the beauty of india
However, if you scratch below that surface (!) there is so much beauty in this place and in this people. We were reminded of this - yet again - as we took our friends, Miranda and Andrew, on a quick trip around South India last week. Planning trips for our friends around hamara hindustan ('our India') is my favourite thing to do.
This time there was only time for Mysore, Ooty, Munnar, Kochi and Hyderabad. But that is still ample time for beauty. For example, there is the beauty of the scenery.
|On the ride down to the plains from Coonoor in the Nilgiri Hills.|
|Approaching Munnar from the north, with the early views of the mountains.|
|The verandah view from our hotel in Munnar, with New Year's celebrations still on a stick desperately seeking a chainsaw (plus a view in the Himalayas where we grew up, to remind southerners where the real mountains are!).|
|Seeing is believing with Munnar's tea gardens - and we did our best to add to the beauty.|
|Fort Kochi's fishing nets, originating in China centuries ago, never fail to beguile.|
Then there is the beauty of the colours.
|Stumbling across the colour-full Devaraja Market in Mysore.|
|The brightness of those fabrics, especially the saris.|
|What about the fruit ...|
|... and even the balloons at the lakeside shooting gallery.|
There is a beauty in the buildings - like the Chowmahalla Palace in Hyderabad. It has been owned by the line of Nizams (one of whom appeared on the cover of TIME magazine in 1938 as the richest man in the world). These buildings were restored recently by the Turkish wife of the Nizam, almost 20 years after he divorced her (and then he went on to marry four others, sequentially - not concurrently!). She came back to make the buildings beautiful again.
|Draw near - and the carving is exquisite.|
|But I am more of a fort man, myself ... here, the Golconda Fort in Hyderabad.|
Ahh, the beauty of the people. We've loved watching the urban-globalized style alongside the more traditional-indigenous one ... as captured in this photo of these young women.
|The beauty in these (slightly) older women is rather nice as well!|
St Bartholomew's in Mysore (see below) captured our hearts. Having lived in places where the church is under pressure I am less inclined to mumble out the cliche about 'the church is not a building, but a people'. True. Very true. But I tell you, in these places the church building itself can be a witness. A thing of order and beauty, amidst the chaos and dirt.
We were given the wrong times for the Sunday service - and arrived in time for the final prayer ... and it was a thing of beauty that stirred us. So we lingered for a bit and noticed this entry in the annual liturgy/calendar. It is not easy being a girl child in India, especially an unborn one - but God longs for each one to become beautiful in Christ.
Hmmm. Not sure. The reality is that authentic, godly people of beauty, carrying the liberating gospel of Christ, often slipped in the same door as those wicked colonialists. And in sharing and living that gospel, they enabled indigenous peoples to meet and respond to the beauty of Christ and so to become truly beautiful themselves ... and all they were designed to be, within their very own world and culture.
I suspect Mary Eden Benson was one such person of beauty. This world with so much ugliness in it needs many more Marys, from 'every nation, tribe, people and language', in it.