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Reflecting Poole

The Best Laid Plans


Educator and EW columnist Bernie Poole currently is teaching at Sri Padmavathi Womens University in Tirupati, India. For more about his experiences as a Fulbright Scholar in India, see Reflections on India and Things Id Do Differently the Second Time Around.

This month, let me tell you the tale of my visit to Karnataka state, a state adjoining Andhra Pradesh, in India.

In December, while attending a conference in Bhuvaneshwar, the capital of Orissa state, Id gotten to know Dr. Indira Prakash, chair of the psychology department at Bangalore University. Shed asked me if Id come to Bangalore to lecture at her university. I readily agreed and, after checking out schedules and so forth, it seemed convenient to go there en route to my two weeks vacation in England, since there was a direct flight from Bangalore to London.

The plan became a three university lecture tour when Indira got in touch with Dr. Ashok Pal at Karnatak University in Dharwad, and with Dr. Mewa Singh at Mysore University, Mysore. I was to take the overnight train to Dharwad on Monday evening, February 5, lecture at Karnatak University on Tuesday, take another overnight train later the same day to Mysore, lecture at Mysore University on Wednesday morning, see the sights of Mysore in the afternoon and evening, stay overnight in Mysore, take the early morning bus to Bangalore on Thursday, lecture at Bangalore University on Thursday and Friday, then fly off to London, England in the early morning hours of Saturday, February 10.


That was the plan. But this is India, where plans "oft gang awry."

I was met at Dharwad station by Dr. Ashok Pal, chair of the psychology department at Karnatak University (the gentleman on the left in the picture above). Hes a bustling, super-charged, dynamo of a man. He greeted me with a hearty handshake, a beaming smile, and the news that the whole thing had been cancelled.

Turns out there was a water rights dispute with another adjoining state called Tamil Nadu. Everyone in the entire state of Karnataka was on strike. People were picketing the streets. They were even picketing the railway lines in, and between, Mysore and Bangalore. And, of course, the universities were closed.

"Oh well," thought I, "I have a big, fat book to read and maybe Dr. Ashok Pal can sneak me into a room on campus where they have Internet access. No problem."

Ashok had a different idea. He got on the phone and rustled up a bunch of students for me to lecture to, put me up overnight at the university guest house in Dharwad, and had me lecture again the next day, before putting me on the overnight train to Bangalore. By that time, the water rights dispute had been put on hold while someone tried to sort out the political mess.

I had a wonderful two days in Bangalore, lecturing and visiting schools for children with disabilities and training-to-work tech centers for disabled adults. I lectured to psychology majors about assistive technologies and universal design, and to education majors about instructional technology. I met so many beautiful people. It was pure joy.


(Click photos to enlarge.)

The little boy Im holding in the picture above has hydrocephalus. His mom (sitting next to me in the picture) had attended my lecture on assistive technologies the day before. At the end of the lecture, trying to hold back her tears, she asked me if I knew of any assistive technologies that would help her son. I said I couldnt answer her question without seeing the boy, and I offered to come visit her at home. She said shed love for me to do that. So the next day I went to her home nearby and visited with the family for a while. I offered to stay in touch, help her in any way I can, and I will, as long as Im alive.

This picture of students working on a group activity was taken at Karnatak University during my presentation about instructional technology. In Bangalore, I was the guest of Mrs. Indumathi Rao (on my right in the photo). Indumathi is a quiet, unassuming, super-charged dynamo of a woman. She founded and, for the past 25 years, has managed what has now become the South Asia Center for Community Based Rehabilitation. Shes a tireless worker for people of all ages with disabilities. The lady on my left is Dr. Indira Prakash, chair of the sychology department at Bangalore University. This impressive, ornately architectured, palace-like structure is one of the government buildings in Bangalore, which is the capital of Karnataka state.
In this photo, the lady standing next to me in the blue sari is the principal of the school for children with disabilities that I visited while in Bangalore. The four ladies standing in front of a ramp outside the restaurant where wed just had lunch are all professors in the education department at Bangalore University. I took the picture partly because I thought the ramp was a good example of universal design, but also because I think the ladies look delightful in their saris.

Photos courtesy of Bernie Poole.

About the Author

Bernie Poole, an associate professor of education and instructional technology at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Pennsylvania, has been a teacher since 1966. For the first 15 years of his career, he taught English, history, French, or English as a foreign language primarily to middle school children in England, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia. Poole has published several books related to instructional technology. Two of the latest editions are available free of charge online at He also has developed and maintains with Yvonne Singer the EdIndex, an extensive index of Web resources for teachers and students that can be accessed at

Author Name: Bernie Poole
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