For the past four weeks I have been out of the loop when it comes to my normal daily routine in my home town of Southend-on-Sea.
I have been on the other side of the world in “God’s own country” (Kerala, India), a place of amazing contrasts. For much of the time I have been away from the Internet and have not had much by way of access to world and local events. On balance, I feel I have gained more than I lost, although I can’t pretend not to be interested in finding out what has happened whilst away. I left just after the shock EU Referendum result, and just as our flight was about to leave, another shock – England losing against Iceland in the European football championship. Now I am curious to learn of latest developments. It never ceases to amaze me, however little in the thick of things one might be, life goes on anyway! As often is the case, it is good to recharge batteries and take stock on what matters.
Regarding my India visits, these are a regular occurrence and if I could I would like to spend more time there. Besides not wanting to bore people with my holiday tales, a lot of my observations from earlier visits have already been written about. The days of my gallivanting around India as a backpacker are now long gone and these days I am content to spend most of my time in our family home just outside Trivandrum city, where my main exertion is playing the odd game of badminton in the front courtyard with my son, who these days consistently beats me. While I have long been involved with preaching and compassion ministries, this time the main aim was to rest, although through the networks I have built up it was good to keep in touch with what is going on.
It was also a time to catch up with family on my wife’s side, of which there are many. Going to two family engagements helped when it came to catching up. And then there was meeting with assorted friends, many I have got to know over many years. I should add, I fell in love with India, a land I see as one of real contrasts, on my first of many visits, in 1983 It was then I met my Indian girl and we fell in love. India has among its over one billion inhabitants some amazing people, for it is an amazing country (reading “Wings of Fire”, the autobiography of its recent President, a man of humble origins but also a distinguished scientist that had led India’s rocket program, on my flight home merely confirms that, so when it comes to an lack of home comforts, dirt, rubbish, run down buildings, corruption, homeless dogs, dodgy roads and regular power cuts, it barely notices these days for there is much to compensate. My India love affair continues and I trust will continue until my dying day.
For those ofay with Indian weather might know, this was the monsoon season and compared with the winter months (December to February) this is not considered the best time to visit. But we had little choice and taking off most of July worked best for family (me, wife and son). Flights were okayish and non eventful and so was travelling in long accustomed to Indian conditions. As it happened, the weather except for a few sharp showers was great and I was able to spend some time at my favorite location – on top of the roof of my house where the only thing I could see is the tops of palm trees. As for activities, I spent most of my time doing serious reading and writing a book and by way of lightish relief watching certain video footage (see my blog on the subject) and drinking lots of tea.
Altogether an agreeable experience, doing what I wanted away from disturbances, being waited on etc., not having much by way of responsibilities I need to discharge, besides human interaction. The main things I missed were English breakfasts and roasts (unlike my wife and son, I am not a great fan of local food – although kind people still managed to spoil me and my weight loss aspirations were thwarted) and our cats, although I couldn’t help but reflect on all the things I might re-engage with after I return. I could have happily extended my time away, but needs must and it is back to the fray refreshed, hopefully, as a better and wiser person, better able to carry out my responsibilities and making a difference.
India will always retain a place in my heart and my wanting to give something back to this great country, particularly by sharing friendship and somehow encouraging those who serve the people, is as great as ever. India is a wonderful country, with some wonderful people living there, whatever the flaws – some I am proud to call friends. But right now, I am catching up on what has gone on whilst away. The cats are fine and I have enjoyed my bacon and eggs. Normal life, whatever that is, now beckons! I look forward to publishing the book I wrote while away and adding to my blog. I hope now to continue what I was doing before going away!