Monday Morning Musings

Posted on February 6, 2017 under Monday Morning Musings with 2 comments

Silk shawls for the dignitaries

Our fundraising campaign for the Daughters of Mary in Southern India has reached the 25 % mark. Thanks very much for your generosity. There is still lots of time to give, now or in the future. It’s easy. Just follow this link to my webpage.

I was having dinner the other evening with a group of strangers. I was the only non-Indian person at the table. They were surprised when I refused to take the knife and fork offered to me. I am so used to eating with my right hand that it will take some getting used to when I get back to Canada. When I announced that I was from Canada, one of my hosts coined a new term. He called me a Canindian!

Speaking of Indians, I never tire of seeing sarees ( saris ). It seems that everyone of them is different. When I go to mass with the Sisters at a local church in the morning, I find myself distracted looking at the dazzling array of colors. I must say that one of the things I miss most from home is singing in the choir at St. Ninian’s Cathedral. Those of us fortunate to spend time in “the loft” recognize and appreciate the genius of James MacPherson. None of the choirs here sing in harmony. It is all congregational singing. Nothing wrong with that but when you are accustomed to harmony, it’s not quite the same thing.

And speaking of matters religious, I was told by a local priest that the heads of all of the religions in Kanyakumari met recently to discuss noise pollution as religious groups are amongst the worst offenders. Things get started very early in the morning here, usually around 5:00 a.m. There are an incredible number of temples, mosques and churches in such a small area and most, if not all, feel the need to blast their ceremonies through speakers at the highest possible decibel level. I suppose you get used to it eventually but I must say that it is one thing that I find grates on the nerves.

After three months in India, I am pleased to say that I have found a secure and reliable supply of fresh coffee. One of the guests at our B@B told me about this shop in a small town near Chennai ( several hundred kilometers from here ) that has wonderful coffee which they ship all over the world through an online store. I thought I’d give it a try. They replied very promptly to my request and two days later I received my shipment by courier. The coffee , like so many other things, is much cheaper than home. And the shipping charges? Ninety-four ( 94 rs. ) rupees or approximately $1.88. The coffee is awesome. I will definitely survive my last three months in India!

I was one of the guest speakers at a gathering of the “Lovers of English Society,” a group of retired and active university professors ( including a president or two ) and other professionals in the neighboring town of Nagercoil. They gather once a month to speak English and pick a different topic, along with a guest speaker. The topic this particular evening was demonetization. Anyone following my travels in India are well aware of the chaos caused when the Indian government, removed 85% of the currency from circulation overnight back on November 8th. The group was interested in getting a perspective from a foreign visitor. The other speaker was a retired U.N. Ambassador who happens to be an economist.

When I arrived at the meeting place ( the living room of a retired university professor ), I was met at the front door by a small handful of participants. There were two other cars parked beside his house. They usually have a few dozen people come for these gatherings. By the time the session began, there were 75 people in the room, including several brilliant university and high school students. Sometimes I feel like an exotic bird when I show up at these things. ( My brother Gerard suggested that “bald eagle” was appropriate! ).

It was a fascinating and stimulating evening. I really enjoyed the question and answer period that followed the formal speeches. There were no easy questions. They were very interested to talk about the “Trump” factor as it relates to the economy of Canada and other countries including India. They fear that any form of protectionism could be problematic for their country. When the evening concluded, I was approached by several people to see if I would come to their institutions to do similar presentations.

Every guest who shows up at the B@B run by the Sisters has a demonetization story. A chap from England was telling me a story last evening about his own travails. He is in the early stages of a two year trip through Asia. He has been in India three months so he has seen the worst of the currency crisis like me. He was in Northern India in a town in which he was staying for three days ( he had pre-booked and paid for his accommodations long before he left home). The restaurants in the area only took cash and , of course, there was none to be had. He found one restaurant that offered him an unique solution. The restaurant owner had a brother who owned a jewelry store that took credit cards. So this English chap took all of his meals at this one establishment for three days and went to the jewelry store the day he was leaving to pay his bill. These kind of stories are legendary. Resourcefulness is a useful skill.

I have two new stories. I took my first bus trip since coming to India and not surprisingly, it wasn’t without incident! The second story is about the challenges that we all have with electricity in this country. Power outages are common place ( daily and sometimes more often than that ) but they rarely last long… mildly inconvenient but not a big deal. My room has 16 different switches ( it’s one of the rooms in the B@B ). I won’t spoil the story but safe to say, that getting everything to work when the power is on is difficult enough but when there’s an outage, the situation can get very complicated.

Have a great week.

P.S. I couldn’t get the Super Bowl in India. I want to give a big shout out to my friend , Rick Johnson, who gave me the blow by blow of the last 5 minutes of the thrilling conclusion by way of Facebook Messenger.

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2 Responses to Monday Morning Musings

  1. Noreen Casey says:

    They say God works in mysterious ways. Enjoy your coffee!!

  2. Anna Mac Donald says:

    Re:eating with the right hand.I agree.After all fingers were around before knives and forks

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