Miranda - Arts International Experience, Mumbai, India

When I first entered India, the smell of street food occupied my nose; the sight of the hectic traffic was confronting and the hustle and bustle of the chaotic city was evident, it was an overload to my senses. Safe to say, I was feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.
In January 2019, I took part in the Arts International Experience in India.  I spent two weeks in Mumbai learning about various businesses that operate within the organised chaos that is visible in the country. The best part, we were studying this all through the lens of food.

We ate so much food on this tour. Lunch and dinner consisted of curry, rice, naan, dosa, dahl and more curry. It did not take me long to learn that within the Indian culture, it is considered disrespectful to not consume all the food served to you. This stems from the large population of people who live below the poverty line, and struggle to provide food for their families on an everyday basis. Another cultural aspect I quickly learnt about India was that Indians serve a lot of food, as a sign of respect to their visitors. Due to these cultural factors, we ate lots of food. The most memorable meal was served at the Bohri Kitchen, a seven-course meal that refused to bring out your next course before you have completed the previous. I was stuffed.

My favourite day in Mumbai was the day we headed Rural. We visited a small fishing village. The welcome was crazy. The

entire town came to greet and talk to us. The elders of the community shed tears, as they were so excited to have westerners visit their home. They greeted us with roses and tea, they danced for us and also cooked us an authentic Indian meal. This was such a special day interacting with the locals. It was also lovely being able to witness Mumbai in a calm environment, away from the hustle and bustle of the inner city.

I learnt a lot about the Indian culture as well as my own, in the two weeks I spent in Mumbai. It is the most culturally rich country I have visited, this is why I found it so interesting. Learning how they live their everyday life compared to how we do in Australia was fascinating. My biggest learning outcome from this trip was realising that although things may be done differently, it does not mean it is wrong.