India Diary 6

Nameste (Hello)                 App Kesse oh (How are you)

Finally made it to send diary note six, it was about a month ago when I sent the last note. I have been on travels outside of Goa since that time, so not really able to make contact, a little too busy. Sorry my friends, but I’m back now so will update you.

A time before leaving Goa about a month ago, I went and visited a friend in a place called Savordem, east of Goa.  His name is Father Samuel, a semi-retired Catholic priest, who has such passion for the Lord and does not restrict his activities just to his Roman Catholic people but is open to all.  He is in his late sixties and has a vast knowledge of the scriptures, such a humble and gentle man; we have had such good fellowship time together.  He also gives me teaching on various bible passages and the Roman Catholic Church and its teachings.  It was very amusing when I was with him, as there was a Hindu carnival taking place, very much like our own carnivals in the UK with vehicle floats and people marching, but here they focus on the Hindu faith and their gods and goddesses.  Samuel was determined this year not to even look at the idols being portrayed on the vehicles as it is to him pure idolatry and without meaning, he simply closed his eyes, so I held his hand and guided him through the crowd.   He was so pleased that he kept his eyes closed so achieving his objective.  Strange really but I was pleased to be of service to him if that was his wish.  People must have thought we were crazy ha ha, even I thought we were crazy, we had a good time though, and in addition managed to also visit quite a few people and prayed with them.

When my diary notes first started on this trip going back to Feb, I told you of Matthew my friend and his family who so graciously put me up for a few days when I first arrived but because of over crowding and no water supply to his apartment I moved out to a hotel so as not to inconvenience his family, subsequently ending up here in Panjim.  A part of the story I did not tell you, but which has been heavy on my heart that I think it right to tell you as I was feeling really bad about my actions and behavior to him, and has led me to apologizing to him most profusely, it happened like this:

When I left his apartment he asked me if I would like to use a room in his office that he had spare, which had an adjacent shower/toilet room that I could share and also a small kitchen.  It also had a small veranda.  Until that day, it had been used by his father in law who was moving back to Mumbai. We agreed to go and see the place that morning, obviously without commitment until I had seen.   Indian people are not known for their good time keeping, hospitality great, but time keeping not high on their list of importance, unlike the British ha ha.   Waited around all day and it was early evening before I finally got to see the room, by this time my patience was being tested somewhat.  Most buildings in India are not generally good in appearance from the outside, mainly due to poor quality paint and the effects of humidity, the communal areas such as stairways etc are not well kept, always rubbish laying around, plaster falling off walls, light bulbs hangings without shades, under strength light bulbs which gives a dingy effect, to make it worse viewing at dusk it not really a good time.  When I saw inside the rooms I was shocked at the appearance, the very bad stench that came from the bathroom, no running water in the sink, broken down shower, only large water buckets available, the kitchen was infested with cockroaches and insects, everything was filthy dirty, the bed had dirty sheets and blanket and the pillow badly stained.  The place was very hot as the room had been locked up and no ceiling fan had been turned on, all in all it was really bad.  So I rejected outright, was critical of the appearance and state of the place, but what shocked me the most, was that he should even consider that I would live there with it being in such a bad state, even though he offered it free of charge to me.  He understood and could see I was a little annoyed, especially being so optimistic (expectation) and waiting so long on a hot humid day, he apologized but said very little, fortunately it was soon forgotten and it did not affect our friendship.  The following weeks were unsettled for me, giving it some deep thought, I felt very much ashamed of my actions as I was really looking at it from a westerner’s standards, and point of view and not that of the humble intention of my Indian friend.  You see, to him he was not really concerned of the standard of the place no matter how bad it was, what he saw and offered was a place for me to stay and just wanted to help without looking past that view point, as to him I could establish whatever standards I wanted that was not a concern to him, this was a cultural difference.  So I went to Matthew and asked for his forgiveness of my behavior, he smiled, hugged me and was very happy and said maybe sometime in the future then.  A lesson in life to be learnt here between cultures, he offered something unconditional, but I put conditions on the offer which was bad of me.  But all has ended well and I think we both learned a little more of one another and appreciation of our cultural differences.  Went back to the place again during day light, with an in depth clean and some repairs it could have a potential for the future, offered my time as a friend to help him with this to possibly use the place for ministry in the future.

