We were with families of twenty students who have attended Goshen College during this trip in India.
Their hospitality for meals or overnight & several days was most generous. Notably Manu Gour our main host & his mother Bimla (who we also knew when on staff at Kodaikanal International School in south India) provided next to royal care. The privilege has been ours to learn to know & form friendships w South Asian students, especially from India, Nepal, & Sri Lanka, when they lived in Goshen to get a college degree. With many of them we continue valuable connections.
Sunday: 1-15 Had pretty well packed the day before, weighing just under the limits for checked suitcases. Sara Wakefield, who would stay in our house while we were gone, drove us in our car to bus at South Bend airport. Grateful for clear roads having shoveled 5” of snow on Sat. Bus ride to Swiss Air at Chicago O’Hare where we checked in by a woman from Delhi. Flight took off on time; served dinner & breakfast; slept 2 ½ hours during first segment of seven hours to Zurich then scattered dozing during second block to Delhi. Read odd/ends of Internet print outs and India Today. Arrived New Delhi 1:00 a.m. their time, about 26 hours after leaving South Bend. Manu and Viki Gour met us, fairly foggy/chilly air; to Vicki/Nidhi’s “flat” where Bimla also staying. Need to tell friends & those expected to visit of change in cell # from that told in advance. Into extra layer of tights which then wore night & day throughout time in Delhi, temp near freezing.
17th – Visiting in forenoon before Bimla on walk w us around immediate area where others of her relatives also live—sister Madhu w son Sonny/wife, to sister-in-law’s who served juice. Vegetable wallah called out w good supply on large flat, wheeled cart, some of which he shared free of charge. Stopped at Manu/Kiran’s nice flat—they both having gone to work. Helper Preeti w us back to Nidhi’s where she washed dishes. A cook had made breakfast & food for lunch using a four-burner hot plate before she left to cook for other households. Reading after lunch; dinner at restaurant that served varied food types; Mr. Pawate, friend and former librarian at Kodai, joined us there. Restful sleep.
18th Wed.– Stayed at ‘flat’ while Nidhi worked on curriculum for elementary grades about Indian history. She drove us to Manu’s office around 11:00—commendable consulting/training business for companies who pose their circumstance/problems. Manu w varied teams works to improve multiple personal relations issues. Bimla & we via metro into Delhi city—good transport system for daily commuters. First, to row of State emporiums, buying a few items before to Shaw & Shaw Kashmir carpet store. Bought a runner carpet for our front entryway, for which Bimla most helpful w bargaining on our behalf—down to $150.00. J bought a shawl & good Bata chappals.
Over to Bimla’s younger brother’s office—Rajastan State Tourism with two luxury trains that travel around the state. He bought us sandwiches/tea before we to station where a Palace on Wheels group about to depart. Toured through train cars—prepared with food, lounge/bar, sleep, & spa areas—costly but covers all lodging/night travels while making daytime stops at varied locations en route. Discussed w Bimla’s brother Promod whose daughter perhaps interested in Goshen College (also, son of assistant manager). Bimla highly praised GC though Christian (therefore “missionary” in Hindu minds)— our help to students from India/South Asia. Back via auto rickshaw to metro to end of line, then again on a 3-wheeler to Ardee City. With new cell #, sent email messages to contacts in Kolkata/Delhi & arranged time during next return to Delhi to connect with Kuldip’s siblings & Chagan’s parents. Evening meal at Manu/Kiran’s place along w roomful of relatives (10 adults + 2 children) Back to Nidhi’s where re-packed, needing to leave our largest suitcase here, in preparation for flight to Kolkata next morning.
19th – Manu ‘dropped’ us at airport by 7:15, quite foggy morning; flight delayed by ¾ hour—lost manicure scissors because in hand-luggage. Arranged for prepaid taxi to MCC guest room. What a ride in a rickety taxi that ever-shifted lanes, honked (saying “I’m here” among assorted traffic): carts hooked to bikes loaded to excess of length/width/height; taxis galore; noisy lorries; varied cars, few w-out dents; scooters many w at least three riders or families w children. Such assorted traffic jammed up at corner traffic signals, drivers sometimes turning off engine for the wait. Trip in from airport took an hour & left little for imagination—from many mounds of trash, dirt, scavenger animals, slum sections w ‘housing’ constructed of assorted materials. Imagined how even more chaotic this area of hovels would become during monsoon season. Little of beauty yet striking when two rows of flowers intentionally planted appeared, almost out of place. Sections where large hogs routed through mounds of garbage. This scene, while not overwhelming, worse than expected; simply not prepared for extent or level of poverty/dirt. Dust left already sensitive throat more irritated. How can one observe such scenes w-out judgment/disbelief!
To Vandana & Arup’s home by mid-afternoon soon aware of son’s verbal limits & disruptive behavior, no doubt stressful for V & A as well as Arup’s mother whose home this is. Beyond entry way into living room w 2 chairs & 2 bed/couches. Yet met such gracious hosting w several fish snacks (this being Kolkata) plus sweets. Vandana works as administrative assistant at a Roman Catholic girls’ school from which had gotten special permission to take the afternoon off in order to welcome us. Learned of Arup’s major health problem for month—stomach/food related. He kind to take my shoulder bag to a tailor for repair—zipper handle having come off—after getting us back to MCC. J & I ate veg curry/dal meal w Tom D, MCC director.
20th – Breakfast at 7:00 w Tom & Judy plus 2 MCC Akron, PA Ten Thousand Village staff—Kathleen & Jennifer. J & I led chapel at 8:15—ok but not great. Distributed copies of my questionnaire. Before long, J & I by taxi to Bishop’s College, where learned that librarian expected us yesterday. While J. checked my list of resources on Internet, I selected sources in stacks (area recently w a.c.), many old books. While in stack area, Professor/writer K. P. Aleaz appeared (I recognized him) where we talked before out to reading room. He showed me his “reserve” section for Christian Theology course, many books authored by him Aware of my interest in Asian/Indian women’s writing about interfaith, Aleaz introduced me to a woman student working on her Master’s thesis—a study comparing Hindu bhakti and Christian devotion. She offers to mail me a copy when completed; she fortunate to study w Aleaz. Valued my short conversation with the young CNI pastor (Satvasheela) w Bachelors degree from Pune/UBS.
Walked a fair distance (kept up w stalled car traffic) to lunch-breakfast for Rs. 300 extravagant—at Fleurys—before to Oxford bookstore. Chaos en route on/off sidewalks (uneven surfaces, ever-needing to dodge construction, pot holes, or trash while meeting human traffic.) At least we walk w-out horns, such constant beeping ever-beside us on street; traffic backed up for a block or more w long waits at traffic lights. Passed many sari shops, often draped full-length in front windows. Park Street definitely deteriorated—memories recurred of a restaurant where we ate fifty years earlier. Also, had then ridden a man-pulled rickshaw; fortunately, not see them today. I marvel at those like Judy/Tom who commit themselves to Kolkata.
Returned to MCC for 1 ½ hour to write these notes while J. napped. With MCC staff Sunithi and Pratama in taxi to Cynthia Peacock’s flat, her daughter Melody/Ravi and Abigail also there for very good dinner, made in part by helper who has been w them for thirty plus years. Cynthia’s sister gone to Birmingham, England to visit C’s son Mark’s family. Enjoyable conversation. Cynthia to leave this coming Sunday for five-day retreat/meeting w her Missionary Conference church people, she to interpret presentations in part to decide whether to fully join Mennonite World Conference. Taxi back (Rs. 100), the driver intentionally turning off engine at stop lights eight times. Such taxi rides provide “free” view of life on sidewalks—areas where good-looking vegetables/cloth/housewares being sold. Traffic consistently uses headlights whereas fifty years ago more off & on. Typical jam up of bikes, carts, Ambassadors plus other car brands, bulky buses loaded w standing room only, & a few lorries in addition to people who crossed zig-zag through chaotic lanes, their life ever at risk. Dust & exhaust affect my throat; Jennifer of Ten Thousand Villages returning to States ten days early due to breathing/cough problems.
