RETURN TO BEHALA
In July my wife Lynne and I visited the Oxford Mission at Behala. For me it was a return - I had been previously in 2003: for Lynne it was her first time, and indeed her first visit to India. Ever since my first visit to OM, Lynne had made me promise we would one day visit together. I had told her all about the wonderful work the staff are doing, and had shown her photographs of the boys.
It being July we were not sure how the weather would behave, but when we arrived the sun was shining. It was a Saturday so there was a cricket match under way. As we entered the compound Arijeet was there to meet us; it was so good to see him again, and he had not changed a bit. After spending some time getting up to date with events since my last visit, we were given a tour of the Mission. I was so pleased to see the new showers, but a little disappointed not to see the boys in the Pinn School which is now closed. This was soon forgotten with the time we spent with all the boys at the Mission that day, and especially with the little boys in St. Nicks. We enjoyed the most wonderful day.
One of the memorable parts of our visit for Lynne was spending some time listening to the boys playing music in the Band Room. She was so excited when Arijeet invited her back on the Monday for a second visit, whilst I took the train to Jamshedpur to make a business call.
We both shared a most memorable time, and we have pledged to return just as soon as we can. We had hoped to complete our visit by attending the service on the Sunday at St. Thomass Church so that we could meet up with James and Lallita Stevens (James comes from my town, Gloucester, and on two previous visits I have managed to meet him). Sadly we were unable to do this, but I hope I will get to see them again before James takes his retirement.
On 26 July we left Kolkata bound for Mumbai, but we never got there that day because of the terrible rains. Our plane eventually touched down in Nagpur, there was nowhere else to go. There we spent two days in a small hotel where we made many new friends. We eventually flew on to Mumbai only to be marooned once again in a hotel, this time for three days before we eventually flew to Dubai. This small inconvenience was nothing of course compared to the terrible suffering of the people of Mumbai and surrounding areas during that time, and all the while we had the wonderful memories of our visit to the Oxford Mission to keep us cheerful.
LYNNE AND MALCOLM TRIGG