Morning Tea and Update

Every morning since my arrival, a gentleman has brought me a tray with tea here at the Guest House. Krishna is usually the man who performs this kind service. Shortly after 7 am and a gentle knock at my door, I know that tea has arrived.

Morning Tea

Morning Tea

With the last ten days having been so full, this morning ritual has been such a peaceful way to start the day. A cup of hot tea with steaming milk lessens the stress over proper protocol, the constant reminders of the inequality of women and servants, the breath-taking and sad environmental issues, the (to me) unusual sights, and even the pace.

Driving with Dr. Shveta to downtown Patiala.

Driving with Dr. Shveta to downtown Patiala.

Barber's chair and stand located next to the petrol station.

Barber’s chair and stand located next to the petrol station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have been so busy since my arrival. Fulbright and IU McKinney will be proud. I have taught 8 sexual harassment classes, twice given “Chief Guest” presentations at conferences, started and finished the Comment from the first conference for publication, and met numerous wonderful and dedicated teachers and students. Dr. Shveta has ordered me to take Monday and Tuesday off from teaching classes, even though the 1st, 2nd, and 5th year students are anxious that they have not had a class with “Dr. Jennifer.”

Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed by the cultural differences. The Fulbright literature cautions scholars to prepare for the adjustment. There’s no way to prepare adequately. Just driving into Patiala is an experience. Herds of cows in the road. Donkey carts next to bicycles next to freight trucks. Motorcycles zooming past. Speeding cars and vans, coming towards us–head on–horns blaring, dust flying. As I draft this blog post (in the dining hall because there is no wi-fi on my room’s side of the Guest House), the electricity has gone out at least 5 times, requiring me to re-authenticate to the server and to reconstruct what I have just written.

Scaffolding that waves with the wind in the upcoming library building.

Scaffolding that waves with the wind in the upcoming library building.

At the recent Global Human Rights Conference (more on that soon), Dr. Shveta arranged for students in the photography club to post their pictures with captions to illustrate human rights issues. Some of the excellent photographs were taken here on campus or nearby. The scenes within steps of the academic “ivory tower” are something that I think my students cannot even imagine.

Construction worker dwelling outside of Mother Teresa girls' hostel on campus

Construction worker dwelling outside of Mother Teresa girls’ hostel on campus

 

 

 

 

 

 

By all reports, the workers here make the environment unsafe for women and girls but I have seen no evidence that these same workers are anything but curious (and inured to the dangers of their workplace).

Painter dangling by two ropes on a wooden ladder while another worker lowers him a can of paint. They work with no net, no harness, no nothing at this third story height.

Painter dangling by two ropes on a wooden ladder while another worker lowers him a can of paint. They work with no net, no harness, no nothing at this third story height.

Sometimes, these differences make my stay even more meaningful. For example, much of the faculty block building is still under construction. Rumor has it that teacher’s offices are finished but these have not been assigned to many of the faculty members. Thus, five women (Shveta, Geetika, Gurman, Jasleen, and I) share an office.

Gurmanpreet, Jennifer, and Geetika

Gurmanpreet, Jennifer, and Geetika

We are all constantly meeting with students, talking on the shared phone or cell phones, and trying to prepare for class or complete manuscripts. It’s utter chaos and these women (understandably) have a difficult time concentrating. It’s impossible to have a private conversation. However, my office-mates and I have bonded in a lovely way. I never would have gotten to know these terrifically dedicated women had we not been sharing “our” office.

Dr. Shveta and students, Geetika, and student with Gurmanpreet

Dr. Shveta and students, Geetika, and student with Gurmanpreet

The school day ends around 5 pm or so (Saturdays are typically half-days unless there is a conference or special event– Yes, they work on Saturday) and I head back to the Guest House. Krishna or Sunder (the head cook) find me in my room or in the lounge (where I can also access the wi-fi) and again bring me tea. It’s a refresher before more work and the evening meal at 8 or 9 pm. My thanks to the gentlemen staff here at the Guest House. You have kept me comfortable and very well fed (more on that soon) in my new world. I am most grateful.

Flowers in the "nursery" here on campus

Flowers in the “nursery” here on campus

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About Jennifer Drobac

R. Bruce Townsend Professor of Law Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law~ I began my journey in the San Francisco Bay area. A student at CPS in Oakland and then at Stanford University, I worked for several years before attending law school, again at Stanford. A trip around the world after taking the California Bar introduced me to more distant lands than I had seen during school days. I returned to clerk for Judge Barefoot Sanders in Dallas, Texas where I gave birth to Michal McDowell-- the best first born daughter and future doctor one can imagine. When she was two, we moved to Santa Cruz, California where I opened my own law practice. After I earned my doctoral degree (in law) at Stanford, I hit the road again and settled here in Indiana where I teach at IU McKinney. As I anticipate exploring the world again as a Fulbright Specialist (starting in India), I start this blog. A travel log of adventures in midlife!
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