21st – John and Kathleen to Ankur Kala Project for half day while I found how refreshing to shower, reorganize suitcases, avoid scheduled ‘going.’ Near-by school children often heard but not as much street traffic from inside this MCC “shelter.” Last night’s sleep interrupted for block when incessant dog barked, it having gotten inside the gate when someone left around 3 a.m. Left to visit GC student grad Deep’s parents’ place at 3:15. Gracious tea time served fish cakes & other fish products, three different Kolkata sweets, tea, & crackers. Mr. Halder has been through 2 hip replacements, not good recovery from later one. Very glad for phone call from Deep & Preeti in Seoul, Korea during our visit. Mrs. H especially grateful for our visit; both engaged in extensive conversation. Return taxi ride at dusk w twice as much traffic compared to before, night life active w many people on foot milling in addition to wheeled traffic.
About 7:15 Raunak & driver picked us up, not far to Kandalwal “flat,” overlooking one of city’s many fly-overs. Remembered the mother (from visit to son at GC), very pleasant, fine meal of corn chapati, sag (spinach), small squares in thin sauce, rice (flavored with saffron, raisins +), gur-flavored ice cream, gulab jaman. Interesting/active conversation. Raunak works from home at night w “Chai One” (Texas brother Gaurav’s company) w contacts in Europe/US; he’ll move to Bangalore for new business branch.
22nd – After breakfast w Judy & Tom, to Baptist church w Donald Kessop, the Methodist church where he a half-time minister going out of city for retreat. This Baptist church the one to which we had gone w Glen/Marilyn Miller years back (when celebrating 200 years). Met a Mr. Behlur, NT prof at a local Baptist Bible College—writer of books on Greek & NT themes. From there walked short distance to Kessop “flat” where Sonya (third of Kessop children to be graduated from G.C,) making good curry meal. Her soon-to-be-husband Gautam Kumar, originally from Patna, also w us. The young couple met while both employed in Bangalore several years earlier; plans to marry (civil) on Feb. 6 for immediate families w reception for 300 to follow in hall at St. Paul’s church (Sorry to miss). They then to Patna for a reception. Gautam a manager w an international company, w 1 ½ hour travel to/from. He very conversant, confident, relaxed w Donald though all of Kessops adjusting to a Hindu as part of their family, Gautam loyal to elder sai baba of century ago. Discussed details of his religious education, language, etc.; he quite engaged also w details of Christian ties for Kessops/us. The young couple to live in flat directly above Donald’s w kitchen on Donald’s lower level. They returned us to MCC when they headed to make arrangements for photo to be taken at Usha’s tomb/burial plot. Plans are set for 4th Feb event of prayers/scripture (no meal) w invitations delivered to her employee friends. With Indian Airlines – Usha’s only employment over 39 years—she received awards at 25/30/35-year marks. Glad that we’ll have Tuesday evening meal yet w Don & Sonya at MCC. Mr. Kela, GC grad Preeti’s father, took us to a Mainland China restaurant, likely of nicest in city. Pleasant conversation about his family (wife out of town w daughter’s family) & work which employs 1800, manufactures train/freight cars.
After breakfast did laundry, read India Today, & located items to gift in afternoon. GC student Utpal’s father w driver came for us at noon; fairly long drive due to events taking place at corners because of holiday (in Kolkata only for Bose birthday). Bose a Hindu of Freedom Fight era but not w pattern of Gandhi’s non-violence toward British. Majumdar home/”flat” crowded, busy w trinkets/items on wall including multiple god forms. Good hearted exchange. Utpal’s sister & two sons soon arrive, she w best English of three adults. Her husband works elsewhere; Grandma Mrs. M. helps w getting the older son to school early mornings. She also glad to report on part-time “social works” w health/government, giving inoculations to children & assisting w “poor people.” Meal more than needed, especially in light of their limits (though Mr. retired from bank job). Two kinds of fish curry (one w head & all) plus mutton, plus little roasted triangles (basin flour), rice, three different sweets plus chai for the two of us. Later learned that Mrs. M. had only one hour of sleep the night before, before food preparation, cleaning, self-washing, & whatever. She “speaks with her eyes” & despite worn teeth & extra weight, she good hearted, but w sharp call when needing to correct younger grandchild (whom she helped feed). J & I ate first at table, the other adults mostly watching or nudging us to eat more. Attention needed to sort through fish for bones. Some lag in conversation if sister not in room. Driver took sons to their home before two Majumdar women and we over to Khannas.
What a stark contrast in the two homes, but VJ & OP also very welcoming to all. Helper Champa has been taken in as daughter w-in home. Very close relationship, VJ often working w her in kitchen as needed. Served a nice lemon w soda drink. After about an hour Majumdars left, they grateful that we had chosen to have time with them & we grateful for their kindness. Large full-length windows, many green plants, all marble floors, actually two “flats” into one home, the family located there for sixteen years. Mr. K. part of Ishwara Shawl Co. w branches in other cities, including Bangalore where married, older son lives. Parents disturbed by son Rishi’s (Goshen College grad) present choice against marriage. He recently visited Kolkata during which time they evidently “hounded” him to marry. We tried to support him, saying that others remain single while older than he. Multiple seating areas in large living or “hall” rooms. Obviously, V.J. cares about cleanliness & décor as well as serving nutritious food. Good vegetarian evening meal & breakfast of milk shake-like drinks & triangular sandwiches lightly roasted. All rooms spacious, bed w heavy blanket for each, no choice but to cover w it because of a few mosquitoes that hassled near my uncovered ear, presuming that my swats must have caught some.
By taxi back to MCC where did a few tasks before out again by taxi to Bishop’s College. Abandoned taxi after stalled in traffic not too far from BC. Librarian sent helper to Xerox chapters that I had marked on previous visit (Rs. 87 including 15 copies of questionnaire). After I had given principal Caleb copy of Multifaith Musing for pastor Satwasheela, she arrived for short exchange. I mostly read/took notes from current Indian journal articles. Worked until about 1:30 when we walked to “Jimmy’s Kitchen” for Chinese soup and egg rolls.
Back at MCC started curry meal preparation for Tom, Judy & Kessop two. J. had given list for Mahendra to buy for egg curry, alu matter, & dal; Mahendra prepared rice, chapatis, & fruit. Kessops obviously have become acquainted w MCC directors over the years; enjoyable conversation. Had toast & juice before taxi ride to airport to wait for 6:30 a.m. flight to Chennai—good time to ride through Kolkata streets when much more deserted.
25th – Arrived Chennai, having dozed during much of 2-hour flight. Hour long taxi ride into ICSA. Sarah Chanda soon called—sounding quite like herself of yore. She would have welcomed our going w her this evening to an ecumenical meeting w a small group or to a book review Friday evening, but plans already set. Went w business man Mr. James & ICSA driver in quite nice car to ICSA-sponsored place where manufacture drugs to sell to health places that provide charity supplies. Wore masks, shoe & head covers for our protection from fumes of drugs though lingered. Heavy equipment in multiple, good-sized rooms w distinct stages of the process, explained mostly by Miss Mary the chemist/manager. Staff seemed grateful for our interest. Mr. Jesudas, former ICSA director, had provided creative vision for the project 25 years ago; number of pills produced here (10,000 crore per month) impressive w accounts person & sales person other staff not of scientific bent. Will leave donation for project w friend Moses Manohar.
J discovered that our cell phone not activating. We likely frustrated Mr. James by insisting on getting back to ICSA rather than go to a restaurant at ICSA expense. Spent time in Manohar’s office & w information desk fellows before J. called Manu in Delhi who had set up the cell phone. While I over to Gurukul to meet Monica, J. to air telephone company; he learned that since phone hadn’t been activated in Chennai, it was cancelled. Manu in Delhi to get it reinstituted, there being Rs. 900 still on it. Visited at Monica’s staff “flat” table on campus about diverse issues until walked short distance to an upstairs restaurant for good tandoori chicken & butter chicken, rice, plus. Left soon after 8 by 3-wheeler to ICSA knowing that Monica needed to pack for Delhi plus prepare for a meditation to give Saturday near Bengal. Grateful to reconnect, for our time together.
