Archive for January, 2009


Asia ARVO – Hyderabad

Jan 22, 2009 in Uncategorized

With Seniors from Aravind at ARVOThe last two weeks have been busy with work and with travel. A group of ten of us from lab traveled together via two overnight trains to Hyderabad, stopping along the way in Chennai to visit relatives of my friend Ashwini and tour a Crocodile Park. There we tried our hands at snake and mini crock handling, as well as seeing how the professionals collect snake venom from cobras and vipers (used to make anti-venom by first injecting small amounts of the venom into an animal and collecting the antibodies they produce).

The trip to Hyderabad was for the Asia ARVO (association for research in vision and ophthalmology) convention. Along with students, several faculty attended the conference and gave presentations. In fact, Jayalakshmi, one of our lab mates, won a trophy for best presentation. The first evenings our group had dinner at the convention center preceded by Bharatanatyam (traditional south Indian dance). Another evening we had dinner at a Chowmahalla Palace, the former residence of the Nizam family, who are fifth on the Forbes list of all time wealthiest and were certainly the most weatly in the world when construction began in the 18th century. They were the Muslim rulers of a famous diamond empire.

The city of Hyderabad is very modern compared to Madurai, in fact the conference was in an area called Cyberabad. Unknowingly many people in the United States may have spoken to calling support centers for which Hyderabad is now also famous. The architecture is also impressive, not only for the new, but also for the old, like the Golconda fort. One morning I went with a friend to see the impressive fort and the nearby tombs that look somewhat like the Taj Mahal, only smaller and not made of marble.

In the end our trip to Hyderabad was a success, leaving us inspired and ready to get back to lab work! 

Fulbrighters come to Madurai, friends and I visit Dayspring Home

Jan 09, 2009 in Uncategorized

Ashwini and new friendsLast week five of us from the research lab at Aravind went to the Dayspring Home in Virudhunagar to donate some educational supplies and spend time with the children there. We also danced, played sports, and judged a coloring book competition. This time the children were well, and our orphan suffering from Impetigo on the last visit had fully recovered. It was nice to see Mercy again and help the orphans what little we could by supplying them with materials other students at their school have, but they couldn’t afford. They also got prizes for the coloring competition, they were toys and other items that my aunt Nola sent from the US.

The other major event this week was that three of my fellow Fulbrighters were in the neighborhood for a visit! They stayed for three nights, and I had a chance to show them all of the local sights, at least one of which I had yet to visit myself! It was a great visit, that also included Cailin’s birthday, and some quality Bollywood movie-watching time. It was a shame that I couldn’t travel with them to Kerala, but I will see them all again in Kolkata in March. It was an awesome time!

Birthday and New Year in Tamil Nadu

Jan 02, 2009 in Uncategorized

Gift from Dr. VRMIt was nice to spend my 29th birthday in Tamil Nadu! We had a small party in the lab, where I got ice cream cake (my favorite), and a gift from Dr. VRM. For New Year’s eve we went to a local movie theater to see a Tamil film (Kollywood). It was interesting, the plot was about a Tamil family who’s daughter fell in love with a man from Northern India, who spoke Hindi… the great thing is that the two families had to communicate in English, so I could actually understand some of it!

The other great news is that my work has progressed with almost no complications! I am happy about how the work is going, but obviously a little weary of sharing too much information as now that it looks like I might end up with something worth publishing, I don’t want to get “scooped”!

Next week three Fulbrighters will come to visit, and the week after that I am going to attend the Asia ARVO (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology) meeting in Hyderabad. I am looking forward to both of these big events of January, and a wonderful 2009 to come!