Exploring Multifaceted India

Professor of Philosophy Roderic Owen paints two contrasting pictures of India in one of his latest travel missives from Madurai. One is a representation of the country’s continuing issues with sanitation, infrastructure, and poverty and the other a somewhat idealized portrait of student life at Lady Doak College (LDC), where he is spending his semester sabbatical.

 city street

“… I pass by a grossly polluted small river bed, a tributary to the once might Vaigai River that runs through the heart of the city. The smell comes first: sulfuric, laden with olfactory ‘shades’ of excrement.”

He also writes …

” … the college life led by these young women seems to be a mix of the ethos and rules we associate with high-school -aged girls and college life up through the early 1960s: carefully regulated with chaperones, house mothers, strict rules prohibiting access to boys and alcohol, mandated evening study hours, and lots of required extracurricular activities.”

In another journal entry , Owen revisits India’s caste system and the relationships among those categories of the populace.

” … I listen carefully, refrain from passing judgment, and note that tone and body language is a bit strained, sometimes voices become quieter; and I think to myself: this is the personal politics of caste in India today.”

LDC Sports Day

Owen’s journals provide insight as he spends 10 weeks on sabbatical in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. His goal: to help strengthen ties between MBC and the all-women Lady Doak data:text/mce-internal,College and research and give presentations on ethics and conflict resolution. So far, Owen has addressed transportation, data:text/mce-internal,//, food, celebrations, and old vs. new India. Here are Owen’s past travelogues:

Lady Doak College

Have You Heard About Pongol?

Tamil, Language, Caste and Race, and The Hindu

Celebrating, Eating, and Rules of the Road


Morgan Alberts Smith '99 is the web producer and social media manager for MBC's Office of Communication, Marketing, and Public Affairs.