26th – Back in Chennai where use 3-wheeler, not taxi, for regular travel. Few drivers use meter, so “arrange” cost before start motor. To lodge at ICSA for three nights w its “cruddy” bathroom though perhaps new tile in main room. A.C. works when strong enough supply of power. To Ambassador Hotel for very good breakfast. Then J. to check STD further for calling Chennai people about no phone & to check on email, but power down. “Out” for most of day (10-5) going first to Internet place in mall; glad for word from Lynda, already “swamped” in third week of semester. Sent messages to L & G & Rita Paulraj. Found that Cane and Bamboo shop closed for Republic Day so on to multi-storied Spencers. Quite a collection of shops, ever-being called from doorways to stop in. Bought items for neighbor Josephine & Lynda before finding large Landmark Bookstore. Spent over an hour just in Religions/Indian Philosophy section while J in other parts. Ate lunch of dosa in crowded section crowded w noisy youth. In scooter on back streets (among vehicle repair shops) to mall near ICSA where bought ice cream before back to room. Glanced at six books purchased before walked to pleasant restaurant that J had noticed on return trip the night before. Good Chinese food. Did laundry—fortunate to have two buckets–& hung it to dry on ‘rope’ brought along strung over part of room. Caught up w journal writing.
27th – Ate left-over Chinese from last night for breakfast plus oranges. J. over to internet twice before succeeded. No message from Rita Paulraj; phone not fixed. Stopped at ICSA bookstore before GC student Krishnan’s parents arrived—good car w a.c. Sudha pleasant, grateful for any support that we give Krishnan. Ganesan a good driver plus able to point out many places of interest in Chennai en route to Fisherman’s Cove (Vavanda restaurant) south of city. Glad to stop at St. Thomas Church where apostle Thomas supposedly active during first century w presumption that he buried behind it. Passed Theosophical Society property, Madras University, St. Mary’s health complex, Sudha’s parents’ area, etc. before stopping at a contemporary art museum where 60 artists currently live/create/display work. Surprised to see Christian names (like Jacob) w ten Christian themes among created works. Very clean, few present to see most pleasant display. Ganesans definitely broadly informed. Rode along Marina Drive, what eventually East Coast Road, to very plush Vavanda (garlanded with shawl on arrival). Amazing dishes, hot ones mostly Indian but nice salads of vegetables and new, shorter thicker dosai & fancy desserts. Mr. G. gets 30% off meal cost due to other “connections.” He a realtor who “gets around” Traffic becoming “wild” as back into Chennai.
Sharada (friend Padma Gallop’s sister) continues active as conductor of Handel M’s former choir in Chennai. Has given concert seven times w one further scheduled, in Bangalore, Vellore, St. George’s Cathedral & other venues, at times leading to generous donations. She managing since Sunder’s death but grateful for Schaffter couple now in Laos who include her as family. She slower in response than before, but pleasant/humorous self. Served us tea before we three to Breeze Hotel. In light of quantity eaten earlier, glad for soup & naan w sauces from Indian dish options (w good amount of food for next day for Sharada of our left overs.) Learned of Rita’s calls incoming; arranged to meet her at YWCA to which we’ll shift tomorrow.
28th –To Ambassador Hotel again for breakfast. When internet opened, J sent message to L & G. Packed before to Cane & Bamboo where purchased items for family. Read newspaper at ICSA until Aruna Gnanadason arrived via car/driver (taking our luggage along). To nice, quiet restaurant for thali meal & engaging conversation. Useful to realize how interfaith question being shaped here by Hindutva. “Harmony” – false concept—ever learn through Hindu support but aware that for Dalits (80% of Christians) to claim being Christian restricts them from jobs, education, government aid, precisely because Christian. Aruna differs from Aleaz’ strong validation of learnings from Hinduism because of practical reality of suffering. While some Christians have moved up the economic ladder, the majority remain among the poorer.
Aruna recently returned from WCC/Geneva, Switzerland to Chennai where she involved w Reformed churches to plan for a week long, ecumenical/interfaith training at end of March in Indonesia for fifty promising International Reformed young adults. Students will include from Bishops College (perhaps Satvasheela?) UTC at Bangalore & Gurukal/Chennai. Aruna then leaves the 30th for Vancouver for a meeting w Peace for Life Planners of an international meeting to bring together Christians & Muslims to engage w common concerns. She spoke of a recent WCC meeting of Christians (including Aleaz) near Geneva regarding Christian & Hindu relationships—perhaps self-understanding. Some changes going on at WCC hard for Aruna to understand: that Claire Amos (British, already in ‘60s) to become head of interfaith, that the Muslim Rima will no longer be at WCC though staying in Geneva to look for work. Soon after returning to Chennai, Aruna was asked to rework a book on the history of SCM (Student Christian Movement) success/failures. She highly recommends a number of women writers plus a theological book by Penuil. Very grateful for this opportunity to continue friendship w Aruna, first met when I w the Fulbright study group meeting in Park Hotel, Chennai
From YWCA J walked to buy another suitcase; our larger one now too heavy w books & other items purchased, aware that we’re allowed to check in two for the flight back. So good to see Rita; talked non-stop from 4:15-8:pm, catching up on lots of details interspersed w good humor—families, Kodai, construction at her school, religion and politics, KIS, her possible coming to the US next May, health, Roy’s illnesses/death, Sri Lankan friends from GC, Ethnic Fair/Diversity Day, our travel plans, etc. Ate dinner here at YWCA before she took auto rickshaw to Egmore station, headed for Kodai overnight. Glad that she had spent time w her brother/wife who have a “flat” here in Chennai though they live elsewhere most of the year. She gave Kashmiri bag & small pocket for call phone for Kathryn A & me. Washed clothes & relaxed, grateful to have left ICSA.
29th – Glad for call from Rita 8 a.m., that she had arrived home in Kodai. At 8:30 Sarah C. came in a car for taking us to St. Mary’s. Very few seated when we arrived but more came. J. read a prayer & I the Responsive reading of Ps. 110. Young woman pastor of six months spoke about three texts using power point for most content. Large number of children attended, unaccompanied; a choir group of six women & men—sang loudly. Most hymns pitched too high (by organ accompaniment). Communion served every week at altar.
News learned from Sarah: that KirK congregation & three other Chennai churches have left Church of South India, separately. Davisahiam continues as a bishop, one of sixteen in CSI w a moderator. Sarah suffering w bad head cold, stately as ever but slower walk. Former husband named Borin died in December; two daughters each with one child (10 & 4) the younger Savitri now divorced. Details about 17 programs run by YWCA, including a woman’s college (2 year), old people, battered women, children, rural, AIDS, leprosy (one w which Sarah more involved). She comes to the Y a couple times a week but increasingly more content to remain at home. Ecumenical event to which she had invited us for Thurs—glad that we had declined—included a call from Pope about how Christians to evangelize in countries these days. One woman who attended joined for lunch—pastor Assembly of God; Sarah attending fewer cultural events, supported by brother from home area of Kerala. She still has many visitors of multiple connections, like us.
On first being in YWCA lobby I had noticed a woman who looked familiar and sure enough, Nalini from Giggles bookstore, noted for its floor-to-ceiling stacks of books yet her ability to locate particular ones. Met her again after lunch, when she “imposed” two books on me at 10% off—notes from Madras (about food) and Anjali Joseph’s Saraswati Park. J. spent time with computer—access in lobby area for Rs. 100/day. Sarah paid for our lunch & transport. She has same household helper plus a single woman “roomer”/younger. Expressed gratitude to her for help to our family through the years & for her sincere friendship. She arranged with driver used today to take us to airport tomorrow.
Reading until 4:30 when took auto rickshaw to Ninan’s home some distance away. Driver a Christian according to photos of Mary/Joseph with Jesus? How to describe what is getting to be common place— traffic jammed at lights: autos winding in/out of narrow spaces; motor cycles (amazing the way wives barely hold on to driver w often a child between, on occasion asleep); bicycles w wide carts for hauling materials; cars both small and larger. Really amazing that in light of quantity of traffic that one sees few scrapes occur though many cars w dents; constant honking on all sides—stating “I’m here.” And then there’s the array of sidewalk activity—from selling items of fruit/coconuts/plastic junk/vehicle parts/clothing—all part of the visual & sound overload, plus piles of plain trash. Along Marina at least a million people walking in addition to the traffic’s million. Waves of need for peace come and go. Driver agrees to wait at Ninan’s to take us back to YWCA.
