"Lighthouses are more helpful than churches."
Yet another disturbing story involving sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has just come to light. This one straight out of Southern India and including all of the standard elements we've come to expect, such as the attempted cover-up and a complete lack of compassion for the victims.
According to the story in the British newspaper The Independent, a former nun named Sister Jesme has written a book detailing the illicit sex, habitual abuse, threats, downright cruelty and outright rape that, it seems, is a regular part of life for a nun in the Church, at least in that part of the world. A Church spokesman has even admitted as much (read on).
I finally saw Slumdog Millionaire this week and, man, was it ever good!
The story of an orphaned kid from the slums of Mumbai (Bombay) who gets a chance to win both a fortune on the Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" and the love of the girl of his dreams, the film is obviously a bit of an unlikely fairy tale. But it's a fairy tale deeply anchored in the gritty, depressing reality of India's millions of desperately poor slum dwellers.
On January 28th we jumped on a jetty and headed over to Fort Kochi in search of Rafi and a game of soccer. We had called Rafi, the guy we'd met on the beach about 10 days earlier, that morning, but his dad had said he was out, so we headed over to the "parade ground" (sports field) in the hope of finding him and, if not him, at least a game of soccer. We arrived to not only find the depressing sight of a bloody cricket game once again taking up a perfectly good soccer field (what'd we expect, really?), but also the awful spectacle of a couple of foreigners (who turned out to be Aussies of course) joining in and encouraging the young local guys in their sad and depressing waste of life. Just as I was about to turn and leave - cursing cricket all the way - I noticed a couple of guys off to the side kicking a soccer ball around. I went straight over and joined them and over the next half hour or so many others started showing up as well. It turns out they play there every evening from around 5:30. Not on the soccer field, which is of course reserved for cricket, but over on the side of the field.
Ok, so after a 2-week break it's now time to return to the telling of our story of love: our love for Kerala, that is. Yes, our story of Rum, Rock 'n' Ram ('n' Soccer), Jew and Muslim Streets, Sewage River/Canal, Fort Kochi, loads of great music, Bill, The Thursday Night Party Club, A Bunch Of Guys Named Joe and more - all in the beauutiful, lush green, tropical Southern Indian state of Kerala. My first four Kerala letters only covered our first week in Kochi, so there's still a lot - a whole lot - more to tell.
On our fourth day in town Bill introduced us to Ram and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Or was that Bill introduced us to Ram and our time in Kochi really started to rock... 'n' Rum? Either way, it was Tuesday January 13th and we decided to go see "Kill Bill Vol. 1" at a nearby cinema, just up the road from our hotel, not far from Jew Street.
So there we were, on our second day in town, walking down Jew Street (yes, Jew Street!) when we came to Muslim Street. Obviously I had to turn, but Son just didn't get it and asked "Why? There's nothing down there." But, like I said to her, how many people in this world get a chance to walk down Jew Street and then hang a right and head on up Muslim Street?
Leaving Secunderabad back in early-January on the train to Kochi (Cochin), we really had no idea what we were heading into. I mean, we had absolutely no reason to suspect we were about to experience the best 3.5 months of our entire time in India. We only planned to stay in Kochi, a city in Kerala State in the very south-west of the country, for a few days and our plan was to stay in Kerala for a month, at the most. But things, luckily and as always, didn't quite work out as planned.
HOW TO NOT ENJOY A MOVIE:
Go to a movie that is highly anticipated by thousands of pumped-up teenage boys and young men in their early-20's (98% boys and men/ 2% girls and women) on its opening day of nation-wide release across India.
Yes, we're talking about "The Matrix Reloaded"
Imagine a whole town of stoned people, half of whom are running around armed with big long sticks beating the hell out of all those who aren't... and everyone's having a blast.