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[Audio] Meet Mayur - A Murray State Student from India

Photo by Claire Dunning, for WKMS

Murray State's Indian Student Association is holding a Flash Mob today in front of the Carr Health Building on campus, featuring a mash up of diverse Indian dance and music. Matt Markgraf speaks with the association's president, international student Mayur Bhandare. They talk about how he came to Murray State, his hometown of Nashik, cultural differences between India and the United States and an Indian festival coming up next month.

Extended, Full Conversation

Mayur came to Murray State on the 17th of December, 2014 and began his first semester here last January. He says he wanted to arrive early to experience Christmas and New Years in the United States. For Christmas, he went to a local church with some friends and says it's difficult back home to experience different religions since the rituals are different, but says he watched others and followed along and that it was a good experience.

Mayur studies Management and Information Systems at Murray State and is the president of the Indian Student Association. He decided to come to Murray State because his friend, who was past president of MSU's Indian Student Association, attended the same college back home and told him about Murray. When he applied for schools, MSU was the fist admission he got.

He says his first experience with culture shock in the United States was when a man at the airport smiled at him and said 'hi.' Mayur says he thought, 'do I know him?' But then learned that in America, people say 'hi, hello, how are you...' He says people are nice here in the States and make you feel very comfortable. He got a drivers license in the United States and visited Chicago, where he enjoyed the tall buildings, Millennium Park, the 'Bean,' the skydeck at Willis Tower and the Chicago Air and Water Show. He says driving is different because it's on the opposite side of the road in India.

Murray is very different than his hometown Nashik in Maharashtra, where it is much more crowded by comparison. He says you can have a peaceful life here. Nashik is relatively near Mumbai and Pune, the two large cities in his home state. Nashik is famous for its wine, which gets exported around the world. An agricultural region with a hot and humid climate, they are also known for grapes and wheat. There's not too much of a young working crowd, they typically go to Mumbai, but there is some tourism due to it being a 'wine country.'

There are many economic opportunities for young people in India, but you need to have proper talent and skills, he says, namely education. The system is different in Maharashtra than Kentucky, he says. Here, administrative work is controlled by Murray State, but back home, the system centrally administers hundreds of colleges. Semesters are the same, though, with final exams at the end. There, however, he can relax the whole semester and study for the final exams and do fine. At Murray State, he says he studies and does assignments every night. Every assignment teaches something, he says, and while it's more challenging, he feels like he learns a lot from the various lessons.

Mayur was elected President of the Indian Student Association at the beginning of this past semester and says it's an honor representing Indian students at MSU. After the flash mob (October 22), they'll host a Diwali festival, which is a celebration featuring lights, firecrackers, new clothes and a variety of food.

There are a lot of differences between home in India and living in the United States, but these are great things to learn, he says. His mother tongue is Marathi, and Hindi is the national language - both are very similar and derived from Sanskrit. A popular greeting is 'Namaste.' For learning about cultural and language differences in India, Mayur says a popular and funny TV show on the SAB network is 'Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah,' where different cultures from all over the country stay in one building and overcome differences through humorous situations.

India is very diverse, each state has it's own language, traditions, clothing and food, Mayur says. In Maharashtra, popular food is chapati (like naan bread) and sabzi curry. In the south, rice and dosa are popular. In his state, people generally wear jeans and t-shirts, but clothing varies widely across the country. It's very cold in Kashmir up north, and very hot in Madurai in the south. Rajastan in the west is desert-like and Assam and Meghalaya in the east is mountainous. The diversity can be challenging at times, but he says it's good to see such a diverse culture staying together. He says he hasn't seen so much diversity in any other country and that it's very good to be able to experience so many differences.

Indian food is very different than food in the United States. He misses it, he says. At restaurants here, he feels like he empties the hot sauce bottles to make the food spicier. Mayur enjoys cooking with friends at his home in Murray. They go to Nashville for spices and supplies, particularly from Patel Brothers. He recently got a statue for Ganesh Chaturthi, a festival commemorating the revolt against the British Empire. The statue was used as a medium for gathering people together to form a community of freedom fighters against British rule. In Murray, they decorated the house, make food and have prayers.

In Hindu temples, there are benches where one sits and mediates, pray to God, say Namaste and bow your head with your hands clasped together upright. It's similar to a Christian church, he says, where you sit on the bench and fold your hands all the way. In temples, there are also many rituals involving offerings of flowers, garlands, sweets and incense.

Back home, Mayur is an only child and lives with his mother and father. His mom is a housewife and takes care of the home, his dad used to work in the currency press and is now retired and having fun, he says. Being an only child, it was a big decision for him to come to Murray State and talks to his parents a lot and plans on visiting them at the end of the semester.

After graduating, Mayur says he wants to work in the States for one year for the experience. He will then move back to India to be with his family. After completing his Masters degree and working in the US, he hopes his international experience will give him a good opportunity for a job. He says he hopes to return to Murray in the future to visit all of those who helped him here and became a part of his life while he was here.

Flash Mob Performance October 22

The Murray State University Indian Student Association is holding a Flash Mob event today from 12:15 to 12:30 in front of the Carr Health Building near Waterfield Library on campus, featuring a mix of Indian music from different parts of the country, in the languages Hindi and Telgu. They welcome everyone to be a part of the crowd and enjoy the performance and you can meet Mayur as well. That's a Flash Mob performance today at 12:15 on the MSU Campus in front of the Carr Health Building.

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