Thursday, May 14, 2009

From Chennai Central

Got half an hour at the Chennai station. Hope its enough to make my second ever contribution to the family blog. I've been here to check out the community in Chennai. Also got to meet an old friend who has just had a baby and meet up with Sam and Sarah David. They asked after everyone. Met Sarah's dad, and she was remembering all the big dekchi's of fried rice and curries cooking in 24rr and all of us kids running in and out. Got to experience life and another L'arche community and am thankful that I am in Bangalore and not Chennai. First the weather is much better, and believe it or not the facilities are more basic which to me seems to result in a harder life!!!. It was good to observe a different way of functioning and also meet more people from a variety of backgrounds who choose to make this a way of life.

My posts (that’s the word right?) are not going to be frequent or brief. I have been checking this regularly though I don't write. Mostly for photos of Safina and Anand, and enjoying what others contribute and discuss. I can’t hear the sound but the last video of Anand is so cute. Also realized as I checked the blog in Bangalore that the devnagiri script I signed my name in could only be seen in Lamtaput, they have loaded Indian fonts on the computer….that explains my rather strange sign off on my first post . About what I want to be called on this blog Anugrah, – I am here as elsewhere, whatever I am to each of you….. However, to my nieces and nephews I’d like to be aunty ashita or ashita mausi or just ashita.… I have been aunty ashita for too long now to get used to anything else. Last week I've been reconnecting with Neetha and Arpana my first 'nieces' who still call me aunty though in their 20's. BTW There is a lot to be said on belonging, identity and what we are called!!!!

I am following what people write, but I find it very difficult to contribute on 15 minute stints at internet cafe's. I read some of your discussions on the Deborah interviews (which I could not see) and I thought of what someone on my trip to Orissa observed on two types of Christians he has encountered – center defining ones and circle defining ones. Does that make any sense to that discussion Pradeep and Anugrah? I think we definitely need to be centre defining ones - the centre being Jesus. It was interesting to talk this with people who have been directly affected by the trouble in Orissa, where they have been challenged in their understanding of God and themselves as God's people through it all. I could talk to Munna about sitting with Hindus during a Ganesh puja, an d thinking of his and Podu's family in khandamal. It was interesting, but I found more common ground with him, now than in all the years before. Maybe we both have journeyed from whatever ends more towards the centre??!

While you were having that discussion it was Passion Week, an important celebration in the l’arche communities though people come from different faiths or none at all. The high light of the week was the feet washing ceremony on Maundy Thursday, when everyone, to the best of their ability and comprehension participates. It has become a para-liturgy (Liturgy I recently discovered literally means communal response to the sacred) that is shared at all L’ arche celebrations. Jean Vanier when he writes about it in a book called ‘the scandal of service – Jesus washes our feet’, talks of how the celebrating the Eucharist reminds him of a broken church and humanity where all do not join in Jesus invitation to remember him together. At the same time Jesus demonstrated the washing of feet to which he also says follow my example. This is something that can be done across denominations, across faiths, across cultural, economically distinctive groups because fortunately the churches down the centuries have not taken this so much into their traditions to lay down rules of exclusivity to it. And to actually experience it was quite something for me. Imagine doing it within a marriage, within a family, within a community, an organization, a church…

This also reminds me of the book you mention Pradeep - the ragamuffin gospel. I read it a few years ago while still in Lamtaput. I honestly can;t remember the content, but what did you think of the cover picture? At that time, often on Sundays I would clean the compost pits of all the plastics instead of attending church. I remember interpreting the picture as a man sitting out side what seemed to me to be the closed door of a church...i was going through my firsts feelings of being an outsider within the Church. Have you ever felt that way? I felt it again here recently. I accompany some of the members here to the nearby catholic church. And on the first Sunday there, the invitation to communion was to all baptised in the Catholic Church. I didn't receive it.
I suddenly though I got a glimpse of how Anugrah may have felt at the Pritampura Church, or how my friend Jyoti felt at the Karigiri fellowship, when someone got up and testified against a hindu celebration in town that day, or may be how the people you mention Anugrah were reacting to Deborah's video. I haven’t actually seen the videos so I cant say for certain, but as a Christian I have been more judgmental and excluding than loving and accepting. And at the end of the day, that is what we are asked to do isn't it? love the lord our God and our neighbour....

Life back in Bangalore is busy, and is going to get busier. From June I will be the only female assistant. And no certainty of the two male assistants beyond July either. We were a team of 7 a month ago and have suddenly been stripped to 3. Some have left, others have been asked to leave and one young boy, Albert from Tamil Nadu (some of you might remember him) has been diagnosed with advanced renal failure. Its been very sad to hear his story and to try and comprehend the families reaction. They don't have money for the first dialysis which should have started last week, nor can they start thinking about a kidney transplant. Despite being promised assistance from some sources, theirs has been a reaction of disbelief. They took him back home for a second opinion, and do not think it as serious as the doctors here suggest. it hits me again how economic differences have such an impact on our choices, opportunities and even chances to simply live another day. I was thinking of your friend Nazeem? Anugrah, and wondering how he is doing. Was he one of the guys that Mark was training? Are there any options for treatment open to him?

I'm back in the house tomorrow and hope to join Pradeep's family at Tamara's B'day party over the weekend. Next week Sam and his parents and his in laws (that is a mouthful) may be visiting Asha Niketan too. I look forward to that. Great to hear your exams went well Pradeep. I did remember you off and on today....Ashish/ Juliana you should start mother blogging...any ways just read a note from her about Juliana's baby shower and Robin's nest and Safina being such a doll but as vain as the Suneetha's !!!!

still got more log in I'm just rambling on and on. Just finished reading an interesting book called The Shack by William Young. For those who have the time to check it out on the Internet ... you can post a review - for others in my neighbourhood (South India), I'm happy to pass it on to you. Bytheway... a couple of friends I mentioned the blog asked if this is open for them to read???? what says the administrators and everyone else????

gotto to go now and find something to eat before my train leaves।

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