HYDERABAD: Juan Pablo Sánchez Hernández from Spain is a visiting professor in IIIT Hyderabad who came to India in December 2014. “It is my first time in India before which I was in China as a Foreign Expert of Classics. It was nice, but after five years I was looking forward to new challenges,” says Juan. He finds India challenging yet fascinating in many ways. “I think teaching Classics in a different context is always exciting. But India, in particular, strikes everyone in my field as a fascinating venue.
That’s why I am now here as a visiting professor,” shares Juan who is teaching at the Center of Exact Humanities in IIIT. Five months of teaching in Hy d e r a b a d and the professor feels that Indian education system discriminates humani t i e s against other more profitable research fields. “Western scholars have always admired Indias’s glorious tradition in arts and letters. But it is different in reality. There are many Institutes of Technology and MBA programmes, as if the goal of education were to get a well-paid job,” he observes.
He also opines that rote learning and a mere deductive reasoning that applies general rules is just instruction, not education. “I try to encourage my students to be critical participants in society and to show in class how important inductive reasoning is – going from the particular to the general, builds up an argument after a careful evaluation of the available sources,” says Juan, expressing his concern over the system of education here. Sharing his experiences in the Nizam city, Juan says he has visited most of the museums and galleries.
“The Birla Science Museum has an interesting archaeological section, which I liked very much. I was surprised to see a piece named Madonna of Rocío/ Limited Edition by Lladró, a reputed Spanish brand!,” he expresses with surprise. . He also visited the Salar Jung Museum and the life of Salar Jung III struck him deeply he says. “I personally recommend the galleries of Eastern Art: they are very quiet and everything is well arranged for a complete recreation of Japanese and Chinese interiors,” he says. T h e Spaniard admits that he enjoys being a foreigner and likes the attention he gets on the campus. Though he misses a glass of fine red wine from his country, he is totally smitten by the food here.
“I like South Indian food. I like very much to have these buns and doughs, idli and vadai, and the rice-flour pancake called dosa, in these piquant soupy curries based on tomato, lime and tamarind. Eating them with your fingers feels so much better, I know, but I am so clumsy that the curries always spill. I also love the papadum accompanied with chutney,” beams Juan. Juan’s curiosity about the country’s culture and tradition has led him to explore places in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, specifically those with historical importance.
The professor who will be leaving for Spain in a few weeks finds it hard to pick one memory that he would take back home. “It is impossible just to highlight something from such an overwhelming country. India for me is overpopulated, colourful, with its multiple races, castes, religions, and old empires and emerging communities. Everything is worth considering for me, even the most unremarkable experiences and sensations,” he signs off.