Farhana’s father is still in the hospital, but doing much better. Farhana went to visit him today, and he was in good spirits. There’s talk of him returning home tomorrow or Tuesday. Here’s a picture of Amina’s bed in Baba’s room:
I got in a tiny bit of a scooter accident the other day. I was on my way to the university, not far from home, when a woman stepped right out in front of me. I wasn’t going too fast, but I slammed on the brakes a little too hard, and turned the scooter handlebars a little too sharply, which sent me over them. Some men walking by helped me (and the scooter) up, and yelled at the woman (they apparently saw her step in front of me). There was no blood and nothing torn, and no damage to the scooter. No contact, other than between me and the road. So I continued on to school. I only had a bit of a scrape on my forearm and knee. I remembered afterwards that we had specifically drilled sharp stops at my motorcycle safety course. I guess I didn’t sufficiently internalize the lesson. Also, my teacher wouldn’t be thrilled that I was wearing just short sleeves.
Grades are Due
It’s that time of year, where the smell of panic and desperation fills the halls of academia. Late assignments are the norm, here, apparently, and I’m getting plenty. Here’s my colleague, Ashish, helping me out by translating the papers and exams submitted in Marathi:
Final exams here are taken very seriously, no doubt because they’re worth 50% of the overall course grade. The professors don’t give the exams, here, staff members do. Students are required to show picture ID, and given assigned seats. Exams are submitted according to seat numbers, rather than name, so they’re graded anonymously. I like that system, since studies have shown that implicit bias can definitely affect how grades are given. I may try to use something similar when I get back.
Love and Marriage
Marriages in India are still quite often arranged by parents, though “love marriages” are becoming more common. My sister-in-law Simmi was at a colleague’s wedding today. The couple’s parents had arranged the match, and the bride and groom only met once before the wedding itself (Simmi’s to the left in the picture on the left, and to the right in the other):
In Farhana’s family, and most Indian families, it’s considered the parents’ responsibility to find spouses for their children (though, of course, they’re no longer children). And even if the ‘children’ find partners of their own, parental approval is still considered a necessary condition. But it goes both ways. Brides- and grooms-to-be get veto power as well. Arranged marriage doesn’t mean forced marriage, though it’s often interpreted that way in the west. There’s some evidence that arranged marriages are more successful than love marriages – though of course it depends on what you mean by “success”.
There’s also a rule of thumb here that marriages should go in order from oldest-to-youngest. Again, exceptions abound, especially with respect to (younger) sisters getting married before (older) brothers. Right now, Farhana’s sister Rizwana is “next-in-line”, and the family has been interviewing a few prospects recently. Nothing definite, yet, though. Rizwana has not been present at the “first interview”, but would have opportunities to interact with anyone that the family thought was a good match (that’s Rizwana in green in the middle).
Next in line after Rizwana is Farhana’s sister, Amina. I got to visit Amina’s workplace by accident this week. I had been meeting with a fellow American Fulbrighter in a part of the city I’m not too familiar with. I was working my way home using general directions (I knew I had to go south and east), and asking rickshaw drivers for help when I’d stop next to them at red lights. At one point, I looked up and saw this big Epson sign that I had been told before was where Amina worked:
So I pulled in to get better directions home. In India, though, there’s no such thing as just stopping in quick to ask directions. Amina and her boss showed me the hospitality of visiting royalty:
including a meal of delicious Bhel Puri:
I left stuffed, and with a good route home.