In less than three months we will be embarking on our pilgrimage “One Heart and One Soul”. Preparation is the key factor as we start out on any journey. With that in mind, I will be issuing periodic newsletters giving you a close insight into what to expect when we finally touchdown in India. Those of you who have done previous pilgrimages with me will be familiar with these newsletters.
We will be flying into Kolkata from Sydney. The recorded history of Kolkata or Calcutta as it was formerly known started in 1690 when Job Charnock established the East India Company. That was the start of the mighty British Empire in India. It was the capital of British India from 1772 to 1911. In fact parts of Calcutta resemble London with its Victorian and Georgian architecture and cobbled streets.
Do not be put off by the dense population, pollution and squalor of Kolkata. It is a city with a soul; perhaps this is what drew Mother Teresa to Kolkata to establish her homes. Paradoxically, Dominic Lapierre based his novel “City of Joy” on one of the slums of Calcutta; Anandnagar (City Of Joy) – despite all the hardships in this world, life is still worth living.
My family had a personal connection with Mother Teresa whilst in India. In the 60s, my mother ran a kindergarten school at home. We lived not far from where Mother Teresa set up one of her orphanages attached to the local church. Every month of May, Mother Teresa would visit us and advise my mother of the number of children she would be enrolling in the kindergarten the following school year.
On the second day of our stay in Kolkata, we start the day with Mass at St. Teresa of Kolkata’s Tomb. Fr Joe Pereira will be flying from Mumbai to say this mass and he will then takes us to visit some of her homes. Fr Joe worked closely with Mother Teresa and in fact they established some homes together.
In the evening, we will be visiting the home of a local Bengali family for dinner – a great opportunity to interact with the locals, to exchange ideas and learn more about the Bengali culture.
What a way to kick start this tour! Until my next “One Heart and One Soul” instalment…