I finished up my initial stay in Mumbai towards late December, and have been in Nepal since then. I am currently volunteering at a Buddhist monastery 30 minutes outside of Kathmandu. This includes teaching English/Math/Computers to the novice monks, and some local school children, and participating in cooking, laundry, etc. I am having a great stay in South Asia, and I can say that the time spent in Mumbai was fantastic.
The environment at TIFR was very professional yet warm. I learned a great deal from the interaction, academic and otherwise, with graduate students, postdocs, visitors, etc. from all over the world. I was exposed to big ideas and influenced by top thinkers, formed strong friendships, and got a real feel for academic culture in India. The freedom to pursue topics/interests without a constant stream of deadlines helped me develop as a student and scientist. In Nepal I am still continuing with several topics that I had picked up while staying at the institute.
I explored Mumbai when possible. This meant learning a bit about Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, UP culture, etc. I met many many interesting people. This includes Cornell grads starting software/web companies, IIT grads founding new hedge funds, Princeton grads doing art, Columbia grads doing urban studies projects, IIM grads working at Accenture and Citibank, Harvard grads in banking, former India Physics team members now studying at IIT, lawyers, actors/actresses, and more. By chance I bumped into a former MIT grad Vishal Sood when I was in Ahmedabad for Garba. There are of course many stories to go along with these people, and I can say that meeting and talking to such a diverse group has helped me tremendously in learning about the world at large. I am also meeting interesting people in Nepal, mainly in Kathmandu, e.g., the head of the Rotary Club of Kathmandu, a Harvard bio PhD working at a local hospital, a Notre Dame student involved in JPAL, and more.
When I would be able to get back to India I'm looking into the possibility of working at an institute for blind students in Hyderabad. The teachinghere in Nepal has reconfirmed my interest in teaching, and teaching English as opposed to Math (as I have done previously) is also providing a fresh challenge. If you want I can write up some things I am learning through the experience, comments on Indian and Nepali culture from a US student's perspective, etc. I have also considered the idea of writing up some sort of guide for future MISTI India students, which would include some tips/advice for students living in India.
Thank you again, MIT-India, for this wonderful opportunity. I look forward to sharing with others some of the experiences I have had in India and Nepal.