What a sad condition for Madhu w Parkinson’s disease that finds her body thrashing wherever seated. They’ve known for a decade, the condition perhaps from chemistry fumes over her years of teaching. Compared to john’s brother Bob, she’s still able to be understood, speech-wise. Sense of laughter, dependence on God, great for family & one young girl who cares for Madh at all times including through the night. Older daughter married to Australian, lives at Perth w his kin; recently her first child. Ninan family indeed international w teaching /living in Nigeria, Kodai, Palestine, Damascus and at American School in Chennai. Younger daughter lives w parents, a counselor at Women’s Christian College here, educating students & faculty regarding validity for counseling. Many unfamiliar w/fear of whether she might have certain “powers” or if people who see her are moving toward psychotic. Whereas last year six students counseled w her, this year already fifty. Mr. Ninan soft-spoken, gentle person must struggle with seeing Madhu’s deteriorating, uncontrollable condition. Older daughter the artist whose work we had gone to see at an exhibit last time here. Need to encourage Paul Wiebe to connect w Ninans in future (as promised): they most appreciative for our visit. Aware on return that I not feel fully secure on an “auto” ride through Indian nighttime traffic—not confident of spur-of-moment crowd potential responses to western/white. Though obviously a different scene presents itself back at YWCA where non-Indians may be in the majority at mealtime. Reading Moses Manohar’s book before to bed
30th – Forgot to detail the fine “high-tea” with Ninans—idly with somber, bun w chocolate inside, bun with chicken inside, passim, chai—which took care of need for an evening meal. After breakfast to Gurukul where looked around campus, looked up a few resources (books/bound journals), met Elizabeth the librarian who assured me that Multifaith Musing had not arrived, so gave copy for library. To visit David Udayakumar, now Principal, for half hour; w whom caught up about varied staff known in 1998 plus current Gurukul. Glad that we returned, but OK to be the last visit.
W-out lunch to airport; after check in, bought sandwiches of bread w cheese, carrots and cabbage. To Hyderabad on time & from there to HMI—Henry Martyn Institute. Jemina looked at our amount of luggage & suggested that we locate on ground floor. Unpacked a bit before 7:30 dinner with her; washed own dishes w cold water only. Fortunately, computer works in room, including for emails so updated L & J-D, G & LD, Evie from days in Chennai. Mosquitoes bad on arrival, will see what night is like. Reading short stories of Tagore’s. Jemina, RC Sister of Mary’s Heart, on learning of my writing about Henry Martyn, asked to read it; she kept the copy that I gave her “for the night.”
31st –J outside room reading for a while ‘til I woke up to swat mosquitoes. Fine warm water for washing. After breakfast walked grounds, observing nice plantings, vision for buildings as “Prayer Hall” for people of all faiths/religions. Surprised to find my own name—Dorothy Yoder—on plaque listing contributors (based on having given $100 donation in 2003). Attended 9:45 “prayers” at PH with staff; introduced ourselves, my prior ties with HMI/Henry Martyn (writing). Talked with Director Varghese Manamila (RC priest), purchased his book about Pannikar, his important mentor. To library starting w current journals, marking four articles for Xeroxing and five to take to room for reading this evening.
Left at noon (expensive Dot Cab) for hour’s ride to Buluswar’s (parents of a GC grad) in Secunderabad. Very pleasant couple hours there. She concerned whether we “comfortable” w repeated reminders to return to their most pleasant/clean “flat.” Updated on their family of three adult children/families in US. They now w green cards can spend six month/year there. Very good, healthy vegetable curry lunch & visit before return through center of Hyderabad to flyover of 11 km devoid of traffic. Took notes on journal articles until 7:30 dinner with Jemina. Groups of 20 men arriving, evidently expected, for hostel stay. Will see them at breakfast.
Feb. 1st –Skyped w Lynda before breakfast, so good to connect w her. More note-taking before “prayers” where Jemma asked me at last minute to “lead a bit.” Back to library until 4:15 except for lunch after which we met/conversed with “Moon” Ramesh. If Shamshabad, MB Bible College, has nothing for us, J. could come back to volunteer here for “Moon” & do more library work. Later, “Moon” stopped in our room for over an hour. Quite amazing the amount of Conflict Resolution work that he/staff schedule in diverse places in India. Informed about many places, he continues to value his study year at Kroc/Notre Dame the other year (at which time he had a curry meal at our house). He has a good attitude about HMI programs/endeavor. Mr. Robinson, who works w “Moon,” invited us for dinner at 8 p.m.; they live on campus and have a daughter who had hoped to attend Bethany Christian High School, Goshen, IN the prior year but failed to receive needed visa. Pleasant family from Nagaland—four children, 2 girls twin sons—chicken and rice dinner. Dan Shetler had spent a fair amount of time w this family; daughter Bliss would stay w Shetler family in Goshen if she gets visa for grade 12.
Feb. 2 – Breakfast at HMI with “noisy men.” Packed belongings for taxi at 10:00 for shift over to MB Bible College. Soon I. P. & Christina Asheervadam welcomed us. Christina showed us around library and Peace Rooms. Met Mr. Peters (first known when he a student/we staff at Gurukul in 1998) who asked me to talk about Muslim women in his 2:15 class. To bungalow for lunch along w Jon Isaac (who here teaching NT courses for three weeks, having learned to know two teachers from here when they at MB seminary, California. He now prof at Canadian Mennonite College) & THE Mr./Rev/Dr. Arnold, In charge of everything MB, plus two of his worker/drivers. Quickly found segments to present and off to class with 7 students in course on Islam. Felt OK about involvement, only wish had known in advance to have brought more related materials. To I. P.’s office where J visiting w M/M Ashjeervadam, learning details. Invited to speak 15 minutes at Monday’s chapel, & to present on Saturday during Christina’s workshop w 12 non-student guests about Peace, I to speak about MCC efforts. To bungalow to prepare materials. Peters came to visit about an hour before 7:00 dinner duly prepared by very elderly Chandaleela & younger kitchen “staff.” Similar to lunch w addition of chapati. Very quiet here compared to city settings—rural India indeed. Not that aware of airplanes from international airport not far away.
Feb. 3 – breakfast bell at 7:30 eggs and toast w jam, equally tough. Did laundry before to chapel. Before chapel started, I was asked to give a lecture on “women” at 11:15. Agreed, but again wished had known before left home. We both garlanded. Back to sort through available materials, deciding to speak about—Viola Wiebe/Bible women, Cynthia Peacock, Ramabai, Mira Bai, Durgabai, Aruna Gnanadason, Manushi journal, Sarojini Naidu, Amrita Pritam, Christina Asheervadam, Sharada Schaffter, Gabrielle Dietrich. Discussion followed: first fellow seemed resistant suggesting that Indian women know equality; I countered with examples. Two hymns to start not exactly applicable; J distributed my questionnaires. A women student needing support talked w me after—very alone here w sense of strength/ability—she a mother of two, Methodist. I agreed to report her to Aruna & Corinne; encouraged her to connect w Evangelina Rajkumar at UTC, Bangalore.
After lunch, prepared further notes for Peter’s class 2:15 on Hinduism and Women; attentive group. Then back to bungalow to read/edit Peter’s article about Islam before conversation w J and Jon Isaac about MB efforts/people. Worked on prep for Saturday w 12 of Peace course group w Christina. She came/visited w us three until dinner bell. Vegetable soup w toast/jam. Looked for materials for three presentations scheduled, presuming to have little free time tomorrow. Since I had volunteered my time/usefulness—felt good after each opportunity.
Feb. 4 – EDY birthday. Tired & ankles swelling; slept better last night. After breakfast offered to Christina we could work w cataloging resources in Peace Center. She said 9:30; started at 10:00 writing out bibliography info as Christina, assistant Jacob, and church history teacher passed books to us & re-shelved them after J & I wrote at desk. Glad for fan for three-hour job. Unfortunately, will later need to be typed along w call number & alphabetizing into computer. I. P. took J to see more of property before we ate lunch. More prep about MCC, having found a resource about it, & potential for Monday chapel & class teaching at 2:15. At 4:15 over to where Christina to meet Peace course. Jacob started video of Dalton Reimer—about conflict in Genesis. Stopped about 15 minutes into tape and repeated sort-of-backwards. W plenty of mosquitoes, back to bungalow to cover self with cream. Did some laundry while waiting to be called to class again; about 6 pm class cancelled until Monday late afternoon. J. vetoed idea of co-reading biblical texts about interfaith & segment of water dialogue from Multifaith Musing, so I decided to present Luke 8:43-48 story/woman with issue of blood for Monday’s chapel.