The world cup cricket in India has been a real enjoyable time, so much excitement, people stood outside shop windows peering in to see the TV, shouts of joy was heard, when India were playing especially when they scored a run or took a wicket it was just great.  When passing by, especially as an Englishmen one just gets pulled into the atmosphere and excitement of it all, really good friendly rivalry.  The Indian nation expected their team to win and the team led by Doni their captain did not disappoint, they well deserved the championship.  For me, when it got to the semi finals and final I headed off to my friends, John & Flora in Mangalore (400km – 8hours train journey)  to watch on their TV, a little luxury I could not miss, not to mention Flora’s Indian cooking, stayed with them for 8 days.  Whilst in Mangalore, visited Fr. Rupert, a Franciscan Friar (Priest), who I have had a friendship with for the past 18 years, but we only actually met for the first time 5 years ago.  He is a very spiritual man and meditates deeply, has found such peace and contentment in his inner self, so inspiring to be with.  We talked of many things one of which is that of the growing amount of corruption that seems to exist in India from top government officials to the lower caste (Dalits or untouchables as they are known) even Fr Rupert is saddened by this growing culture and believes that there is an organized group of people behind the scenes that is the cause.

Whilst in Mangalore I also attended the services at St. Paul’s Church, part of the Church of South India, this is a joining of the Anglican and Methodist Churches in India.  This also exists in the North of India but known as the Church of North India.  The services were conducted on the same liturgy format of our Church services.   Visited with my friend’s parents in Mangalore, Sudaka and Mrs. Uchil, the last time we had met was at their son’s (Sujay) wedding in Mumbai where we enjoyed together, a very nice Hindu wedding feast of vegetarian food eaten from banana leaves.    We had a good reunion and Mrs. Uchil prepared a very nice breakfast meal of Idli (steamed rice cake) and samba (sauce) with a few other Indian delights, finishing off with fresh fruit and custard, yes my friends custard for breakfast that was a first, such a lovely couple they are, full of warmth and friendship.  After breakfast Sudaka, John & I spent the next hour talking of world politics and the caste system in India which has such deep routes, the latter of which is a mixture of social difficulties, with few blessings.

Alas, after 8 days in Mangalore it was time to say farewell to my friends John and Flora and continue my journey to Bangalore, known as the air conditioned city of India, ten hour journey from Mangalore on India railways leaving at 8.40am, so will enjoy seeing more of India during day light hours, great.  In Bangalore the time is planned to be with the Alpha India team, some of whom I know so really excited to meet up again.

India Alpha has done such great work, first established about the year 2000 but a team put in place from only the year 2007, last year over 11,000 Alpha gatherings  were arranged, so a great success story.  They also operate in prisons and on train journeys for those regularly commuting on journeys over an hour, which is enough time to lead a session of the Alpha course each day, isn’t that so innovating.  In addition the Alpha youth and marriage courses are also in demand.

Arrived at Bangalore train station at 7pm, proceeded to the ticket office to book my onward journey the following evening, to a place called Londa, still in the state of Kanataka a 10 hour journey, then  will  get a bus back to Goa, a further 3 hour journey.   Planning to evangelize in Londa for a time, have not been there before so interesting to look forward to.  Finished my booking arrangements by 8pm then caught a rickshaw to meet up with Rajesh of Alpha who is my host, also a friend who has kindly given me a bed for the night.  After meeting we had a meal together and talked of Alpha developments until 11.30pm when it was time to hit the sack, a sleep I was really looking forward to.  On arising at 7am from a very peaceful night’s sleep, we had coffee, and then headed off to the office to spend the day in talks and catching up with old friends, including  J Varadaraj (Raj) National Director of Alpha in India.   The Alpha office staff (apprx. 18), start their working day with worship, bible study and prayer for an hour before work.  They all have lunch together about 1pm, it is a really enjoyable routine.  Rajesh and I talked of Alpha strategy for Goa for Aug/Sept.  In the afternoon Raj, his secretary, Rajesh and I took off to visit and pray with a man in hospital (Samuel) who had just had a heart operation.  Such a lovely thing to do, even though I did not know Samuel, he was very pleased to see me and it was good to have prayers around his bedside.   Afterwards they dropped me at the station so I could continue my journey plans.  It was a short visit but full of action and meaningful discussions and planning.  Several of the members of the India Alpha team will the attending the International Alpha at Holy Trinity Church in London during June so we will meet up.  If anyone at Church or the benefice would like to come, we could all travel together.

