My visa arrived on Friday, February 13th. My lucky day! I also received a beautiful bouquet of roses from my Valentine daughter, Michal, as if she knew I’d be celebrating this incredible honor and adventure. What gifts! I immediately contacted my Fulbright liaisons in New Delhi and Washington, D.C. Both were incredibly responsive and helpful. (Thanks Girish Kaul and Daniel ErkenBrack!) Within hours (and thanks also to advice from friend/travel agent, Janice Hough, in California!), I had plane tickets from Indianapolis to Newark, New Jersey to New Delhi, India, to Chandigarh, India. I depart on Monday to arrive in Patiala Wednesday evening!
I will spend the night in New Delhi on Tuesday when I arrive and receive a security briefing there on Wednesday before I leave for the Punjab (“five waters [rivers]”) region. In Pakistan, the Punjab province includes Islamabad. In India, the Punjab state includes Chandigarh and Patiala where the Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law is located. The region was officially partitioned in 1947 with the dissolution of the British colonial occupation of India. I have so much to learn about this history and its legacy.
My host, Professor Shveta Dhaliwal, has already been incredibly welcoming. Thanks to Facebook, we are “Friends” and I know that she celebrates Valentine’s Day (Shhhh, I am bringing belated Valentine’s Day token candies to her two daughters!) We are also planning my involvement in an international conference, lectures, and publishing projects. I am already incredibly grateful for her outreach and courtesies.
The last time I was in India was October 1987, more than 27 years ago, as I turned 28 years old. I had been traveling for 2 months, first in Japan and then alone in China. My mother and sister, Bridget, had met me in Hong Kong and I had been reluctant to leave them to travel onto India. Here is the initial entry from that diary: “Warm in Delhi but not oppressive– it was 3 am, though. Getting through customs was a pain and took awhile as they checked and rechecked passport and bags. . . . The taxi was odd, two men and me, the wind blowing. You could hardly see anything but it seemed nice. Occasional stop points with rifle carrying guards made me nervous– stepped up security because of terrorists.” I wonder how much the world has changed in 27 years. Thank goodness, I have.
I am really looking forward to this Fulbright-India trip with great anticipation. I remember that I ultimately loved India. I am so excited to go back as the new me. More soon from India!