India Is Not One Place

After our internship ended Bevan and I traveled to Mumbai for a few days and met up with two other CASI interns who had been working and living in Bangalore. Over a lovely dinner of Burmese food we discussed our internships and lives for the previous two months. Immediately it became extremely apparent how vastly different our experiences were. While Bevan and I lived in rural MP among expanses of farmland, clay houses, and unpaved roads, Katerine and Tina lived in a super densely-packed city where crossing the street was like playing frogger, food delivery services were available around the clock and it was possible to use taxi apps like Ola to get around.


The dichotomy between our experiences made me realize just how dissimilar different parts of India are. While this should be obvious as India is so enormous that it’s often referred to as a ‘subcontinent,’ as an outsider it’s easy to fall into the trap of placing this large, unique country into a single category basket. This of course is ridiculous; akin to saying the United States is all the same– for example think about the differences between living in New York City versus rural South Dakota!


At the end of last semester, when people asked me what my plans for the summer were, I would simply respond, “I’m interning in India at an NGO” and acquaintances would accept that response at face value without asking for more. I now realize just how generalized my response was and how it in no way encompasses my experience. I’ve thus now tried to be more conscientious with my responses and to be more specific; thus when people ask what I did this summer I make sure to include my actual location, the rural-ness (which I think was a very important aspect in MY experience with India), and the actual work I did at SPS.


As I continued to travel after visiting Mumbai, the vast differences in ways of life, climate, geography, language, dress and more continued to intrigue me. Of course it makes sense that India isn’t homogenous for even it’s creation was essentially the British making an arbitrary border; however, it took traveling around and hearing others’ experiences for this to really sink in. At this point I’ve seen the Dewas District of MP as well as parts of Leh, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Mysore and still I know that I have in no way experienced all there is to India; hopefully in the future I will have the opportunity to return and continue to learn more and more about this amazingly unique country.


All of the places I went over the summer in a fun map:

Pictures on pictures:

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About Geneva Gondak

I am a rising junior in the College of Arts & Sciences majoring in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Policy & Application. This summer I will be interning at Samaj Pragati Sahayog in Bagli, Madhya Pradesh.