students in India

In two additional installments of Roderic Owen’s travelogue, the Mary Baldwin University professor of philosophy considers the many languages of Tamil India, how the Tamil people are regarded within the Indian caste system, and the nature of the news as covered by The Hindu.

“Rarely does a day go by when the paper doesn’t have an article about some act of caste-based discrimination or violence; sometimes these reports focus on romantic entanglements across caste, other times the reports focus on clashes stemming from land rights and indebtedness,” Owen writes.

He also muses on the rules of the road, the celebratory culture, and, of course, the cuisine of South India:

“Eating in South India is another tangible, daily cross-cultural experience and — although an increasing number of restaurants are now providing forks and knives — most Tamil people eat with their right hand. For us Westerners this has the feel of returning to childhood … experiencing the tactile qualities of one’s diet — the taste of one’s own ‘curried’ fingers.”

street in India

Owen is spending 10 weeks in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, to help strengthen ties between Mary Baldwin and the all-women Lady Doak College. He is also conducting research and giving a few talks and presentations on ethics and conflict resolution. His first two missives, published last week , included his impressions of Lady Doak and the lively celebration of Pongol.