Hospitality with Goshen College Alumni from India

Written for GC Alumni Bulletin; not published

We (John D. Nyce, GC ‘59 and Dorothy Yoder Nyce GC ’60, long and short-time faculty respectively) could not have known a finer host that Manu Gour (GC ‘98) for our five stays near Delhi during our seven-week trip to India in 2012. This return to India marked fifty years from our first assignment as teachers at Woodstock School in the Himalayan foothills, 1962-65. During intervening decades we have valued becoming close friends with Indians and other South Asians who have studied at Goshen College. Among Indian friends with whom we reconnected were family members of twenty G.C. students, many not for the first time.

Kolkata has been home for a number of G.C. grads. Kessop parents of Avinash (‘92), Maneesh (‘95), and Indrani (‘03) have had links with M.C.C. (Mennonite Central Committee) India for three decades. Eating multiple curried dishes prepared by Indrani and getting acquainted with her husband added pleasure to this visit. Gaurav (‘01) and Ranauk (1 year, ‘06) Khandawal’s parents served distinct Punjabi dishes, and visits with parents of Deep Halder (‘01) and Preeti Kela (‘03) were made special with a phone call from those alums now located in South Korea, when we visited with Halders. Other parents who graciously hosted us again in Kolkata claim Rishi Khanna (‘02) and Utpal Majumdar (‘02) as sons. Whether with Bengali fish or mutton curries or fine vegetarian meals, flavors and conversations lingered. The grads whose ten aunts/uncles we were privileged to meet were Sid (‘97) and Rahul (‘01) Sahni. Four nights with them introduced us to rich Punjabi breads and curries. Not formally a student, Vandana Deep Ghosh worked in the College library for a half year (’95-6) when an Exchange person through M. C. C. To be with her family for high tea of fish cakes and specialty sweets plus inevitable chai was our fortune.

In locations farther south, we renewed fine hospitality, as with Shashi Buluswar’s (’91) parents in Hyderabad. Meeting many friends we had lived among for two-thirds of 1999, our days in Chennai were made special when Rita Paul Raj (‘95) came by train from Kodaikanal to join us in Chennai for hours of non-stop conversation. For most of a day parents of Krishnan Ganesan (‘14), current student, were special hosts in and around Chennai, including for a coastal beach resort buffet before we returned to Delhi where Chagan Sanathu’s (‘12) parents introduced us to an amazing craft display after more distinct fish curry. On returning to Woodstock School in Mussoorie we enjoyed high tea with parents of Elisheba Cornelius (‘99) and mother of Suniti Timothy (1 year) before several chicken curry dishes with parents of current student Aradhana Roberts (‘14).

Gracious hospitality always marks Indian homes. Rarely does one enter a home without at least a cup of chai with sweets being served. Indian parents of one GC grad even hosted (provided meals and a driver for) our daughter and friend for several days in Kolkata. Bonds with international student friends continue well beyond their academic years. We have attended weddings of Asian grads in Iowa, Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Washington D. C., shared memorial events on sad occasions of death, and stayed overnight in homes with others. The dedication of my book titled Multifaith Musing: Essays and Exchanges included names of over sixty south Asian GC grads, mostly from India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. One recent delight on our hosting an Indian fellow his first night in the US was to immediately find among our photos one of his grandfather and John from when we were staff together at Woodstock School in the Himalayas. The incoming GC student directly sent a photo of our photo via the internet to his parents over in India!