Saturday 31 July 2010

The birdy dance of Mizoram


The birdy dance of Mizoram, or whatever it is called. This is the Don Bosco house at Seling. In the photos is also Alphonse from Burma, who happened to be passing through.

On a Goa beach


On some beach in Goa... Olayinka, Avinash perhaps, Valu, Amish, Vishesh. Don't miss the faces ...

House warming, Pilerne


Julian and Delphine's house warming, Pilerne. 4 December 2004 perhaps.
L-R: Nimish, Delphine, Julian, Vishesh, Dad, Avinash, Mum, Amish, Ivo, Annu, Valu. Right in front: Shaheen.

I love the faces... and the sizes (quite different now).

Long ago in Tuem...


Another file photo - probably from 1994, just after I had returned from Rome - taken outside the little house and chapel (the 'down' chapel) at Tuem, where the Salesians first began their presence. In the photo, L-R: Ivo, Olayinka, Nadisha, Nimish (yes!), and Vidya (oh yes!)....

The ravages of time...

Roma 60 in Albania


From the Roma 60 trip to Albania - the campo lavoro - way back in ... 1993? Wonderful experience.
top photo L-R: x, Andrea Manieri, Alessandro dell'Otto, x, x, Fabio Ricci? Front row L-R: Andrea Giuliani, x, Luca Cosentini.
Lower photo: certainly Claudia standing... can't place the others.

Gracy's wedding


Wedding of cousin Grace Fernandes and John Dias. L-R: ??, Margaret Fernandes, John Dias, Grace Dias, Francis Cardoz, Rosy Fernandes, and Annie Matilda Coelho. Can anyone fill the missing name?

Waddy's Prodigal Son at Divyadaan

Divyadaan stages Lawrence Waddy's The Prodigal Son tonight and tomorrow night. I forget who it was who first wrote and got five of Waddy's plays years ago, I think when we were in Pune. I think it was DBYC / Divyadaan Pune who first staged it out here, and I remember directing the play... with Tony Coutinho as the Prodigal Son, Nelson Falcao as the father, Neville as the devil, and I forget whether it was Leslie or someone else as the narrator. The music was done live, of course. Kenneth Pereira had arranged the parts. Sometime later it was recorded. But there was also Peter Gonsalves' very different, livelier version done in Lonavla about the same year. The next year, when Peter and others had moved to Pune, and Maschio or someone else was visiting, we sort of put the two versions together and had an impromptu show, with Longinus Nazareth doing the role of the Father (he was an excellent singer), Leslie certainly as narrator (another great singer), and so on. I think it came very well for the short practice that we put in.

Anyway, all the best to the Divyadaan brothers as they perform this evening and tomorrow!

Sea of Poppies

Have begun reading Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies. Ghosh is interesting, as always. He has a great deal of very detailed knowledge of British India of the opium (afeem) days, and the pidgin that the Brits spoke sounds amazing. Right now we are on the Gangetic plain, which, it appears, was fully of opium plantations, and in Calcutta.

Duggy told me that cuscus or couscous is actually simply poppy seeds. It seems it used to be such a common ingredient in Indian cooking, being used to thicken curries and gravies, but now it is expensive, perhaps something like Rs 3000 a kilo.

Friday 30 July 2010

Pune University Seminar on the Khristapurana

Nelson Falcao has just returned from a visit to Pune University. The University is planning a two-day seminar on the Khristapurana, some time in October 2010. Short notice, but there it is, and a good initiative, coming from a secular university. The University has thought of some speakers, and Nelson has been asked to find others. I suggested Prof. Tadkodkar, HoD Marathi of the Goa University. It is possible that Goa University also organizes a similar seminar.

Themes from Zorba

Many of the themes from Zorba the Greek sound familiar. Things like: he was a man; he decided to quit smoking, and he did it just like that. One day he was smoking, the other day he was not. And he never touched a pipe again. And: the only way to get rid of this demon is to give in to it. You feel like eating? Eat till it comes out of your ears; then you are cured. (Though Zorba also adds that he is never somehow cured of women...) There is a clear exaltation of sex over love - that way of putting it sounds crude; on Zorba's lips, it becomes the throbbing glory of life, of nature, and so on. And there is God - but, as Zorba says, God - devil, they are all one and the same. And the monks get it tight. Anyone familiar with Rajneesh / Osho and Tony De Mello might recognize these themes. They are now the heritage of New Age perhaps?

