Wednesday, July 1, 2009


You could always find yourself as a stranger in a foreign land. That's what you consider yourself to be. That's how others look at you to be. I ran into number of strangers while staying at Calcutta in in the past few weeks. Some of them left indelible marks. I must mention a few of them here. There was a French girl with some beautiful name...I don't remember hers. I was amazed by her commitment. Every early morning she would walk down faithfully to the Mother House (the place where Mother Teresa lived), and work there from morning to evening, and return back with a big bright smile...never complaining about the spicy food and large pieces of chicken floating in some gravy that was certainly not palatable for a French lady. I also met Fr. Bob from Michigan who came here with a group of about 12 young boys and girls from an University there. They were accompanied by also a few volunteers. Fr. Bob is a tall and bulky man for Indian standards. But calm and highly concentrated. Since I stayed in a room closer to his I could observe him better. You can say this man is highly committed and had a large heart (as big as his size) for the poor. He would never mind the heatwave that was scorching everybody here. The heat must have really taken its toll on him as he would sweat profusely throughout the day.

There was a thinner ever smiling and very sociable Michelle. She had joined a few of us as we were conversing about my own future options. And she got excited about it, and started following the story as if it was all happening to one of her own close friends. Michelle is inquisitive and curious to know how things are happening. She would always wonder at the way the India Machine (the whole country as it operates : its transport, the people, administration and everything) operates. I also found her to be very religious with strong trust in the Lord, and dedication to the poor.

I also met a Professor of Accountancy, Christina. She had traveled alone. She has some friends in Chennai. She too is equally inquisitive and extremely sharp in mind. She would always inquire to understand the why of the things. I had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with her over the meals. She too would walk each day to the Shishu Bhavan (the children's home close to Mother House) to spend time with the kids, wash their clothes and care for the poor. I began to admire her over the period although I did not see her everyday. Somehow she seemed to portray a mature woman who was willing to take on the world by understanding its undercurrents of extreme poverty, channels of exploitation and discriminative social fabric.

Christina, Michelle and I planned a dinner for the night of 30 June, Tuesday. Michelle brought along with her three more volunteers. Cora (she too was with Fr. Bob's group) from Michigan, Cait from Ohio and Banks from Tennesse. Cait was the most vocal among all. She is a student of micro-biology and said she can help me out in relief work, if required anywhere. Cait is a good company, and you would never get bored in hers. Banks had been to Bangladesh to study the Psychological Impacts and Patters in Micro Finance! (Hi, I have been promoting micro finance for long....but I never thought of that.) He is tall, focussed and well meaning. Cora was not in best of her health. So, she did not talk much. I must come to know her more later.

For now, it is all a great new world.... Lord make me an instrument of your peace..... where strangers become friends, and enemies begin to speak to one another!

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