Monday Morning Musings

Posted on March 20, 2017 under Monday Morning Musings with one comment

Reunited again… for one hour



“ Silence and smiles are two powerful tools. A smile is a way to solve many problems and silence is a way to avoid many problems.”

I saw this saying on a bulletin board the other day. There is a great deal of truth in it.

Well, it was quite a week. After a month of teaching English to 14 young girls, the Mother Superior sent me three full fledged Sisters to assist them with their English language skills. Two of them are going abroad to study medicine while the third is taking over as principal of a school. A few days ago, I gave them a big dose of home showing them videos of Canada, Nova Scotia , Cape Breton and of course Antigonish.

We went on a few road trips this week to visit some of the villages where the Sisters do their charity work. We ( Len, Ninian and Carol ) always draw a lot of curious onlookers when we arrive in a village. One of the places we went this week, we were told that this was the first time that many of them had ever seen a white person. We get the royal treatment wherever we go and usually receive a garland of flowers ( or a shawl ), a bindi or two placed on our foreheads and we are sprinkled with flower petals as we are paraded through the village. The first time that this happened, we found it all a bit much but you come to realize that this is custom and you just go with the flow. It is quite moving and beautiful, actually.

Some of you may have seen the picture I posted a few days back of me and an old guy ( OK. Two old guys! ). He lives in a tiny house in a slum along with his adult ( mid 50’s ) son who recently developed paralysis, the son’s wife and their four children. They have no electricity or running water. They invited us in for a visit. Candles provided the lighting. We visited many homes and while most were in pretty bad shape, they were all immaculately clean. Many of the homes have thatched roofs which have holes in them. The slum is next to a swamp and a railroad runs within 50 feet of their homes. It is hard to imagine that grinding poverty like this still exists.

We were heading back to the vehicle when one very old woman gestured to me to come and see her home. Her door was a piece of plywood leaning against a dilapidated structure. I used my cell phone flashlight to guide the way as it was dark outside. Her hut had a cement floor. There was a fire pit in the corner and a pile of branches and sticks. There was nothing else. Not a stick of furniture, a chair or a bed. The few pots she owns for cooking were hanging outside her home. Pretty sobering stuff.

The evening ended on a high note when we visited another village where several children did some traditional dancing. Ninian and I joined in causing quite a stir. It was just the tonic that we needed.

Something very interesting has been happening lately. Because I have been in this part of India for three months, a number of locals know who I am and where I’m from. It turns out that several young, educated men are looking at Canada as a possible new home. There are only so many employment possibilities in this country of 1.2 billion people and wages are generally not very high. In the past few weeks, I have been approached several times to see if I could assist them with visas, letters of introduction and jobs. Of course, I am ill equipped to do any of these things and am quick to point this out so as not to create false hope. As our population ages in North America, I can see a future for many of these bright young Indian citizens.

On Saturday, we visited one of the 11 orphanages run by the Sisters. It is literally smack in the middle of a jungle. When we got out of our air conditioned vehicle, we could just feel the intense humidity enveloping us. It is an orphanage for boys and most of these children have been abandoned by their parents. They sang and danced for us. They are also in dire need of indoor plumbing… $1000 would be enough to install an indoor toilet. When they need to “ go” in the middle of the night, they have to walk through the darkness.

Snakes. Because I live in a mostly urban area ( although the convent is about 1 kilometer from town ), bumping into a snake is not that common. Yesterday, as I was walking back from mass at the leprosy colony, a very large snake crossed the road in front of me and, man, was he moving. I estimated that it was 15 feet in length and about 3-4 inches thick. I wasn’t frightened as I was not directly in its path. But I immediately thought about those young boys at the orphanage wandering around the outhouse in the dark of the night.

I continue to be grateful for my lot in life and feel very blessed to have good health.

Have a great week.

P.S. Two musical notes. While visiting an old age home yesterday run by the Daughters of Mary, I was honored to sing “ The Lord is My Shephard “ to a dying woman.

And at the orphanage adjacent to the Sisters main convent in Marthandam, I met up with little Ashwin, the sweet young boy who used to live at Stella Maris with his mom. He cried when I first picked him up. Ninian and Carol suggested that I get my guitar out of the car and play him a song. He gradually stopped crying was clapping steadily to the music a few minutes later. Perched on his mother’s shoulder, he blew us a kiss… and the world was right once more.

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One Response to Monday Morning Musings

  1. Bernice says:

    Love this story, Leonard!

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