This morning we went over to the Dental College and were immediately sucked up into the Dean Verma Whirlwind. We thought we were going to go see a possible apartment to rent, but before we got to that, he had scheduled a meeting to introduce us to their faculty, a wonderful group whom we look forward to working with. Tomorrow is Divali, which is a Hindu religious holiday, but now also a pan-Indian secular festival. And so we next watched while the staff came into the Dean’s office, one at a time, and received their gifts, most of them bending and touching his feet in a sign of respect. Then we put in an appearance at the parties happening in each of the departments, and then off to East Delhi. Maulana Azad Dental College is a government institution, so the Dean is a high government official and has a white Ambassador car and a driver. Dean Maheash Verma’s wife, Meena, is a general practice dentist with very modern offices across the Yamuna River from Delhi. There a Hindu priest performed a puja (blessing ceremony) for the staff. Seated on the floor in the waiting room, there was a long series of chants and building up of a pile of offerings to Lakshmi (goddess of money, prosperity and good fortune) and Ganesh (the elephant god). A fire was built in a metal brazier about the size of a wastebasket, and everyone added offerings to the flames. After lunch (and by this time we were absolutely stuffed), we roared back into Delhi to the Bengali Market area, to, at last, see the apartment. Dean Verma had found this place by knowing the people next door to another place (long story). After more eating and drinking at his friends’ house (a general practice dentist and her husband, an orthodontist), we went to look at the apartment which was on the third floor and literally inches from the expressway over pass, so we said no thank you. But it developed that the property manager actually also had another place that turned out to be great and we said yes. We will move in right after the holiday, on Thursday. After sealing the deal with a handshake, the Dean dropped us off at USEFI so we could go to another party there, while he went on to an entire evening of parties. For him these almost all-night Divali parties have been going on since last Thursday, but we couldn’t detect any loss of energy on his part. He is sure taking good care of us!
At USEFI we met more of the staff, and some of the other Fulbrighters who are here in Delhi now: two students, one working on Urdu in classical Indian literature and the other on a malaria vaccine.
Wow, what a day!