Not that everything about Zorba and New Age is wrong, of course. There are elements of great beauty in the novel: the appreciation of the joys of nature, the simplicity of beauty, the naturalness and disaffectedness of the man...

Interestingly, while the novel puts Zorba and the Buddha in a dialectical opposition, Osho had combined the two: he had a Zorba the Buddha Hall, if I remember right, in Koregaon Park.

Wednesday 28 July 2010

Could sloth be a Salesian vice?

Salesians tend to be busy most of the time. Or else, as in the early stages of formation, our lives are so much planned that we never have the time or the leisure to look within.

Eventually we move out of the formation houses. Often this movement is into another type of life that is equally busy, the life of practical trainees. And most of us are happy, the work gives us satisfaction. But there is again no time to look within.

But there does come a time when we have time. This might happen when we move out of practical training into a house like Don Bosco Nashik. Or it might happen when we finish a responsibility that involved particularly hectic activity, and now we have time on our hands.

At this moment, we might experience restlessness. We find it difficult to sit in prayer. We are restless also outside prayer: we find it difficult to sit at a desk, to read for any sufficient length of time. We are easily bored. Sometimes we begin questioning ourselves: what am I doing here? Am I in the right place?

Or else we might simply become aware of a resistance to prayer: I don’t feel like going for that half hour of prayer that I was used to. And I don’t feel like doing some serious spiritual reading either. Or perhaps we become aware that we have never seriously prayed, that we tend to fill our prayer time with reading, or thinking, or whatever. That our retreats have been what they have been: usually roaming around in the open, or chatting with friends. Not unpleasant perhaps, but not earth-shaking either.

At the Lonergan Workshop which I attended recently in Boston, I heard a talk that really impressed me, and which I think has something to say to the experiences I have been talking about above. It was a talk given by a young Lonergan scholar called R.J. Snell, who happens to be an Evangelical Christian, but someone who has, evidently, grappled deeply also with the Catholic tradition, including the Fathers of the Church and Thomas Aquinas.

The talk was about sloth. Sloth is one of the traditional seven deadly sins or capital vices or cardinal sins. Once these sins were familiar to Catholics. Today perhaps they are not. But it is, I realized, worth taking a look at them again. The whole list reads as follows: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony. It might be helpful to have the list in Latin, because there are nuances of meaning that are difficult to capture in English: superbia, avaritia, luxuria, invidia, gula, ira, and acedia. Sloth is a translation of acedia.

I had always thought of sloth as sheer laziness, and had also wondered why it merited classification among the seven deadly sins.

But sloth / acedia is not as simple as it seems. The early monks gave it a great deal of attention. Evagrius of Ponticus, 4th century Egyptian monk, called it the most troublesome of the demonic thoughts. He describes this demon as follows:

... he causes the monk continuously to look at the windows and forces him to step out of his cell and to ... look around, here and there... Moreover, the demon sends him hatred against the place, against life itself, and against the work of his hands.... He stirs the monk also to long for different places in which he can find easily what is necessary for his life and can carry on a much less toilsome and more expedient profession. 

The list of effects is also very interesting and perhaps might strike a bell: sleepiness, sickness, inattentiveness, dissatisfaction, restlessness, wanderlust, hatred for place, frenetic activity, floating from task to task. 

So sloth is not just laziness, but rather a movement of frustration and hate.

Thomas Aquinas develops this further. Acedia is both sadness at the divine good (tristitia de bono divino) and an aversion to acting (taedium operandi). It is resistance / revulsion at communion with God, and hence a revulsion against what we are naturally oriented to – love, joy, happiness in God. God does not make sense, he certainly does not occupy first place in our lives. Communion and friendship with God does not make sense.

Sloth is a refusal to bow to God. It is an inordinate love of freedom. It is resistance to friendship with God because of the burdens of commitment. It is a profound withdrawal into self, an uninhibited seeking of personal satisfaction.

Sloth is also an aversion to acting, to work, but the work in question is good work. So it is simplistic to identify sloth with plain laziness. The slothful are often in fact in a frenzy of action. But this action is not exactly what God wants us to do. (So when a young brother in Divyadaan exalts the apostolate but at the expense of his studies, he is actually being slothful: he is doing what he wants to do, what he likes to do, what he finds pleasure in, what he finds meaningful, but not what God wants him to do, what obedience has assigned him to do. He has put himself up as the criterion of judgment.)

