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Drenched in Rain and Culture

John Rose, S.J.

Drenched in Rain and Culture

Like Arabs who come to India to enjoy the rains, a dozen American young men and women students from California, which has been suffering from years of drought, descended among us at the start of July, but not just to get wet.  They did get that in Talasari, and they thoroughly enjoyed being drenched to the bone. But the real purpose of these from the Jesuit Santa Clara University (SCU) located in Silicon Valley of USA, where I obtained my PhD and Fabian Barretto is obtaining his, was to be fully immersed in Indian realities. They were least interested in touristy things, though we did get them to the Gateway of India, Elephanta Caves, and Bassein Fort. They first had the urban experience: visits to Xavier Institute of Engineering (XIE) and St. Xavier’s College and Sofia College where they received excellent inputs from the Principals, and had long interactions with the students; a whole day in the Dharavi slums missing out on nothing that shocks even us; a half-day with the inmates of the MC Sisters’ Asha Daan in Sankli Street; a half-day with the visually and hearing impaired;  and two home-stays hosted by XIE students where each SCU student got to experience what an Indian middle-class family life is like. As in the two previous years, the monsoons had already set in and, for a full week, they had the luxury of gorgeous greenery. Headquartered in Talasari, they were taken all over, having hands and feet muddied when transplanting rice seedlings, helping out in school children’s computer classes, entertaining the lepers in the Canossian Hospital in Wadoli, joining the boys at soccer and the girls in their tribal dances,. A whole day was spent in an Artists’ Village, and they delighted in having hands-on experience of doing Warli paintings. The SCU students never complained about any inconvenience experienced, took the culture shocks in their stride, and even expressed a great desire to return next year for another dunking.

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