Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Death of a Beloved Bishop...

I had the honor of attending the funeral procession for Archbishop Marampudi Joji, the beloved Bishop of the Diocese of Hyderabad.  Never have I been a part of such an outpouring of love and respect for one man.  He was truly the "People's Archbishop" - - a spiritual giant in this community.  I took these pictures (link to the photo album is below) at the procession:

Archbishop M. Joji's Requiem Mass

And here is some information about the Archbishop:

Dateline: Hyderabad.  (From various sources, including The Times of India and Deccan Chronicle newspapers) 

Archbishop of Hyderabad, Rev Marampudi Joji, passed away at the Bishop's House in Secunderabad on Friday afternoon due to cardiac arrest.

After lunch at 2 P.M., the bishop went to his room to take rest and locked it from inside. As the bishop was not keeping well for the past few days, he used to take rest till 5 P.M.. But on Friday, as the bishop didn't come out even after 5.30 pm, his secretary K. Pratap knocked on his door. Finding no response from the bishop, his servants were alerted and they found him lying on the floor. Doctors of Care Hospital, Nampally, who were summoned declared the bishop dead around 6 P.M. The bishop had undergone a bypass surgery at Care Hospital in 2002.

Marampudi Joji was born in Bheemavaram of West Godavari district on October 7, 1942. He became a priest in 1971 and was made bishop of Khammam in 1991. In 1996, he was appointed bishop of Vijayawada and was made Archbishop of Hyderabad on January 29, 2000.

The archbishop's body was shifted to St Mary's Church, Secunderabad, at around 10 P.M. where thousands paid their last respects. As mentioned in his will, the bishop's funeral will be held on Sunday at Gunadala shrine, Vijayawada at 3 pm. Laity and public will be allowed to pay their last respects at the Gunadala shrine premises.

As a mark of respect for the late bishop, all Catholic educational institutions in Medak, Ranga Reddy district and the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad will be remain closed on Saturday.

Archbishop Joji, who was himself a "Dalit" (what used to be known as an "untouchable") - was a committed social worker and, as a Bishop of the Catholic Church, he fought for the emancipation and amelioration of Dalits. He worked as honest, efficient, righteous, diplomatic clergy, he served as the true disciple of Almighty God. He was very strict for the upliftment of Dalits, at the same time he loved all the people irrespective of Castes and creed. He was living as a leading revolutionary Bishop and the social worker by thinking the poorest and the downtrodden. 

The Chief Minister, Mr K. Rosaiah, on Saturday visited the St Mary’s Church in Secunderabad to pay his last respects to Archbishop Marampudi Joji.  Mr Rosaiah laid a wreath on the body of the Archbishop and observed two minutes of silence.

The Archbishop's funeral will be held at Vijayawada on August 30, at the Gunadala Shrine, according to his Will.

Archbishop Joji, more popularly known as the "People’s Archbishop" had passed away in his sleep late on Friday evening. He was 68.

Archbishop Joji was born at Bhimavaramon October 7, 1942 to Joseph and Mainkyamma. He was educated at the Nuzvidu Minor Seminary and gained his priesthood training in Hyderabad and Bengaluru.

A deeply secular and pious man, the Archbishop was ordained a priest at Gunadala in 1971.

The Archbishop was deeply interested in journalism and had obtained diplomas in catechism, journalism, advertising and PR from Loyola Institute of Communication and Arts. He also graduated in business administration and accountancy from Bombay University.

Apart from church-related activities, the Archbishop was keenly involved in civic affairs. He was a member of planning commission and was co-opted member of the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation.

He was appointed Bishop of Khammam in 1992 and then Bishop of Viajayawada in 1996. He was named the Archbishop of Hyderabad on March 17, 2000.

In his last will, Archbishop Joji stated that he wished to be buried beside his guru, Bishop Thumma.

“I wish to lay close to him even in death. In the event of my death, bury me next to the tomb of Bishop Joseph Thumma at St. Joseph’s cemetery in Gunadala. He ordained me as priest, consecrated me as Bishop and handed over his staff to me as his successor in Vijayawada.”

Joji had written the last will and testament on October 7, 2000, a few months after he was appointed Archbishop of Hyderabad.

“I brought nothing into this world and I go out of it taking nothing with me. All material goods, money, books, Episcopal insignia and everything else which had been at my disposal for use during my lifetime and which may stand in my name after death, I leave to the diocese and my successor. Neither relatives nor friends have any claims to any of these things,” Archbishop Joji’s will stated.

Special prayers were conducted continuously from Friday night and hundreds of priests and nuns from all over the state came to St Mary’s Church to have a last glimpse of him.

The Chief Minister, Mr K. Rosaiah, laid a wreath on the coffin of Archbishop Joji and wrote “My deepest condolences,” in the message book. The former chief minister, Mr N. Chandrababu Naidu, said, “He used to show special affection to me. For every Christmas I used to invite him. He was always concerned about the problems of the poor.”

The Kadapa MP, Mr Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, in his condolence message said, “Archbishop’s death pained me. For decades he worked for the society. I pray God his soul rests in peace.”

The Archbishop’s brother, Mr M. Barnabus, a retired employee and a resident of Gudivada, said, “Ours is a poor family. With hard work and dedication my brother rose to this level.” His sister, Sister Alma, said in tears, “He was a very loving brother.”

