A ‘Helter-Skelter’ Ride through Madurai

February 1, 2012

The smell of chai and the taste of spicy dhal. The sight of a painted cow and the feeling of adrenaline as a bull charges during a jallikattu. The sounds honking horns during a white-knuckle auto rickshaw ride.

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In first-person accounts from his second sabbatical in India, Mary Baldwin University Professor of Philosophy Roderic Owen describes what it is like to be immersed in a rich culture nearly 9,000 miles from home. He is spending 10 weeks in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, to help strengthen ties between Mary Baldwin and the all-women Lady Doak College, between which there is a student exchange program. He is also enriching his own research — working with a faculty member at Lady Doak and with a friend at the Gandhi Institute, and giving a few talks and presentations on ethics and conflict resolution.

In his first missive , Owen describes his arrival in Madurai, which presents a fusion of old and modern India, as well as his impressions of a serene and lush Lady Doak College. Owen’s second travelogue provides a vivid description of Pongol, a holiday akin to our own Thanksgiving.

Shekira Ramdass and Tyla Stormes, Mary Baldwin students in the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership are also in India on student exchange through Lady Doak.