22 January 2000:
We had just had an amazing and much needed holiday in Goa. Over the years we had driven for four to five days to get to the beach, but this time we went by train which took about 36 hours. It was long but we survived. Jordan was good at making us laugh in tense situations so we had our share of free entertainment.
When we arrived in Delhi we realised how different life was going to be. The road trip from Delhi to Mussoorie usually took about 9 hours. We would get off the train or plane in Delhi and sleep over in a cheap hotel or with our friends, Andries and Brenda. We would then get onto another train to Dehra Dun and then into a taxi all the way up the very windy mountain to Mussoorie. Sometimes we would arrive late at night and have to walk along the narrow path to our house with sleeping children and luggage. There was always someone to help us, but it was quite a feat to arrive home sane.
This time we stayed with the Lindeques because we didn’t have furniture in our flat. Andries, Brenda and their children Sarah and Simon were already an important part of our new community. It was a Saturday. Arun Handa and Raman had secured a school classroom for us to use for our first meeting. All I could think of was, “What will we do with the DESKS?” We were grateful but all felt there was something better. At 5pm on Saturday evening, Tony, Raman, Andries and Arun booked the Madhur Milan Banquet Hall! It was across the street from Lady Shri Ram Girls’ College where Sharon John was studying. The guys came back very excited. Brenda asked if it had red carpets and it did. A few weeks earlier she had a dream about a place with red carpets.
The next day was Sunday and we were wondering, like Asha had been, if anyone would come. We had nothing to worry about. Word got out and friends were brought. It was an amazing first meeting. There were about 40 people, including children. People stayed well after 1 pm to chat.
It was an interesting mixture of people and we knew that once again we were going to be part of another Community of Nations. Enthusiasm and expectations ran high. Mid-week house meetings were set up and there we were… At the very beginning of a beautiful new community.
No-one was more surprised than Asha.
Asha was angry. She was angry with us and she was angry with God. She hated Delhi and missed her Mussoorie friends and family. Of course Zoe was still her bestie and she was always available but Ash was struggling to believe she could ever be happy again. Our house in the forest in Mussoorie was beautiful and spacious. Our new flat in Kalkaji was noisy and small and it didn’t take us long to find out that Delhi wasn’t safe for young girls.
One afternoon while I was resting, some teenage schoolboys knocked on our door. They had noticed that our Gypsy (jeep) wasn’t parked outside so assumed that the girls were alone. Fortunately the chain was on, so the door only partially opened. When Zoe opened it, one of the boys put his foot into the door and said, “We want friendship.” Another one asked for water. Asha and Zoe shouted and pushed the door closed on them. Their shouts woke me up. They were shaken and upset. The boys went away but kept their eyes open for another opportunity. When Tony heard about it, he was mad.
Tony’s study door opened onto our narrow stairwell right next to the front door. I was out in the Gypsy and the boys once again assumed the girls were alone. They had no idea what was waiting for them.
They knocked on the door and the girls open it. They tried to force their way in and the girls shouted. Tony flung his study door open and shouted. The boys panicked and started pushing and pulling each other down the narrow stairwell. Tony scrambled after them and grabbed two of them by their collars. He knocked them together and dragged them up the stairs giving them “Charlies” all the way. (Knees in thighs). The others escaped.
The shaken up boys were presented to our landlord who proceeded to hit them all over with his chappal; the mother of all Indian insults. The higher the swing the more humiliation is involved. His swings were high. They were then dragged off to their principal who proceeded to do the same with his chappal. The parents were called in and they got some more.
Tony came home dusting his hands and chuckling in triumph. No-one was going to touch his girls and every boy in the neighbourhood knew to stay away from the girls who lived in K66.
This experience shook us all up and Ash was even more upset about having to live in Delhi. We prayed with her and talked about how there would soon be new friends and a whole new community in Delhi- just like the one in Mussoorie. She struggled to believe it.
“But how do you know anyone is going to come?”
All we could say was, “You’ll see Ash.”
Asha 12 and Zoe 11-Entertaining each other.