My Travels in India - Week 1

May 19 2014 - 3:01pm

The law firm: AZB and Partners. Bahram N. Vakil, senior partner, the “B” of AZB, the man who personally interviewed me for this summer internship, sat 10 feet away from me in his corner office. He showed me around the firm, introduced me to the associates and partners, and paired me with one of the newer partners, Nandish Vyas. The first few days were slow; I became acquainted with the customs of the office, relearned Microsoft Outlook, and fought with the copy machine. Eventually, I was eased into the minutiae of corporate law in a short amount of time.

For two whole days, I was assigned to a due diligence between our client, a corporate investor based in Qatar, and its investment partner, a prestigious education company handling test prep all across India. A third party, an independent investor based in Mauritius, was involved in the legal dispute on the side bringing the lawsuit into court. This winding up petition, my introduction into the world of corporate law, was an extensive and mind-numbing documentation process involving emails between the three parties. What was at stake was millions of dollars across international borders and more importantly, the internal corporate structure of this education company. In that same week, Nandish had wanted me to revamp the bylaws of an Indian trade union using the bylaws of a trade union based in London from the same industry.

I was very busy that week, which sort of justified my first working Saturday (!!!) at this law firm. The hours were strange as well; from Monday through Friday, all associates and interns would report for work from 10:30 AM and leave work by 8:30 PM. Every other Saturday, all employees were required to come in for work for a shorter amount of time, but the hours were rough regardless of the shortened time. This essentially made the internship feel like a sixty hour work week. Coupled with an hour-long commute by train to and from work, the adjustment to the Indian work schedule was jarring to say the least.

The train, moreover, was among the worst parts of my trip to India. Overcrowded would be a laughable understatement to describe the local trains in India. While inexpensive for all commuters (a three month pass costs 5 USD), the result is an outdated, overused, and deteriorating train system. The train cars are packed with over six hundred commuters though each car is designed for 150 passengers. All of the doors are open to let the overwhelming heat out, resulting in daring attempts to catch moving trains, leaps from slowing trains, and commuters hanging out of the doors. Shoving and elbowing contests aside, the train would definitely be the least favorite part of my two months on the subcontinent.

However, the upside of that week came with the congeniality and friendliness of the Indian people. In that first week, I was treated to an expensive round of dinner and drinks paid for by the firm and my supervisors, went out on a more affordable (but still delicious) outing with the other legal interns, and explored the sights in the city of Mumbai. My new friends and I went to a bustling (and smelly) market in the downtown area as well as walked through a park called the Hanging Gardens.

We saw our share of animals both on the sidewalks and in the streets, including cows and monkeys. But with just one day to recover after coming in to work on Saturday, the first weekend in India was relatively quiet and a chance to sleep away the hours of paperwork from the previous week. India and just Mumbai in particular had much more to show me, but with seven weeks left, I was in no rush to explore. Not yet, anyway.

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