Our "What They Brought Back" series will look at eight students and the momentos they keep as reminders of the people, places, and experiences from their study abroad programs all over the world.
Name: Ma’ayan Malter
Class of: 2015
Location: Pune, India
Program: South Asian Civilizations
Best part of your trip in five words: Paneer custard-apple cumin chai lassi
It is often difficult to find one’s way in a country with sights, sounds, smells, and cultural values that are completely foreign. Luckily for Malter, the locals welcomed her with unreserved hospitality, inviting her into their homes, religious celebrations, and sites of worship. Eventually, she, too, was carrying a tiffin (the Indian counterpart of an American lunchbox) on her long day trips instead of a brown paper bag, filled with hot food from special tiffin-filling stores.
Having spent time in ruins and ancient megaliths studying the history of Indian architecture, Malter saw how ideas and power pass from one dominant group to another throughout the course of history. Moreover, she now understands that although environment plays a significant role in shaping people’s cultures in tremendously different ways, there does indeed exist a common thread that unites us all.
What she brought back:
- A bright orange scarf from a group of college women who pulled her into a vibrant city-wide parade celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi, a Hindu holiday that marks the birthday of Lord Ganesha. “This scarf is important to me because it reminds me of how they were so happy to incorporate us into their celebration of the holiday,” Malter said.
- Bangles from a market in Jaipur. The bangles were sold by a family of three generations of bangle makers who kindly invited her and her friends for a drink of delicious chai tea in their home.
- A metal tiffin, a word of British origin that refers to the snack food inside it. “In Mumbai, when people go to work, they don’t bring their lunch with them. Their wives make their lunch at lunch time and send the tiffin to the husband with someone that’s called the tiffin wala,” Malter said. “If you go at the right time of day, you just see thousands of people running around with tons of these [tiffins], delivering them all over the city.”
- A ticket to the Taj Mahal and other World Heritage-labeled mosques, temples, and mausoleums, collected during the architectural exploration in Karnataka during the last part of the program. “We talked about what makes something ‘world heritage’ versus Karnatakan heritage or Indian heritage. This Hindu temple, even though I’m not Hindu, means something. It transcends the time and place,” she said.
Posted on: Sunday, August 18, 2013 - 7:00pm