26 April 2010

India Week (March 09 -12, 2010) was organized by Indian MBA participants from September 2009 and January 2010 intakes. The event was sponsored by India Tourism Office, Paris (Ministry of Tourism – Government of India).  All programs as part of the week were organised, conducted and executed by members of the HEC MBA student community.

The Week began on March 09, 2010 with a traditional Indian sport – Kabaddi. The audience was indeed surprised that Kabaddi, a team contact sport, not cricket is the traditional Indian sport that captures the imagination of the masses in India.  The game tests strength, swiftness and agility of the players. Two teams were formed with an equitable mix of Indians and non-Indians. What matters is that on a cold windy day, more than 20 barefooted HEC MBA participants sweated out a closely contested 5 set match. At the end of the match everyone came together to have some well deserved traditional Indian snacks and sweets such as samosas and soan papdis.

For those who missed kabaddi on day 1, on day 2 (March 10, 2010) we had a cricket match in the form of an Oscar nominated Indian movie – Lagaan. The critically acclaimed movie drew a large audience. One of the selling points of the movie was the music that was composed by A.R. Rahman of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ fame. The movie was followed by one of the tastiest Indian snacks, ‘Dahi Bhalla’, prepared in-house by the president of partner’s club of HEC.

Day 3 (March 11, 2010) began with traditional Indian ‘Masala Chai’ (Tea). It was followed by some of the most talented mehndi artists applying mehndi decorations (sometimes known as ‘Henna Tattoos’ in the west). Although traditionally a huge attraction for the ladies several guys got their hands done as well! Simultaneously, we had couple of astrologers predicting the bright future of the HEC MBA Participants.

As evening approached, we went back to serious business with Mr. Ravindra Pandey (CEO of State Bank of India, Paris) talking about ‘How the Indian banks responded to the challenge posed by much larger multinational banks’. State Bank of India is the oldest bank in India and the largest bank in the South Asia region.

Finally, 9 PM on a Thursday night and it was time to party the Indian way – free Indian Beer, free Panipuri Shots (Vodka shots), Bollywood Music and Punjabi beats. The party went on till 1 AM in the morning, despite the music having stopped at around 12:15 AM.

Day 4 (March 12, 2010) began with some cool and refreshing Indian drinks such as ‘Rooh Afza’ and ‘Jal Zeera’. The expectations were high from the gala night that promised to highlight some of the most colourful aspects of Indian culture – Wedding, Fashion, Dances, and Food. As tradition goes, we kept the Mehndi running during the day as women are expected to don the Mehndi decorations during a wedding.

The Indian wedding was unique in a way that an Indian MBA Participant from January 2010 batch renewed his vows with his French wife. The wedding was a typical North Indian wedding full of pomp and show; gorgeous bride dressed in a beautiful wedding saree, handsome groom wearing a smart Sherwani, drums beating loudly and those from the grooms side (groom’s friends and family) dancing fanatically. Typical of an Indian wedding, the groom’s procession began around a kilometre away and stopped at the bride’s house (MBA Building in our case). The bride and the groom exchanged garlands in the presence of a purohit (a Hindu priest) who chanted a few mantras (sacred recitations).

The Indian Wedding was followed by Indian Fashion show that was the central attraction of the night. The most heartening part about the fashion show was that more than 90% of the participating models were non-Indians and they looked very comfortable and graceful in very carefully chosen Indian dresses. The women looked gorgeous in salwar-kameez, sarees, lahangas, and Ghagra-Cholis. The men were not to be left far behind as they matched the women with their grace and charm while sporting kurta-pyajamas, sherwanis, and dhotis. The whole event was most impressive for it was very professionally managed and each participant performed remarkably well.

Interspersed within the Fashion Show was a wide spectrum of Indian classical and contemporary Bollywood dances. First up, three Indian ladies, performed a charming Kathak dance to the song “Mere Dholana”. This was followed by an impressive fusion solo performance that got us all in the groove. The three dances that ensued had a pleasant mix of Indians and non-Indians. The dances were all set to latest Bollywood hit numbers. The foot thumping music and the energetic dance moves created a great deal of excitement and got the crowd fully charged up to the sumptuous dinner that awaited them all.

The “all you can eat” buffet was splendid balance between the choicest Indian vegetarian such as Vegetable Biryani and Matar Paneer and non-vegetarian cuisine such as Chicken Tandoori and Chicken Curry.  The “Mango Lassi” – a yoghurt based mango flavoured drink – was a particular hit. Unlimited Indian beer was served on the house.

By India Week Organizing Team, HEC MBA September 2009 and January 2010

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