Monday, December 11, 2006

Settling in in Tirupati

The picture is of Dr. D. Jamuna, a professor of Psychology at Sri Venkateswara University (SVU). Dr. Jamuna is my Fulbright facilitator, and she has helped me get settled in Tirupati. She’s a former Fulbrighter herself, having spent a year doing research at Penn State.

I spent my first night in Tirupati (Dec. 7) at the Bliss Hotel, which was as blissful as its name implies.

I’d been met at the airport by two professors from Sri Padmavati Mahila Visvavidyalayam (Women’s University), henceforth to be referred to as SPMVV. Both professors have the same first name, and that’s how they like to be addressed, so I’ll refer to them as Professors Vijayalakshmi. They couldn’t have been more welcoming or solicitous that I had everything I needed. We arranged that I’d go with them next day to the university in order to meet with the Vice Chancellor (President), Rector (Provost), and the heads of various schools and departments who might be interested in using my services as a lecturer.

I’d decided ahead of time that I’d play safe food-wise and go vegetarian for the duration of my stay in India. So far the food has been, without exception, delicious and, more to the point, without gastronomical repercussions. I spent two days in Delhi without even a hint of the dreaded “Delhi Belly,” and the same continues to be the case after almost a week in country.

Before I left the States, at a sendoff dinner with the UPJ Division of Education faculty, my good colleague Bob Swanson had thoughtfully given me the gift of a couple of boxes of Pepto Bismol and Immodium ID pills (*lol*). Needless to say, I brought them with me and carried them everywhere in one of the pockets of my safari jacket. Now that I’m settled into what I expect to be my permanent residence in Tirupati, the pills are in a cabinet in the bathroom.

I know where they are; I fully expect to have to use them; it’s just a matter of time…

Meanwhile, my accommodations in the university guesthouse far exceed my expectations. I have an upstairs room with AC and an en suite bathroom. There are also two ceiling-mounted fans. It’s a reasonably new house, so it has electrical outlets all over the place. I’m using three of them now—one for my shaver, another for my cell phone, and a third for my laptop.

But the best news of all is that I have running hot and cold water! The hot water is supplied by a “geezer”—an electric-powered water heater. This takes me back to my childhood in England where the hot water in our house was similarly generated. Before coming here, I’d told my wife that I’d be ecstatic if, when I turned on a faucet, any kind of water came out. Well, I’m happy to tell one and all that I might just as well be in a hotel in the US, except that this is a whole lot cheaper. My rental cost is R200 a day (about $4.50) and food is costing me about $1.50.

Six bucks a day for a well-appointed room with a view. Not bad.

The $6 view is of the surrounding garden, which is cared for by an entourage of staff. When there’s a breeze, the fronds of a palm tree softly caress my window. This is winter in South India, but I’m only about 13 degrees north of the Equator, further south than Florida, I believe, so the climate is really quite pleasant just now. Come April and May, though, things will start to heat up.

But I don’t have to worry about that since I’ll be preparing to travel back States-side by then.

The past couple of days I’ve been reminded of the fact that I’m not here for a vacation. I’m already lined up to address a class of Education majors at 10:00 am this coming Monday, Dec. 11. Then, immediately following that, I’ll be giving a presentation at a seminar for in-service faculty from nearby universities who are new PhDs looking for ways to “update their knowledge on pedagogy,” especially as it relates to the discipline of Business Management. Not quite my area, though my background in Information Science will help, and I do have 41 years of teaching experience to draw on! So no worries, as they say “down under.” The next day (Tuesday, Dec. 12) I meet again with the Vice-Chancellor and the Dean of the School of Education to plan my teaching schedule for the rest of my stay.

Dr. Jamuna has invited me to accompany her, along with some of her SVU Psychology department colleagues and students, to a conference on Gerontology. She wants me to give a presentation while we’re there and she’s left it up to me as to what I want to talk about.

I figure I can tell the attendees how it feels to be growing old….

Whoops! Power cut. We have one or two a day; no biggie. My laptop here switched to battery power without a hitch.

I might as well go back to bed. Night all :)



Dawn said...

Hey Bernie,

I am glad that you are settling in. Now email me okay? :)

tpraja said...

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