Why I want to write a novel involving “honor killing”

Watch this chilling documentary about the 2016 murder of a young Dalit (low-caste) boy and attempted murder of his higher caste wife-  by her own family.  The murder was committed in broad daylight and captured on CCTV.  India’s caste system is still alive and well, and kept in place by prohibitions against inter-caste marriage.  The…

The Amazing Cannonball Tree – Couroupita guianensis

I posted some photos of cannonball tree flowers a couple months ago, but I must post some more!  These flowers are the most exotic, erotic, colorful and sweet-smelling flowers I have encountered.  When the tree is mature, these flowers become large “cannnon balls”- brown, lightweight gourds.  I passed by this tree the other day, not…

Dogs and Cats in India and Missing my Pets

For a Western animal lover, it can be heartbreaking to observe the life of dogs and cats in India. The country is full of stray dogs and cats, and many are sick, injured and diseased. Wealthy folks can afford to buy and care for pets, but in a country with great poverty, there is necessarily…

Madras Tuna Noodle Supreme

Western cooking in Chennai has required some creativity.  There are stores that sell Western items (like olives, cheese, pasta) and plenty of vegetables to be had, but good quality flavoring agents have been mostly unavailable and I don’t really want to purchase and cook Indian meats except for some occasional fish.  The Thai curry paste…

Sad story of India’s air pollution

It was shocking to experience Delhi’s “average day” pollution- the air was thick with the smell of chemicals and one could not see far in the distance. This is a view from my hotel room into the city. Delhi is particularly bad because of it’s location in the heart of the subcontinent with very little…

Muslim Architecture in Delhi- precursors to the Taj Mahal

I was struck by the beauty of Muslim architecture in Delhi- a small group of us Fulbrighters went into the city from our conference to spend a few hours visiting Humayun’s Tomb and the Lodi Garden. Muslims invaded India and ruled during many kingdoms in antiquity- Humayum was one of many. His Tomb is a…

interesting words from Gandhi’s grandson

I’m at the annual Fulbright conference, this year in Delhi,  at a very posh hotel on the outskirts of the sprawling, polluted capital city.  It’s interesting that this joint US State Department and Indian government collaboration is so well funded that they can afford to fly more than 100 of us from around India and…

High Security at the Indian High Court

I’ve been trying for several months now to gain access to the Indian criminal legal system to better understand the environment for the novel I am writing.  A friend helped me get in touch with an “advocate” (lawyer) at the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, which appears to function as a combination court…

Occasional glimpses of magic

Had lunch at a hotel the other day and one of the waiters gave me a book he had written.  It turns out he has an MBA in Tourism and Hotel Management.  It’s interesting to see how many young Indians are well educated but not well placed in employment.  Perhaps that’s true of many young…

Optimism/Pessimism: The SeeSaw of Higher Education in India

As I continue my trainings on “Student Centered Learning”, I find myself swaying in many directions.  Some days I’m totally optimistic as I connect and listen and share with young Indian faculty, who are so bright, enthusiastic, and dedicated to their work as teachers.  They are very open to new ideas, so hungry for real…