Brian Gordon, our Circuit Administrator and Local Preacher, originally trained as a nurse and went on to become a trainer of nurses. This post led to his being sent to India on several occasions in order to recruit and train nurses to work in the UK. Parallel to doing this work he was also a Prison Chaplain. He was based at the Mount Abu Hospital in Rajasthan but during his visits he had the opportunity to visit other places in India, Sri Lanka (post tsunami) and Goa.
In a presentation to the Trinity Ladies Club, Brian brought along several Indian items to view including a Kurta (a very thin cotton shirt) and a sari bought for his wife. Then there were the animals/birds carved from timber and stone. After the initial carving, holes were made on the surface through which replicas were carved on the inside of the structures – amazing works of art. The ladies also saw a selection of rupee bank-notes.
The contrast between the rich and the poor is very evident in India. Whilst the wealthy drive Rolls Royce cars, many thousands live on the streets and have their addresses as lamp-post numbers.
After leaving the temple, it is customary for the worshippers to carry out a good deed. Consequently when Brian was there, lepers would be lined up hoping for alms.
On a visit to the Taj Mahal, Brian purchased a set of coasters made from marble and with patterns similar to ones on the building itself. These delicate patterns had been made using a technique known as ‘Pietra Dura.’ The stones were cut and fashioned by people holding the stones in their fingers (which in time became fused in that position) and then, holding the stones against a rotating grind-wheel to shape them to fit as inlays gouged in the marble.
The ladies were told that 85% of the population are in employment as there are no such things as benefits. The average wage was £180 per year.
Transport was a nightmare. On a three-lane carriageway there would often be five lanes of traffic, and traffic lights were just decorations! Rail travel was horrendous with very cramped compartments but nevertheless fellow passengers were amicable. On one particular journey a passenger made a sketch of Brian in a very short time. Brian brought it along for the Ladies Club to see: it was a great likeness.
The ladies were shown a photograph of a conference attended by 2,500 nurses, held in a building with 48 concave solar discs which followed the sun, providing free power. Each of the nurses had a candle which was lit row by row in the opening ceremony. What a contrast to Brian’s present working environment in the Circuit Office at Westwood House.