In one of my previous diary notes, I believe I mentioned that to me, the Indian people of all faiths seem much more spiritually inclined than us in the west, more responsive to the unseen elements of faith.   Also they are less reserved in meeting with strangers for prayer, such as portrayed at the meeting at the bedside of a patient who is not known.  This is just a personal observation.

Had a biryani meal on Bangalore train station whilst waiting for the train, talked to a number of people and enjoyed the colorful sights of the people in their various Indian dresses.  Lots of Nepalese Holy men seem to be travelling, very interesting in their style of dress, they all looked just like the Dalai Lama, also quite a few travelling Sadhu’s in their orange clothing with a shoulder type bag that contains their worldly possessions.  Interesting the Sadhu’s, you see they give up their worldly possessions and just travel in trust and in prayer, not aligned to any particular faith but just a prayer life, they are still respected in India culture.  It did occur to me to buy some orange shirts and shorts and travel like the Sadhu’s, as did Sadhu Sundar Singh did, the Sikh who turned Christian, he is a well known person in India.   Anyway I will think about this for the future, it’s a good way to be recognized and spreading the word of the Gospel in prayer.  The train left on time at 21.40 and now heading off to Londa, due to arrive about 7.30 tomorrow morning.

That’s it for now folks.  Little tired tonight so need to go for rest.

Take care and love to you all.           Love and God Bless.  Jim

 

 

 

 

 

Jim Fisher

India Diary Note 6  –  From Goa

Dated 12th April 2011

 

Nameste (Hello)                 App Kesse oh (How are you)

 

Finally made it to send diary note six, it was about a month ago when I sent the last note. I have been on travels outside of Goa since that time, so not really able to make contact, a little too busy. Sorry my friends, but I’m back now so will update you.

 

A time before leaving Goa about a month ago, I went and visited a friend in a place called Savordem, east of Goa.  His name is Father Samuel, a semi-retired Catholic priest, who has such passion for the Lord and does not restrict his activities just to his Roman Catholic people but is open to all.  He is in his late sixties and has a vast knowledge of the scriptures, such a humble and gentle man; we have had such good fellowship time together.  He also gives me teaching on various bible passages and the Roman Catholic Church and its teachings.  It was very amusing when I was with him, as there was a Hindu carnival taking place, very much like our own carnivals in the UK with vehicle floats and people marching, but here they focus on the Hindu faith and their gods and goddesses.  Samuel was determined this year not to even look at the idols being portrayed on the vehicles as it is to him pure idolatry and without meaning, he simply closed his eyes, so I held his hand and guided him through the crowd.   He was so pleased that he kept his eyes closed so achieving his objective.  Strange really but I was pleased to be of service to him if that was his wish.  People must have thought we were crazy ha ha, even I thought we were crazy, we had a good time though, and in addition managed to also visit quite a few people and prayed with them.

 

When my diary notes first started on this trip going back to Feb, I told you of Matthew my friend and his family who so graciously put me up for a few days when I first arrived but because of over crowding and no water supply to his apartment I moved out to a hotel so as not to inconvenience his family, subsequently ending up here in Panjim.  A part of the story I did not tell you, but which has been heavy on my heart that I think it right to tell you as I was feeling really bad about my actions and behavior to him, and has led me to apologizing to him most profusely, it happened like this:

 

