is just around the corner) to political views (I had no idea of how strong the communist party is in Kerala!). The fighting is left to the goats - or so it seems! A highlight was for sure the food - we had plenty of fish enriched with the perfect blend of Indian spices. The famous backwaters and rice boats were not as beautiful as I imagined, but that may have to do with the high expectations I had..

22 May 2019

And some more pictures combing human and architectural beauty 🙃
And spme more black and white pictures, as by now you should know my love for b&w, so please bear with me for one last round of pictures of beautiful Hampi amd the two of us - to shed a different light to the same beauty.
Yet the real highlight were the temples. India has proven one more time its mastery of combining beauty with culture and practicality. Impossible to replicate the many myths and stories behind these buildings or what is left of it, let me simply say that not even a whole book would do it justice. We adventured alone and with guide, and while experiencing the sites in very different ways, we were always struck by its beauty, refinedness and descriptiveness.

20 May 2019

The little gem of a palace we were residing in, surely contributed to our love to Hampi, and to making my mother‘s birthday an unforgettable one (I believe never has my mum received so much attention in one day - roses, good morning cookies, birthday cake (all strictly dairy-free, which in India is not at all given), a romantic candle-light dinner in the garden, aaand the rose petal and heart shaped baloons not to forget!!).

19 May 2019

Medieval capital of South India, Hampi is now an UNESCO world heritage side featuring beautiful temples, ruins of royal palaces, and ancient market streets and aqueducts, alongside a unique landscape where green palm trees and rice fields are at strong yet harmonius contrast to the arid looking stone constructs. While not an easy journey because of the heath, it most certainly was an unforgettable one, and my mum has proven to be the coolest of mums as usual, not even shying away from the 575 steps at 3:30 pm to reach Hanuman‘s birth place.

18 May 2019

Five months have passed, and as usual, when having a great time, I feel like they flew by so incredibly quickly. Enjoying my life in Bangalore so much, I did not realise how much I missed my mum until she told me she had booked a ticket, and was on her way in two weeks time. As you all know my mum is much more than a mother to me - she‘s my best friend, my advisor and confidant, and least but not last, my favourite travel buddy. So don‘t be surprised to hear she herself asked me to take her on an overnight bus to Hampi, simply to experience my way of travelling! Seven hours of extremely bumpy roads and no sleep later, we arrived to paradise - with the only (not quite minor) detail that it felt more like hell with staggering 45 degrees pushing even extreme heath-resistent Leo to her limits. Yet, believe me, however hot it may have been, Hampi is worth it every single bit.

24 April 2019

On Sunday, I managed to go to the huge gold plated sacred meditation centre. Whoever knows me, knows how sceptical I am of superior forces, spirits and the likes. I don‘t take drugs because I am scared of losing control, but when I try to let it go in normal life, I always miserably fail. In more than 15 years of yoga practice, I still struggle meditating. Auroville‘s Matrimandir has at its centre a completely soundproofed meditation room with a crystal sphere that reflects the sun and emanates an indescribable power. I will not attempt to describe my experience because surreal, but let me simply say it has been an experience like no other, which involved crying and optical visions. This weekend has been a truly unforgettable one, I will always be grateful for.

22 April 2019

The reason I wanted to come to Auroville was that I wanted to experience first hand how a community with such noble values is constructed and how it works. Needless to say I feel very strongly about the founding values of Auroville, particularly those of sustainability, unity and equality. However, putting such noble values into praxis is not at all easy, particularly not when at a bigger scale. Having spoken to many Aurovillians of different ages and backgrounds, I understood that certain features that drive human behaviour outside of the green belt surrounding Auroville, still do - even if to a much lesser extent - exist there too. People talking and judging, or putting their own‘s needs first, still are present, even if to a lesser extent and sometimes disguised. Yet what I really liked is the transparent recognition thereof, with Aurovillians describing Sri Aurobindo and the Mother‘s (the founders) project as far from being fully complete, but rather still in process.

20 April 2019

My Aurovillian experience started off with a lovely day at the beach, and ended with a full moon party (or maybe rave is more adequate) in the middle of the forest. What I was definitely not expecting were the many Italians I met. I tend to see Italians as extremely attached to their comfort zone - because, after all, Italy has the best food, the best wine, the best culture etc. etc. And yet, in Auroville - which most certainly has nothing to do with Italy - Italians are the fourth biggest represented, and many of them, I have met and fallen in love with! Their fondness for Italian food is something nothing and nobody will ever take from them though, and so we all met again the following evening for a pizza night (and what a good pizza that was!). Hosts were nine people living in the Youth Centre - a completely self-managed community where young people of all ages live in house trees and build awesome handcrafted games. I truly felt I was in Neverland - where children never grow up.

