Cordileone’s pilgrimage to India
Worship on a houseboat
Day 8: Friday, Jan. 6
After spending the night in the town of Munnar, we set
out at 7:30 in the morning for the long drive to Aleppy, for a lake cruise
on a house boat. The traffic was particularly horrendous, especially when
going through the towns.
We were given a brief but much welcome respite at a convent along the
way where Father Mathew Vellankal’s sister, Sister Lellis, teaches
in a school run by her order, the Sisters of Nazareth.
We were back on the road after 15 minutes, and after five harrowing hours,
fully frayed nerves and I don’t know how many seemingly near misses,
we arrived at our destination (I think this qualified me for advancement
to intermediate level in the school of riding in a car in India).
The house boat was a welcome change of pace, the exact opposite, actually,
of what we had experienced the first half of the day. These house boat
cruises have become quite popular for the locals as well as for tourists,
and I can see why, as they are very relaxing and peaceful, and conducive
to enjoying one another’s company or getting business done.
We had Mass on board the boat, which was particularly peaceful and prayerful.
I noticed that one of the deckhands stood off to the side all throughout
the Mass, observing our worship with great interest and respect.
Upon returning to terra firma, I was met by Father Jimmy Thottapaly, pastor
of St. Callistus parish in El Sobrante, for a drive to his home town of
Palai. In some of the towns we drove through we stumbled upon parish festivals,
which are common at this time of the year.
We drove past one church that had its façade completely covered
in bright lights. In the next town we came across a procession, with people
singing a chant and nuns all along the way holding lighted candles.
The local parish festival was also going on when we arrived at the Cathedral
in Palai. People were milling about, watching a play being put on by some
of the parishioners and wandering in and out of the Cathedral church to
Afterwards, we had dinner with Father Jimmy’s relatives, who have
the great blessing of living right next door to the Cathedral. Once again,
they bent over backwards to make me feel welcome, putting out the best
of food and drink and making sure that my every little desire was attended
to. I was humbled and honored by the kindness and respect they showed