Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas

This year I had it in my heart to share the christmas dinner with my fellowship group of all the singles in the campus.The girls who had a day off went for shopping and those of us who were working continued to work.
I managed to pick up some nick nacks for all the ladies from Jabalpur when I went for my christmas shopping.The menu was a roast which incidentally came out beautifully with vegetables and the girls cooked a lovely curry with inards and a soup to warm our cold souls.The marble cake graced the occassion  beautifully both cup-cakes and a bigger one.
We read the christmas message,sang some christmas hymns ,prayed especially for all our families and members of the fellowship who were away.Shared our gifts and then enjoyed our dinner.
Every year,our christmas families change.Atleast that has been the case ever since I have joined the missions.
I remember christmasses all the way to celebrations around bon-fires making new friends,amongst drums and tapping feets,amongst non-beleivers who opened their doors to strangers abroad,amongst friends in the lap of all things grand like cathedrals ,blueberries,and traditional christmas lunches,tension of bruised egoes,being on duty on christmas eve resuscitating patients back to life,eating dinner in the villages sitting on the floor.
My childhood christmas stories were more predictable.It was about family gatherings,christmas carols,christmas stockings,mom's delicious cakes and tea in the beautiful crockeries,the church and the sunday schools where old christmas post-cards handed out by the sunday school teachers brought so much of joy to our hearts.It was also about the post-man delivering christmas cards to our doorsteps,love feast in the church and ofcourse new dresses.I remember one christmas shopping where my sibling ,who was hard to please, had made up her mind that she wanted a gown for christmas.Reading about christmas gown is onething but getting the village tailor to make you one is another thing altogether.You would have to talk to our village tailor about the limit to which his skills have been tested by us.
My older sister's 'seventeen magazine' with Brook Shield in various attire used to be our sample book .My sister stuck to the purple gown she wanted and she got it.Getting a shoe to match the purple gown was another story altogether.
I also remember celebrating christmas in south avenue in Delhi  with a host of extended cousins who were doing so for the first time,I think .I remember dancing around the christmas tree,two people around that tree have passed away eversince.Our hindu neighbours then used to be an MP from Bihar and one from Rajasthan..all the children were part of the celebration.
I really have no idea what christmas will be like next year ,what family and where I will be celebrating it but that strange longing and a feeling that there is something better..a Home where I will belong someday will continue to haunt me ..till then I will continue the celebrations........

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Give me breakfast any day…



Breakfast is a quintiessential problem whenever I travel.Eating Geeta bai’s alu-parathas hot off the pan is a healing process.She always stuffs in extra bit of potato and coriander and it is heaven with tomato sauce,I am not sure of the health benefits of it all .While in Bhopal the timing for breakfast of eight-fifteen in the morning in the pastoral centre was a tad too late because I had to go across the city to speak in a student’s conference.At  seven thirty, I started walking the roads in search of breakfast. A Haldiram’s was open and suggested I wait out another fifteen minutes for the hot samosas and kachoris .I was not tempted at the thought of the dripping oil.
I hardly walked a hundred yards when I spotted teenagers in ones and twos eating something out of paper pages  with a spoon.I walked up and there were these huge utensils with a hill of poha .Ten rupees per plate, enough and more for your breakfast.I bought it,relished it and I had this secret joy of having had a phenomenal breakfast for ten rupees.
Before I discovered poha, egg bhurji and parantha used to be my favourite north Indian -mission breakfast.In the south when in  Oddanchattram I loved the breakfast.Shravana Bhawan breakfast used to be after my own heart.However,there was one particular breakfast which seldom went down my throat .My cousin, in his book, has labeled it ‘the poison ‘you put on the table when you want your mother in law to make her stay as short as possible’.Yes it is ‘puttu’.I am yet to develop a taste for it and I guess I never will.
I was not a breakfast eater but with time I am beginning to watch my body clock more closely and am beginning to understand what anybody and everybody keeps chanting,-’you need to eat your breakfast,it is good for you.’
I often find myself saying it to all and sundry who will give me an ear . I say it with conviction now.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Mystery of "Catholic food" and others...

I was invited to speak in student's retreat in Bhopal on 4th and 5th of December.
I was looking for a place to stay .I wanted some place quiet to gather my thoughts together and pray.Muani my colleague from Mizoram had been to Bhopal some days earlier to write an exam.She suggested I stay in the pastoral centre which she said was simple and the food was "catholic" and nice.Little perplexed by the description of the food I asked our junior doctor Max who is from a catholic background as to what was "catholic" food.He was highly embarrassed,amused and had no clue.
The centre was a lesson in all things efficient and fruitful.Simple but adequate is how I describe the place .The rooms had two beds,a hard one and a soft one.The bathrooms had a wash basin and two taps with running water ,hot and cold and a western toilet.There was a dust-bin in one corner.
Breakfast was at eight but the place comes alive with gospel sounds from seven onwards which includes the St Joseph school  run by the same concern.Apart from that they also run a hospital and a disability centre.
I could  eat two breakfasts in the centre and it was  delicious appam with coconut stew one day and puri and potato the next day.
The salt was less and the spice comfortable.Another colleague of mine was enlightening me as to how christian food always had less salt as compared to people from other communities.So I got to sample "the catholic food".
The conference was a lesson in order.
The students fellowship in the college had been running through generations and were being supported by the previous students who have long since left the place.The first years were already being pushed to take the leadership in leading the church and worship.
Three students who were passing out expressed an interest in joining missions which was pretty good considering they were the only ones finishing their internship.
How we mentor them on the field will I guess decide how far they go.My prayer is that they will be with mature ,prayerful visionary leaders who will see their God given potential and will lead them to become giants in and for Christ.