We seem to be on a snake theme this week. Yesterday’s post featured a picture of Fr. Wayne Jenkins holding a snake in Vietnam and now Fr. Tom Cassidy begins his blog post with news of a snake in the Eluru (India) student library:
Br. Hari told me just before lunch that he walked into the library and was startled to see a large snake! Two of the students managed to kill the snake, which turned out to be a rat snake. It was not poisonous but so many people have a fear of snakes that the temptation to kill one when it is seen is almost overpowering.
I was in the library earlier in the morning, but it must have been before the snake crawled in. There is a small hole in the screen that apparently the snake used to enter. The hole is thanks to rats, or at least that’s what Fr. Mariano told me. The cobra is native to India and I hope I never run into one, for that matter even the rat snake is something I hope to avoid as I fall in the category of the fear and/or hate factor in regards to snakes. I know it’s a bit irrational as the rat snake (and even the cobra) help to keep the rodent population down.
A statue of Fr. Dehon at Eluru
Fr. Joseph, our house treasurer, went shopping this morning with John our cook. Among their purchases were grapes served at lunch. Not paying as close attention as I should have I said that I found it odd that some Italians I know peel the grapes before eating them while I and most Americans enjoy the skins. As that last word spilled out of my mouth I noticed all the students around me were spitting their grape skins out and putting them on their plates. Apparently tradition at least in this part of India dictates skin-free grape eating.
The community here in Eluru includes two priests and 17 students. Next year, there could be 27 students,depending on how many novices profess vows in May. The house is a large two-story structure, not counting the covered roof area. There is the main living wing and a one-story dining room/kitchen wing. It is one of several religious houses clustered in about a five mile area around Vinjannilayam School of Theology.
The house has room for 40 students and has six faculty rooms. Each student has a room and private bath. The rooms are spacious and would be the envy of any student at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales Corners!
For students, the bicycle is the chief means of transportation to and from school; the one exception is when it rains the battered old house jeep is employed to chauffeur the students to and from school.
More often then not when one of the priests or students travels longer distances it will be by bus. Today Fr. Joseph Gopu went to Guntur. That’s a three-hour bus ride from Eluru and includes a change of buses in Vijayawada. Even though this is now my third visit to India I have still not experienced bus travel.
Most of our students here come from farming or fishing backgrounds. However, one of the third-year students, Tinu Thomas, informed me that his father is a mason. True to form, in today’s extended work period he and serval other students were laying bricks with mortar and trawls in hand.
I’ll be here until Saturday, when I move to the novitiate about an hour away.