Name: Kalyani Sukumar Iyer
Age: 27, Single
City: Was in Hyderabad, now on a project in Ghana, West Africa and Kenya and Tanzania, East Africa.
Ms Kalyani Sukumar Iyer wit hhandmade motocycle toys she got from the villages in India. -- ST PHOTO: MARYANNE TAN
Designation: Microfinance and mobile banking consultant. Formerly senior manager with Spandana, India’s largest microfinance institution.
A conversation with Kalyani Sukumar Iyer got me thinking about other Singaporeans like her in India.
Her India journey started in January last year and ended early this year. She moved to Hyderabad, in southern Andhra Pradesh state as senior manager with India’s largest micro finance institution, Spandana.
The toys are painted in vegetable dye and is protected by a shiny vanish. -- ST PHOTO: MARYANNE TAN
She made the move not just to get in touch with her Indian roots but also to make a difference in people’s lives.
While Lonely Planet may prepare you for a host of foreign trips, it does not prepare you for living in India, she says while talking of her experience of living there.
Ms Kalyani Sukumar Iyer moved from Beijing to Hyderabad as senior manager with Spandana, India's largest microfinance institution. -- PHOTO: KALYANI SUKUMAR IYER
'There are too many cultural complexities and each region in India is different from the other. No book can prepare you for such diversities, you have to experience India to understand it,' she explains.
The fluent English, Mandarin, Italian, Hindi and Tamil speaker’s role saw her head off every week into the heart of India - its villages. There, she came into contact with hundreds of people whose dreams took flight for as little as $10. She was involved in pilot-testing and launching financial and non-financial products and services to over four million clients in more than ten Indian states.
-- ST PHOTO: MARYANNE TAN
India toughened her and broadened her horizons. The two-time fellowship winner, who received the Eliza Buffington Fellowship this year and the Ann Cornelisen Fellowship in 2008, moved to Africa in June.
She previously worked with China’s largest microfinance institution and is now looking for her next opening.
But she does not rule out a return visit to India.
'I may end up going back. It is a land full of possibilities. You can eat on the road side on one side and shop at a swanky boutique on the same road on the other side. The train rides are an unmatched experience. All of these things make India a very special country,' she says.
Life! correspondent Deepika Shetty travelled to four main Indian cities and several satellite cities in September.
She started her India journey in the southern city of Chennai and ended it in capital of New Delhi. She spoke to over 100 people to piece together the story of Singaporeans living and working in India and their motivations to do so.
The idea was to find stories of ordinary Singaporeans who have followed their heart to India.
Read the special report in Saturday's edition of The Straits Times.