Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Helen Mulcrow

We were surprisingly awoken at 5.15am by loud Indian music, on further inspection we realized this was the wake-up call for sunrise- several loud speakers outside of the hotel. Rae and I jumped out of bed and eagerly awaited sunrise, passing the time watching locals brushing their teeth down below us, one woman did this for half an hour! After a beautiful sunrise we went straight back to sleep before checking out of the hotel and meeting the rest of the now depleted Team 63 for breakfast.

Well fed, we walked down to the pier to catch a boat over to Swami Vivekananda Rock Memorial. This grand tribute is on one of twin rocks about 200 meters offshore. Before he went abroad as a leading religious crusader of India, Swami Vivekananda came down to Kanyakumari in 1892 and sat on the rock in meditation for a couple of days. The memorial was built in 1970. Our favorite thing was the beautiful carvings inside which were white designs on shiny black stone – Larry wisely informs me you call this ‘black temple stone’. Then we took the same rickety old boat over to the Thiruvalluvar Statue, installed by the Tamil Nadu government in memory of the famous writer. Rae got a great shot of his toe from the viewing platform!

Back on dry land we headed to the actual tip of India and dipped our toes in the water. The three seas, the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, meet here and bathing in their confluence is considered holy. Then we crossed through the markets to the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial. Larry and Rae both generously paid the watchman for the same piece of information- the memorial was designed so that on the 2nd October, Gandhi’s birthday, the sun’s rays come through the roof and fall on the spot where his ashes were placed for the public to see them before immersion.

Hot and exhausted, it was time for another good lunch followed by the choice of refreshments in the hotel bar or shopping. Marge and Peter hit the shops, each buying an item of women’s clothing! After a quick wash and change for some, we made our way to the station for our 5.15 departure. Once aboard, we are like old pros at this now, we settled in and had our usual 7 o’clock dinner of crisps, biscuits and bananas. Marge got the shock of her life when leaving the toilet- a train food seller belched so loudly in her face that Rae heard it in the next carriage. It was decided that he had been sampling too many of his own produce.

As we all climbed into our bunks to sleep, thoughts turned to our final week, sadly we will embark on it without Eula, Birgit and Jenifer. A new special team of volunteers awaits us at Porur, hopefully they will be new friends before the week is out.

Quote for the day

Thou hast made me known to friends whom I knew not. Thou hast given me seats in homes not my own. Thou hast brought the distant near and made a brother of a stranger.

Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali

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