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Articles: Travelogue
Nagpur Diary
- Dr. Rajeshwar Mittapalli
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Let me share with you some of my experiences during my trip to Nagpur in October, 2007. I was invited by the Academic Staff College of Nagpur University to give four lectures at a Refresher Course for college teachers (of English). This course was titled, “Interdisciplinarity – Understanding Culture and Literature.” I felt more than pleased to be so invited since I don’t remember to have close academic contacts in those parts of India. Dr. Dharamdas M. Shende, the convener of the course, was keen on my participating in it as a resource person and so there we were (my wife Uma and I) traveling to Nagpur by the AP Express train on the 22nd of October. My wife Uma had not been in Nagpur earlier. I felt it appropriate to take her along for that reason. In Nagpur we checked into the Nagpur University guesthouse where they served typical Maratha food. It took more than a day to get used to that food but eventually we started liking it. I noted that the two most important Marathi dishes are zunka and bhakri (varieties of jowar roti), which form the staple food of the Marathas but are now eaten mostly in the rural areas. Among other popular Marathi dishes I would like to mention are: amti (marathi-style dal), batata vada (stuffed potato fritters), bharli vaangi (stuffed baby eggplants), chavli amti (black-eyed peas), dahi bhaat (yogurt rice), dalimbay bhaat (sprouted beans pilaf), dodka bhaji (ridge gourd curry), moogambat (sprouted mung bean curry), paratlele batate (pan-fried potatoes), pithale (chickpea flour curry), ratala kees (grated sweet potato), sabudana (sago) khichdi, shevaya kheer (semolina pudding), and vaalache bhirde (hyacinth bean curry). We had the chance to treat ourselves to at least half a dozen of these dishes at the guesthouse. The following two days were devoted entirely to the lectures which started at 10.30 in the morning each day and ended at 1.30 pm. The participants were mostly senior teachers of English working at various colleges in Nagpur and towns around it. There were some 30 of them and they listened to me with keen interest, rarely interrupting me to ask questions. My lectures for the first day were titled, 1. “Understanding Culture,” 2. “Indian Folk Literature and Culture,” -- and for the next day the topics were: 3. “Cultural Context of Neurosis and Indian Women Novelists,” and 4. “Dalit Socio-cultural History in Indian Fiction in English.” The informal feedback after the lectures was very enthusiastic. Dr. Shende said that there would be formal assessment too of the speakers at the end of the course. He also invited me to participate with a paper in a seminar he was planning for January 2008 on almost the same topic as the RC’s. For these two days, while I was gone to the ASC, my poor wife Uma was left behind at the guesthouse. I expected her to feel bored but she proved to be more resourceful than I expected her to be. She kept herself busy with needlework while listening to FM radio (two local stations – Radio Mirchi and 94.3 My FM Dil Se, by turns) on the MP3 player.

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