Acedia reveals itself as
ontological boredom. Goodness no longer delights.
We could ask several questions to ourselves in the light of this reflection on sloth.
1. What is my experience of restlessness and boredom telling me? Is it revealing to me my inner emptiness? Is it a call to allow God to be first in my life?
2. What is my experience of resistance to prayer and good reading telling me?
3. More generally: is Salesian over-activity a species of sloth? Is it a manifestation of the emptiness within, of ontological boredom? I would say yes, if the accompanying symptoms are resistance to prayer, dissatisfaction, restlessness, wanderlust, inability to rejoice in the divine good, a profound withdrawal into self, an inordinate love of food, drink, entertainment, pleasure...

So Salesians have to learn to distinguish between work and work. Not work is good work. Not all frenetic activity is good work.
Snell suggests three criteria of good work: respect for the integrity of things; respect for the integrity of systematic emergence; and proper direction. In older and more traditional language: work is good when it finds a place in God's way of thinking, God's kingdom, God's will.

"Martha, Martha, you are worried and anxious about many things. Only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It will not be taken away from her." (Lk 10:41-42) The traditional thinking on sloth is a great commentary on this word of Jesus.


And what can we do about sloth? Becoming aware of the true nature of the demon is already a first important step: the Father of Lies loves to deceive. A second step is to get back to prayer and good reading, even if one does not feel like it: a sustained rhythm of prayer and reading. But perhaps the most important step is to make, renew, one’s surrender to God, and to beg for help. “Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 7:24-25) “We do not know how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit of God prays in us with sighs too deep for words.” (Rom 8:26)

Monday 26 July 2010

Annabai Rohom

Today is the feast of Sts Joachim and Anne, and also Annabai Rohom's feast. Annabai is one of our parishioners, a widow, having lost her husband Daniel some years ago. Annabai and Daniel were childless, so that leaves Annabai quite alone, apart from some relatives at Nashik Road. She cooks for one or two people, and manages to keep herself going. Often, by the end of the month, the funds are low. But Annabai is an extraordinary woman. She understands very little English, but she is faithfully there for the Sunday evening mass in English. She has little or nothing, but there is always a smile on her lips. Yesterday she reminded me that it was her feast. I gave her a little something. This evening she turned up for mass with laddoos and a little packet of chivda. Of such is the kingdom of heaven.

Sunday 25 July 2010

Snell on acedia / sloth

Wonderful paper by R.J. Snell (one of the new group of extremely competent young Lonergan scholars - Snell happens to be an Evangelical Christian with a wonderful openness that matches his competence) at the recent Lonergan Workshop at Boston College on Sloth / Acedia, which is one of the classical seven deadly sins.

I had always thought of sloth as sheer laziness, and had also wondered why it merited classification among the seven deadly sins. Snell clarifies. Sloth / acedia is not as simple as it seems. The early monks gave it a great deal of attention. Evagrius of Ponticus, 4th century Egyptian monk, called it the most troublesome of the demonic thoughts. He describes the demon as follows:
... he causes the monk continuously to look at the windows and forces him to step out of his cell and to ... look around, here and there... Moreover, the demon sends him hatred against the place, against life itself, and against the work of his hands.... He stirs the monk also to long for different places in which he can find easily what is necessary for his life and can carry on a much less toilsome and more expedient profession. 
The effects: sleepiness, sickness, inattentiveness, dissatisfaction, restlessness, wanderlust, hatred for place, frenetic activity, floating from task to task. Snell comments: sloth is not just laziness, but rather a movement of frustration and hate.

Thomas Aquinas develops further. Acedia is both a sadness at the divine good (tristitia de bono divino) and an aversion to acting (taedium operandi). It is resistance / revulsion at communion with God, and hence a revulsion against what we are naturally oriented to - love, joy, happiness in God. It refuses to bow to God, it is an inordinate love of freedom. it is resistance to friendship with God because of the burdens of commitment. It is a profound withdrawal into self, an uninhibited seeking of personal satisfaction.

