Tuesday 29 July 2014

Held up in transit

Stuck at New Delhi, in Centaur Hotel near the airport. After cancelling the Israel trip because Royal Jordanian was not flying into Tel Aviv, I booked a flight to Rome on Air India. The domestic leg was at 1000 from the domestic terminal 1A in Mumbai. All on schedule, till, as we were boarding, they announced that the flight would be diverted via Pune. The problem was that some Pune flight had force landed in Mumbai, there was a whole planeload of passengers, and we for Delhi were probably very few. So Air India sacrificed us and gave priority to the Pune passengers. We landed in Delhi towards 1500 hrs - we were supposed to land at 1210 or so. My flight to Rome was at 1420. We were met kindly by a ground staff, taken to the transfers desk, told that our flights had departed, and that we would be put up at a hotel near the airport. I was given my boarding pass for the next day, same time, same flight. So that is how I find myself at the Centaur Hotel. Quite a rundown place, not running to full capacity, but after the initial disorientation, I find myself okay and even well. A bit of national integration, with Lucas Lopes from Nanbhat, Vasai and a Punjabi Sikh woman who I thought was older than me, but who turned out to be a whole year younger. Apart from the rundown look of the place and the rooms, the dinner buffet was not bad, and I slept rather well. The WiFi in the lobby is of course a great bonus, though I wonder why it's not available in the rooms.

All said and done, not a great problem when compared to the real problems of people, in the Middle East, in Ukraine, in so many troubled places in the world....

Lucas says he is quite used to this, and his family is not even surprised. The man works hard: 12-13 hours standing as a chef in an Indian vegetarian restaurant in Sydney, Dosa Plaza (there was something called Dosa Diner in the little snatch of Hum Tum that I caught on the long flight from Mumbai). He says he has not yet located a convenient Catholic church. He hopes to take his wife and kid over for a while, but I guess he would have to find friends and family to be of support. Lucas was also telling me how Fr Robin, his parish priest in Nanbhat, has become a man of intense prayer. Recently a Gujarati family saw the face of Jesus on the veil of the tabernacle, and then everyone who came to church saw it too, many have taken photos, and the image remained till a woman who was doubting came and touched the veil. I don't know what to make of this; but, as ever, if people's hearts are touched, that is always the important thing and the criterion.

The Punjabi woman lives in Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, rises at 0300 every morning, goes down to the gurudwara to pray and to help in the langar, and then in the evenings prays again with others, perhaps in her flat. Total vegetarian, though Sikhs are not necessarily veg. The usual questions were asked. I told her I was a priest. She asked whether I was non-veg. I said yes. I added: but so was Bhagavan Yesu. She did not know what to make of that. He taught us that it is love that is important: love for bhagavan, love for insaan. That she seemed to understand and accept, even very well. The vegetarianism remains a sticking point in India, though.

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