This is The Real India

Sunday, August 31st, 2008 @ 4:23 am | Uncategorized

Elephant Blessing“Some people arrive in Delhi, stay in a five star hotel for a few days, see a few tourist spots and leave. That will not be your experience here, Madurai is the real India” -Dr. V.R.Mutukarrupan

After a three day visit for orientation, I left Delhi on a 6am flight to Chenni, and connected from there to Madurai on an hour long flight. When I finally arrived yesterday afternoon, my new friend Prabhu picked signaled me with a placard “Aravind Eye Hospital.” We went directly to the hospital’s hostel, dropped off my bags, and proceeded to meet Dr. VRM. My mentor gave me some ideas about housing and other basic needs like food. Then Prabhu and I went over to the Aravind Hostel to have our lunch.

Eating with your hands isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. Haha. Of course, only the right hand is used, as the left one is considered unclean. Prabhu says that the hand is a utensil which only you can use. I think I know what he means, but I guess I’m just more accustomed to feeling my food in my mouth than on my finger tips. That is, before mixing it with my fingers on my plate. There are no forks or knives in the cafeteria, just spoons, which I did use for dinner. No napkins either. It sounds like more of a mess than it actually is, but not by much!

It was getting late at that point, but I wanted to see the temple. So Prabhu and two Ph.D. candidates (Verma and Arya) took me via autorickshaw into the city center where the Meenakshi Temple is. This temple is amazing. There are hundreds of sculptures on the walls with candels and people worshiping gods in almost every corner, some of which are forbidden for foreigners to enter. There are carvings all over the walls and ceilings, and the towers are the largest structures in the city. Covered by thatching to be repainted, the temple towers were not at their full beauty yesterday.

In most Hindu temples the god is first prayed to, then the goddess. This is reversed in the Meenakshi temple. There the goddess Meenakshi is prayed to first. One of Dr. VRM’s lab group told me about this history and told me “it is said that women rule in Madurai.” I also got three “blessings” from an elephant while I was at the temple, and as you can see, I had my picture taken too! I finished off the evening with an attempt at using the Wi-Fi in the hostel. After two hours I gave up, but I did manage to have an interesting conversation with an Afgani who was also looking for an internet connection. He is an Ophthalmologist and Retina fellow here at Aravind. From the well known city of Kandahar, he offered to let me observe some surgeries, with permission of the department head, of course.



  • Advice for Future India Fulbrighters
  • Farwell India
  • Meenakshi Temple – Kumbabishekam
  • Spending time in Madurai – In Situ Hybridization
  • Fulbright Conference – Kolkata, Varanasi, and Kathmandu
  • Indian Wedding in Madurai and trip to Bangalore
  • Indian Pilgrimage – Thekkady, Munnar, Mahabalipuram
  • Asia ARVO – Hyderabad
  • Fulbrighters come to Madurai, friends and I visit Dayspring Home
  • Birthday and New Year in Tamil Nadu

    2 Responses to “This is The Real India”

    1. Julie Hostetler Says:

      I am so glad that you can update your website so we know what you are up to! How are the living quarters? Showers? Kitchenette? We miss you already!

    2. satellite meter Says:

      I have been searching this for a long time, thanks for posting

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