With full stomachs we next visited Ambedkar University – a new arts University just outside Old Delhi. By the way, driving in Delhi is … interesting! Basically the rules are – drive like the dodgems and blow your horn at every possible opportunity. Ambedkar University was a haven after that. We had a wonderfully interesting meeting with lecturers with whom we had much in common and discussions were very wide ranging. They actually teach children’s literature there and their reading list was pretty much the same as ours. We digressed to discuss how to teach Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games as academic texts. We all got on well, despite the fact Iris and I studiously avoided calling anyone by their names as we had trouble pronouncing them. But we took their business cards and gave ours in return.
MMU India Office Welcomes Iris and Sherry
We sat expectantly in their ‘office’, a rather plush sofa in the hotel lobby. We were waiting to meet Gunjan, one of the staff of MMU India. And there she was – in a beautiful yellow sari and arms full of bangles, denoting she had been recently married. We felt dowdy in comparison. Gunjan whisked us off to the University of Delhi for a meeting with the Head of English there. The University of Delhi is the most prestigious university in Delhi, and is so huge that the students travel between departments by cycle rickshaw. While we were there, an election was taking place for student officers. We were inundated with students and teachers giving us cards supporting various candidates. Student politics here is a very serious business – successful candidates often go on to be equally successful in the Indian government. The Professor’s office was cosy and warm, with a fan blowing coolish air onto us! It was great to learn about the university and to have a chance to blow the MMU English trumpet. We hope he was impressed with us! We left him with a copy of Animal Stew and he seemed really excited – good bedtime reading!
Our India office is on the fourth floor of a large building with lifts that are even more temperamental than the ones in the Geoffrey Manton building, home to our Humanities Faculty. Iris commented it was a bit like meeting the ‘other mother’ in Neil Gaiman’s Coraline! The other, Indian mother!
We all swapped info about our roles – there was Somnath who was instrumental in arranging our visit, Rasna who is in charge of admissions, and Gunjan who helps with Admin. And also from upstairs there was Mr. J. J. Nandi from the Innovative Education Network, who hosts MMU’s India office. We fine-tuned plans for our forthcoming meetings, workshops and readings.
And then relished the most delicious dhosas known to humanity!
And now to plan tomorrow’s workshops at Amity University. Oh, and have another Indian vegetarian meal. Obviously.
We work hard and play hard!