Feb. 5 – Did more laundry after toast/boiled egg/coffee breakfast. Ready to leave for English church (MB) in Hyderabad city by 9:15; left at 10:30; nearly first to arrive where C. S. Goel the pastor. Wife and daughter Princy along w we three foreigners & driver Prasad in large land rover. People arrived as singers (2 female) & keyboard player started w songs. All words on wall—two other guys there in advance to operate equipment. Pastor called on different people to pray/read/scripture/lead music etc.; sense that he not “need” to do all of leading himself. Four deacons helped w distribution—broken bread pieces & individual cups (that wife Helen had prepared—good grape juice). MBs not drink wine. Learned later that their tank for immersion baptism behind curtain. I was asked to speak (reference to universal value of song among Christians): that we at Baptist/William Carry church in Kolkata two weeks ago & oldest English church in India/St. Mary’s last Sunday in Chennai, & now with MBs in Hyderabad—one of 17 MB churches in city. After visiting w drink/cookies a vehicle load to church council chair’s home where at least 20 gathered for noon biriani—both chicken & mutton—& dal, after first looking at Bethel church, seats 2000 but building much larger hall & auditorium w sanctuary. Four leader men told J. about Arnold’s desire to get access to the property (in part for selling/making profit) & their resistance. Pastor Rao friendly, all know Paul Wiebe. While C. S. and Helen went to church where funeral for a former pastor about to start, we waited in van.
On their return, I asked that we stop at Hannah Joseph’s, unaware of her age & contribution to women’s efforts among India’s MB. Received booklet of Women’s 50th anniversary event several years back. Hannah started/operates orphanage for girls; 25 years, many current girls came to meet us. Glad to know that she had indeed been the MB met by Aruna Gnanadason; will follow up via email w her the first woman grad of Union Biblical Seminary, Pune. She knows Weyburn/Thelma/Raechel Groff. Glad to have stopped with her. Learned on return that we three to have dinner w Asheervadam family (Shany & Sony) Forgot to mention that Jon Isaac had sermon at church—Heb. 13 text w reference to Lev. Again, served both fried chicken chicken curry for dinner, eating after children sang/played 2 songs w guitar/keyboard; I lead the prayer. Christina didn’t eat w us but sat at end of table for discussion. Asheervadam shared fair amount about situation that he “inherited” & administrative duties that had been his through the years w MB institutions. Solid inter personal respect between two of them, also children healthy motivation.
Feb. 6 – This the day of Sonia & Gautam’s marriage in Kolkata, can only wish them well. Glad to read article about how Bhakti not duly reported by Brahmanism in early years—likely more revolting against Hindu caste system. Idea useful for way texts about women in scripture also not duly presented by patriarchal system, men threatened by women’s strength. First to enter chapel, four minutes. before 8:30 start. A fellow asked about text—he had not understood that I expected J to read Luke 8:43-48 – Woman with issue of blood. After brief intro to my approach to this story, I read my imagined/informed Journal—in JCCJ Jesus’ Clear Call to Justice—about her to a very attentive audience. Expressions of appreciation from varied staff —Christina Asheervadam very strong said “Come back and stay longer.” To library to browse into sources—a few w feminist cause—& journals of very scattered issues not carefully shelved; J could have given full time to organizing the same. Wondered how to encourage Bible College to make use of HMI’s strong library, so near-by. Only link heard of w HMI Peter’s local director for degree w V. Manimala.
Washed clothes before further prep for 2:15 lecture w Women/Society course w AJ, focus mostly NT & women. J read two segments w me—Woman and unjust judge & Syrophenician woman—before he left & I continued for hour, mostly w Bible examples plus a few secular women. To library briefly before to bungalow to review plans for meeting w Christina’s Peace Course group—after work later today (“make up” for session cancelled last Sat.) J. settling fees since leaving from here tomorrow. At Peace course presented first about MCC endeavor before about several of Samaritan-Jewish conflicts of biblical accounts. Later discussion shifted to interfaith marriage which I hadn’t expected. After dinner sent emails to family. Ankles again fairy swollen, warmer in general.
Feb. 7 –Breakfast of toast (4) eggs (2) & coffee. Packed suitcases before to chapel w C. S. Joel as speaker. “Goodbye” to some students; short talk w R. N. Peter, encouraging him w advanced degree work on Islamic view of Christology; farewell to Jon Isaac; met John Christy Kumar—who comes two days to teach theology, will look up interfaith writing by him; Christina and I. P Ashervadam saw us off w driver Prasad to airport.
Road en route quite remarkable w flowers/bushes & greenery in contrast to general barren/brown/dust around much of Hyderabad/MBBC. Purchased good pizza in airport before flight to Delhi—most turbulent of flights at one point a stewardess falling in aisle next to us (not hurt). Prepaid taxi worked well for return to Viki/Nidhi’s “flat” in Gurgoan. J. arranged to meet Chagan’s parents tomorrow in center Delhi for lunch & checked about other places for us to stop. While hooked to internet, discovered that Lynda on Skype so talked w her & John- Paul several minutes. Atish w Nidhi/us for couple hours before Viki returned; Kiran arrived for dinner, Nidhi’s cook not having shown up—chapati and couple veg curries.
Feb. 8 – Heard thunder/rain when awake between 4-5, extra glad for thermal underwear. Scrambled eggs & toast before J & I were “dropped” at Metro, from there to Rajiv exit. Walked past Janpath shops to Central Cottage Industries where bought several items before riding Metro to exit where scheduled to meet GC student Chagan’s parents—Amur and Kanika—at Delhi Haat at 1 pm. W them for two hours, mostly w chai & Bengali thali (two kinds of fish). Good food & conversation, he leaving to smoke twice; she gracious Hindu or Buddhist, appreciative of what Goshen College/Lehmans have meant for Chagan; they not coming for graduation. Learned that his father, along with three others had come out of Tibet together, that Amur had been assistant to Dalai Lama earlier. He’s Mongolian, she’s from Calcutta; they met at Tagore’s University outside of Calcutta when both were students. Her parents now live on grounds there. They own a house/”flat” in Kolkata & spend part of each year there. They soon will take son for interview at Woodstock for his 11-12th grades. Looked around Delhi Haat a while—quite extensive displays from different Indian locales; those displays shift location w-in grounds every several weeks. Back by Metro to end of yellow line (Gurgoan) & by “auto” to Viki/Nidhi’s “flat.” Read more Tagore short stories & suitcase sorting before late dinner. Bed the best place to be w long johns & heavy blanket.
Feb. 9th –Kiran’s parents arrived to take us to Pathway School—quite a modern facility in “the midst of nowhere,” having driven most of an hour. Aatish’ class just finishing its “song” as we arrived. Quite engaging program by other classes, each group moving on/off ‘platform’ area w dispatch. Focus of program: grandparents, w many of them attending. Served cake/chai/samosa before we four to Aatish classroom for papier mache activity w him. Kabir in/around his preschool section. Ate full meal outside; “goodbye” to Kiran.
Repacked, taking my carry on plus the midsize suitcase for Punjab days. Soon after 2:30 driver arrived for going to Kuldip Sahni’s brother Amarjit Lambda’s home, formerly owned/lived in by her parents. Visited with Polly for couple hours before out to gymkhanna club for dinner w others of Kuldip’s family. Glad for copy of Polly’s book Arise Peace to Heal—her distinct philosophy (not religious though w Sikh family influence) which combines yoga depth. Promised to promote that book among friends or select bookstores—to sell for Rs. 500 from Publisher w whom she has contract for two years. At gymkhana club along w Kuldip’s siblings—oldest brother/wife, Amarjit and Polly, sister-in-law met at Rahul’s marriage, youngest sister (w whom most conversation) & brother Bhapinder (former government job, now retired, as was their father employed before these sons). Bhapinder couldn’t locate his driver when ready to leave, so stood in crisp air for 20-30 minutes; the chap received stern scolding. Darjeeling tea before to bed—another large bed w heavy blanket. Actual shower felt good after two weeks w bucket only process.