So sloth does involve aversion to work, but the work in question is good work. It is simplistic to identify sloth with plain laziness. The slothful are often in fact in a frenzy of action. But this is "a culture of total work, of the complete victory of grasping, making, producing, developing, buying and selling." (Snell)

Acedia reveals itself as ontological boredom. Goodness no longer delights.

I am wondering - is Salesian over-activity a species of sloth? Is it a manifestation of the emptiness within, ontological boredom? Yes, if the accompanying symptoms are resistance to prayer, dissatisfaction, restlessness, wanderlust, inability to rejoice in the divine good, a profound withdrawal into self, an inordinate love of food, drink, entertainment, pleasure...

So: "Salesians and Sloth: Distinguishing between Work and Work." Not all that is work is good work. Not all frenetic activity is good work. There is work and work. Snell suggests three criteria of good work: respect for the integrity of things; respect for the integrity of systematic emergence; proper direction. In older and more traditional language: work is good when it finds a place in God's way of thinking, in God's kingdom, in God's will.

"Martha, Martha, you are worried and anxious about many things. Only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It will not be taken away from her." Snell has shown that the traditional thinking on sloth is a great commentary on this word of Jesus.

Friday 23 July 2010

The Cretan countryside...

Reading Zorba the Greek again. It is almost like I haven’t read it properly the first time. Perhaps I haven’t. I was dipping into it here and there. Now it has gripped me, and I find it… fascinating.

To my mind, this Cretan countryside resembled good prose, carefully ordered sober, free from superfluous ornament, powerful and restrained. It had no flippancy, nor artifice about it. it said what it had to say with a many austerity. But between the severe lines one could discern an unexpected sensitiveness and tenderness; in the sheltered hollows the lemon and orange trees perfumed the air, and from the vastness of the sea emanated an inexhaustible poetry.
“Crete,” I murmured. “Crete…” and my heart beat fast. (London: Faber and Faber, 1981, 34)

Sunday 18 July 2010

A wonderful moment...



Stephen Sims. River of Awareness: Seeking the Wisdom of Love. Toronto / Montreal: Novalis, 2009. Pp. 312. ISBN 978-2896461226. Can. $ 21.95.

River of Awareness is one of those books that is a librarian’s despair, simply because it is uncategorizable. Since it was sent to me by Novalis, however, who had earlier sent me Lonergan-related books for review, I presumed that there must be a Lonergan connection. I was not disappointed. The bibliography makes mention not only of Lonergan but also of Doran, Hefling, Gregson, Moore, and Haughton. Chapter 7 indicates that the author has attended a Lonergan Workshop at Boston College. And at various places there is Lonergan-speak: learning, discernment, living genuinely, religious experience as another realm (100-1). This does not, of course, mean that Sims has written a Lonergan book, but simply that he found in Lonergan a kindred spirit, and also perhaps that Lonergan seems to be slowly percolating beyond the scholarly realm into the world of everyday living.
But to speak of River of Awareness simply in terms of Lonergan is to do it injustice. Perhaps it might best be described as a book written by a latter day spiritual pilgrim, quite at home with the many religions of the world, yet not quite New Age, simply because, I think, he refuses to disavow his Christian upbringing and tradition. And not quite postmodern either, because the author dares to speak of a longing for love that resonates throughout the universe (shades of Lonergan once again), calling us on a journey of self-discovery and a response of self-giving.
Sims has certainly marched to the sound of a different drum. He has had the courage to give up a good job and launch into the unknown. He has been a volunteer in North India. He returned to his own country to spend his life reaching out in compassion to the elderly, the homeless, the addicted, those in prison. He is a man who is deeply in love with nature and at home in its midst, as is evident even from the title of his book, where the river become a metaphor for the journey of life. He is the founder of IASIS, “an awareness education project that tries to awaken positive potential by nurturing physical wellness, emotional wisdom, and spiritual balance.”
The book contains nuggets of great beauty: the futility of attempting to change the other, for non-acceptance only leads resistance (25); learning to eddy in and out as in white water rafting, for resisting only leads to capsizing and bruises and broken bones (21); the discovery that there are no nesting places, only resting places (35); depression as an indication that the body and the psyche are not pleased with choices that have been made (51); and so on.
River of Awareness is a book that has emerged out of living experience and that in the very concreteness of its experience reaches out and touches and becomes universal. There does seem to be common ground, after all, despite postmodern disavowal. Dipping into the book, I found myself reliving the past: the passionate enthusiasm of youth, the struggle to reconcile the experience of beauty with that of poverty, the emergence of personal demons, the painful journey of awareness and acceptance and reconciliation with oneself, with others, with God.
I found Sims’ experience of communion with a Buddhist monk especially touching:

In Sikkim... I had climbed to close to 3,000 metres, where I encountered a Buddhist hermit monk in his small temple hut. Again, some lost part of me awakened in this meeting, and I felt an inexplicable kinship to this silent watcher over the world. As I sat on a high ledge and breathed in the thin mountain air, my eyes beheld the full beauty of the Himalayan range of mountain peaks, then lifted to the heavens beyond. I experienced a deep sense of interconnectedness with the lone monk and with the entire earth. In that prayerful moment, I felt profoundly in love with the whole world. (274-5)

My mind went back to a similarly wonderful moment in a lovely little monastery on a hill outside the town of Thibaw in northern Burma. It was sunset time, and there was a lone Buddhist monk on a rickety armchair sitting and contemplating the sunset. I wanted to speak to him but did not. It was not necessary, I understand now. There was an “inexplicable kinship” and an enveloping sense of peace.
      Sims’ book is a celebration of the sacramentality of experiences. I recommend it warmly to everyone.

Ivo Coelho, SDB
Review published in Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 21/2 (2010)
Photo (by Ivo Coelho): Buddhist monastery overlooking Thibaw, North Burma

Saturday 17 July 2010

Son of God

Neat argument that I heard yesterday at the SCC prayer meeting at Claude's place. Someone was reporting a Muslim convert at Potta. Can God have a Son? The usual Muslim answer is No, because then God would have to have a wife, and then the oneness of God is lost. The convert then asks: Does God have eyes? The answer is no. Then: Can God see? and the answer is, Of course. So if he can see without having eyes, why can't he have a Son without having a wife?

I thought of my Pakistani friend who I met on the tram in Rome all those years ago. Peace be upon him, wherever he is.

Sula's Rasa

I hate to give publicity to Sula, but I can't help this: Claude Noronha told me yesterday that Sula has produced what is certainly the best wine for now in India. It is named Rasa, and is elegantly bottled. Can't tell you yet about the taste.

Some months ago Claude had told me that the best wine in India was Chateau D'Ori... Steep at Rs 650.00 a bottle.

Friday 16 July 2010

Hezekiah

This morning's first reading (of the day, not of the optional memoria of OL of Mt Carmel) was about Hezekiah's illness and his prayer and his cure.

Strangely, for some reason, the memory of an accident of long ago had flashed into my mind. We were returning from a picnic to Baneshwar, we were on the highway which was at that time very narrow, with bad shoulders, and we were cycling. I don't think my cycling was very good. There were the Goa buses speeding along the highway to Pune (they still do, that has not changed). Suddenly my front wheel touched a bus and snapped back. I was stunned, but I found myself still on my cycle. But the front wheel had taken the brunt. How we got back to Pune, I don't remember. But I was thinking this morning: that could have been fatal. God had added years to my life.

Naturally I thought then of the Romulo accident on the way to Trasi....

Strangely, again, today happens to be the day of Ian's installation as the second provincial of the Konkan province. Prayers for Ian and for the province, and for Loddy the outgoing provincial.

Baneshwar: what memories. Of Felix sleeping on the grass, and the centipede going into his ear. Of Felix dancing the Tarantula every time the hundred legs moved in his ear. Of taking Felix to the local doctor who could see two prongs sticking out of the ear, and was nervous himself. Of how the centipede helpfully jumped out the moment the doctor's tweezers touched it....

Of the Kamar Ali Darvesh Darga nearby, and of Thomas the sceptic. Thomas who was the great believer of the community, turned totally sceptical when he saw the round stone: 11 of you had to put a finger each under the stone, you had to shout "Kamar Ali Darvesh", and lift, and the stone would come effortlessly up. Thomas the sceptic organized a group of 10 and made them shout "Don Bosco ki jay" and the stone came up all the same. Those were more tolerant times, luckily, and we escaped without being stoned....

Thursday 15 July 2010

Orange blossoms

Ploughing through Zorba the Greek.

