by David Giles
Packing for the imminent trip to South Asia has not been straightforward, not least because of the huge variation in weather anticipated. In the coming days, Delhi is forecast to reach an eye-popping 47°C, while Darjeeling is considerably cooler with the palpable threat of the approaching monsoon. There’s also the matter of our equipment, which needs to be divided among the three of us. (Pray that our luggage does not go missing en route!)
The forthcoming adventure doesn’t just take me out of the UK, but right out of my comfort zone as well. I live in a quiet English market town, and our travels will take us into some of the busiest and noisiest cities on the planet. But it will be fascinating to witness how high-tech industries coexist with subsistence farmers. As a dad – and railway enthusiast – I’m also interested to find out more about the vulnerable children who eke out a living alongside the very railways that contributed so dramatically to India’s economic growth. The Salvation Army has always advocated for those who have no voice – it’s a privilege to be able to see and hear the stories of the ‘voiceless’ in person.
Three books have contributed to my mental preparations for this journey. Lonely Planet’s India guide has been a very helpful resource, with useful maps and detailed background information. The Salvation Army Year Book is also a mine of useful facts about various ministries in the country, which I’m sure we’ll be dropping into our posts over the next few weeks.
The third book is Rudyard Kipling’s novel Kim. I first read it at school and found it pretty hard work, to be honest. But what is notable about this classic text is that Kipling (a Brit born in Mumbai) returned from his English education to India in 1882. That’s the same year that Booth-Tucker and his team voyaged to the country. Although fictional, the scenes that Kipling portrays in Kim – which was published in 1900 – are redolent of the melting pot of religions, castes, political struggles and socioeconomic crises that the Salvationist pioneers would have grappled with.
I can’t guarantee that we’ll be quite as lyrical as Kipling in our blog posts, especially after a 12 hour flight, but hope you’ll stick with us. We do invite your comments, questions and especially prayers. What would your essential reading list consist of?Tags: India, Preparations