Shopping in Nainital and my hike to Sitla

After my first full week of work it was nice to get away for a day and
a half. Jason, Shobana, Nathalie, Shagun and I took a trip to a nearby
city called Nainital. We had a great time shopping in the Tibetan
market and trying all kinds of Indian food, hopefully there will be
many more weekends to follow like such! I was also very excited about
going to Nainital because I was able to pick up another field hockey
stick so I can teach the interns at Chirag how to play! I am a
co-captain of the Penn field hockey team and unfortunately there are
no local teams in the hilly region where I am located so I do not have
a league to play in; but I have still been able to practice stick
skill work! Now, with the addition of another stick I will be able to
teach/play with some of the employees and interns of Chirag. I am also
working to keep in shape for the fall season and since there are no
fields around for typical conditioning I have to find other ways.
There is a nature trail hike to a neighboring village called Sitla; it
takes about 45 minutes to hike, but I have recently been running up
the trail and my goal is to be able to run up the complete trail
without stopping. On my first run up it felt more like torture than
anything else! Due to the high elevation I am at right now and the
dryness of the air my body is not used to running in this type of
climate, but with every run I can feel it getting a little bit easier!

(Pic 1)
Picture of me in Nainital



I was afraid safety would be an issue for working out in India
because they have a very different mentality over here. The average
person never “works out;” they are working in the fields all day so
they would never have the time. Also, the locals do not see a point to
exerting more energy than they have to; it just calls for more food
and water, which is not plentiful in this region. Seeing someone
running down the street certainly turns a lot of heads, but I have
found some awesome running partners! Jason, one of the other Penn
interns at Chirag likes to go running so we try to run together up the
Sitla trail every other morning.  A lot of local dogs like to run with
me too! Devrani, a stray dog adopted by Chirag about three years ago,
is one of the three dogs who have come running with me. She keeps me
motivated, always running ahead and looking back so I am always
pushing to go faster, and I feel safe running with her on the trail
because I have seen her be very protective of the Chirag employees and

(Pic 2) A picture of me and Devrani, the dog that has been adopted by
Chirag, after one of our runs.


(Pic 3) This is the bridge that led to the ancient temple on our walk to Almora.


My experience in northern India so far has been wonderful because
every day brings a new challenge and a new learning curve. I feel like
I am learning so much not only about my studies, but about life in
general from the farmers and civilians I am surrounded by. I have also
just found out I will be doing another home stay next week in a
village about an hour walk from Chirag called Chatola! I can’t wait to
see how this home stay compares to my first.

Until next time!

(Pic 4)
P.s. Here is a picture of my first view of the Himalayas, I think
their beauty speaks for themselves, words are not necessary!



One thought on “Shopping in Nainital and my hike to Sitla

  1. Great pictures and great memories! So happy to see that you’re enjoying yourself. The trek up to Sitla is quite a tough one – I’m glad you’re finding creative ways to train up there!

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About Alexandra Iqbal

I am an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business. This summer I am traveling to the northern region of India where I will be working for CHIRAG - The Central Himalayan Rural Action Group for 10 weeks. I will be working with micro finance and supply chain management of the fruit cooperatives in the region. I am looking forward to an exciting and cultural experience this summer! My journey in India starts on May 17th when I arrive in New Delhi.