At the end of May this year, I was lucky enough to fly from London, where I work on the DK Eyewitness Travel Guides Editorial team, to visit DK India in Delhi as part of the DK Exchange Programme. Yes, that's right – in the month that India experienced a heatwave, and Rajasthan reached record-breaking temperatures, my colleague Kathleen and I, both thoroughly British Brits, touched down in Delhi.
We stepped onto Indian soil sometime around midnight, where we were enveloped by 30+ degree heat – the type of temperature that hits the UK perhaps once a year, if we're lucky. During our working week in DK Delhi's office, we slithered between the hotel, the car and the office to make the most of the air con.
Rather like Indian roads, the DK Exchange to Delhi was jam-packed and manic – between meetings, catch-ups, lunches and trips, there wasn't time for much else, other than an obligatory cup of tea, of course.
I've worked on DK Eyewitness Travel Guides for four years, speaking to my Indian counterparts daily throughout this time. It was wonderful to finally put faces to names, see the office, talk all things bookish, hear about the DK experience in India and better understand my colleagues' working lives.
Aside from getting to know the team, the week offered a number of highlights. Kathleen and I visited several bookstores at Select CityWalk, to see DK books lining the shelves and check out the competition. I'm at my happiest in a bookshop, so it was heartily enjoyable to tour the shops and greet our beloved DK books. While I'm an editor, and therefore content-driven, Kathleen works in Production, which is packaging-led. She manhandled countless books in those shops, inspecting the finish of the covers, the materials used, how they were displayed. It was fascinating to hear her observations – things that would never have occurred to me!
My host, Shikha, and Kathleen's host, Vaishali, took the two of us on a tour of Delhi – we saw India Gate, the Rajpath, Presidential Palace, and the outskirts of the Lodi Gardens, and we took a balmy stroll around the Crafts Museum. We concluded at Qutb Minar, which was completely beautiful and a definite highlight, particularly as the sun set on the world's tallest minaret and the red sandstone bricks glowed amber.
Another evening, the Travel editors took Kathleen and me to Dilli Haat for some retail therapy. We were completely overwhelmed by the stalls – all the colours, patterns, and materials. Where were we to begin?! Encouraged by the editors, we approached the stalls for closer inspection. Our colleagues were incredibly helpful and patient Â– pulling out options for us to look at, holding our bags while we rummaged and, most importantly, bargaining on our behalf. Conclusion of the shopping trip: I have much to learn when it comes to bargaining.
And then there was the food. So much delicious food! Shikha printed me a map of India at the beginning of the working week and did her best to provide me with a culinary tour of the country, labelling each delicious meal I ate on the map. Needless to say I barely scratched the surface; I will have to return to continue my education of Indian cuisine. The street food we ate on our final day in the office was a definite highlight. The vendors set up in the office's break out area, and I was able to mingle with my team while eating Dahi bhalla. It was the perfect way to round off the working week.
Kathleen and I then spent a few days in the country for some sightseeing, but this is for another blog piece.
A huge thank you to all of my colleagues in the Delhi office – thank you for the very warm welcome, hospitality, patience and advice. Until we meet again!