The Hyderabad Vicar General Fr. Y. Bala Shoury said the body would be taken in a procession at 9 am on Sunday from St Mary’s Church to St Mary’s School Ground.

The holy mass will be celebrated at 10 A.M. The body will be taken to Vijayawada for burial.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Sister I Never Had (Happy Raksha Bandhan!)

O.K. Maybe I am just an old softie...but the sweetest thing happened to me yesterday, and I don't mind telling you that I got all teary-eyed over it.  For my American friends who have probably never heard of this:  yesterday was the festival of Raksha Bandhan, where Indian sisters give their brothers a Rakhi (small thread bracelet that they tie on his wrist) and ask for their blessing.  Brothers, in turn, give their sisters gifts and sweets and promise to protect them for all time.  Anybody that knows me knows that I am an "only child" - - and my father and his father and even my great-grandfather were "only children" as well. There's not a whole lot of knowledge about the love for a sibling in our family.

Well, yesterday afternoon, Krishna's wife Jyoti "adopted" me as her brother.  Krishna told me that Jyoti wanted to see me.  On the upstairs landing, she had set up a chair and had some things set out on a desk that we have up there.  She then tied a beautiful red Rakhi on my right wrist, put a small red tilak on my forehead.  She then did something that I was not prepared for.  She knelt down at my feet and did a prostration and asked me to bless her.  She touched my feet as a sign of deep respect (this is where I got a lump in my throat!).  I gave her the same Priestly blessing I have done hundreds of times, and then we shared some sweets.  This was frankly one of the sweetest things that has happened to me in a long, long time.

It's a little uncomfortable, coming from the West, to have this kind of respect so openly shown.  I remember well the first time a little Orthodox Armenian lady kissed my hands at St. Mary of the Angels.  I remember wanting to stop her and say "Hey - - don't do that! I'm just a man!"  - but I realized, after time, that it was not *my* hands that she was touching and kissing, but through the Priestly office that I have only through the grace of Jesus Christ, this kind woman was kissing the hands of a Priest - - and - in turn, Jesus' Own Hands as well.  Jyoti's action was the same kind of thing.  She was honoring me as her "older brother"!

Now I have the sister I never had.  That's pretty special!

*                    *                    *

Amy Suzanne Brubaker is not only my wife of 12-years... and my best friend...but she's my favorite equestrian as well!  I've been watching her ride since we first started dating (on our very first date, Amy got a page (remember "pagers"??  How "last century" is that??") that said come to the barn right away, "C.J." ("Make A Wish" - her horse at the time we met) was colicking and was in a bad way.  We left the restaurant (it was Buca di Beppo on Green and DeLacey in Pasadena) and drove straight to San Pascual Stables (in a neighborhood that I coined: "Where the Arroyo meets the Ghetto!" in Pasadena).  I was both scared and fascinated by the scene.  C.J. was in a bad way.  The vet was there and they had him standing, but the poor guy wanted to lay down so badly!  We kept him moving as best we could.

For those who have never seen it, the treatment for a colicking horse is a messy procedure.  The doctor gives the horse a mild sedative - - and then sticks a large, flexible clear-plastic tube down the poor horse's nose (Ewwwwww!) and pours in about a full gallon of mineral oil!!  You have to understand that the digestive system of a horse is a complicated series of interactions among many different organs. The small intestine alone is 60 feet long in your average size horse. Equine Colic can originate from the stomach, the small intestine or the large intestine. The entire digestive network is suspended and nourished by a thin membrane called the mesentery. Any malfunction, displacement, twisting, swelling, infection, or lesion of any part of this complex body system is what horse-people recognize as colic.

There are many things that can cause colic.  In this case, we think it was simply that C.J. ate his dinner and didn't drink enough of his water...and things got sort of "plugged-up" in his innards.  The mineral oil helps to "get things moving again".  And move they did!!  I'll spare you the visuals - - but let's just say that C.J.'s colic that night came to an explosive end!!

I'm sure that I looked horrified...but - Amy told me later that - because I was willing to spend our first date like that - - I was probably "the guy" for her!

Anyway...I tell you all of this to say that Amy's love of horses knows no bounds.  She has had a super-successful amateur career in the hunter rings around Southern California (and Arizona and Maryland and....) - - On the "totem pole" that is our life together, Beloved is on top in the Number One spot - - her horses are Number Two (that takes up a whole lot of "totem pole", too!!)  I'm down at the Number Three spot...and - since I knew this fact "going in" (our old dog, Gismow, held the Number One spot for almost 14 years!) - I have no complaints.

Not to brag on my wife, but over the years since we've been married, Amy has won the Foxfield Medal Finals, the L.A. and So. Cal HSA Medal Finals, the WCHR (World Champion Hunter Rider) Adult Amateur title two years in a row at the Capital Challenge Horse Show... she won the overall points total for 2010 as well - see: WCHR standings for Adult Amateur - and innumerable other show championships at Indio, Thermal, Del Mar and Blenheim.  Just about every weekend was filled with trips all over to ride and enjoy the competition and the camaraderie  of the Southern California horse-show circuit.  Needless to say, leaving this world behind and coming to the other side of the planet was a hard thing for her to do...but - she's done her best to try and ride here at least two times a week.

