Saturday, 8 April 2017

Travel Diaries:The Highland Escape

"Let's wander where the wifi is weak"

According to a Ted Talk on successful students, one of the biggest difference setting them apart from the normal crowd is that when they plan their timetable they first plan when they will take breaks and what fun activities can be incorporated in these breaks. Yes, you heard me right.

I don't claim to know squat about success. I post photos with motivating captions and quotes but what I can learn from this Ted Talk is that taking a break to refresh yourself is absolutely necessary. The most hectic time in my college schedule comes during Jan-June. It is always packed with deadlines that are directly proportional increase to increase in stress level.

To calm my nerves after my exams, I decided to reward myself with a quick getaway so I would be fresh for my university exams ahead (or so I tell myself to validate bunking labs on Saturday. Stupid six full-day schedule). Anyway, coming back to the point, this time I decided to go with my ex-roommate and bestie, Sonia Lasong Swami all the way from Malaysia.

We booked a homestay in Therathavalli, 18 kilometers from Agumbe in Karnataka, India. Agumbe is easily accessible by bus. We left Manipal at 6 pm on 31st March 2016 and reached Highland Homestay by 9 pm. It was a beautiful house and they served us with some delicious South Indian dinner. We had a long day planned ahead but we stayed up till midnight chatting in true roommate fashion.

The next morning we got a driver to pick us up, we had booked the ride for the full day so we could explore to our heart's desire. We started with Kavaledurga fort. It was one of the many in the Vijayanagar empire, the same one that ruled Hampi back in the day. It was a small hike to the top and left us refreshed and pumped for the day ahead. A scenic view of the hills greeted us at the top. I have had my fair share of good views but this one still took my breath away.

For breakfast, we had neer dosa which is something in between a roti and a dosa but it was very tasty. We then went to Beemanakatte hanging bridge and a nearby temple. The bridge was beautiful and reminded me of the one from the movie Rangoon that was shot in Burma. What a location! It is definitely on my bucket list.The homestay was spoiling us with fresh juice and delicious lunch. We freshened up after lunch and then checked out of the homestay.

Our next stop was the Jain temple at Kundadri hills followed by Sringeri, a good 45 kilometers away from the homestay. It has a famous temple monastery made in the 8th Century which was later renovated. The old temple is located at the bank of Tungabhadra river. There was a hanging bridge above this river as well but the water level was very shallow. It was early evening and we had to catch the sunset at Agumbe.


Agumbe roads are not a joke and can make the best of the travelers puke-ish due to the crazy hair'pin turns. Luckily we didn't puke. Once there we tried paddle boating in a small lake and then watched the beautiful sunset. Our driver then dropped us to the bus stop for our bus back to Manipal.

The quick trip was just what I needed because as I write this I just got done with one exam, two days after this trip and I have one very hard coming up in the next two days. Personally, I spent a little more than my budget mainly because it was only two of us sharing the ride and the room. I spent 3000 rupees but for the efficiency of the trip made it was worth it.

I hope you my travel blog post inspired you to look forward to your own upcoming travel plans. Go ahead and take that trip because life is too short to waste Sundays on sleeping in. (As I write this at 2 am on Saturday that's exactly what I plan to do tomorrow ;) But you can aim for one short outdoor activity a month :))

Feel free to leave thoughts and feedback in the comments below. Is there any place you recommend that I should visit before I graduate in May let me know below.

Photography: All photos are taken by me. You can check out my Instagram and facebook for more photos. Quick links available on the side panel. 


Signing off,
Nishma Khetia.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

My Internship at Biocon (Bangalore)

"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn"
-Benjamin Franklin.

When it comes to dreams, a lot of us are hands down generic dreamers. After all, generic is classic. My story was no different. Internship at a big firm in a metro city, living on coffee and making it on my own. That was my big, generic, student dream. Yes, I would have loved to travel instead for a month like those AISEC people and change lives but I didn't have that kind of cash. I could have also done the regular thing students do in summer breaks- go home and visit my parents. But, I was hoping for a miracle and like my classic risk-taker self, I put all my bets on Biocon, Bangalore- India's biggest Biotech firm.