18 April 2019

After another (very green!!) overnight bus ride, a small stroll around Pondicherry, where time seems to have stopped to when it used to be a French colony, I finally made it to Auroville - a place like no other. Founded in 1968, it is a sort of self-regulated city state where people of more than 50 nationalities come together, embracing diversity in unity. The founders‘ aim was to create a place where to live together in peace and harmony, leaving xenophopia, prejudice and to some extent also materiality behind. In order to fully immerse in this unique place, I had decided to go alone (yes, I have been told off and called egoicentric when I shared this desire of mine with my friends, but they accepted it eventually :)). And in order to truly make the most out of it, I had decided to try out couchsurfing. I found the loveliest half Italian half Japanese girl, born and raised in Auroville, who welcomed me in her home, and showed me the life of a true Aurovillian.

23 March 2019

While I truly loved this weekend, there were many things that unavoidably struck me. There are simply certain things I still have problems understanding, or coming to terms with. The first such event I can think of, is when I entered the plane, and all I could see were men, and barely any women. While fully aware for India’s patriarchal system, I am still amazed by how omnipresent gender - among many other types - inequality is. Even the nicest of people, I see abiding to the (un)written rules of India‘s cast system. I just can‘t understand how anyone can believe to be entitled to treat any other human being as less worthy, and yet here, maybe more than elsewhere, such dynamics are often accepted as normality. I like to believe that with my InvestWISE InWOMEN project, I am, in my little and barely noticeably, contributing to challenge one of such status quo
My undisputed favourite day started in the early morning hours of Saturday. Our first stop was a flower market - a triumph of colours and smells, at the sad backdrop of ever present extreme poverty. We then had delicious street food for breakfast - literally street food, as we sat on chairs quasi in the middle of the street. While I surely stuck out, as for miles the only non-Indian, I didn‘t feel the slightest out of place, on the contrary! Strolling around College Street, with its many book vendors (the geek in me loved this, the sceptic in me loved it even more, as providing hope), and the streets of Kumortuli, Kolkata potters’ quarter, were most clay idols for various festivals are made, was also sensational. Something I unfortunately witness way too rarely, is the passion every book vendor and artist transmitted when talking about their work - what a bless/blast. Delicious home cooked food and a sunset boat excursion on the Ganges, contributed to making it close to a perfect day!

21 March 2019

Only four days did it take, for Kolkata, the city of joy, to capture my heart. I genuinely don‘t know whether it was the city itself - with its beautiful, often abandoned, colonial buildings, its respect and worship of culture, and the delicious Bengali food - or the people I experienced the city with, that made this trip so unforgettable. I suspect the latter. Yash, one of the fellows, invited us to spend Holi with him and his family. Indian hospitality never stops amazing me. His parents and sister made us feel as part of the family from the very first moment. While I initially did hesitate going against my values of taking a plane unless unnecessary, I do not regret I did, as my heart is much warmer, and my soul much richer. The Kolkata experience started with Holi celebrations. We spent hours dancing and throwing (literally!) colours around, until every inch of our body was covered in colours. I believe our big smiles, and laughing eyes, need no further explanation.

14 March 2019

I have never seen myself as an entrepreneur. Never thought I had that gift, that brilliant nature, that I believed to be crucial. An intrapreneur - someone who make sure brilliant ideas thrive - maybe, or at least I am trying. Yet, being in constant contact with so many inspiring start-ups, and having myself been thrown into one of some sorts, I realise it is not so much genius, but rather desire to do, that defines an entrepreneur. And there is so much to be done!! Just lately, I attended an inspiring start up ecosystem meeting, and for the first time, I started thinking about potentially, in the far future, changing that I for an E. After all, yesterday‘s worldwide manifestations showed how powerful thinking outside of the box can be. Somebody once told me even the wildest dreams can become reality. I, in general, seem to have difficulties in picturing a bright future, but that for sure, will never keep me from dreaming, and do whatever is in my power to follow such dreams!

10 March 2019

North Goa is well known for it s crazy psychadelic parties, which we haven‘t really had a chance to experience, as the overnight bus trip and the full day at the beach, did indeed have a narcotic effect. We did experience some of it, with minimal beats reminding me of my early twenties, and an interesting, multicoloured crowd, making it an unprecedented experience. All together it was a lovely weekend, with great people, great food and a great sunset. Was it worth the 24 hours bus rides? Yes, I think so, because while not as beautiful and secluded as I was hoping for, it surely was a welcoming change from Bangalore. And what is more, I am becoming an ever more fervent advocator of the philosophy of „it doesn‘t matter where you are, as much as who you are with“. I mean, not that the palmed beaches and sunset swimming hurts in any sort of way.

8 March 2019

Feeling the need to get way from the smog and hustle of Bangalore (and to explore India of course, but necessities often take the frontseet), six of us decided to adventure to Goa to see what the fuzz is all about. Hippie yes, commercial, also, if not even mostly so. While I was more keen on going to South Goa - apparently home to beautiful nature and yoga retreats - I was outnumbered. And so, following the core principles of democracy, I followed the majority‘s decision. Our hostel was lovely and so were the people. Yet, it was also the typical place where people (most often from an advantaged background) gather together to openly celebrate their alternativeness, while not realising that by sticking to clichés they end up following just those lines they so ardently criticise and they say they are fleeing from. That said, it wasn‘t as extreme as to become annoying or disturbing, just definitely something that caught my attention.

