Fr. Tom writes from Mysore, India, where the Indian District holds its chapter this week. He is serving as moderator of the gathering.
It was a very long day starting with our trip from Kumbalanghi at 8:30 p.m. We boarded our bus at the Kochi bus terminal at 10:15 p.m. and thought we would arrive in Mysore at 4:30 a.m. However, there are at least two ways to get from Kochi to Mysore and our bus took what I would call the long route, the SLOW route. So instead of arriving at 4:30 in the morning it was closer to 8:30. Our next task was to find transportation for the 14 of us from there to the Pallottine Centre for Theology & Religious Formation. It’s about a half hour drive from the city center. It didn’t take long for Fr. Vimal to make contact with a gentleman who said he could provide us with a mini-bus for 14. Vimal had the task to speak with him as he spoke (or understood) Kanni, the driver’s language.
Let me turn back for a moment to our bus trip. I did not sleep well. Our bus was air-conditioned and pleasant, but I just don’t sleep well while traveling, especially when the roads were sometimes a bit rough and we often had to slow down for speed bumps. There was one virtue to the long route to Mysore. We traveled through a Tiger Preserve and Game Park. To do so we had to wait a bit at the entrance since it did not open until 6:00 a.m. That meant that we had daylight as we traveled through it.
No, I did not see a tiger, but we did see game; a wild pig (wort hog?), several members of the deer or antelope family, a monkey or two and, of course, birds. It did take time to go through this park as it had I don’t know how many speed bumps to keep the traffic moving slowly — signs reminded drivers animals have the right of way.
Our actual work began with the afternoon season at 3:00 p.m. There is a good break between dinner (1:00 p.m.) and the first afternoon session at 3:00 pm. That gives me just enough time to take an hour’s walk and shower before our sessions began. The afternoon was devoted to the presentation of the status of the district by Fr. Thomas Vinod, the district superior. This is a practice in all our provinces, regions and districts. The superior begins the chapter reflecting on what took place over the last six years. I suggested to them before we began discussing the presentation that a model used at Sacred Heart School of Theology would serve them well:
2. What could we have done better?
3. What do we need to do looking toward the future?
Cultures have their own way of doing things and sometimes I think Indians can be hard on one another. It may in part because they are not dealing in their native language and it can be hard to express oneself. It also may simply be a part of their culture — or better put, CULTURES, as there are many.
The day ended at 6:30 p.m. with a half hour for a bath before evening prayer and Mass at 7:00 p.m. I told the delegates that this is the only chapter that I’ve been to where the daily schedule includes time for a bath. However, keep in mind that in a hot climate and after a long day a bath is not a luxury but needed to refresh mind and body.