Last Saturday, she decided that, in order to ride the best horses in Hyderabad...she would begin to take polo lessons from Mir Hafeezuddin Ahmed at the Nasr Boys School in Gachibowli.  There are uncountable disciplines in the world of the equestrian arts - - hunters, jumpers, dressage, "three-day eventing", Grand Prix jumping...even fox-hunting in some parts of the world.  And that's just English saddle stuff.  In the Western riding camp are barrel racing, rodeo, cutting horse competitions - - but - I am beginning to believe that polo may be one of the toughest of these disciplines!

Golfers...imagine hitting a three-wood off of hard-pan - - with accuracy - - from the back of a galloping horse!!  That's polo!!

For your enjoyment, I present these five short videos from our YouTube channel - - Amy's First Polo Lesson!!

Amy's First Polo Lesson #1

Amy's First Polo Lesson #2

Amy's First Polo Lesson #3

Amy's First Polo Lesson #4

Amy's First Polo Lesson #5

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Friday Update....

Dateline: Hyderabad -  It seems like it must be time for another update.  So much is going on, I'll try to stick to only the highlights.  Despite the fact that she is working like a madwoman every day, I think the biggest thing going on right now is that Amy Suzanne and I are continuing to do our nightly yoga.  This is amazing, especially to me!!  I can hardly believe how addicting it can be.  I rembemer that back in 2007, I purchased an introductory three-lesson package from The Yoga House in Pasadena.  They are supposedly quite good for beginners and more the advanced yogis as wellI only went to the first was very frustrating for me.  I could hardly do any of the asanas (poses) and it was much, much harder than it looked!  I never went back.  Now I realize that a person has to be ready to adopt yoga as a part of your lifestyle.  It took our coming all the way to India for me to GET ready...but I thank God for that!  I continue to eat as healthily as I can.  I have shed 46-pounds since we left Pasadena.  In the local vernacular, that's 21.0 Kg.  Needless to say I'm pretty jazzed and feeling really good!!

Except yesterday.  Hoo boy!  I've been experimenting with a vegetarian diet.  Just to see what I felt like.  It was pretty first.  I'm going to bounce back from yesterday, I can feel it already. M-W this week I was eating no meat, (which was actually suggestion from Neeraj (the yoga man).  I was shying-away from drinking my protein shakes for some stupid reason (they are milk-based and I had cut out dairy, too!) ...and - I worked out yesterday in the late morning. I was kinda hyper all afternoon. Not the good "energy level" sort of "hyper - but the jumpy and a little irritable kind. I took no nap because of that... and then Neeraj was over an hour and a half late coming in from Madhapur (the roads here can close for 20-minutes-or-more at a time for these daily "motorcades" for local ministers (political ones, not religious!). For legitimate security reasons, I think. But I'm always convinced because of the timing of these things that they are probably just going to dinner!! Anyway, I was as weak as a kitten at 7:00 when we started yoga. Neeraj told me that his vegetarian experiment with me was now officially over...and today I'm gonna have me a big ol' chicken breast!!

Dateline: Banjara Hills - At our home, we have this wonderful patio area out by the pool.  It's just screaming for a few pieces of outdoor furniture.  Krishna and I drove around to some places that he thought might have something.  It's strange, but the larger "department" stores that carry furniture? They have no outdoor stuff whatsoever!!  I'm thinking that it might be because it's just too hot and humid to sit outside here - - but that's not year-round.  I was trying to explain to Krishna that we have entire stores dedicated to nothing BUT outdoor furniture in the U.S.  Anyway....the traffic was ridiculous, so - we saw this place on our right that looked interesting.  They had cane and rattan furniture - - not exactly what I was looking for, but it was a start!!  We overshot the place by about 300 meters - - so Krishna pulled over.  Now, you need to understand that, although u-turns are a common move here in Hyderabad's streets, you can travel up to a Km. until you find a place to pull one off - - and in this case, the traffic going the other way was gridlocked.  So...I jumped out and walked back to the store.

Now - - the Indian salespeople here make the most effusive car salesman you ever met look like a guy on too-much Xanax!  You get used to it after a while, but the sales-people here (the men far more than the women!) are pretty aggressive.  Amy told this one fellow at a very nice rug shop that she admired the workmanship in this one rug (it was pretty stunning!) ... and for the nest fifteen minutes he had his people grabbing rolled-up rugs from the upper bins and rolling them out - - despite Amy telling him to please stop!!

So - - I walk into this cane-furniture store... and immediately the sales guy sees me and comes over and starts pointing and quoting prices: "This set comes with a table, sir - and a glass top and two chairs - and you can pick the fabric from a wide variety of patterns.  Only Rs. 11,000.00.  This one sir, is very, very nice.  You take it?  Today only - 10,000.00 rupees.  You like this one? - I have a catalogue!" 

As per my usual, I told him that I didn't want to buy anything today, that I couldn't buy anything without my wife's approval...and that I was "just looking".  I started snapping some pics with my Blackberry.  He said, motioning to this pretty nice (too nice for outdoor - but perfect for a tiki-bar with the right Hawaiian floral print!) rattan living-room set: "O.K. - today only - you take now?? - 8,000.00 rupees!!"  We were making serious progress here on "negotiating a deal"... and I didn't even need to say anything.  I just smiled and said I'd come back later with my wife.  I put my trusty Blackberry into my pocket, said a quick but smiling "goodbye" - and started heading for the open front of the "store" and was walking down the steps when he called after me: "5,000 rupees, sir!!"

