Research takes patience, and so do Indian weddings.

Saturday, September 20th, 2008 @ 3:59 pm | Uncategorized

Things have begun to pick up with my stem cell project. This week I dissected my first limbus and identified a set of stem cells with an immunostaining procedure. Maybe its freshman luck, but I’m happy that my first experiment was a success! If you wonder where my experimental tissues comes from, they are the byproducts from generously donated eyes. We get two types of tissues, limbal rings, which consist of a portion of the peripheral cornea and a few millimeters of sclera, and full globes. The ring is basically what is left over from a corneal transplant, when an ophthalmologist removes the central cornea to restore the vision of another patient. The globes are whole eyes that were removed and deemed, for one reason or another, unsuitable for transplantation purposes.

In the department adjacent to the stem cell lab is the Rotary International Eye Bank. A sign in the hallway gives the statistic that over 12,000 eyes were “harvested” last year, and over 5,000 corneal transplantation were preformed at Aravind. The eye has to be surgically removed within 6 hours of death, and we usually see them in the lab within 24 hours.

On a more social note, my coworker on the stem cell project, Vaishali, invited some us over to her cousin’s wedding. We couldn’t pass on the opportunity to see how south Indian Brahmins tie the knot, literally! They are considered married only after the groom ties a knot around the brides neck, there may be rings too, but I didn’t notice. To be honest, I didn’t understand about 90% of the ceremonies, but I gathered a few impressions and here there… First of all, this is not a one day ordeal, a minimum of two days are involved. The reception is held the evening before the wedding, and the bride and groom arrive via horse drawn carriage that evening. The puja, or ritual involving food and prayers, is performed by several priests who sit onstage with the bride, groom, and several relatives during the ceremony.

The puja is basically chanting and burning a wood fire on bricks, which are decorated by the priests who draw symbols on them, in the middle of the stage, this fills the room with smoke and “purifies” it. Per usual south Indian dress, the women are all dressed in color full saris, and unlike an American wedding, there are no groomsmen or brides maids. A meal placed on banana leaves was provided before and after the ceremonies, no utensils available. I’m getting used to eating with my hands, hopefully not so much that I forget the knife and fork when I get home! Hahaha.





  • 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 “Research takes patience, and so do Indian weddings.”

    1. Monty Says:

      I wish I could be there with you. What an awesome adventure you are on, both professional and cultural. I am sinning right now, I have envy.

    2. Nola Says:

      Paul –

      Remember Grandma’s patience saying – it sounds like God is developing patience in you.

      There is nothing like living in the east to help us Westeners understand the importance of time spent on relationships.

      Congrats on identifying a set of stem cells you can use. Research calls for amazing patience!

      Lots of love and prayers.

    3. Trudy Hogg Says:

      I really enjoy your comments and pictures. Your writing is very descriptive. I’m sure you’re going to make the most of this wonderful opportunity you have.


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