Free Food

We had a beginning-of-semester lunch for our department this week and coincidentally, it was at the guest house where we stayed the first night we were in Pune, back in July.  The place has been newly landscaped, as has much of the university campus.  Today, in fact, they were digging up the cement walkway right outside my office window.  Loudly.


Anyway, I finally got some pictures of the philosophy department faculty and staff.  Here’s me with the rest of the full-time faculty, except for our esteemed chair, Dr. Lata Chhatre, who couldn’t make it.  The three on the right (it’s very dark, I know), closest to the camera, are all newly hired, and have added great energy to the department:

The next two pics are of office staff, including those who oversee publication of the department-based journal of Indian philosophy, and the librarian who oversees a really excellent department book collection.

They’re all tremendous and have had to put up with a lot of extra work due to my presence (since almost every hoop I have to jump through – including foreigner registration, travel, etc. – usually requires forms and/or signatures from the university).  With no complaints…to me directly…in English…

Anyway, I am now confident in proclaiming a universal truth of academia:  free food necessarily produces enthusiastic participation.  With the following corollary:  pizza does not, apparently, cross all boundaries as free food of choice.  Yet.


Farhana and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary this past weekend – Jan. 7 (note to self:  check this blog next December to remind yourself of the date).

It was a good excuse to dress up and eat good food with family at Gulistan:

Farhana’s mom and dad posed for this “old and new” photo that came out great:

Simmi is the master of the group selfie.  Here’s the secret – distance and height:

Both of which I ignored:


I’m glad I still have a bit of hair left on this trip, because an Indian haircut is an experience to be treasured.

You get the traditional clippers and scissors treatment, of course.  Additionally, for a few extra rupees, they trim the beard and mustache, and…I kid you not…ear hair and nose hair!  And just when you think it can’t get any better, you get a full scalp massage.  It takes about 45 minutes and the total price is approximately 100 rupees – less than $2.  Tipping is not too common in India, but I feel morally obligated to give generously for this kind of service.  In fact, I’m thinking of bringing an army of Indian barbers back with me to the US and starting a franchise.  I think it’d make millions.

Or maybe billions.  I haven’t even mentioned the most amazing thing about the experience – no post-haircut itchy shirt syndrome!  If I can bring that to America, the sky’s the limit.


The table is finally done.  It’s not perfect.  There are definitely flaws.  But given the circumstances, including almost getting beat up (twice!) trying to buy wood, we’re pretty happy.