When I left his apartment he asked me if I would like to use a room in his office that he had spare, which had an adjacent shower/toilet room that I could share and also a small kitchen.  It also had a small veranda.  Until that day, it had been used by his father in law who was moving back to Mumbai. We agreed to go and see the place that morning, obviously without commitment until I had seen.   Indian people are not known for their good time keeping, hospitality great, but time keeping not high on their list of importance, unlike the British ha ha.   Waited around all day and it was early evening before I finally got to see the room, by this time my patience was being tested somewhat.  Most buildings in India are not generally good in appearance from the outside, mainly due to poor quality paint and the effects of humidity, the communal areas such as stairways etc are not well kept, always rubbish laying around, plaster falling off walls, light bulbs hangings without shades, under strength light bulbs which gives a dingy effect, to make it worse viewing at dusk it not really a good time.  When I saw inside the rooms I was shocked at the appearance, the very bad stench that came from the bathroom, no running water in the sink, broken down shower, only large water buckets available, the kitchen was infested with cockroaches and insects, everything was filthy dirty, the bed had dirty sheets and blanket and the pillow badly stained.  The place was very hot as the room had been locked up and no ceiling fan had been turned on, all in all it was really bad.  So I rejected outright, was critical of the appearance and state of the place, but what shocked me the most, was that he should even consider that I would live there with it being in such a bad state, even though he offered it free of charge to me.  He understood and could see I was a little annoyed, especially being so optimistic (expectation) and waiting so long on a hot humid day, he apologized but said very little, fortunately it was soon forgotten and it did not affect our friendship.  The following weeks were unsettled for me, giving it some deep thought, I felt very much ashamed of my actions as I was really looking at it from a westerner’s standards, and point of view and not that of the humble intention of my Indian friend.  You see, to him he was not really concerned of the standard of the place no matter how bad it was, what he saw and offered was a place for me to stay and just wanted to help without looking past that view point, as to him I could establish whatever standards I wanted that was not a concern to him, this was a cultural difference.  So I went to Matthew and asked for his forgiveness of my behavior, he smiled, hugged me and was very happy and said maybe sometime in the future then.  A lesson in life to be learnt here between cultures, he offered something unconditional, but I put conditions on the offer which was bad of me.  But all has ended well and I think we both learned a little more of one another and appreciation of our cultural differences.  Went back to the place again during day light, with an in depth clean and some repairs it could have a potential for the future, offered my time as a friend to help him with this to possibly use the place for ministry in the future.

 

The world cup cricket in India has been a real enjoyable time, so much excitement, people stood outside shop windows peering in to see the TV, shouts of joy was heard, when India were playing especially when they scored a run or took a wicket it was just great.  When passing by, especially as an Englishmen one just gets pulled into the atmosphere and excitement of it all, really good friendly rivalry.  The Indian nation expected their team to win and the team led by Doni their captain did not disappoint, they well deserved the championship.  For me, when it got to the semi finals and final I headed off to my friends, John & Flora in Mangalore (400km – 8hours train journey)  to watch on their TV, a little luxury I could not miss, not to mention Flora’s Indian cooking, stayed with them for 8 days.  Whilst in Mangalore, visited Fr. Rupert, a Franciscan Friar (Priest), who I have had a friendship with for the past 18 years, but we only actually met for the first time 5 years ago.  He is a very spiritual man and meditates deeply, has found such peace and contentment in his inner self, so inspiring to be with.  We talked of many things one of which is that of the growing amount of corruption that seems to exist in India from top government officials to the lower caste (Dalits or untouchables as they are known) even Fr Rupert is saddened by this growing culture and believes that there is an organized group of people behind the scenes that is the cause.

 

Whilst in Mangalore I also attended the services at St. Paul’s Church, part of the Church of South India, this is a joining of the Anglican and Methodist Churches in India.  This also exists in the North of India but known as the Church of North India.  The services were conducted on the same liturgy format of our Church services.   Visited with my friend’s parents in Mangalore, Sudaka and Mrs. Uchil, the last time we had met was at their son’s (Sujay) wedding in Mumbai where we enjoyed together, a very nice Hindu wedding feast of vegetarian food eaten from banana leaves.    We had a good reunion and Mrs. Uchil prepared a very nice breakfast meal of Idli (steamed rice cake) and samba (sauce) with a few other Indian delights, finishing off with fresh fruit and custard, yes my friends custard for breakfast that was a first, such a lovely couple they are, full of warmth and friendship.  After breakfast Sudaka, John & I spent the next hour talking of world politics and the caste system in India which has such deep routes, the latter of which is a mixture of social difficulties, with few blessings.

