Hey all, Natalia here! Saturday was the day our team set out for Mumbai. Some of us had a very early start – Sarah, Nisha, and Kabir woke up at 4am to catch their flight at 7. Meanwhile, Rachel and I had managed to book a later flight departing at 11am, so we had a leisurely morning, “sleeping in” until 7:30am. We awoke to a hot breakfast of muttar paneer, roti, and chai (and of course Nutella), thanks to our newly arrived caretaker and cook, Harishbhai.
We headed to the brand-new Vadodara airport around 9am, completely failing to appreciate how small and empty it would be. After waiting a couple hours we boarder the plane and settled down for a brief one-hour flight. To our surprise, despite the short duration of the journey, we were served a meal. I got something that looked like a hot pocket but tasted like chicken curry. Yum.
Safely arrived in the Mumbai airport, our team reunited at last. After a quick pause in the food court to enjoy mango lassi and the airport’s free Wi-Fi, we took an Uber to the Club House where we’re staying. Exhausted by our travels, we napped all afternoon.
Once rested, we utilized our internet access to plan the next couple of days in Mumbai. Before we knew it, it was time to get ready and leave to meet Urja at her Mumbai home for dinner. There, we had the chance to meet her son, have a casual conversation with her father, Mr. Sheth, and had some lovely discussions over dinner.
Switching gears – it’s Sarah here. Sunday, we allowed ourselves to sleep in well past breakfast. The sleep was much needed, as up to this point we’d only had a grand total of a half-day of break. But because we’d all missed breakfast we were ravenous. So we decided to do the only logical thing when in a foreign country – go to McDonald’s.
Going to McDonalds in India is a completely different ballgame than in the States. The menu is an unrecognizable array of vegetarian and chicken options, and the staple beef burgers are nowhere to be found. This was a wonderful thing for the vegetarians on the team who happily dug into their paneer wraps, aloo (potato) burger, and fries, while the rest of us devoured McSpicy chicken burgers and Maharajah Macs.
While Kabir was contemplating going back to order his third McSpicy chicken, an employee came up to us and asked if we had called our mothers for Mother’s Day yet. If we hadn’t and we did in front of him, he was offering us free dessert. At this point, none of us had even considered calling yet because it was only 4am on Mother’s Day in the US. However, free dessert was on the line so Kabir, being the wonderful son he is, called his mother at 4am and we all wished her a Happy Mother’s Day. (So this is a shout out to all our moms for being awesome, but also an apology to Kavita for waking her up at 4am so we could get ice cream.)
Full and happy, we decided to continue with our plan for the day to visit the Gateway of India. There, we took some pretty great selfies with a lot of pigeons and the Gateway itself. Afterward, we started walking back in the direction of the hotel, perusing the various shops as we went, and occasionally stopping to get gifts. After grabbing snacks for the train ride back to Vadodara, we decided that we had soaked our clothes with enough sweat for the day, and taxied back to the hotel.
After naps, showers, and changing into our nice kurtas and suit, respectively, we headed out to the main reason we were in Mumbai – the alumni event. The event was hosted by the Mumbai chapter of University of Michigan’s Alumni Association in place of one of their monthly get-togethers. We had a great time chatting and snacking with around 15 alumni who lived in the area. We also had the chance to talk to the travel team from Michigan’s SWE chapter, who also attended the event. Overall, we had a good experience networking with alumni and catching up with our counterparts in SWE.