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Weekly e-Gram for members and friends of Dublin Community Church

September 16, 2011


We arrived in Pune, India on the night train from the West Coast. It’s always interesting to arrive in a foreign city at night. Everything seems so much more complex and lonely and insurmountable.

But there is less traffic and fewer people and virtually no rush hour to contend with and so we exited the railway car with our bags and headed for the taxi stand, which we knew would be right outside the station. But, as was the case with so many Indian train stations…the taxi stand came to us.

My daughter and I were barely off the train and we were met by one enterprising Indian taxi driver who ignored the “Taxi Drivers Remain Outside the Station” sign. Indeed, there are rules to follow but the driver had our bags in hand by the time we neared the taxi stand and most of the drivers assumed that he was a train porter and we walked on past the lined-up taxis and hopped in his taxi which was parked (intentionally) away from the rest of the taxis.

We had seen this dozens of times before in India so we were prepared. Our first and only question was, “Can you get us to such and such an address, here in Pune?”

“Of course!” he said. If I had asked if he could arrange for tea for us and the Indian Prime Minister he would have said, “Of course!”

But he had our bags and a secure taxi fare for the next hour and so for the moment, we were his best friends. We hopped into his two-passenger golf-cart type taxi which are so common in India (some places call them ‘Tuk-Tuks”)

We were in Pune to visit Deep Griha (Lighthouse) at the invitation of Dr. Neela Onawale and her husband Rev. Baskar Onawale. Deep Griha ministers to the body, mind and soul of the people in the poorer sections of Pune. They had their guest house ready for us and all we needed to do was get off the train, hail a taxi (or in this case, the taxi ‘hailed’ us), and find the place.

The driver got us to the general neighborhood, but the street numbers posed a challenge as the taxi drove around the streets. Our driver noticed an Indian gentleman seated quietly on his front porch steps there at 3 am in the morning. The taxi driver enquired as to our destination address and the old man said it was close and before we knew it, the old man, in his pajamas was leading us and the taxi through the neighborhood (there was no room in the little taxi for another adult). We found it.

Thus began our introduction to Pune, India and the wonderful work of Deep Griha. This Sunday, I will introduce you to Dr. Neela Onawale who will share a bit with you about the work of Deep Griha, which we support.  She will spend two more weeks with folks at First Community Church and First Congregational Church in Columbus, who helped found Deep Griha.

We’ll meet Dr. Onawale in worship. Sample some Indian Food during our coffee/fellowship hour and if you are so inclined, stay for a few more minutes to enjoy some Indian Children’s dance troop in the sanctuary just after coffee time.

Meet, greet, eat and watch dancing. A simple introduction to the life and work of Deep Griha in Pune, India. Casual Sunday American dress is the order of the day, but pajamas are optional.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing

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