Tuesday, September 18, 2012

India # 7: Churchill slips a debt in Bangalore

 
It’s Sunday night and I’ve just spent the evening at what must be one of Bangalore’s most exclusive venue, the Bangalore Club, thanks to an invitation from someone I met at church.  And somehow a sixth sense tells me I know what is coming.

As you might expect, a place called the Bangalore Club goes well back into the era of British rule known as The Raj.  With only a few thousand in command, canny alliances with local rulers and superior firepower, Britain ruled a vast territory for 300 years, giving up power only in 1947.   The club goes back 150 years and excluded Indians from membership until independence.  It is a large, park-like enclave not far from my residence and the busiest avenues, resembling several California country clubs rolled into one.  Giant trees characteristic of Bangalore overarch everything: tennis, pool, badminton and other game areas; lawn dining and theatre area; handball and squash courts; residences; the main dining room; the men’s and women’s grills and the mixed grill (which mixes sexes, not meats), where we ate.  The Mysore Room commemorates the Maharajas of that nearby city with pictures of him attended by British and Indian soldiers in splendid uniforms.

The entrance is populated with the horns of animals, pictures of giant fish caught by members in 1919 and other emblems of domination over nature.  And there in the middle of the hall is an account book which shows clearly that Winston Churchill owed 30 rupees when he left after being a member here before World War I. 

It’s weird but I knew this, that Churchill walked away from a debt in Bangalore d now I am standing before the record of it.

I must have picked this up from “Into the Silence,” a long, anguished account of the carnage of World War II and how it spurred a British campaign to climb Mount Everest unsuccessfully just after the war.  Winston was in this story, incompetent at almost everything--needing influence even to be admitted to the infantry—serving as a junior rep of The Raj in Bangalore.  His description of the city—and his debt—is proudly on display at this club which is ironic because Churchill never gave up a conviction that England should rule India.

My host has a CPA firm working for international companies, is a father of six is and I quickly feel a brotherly affection for him.   He is an ardent, charismatic Catholic, which made me a bit wary initially since I left behind, years ago, his kind of ardor for our common faith.    

I learned there are 500,000 Catholics in Bangalore in 165 parishes, four in my neighborhood alone.  There are 300 religious orders or congregations living in 400 residences, evidence that the ocean of need in India continues to call both arms and alms into Mother Teresa’s adopted country. There are many millions more Christians, predominantly Catholic, in the neighboring states of Goa and Kerala (where 20 percent of the population is Christian) and in the city of Mumbia.   

It again seems clear that the Southern Hemisphere is where the Catholic Church will enjoy its most vibrant life and future.  Last Sunday’s Mass was a powerful liturgy.

My host is generous and courtly and says his accounting practice has thrived in spite of renouncing the corruption which is widely evident in dealings with the government.  I ask where he thinks India will be 10 years from now.

“It may take 15 years or longer but I believe younger people will not tolerate the present corruption and will eventually bring about change,” he says.  He has an extensive knowledge of India politics and points to the leader of the state Bihar, (a state I will visit this week) Nitish Komar, as the real deal when it comes to honest politics and care for the people.

He wants me to know how he came to join this exclusive club, membership in which closed years ago.  It seems an acquaintance feared his son would not pass a critical exam.  My host tutored the son for three hours over three months.  When the son passed, the man asked what he could do for him.  Nothing.  How about a membership in the Bangalore Club?  That would be nice.  And how would you like to have a wife?  Both became his in short order.  He now lives and works just a few minutes away, his children here all the time. Surely it is fitting he is here, paying his dues, long after Churchill walked out on his.

  

 

 

   

 

It again seems clear that the Southern Hemisphere is where the Catholic Church will enjoy its most vibrant life and future.  Last Sunday’s Mass was a powerful liturgy.

My host is generous and courtly and says his accounting practice has thrived in spite of renouncing the corruption which is widely evident in dealings with the government.  I ask where he thinks India will be 10 years from now.
ago.  It seems an acquaintance feared his son would not pass a critical exam.  My host tutored the son for three hours over three months.  When the son passed, the man asked what he could do for him.  Nothing.  How about a membership in the Bangalore Club?  That would be nice.  And how would you like to have a wife?  Both became his in short order.  He now lives and works just a few minutes away, his children here all the time. Surely it is fitting he is here, paying his dues, long after Churchill walked out on his.