Why is it that orange- and lemon-blossoms move me so? I have nothing to do with them, except that I have seen them on Capri, and I cannot forget the scent of orange...

The Mediterranean: blue skies, blue waters, white-washed houses, little pebbly beaches. Glorious, gorgeous part of God's creation.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

The Salesian character of our formal educational institutions

Reading the Rector Major's letter on Youth Ministry, and some of the comments there, I cannot help remembering what was said by one of the Brazilian provincials to me during the last General Chapter. Our impression, he said, is that while India is growing in numbers and strength, the Salesian quality of the confreres is not so clear.

The Rector Major: "... the IUS have not only grown numerically ... but especially they are consolidating and growing in quality, in particular those in America and Europe."

The point is to ensure the Salesian character of the IUS. The means is (1) the formation of the personnel, both Salesian and lay; and (2) the drawing up (by Salesians and laity) of the Navigational Chart, which is supposed to ensure the Salesian identity.

In a sense, this process is easier when one can take for granted that the majority of collaborators are Catholic. But then, that is our challenge.

I am aware that, with the help mainly of Peter Gonsalves, Kurla has drawn up an online course for teachers in Salesian IUS and schools, similar perhaps to the IUS Virtual Course (CVI). That is already a step forward. What is the impact of this course, remains to be studied. Has anyone anywhere attempted to draw up a SEPP together with the lay collaborators? I am not so sure. (We here in Nashik should perhaps try it, given that most of our teachers have done the virtual course available at http://donboscoway.dbit.in.)

Rhapsody in Pink



United colours of Bhavatton.

Don't miss the dormitory....

Monday 12 July 2010

"The limited formation of (youth) animators"

I was struck by a sentence in the letter of the Rector Major on Youth Ministry: after GC23 (on the Salesian educative pastoral project) a number of provinces set out to put the directives about education to the faith into practice. "But often the very limited formation of the animators made these plans quite ineffective." (AGC 407:11)

Formation of [youth] animators: perhaps our province needs to invest in this important and still fuzzy area?

For a start: simply someone who knows - in and out - the journey of the congregation on the matter? And of course it would help if this someone could have hands on experience of youth ministry in at least a couple of settings - say one formal (e.g. school) and another informal (e.g. parish youth group). (I am trying my best to avoid the temptation - endemic in INB - to associate 'youth ministry' with 'youth groups' or 'animation of college going youth, preferably urban and English-speaking).

Can't help remembering that even GC26 found it so difficult to come up with candidates for the post of General Councillor for Youth Ministry....

Perils of top-down thinking and generalizing

I think we must be careful of top-down thinking and excessive generalizing even in our most practical moments. I am trying to reflect on the tendency we have these days of thinking of higher education in this top-down way and in an excessively generalized way. I think it is clear that higher education has come to stay in the Salesian Congregation. But it is, at least to me, also clear that, like all our other ministries, it arises from the needs of young people, most especially those who are poor. That is how university education initiatives arose in the congregation: in the North-East, where our Catholic youth needed colleges; in large parts of Central and South America, where governments themselves had not got round to providing university level education to young people. In these situations creative and bold individuals thought of taking the plunge into university education.

Generalizing that and calling for all formal schools to upgrade? I am not so sure that that is how we should proceed. Yes, of course, if there is no other agency providing the facility. Yes, if there is some particular special facility that we are providing, such as special access to the underprivileged. But not: let us all now go in for higher education.

Then of course the whole problem of ensuring the Salesian character of these places. Here I think is the great challenge. In the United States, Catholic universities have been grappling long and hard with their 'Catholic character', with people taking positions on both sides of the spectrum - those who would defend a narrow and rigid understanding of Catholic identity, and those who would simply have nothing to do with Catholic identity. Here in India, we have not yet begun debating seriously on the matter. A start would be to follow the American debate.

Tuesday 6 July 2010

I Hate Luv Storys

Community outing last night - after very long, really. I Hate Luv Storys. Wonderfully entertaining. Imran is really good, extremely lively, and fun. The new girl, Sonam Kapoor, Anil Kapoor's daughter, was wonderful too: sweet, lovely smile, and strong too... Great fun. Bollywood is really making strides. What is it that draws in a movie like this, where the perfect guy loses out to the badmaash. I guess it is the liveliness and the imperfection and the humanity of the badmaash that rings a bell, strikes a chord...??

