Friday, 6 September 2013

Multiply India Visit Day Three, 5 Sept

Ah, the tropical sunrise- so predictable.  I awoke as sunlight broke through our bedroom curtain.  Hmmm.  About 6.10." I guessed.  After a quarter of an hour's snooze, I squinted at the full daylight and our clock: 6.28.  The Noah's Inn staff brought in breakfast of omlette and bread-and-jam long before the other guys roused.

Some time later, Sam, our driver appeared.  We dodged motorbikes and random cows, and endured the endless sleeping policemen to arrive at Daniel E's church.  Then on into Bangalore centre, while Daniel G followed by auto-rickshaw with two conference delegates form Andhra Pradesh.  We circled the main bus station and then the main railway station.  I excitedly blurted to Sam, "I can't believe this.  We're going out in one of these coaches!" 

But I was wrong.  The correct version of the change of programme was, "We'll go to one of the outlying works in the slums", not the villages.  As Betty had explained this last night - at the top of her voice, to overcome the clatter from the large emergency diesel generator in the Indian Oil filling station right next to the church apartment.   

We threaded through the narrow path between the cramped and crammed-in regular concrete homes - each about four to five metres square.  Pigs, chickens, stray dogs, and assorted-aged playing children added to the movement and life.  A stinking pile of burning rubbish provided a subtle fragrance. 

I heard the sound of the PA before I saw the church, and thought it was an outdoor gathering.  But no, "Mind your head, Pastor", as I ducked in through a door.  Seemingly we'd arrived just in time for the opening prayers.  Everyone was kneeling on floor mats, as the only chairs were arranged atthe front for 'important people'.  It was just one of the regular living 'units', taken over.  Two fans whirred ferociously overhead, swinging from the scaffold pole that formed the roof truss.

I wasn't quite sure who was leading the affair, but a succession of brothers led a song or orated a prayer.  The PA was on full reverb, which meant we heard the end of every phrase three times where
they paused to draw breath.  Xmas tinsel decorated the roof and a large red cross was painted on the wall behind the full-on stage and lectern.  I'd jammed myself on the floor in a corner and tucked my chin  into my knees.  Slowly I realised that a natural segregation had occurred with men on the left and women plus infants on the right. 

It was great to simply be part of the atmosphere.  I did some thoughtful praying.  Steve raised his hands in worship and nearly lost his fingers in the fan.  But that wasn't going to last long, of course.  We were far too much celebrities to be passed over without saying something.  We were introduced as 'uncles' of various significance.  That is, except Nathan, who'd caught the attention of some scallywag, and had a guided tour of the whole township.  (I later learnt it's called Majestic, when I saw Mejastic on the local bus destination.)

We praised and sang under the increasing temperature and size of congregation (51, I counted, i.e. four people per square metre).  Daniel G shared a lovely story about a lady in his previous church who loved her two cows more than her (drunkard) husband.  We prayed for everybody (some several times, I estimate), and retired to another home for some fiery curry.  Nathan turned to me: "I left the video camera with the lad who was playing the drum.  It'll be alright, I s'ppose?"

We made a quick dash home to pick up all the kit for the evening concert.  Nathan had sussed out a friendly music store and was plundering their quality kit (not usually for hire), and inviting the staff to "come on down".  Quite a spectacle awaited us.  A colourful embroidered awning filled the space next to the church, and robust looking young people were milling around.

Set-up was a nightmare.  We hadn't got enough plugs, Daniel E had to dash out to hire a screen, and the couldn't see the words.  But we were underway just and hour and a half after the advertised time, and nobody seemed to mind.  Soon the 80 or so in at the start were 'leaning' jumping up and down and generally animated.  Sam gave his testimony, and the atmosphere was gripped, attentive and tender.  We prayed for lots of folks. 

Then they piled outside for (guess what) curry, while Steve engaged the youth leader and his wife in a great conversation.  It turned out that the cool young man, Ram, who'd efficiently taken charge of the music desk, was from the shop, at his first time in a church.  He'd loved it, and went off with  Sam and Nathan to show them round the town.

We were back home later than the night before.  But the Hotel wifi was working and Steve and 'caught up with stuff'.  Then, pretty late, the doorbell rang, and in walked Sam our driver and Daniel E's wife Betty.  She'd brought us each djipan (TBC).  This called for photos. 

Our morning lift will be 10.00am for the conference advertised to start at 9.00; but that seems okay.

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