 

Alas, after 8 days in Mangalore it was time to say farewell to my friends John and Flora and continue my journey to Bangalore, known as the air conditioned city of India, ten hour journey from Mangalore on India railways leaving at 8.40am, so will enjoy seeing more of India during day light hours, great.  In Bangalore the time is planned to be with the Alpha India team, some of whom I know so really excited to meet up again.

 

India Alpha has done such great work, first established about the year 2000 but a team put in place from only the year 2007, last year over 11,000 Alpha gatherings  were arranged, so a great success story.  They also operate in prisons and on train journeys for those regularly commuting on journeys over an hour, which is enough time to lead a session of the Alpha course each day, isn’t that so innovating.  In addition the Alpha youth and marriage courses are also in demand.

 

Arrived at Bangalore train station at 7pm, proceeded to the ticket office to book my onward journey the following evening, to a place called Londa, still in the state of Kanataka a 10 hour journey, then  will  get a bus back to Goa, a further 3 hour journey.   Planning to evangelize in Londa for a time, have not been there before so interesting to look forward to.  Finished my booking arrangements by 8pm then caught a rickshaw to meet up with Rajesh of Alpha who is my host, also a friend who has kindly given me a bed for the night.  After meeting we had a meal together and talked of Alpha developments until 11.30pm when it was time to hit the sack, a sleep I was really looking forward to.  On arising at 7am from a very peaceful night’s sleep, we had coffee, and then headed off to the office to spend the day in talks and catching up with old friends, including  J Varadaraj (Raj) National Director of Alpha in India.   The Alpha office staff (apprx. 18), start their working day with worship, bible study and prayer for an hour before work.  They all have lunch together about 1pm, it is a really enjoyable routine.  Rajesh and I talked of Alpha strategy for Goa for Aug/Sept.  In the afternoon Raj, his secretary, Rajesh and I took off to visit and pray with a man in hospital (Samuel) who had just had a heart operation.  Such a lovely thing to do, even though I did not know Samuel, he was very pleased to see me and it was good to have prayers around his bedside.   Afterwards they dropped me at the station so I could continue my journey plans.  It was a short visit but full of action and meaningful discussions and planning.  Several of the members of the India Alpha team will the attending the International Alpha at Holy Trinity Church in London during June so we will meet up.  If anyone at Church or the benefice would like to come, we could all travel together.

 

In one of my previous diary notes, I believe I mentioned that to me, the Indian people of all faiths seem much more spiritually inclined than us in the west, more responsive to the unseen elements of faith.   Also they are less reserved in meeting with strangers for prayer, such as portrayed at the meeting at the bedside of a patient who is not known.  This is just a personal observation.

 

Had a biryani meal on Bangalore train station whilst waiting for the train, talked to a number of people and enjoyed the colorful sights of the people in their various Indian dresses.  Lots of Nepalese Holy men seem to be travelling, very interesting in their style of dress, they all looked just like the Dalai Lama, also quite a few travelling Sadhu’s in their orange clothing with a shoulder type bag that contains their worldly possessions.  Interesting the Sadhu’s, you see they give up their worldly possessions and just travel in trust and in prayer, not aligned to any particular faith but just a prayer life, they are still respected in India culture.  It did occur to me to buy some orange shirts and shorts and travel like the Sadhu’s, as did Sadhu Sundar Singh did, the Sikh who turned Christian, he is a well known person in India.   Any way I will think about this for the future, it’s a good way to be recognized and spreading the word of the Gospel in prayer.  The train left on time at 21.40 and now heading off to Londa, due to arrive about 7.30 tomorrow morning.

 

That’s it for now folks.  Little tired tonight so need to go for rest.

 

Take care and love to you all.           Love and God Bless.  Jim                End of Diary Note 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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