Till the next time, India!

Today was our last day, we are up on two hours of sleep, but somehow we are functioning. We woke up with a rush, people running around trying to finish their presentations, people packing, and others eating breakfast to get their energy for the day.

After breakfast, we were joined by volunteers from Tara Trust. We all gathered around, while my group presented our final presentation. Tricks to anyone who doesn’t like presenting: don’t sleep the night before and your brain won’t even function that well that you won’t get nervous.

While presenting, all I could do is compare my feelings from Monday morning to Friday. While the past Monday, my group and I had no idea where our project is heading, and it seemed that we were running out of time. It was upsetting because we wanted to take advantage of every single opportunity that came in our way in India, and not having a concept or a direction for our project wasn’t a good sign. But day after day, we were able to put our ideas into action and I am proud to where our project ended up. I really believe that this project can go a long way. The women we worked with are intelligent, creative, and hard working women that are thrilled and excited to start working, and just with their passion, I can see how this project can keep going after we’re gone.


At first I was upset that I wouldn’t be able to see the outcome of our work. It is like we plant a seed but we’re never going to see it growing. But as I think about it now, what is important is not for me or my group to see that we made a difference and see this change, but for the women to realise it and I believe that we helped them be on the right track to reach their goal.

We finished our project, then we headed to Oscar’s Junction for the other group to present. I couldn’t stop smiling throughout their entire presentation, knowing that they have done an amazing job, and helped Ashford find a solution to his store. I have no doubt that their project will also go a long way.

We had dinner at the guest house. Many people from different organizations joined us, it was our graduation dinner party. I enjoyed this opportunity and being surrounded with all the people and new friends. I believe that it was a great opportunity for my career as a designer and opened my eye in many different directions.


A Swim in the Spice Farm

Saturday night I was pretty nervous as to how our project is going. We had an idea that we were really eager about; however, it is not the direction we will be heading towards, so we are back to square one. I was feeling the urge to stay back and get an extra day on the project, but I am very glad we went to the spice farm.

We had breakfast at 9:30 am. I had to miss my favourite part of the day because my stomach wasn’t feeling well. After breakfast we head out to the spice farm. It took us around an hour and fifteen minutes to get there. Once we arrived, we were greeted by the owner: Chinmay Tanshikar. He had a sincere smile and welcomed us with some juice and cashews. We then got on a jeep and headed to Savri waterfalls. It was a little bit of a hike. I can tell you all about the beautiful view and how much I was enjoying it, but I think a picture will do a much better job.



While some people dived into the water right away, others laid down, put their feet in the water and enjoyed the view. It was much needed relaxation time before we are unto the last week of the program. We spent around 2 hours there then we headed back.

Second favourite part of the day. It was lunch time. The spice farm generously offered us lunch. There were so many options, all too delicious.


After lunch, we headed for our spice tour. Chinmay is such a great source of knowledge when it coming to farming. He is the fifth generation to take over the farm. Chinmay explains that taking care of a farm is labour intensive, but it teaches you how to not be selfish and be patient.


  • Pepper and salt were used as a form of money (i.e.: you can use them to pay rent)
    • The word ‘salary’ comes from the Latin word for salt
  • Coconut trees take 25 years to grow
  • Chocolate is an anti-depressant (Hence, why girls eat chocolate when they’re sad)
  • Glass doesn’t break on mud floors

Looking at Chinmay’s life style today made me think on how technology is separating us from nature. Most of our food is processed food which we have no idea what have been added to, we can’t live without our phones and laptops, we spend most of our time indoors looking at a screen instead of talking to others or simply meditating outside. Chinmay lives in a very humble house that was built over 100 years ago. There is no T.V, no air conditioner. Everything they need comes from nature. They live in a mud house, which absorbs the heat during the day light, then cools off at night which acts as a natural air conditioner in the morning. They use cow poop on floors as it keeps bacteria away. It is amazing to see people really connecting with nature and experience this kind of life.

Towards the end of our tour, Chinmay saw us how to climb a coconut tree. We all tried to do it while some of us failed miserably (me), and others were able to get a bit high.img_9261                           img_3650img_3641

After our tour we head back to the hotel where we had lunch, and had the evening to work on our projects.


Little Mumbai

When the day is long and you can’t wait to slide into you bed, but you wish you had a little bit more energy to do and see more of Mumbai. Today is one of my favourite days, and luckily I get to blog about it.

We started the day a little bit more flexible. The group had the freedom of either sleeping in, going shopping or walking in the streets of Mumbai. The group divided itself into the shopping lovers and the rest. I was in the shopping group with Genevieve and T’mikah. We have gotten much better at bargaining. It is one of those things you either really enjoy or don’t. We had more time to shop after we checked out the hotel. This time, mostly everyone went shopping. I was shopping with T’mikah and Melih. Melih was so excited to buy clothes, that if you walked a bit slower than he does – and he’s fast; you were left behind. You want to go shopping with Melih, bargaining is one of his hobbies.


We then visited a store called FebIndia. It is a beautiful store than has amazing fabric and better quality material that are made from traditional techniques, and mostly hand-based.  The store has workers that actually studied fashion so they are paid fair wages; which is not always the case in India, for that the prices were much higher than what we have been seeing elsewhere. Their vision is to celebrate India, and share their love to India with people from around the world. The Tags include a little story that tells you more about the design and the people who made it.




Food, Food, Food. We then head for lunch at a place called Candies. It has a variety of food with reasonable prices. If you’re here, and you miss your daily salad, that’s where you would want to go. While we were eating the food outside, the birds weren’t too happy with T’mikah and Genevieve, they decided to poop on them and their food. The same thing happened to Michael earlier, so we believe they have got cursed.


After food we had a tour with Reality Tours & Travel in the Dharavi slums.  Dharavi has about 1,000,000 people in a 2.16 Km2 area, which is around 400 football pitches. Knowing Mumbai, it is one of highest densest countries in the world, and Dharavi slum is 20 times denser than Mumbai. You can imagine the amount of people there. We went on a Sunday which is not a rush day as normal, so we were able to walk around freely. The slum is divided into two parts: industry and residential. I am not sure what you’re thinking when you hear the word slum, but we were amazed by what we saw. Dharavi is the home to many people but also the work place of so many others. Dharavi includes around 5,000 business and 10,000 factories with leather, plastic, and textile as their main industries. The daily wages range around Rs. 400 with a 10-12 hours of work. Hence that is why this slum is very different than other slums we might have seen. Slums are divided into legal and illegal slums. Legal in the sense that the people own their houses, but the lands belong to the government. Dharavi is a legal slum that used to be a big garbage dumb.


They stared to have tours around the slums to take away from the stigma that there is stealing and a lot of crime. In fact, it is very well protected because police men live inside, and more importantly, because have a sense of community that they don’t want to lose. We saw restaurants, bakeries, post offices, hospitals, schools, and market areas. Around 85% of children go to school, even if their parents are uneducated, to ensure a good future for them.


Source of images: Reality Tours and Travel                                             Link to more photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/119419058@N08/sets/72157641841763365/

We ended the tour and head to the airport. Mumbai’s airport is fascinating, with beautiful interior and colourful space. We would have loved to had more time to explore it but we rushed to get food for the burgers lovers.


Spotted: the World’s King.


FYI: Melih’s new goal is to be the world’s king… Let’s see how this goes.

We ended the day by waiting for our luggage at the carousal, but since we didn’t check any in, we were happy to have found our lost member.  img_2510