Feb. 10th Breakfast before w Amarjit to his government office; he explained different government buildings, like Parliament. Same driver as came for us in Gurgoan plus assistant fellow for helping w directions & English. To Old Delhi, near Kashmir Gate to ISPCK (near St. James Church) where purchased four books—honor for K. P. Aleaz & Gabrielle Dietrich, plus Windows on Dialogue, and Israel Selvanayagam’s most recent one. From bookstore to Vidyajoti Theological College (RC) where in/out for 45 minutes, getting articles Xeroxed or browsed. Met several friendly young women students—quite a number study there. Took photo of one sister of Notre Dame. From there to New Delhi train station where two fellows directed us to right location on platform before leaving.
Train car interior quite dirty; multiple sellers in/out of space. J’s legs too long to stay in assigned seat; I too changed due to couple little girls ever-moving/jabbering. Read the contributors/”Table of Contents” etc. of new books plus first few chapters of Polly’s book. Less sure about promoting it—she needs help w editing if she expects to publish in English. Sights alongside train tracks quite trashy though nice rice fields in rural areas (Ambala the first/only stop before Ludhiana.) V. J. & Neelima met us (over hour late) on platform soon after “down.” Long walk to car—far more people than expected, many waiting to leave later, Increasingly my throat sore; chilly here. Ate after 9:00 & to bed.
Feb. 11th – Slept soundly under thick blanket before morning chai. Breakfast of puri & broth w potatoes, yogurt, & juice before on way to CMC (Christian Medical College)—a large complex of medical school, dentistry, nursing school, etc. Forgot to mention how grateful to have access to washing machine for a number of shirts/underwear/socks. Met Cynthia Peacock’s cousin who then arranged for a half hour tour w Public Relations fellow through important sections of hospital.
To Agricultural University where Neelima both studied & has been on the faculty. Interesting museum showing river beds/mountains etc. of India—to explain sources of water. To Ag College building where Neelima’s cousin’s husband explained highly-technical equipment. Back to Aurora home for chai & conversation before to very nice restaurant at which enjoyed three bread types plus very good dal & veg dishes. Stopped at near-by shop for dessert before back to house to catch up w this journal before to a Krishna temple near stall after stall of mooing cows too sick or emaciated to be of value. Hindus are not to kill a cow so let them die a “natural” death at such a caring place. Worshippers come to care for/feed such animals as a sign of their compassion/merit. Next ‘door’ a Krishna temple where Neelima bowed to a “busy” display of Krishna dancing w consort, as was interior circle overhead. V. J. goes to temple near to where they live each morning before breakfast. Definite mix/exchange of religions in this region as Sikh & Hindus go to another’s temple, share holidays. Quite valued conversations w this Aurora couple before light dinner; heart burn during night due to heavy lunch preparations.
Feb. 12th – Leisurely forenoon before leaving for train station; a late start continued through to Jalandar where husband of Surinder’s niece (w 6th grade son) met us. Friend Surinder (who now lives in South Bend) is the father of sons Sid and Rahul, GC grads. What a zigzag drive through the city until to their place. Aware that cough increasingly bad, made worse by terrible trash sights w smells en route. Yet, their house a haven where Surinder’s sister also lives w family since her husband’s death. Another cousin visiting this week-end from University forty km away, she having come to Jalandar to take exam in computer science that morning. Served tea/chai & misc. nuts on arrival w excited conversation because of Surinder. Another son-in-law, a principal, showed up; the two men Surinder’s sister, & we seated to be served lunch by others. Some cricket watching when couldn’t get J’s computer to work. Then Chandijit took Kamal (cousin) & Surinder’s sister & us to Haveli—located on national Highway # 2 (toward Delhi), the road being absolutely awful—jammed traffic, dusty, honking along w radio music of dance type from Punjab that is anything but enjoyable (to my ear). Finally arrived at Haveli which depicts many village scenes from early days. My cough getting worse along w general worn out condition. Due to loud dance music of show, I suggested we go inside for dinner; seated at distinct low tables. Expensive thali meal during which needed to keep ahead of servers who wished to add more to what on plate. Returned to their home via more “sane” roadway, eager to get medicines & to bed, knowing that breakfast to be served at 7 a.m.
Feb. 13th – Tea at bedside before packing & breakfast, to leave soon after 8:00 for bus (modern one) to go to Amritsar. Such an array of notes played by bus horn; for much of hour’s ride the driver kept up a good speed. Called the man designated by our good Sikh friend Surinder at the Golden Temple motel; w-out his reference we might not have been able to stay. Waited from 10-12 for a room to be vacated & cleaned—fairly decent, especially for cost of only Rs. 300 including geyser for heating water &heavy blankets plus a stand-alone heater. Went directly to the Golden Temple, receiving a “guide” en route who able to speak enough English to communicate. Had to be barefoot & w morning rain, the red/green nawar mats were well matted w who knows what foot disease. In faith, but not to the extent of some women/men who went in to the water (perhaps for healing?) that surround the Temple. That special Golden Temple is where the Guru Granth Sahib (the text that is considered the present Guru) is carried in/out each day. Loyal Sikhs bow toward it from whichever of the four gates they enter the premises. I was surprised by the number of buildings that surround the central water area—residences for certain important figures, place where people are fed (langar) 24 hour/day, forty rooms where scripture being read, plus memorial sections from historic events linked to the Golden Temple. Not inclined to join the thousands being fed the Temple fare, we went to a nearby, relatively quiet restaurant for Chinese food. Stopped at a Sikh bookstore on return to hotel room where ever so glad to shed “needed” clothes. Rested a while after which aware of my fever—that “lousy feeling” day of a head cold, nose draining lots & cough that tires. Just glad not to be out in dust; the room quiet and J. reading. Ate/drank biscuits, Oreos, oranges, chips, orange juice & chai that J brought from a nearby shop for our evening meal in the room.
Feb. 14th – To same restaurant for breakfast—warmed parathas for main dish plus plenty of warm milk for cold corn flakes. Back to room for reading until check out by 12:00, Modern bus, in seats first & second right behind driver-ji, so full view of scene plus “near misses.” The array of horns—3-4 different sounds plus others w blasts, depending on type of vehicle meeting or passing. Driver always honored other buses, giving space for them, whereas on meeting cars, they might need to straddle the outer edge of their lane, w bikes or farm equipment shunted even further. Amazing amount of farm equipment on same road w fast-moving cars & large buses. Tractors pulled all kinds of wheeled carts. Obviously, farm lands now w wheat fields in sections that during rainy season become rice paddies.
Late by an hour—5 instead of 4-hour trip—dusk and darkness pervade. One section of highway in unbelievably poor condition—huge pot holes, passing cars & carrier trucks ever-overtaken by bus when a chance available. People being “dropped” as we get nearer to Chandigarh or Mohali where Inderjeet, an OB doctor, came for us. She’s a good driver. To their nice home where husband Sandeep (a chest & general doctor) his mother (Surinder’s sister-in-law, oldest brother deceased) lives along w two children, the boy age 6 & girl in 7th standard. Served nuts etc. & tea on arrival before Surinder’s sister came also for dinner.
Feb. 15th – Aware that Sandeep a chest doctor, I asked him what medicine I might purchase, knowing that my supply for nasal condition not strong enough to clear it. He took me into an exam room in their house to check the med that I had left, listened to my chest, looked inside my throat/nose & reported that I definitely have infection. Given two types of pills to “clear it” in 4-5 days; most fortunate for his specialty. Inderjeet, w plans for the day off from work, delivered us to the Rock Garden saying that we were to call her when finished after several hours. Quite amazing acreage given to this project/“dream” of Nek Chand—all kinds of thrown-away materials formed into creative displays. Will have plenty of photos to share w Marg Groff at her Art Museum located in Cheboygan, WI where Chand has visited. Purchased a small booklet about the interesting Garden.
We walked some distance, stopping at a park bench before to Chandigarh Museum & Art Center where we went through several stories of architecture museum featuring two Americans (Albert Mayer and —– the latter who died in an airplane crash, after which Mayer quit too). Their initial plans were developed by le Corbusier, Frenchman noted for a modern plan for wide streets, parks, community of only city of its kind in India. Hungry, so picked up omelets before calling Inderjeet who had enjoyed time w two women friends. Rice/dal lunch back at her house before journal-writing & rest. At dinner time learned that the train we’re scheduled to take the next day is the slower one w more stops. Adapting to new pills in addition to having a “kink” in the middle of my left side, likely from having lifted our suitcase up flights of stairs at a train station.
