Graduate experiences
Mumbaikar life in India

A little over a month into his three-month internship at global PR company Genesis BCW, public relations graduate Nick Davies writes about his experiences living and working in India's most populous city, Mumbai.

Nick Davies is an intern at Genesis BCW in Mumbai, India

Working in a new culture gives you the opportunity to feel like a local, not just a tourist. For me, I couldn’t imagine experiencing Mumbai any other way.

I began my stay checking out the must-see spots: Gateway of India, Colaba Causeway, Sanjay Gandhi National park. All amazing sights in their own right, but one month in, Mumbai has revealed itself to be something so much more than a list of landmarks to tick off.

There is something special about living out the small aspects that make up the Mumbai lifestyle: drinking a morning glass of chai, riding a rickshaw to the station, battling through crowds on the trains, and buying Vada Pav (an iconic Mumbai street food) from a local food stall.

Even just building a daily routine around work has been a fulfilling and immersive learning experience. One month here and I’m just starting to get a feel for the life of a Mumbaikar [a resident of Mumbai].

I am interning at Genesis BCW, one of India’s largest public relations agencies. So far, it has been incredibly professionally rewarding, helping me further understand just what I’m looking for in my future career.

My workdays are spent mostly writing content and doing research for a variety of clients. I was lucky enough to join the New Zealand team, where I help promote my country’s tourism and universities to the Indian Market. It’s been great to have a background that brings a unique value to the agency.

Genesis BCW has also given me the freedom to explore a variety of sectors. This has meant I’ve been able to attend a number of press conferences within the entertainment industry. While the language and style are foreign to me, the spectacle and performances of these events have been a joy to experience. I’ve also met a number of Indian TV stars!

Watch a self-narrated video showing Nick's daily life in Mumbai

A lot of my time at work is spent with the Health and Wellness team, which I asked to be a part of due to my interest in health communication and non-profit work. Being a developing country, India has an exciting and active CSR [corporate social responsibility] environment.

I’ve appreciated learning about the different corporates and NGOs doing great work in this space. I’ve also enjoyed helping the team research and plan an initiative to promote flu vaccinations across India.

Mumbai city life itself is an intense and sometimes overwhelming experience. Noise blasts at you from every direction. Shops burst out of every storefront and sidewalk. I’m often shocked by how unruly streets are, where traffic rules are optional pedestrians share the road.

No amount of practice jay walking in Wellington could ever have prepared me for a Mumbai street-crossing. Even just a five-minute walk to the supermarket is an adventure in itself.  

Despite all of this, Mumbai is a paradox of being so unbelievably foreign, yet already feeling like a second home.

Everyone around me, from work colleagues to strangers on trains, have been warm and welcoming.

People want to ensure I’m comfortable, happy, and most of at all, not too intimidated by their wild city. Living here has also made me wonder how dull life will feel once I return back home to New Zealand.

Nick says, "Everyone around me, from work colleagues to strangers on trains, have been warm and welcoming."

I feel most of my apprehension about arriving here was fuelled by overly negative perceptions that the west has of India. Yes, the poverty is confronting, the streets are often cluttered, and the lifestyle is exhausting, but it has just meant I’ve learned to admire the resilience and industriousness of Mumbai’s citizens.

I’ve chosen to look beyond the downsides and embrace what is a truly rich and diverse culture. Doing this has been one of the most insightful and rewarding experiences of my life.