Had Some Curry, but Didn’t Meet a Steph

It’s been a little more than a week since we’ve landed at Bangalore and I have to say, it’s been a lot. Where to begin…?

For anyone that cares about my personal well-being, I’m alive (evidently). My bowel movements are stabilizing and my sleep schedule has been absolutely on point. So much better than back at school, that’s for sure. I found some ChocoPies here, so I’m not devoid of any of my loves and there are a couple of Korean restaurants around that I have yet to try (but they have good reviews — praise!).

Next, work has been great. Janalakshmi Financial Services is a remarkable institution that is on the forefront of bringing multitudes of positive social change and reformation. Its mission to provide economic empowerment and financial inclusion to the urban poor is executed very well and it’s definitely an honor to be serving this organization. The people at the company are super friendly and they go out of their way to show us around, to teach us about different areas of the organization and how it functions, and to tell us more general facts about India. And the constant cups of tea and coffee are great too (the serving sizes are about a tenth of what I would normally consume, but that’s okay — this is probably better for my health). You would think that I would’ve taken some pictures of the company building and where I’m staying right now, but aha jokes. Your boy here forgot he has a camera on his phone…

Moving on, there hasn’t been too much on my plate yet. I have been given the luxury of browsing through different departments and perusing the inner-workings of the projects underway. My partner, Jacob, however is already nose-deep in his data analytics work. I’m currently debating on working with the Product Development team and the Financial and Strategic Planning team. Luckily, no matter which department I work with first, I’m not married to it and I have the ability to switch over (granted I give them some sort of notice in advance).

The Product Development team is currently working on building a better savings program for not only Janalakshmi’s current customers, but also for anyone in the open market. The concept of saving is unknown to the urban poor. Even though many of us have trouble saving (I’m one of these guilty-folk), we at least understand its value and why it may benefit us in the future. Many of Janalakshmi’s clients do not comprehend why anyone would save, not because they don’t want to amass larger financial budgets, but because they just don’t have the leisure to not spend the money they have. Their incomes are not flexible enough and as a result, many of these people don’t get to see many of their financial goals come to fruition. That’s where Janalakshmi comes in. The organization has developed a plan called Badhti Bachat that is aimed to provide individuals a knowledgeable and practical way to save. I’m not exactly sure how much I’m allowed to disclose and I haven’t signed any NDAs yet, so for now I’ll stop here before I share information about the project I’m not supposed to.

I did spend today going out into the field and seeing up close how this whole financial process is kicking in place and I must say, I was overwhelmed. Some pictures of the roads in the area where we visited and yep that’s a cow. There’s a lot of animals just chilling in the streets:

CowMarket 1Street 1

I also got to ride an auto-rickshaw. It was pretty fun. Life-threatening, slightly. Here’s me, innocent innocent me, before the rollercoaster of a ride started:

Rickshaw 1

Oh, also monsoon season is starting to pick up. In the months of June, July, and August, India embraces heavy heavy rain. And we were caught in the storm while in the auto-rickshaw ride back:

Rain 1Rain 2

Like bruh..

And lastly, just a few pictures of some food and places we’ve visited. We hit up some shopping malls, pubs, and microbreweries. People in Bangalore really love their beer.

Food 1 (2) Lunch 2 Mantri Square  Outside Pub

And that’s it for now! Will post another blog sometime this week to talk about all the dichotomies I’ve been noticing here.

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About Kevin S Park

Class of W'17; Concentrations in Finance, Strategic Management, and Social Impact & Responsibility; CASI Jana 2015 - Working with the Jana Foundation and Janalakshmi Financial Services in Bangalore, India