Just amazing!!  And just think... I could have spent Rs. 11,000.00 just five minutes ago!!  BTW - 11,000.00 rupees is about $235.00 USD and 5,000 rupees is about $117.00!
While we were coming back home, we ran into this little temple dedicated to Hanuman, the monkey god.  (See photo above!)

Dateline: Gachibowli - According to our Hyderabad friend (and one of my usual lunch mates at the Thursday Ladies Luncheons!) Eve (she's the wife of Wally, who is one of the people Suzanne works for here at Deloitte) - - Suzanne and I "have arrived"!  We got our picture in the "You and I" Magazine!!  When we were invited to the polo match (a couple of Saturdays back) at the NASR Boys School - - we had no idea that we'd be in the "front row" - and that there would be paparazzi there.  Because she is so fair and so blonde, Amy gets her photo taken quite a lot here.  With her "Hollywood" sunglasses on, she was twice the target!  We had forgotten that we had out picture taken...and - this week people started mentioning that we were in some magazine!!  Sure enough, we found the link to our pic in this week's edition of "You and I" online - - it takes a bit of downloading time - but - as Amy said - "That's a good picture of us!"

Here is the link:  You and I Magazine are some short little videos from our Saturday afternoon at the polo match:

NASR Boys School vs. RBS Polo Match

2010 Independence Cup Polo - Hyderabad

NASR Boys School Bagpipe Marching Band (Polo 2010)

Polo Action from the 2010 Independence Cup (Hyderabad)

Halftime at the Independence Cup Polo Match (Hyderabad)

The End of the Game...Independence Cup, Hyderabad Polo

Dateline: Secunderabad - On Indian Independence Day, (15 August every year - which happens to coincide with The Feast of the Asumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - and this year it was on a Sunday!!) - Krishna and I were planning (for the longest time!) to go to St. Mary's Church over in Secunderabad.  It was to be their Patronal Festival - - with the Pontifical Solemn High Mass being celebrated by the Archbishop of Hyderabad +Marampudi Joji.  We didn't make it.  As it turned out, the roads into and out-of Secunderabad were closed for several hours due to the Independence Day celebrations and preparations!  So we went back to St. Alphonsus right in the neighborhood in Banjara Hills.  As Krishna said: "I like St. Mary's better!"  Yeah, do I! 

Here is a link to the photos from last weekend on my Facebook Page:

Assumption and Independence Day Weekend - 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Real Donnybrook In Church - Anglican style!

I've really been having a spiritual struggle on Sunday mornings.  I guess calling it a "spiritual struggle" is a bit of an exaggeration... but I do have to make a new and careful decision every Saturday night as to which Mass I will be going to with Krishna on Sunday.  The local Masses that I enjoy going to are at different times and in different parts of the city, so some planning and foresight has to enter-in to the weekly decision-making process.  There's St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Cathedral in the Gun Foundry District, which has several English-language Mass choices...(including one at 6:30 P.M.!!) - and is always very nice nice.  So is the little RC church here in Banjara Hills, St. Alphonsus (and it's by far the closest parish to our home.)  Regular readers of this blog will know that my favorite church so-far has been St. Mary's Church in Secunderabad.  I'm not a huge fan of the Novus Ordo Mass...but they seem to do it with grace and a lot of this is where we go most of the time.  Krishna quite likes it.  We are definitely planning to go there THIS Sunday for the Feast of the Assumption (August 15th) - which is also Indian Independence Day as well as being St. Mary's Patronal Festival!  This Sunday there will be a "Pontifical Solemn High Mass" as celebrated by the Archbishop of Hyderabad, The Most Reverend Marampudi Joji !  I want to get there early to get a good seat.  I'll bring my camera...there will be hundreds of plastic chairs filled by the Faithful throughout the courtyard for the 9:30 A.M. Mass!!'s blog is about what happened this past Sunday at "St. George's" (which, since there is no TAC parish within 300 Km. of where we live, is the closest thing that can pass for "Anglican" - actually "Church of South India" - anywhere close to here).  In case you don't recall - - this is the church that I went to only once since we arrived in Hyderabad...and where, although I thoroughly enjoyed the liturgy, I could not receive Holy Communion because there was a "priestess" in their sanctuary.  Here's a link to the blog post I wrote about that fateful day!

St. George's is also in the Gun Foundry area.  I had told Krishna to expect something special when we went back (I was hoping-against-hope that the "priestess" may be taking a Sunday off!) ... I told Krishna that this was more like "my" church...and that the music was going to be much nicer and we would have a nice Book of Common Prayer (the 1662 Church of England Book as far as I can tell) to help him to follow along.

We arrived a little later than expected...Krishna made a wrong turn and ended up at St. Joseph's Cathedral.  One of the problems one runs into in India is the big medians in the middle of just about every major street.  Abids Road is one of them.  You cannot just "whip a u-turn" - - you may need to drive a couple of kilometers before you can find a place to turn around...and then - making the u-turn into traffic is a whole 'nother set of problems!

You may remember that St. George's Church is the place where the main building, nave and sanctuary are undergoing some major renovations.  It will probably be the end of the year by the time the repairs are completed and the actual church building is ready for services.  So, for the time being, the Sunday Eucharist is being held in the "parish hall".  We walked from where we parked the car and walked in the "narthex" door and the place was about 3/4 full.  We found a pew on the Gospel side about halfway back.  I can say "Gospel side" with accuracy, because the St. George's Mass is celebrated "Ad orientem" (i.e. The Way God Intended!)

