Monday, 23 February
There are times in your life when a person goes above and beyond the call of duty to make your life easier and to enrich your experience. My Fulbright Host, Dr. Shveta Dhaliwal, has been such a person. She encouraged me throughout the visa delay and then had everything ready for my arrival. Greeting me at the Guest House last Wednesday evening, she arranged for a meeting with the Vice Chancellor, Prof. (Dr.) Jaswal, who was equally welcoming. Since then, Dr. Shveta has translated with staff who speak little or no English, arranged for me to teach classes that fit with my expertise, promoted me for the conferences, and introduced me to students and encouraged our interactions. (For example, she has even suggested to them that I might give a tango dance demonstration at their upcoming arts festival if they can get me a partner!) Dr. Shveta has joined me for numerous meals at the Guest House so that I would not be eating alone and so that we could compare teaching methods, explore publishing opportunities, discuss substantive law, and review a million other topics.
On several occasions, this working mother of two lovely daughters, Aarza (9) and Seerat (7), also brought her children to meet me and tell me about their academic and social lives. We’ve several times discuss the days activities over dinner. Taking me on campus walks or over a meal, they are teaching me about their life experiences and learning about mine and that of my students back in Indiana. Today, Dr. Shveta asked if I would like to join her between meetings to pick up the girls from their respective convent schools. Perhaps, I will amend this post in the future to include pictures that I failed to take today– I was so absorbed by the sights and sounds of Patiala. I cannot adequately describe the differences between street life here and that in the states. However, when Aarza saw me at her school, she came running and gave me a big hug. I was delighted by her innocent excitement and enthusiasm. Some things are the same, whether you are in India or in the states.
After school, Dr. Shveta took us to a sweet shop in Patiala. I am the only blonde that I have seen in almost a week. I stand out in every crowd and the sweet shop was no different. The beauty here was that the clerks were just as eager to teach me about Indian sweets as I was to learn. Boiled sweetened milk mixed with coconut, spiced fried doughs with fruits and nuts. The variety seemed endless and the clerks were very interested in my reactions. Aarza and Seerat also enjoyed my educational experience. Exhausted from our sweets lesson, we settled on some ice cream and scurried back through hair raising traffic to get back to campus. (More soon on the vehicles and other sights of Patiala.)
Dr. Shveta dropped me at the Guest House so that she could meet with students about the upcoming civil rights conference that starts on Friday. (More soon on that too!) In sum, Dr. Shveta is a woman who rarely rests. Always considerate of the needs of others, and especially her students, she has made this Fulbright stay rich and well worth the efforts in just one week. I anticipate that the rest of my time here will be just as rich and that I have a friend for life! Thank you, Dr. Shveta!