By Sapheena Garcha
So you would think when you arrive in India, in the height of Summer, that you would be greeted with intense heat and glaring sun, right? Wrong! Well partially wrong at least, I touched down in Chandigarh Airport (following a 3hr layover at Indira Gandhi International, New Delhi) and ran to seek cover in arrivals during a monsoon downpour (at 32 degrees to be precise.) I then made my way to Panjab University, Chandigarh, where I met the rest of the students I would be studying with on the ‘Changing Roles of Women in India’ course; and surprise, surprise not a single boy in sight on a women’s studies course!
Our first full day was spent with an inaugural session alongside mini-lectures from the Vice-Chancellor, departmental professors, as well as the Deputy British High Commissioner. We were given a background of the University, as well as a more general overview of Chandigarh (which is the capital of both Panjab and Haryana).
I was most taken aback by the popularity surrounding our arrival, we had the pleasure of meeting some of the most esteemed professors of the University, as well as countless photographers for both local and national media outlets, including the Times of India!
Following a full day of lectures, we were treated to an evening trip to the famous Rock Garden, created using scrap materials by former Indian official Nek Chand. I have to say this was one of my favourite trips we did in Chandigarh!
The next day we were thrown into another day of lectures, and there was one in particular that I enjoyed. Pam Rajput was the founder of the department which we were studying in, and her lecture was based on the general gender Issues in India, a topic I found especially useful to incorporate into my Masters dissertation! We also spent the afternoon in our first Hindi and Punjabi Class – this was an experience to say the least. I am quite lucky since I have an understanding of Punjabi, but it was interesting to see the similarities as well as the differences with Hindi.
The evening was spent at Sukhna Lake and its Peace Garden, which were both breath-taking sights, and despite the heat we still managed to walk along the side of the lake and take some ‘Facebook worthy’ photographs!
As you can probably see, the first few days were certainly the ‘settling in period’. My next post will include details of the field visits, research and the overall educational experience that I encountered during my first few days at Panjab University!