Sandeep delivered us to the train station where we stood in chilly air for a 20-minute delay. Wearied by meds, cough, seeing awful poverty/trash/dust along the railroad tracks, a couple cockroaches scooting near my feet, and utter sense of depravity of some affecting my well-being. Glad for water to wash hair & a partial-bath back at Viki/Nidhi’s “flat.” Good conversation w Bimla about KIS problems & Jodhpur before wrote email messages to family people prior to Lynda’s skyped message that J-D & John-Paul both have pneumonia.
Feb. 16th –More aware that a couple days earlier on ascending very long, stairway at railroad station between levels of platforms I had strained my left side (lifting the suitcase w right hand). Must hire a porter after this. W pain unpleasant, I used cough as main reason to rest, glad that hand wash had dried. Around “flat,” conversing w Bimla, sorting items into suitcases for Pawates’ overnight, Jodhpur, & Woodstock trips. About 5 pm Pawate came for us; he showed his school building en route to their 4th floor “flat” in area of multiple hi-rise buildings that have “come up” since they located there three plus years ago when he joined Amity as librarian for ten schools. Served tea on arrival before Manju’s good meal of dosai w potatoes, samosas, & pyasam. Extended conversation, they always curious about U.S. patterns, building processes, politics, and personal activities.
Feb. 18th –(Dates confused here.) Chai at table before discussion of using ultra violet rays to warm the area of my side/back. Unsure whether that method improved pain after second attempt. Breakfast of cold cereal, bread-jam, oppum before Pawate spent hour explaining his effort for computer access for students—really quite commendable. To block-long restaurant area for South India tali’s; I simply ordered naan & tomato soup because not feeling right. Then Pawate & Manju joined us in Viki/Nidhi’s “flat” in part to see Viki’s TV show for the week. Admitted to J hesitation about whether good to spend two of next three nights in sleeper trains. Called Bimla who doing child care w grandchildren who asked Nidhi to try to get me a Dr. appointment yet for this evening. . . . W Bimla & J to pleasant Dr. who heard my tale, discussed issues & found spots on side/midriff where pain most intense suggesting that I might be starting w shingles. To return tomorrow to check on spots & better not to make trip to Jodhpur. Serious regrets especially for J w no exposure to Rajastaan state & because Bimla would be such a good guide. J cancelled train & lodging. Spent evening hours w Gours aware that Vicki had fallen in shower so needing pain killer too.
Feb. 19th – Woke up about 7:30 having slept non-stop, surprised by lessoned pain. Hungry for egg in sandwich. Took pills and immediately to bathroom to “bring it all up”—not an encouraging start. Manu took J & me to Dr. Although two former spots brighter, no new ones so doubt if a case of shingles. Prescribed stomach pills & advised against spices, egg yellow, hot/cold drink, & to get solid rest before being seen again the following Tues. J. bought crackers, fruits, corn flakes, etc. at corner shop. Had some of that plus a little rice/comfort dal for lunch; all stayed down ok. Read India Today before sleeping. After tea, Manu’s family came; being Sunday/week-end, Gours together until after late dinner.
Feb. 20th –Calm day. Because holiday to honor Shiva, when Shivite Hindus flock to Shiva temples, places that we might have toured were closed. Manu left Aattish here for day, Kiran having gone to school. Viki, Nidhi, Bimla, & Aattish to temple along w Bimla’s sister-in-law. All back for lunch. Glad that good day for clothes to dry on rack on small, back verandah. Ordered pizzas (Bimla fasting except for fruits) for dinner, having had momos from a shop for tea time. We to bedroom; Bimla left for more Shiva celebration w brother/sister-in-law; friends here to see Viki.
Feb. 21st – To Dr. for third time, definitely not have shingles so he prescribed a muscle relaxant. Left w Bimla via scooter then taking metro to center of Delhi. From there to Gandhi cremation location, plus sites that honor Indira & Rajiv before to Museum of Gandhi’s years—black/white photos w explanations in Hindu & English. To Museum w objects like spinning wheels, items from ashrams, then back to “flat” by 6 pm. Before eating, some packing for Mussoorie trip.
Feb. 22nd – Call from taxi driver soon after 4:30 am; left by 5:00; traffic jam near station but w ample time. Porter walked us to proper platform & left. Nicest train so far, this shatabdi to Dehra Dun. Dozed lots, off/on. After chai/water/biscuit served came breakfast w none too-appetizing cutlet, mango juice & another cup of chai. Driver w sign for Nyce near station exit so into small cab &on our way up the ghat road to Mussoorie. Good driver but rough section on new, ‘lower road” which he explained as needed due to great congestion in Landour section. One steep incline section tested my nerves & all the car could muster w our luggage/personal weight.
Alumni hostess Monica Roberts ill, so after shown to guest Room # 2 (not the one overlooking Doon Valley) we to Development office where met others before taken by Eme on extensive campus tour of renovations. Met Judy Crider, the Marks, a Notre Dame Physics Prof here for 2 months & others. New gym really amazing (compared to space in which I taught phys ed during ‘60s) & much more extensive space for elementary grades/facilities. Almost late for tea but two cream puffs each, not having had lunch. Back to room (glad for electric heater, turned on when in room) to hang up clothes & update this journal. Read more of India Today plus articles in Frontline purchased today. Air crisp; not walk into bazaar; few at dinner.
Feb. 23rd – To breakfast by 7:30, not finding staff who ate in dining area very conversant: 2 eggs omelet & hot cereal. At7:45 heard familiar Muslim imam call from mosque across the valley. Glad for “long-johns” night & day; they’ll likely stand on their own by end of this week. To Development office to get assignments for volunteer tasks for us, John told by Pete to take apart many framed documents, to take up less space in the Archives area storage. I to high school to meet w chaplain at 10:00; Friendly conversation about activities of past twenty years. I wonder if “chaplain” not very involved w chapel only once a month, if religious courses of second value due to pressure of general academic programs. Another man teaches grades 9 & 12 while Dorothy Wiedman is responsible for 7-8th grade religion.
Back to Development office where I proceeded w large & small photo boxes, categorizing them w no direction from Pete. By then J. trying to get computer to work, increasingly frustrated because worked on lower level, not up in Development office area. Pete explained about getting stacks of odds/ends removed to either open shelves or w-in boxes, though we’re not trained to work w historical materials. How Miss Marley would be horrified by the hap-hazard keeping of records for an institution of such historic worth! And what a dusty area in which to work! Talked w Judy Crider at tea time. To room to read India Today until dinner time where they ran out of food (small group of students before us) w promise of more to come—eventually. Regret that unable to see beyond St. George’s School, hiding the usual fine view down to Dehra Dun. Met a friendly staff person, French teacher, at dinner; how I miss being w Diana Biswas since her death!
Feb. 24th – Did laundry after breakfast before up ramp to Parker Hall for student assembly. Can’t go up to that level w-out puffing due to breath control. Back in the Development area I’m surprised at the quantity of materials that Pete “pitched” keeping only two copies as of Quad plus other stacks. Not so sure that Saroj would have approved of so much being tossed, but not our responsibility. School workers who removed stacks must have been surprised; hopefully, a kabari wallah in the bazaar will make good use of the paper. On reaching the main library to help, I learned that the head librarian had gone home sick; will help there on Mon. Met assistant librarian Mrs. Timothy, Mennonite from Korba, M.P, the mother of Sunithi a GC student who has chosen not to connect w our curry group. To tea w faculty at secondary level; pleasant room in what used to be the woodworking classroom.
