Day to day in Madurai

Friday, September 12th, 2008 @ 3:54 am | Uncategorized

Aravind Eye HospitalAs of this writing, I have stayed in the Aravind Post Graduate Hostel for a little over two weeks. I started work in the lab the day after I arrived and have spent my time reading journals, getting acquainted with the procedures I will use for my research, and meeting my lab mates. As for the accommodations, I really can’t complain as I have my own room with an attached bathroom, which comes with a bucket, western style toilet, “shower,” and sink. About half thetime the water from the shower is warmish (if you remember to turn the heater on a few minutes before hand). I am beginning to think that I may have been pampered with my hot showers and western style toilets… they will give you toilet paper in the hostel, if you ask for it or look like a foreigner! Hahaha.

My room in the hostel is pretty basic. A metal desk and chair, with a single bed. There is also a storage unit that can be locked up and a fan. Its There are some mosquitoes that make their way into my room at night, but really there are not as many as I  expected. I haven’t gotten any fevers yet and have been taking my malaria prophylaxis. The weather has been nice so far, it doesn’t rain much, and the temperature is hot but tolerable. Apparently it starts getting really hot around February and March. Until I can live without AC. I looked at a couple of apartments today and hope to have my own place in the near future. As for now, I figured that maybe it would be nice to show a few pictures around Aravind, the lab, and the hostel.

The lab has an impressive amount of equipment, even compared to laboratories I worked in back in the United States. I started cell culture work and isolating stem cells this week. I began work with immunostaining as well, but I’ll elaborate more on the research when it is really in motion, but for now the ball has begun rolling…

One of the things that I love about India, other than the people!, is the food. I think if you weren’t into spice then you couldn’t make it here, as it is in breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A couple of “adjustments” have included: eating with my hands, and constant horn honking from autorickshaws, buses, and the sea of motorcycles. The bus rides are true insanity. People hang on for dear life, hop on and off the bus with no consideration of whether it has stopped or not, that seems inconsequential here, but it is taboo to sit next to a woman who is not your wife, even if its the only seat! I actually don’t remember seeing a knife or fork since I arrived in India… There are spoons, but I feel like less of a foreigner if I just dig in! Hahaha. Well, the fact that I am a tall white guy makes me stand out anyway, especially in southern India where the people are darker and shorter than other parts.

The best way to get away from reality for awhile around here is to go for a movie, and I’ve been to two of them in two weeks. They cost 50 rupees each, which translates into about $1.25. In fact, almost everything is cheap here. The hostel, with meals is about 2000 rupees per month, or less than $50 to you and me! I guess that’s how more than half of the country can survive on less than $2 per day… Back to the movies, I have been to one Tamil and one Hindi movie. Obviously its a little difficult for me to understand, but every so often the actors use a few lines in English, and the company is good, so I can’t complain. Although… the power did go out for about 30 seconds during each film, which was interesting and involved a lot of yelling by the audience (not the first time they were inspired to make noise, hahaha). It seems that at least a portion of Indian movies consist of musical/music video type scenes. Oh yeah, and in the “love” scenes they never touch lips but spend plenty of time dancing around the subject!



  • 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

    3 Responses to “Day to day in Madurai”

    1. Mary Peace Says:

      Hey Paul,
      I love your web site! You’re looking great 🙂

    2. Emily Harding Says:

      Randomly googled you to see what you were up to these days – and wow, looks like you’ve been one busy guy – Congratulations on your fellowship! Seems like it wasn’t that long ago that you were doing all your medical school interviews — time sure does fly! Best to you in all your research endeavors in India!

    3. Michael Peplinski Says:

      Your room in the hostel reminds me of your room in Comstock! (sans the bucket)

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