Getting Ready for Chazen India

Iris Chen ’15

What do you get when you combine 37 CBS students, 2 faculty members, and 7 organizers?  A trip of a lifetime to India!  Exactly three months ago on September 23rd, 2014, I found out that I was going to India over winter break through the Chazen International Study Tour program.  India has been one of the top places I’ve been wanting to visit, and I’m so excited for this opportunity through Columbia Business School.

I’ve had three months to prepare for my trip through health assessments, vaccines, pre-departure meetings, and applying for my visa.  On my travel assessment, I received a Hepatitis A shot, my 10-year tetanus booster, typhoid pills, malaria pills, and antibiotics.  Safe to say, I’m ready (health-wise) for my trip to start!

Chazen India takes place from Saturday December 27th, 2014 and ends on Wednesday January 7th, 2015.  We will start in the south of India in Mumbai and then we will fly north to Jaipur, drive to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, and will officially end in Delhi.  My trip will end in Delhi, but many students will continue their journey to Goa, a Western city known for its beaches, places of worship, and world heritage architecture.

The following is a list of companies we’ll be visiting on our trip:

HDFC Bank Limited, the fifth largest Indian banking and financial services company by assets headquartered in Mumbai.

MakeMyTrip Inc., an online travel company headquartered in Gurgaon, Haryana that provides online travel services including flight tickets, domestic and international holiday packages, hotel reservations, rail and bus tickets.

Zomato is an online restaurant discovery guide providing information on home delivery, dining-out, cafes and nightlife in major cities.


I am most looking forward to the visit to the Dabbawalas office to learn about the delivery system of hundreds of thousands of meals per day in Mumbai.  A dabbawala is a person in India, most commonly in Mumbai, who is part of a delivery system that collects hot food in lunch boxes from the residences of workers in the late morning, delivers the lunches to the workplace utilizing various modes of transport, and returns the empty boxes to the customer’s residence that afternoon.  I first learned about the Dabbawalas from Professor Singh’s Operations Strategy class. Here’s a video that explains the Dabbawala’s vastly complex operation:

Fortis Healthcare Limited (FHL) is a leading, pan Asia-Pacific, integrated healthcare delivery provider.

Tata Group is a family-owned Indian multinational conglomerate company founded in 1868 and headquartered in Mumbai.  It encompasses seven business sectors: communications and information technology, engineering, materials, services, energy, consumer products and chemicals.  It has over 100 operating companies, each running independently, in more than 80 countries across six continents.

A couple of weeks ago, we had our final pre-departure meeting with the Chazen organizers (see picture below).  We learned about travel precautions, expectations, business etiquette, dress code, and several local phrases including the traditional “namaste” greeting.  The organizers did a wonderful job planning every aspect of the study tour, including the New Year’s Eve party in Mumbai!  It will be very exciting to tour India through both the local and global perspective.  I’m so lucky that I have classmates around the world who can plan these amazing trips in their home countries, and hope that I can learn a lot more about their culture once I’m there.

Chazen India Organizers from L to R: Mimi Vavilala, Karan Ahuja, Kusha Sanghrajka, and Surabhi Shastri (not pictured: Divya Goenka and Anuja Mehta)
Chazen India Organizers from L to R: Mimi Vavilala, Karan Ahuja, Kushal Sanghrajka, and Surabhi Shastri (not pictured: Divya Goenka, Anuja Mehta, and Amber Liang)

Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for more blog updates!

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