Big Gora

Big Gora

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Main haule-haule paagal ban raha hoon

That ^ is to say: I'm gradually going crazy. It has been distracting me from my Hindi study, blast it. Here's the story.
I applied for a Fulbright research/teaching scholarship this year. I worked on the application over the summer, including soliciting letters from academic friends/colleagues: my department chair (to vouch for my teaching), a dear friend associated with the big conference I go to every year, and an Indian-American friend from another academic department (to vouch for my serious personal and academic interest in India). The whole packet was due August 1, but I turned it in by mid-July. (Somewhere I'd read a sentence that suggested the awards committee would begin reviewing applications as they came in--rather than after the Aug. 1 deadline--so I got it in early. I can't find that sentence now in any of the material, and half-suspect I imagined it.) I was asked to name two universities I'd like to work at, so I named schools in places I most fervently wish to go: Banaras Hindu University, on the shores of the Ganges River (!), and the University of Delhi. If I were to receive one of the (as far as I can make out) 62 such scholarships, I'd teach and study in India from August to December of 2014.
So what's the problem, you ask? If you ask this, then आपके पास बहुत भाग्य है [aapke paas bahut bhaagya hai/you're very lucky]: you're not afflicted with an obsessive personality. Every time I sit down to study I run through the whole catalogue of fretting questions, which I've been counting out like a rosary for almost three months now:
What do you suppose my odds are? How many people sign up for those 62 scholarships? Is that even the right number? What if it's like 10?
I wonder if my being an American gora (as opposed to an NRI) will help, or hinder, or not at all affect my chances at this? Do you suppose they're looking for people who already have lots of connections at Indian universities, or would they be seeking to forge new ones instead?
Am I going to be really disappointed if I don't get this? Probably so, but how can I help being emotionally attached to something I want so badly?
If I don't get to go, will I be able to find out how to improve my chances next time without being one of Those People? You know, the kind of person who wants to know how to get his grade on the next assignment up from a 97% to 100?
WILL THEY PLEASE GET BACK TO ME so I know how urgently I need to study!?
The Fulbright website says that those applications due August 1 will receive notification "between October and November." Do you even need to ask whether I've been checking my email hourly since Tuesday morning, Oct. 1st?
There was one small bit of news that at least isn't bad. I got this email from the program director:
Dear Brian Cowlishaw,
I hope this message finds you well. I am writing to let you know that your application for the Fulbright US Scholar Program is currently under review. We have posted the notification timeline on our website. In my experience, you can expect to receive the peer review decision in late fall (likely between mid-November and early December). Pending the peer review outcome, final notifications are sent in the spring.
Best wishes,

This came September 17. I interpret it to mean that I made a preliminary cut that weeded out those who are simply not qualified or didn't turn in a full application. But did you catch that: "BETWEEN MID-NOVEMBER AND EARLY DECEMBER"!!?? ए भगवान [e bhagwaan /oh, God]!
तो मैं इंतजार कर्ता हूं [to main intzar karta hoon/so I wait].
If you can spare a moment, please do this for me: send out into the universe the helpful wish, "अच्छा भाग्य, मेरे दोस्त!" ["accha bhaagya, mere dost"/"good luck, my friend"). You may help this fond wish--to live and work for a time in India--come to pass!

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