The choir was singing, so it was difficult to know exactly where they were in the liturgy.  We were not all that late, so - since the "sacred ministers" (yes, our "priestess" was there!) were already in the Sanctuary, I figured this to be the end of an opening hymn or the last bit of the processional.  The hymn was quite familiar, but not one I could get used to hearing in an Anglican setting:  "What a Friend We Have in Jesus".  Krishna and I stood there in our spot, side-by-side, and I just couldn't force myself to sing that hymn in Church.

All of a sudden...I heard a loud voice.  A female voice.  There's really no commotion (yet) - but the voice was becoming much louder and quite a bit more agitated.  My brain could not quite register what was going on at first.  First of all, the lady was yelling something...but I could not understand a word of it because she was yelling in Telugu. next thought (seeing how the choir was now halfway into the fourth verse of "What a Friend...") was "Oh, no...dear Lord - - please tell me that somebody has not "gotten the Holy Spirit" and began to speak in tongues!!"  I dwelt on that thought for about thirty more seconds, when I noticed some movement around the Sanctuary where the choir was singing.  Then I heard a man's voice join the woman's.  I could now discern that there was a loud argument going on!!  Another man's voice joined the screaming chorus...and finally the music stopped! 

There was a full-on screaming, pushing, shoving and more-screaming going on in the choir.  Concerned parishioners stood in stunned silence...but that was the only silence in the room.  The two men were now really going at it...pointing fingers and shouting.  The bigger of the two guys pushed the smaller fellow pretty hard...and then the smaller guy pushed the big guy really hard!  The lady is now screaming at both of them'

Now, the amazing thing to me was that the "priest-in-charge" was doing absolutely NOTHING to try and control the situation!  And yet, all of this "action" was taking place within about fifteen feet of where he was standing with his arms akimbo.  Never has the term "priest-in-charge" been any more oxymoronic!!  The "priestess" had retreated to the back wall of the Sanctuary by the Epistle horn of the altar.  She wasn't exactly "cowering"...but - it was getting pretty heated up there!!  I can't imagine any Rector I have ever worked with...Canon Bower, Canon Wilcox or Father Kelley letting any of this go on for longer than about ten seconds!!

More yelling.  More pushing.  More screaming.  While my head was spinning over the bizarre nature of this scene, I turned to Krishna and asked him what they were all fighting about.  Could he hear anything?  What was being said?  He said "I don't know sir..." - I knew better, but he was not smiling so I didn't pressure him.  Later I asked him again about what was being said and he told me that "Somebody was very, very angry, sir!"  (Thank you, Krishna-ji, for this profound insight!)

Now the scene shifted.  The bigger guy starts ushering/pushing the smaller/louder guy toward a door leading out to the courtyard off the Gospel side wall.  The lady is still pretty agitated (It was looking more and more as if the "loud little man" was the source of all of these sorrows.  The noise has now quieted down to the point that the organist again begins to play...and three-or-four choir members begin to pick up the chorus again... "Whaaat a friend weee have in Jeeee-suuus!"  Finally it looks like some sanity has returned to St. George's!

Not so fast!!  The little man comes back into the side-door and into the front of the nave.  He's still yelling at the lady.  The choir stops singing at the first new shout... and the voices again are raised to a mild roar.  Now I see one of the choir members pick up a plastic chair and raise it up over her head.  There's more pushing and shoving.  Still, the priest is doing nothing.  I now think: "Oh...I have to get a video of this!!"  I pulled out my Blackberry and put it on the "Video Camera" application, and hold it slightly in front of my chest so as not to be too obvious about what I was doing.  I can now see that a couple of women sitting in the nave have grabbed their things and are heading for the rear door. I filmed for a few minutes as the voices can be heard yelling in Telugu.  I stopped my videotaping and put my phone back into my cassock pocket.  As more people were getting up and were heading for the door, I could see in the eyes of some of the people that seemed to be pleading: "Father, can't YOU do something??"  I looked quickly down at my watch and turned and asked Krishna: "Do you think we still have enough time to make it to St. Mary's by 9:15 for the English Mass?"  He nodded and said "Yes, sir!"

We exited our pew and began quickly walking for the rear door.  A couple of parishioners smiled as we passed by them in the aisle and gave sheepish smiles and shook their heads.  As soon as we got out into the sunlight, I turned to Krishna and said: "I'm so sorry!  I told you that Church is not a perfect place!!"  He assurred me that it was O.K.  By the time we got out to our car (which was parked over by the main church building) ... I had begin to laugh out loud.  "Krishna...I cannot believe what I just saw!!"  I've been in and out of Anglican parishes for all of my 53-odd years - and I had never witnessed an actual old-fashioned "donnybrook" inside the sanctuary!!  Now, there have been some vestry meetings that have gotten close to fisticuffs - - but this was indeed a first!

As we drove toward the driveway and the exit, I noticed that the first of many policemen had begun to arrive.  Women in saris were gesturing toward the parish hall and trying to get the brown-uniformed gendarmes to go inside.  "Looks like we picked a good time to get outta Dodge!" I said to no one in particular.

