Thursday, August 19, 2010

Incredible India

The fact that I haven’t been blogging for quite a long time shouldn’t make you worried about me, because I’m fine. It’s changing from time to time, due to different reasons, but I’m fine. Actually I’m having a really good time again, so that prevented me from blogging! Today I want to tell you about my first week at work and all the other things what happened.
After having a quite relaxing weekend at Hannah’s place (remember her as the other intern, who had a place to stay for me at the beginning) and getting over my first India shock, I was driving to work the first time. The GTZ office for energy issues (Indo-German-Energy-Programme, IGEN) is located in R.K. Puram, a district in the west of South Delhi. We share the big office building (have a look on the next picture) with the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) and the Central Energy Authority (CEA), and respectively the Water Commission… They are all very important, if you consider that the Indian economical growth is restricted by its energy capacity! Without a growing energy supply India – one of the big and important emerging markets in the world – can not keep up with its expectations. So in this terms the building looks kind of shabby, but its still a Government owned building, where the military is present for security issues and checking your permission and identity every day.

My first day was a bit chaotic, because not only there has been the most commonly known issue of getting things arranged and being introduced to people on a first day, but also because there were not even a computer available. For me it meant that I either could go home again, or I find myself something to do. At the end I was reading a study on the Indian energy market, which gave me a broad insight of the actual resource situation, power plant capacities, energy strategies, market stakeholders, energy tariffs and the energy problems India is facing. The time passed by really quickly and our whole energy team was supposed to meet in the Imperial Hotel, which is considered as one of the best hotels of India. Surely it was not my welcome party, but since one very honourable senior manager left India they pleasured all of us with a farewell party. Besides big words from some of the official IGEN heads, my boss also welcomed me in the team again. That evening was very crazy, because we were treated like royals, the food was very delicious and we had heaps of good wine. A spiritual Indian band was playing traditional music, while literately thousands of servants were taking care of us. Honestly I felt to be in a wrong world. My little episode of going to the bathroom can proof that perfectly. As I already had experienced there is staff for anything, but the bathroom was just the next level. This guy was opening the door for me, saying “Hello, Sir!”, guiding me to the toilet, opening the water tap, giving me soap and towel and opening the door for me again. Isn’t that crazy!? The whole evening was so far away from my first arrival impressions and just showed me the other side of the wide range of the Incredible India. I was really lucky to be involved in these circumstances already after the few days I’ve been here, but my Indian colleagues told me that similar incredible stories are happening all the time! This is what makes India magic.
Three days later we had another reason to celebrate. Now it was my official welcome and Hannah’s goodbye partying. It started with me coming too late, because I was still working an proposal translation for a Photovoltaic roof top project, which had to be on the table of the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) on the next day. Then I had to walk forever to get some money to pay a riksha and finally my driver also had to ask five guys how we get to the bar, where we were supposed to meet. Here’s picture of my hero on that day, because due to him I still got one beer before we left into a restaurant.

Again the evening was long and we ended up in a expat club with music for everybody except for me ;-)
Over the week I got an old laptop and could start accomplishing some tasks. Since then I’m creating a database for all the IGEN stakeholders and interested parties, so people here can handle the data in an easy way. There is a big mess of several lists, but after reading about MS Access in a few weeks it all will be redundant. Another task was to look through the Terms of Reference for a study, which is to be conducted for evaluating the geothermal energy potential and all important facts around. GTZ is supporting the Indian progress by setting up the right business environment, so that Indian and German companies feel like participating at the market. Exploring geothermal energy resources is in line with India’s energy strategy, because they basically need every energy source available. In the long run it’s preferable renewable energy.
The people at work are pretty nice and always open for a chat. Apart from the BEE people, the share of Indians and Germans in GTZ is almost equal in our team. Also in the office there are also people for all sort of issues, e.g. the chai walla (that are the people bringing you tea or coffee to your desk) or people for carrying heavy folders. At lunch time the Indian usually unpack their food from little bowls, but we always ordered food. You may think everything is cheap here, but it is not. My colleagues are used to buy food for around 350 Rupees (almost 6 Euro) each, which one can’t afford from his internship pay check for a long time. I stopped doing this in the meanwhile and eat in the canteen that everybody told us not to go to, because we would get ill. Well, so far the 20 Rupees per meal (we have Thalis, a plate with different stuff, every day) are a pretty good investment.
In my first week I basically had to adjust to my new day rhythm, so I usually came home very tired and haven’t done too much in the evening. But I also shifted to another friend’s place where I could stay for another 10 days and look to find my own place to stay. When I have managed the “looking for a flat odyssey” I write another blog on it.


  1. Hi, this is Lisa.
    Thats my third attempt to comment. The exlpanation of my flatmate let my find out, that I need an account in one of the profile options below. At first I was embarrassed about beeing unable, but now I think its quite difficult. I'm using his account.
    I read carefully, however my English skills made it possible.
    You described the IGEN and said the Idian economical growth was restricted by its energy capacity. I did not unterstand what your job is.
    Are you involved in finding ways of solution?

    Hope you find a flat soon and staying alive in going by bike or riksha in dehli's traffic.

    Greetings from Berlin


  2. In developing economies the growth is usually tapped by the energy supply, which means that can only grow as fast as their energy capacity is being increased. By encouraging technology transfers and know how shifts from Germany to India GTZ is supporting India to address this issue. I'm participating in some projects of various content and hope to help India climbing up from the stage of a developing country, but also making this happen in a sustainable way.