The only contact I had in Biocon was my a friend's dad who knew someone, who knew someone (Yes, so that was my risky bet). After sending in my resume around March, I waited and sent relentless follow-up emails until I got a call from the HR Department. The main reason I wanted to do an internship was to figure out what my calling was. I was debating between Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Management. My goal was to get a Marketing internship. I think Digital Marketing would be perfect for me. I practically live on planet internet.

Finally, two days after my university exams got over, that was May end, I got a confirmation from Biocon. I was going to be an intern in the HR Department. It was close to what I had aimed for and so I happily accepted. One month internship beginning June 17, 2016 at the Biocon headquarters in Bangalore.I arrived in Electronic City, Bangalore two days early and settled in a Paying Guest that I had found online with the help of a friend. The struggles of my stay at the PG is a blog post on its own (The Life And Lies Of A Paying Guest ).

On my first day in Biocon, I discovered that the company had three campuses and my PG was not as close to the office where I was going to be working. I had to take the shuttle between the Biocon campuses every morning and evening. On the first day at the HR Department, I was introduced to the team and given a work desk. I was on Cloud 9! Everyone was very warm and welcoming. I slowly learned the work flow. My office was concerned with recruiting positions for the Biocon field force all over India. As a Biotech and a Pharmaceutical firm we naturally needed a lot of field sales representatives. Screening hundreds of incoming emails from candidates and matching them with the job description, salary and experience level was no simple task. I saw the team do it effortlessly like true professionals and did I mention I was an intern in the HR Department. The swag they had was that of Jessica Pearson and Donna from Suits, COMBINED!

My internship allowed me to transform myself from someone who feared phone calls with strangers to someone who did about five basic phone interviews with candidates who matched the job profiles. As I got better and more helpful, I was assigned more tasks and I loved every bit of it. Coffee breaks were the best. They were like short episodes on Adulting 101 where everyone talked about their life, struggles and how to solve everyday problems. They were all in their late twenties or thirties and had made it to one of the best firms so I could rest assured that they knew what they were doing.In my third week of internship, we had an office party to celebrate some promotions. I can say that was the most fun I had at a party with a lot of strangers and my ride back was an interesting one too, where I overcame my fear of small talk (The Not So Small: Small Talk). I had grown as a person during my one month in Bangalore.

Bangalore or any other city for that matter, grinds you, the traffic is merciless. The area, Electronic city was filled with industries and didn't have the neighborhood friendly cafes that I had dreamed of. But that's where the difference between movies and reality lies.Hakuna Matata is an optimistic blog but we cannot compromise the reality for the price of positivity. They both go hand in hand.

Overall it was a much-needed trailer of the reality that is life, that every student deserves to experience before they complete their undergraduate degree. This was my story and while you may think my struggles were big, now, as I look back at them I find them very irrelevant and small in the bigger and greater aspects of life. My best friend Anjana, for example, had applied to  ten internships and after all her hard work she got accepted into an all expense covered internship in Japan in the National Institute of Genetics. 

To conclude this blog post, I will say keep dreaming, take risks, hustle hard and you will surely achieve your goals. The real success lies outside your comfort zone so keep throwing yourself in uncomfortable situations like I did because that uncomfortable zone is the place which allows you to metamorph into adulthood,


I would like to thank my friend Sai Pooja's dad without who I would not have gotten that first contact. Sometimes a sinking Rose just needs that little support to survive ;) (And yes, she survived without Jack. No, you don't die from heartbreak).

If anyone from Biocon stumbles upon this blog, I would like to thank the entire HR team at Biocon House that mentored me during my stay. We need more companies in this country with a work ethic like that of Biocon.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post. If you found it relatable or inspirational please let me know and share it with your friends. You can subscribe to my blog to get notified via email every time I post on my blog. Thanks for reading and keep smiling.
Signing off,
-Nishma Khetia

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