We made it to St. Mary's with time to spare... and had a wonderful Mass with our Roman Catholic brethren.  As we entered at the end of the Telugu Mass - - the celebrant from the earlier Eucharist asked me if I could help him out and hear a Confession.  I just smiled and shook my head and informed him that until the unity with the TAC/Anglican Ordinariates takes place, I couldn't do that.  "No Father, I can't.  I'm actually an Anglican Priest!"  He looked my Roman-style cassock and collar up-and-down, smiled back at me and said "Oh, O.K.!"  After we had chosen our seats, a nice lady behind us tapped me on the shoulder and said that I should go up into the Sanctuary and see if Father would like me to concelebrate the Mass with him.  Again I had to admit the nature of my Anglican Orders.  She was very sweet.  "There will be no "Anglican" and no "Roman" Catholics in heaven.  We all belong to Jesus!"

Amen, sister...AMEN!  Even the people at St. George's!!

Oh.  If you are wondering what happened to the video of the fight?  I was playing it on the small-screen later during my lunch inside Beyond Coffee when my Blackberry locked-up.  I had to plug it in an re-boot it when I got back home.  When I did, the video had been erased.  It was as if God Himself had said, "No, Father... don't you think that St. George's parish has enough problems without you putting this video up on your blog and Facebook page!!"

Yes, Lord.  I get it!  Thanks for saving me from myself once again!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Jai Telangana!!"

If there is any political "hot button" topic here in Hyderabad, it's the idea of creating (or, more accurately, "re-creating") the State of Telangana.  In 1956, the Indian government combined two neighboring (Telangana and Andhra) states to form the current state we live in: "Andhra Pradesh" - or, "A.P."  And it seems that nobody here has been happy with matters ever since!  In the mid-1990's - there began anew a "Jai Telangana" political movement ("Jai" you find out pretty quickly here means "victory" - or, "hail!")...and...because of the passionate political nature of the Indian people (from the time of Gandhiji on) - and the seriousness with which some of the Telangana faithful take this particular issue... things can get sometimes get a little ugly.

From time-to-time, I ask our driver, Krishna, about the state of affairs in the Telangana movement and what's been happening lately.  Two weeks ago, there were some important mid-term elections locally...the the newer of the Telangana political parties won big!  I can't recall their name right now...I can just tell you that their color is "pink".  Colors are really big here, polically speaking.  Your party's color becomes like your badge.  Someday I'll have to post a blog about the "Orange Guys".  Hoo, they are some radical dudes!!  When Suzanne and I were planning our trip to Hyderabad (which was and would be the capital of the Telangana state) there was some rioting and curfews in the Old City.  I followed what was going on pretty closely, Suzanne did not....but I must admit that for a short while the situation here was a little worrisome.

Today while we were in the car, Krishna gave me a small paperback book: "Telangana State: Need of Revival" by noted social philosopher B.S. Ramulu.  The power went off for a few hours today (this time for a legitimate reason...the utilities men were trimming tree branches from off of some overhead wires and they shut it all down!) I had time to read a lot of the little book.

Here is a funny exchange I had with Krishna in the car, later in the day:

Krishna: "Sir, you read Telangana book?"

Sir: "Yeah...well, most of it."

Krishna: "You understand now Telangana?"

Sir: "Well....yeah - I get it. Even Nehru and Dr. Ambedkar said that A.P. was a bad idea!"

Krishna: "Sir!"

Sir: "And, you know, I think that I agree with them, too. Two states seems to me to be a better idea. I think for many reasons: water, language, many things. I mean - in 1956 you put Telangana together with Andra...and...and..."

Krishna: "Sir?"

Sir: "Well...Telangana gets screwed!"

Krishna: "Sir! Sir, what is "screwed" ?

"Inside voice":  (Uh oh!)

I said: "Never mind and forget I ever said it!! That's not a word you will learn in English class!!"

Krishna just smiled: "O.K., Sir..."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Catching up...

We've only got a few updates for you today...and some "short ones", at that!  Life goes on in Hyderabad.  Today (Monday) is Amy Suzanne's day off, so - we're definitely heading over to Mocha in Banjara Hills for some eye-opening coffee and a little bit of breakfast.  They have something called the "Sri Lankan Omelet" that is to die for!  Eggs, sweet onions, bell peppers and little hot red chiles!  For every-day visits, we still prefer Beyond Coffee in Jubilee Hills, but "Mocha" has just enough of a funky, Bohemian atmosphere to get the new week kicked-off in style!

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Dateline:  Banjara Hills. Last night, as we were leaving for dinner over at N. Grill - our new Skoda Laura got hit (It was parked, thank God!  I never want to experience a real traffic accident here!) right in front of our house!  Actually, right in front of both of us - as we were standing less than 5-feet from the rear bumper that got hit!  A younger man from the neighborhood (I ended up feeling badly for him...but it was a pretty stupid move!) was trying to make a "three-point" u-turn, and he whipped his car into "reverse" without really looking, and backed-up hard, and caved-in our rear bumper pretty good!  (I'm surprised that this kind of thing doesn't happen here every five-seconds in this wild traffic scene!!)  The Skoda's bumper did its job, and popped right back out, but there was more than just a "paint transfer" - there was a pretty deep scratch in the actual rubber/plastic (whatever!) of the bumper.  We kindly decided to let the kid's friend at a local body shop fix it...and - if the repair passes the inspection of our leasing agent from Skoda - then no-harm done!  By the way, N. Grill was incredible, once again!

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Dateline: Gandipet Lake Area.  We had the most wonderful experience last Saturday.  Suzanne has been quite regular in her weekly visits out to the Hyderabad Polo and Riding Club.  Krishna loads her helmet and her boots into the trunk of our car...and right after work on Friday and Saturday, they make their way out toward Gandipet (it's really quite lovely out there...the riding club is in the same general area as a large "deer sanctuary" and it's pretty rustic for being so close to town!).

