Rendezvous with Walton College of Business

18th-19th May, 2013 were one of the best days in the lives of my colleagues and I when we received the students from The Walton College of Business (WCoB) Arkansas, USA as a part of their study abroad program where they visited New Delhi. “I am loving India a lot, I would probably want to settle down here if given an opportunity”, says Teah Bidwell who works for Walmart and was a part of this exchange program from Arkansas.
The first day of our exchange program was about helping the students of The Walton College of Business (WCoB) with their project. My group consisted of Todd Charna, Caitlin Dot, Markus Monk, Dhruv Mahajan and Ravi Kumar. Our project required us to compare the different income levels of USA with India and compare the prices of apparels and accessories as well. So, to fulfill the desired objective of our project, we visited the Sarojni Nagar market which is a lower-end market and South Extension-II which is a higher-end market. We interviewed a couple of shopkeepers of local garments at Sarojni where the price range was Rs.100-1,000 as compared to Rs.1,000-10,000 at South Extension-II. In the process, I learnt that the Americans preferred purchasing something that was not only reasonably priced but of good quality as well. After completing the task in scorching heat at 46 degree Celsius, we headed to Moti Mahal Deluxe for lunch where we had North Indian Cuisine as our friends from WCoB preferred non-vegetarian food. They were delighted with the traditional naan and butter chicken. I was surprised to know that not only is vegetarian food is expensive but it is extremely expensive than non-vegetarian food. A plate of Dal Makhani in the US would cost around Rs.1,800 as compared to Rs.180 in India. After a hearty lunch, we headed back to Defence Colony where our friends were staying. “It was hot”, is how the students from WCoB described in three words at the end of the day.
The second day was even more eventful and tiring. We had a team activity planned called ‘The Amazing Race’ which began at 9.00am. Our groups were re-divided. There were four groups in all and this time my group consisted of Teah, Ally Smith, Alex and Rohit. We had to cover five destinations in total and use at least three mediums of local transportation. So, our first destination was the Emporio Mall in Vasant Kunj where we reached at 9.10 am and unfortunately it was closed since the malls of India do not open before 11.00 am. We took an auto from there in which all of us crammed and went to Hauz Khas metro station. Ally, Teah and Alex found the metro stations more maintained than New York metro stations and our metro stations ‘smelled good’ according to them. After the twenty minute metro ride, we reached Connaught Place which was our second destination. After walking for about ten minutes, we reached Costa Coffee, Janpath where we quickly grabbed a cold coffee which breathed life into us. Our next destination was New Delhi Railway Station and Roopak Spices at Ajmal Khan Road, Karol Bagh. Roopak Spices are famous for various types of spices and our friends purchased saffron as saffron in US is very expensive. Teah also purchased a pair of skulls for her motorbike headlight since they costed her less here (but I think the shopkeeper still made sure to overcharge her!). Finally, our last destination and probably the best, was India Gate where we reached by hiring a taxi, took pictures, grabbed an ice-cream and hopped back into the taxi and headed back to the hotel.
After taking a quick rest for thirty minutes, Todd, Marcus, Ravi and I headed for Kingdom of Dreams, Gurgaon in a Fortuner. Kingdom of Dreams was totally a new and a good experience for Todd and Marcus as it was like a huge palace and most importantly, it was air-conditioned. Todd, Marcus and Alex freaked out after tasting Hyderbadi Biryani at the Hyderbad stall as they prefer less spicy food and the Biryani turned out to be so spicy that even the yoghurt did not help. Finally, we managed some breads for them and they were relieved. They were amazed at how KOD was designed with a great architecture, shopping outlets, tattoo shops, food stalls of various states of India, Indian classical dances, Lifa Café similar to the Oscar Café, astrology and palmistry outlets, and last but not the least massage parlours where Marcus got a foot and back massage done as these kinds of luxuries are quite expensive in the US.
After spending a couple of hours there, we headed back to the hotel, got fresh and all of us left for The Ashoka Hotel, Chanakyapuri where WCoB Students threw a dinner for FIIB students. After dinner, we exchanged gifts as a small token of love and appreciation amongst each other and bid adieu. I was in tears as I would definitely miss them. Though it was a two-day interaction with them, it is like I have known them for such a long time. We will definitely be in touch with each other. These two days were full of fun, frolic, learnings about American culture and networking and will stay in my heart forever.