The Church in Mumbai

Jim (director) and I have been assigned a driver named Deepak.  He is a very cool guy but drives like a maniac.  The horn is his best friend.  He tears down the cobblestoned roads often swerving into on coming lanes of traffic to dodge Rickshaws, pedestrians, dogs, cats and anything else that is in his way.  If my morning jog doesn’t get my blood pumping two minutes with this driver nearly puts me into cardiac arrest.  He doesn’t speak much English and in the mornings when I call to tell him we are on our way down and to please wait for us in the valet he replies, “Yah, yah. Coming.”  It always puts a smile on my face.

Deepak is standing behind Jim (white shirt)

We were on our way back from the studios with Indian line producer Shivani and asked if there were any sights to see near our hotel.  The area we are staying in is called Bandrah and is the Beverly Hills of Mumbai.  A lot of Bollywood stars live on the hills behind the hotel.  Shivani and Deepak took us to see one of the oldest Catholic Churches in Mumbai.  As we approached the church its steeples appeared to rise out of the humidity toward the cloudless sky.  Not as impressive as some European Cathedrals but still quite a structure.

Parking out front we noticed some street vendors and other activity outside of the church.  To our western eyes the neighborhood looked used up maybe even unsafe.  I don’t mean to sound prudish or scared but if I travel to certain parts of Los Angeles, or New York or even Salt Lake City there are certain things that might say to you you’re not in the best place to walk around.  Homeless people on the street, shacks built out of corrugated steel covered in blue plastic and trash, lots of trash on the roads etc.  I’ve worked in homeless shelters in downtown and experienced abject poverty in Guatemala, Brazil and the Dominican Republic but I’ve never seen anything that resembles this kind of heart wrenching dearth.  A colleague of mine warned me that Mumbai would be “in my face” but wow, at times it is overwhelming.

Shivani assured us that we were in a safe neighborhood and that the streets of Mumbai are basically safe 24-7.  The gangs have

The church

been chased out and crime is relatively petty.  For instance, when we went to take off our shoes before entering the church she suggested that we leave them on because they’d be missing when we came outside but as far as life threatening situations or muggings for money she assured us we were totally safe.

The blue interior

The interior of the church was blue.  Actually sky blue.  I thought if I were to attend services here I’d find it hard to concentrate in all the blue but the church had several members of the parish sitting in pews.  We stayed in our shoes and only stepped inside a couple of feet to take a snap shot or two.  I felt guilty about not respecting their space and leaving my shoes on so got out of there quickly.

Upon exiting the grounds we saw an old woman walking down the street.  She was bent at the waste and carrying groceries. She had to be in her 80’s if not older and was moving at a good pace.  Maybe she was from one of the Bollywood Mansions on the hill but living in this city is not easy.  She ambled by and went into the church.

Old woman.

tom lowe photo, llc

tacoma, wa 98406


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