22 February 2019

A long time has passed since I last shared my thoughts on my incredible journey. That is mostly because I have been slightly overwhelmed with work, studies, projects - life, really! Work kicked off big times. So is my women mentoring and networking project slowly taking shape. Moreover, I have had many deadlines for the fellowship, one of which translated into my little blurb blog being „published“. I had some welcomed distractions including a fancy, boozy lunch party past Sunday. Yet, R(h)ome is being missed dearly at times. I had this weird sensorial experience lately, where I experienced an emotional throwback spurred by the bear smell of basil. Yet shortly thereafter, I re-entered the kitchen, this time to feel embraced by the smell of freshly bought guava. For some random reason, I not only find guavas incredibly delicious, but also in some ways, indescribably comforting. Long story short, I do miss Italy, but I do love India.

9 February 2019

First fellows weekend away: check. And a beautiful weekend that is! ..despite spending nearly more time in the car than outside.. But the „outside time“ was so worth it. We decided everything super last minute, driven by an extreme desire to leave the noisy and polluted Bangalore behind, and immerse ourselves in nature. We chose Coorg, Karnataka’s number one destination for nature lovers, found a little homestay in a coffee plantation, and stroke off - to a much longer journey than expected, but hey, India is not a small country after all. In the little time we spent in Coorg, we managed to squeeze in some hiking, delicious home cooked food, relaxing around the bonfire and marvelling at the stars - oh, and breathing fresh air and listening to birds twittering (something not too common in Bangalore) not to forget! And all this in company of this amazing crew, I am growing to love every day a little more.

21 January 2019

Five years ago, I spent a month in Pune, working on a woman empowerment project. I met four guys, who have welcomed me to their life from day one, and have made me see the real India I otherwise would have never been able to experience. Despite the little time we spent together, we still managed to build a lovely and lasting relationship. Past weekend I went back to Pune to see Savio and Krystel getting married. But it was not any wedding. It was the crowning of a love story that lasted more than 14 years, and because of external factors, from financial to family matters, could not take place - until now. I remember him constantly talking about his dream of marrying that girl. Finally seeing this dream come true, and witnessing such an important step of theirs, has been truly amazing. Old friends, new friends, that‘s what life is all about, and that is all I could possibly wish for. One Indian wedding to go, and at least one more (in July) to come. It‘s wedding season in India!

20 January 2019

I am crashing the workspace of our sister company, which I am incredibly happy about, because people are extremely nice, and while my laptop and I are crammed within 8 sqm temporary office space with other two occupants, I get to spend some time with two other fellows, one of which, the Danish guy, is turning out to be my new besty. Working hours are much longer than at FAO, and while our place is only 5km away, it can easily take us up to 45 minutes to get home - even more so if you forget to book your uber at least 30mins prior to departure. Learning by doing and experiencing - that‘ll be my motto for the months to come!

16 January 2019

My first week of work has seen many highs and lows, including my first experience feeling overwhelmed by this incredible, yet at times challenging country. What I was not expecting was that the Indian branch is composed of my boss and I, me and my boss. This means that on the one hand, I will probably, hopefully, have a lot of responsibilities, on the other, it entails an extremely busy boss, whose priority I most certainly am not. My German structuredness feels neglected, but I hope with time, I will find my place within this chaotic space. There is a lot of work to be done (I worked until midnight on my first day) and much to be learned. The world of impact investing is still largely in the making, and being part of this is extremely interesting. Yet dynamics during the first pitch of a rural financial inclusion start up was enough to understand that financial returns still come first in most of the impact investment world, and social impact, while a sine qua non, is rather secondary

13 January 2019

So many impressions, I do not even know where to start from. After an intense first week, I remembered why India has left a mark in my soul and heart the very first time I set foot in this marvellous country. It is the country of contrasts, where an indisputable sense of beauty goes along with ubiquitous dirt, where extreme poverty meets (or clashes with?) immoderate wealth, and all your senses, whether sight or sound, smell or taste, are constantly in use. Let the experience of Increeedible Indiaaa begin.

10 January 2019

Alone living this reality gives you an amazing learning opportunity. Yet, what I mainly came here for is to discover the world of social entrepreneurship in general, and impact investing in specific. The first week of orientation gave me an insight into what aspects of social entrepreneurship we‘re going to delve into depth from a theoretical perspective. „Proper“ work by contrast, won‘t be starting until Wednesday. I am sharing this incredible experience with an awesome group of people of the most diverse backgrounds - culturally, personally, profesionally... It might be this diversity that makes each conversation so interesting and constructive, or the common passion for working towards spurring change, while realising that entrepreneurship plays a crucial role in this endeavour - I don‘t know what exactly it is, but I know that it is exciting and inspiring. What is more, the week has been filled with laughter, and I could not wish for a better start to this new adventure.