The world’s largest democracy with a population of over 1billion people is home to a fascinating mix of peoples, cultures, languages and religions.
India is also a country of almost unimaginably immense proportions, with the distance between Kashmir, it’s northern tip and Kerala, our base in the south almost the same distance as London to Baghdad!
India is a must for anyone wanting to experience a completely different way of life. Each turn uncovers a new sight, a new smell or a new experience. Be it the fragrance of the spices in the market, the hustle and bustle of the daily commute or the explosion of colours on the temples that rise majestically into the dusty sky, living in India is something everyone should do at some point during their lives.
Our base in India is the southern city of Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram), capital of the state of Kerala. Kerala is famed for its waterways and stretches from it’s magnificent beaches to the towering Western Ghat mountains.
During your time with us in India you will be staying in accommodation that we rent from the local people. This house is quite spacious and clean and volunteers share a dormitory style room with 3 other people.
Occasionally, we place volunteers with local families. This is usually during off-peak times when only a handful of volunteers are with us in India. If this is the case we will send you full details of your family accommodation before your departure.
Whether you are teaching, on the journalism placement or working in hospitals, all the volunteers stay together in the same area which means that you are never far away from someone to socialise with in the evenings or travel with at weekends. Even if you’re based a little further away, most of the volunteers come to Trivandrum to begin their weekend travels or activities.
Usually, two to four people will share a room. The standard of the accommodation will basic and not be what you are used to at home so please don’t expect all mod cons, but it will be clean and tidy.
The house has running water and electricity, but please be aware that the water is delivered and stored in a tank above the house so there may be times when it runs out, and the electricity supply is unreliable and may often fail. India often has problems with it’s electricity supply and will be cut off at times with no warning.
Even breakfasts in India have an element of curry spices to them. There will be someone there to look after the house and they will cook your meals, which means that if you can’t quite get used to Indian food then they can cook something similar to what you are used to at home.
Travelling around Trivandrum is easy whether you are teaching or on a medical project, you placement will be easy to reach by auto rickshaw or bus.
Our staff will be on hand during office hours if you have any general queries and only a phone call away outside office hours if there’s something much more urgent.
Edged by a thread of unbroken beach line, the Kerala’s heart is composed of intensely green paddy fields and a unique network of rivers and lagoons. Upland Kerala, relatively little visited, is composed of hills thickly wooded with teak and rubber.
Trivandrum which is also the state capital has an exceptionally fine museum set in an amusement park.
Kovalam, one of the most popular beaches in the country. Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple in Trivandrum, and Padmanabhapuram Palace are important monuments.
Cochin has been Kerala’s center of maritime trade for innumerable centuries. Jew town, complete with an immaculately preserved synagogue, has a flavor all its own, while Tripunathura, at the other end of the city, has many traditional houses with central courtyards.
Kerala’s multitude of faiths – Islam, Judaism, and a host of sects of Christianity and Hinduism – all coexist harmoniously. Kerala’s traditions of dance forms, which originated from temple worship, can be witnessed at regularly held performances.
A five hour drive from Cochin leads into thickly forested hills, past rubber and spice plantations, and into southern India’s tea growing district headquartered at the charmingly old world Munnar.
From Kottayam to Alleppey is a world of palm fringed waterways, a route which is covered by motor launch. Elderly sailboats, long barges transporting tons of coconuts and tiny skiffs used to transport children to school are common sights on these backwaters.
Kerala has a tropical Climate and remains pleasant for most of the year. It is summer time from April to June. The maximum temperature remains around 33 degrees centigrade. The South West Monsoon touches the state in June and remains till September however not much difference in temperature can be felt, though humidity increases and rainfall can last for a couple of days at a stretch. Winter is from October to January and temperature drops slightly.
India is an incredibly cheap country to visit. Meals in restaurants can cost pennies and rooms in nice hotels £2-3 pounds per night.
You will have weekends free to travel and visit the sights so do take some spending money for food, accommodation and souvenirs.
Exactly how much to take is a matter of great debate but most who have travelled to India recommend that you could probably get by allowing £15-30 per weekend spending money. If you can, take a little extra just in case to allow for emergencies or those ‘must have’ souvenirs.
You cannot get Indian currency outside of India so it’s best to take your spending money as travellers cheques or cash. Credit and debit cards are not widely accepted in India but are useful to take as a back-up. You can usually draw money out on credit and debit cards from most banks in India.
Travellers cheques are the safest way to carry your spending money to India as they can be easily replaced if lost or stolen. In our experience we’ve found that American Express travellers cheques offer the best service but most travellers cheques are accepted. It’s probably best to avoid ‘Stephen Cook’ travellers cheques as some banks do not accept them.
However, do take some cash with you as travellers cheques are difficult to change (often requiring hours of queuing in banks).
You can take cash as sterling, Euros or US dollars. All are easy to change in India.
You should arrange your flights to arrive at Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram) International Airport. A number of international carriers fly to Trivandrum, including Air India and Gulf Air.
Meet The Team
Country Director – Babu Menon
Our office in India is headed by P.G.R Menon (Babu). Babu was born and raised in Kerala and was instrumental in the decision to locate Global Medical Projects – India in the country’s most beautiful state.
The son of a banker, Babu went to school and later University in Kerala, graduating with a degree in Botany and Zoology. After his degree Babu travelled to Calcutta to complete a post-graduate course in management but was brought back home by the sudden and un-expected death of his Father.
Following the death of his father, Babu stayed in Kerala and decided to follow in his father’s footsteps, joining the banking industry where he spent many happy years. It was during this time that he met his wife, Thankam, a widow with two children that had lost her husband to a car accident. They married in 1980 and a short time later, his wife, a nursing professional, was recruited to the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia. Babu gave up his beloved Kerala a short time later and joined his wife, working as the head of Human Resources for a training establishment based in Abah.
With their two children now qualified professionals and working overseas, his son an engineer in the US, his daughter a dentist in the UK, Babu decided to look for a new challenge and during a trip to the UK to see his daughter, met the GVP director and GVP in India was born!
Babu is the ideal person to run our projects in Kerala. A vociferous promoter of Kerala, he believes that no other state in India is as beautiful or offers as much opportunity.
Incredibly well connected, if Babu doesn’t know someone who can help us arrange a project, he probably knows someone who does. As a result, our projects in India are quite unique.
His background in banking has given him a meticulous eye for detail which he applies to the arrangement of all our placements.
His experience in HR in Saudi Arabia has also given him experience in working with people from different cultures and an understanding of the challenges facing people living and working in new country for the first time.
Babu is driven by a passion to interact with people from different cultures and enjoys meeting volunteers with their varying backgrounds and personalities. He is committed to arranging projects that are worthwhile, not only to the participants but also to the local community which makes him the perfect Director of our programme in India.
Babu is looking forward to meeting you when you arrive in India!
“Be happy and make others happy and a wellbeing will come to your own life” Babu Menon.