Soon encountered two Kodai International School grads from the late ‘50s, the one who lives here at the top of the hill, the other w wife from Norway—he Ted Essoberger. We met at lunch & agreed to walk together out to Hanifl Center—former Ashton Court. There, Anu Singh gave us a tour of the place since the director Krishnan Kutty not available. Amazing Centre w vision for future: to house 32 students at a time, often from universities in US/England. Reminds me of the ‘60s when Mennonites lived at that location—Friesen, Flisher, Groff, Shirk, Miller, Beachy! Sue Turner & husband to be commended for materials donated for this new structure, supplemented by Winterline Foundation. Quite effective for current students along w writing by Steve Alter or Bob Fleming, Jr.—biology teacher from our ‘60s era. While the other three went on uphill from Hanifl Center, we spent time in our room until tea time after which watched cricket on TV before to the gym to see guy’s basketball team practice plus watch other activities of volleyball, wall climbing, & a large room w mats for gymnastics. What a contrast to the ‘60s when I the main physical education teacher for girls. There was an old shed for supplies, two cement floor areas made slippery when monsoon mist rolled in the roofed, three sided buildings, and gravel-covered ground in the section between the buildings (about 100’ x 150’). Mr. Mark’s son, current athletic director type, now organizing for 18 teams to come for girls/guys basketball tournaments. Although the air is crisp w some clearing of clouds; less motivated to hike since unable to see down hillside to Dehra Dun. Will visit w Saroj Kapadia tomorrow before in to bazaar & then to GC student Aradinah’s parents Monica/Eric’s home for dinner Monday evening. Washed clothes failing to dry in room; to bed soon after again hearing Imam’s call across the valley.
Feb. 25th –Vigorous conversation w Saroj. She’s contributed lots to area village people w Bob Alter’s organization & has helped train three young boys to read/write. Grateful to learn details of dear Diana’s end-of-life problems. How she is missed! Saroj’s eyesight problem more obvious; how she misses when Development staff fails to inform her of visiting alums. Will see her again for tea on Monday. Part of Tehri Road toward bazaar more uphill than remembered & definitely more traffic of cars, vans, & motorcycles. Took photos en route including of shopkeepers: tailor Fais’ son/grandson, metal worker Kaliq, Ram Chander’s son w paint store. No longer shops of interest like Kashmere shawls. Walked to Nirali’s just past former Kwality now become Domino pizza. On return stopped at Union Church to visit M/M Pastor Cornelius, glad to make contact for Elisheba’s sake. Memories galore plus observations—lots more fruit/veg stalls; large multi-layer car park area; no clock tower; shops closed or w appliances like refrigerator/TV/microwave; no Thukral studio or South Indian crafts; more Kashmir products; more restaurants. Cheeks feel flushed from crisp air and sunshine.
Feb. 26th – Glad for breakfast omelet. After lunch of macaroni w two different sauces, left for lower level surprised by how steep much of sidewalk down. To 10-12 grade girls’ dorm first, meeting Karen Bowdish who in charge of a 7-9 grade girls’ dorm in Alter Ridge though she lives in one of five dorm residences at Midlands. Went inside cottage where we lived our third year ‘64-65; it having been renovated for family of three living there for past six years. Karen showed us grade 10 girls’ section, quite nice. Passed Alter Ridge (which needs renovation) and junior hi boys renovated section, passed large basketball court near boys’ Hostel where J looked in more. Swimming pool for only part of year seems extravagant. Returned the steep, hard walk, stopping frequently to catch breath; took 30 minutes to climb & another 15 to recover back in room.
Feb. 27th – To Assembly where Pete W spoke about “humility” w announcements. To Senior hi library for tour w Sarah Caldwell. She then took me to Jr. school library – to read for 1-2 graders this being Dr. Seuss’ birth week. Returned to Sr. Library where shelved books until “tea time” w faculty at that level. Heard part of Sarah’s story including about creating first library newssheet, the second one near March 8th International Women’s Day. Walked w Monica to their home for major meal w three meats, 2 breads & rice; Eric likes to cook. Pleasant conversation; she to WS 1979; they married several years later; older daughter in addition to Aradinah (GC sophomore). To Saroj’s for tea. Daughter of Austin Singh & two fellows whom Saroj has helped came too. Lively conversation about people of ‘60s, her work with alums, Bob Alter’s final return trip, etc.—hearty laughs.
Met leader Rose for Writer’s group (husband on faculty for 7 month); we the only ones together. For ten years she a story teller & writer. Followed her suggestion about writing segments before each read to other. I had written mostly about years in India—negative along w positive—anticipating how to explain this reality for those who have never experienced it.
Feb. 28th –Thinking about what to share w librarian Sarah for possible inclusion in March newsletter. She likely to include portions of my reflections from fifty years ago with K-Wing dorm girls, plus a statement about Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger’s book Amma’s Healing Room (not yet in school library catalog). Cautious about including several paragraphs from Female Divine article, the interview w Sarah having been interrupted. Both J & I to senior library; to shelve stacks of books waiting for Harry (volunteer husband from Netherlands) for further instructions about Fiction section before to basement stacks to pull off resources to return to main level shelves, J working w history & I w literature. Best cupcakes yet for tea time after which returned to room. A fair amount of thunder along w clouds rolling in from the hillside (not Dehra Dun) which anticipates colder temps coming. Hoping for safe trip down the hill tomorrow, to leave at 2:30 before evening train back to Delhi. Lights kept flicking off, but generator kicks in.
Feb. 29th –Good breakfast w potato chunks plus fried eggs, Cheerio-like cereal, toast, tea, & slice of cheese. Requested current addresses of K-wing girls when I their “matron” for writing to them after fifty years; Monica will send as convenient. To senior library to shelve accumulated books, left calendar for Sarah Caldwell (head) and Mrs. Timothy before brief labeling job of books in junior library. After lunch of lasagna & chocolate pudding, packed bags. Eric Roberts arrived to give calendar of St. Paul’s church & white, embroidered scarf/shawl. Started down hill w careful taxi driver, upper half of distance in pretty rough condition. Surprised by what a person sees from one direction but not the other—going up or down hill—what’s in front of or behind the scene. A number of sections being re-built, having no doubt been washed down during last year’s monsoon. City of Dehra Dun more expanded up toward start of hill climb. Reached train station about hour before start but into seats before starting on time. Many seats not filled until during stops along the way. Crew does keep busy, starting w water bottles, then thermos of tea, meal/started w tomato soup & bread. I had second soup rather than the veg/non-veg curry choice. Then cup of ice cream before another round of chai. So, until crew delivered & picked up after each of these services, w a full car of passengers, quite busy. Getting sleepy by time of 10:45 arrival in New Delhi. What a mad rush to get out to the area where taxis & 3-wheelers which both pick up & unloaded passengers. A friendly Indian who spoke both Hindi & English assisted us to locate the taxi driver from Gurgaon who Manu had arranged to meet us. Into the right vehicle for a fairly long ride to Gurgaon where Devesh and Bimla waiting for us. Tired enough not to visit long, being after midnight.
March 1st –How I long for a real shower! Visited w Bimla & Devesh on varied subjects through day & played w Aattish and Kabir. Spent couple hours before lunch getting three suitcases ready for checked luggage “Goodbyes” expressed & left w Manu/Devesh for airport, having explained misc pile of items left w Bimla for Nidhi/Kiran. Flight not to leave until 2 a.m. & 6-hour layover in Zurich. Grew increasingly weary waiting for flight from Delhi, recalling contrast of this building w international airport in 1962 (when we first arrived in this capital city).
Decent chicken roll, cookie, tea about hour into flight having already slept. “Cat naps” followed, never fully relaxed. Breakfast of omelet, fruit chunks, juice, roll, & chai. Needing to empty water container to pass through checks and then have passport check on entering Switzerland seems redundant. Into Zurich before posting of Chicago flight so purchased juice & sat in one of many lounge areas while J took train across to other gate areas for rupees exchange which had not been available in Delhi once into gate area. Quite a few Africans in lounge area, one woman giving time to prayer/rosary/reading devotion. Air definitely chilly while walking ramp in from plane and presumed Europeans w winter coats. J. bought chocolates for John-Paul and family.
Shared tuna sandwich before to gate area; observed selective process of taking some passengers behind screen for some kind of check—curious to contemplate why those selected who were. Seats at front of section in airplane so J had plenty of leg room again. Rather bumpy during last hour of flight w rain showers predicted for Chicago area. Long line for passport check then no stop for customs & w suitcases off ramp for final time hustled to Coach USA area for bus. Large, wet snow flurries in air, headed for South Bend; good to see/talk vigorously w Bonnie/Stan all the way —highlights of trip for both, details of her mother’s memorial service/events w family.
Overall India – How to summarize: many good connections w people along w honest disappointment due to filth/stench/trash/dust. Change is needed for India to be respected/valued globally. Food issues: won’t soon forget Punjab or the ‘comforting” rus meli served the last evening by Nidhi