For a few weeks now, our yoga instructor, Neeraj, has been asking more and more questions about Amy's riding.  He loves the pictures that we have on our refrigerator door of her jumping and showing horses.  So, we picked him up at the gas station (which we now refer to as "the petrol pump"!) near his apartment in Madhapur, and we went out to see how he'd do.

I have to say, it was one of the most joyful experiences I have had here.  Amy agrees.  Neeraj was just "over the moon" about getting up on a horse for the first time.  He looked like a five-year-old kid on that horse!  One of the grooms, wanting to be extra careful (I'm sure there are "liability laws" here!), led Neeraj's horse around by the reigns.  After Amy rode for about a half an hour (she got her little polo-pony to jog over some rails placed on the's not the 3'6" Ariat Medal Finals at Capital Challenge, but it's a start!!!) - she took the reigns and handed them to Neeraj.  Around and around the big polo-field "ring" they went (see the picture at the beginning of this blog-post) - and then, she took him on a short "trail ride" on the muddy roads at the "barn:.  Neeraj said it was a day he will always remember.  I hear you, friend.  I hear you.  Neither will we, I can assure you!  Here (along with others) are some of the photos we took that afternoon... from our Facebook album Emptying The Blackberry Vol. One

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Dateline: Secunderabad.  This last Sunday, I decided it would be a good thing to do to take Krishna to the Telugu language Mass at St. Mary's in Secunderabad.  As we got into the car for the 15-minute drive, we asked Sangamesh (our all-nighter security man!) if he might like to go to church, too.  He said "yes" - and got into the back seat.  He told me right off (Sangamesh's English is not as good as Krishna's, which is improving every day!) that he would not be going inside the church as he said that it was along, humid night, and that he was "not fresh".  I wanted to laugh and tell him that there were a lot of "not fresh" people in church, and that it was O.K.!!  But then, as we were pulling into the church driveway, Sangamesh said that he was fine standing outside in the parking lot...where it would be just "(him) and (his) God."  He smiled when he said it.  THAT I clearly understood.  I just smiled back at him and gave him a big hug (not very common here!) and Krishna and I went inside.

The Mass had just started, and the processional hymn was very Indian-sounding.  Quite a lot different than the English language Mass music, although neither kind is even remotely singable.  "Why Can't Catholics Sing"? Come to one of these Masses and you will hear what I mean!!  Of course, I understood nothing, but - having a passing understanding of the Catholic Novus Ordo liturgy, I could certainly tell where they were at all times during the Mass.  Telugu is spoken very fast...kind of like how Cubanos speak Spanish.

The sermon...?  Well, frankly, it was waaay too long.  I don't care what language you are speaking...25-minutes is just too long.  I wanted to stand up and say, "'re losing your audience here!!"  People were nodding-off!!  There was one guy across the aisle from us who was was texting...and THEN he nodded-off!!  After the Mass, I asked Krishna what the sermon was about.  "What was it about, Krishna?  What did the pujari say? ("Pujari" is the word used to address a Hindu priest!)  Krishna filled me in...he said that it was all about politics, last Tuesday's mid-term elections and politicians!!  I told Krishna that this was not a good thing.  He understood, and knew almost instinctively.  Krishna told me that Father did say at one point in his terminally-long homily, that "Mataji Teresa" was very, very good.  I said "Amen!"  We found our car (with Sangamesh still standing his post!) and left for home.

I don't believe we'll be going to the Telugu Mass anymore.  I had forgotten how much meaning the Readings from the Scriptures give to the Mass.  I received my obligatory Communion, but I somehow felt like a tire that was under-inflated at the beginning of a road-trip.  I must admit, I missed hearing the Gospel read in my vernacular!!

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LATE BREAKING NEWS!  Dateline: Banjara Hills.  One last thing:  Instead of working out on Tuesday night, we celebrated Neeraj's 25th birthday with an impromptu party in the basement theater (that doubles during the week as our yoga studio!) - and a cake!!  That's OUR KIND OF WORKOUT!!  Neeraj then showed us a "slide show" of photos he had taken of his brothers three-day-long traditional Hindu wedding.  Both Suzanne and I learned a ton of stuff from the pictures ... and especially Neeraj's running commentary.  Here are the pictures that I took that night:


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

ExPat Interview!!

One of the first (and BEST!) things we did when we first arrived here was to join the "Twin-cities Expatriates Association of Hyderabad and Secunderabad" - thank God they shortened it to TEA !! In addition to hosting a wonderful dinner at the Walden Club in Jubilee Hills each and every Friday night, they host a number of very cool events throughout the year.  It's been a wonderful group to be a part of...and a great place to make new friends and get the latest information on what is going on in Hyderabad and the surrounding area.  I think my favorite thing has been the "Ladies Lunch" on Thursdays at Noon.  Since I usually go, they now just call it simply the "Thursday Lunch Group".  A new restaurant is chosen for every week...and the food and the company are just terrific!!  We've been to brunches, some special events like "food fair" cuisine, a grand opening of our favorite coffee shop - Beyond Coffee - and a couple of nice local eateries.  Last week it was the Waterfront Restaurant overlooking the lake at Hussain Sagar

The person most responsible for setting up the Thursday lunches and keeping them going is our new friend Meera Kohli.  Meera is a bit of a local celebrity.  She is a writer for various publications here in town - known for her restaurant reviews and other feature articles (probably why our Thursday group always gets such a warm welcome!

