Sorry for the delay in posting, folks. I've been somewhat inundated with teaching, socializing, getting things sorted out in my apartment, discovering what I can and can't do technology-wise, and generally doing a whole lot of low-level problem-solving. But things are coming together nicely, especially as regards my accommodations :)
Boy, did I luck out!
Prior to coming to India, I had prepared for the worst. I assumed I wouldn’t have a fan in my “digs,” for a start—and I seriously considered bringing a fan with me. But then I knew there’d be frequent power cuts, so I figured I’d not be able to count on using even a fan, let alone A/C. I also figured I’d not be able to count on the use of technology at home or at school, whether for lesson planning or for in-class use. I expected to have to fend for myself for food and other necessary supplies. I also assumed I’d be bathing out of a bucket—if I was lucky. I doubted I’d have the use of a western-style commode; that I’d have to get used to squatting over a hole in the ground (ask Heather Mohr about this!). Above all, I doubted I’d have the luxury of hot and cold water for a shower.
None of these expectations (fears) have proved to jive with reality.
My 'umble abode is an apartment in the university guest house with an en suite bathroom. It has a reasonably spacious living area which I’ve kitted out with a desk and easy chair by scavenging from other rooms in the house. There are two fans in the living area, plus an A/C unit (wow!). Power cuts, though almost daily, last for only short periods of time—never (yet) more than an hour. There is what I choose to call a dressing room between the living area and the bathroom, with ample closet space. The bathroom has running hot and cold water, and a western-style commode!!
As if this is not enough, I have, literally at my beck and call, several “houseboys” who clean my apartment every day, get my food (from a local eatery) and serve it in the dining room downstairs, where I often eat with other guests staying in the house. Laundry is done on demand and takes a day or two. It’s returned to me pressed and folded like I just bought it from the store.
When I described all this over the phone to my wife, Marilyn, she exclaimed: “Bernard, you’re living like a maharajah!!” And she’s right.
Talking about the phone, I bought a cell phone the day after arriving in Tirupati. I dialed Marilyn’s land line phone number (including the international code for the United States) and, to our utter amazement, got right through clear as a bell! Then I called our son’s cell phone (he lives in Pittsburgh) just to see what would happen. No problem, connected clear as a bell once again. Incoming calls are not charged to my cell phone, so Marilyn calls me every day—and what a lifeline that is.
In correspondence with my hosts at SPMVV, I’d been assured that I would be able to use the internet-ready computers at the university, and that I’d be able to project from my laptop to a display in front of a class. But I wasn’t taking any chances, so I brought along my own projector, just in case. Turns out that was a great move on my part. I’ve used the laptop and projector constantly and it’s made a huge difference in engaging my audiences and helping me prepare for, and deliver, presentations.
So far I've addressed student groups in Business Management (a group of professors who are meeting to discuss pedagogy issues), Biotechnology Engineering (environmental engineering and population studies), Computer Science (I talked about Software Design in Software Engineering), and Education (Instructional Technology). Everyone wants a piece of me, and that's OK with me, since that's why I'm here.
The university is preparing an office for me, in which I’ll apparently have an internet-ready computer. Watch out once I’m established there, folks. I’ll finally be able to be in regular touch. But once again, I'm not taking any chances. The internet connections I've found elsewhere in the university are exceedingly slow, so I've arranged to have wireless access on my laptop with a company called Reliance Web World, which will allow me to access the Web anywhere in India--including during class, which is sure to be a hit with my students.
So no worries. I couldn’t be more blessed. I wish Marilyn were with me (*sigh*), of course, but under these circumstances I can easily survive until we meet up in February, when I’m entitled to a vacation outside of India. We’ll be rendezvous-ing in England around the time of my mom’s 98th birthday. What a celebration that will be!