Sunday 4 July 2010

Kal ho naa ho

Mother Marchetti was watching Kal ho naa ho, so I came back and did the same. It is always a treat to watch Shah Rukh Khan romancing... Preity Zinta this time. And with Saif Ali Khan in the middle. And perhaps it was the fact of watching Times Square and Union Square or whatever and the New York skyline once again, barely a week later, this time in a movie...

Complicated story, but the upshot is this: Shah Rukh loves Preity, but has only a few months to live. So he gets her to fall in love with Saif, who also loves Preity. When Preity finds out, she is mad. But in the end she realizes that Shah Rukh loves her so much, that he wants to make sure she is loved even when he is gone... The eternity of love.

Lovely also that the two mothers can understand what their children are going through. Preity's mother Jaya Bhaduri Bacchan stands by her, and Shah Rukh's mother stands by him.... I was wondering why more real life parents cannot understand and stand by their children. Okay, they fall in love, and there is the fear that they might make a mess of their lives. But... demonic, dictatorial control? I don't know. Maybe I am a sucker, maybe they are taking me for a ride, but... what the hell. Its their life. I can only walk with them. My privilege to walk with them, and to be there for them when they need me.

Set me like a seal on your heart,
like a seal on your arm.
For love is stronger than death,
even stronger than hell.
The flash of it is a flash of fire,
a flame of Yahweh himself.

Friday 2 July 2010

Vianney Castelino

Vianney Castelino, my sister-in-law Anna's brother, died very suddenly in Singapore two weeks ago. He was barely 58, and used to be a few years ahead of me at St Joseph's Wadala.

Vianney was probably one of the most successful Catholic businessmen in Mumbai. He was certainly one of the most generous. He worked very hard (he liked to join the workers, and used to be usually found in overalls; he was, in fact, buried in overalls), made a lot of money, and gave away tons of it. His generosity was something fantastic and unbelievable.

The Salesians of the Mumbai and Hyderabad provinces have benefited from his generosity, with gifts of land in Jamnagar and Kakinada.

I missed the funeral since I was away, but I was told that it was really very grand, a funeral fit for a king, in Sr Aruna's words. Some came from as far away as Italy and China; several colleagues and companions came from Singapore and from different parts of India. Not only colleagues, but there were also workers and friends.

Vianney came across as a hard-nosed businessman with a reputation for straight talk, but he had a soft heart and was easily moved. He was very attached to the Church, rising every day at 4.00 a.m., going for his walk and then for mass.

He leaves behind his wife and two kids, apart from his dad, to whom he was very close, and brothers, sisters and their families.

RIP, Vianney. I cannot but think you were ready, that when He called, you went unfrightened.

When he calls

Traditional prayer at the conclusion of the Lonergan Workshop, taken from the Scottish Book of Common Prayer.

May he give us
    all the courage that we need
         to go the way he shepherds us.
That when he calls,
    we may go unfrightened.
If he bids us come to him
    across the waters,
        that unfrightened we may go.
And if he bids us climb the hill,
    may we not notice that it is a hill,
        mindful only of
            the happiness of his company.
He made us for himself, 
    that we should travel with him
        and see him at the last
            in his unveiled beauty
        in the abiding city where
        he is light
            and happiness
                and endless home.
                      amen.

Joe B at the UN


Intense discussions at the United Nations....

Relaxing at Union Square


Relaxing at Union Square... Never thought we had to learn how to relax from the Americans!

Ford Foundation garden



Wonderful garden in the Ford Foundation building near the UN in New York. Totally sustained by rainfall and condensation.

Gandhi in New York



And this is a statue of Gandhi at Union Square, New York... Quiet corner, and the statue is often missed by people. After we took photos, quite a number of others followed suit.

NY skyline...


Had to put this up - the New York skyline without the two towers... as seen from the ferry going to Governor's Island. Ground Zero is probably a sight better than it was some years ago, but still not settled. The new construction has just come out of the ground. There is also going to be a park, I think.

Featured post

Rupnik, “E se l’evangelizzazione chiedesse una novità nella vita consacrata?” English summary

“EVANGELIZATION – DOES IT CALL FOR SOMETHING NEW FROM CONSECRATED LIFE?” MARKO RUPNIK, SJ “E se l’evangelizzazione chiedesse una novit...