One of the next things she plans to publish will be an interview with Suzanne and me!!  It's only for the TEA TIMES journal....but - still!!  How fun!!  We just finished the questionnaire.  Here it is:

Full name Interviewee: Amy Suzzanne Brubaker

Full name Partner: (The Rev. Canon) Scott E. Kingsbury

When did you come to Hyderabad?

Answer Interviewee: We arrived around 2:00 A.M. on 3 June 2010

Answer Partner: (Same)

Where did you come from?

Answer Interviewee: Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Answer Partner: We actually live in Pasadena!

What brought you to Hyderabad?

Answer Interviewee: A great opportunity at my firm (Deloitte) and to be a part of a growing and vibrant tax practice here.

Answer Partner: To continue to be a part of a growing and vibrant marriage!!!

How long will you be here?

Answer Interviewee: At least 22 more months.

Answer Partner: If given the opportunity, I don’t think I’d ever leave!

Name of company/organisation you work for:

Answer Interviewee: Deloitte Tax Services

Answer Partner: Traditional Anglican Church of India

Title / role of job here:

Answer Interviewee: Director, Pacific Southwest Lead Tax Services Expatriate

Answer Partner: Non-parochial Priest in the Diocese of Nandyal (that means I don’t have a parish!)

How have you found working conditions in Hyderabad?

Answer Interviewee: Very similar to the L.A. office that I cam from.

Answer Partner: My main “job” is “Creating an atmosphere where Suzzanne can succeed.” That is a given, and does not change no matter where we are in the world!

How have you found living conditions in Hyderabad?

Answer Interviewee: Amazing!

Answer Partner: We love our house and living in the hustle and bustle of our Banjara Hills neighborhood. The place is just so alive!

How have you found life, in general, in Hyderabad?

Answer Interviewee: (Laughed) REALLY different than my life in L.A.!!

Answer Partner: I just love it. Hyderabad is a very big city, but it has a very small-town feel about it. Everybody seems to be friendly, and everybody seems to know everybody else in one way or another!

What you've liked about being here?

Answer Interviewee: It was a chance for my husband and I to break-free of the normal “go to work, come home, go to a horse-show” life we were living at home

Answer Partner: I like it all!

Amusing things that have happened whilst you've been here

Answer Interviewee: Doing an intense session of yoga (we are total beginners!) - and when I was finished, I just lay on my soaking-wet sticky-mat. I turned to Scott and said: “What the hell happened to my life??”

Answer Partner: N/A

A bit about your background / education / previous employment...?

Answer Interviewee: Born in Detroit, grew up in the Bay Area of Northern California, In Los Angeles I have spent 27-years as a professional CPA. B.A. and M.B.T. (Master of Business Taxation) from the University of Southern California

Answer Partner: Fourth-generation native “Angeleno“, B.A. from CSU, Northridge. Full-time ministry as a Parish and Missionary clergyman in the Southern California area since 1996

A bit about your family/children (if any) etc.

Answer Interviewee: No kids. Just our “daughter”, “Beloved” the Lhasa Apso who came along for the journey.

Answer Partner: N/A

What are your hobbies?

Answer Interviewee: Competitive equestrian / Show Jumping

Answer Partner: Golf

Have you been able to pursue them whilst here?

Answer Interviewee: Yes…and I like it!  But if you come here with expectations of finding the Southern California horse scene here, you will find a world of difference. You have to be O.K. with that in order to fully enjoy the experience…and I’m really beginning to enjoy it!

Answer Partner: Oh, yes! You’ll find me at Boulder Hills CC at least twice a week!

Have you taken up new hobbies / pursuits since coming here?

Answer Interviewee: Yoga and travel

Answer Partner: Yoga and writing a blog to journal our adventures here

What do you miss the most from / about your home country?

Answer Interviewee: My horses!

Answer Partner: My friends. But I do a pretty good job staying in touch with people at home through my blog, Facebook, etc.

In what way has the experience of living in Hyderabad enriched your life (assuming it has!)

Answer Interviewee: I guess the biggest way has been reconnecting with my husband - and just knowing that I could even make such a drastic change and survive!  Being here has also changed my perspective on life in general.

Answer Partner: Too many to list!! The spiritual nature of Indian life can be overwhelming!  I remain open to all of it!

What advice would you give to new expats coming to live / work in Hyderabad?

Answer Interviewee: Come on!! Don’t hesitate for a moment! Having a spouse who is excited and engaged will make all the difference in the world in your success here!

Answer Partner: Embrace India! Don’t try to duplicate your life at home. Don’t try to change India…that won’t happen. Let India change you! Oh…and be prepared to stand in lines!

What has been most challenging?

Answer Interviewee: My new 5:30 A.M. to 2:30 P.M. shift at work is just brutal!!

Answer Partner: Not being able to drive!

Message for Hyderabadis...?

Answer Interviewee: Thank you for being so welcoming, kind and patient with us!

Answer Partner: N/A - same.

What you would like changed / begun in Hyderabad?

Answer Interviewee: Show jumping!!

Answer Partner: This is a beautiful city and people need to stop littering!

What you’ve disliked about being here?

Answer Interviewee: Living in fear that some day my husband will attempt to drive here!!

Answer Partner: Not being able to drive!