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Hi. I'm Maria Packman. I live in Madurai, Tamil Nadu's historical cultural center. I'm a fellow of the Advanced Tamil Language Program of the American Institute of Indian Studies. My special interests are classical Tamil poetry and the Seeratpuranam of Umaru Pulavar. I've travelled throughout southern Tamil Nadu in addition to Sikkim and India's major metros. I currently am making plans for trips to Ladakh, Sindh (in Pakistan) and an extended trip throughout continental Southeast Asia and southern China.

I speak (in varying levels of proficiency) Tamil, Japanese, Yiddish and Arabic. I have an AA in Japanese from Foothill College in Los Altos Hills and a BA in South and Southeast Asian Studies from Berkeley. I'm an irregular columnist/feature writer for various Sindhi-language papers in Pakistan.

My hobbies include reading (particularly translations and cultural studies), eating unusual food (whale, anyone?) and getting at least 15 hours of sleep a day. I also do needlework, write experimental prose and can occasionally be convinced to slap up some paint and assorted other junk on plywood/scrap metal/drywall and call it a mixed-media composition.

I didn't get much chance to travel in my childhood and am now trying to make it up in my early adulthood. I hope my contributions can help others in their excursive activities. My current project is the Madurai article.