But the most interesting thing about my host occurred after we parted.  He had said I might be interested in meeting a friend of his who was from my neighboring state of Wyoming.  Her name is Elizabeth Jeffords and she moved to India seven years ago.  I said I would love to meet her, then went home and Googled her name.

What came up was a report from the New York Post that one John Jeffords had sold his ranch in Wyoming where he had changed his name to Elizabeth Jeffords who assumed her new identify as a leader in the transgender community which is apparently also called the eunuch community.  And there are pictures of Elizabeth.

My friend has not mentioned this matter to me which I find completely admirable and certainly unique among charismatics in any faith, particularly my own.  So I asked to meet her. 

Unfortunately she is not here and her return is uncertain for medical reasons.  I can only hope she returns in time for us to become acquainted.  Another example of what a remarkable experience this is. 

 

 

   

It’s Sunday night and I’ve just spent the evening at what must be one of Bangalore’s most exclusive venue, the Bangalore Club, thanks to an invitation from someone I met at church.  And somehow a sixth sense tells me I know what is coming.

As you might expect, a place called the Bangalore Club goes well back into the era of British rule known as The Raj.  With only a few thousand in command, canny alliances with local rulers and superior firepower, Britain ruled a vast territory for 300 years, giving up power only in 1947.   The club goes back 150 years and excluded Indians from membership until independence.  It is a large, park-like enclave not far from my residence and the busiest avenues, resembling several California country clubs rolled into one.  Giant trees characteristic of Bangalore overarch everything: tennis, pool, badminton and other game areas; lawn dining and theatre area; handball and squash courts; residences; the main dining room; the men’s and women’s grills and the mixed grill (which mixes sexes, not meats), where we ate.  The Mysorre Room commemorates the Maharajas of that nearby city with pictures of him attended by British and Indian soldiers in splendid uniforms.

The entrance is populated with the horns of animals, pictures of giant fish caught by members in 1919 and other emblems of domination over nature.  And there in the middle of the hall is an account book which shows clearly that Winston Churchill owed 30 rupees when he left after being a member here before World War I. 

It’s weird but I knew this, that Churchill walked away from a debt in Bangalore d now I am standing before the record of it.

I must have picked this up from “Into the Silence,” a long, anguished account of the carnage of World War II and how it spurred a British campaign to climb Mount Everest unsuccessfully just after the war.  Winston was in this story, incompetent at almost everything--needing influence even to be admitted to the infantry—serving as a junior rep of The Raj in Bangalore.  His description of the city—and his debt—is proudly on display at this club which is ironic because Churchill never gave up a conviction that England should rule India.

My host has a CPA firm working for international companies, is a father of six is and I quickly feel a brotherly affection for him.   He is an ardent, charismatic Catholic, which made me a bit wary initially since I left behind, years ago, his kind of ardor for our common faith.    

I learned there are 500,000 Catholics in Bangalore in 165 parishes, four in my neighborhood alone.  There are 300 religious orders or congregations living in 400 residences, evidence that the ocean of need in India continues to call both arms and alms into Mother Teresa’s adopted country. There are many millions more Christians, predominantly Catholic, in the neighboring states of Goa and Kerala (where a quarter of the population is Christian) and in the city of Mumbia.   

It again seems clear that the Southern Hemisphere is where the Catholic Church will enjoy its most vibrant life and future.  Last Sunday’s Mass was a powerful liturgy.

My host is generous and courtly and says his accounting practice has thrived in spite of renouncing the corruption which is widely evident in dealings with the government.  I ask where he thinks India will be 10 years from now.

“It may take 15 years or longer but I believe younger people will not tolerate the present corruption and will eventually bring about change,” he says.  He has an extensive knowledge of India politics and points to the leader of the state Bihar, (a state I will visit this week) Nitish Komar, as the real deal when it comes to honest politics and care for the people.

He wants me to know how he came to join this exclusive club, membership in which closed years ago.  It seems an acquaintance feared his son would not pass a critical exam.  My host tutored the son for three hours over three months.  When the son passed, the man asked what he could do for him.  Nothing.  How about a membership in the Bangalore Club?  That would be nice.  And how would you like to have a wife?  Both became his in short order.  He now lives and works just a few minutes away, his children here all the time. Surely it is fitting he is here, paying his dues, long after Churchill walked out on his.

 

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