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Touring nearby villages

One of the things I like about my job is that I never know exactly what I'm going to be doing on a particular day. But today I did, since Ahmad had asked me the evening before to escort a guest, who is here in order to represent a family foundation, to various places from which children come to our school. That's over twenty towns and villages in the area, though fortunately we didn't have to go to all of them. She wanted to concentrate on a few from which she had interviewed children, whose daily travel expenses the foundation will help to support.

So we started with various moshavs (semi-collective villages) in the area. Since she spends much of her time in India, she was surprised to learn that some of these nearby moshavs are populated by Jews from Kochin, in Kerala. One of these, Messilat Tsion, even has streets named after the old country. I told her about efforts to preserve the cultural heritage of these Kochini Jews that had been made by the Hebrew University (collection of old songbooks, formation of a choir, production of a disk). We also visited larger towns, like Beit Shemesh, Modi'in and Abu Ghosh, and a couple of kibbutzes. During this long journey we had the opportunity to discuss many things, from contemporary politics to spiritual influences. She had once been a professional dancer, and a student of classical Indian dance. Today she maintains a connection with her spiritual teacher, Satya Sai Baba, and is involved in working with orphans in Orissa. She was interested in what I could tell her about the founder of our village, Father Bruno Hussar.

Tomorrow our guest flies back to India and, in the afternoon, I made the first stage of preparations for my own trip there, planned for later this summer: a visit to the Travelers' clinic in Lod. That involved a battery of vaccinations - two in each arm, and prescriptions for more drugs against dysentery and malaria. The doctor said one of the side effects of the malaria drug can be nightmares. Ella's friend didn't recommend - she says it "plays with your head" too much.

Meanwhile I've been reading Shantaram, a 900 page novel based on the adventures of an Australian ex-convict in Bombay / Mumbai. Quite a story.