Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Starts

It is now the start of two seasons, festival and rainy.

One of the first festivals was Poonja the blessing of all things mechanical, from cars and printing presses on down to staplers. Now to be honest I would only pray about my car or stapler when they did not work, when they do I am ignorant to their presence.** But for Poonja each and every thing is given recognition mostly by placing a little mud on it. But for more important items such as printing presses, cars, and auto rickshaws it is a little more elaborate. Marigold blossom garlands are attached, and little sprays of mud are flicked on in a v pattern. Banana leaves are tied on, and streamers and balloons are added. A small oil lamp is lit and watched until it burns out a couple moments later, then a melon or limes are smashed outside on the road.

There was definitely a level of difference in participation, many people ignored, some did a little, others more elaborately, and others had a special person come in to perform the rituals. I just sat on our front stoop and watched, then later went for a walk to the main road to snag some pictures of the vehicles.

It is also the start of Divali, many schools have special dance recitals, Retu and Rena were dressed in their finest going to perform for their school. If Anna was attending Ashram school she would have been in one on Saturday. Tanya, Nalini's 5 year old daughter got a scrape when her bike slid out on the remains of a melon.*

I will talk more about the rainy season in a future post.

Yesterday Nancy and I took the opportunity to go visit to a three groups in Tambaram. Emmanuel, a CRO was our host. We visited two groups in the city of Tambaram lead by Ushanani and Stellas group Pudhiya Padhai described on the GO webpage. What an energetic group of individuals! For work they buy glass beads, clasps etc up in Deli and string them on wire or string and try to sell them. Sadly they still have trouble doing that, the police will constantly tell them to move on. (I saw that while at the train station, a family of 10 was waiting for the train with all their wares and supplies, my guess is going north to another city to for the festival season to work. A police man was telling the group they needed to move along, the head of the family was polite in explaining that they were waiting for the train, in the end they did have to move from near the station to the far end of the platform to wait for the train, good thing is it was not raining that hard, and they were still under an awning.)

While this group of gypsies still do a lot of traveling, especially now with the busy festival season, they have been living on this plot of land for over 30 years. There are six groups of 20 women in Self Help Groups meeting with GO. I asked the leader and a couple others of Pudhiya Padhai what could be done better. Along with the suggestions to GO directly was the request for a bathroom for the community. Given that there are 120 women I can estimate by what I saw that there are 300 to 500 men, women, and children living there in a forest between rice fields. That is 300 to 500 people without good bathroom facilities. WOW, this pulls at my heart, but I have no idea where to go, if this pulls at your heart and you know how to help, contact me, we can then work with these self help groups to provide for the whole community.

Thank You,

*Nalini and Nancy's first bible study occurred last Thursday, they had one guest, but the three of them felt that it was very productive. There is hopes for a couple more individuals coming once school is back in session (it is also quarter break right now so many schools will start up again next week after two weeks off.) Pray that it continues to grow and the right people come to learn more.

As usual more pictures will soon be at our website.

**This gives me a quick segway into my background, I am a mechanical Engineer with a specialty in product design, and to sum everything product Engineers do is that if they do their job correctly you use the machine they design without even a thought, but if we did poorly you think and know it. How odd but true that the better I do my job the less I will be thought of for doing it, and how true that is for so many other jobs.

I am proud to announce that Joel Bezaire who daily hosts the popular Crummy Church Signs website has released a book of the best signs called 'Crummy Church Signs Volume 1 (2004 - 2007).' You can order your copy at Many people from around the world send Joel their pictures and comments of the changeable signs found so often in front of churches. This book includes pictures of some of the worst church signs you'll ever see (poor grammar, bad theology, silly jokes, etc) along with the author's hilarious commentary! The best thing is that Nancy and I regularly contribute to Joel, and have content featured in the book.

The author, Joel Bezaire, is also donating ALL of his proceeds to Compassion, a charitable organization that places underprivileged kids with sponsors around the world.

Buy the book! Visit the website!