The very southern tip of India, dubbed, land’s end, is where I am now attempting to arrange for my own solo volunteer teaching gig. The very first day was spent walking around to see the various monuments here. It was about a six-7 hour train ride to get here. This photo is one of the local mountains I saw shortly before arriving at the end of the line – Kanyakumari. The photo below is a monument commemorating where Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes we’re strewn. This next monument commemorates where Swami Vivekananda swam across a channel to one of the off-shore rock islands and meditated, after having wandered all over India to learn and discover what he could about the Indian people, their lives, and problems. I was very moved to read the passages attributed to him, and his inspiring leadership on behalf of the poor, the inhumanity of the caste system, and the true function of education. I’m glad I visited the center in town which is a self-contained intentional community based on his teachings. This gave me a context for why he’s so revered.
So, my very first full day here, I walked all over the area, and had just come out of the Gandhi memorial when I was approached by two college students, wearing student ID badges, asking if I’d be willing to fill out a questionnaire about the tourism facilities and services for a class project they were doing. “sure,” I replied. Well, that response, and the conversation that transpired subsequently was a fateful occurrence. One of the students, Rahul, spoke the best English of anyone I’ve run across in town, including my 3-star hotel. He enthusiastically embraced my desire to find a local school in which to volunteer. His sister is a teacher, and his cousin and her husband are head Mistress and Principal in his village about a 30 minute drive from Kanyakumari. He promised to contact them on my behalf and see what he could arrange for me. This was Friday early evening, and I had to break-off and walk back up the hill, as he sun had set and it was darkening. Rahul came through as a wonderful ally, and by Monday morning both he an Cannan, the fellow-student accompanied me to the school where within an hour I was heartily received by faculty and students like royalty! After visiting two classes, I was received in Rahul’s parent’s home and treated to lunch there. It was my best day in India!
Rahul’s mother was beside herself, having me visit. She kept gently holding my face in her hands and beaming and giggling. My oh my…how could I not feel joy to be received in such fashion?
I shall be here for two full weeks,then take the train to the nearest airport and probably swing by Goa again before leaving India. So, that’s all for now. Here’s a friendly wave from where three seas and two worlds meet.