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Day 8 India Saturday 22nd February 2020

Our final blog..... Woke up on the night train to the sound of someone throwing up in the toilet next door and a small child staring at a sleeping Miss Wood with his mother sitting on the edge of Miss Wood’s bed. The kid looked right at me and stopped staring. As the train rolled into the station we saw sister Cecilia waiting on the platform for us and everyone quickly scrambled to grab their belongings. Stepping onto the platform we were greeted by the Chennai heat and humidity, in sharp contrast to the air conditioned carriage. Everyone regrouped on the platform and headed for the bus back to the Church Park convent which arrived at around 6am. Everyone decided to grab a few hours sleep before going to the craft village. At 8:45 we groggily crawled out of bed and had a breakfast of toast and boiled eggs. Leaving James and Miss wood behind to rest with their upset bellies in the caring hands of sister Cecilia, the rest of us travelled on the hour and and a half journey to the craft village. The crafts village was a celebration of the diverse and intricate cultures that thrive in India from Tamil Nadu to Kashmir. We saw traditional Indian tribal dances, and old Indian artefacts from around the country. We also saw some other western tourists, the first time the whole trip. The buildings were all built in the local styles of the different regions, and modern artwork of cartoons and sculpture were also displayed. We saw traditional craftsmen at work, carving stone, blowing glass or engraving dried palm leaves. Many of us saw fit to use up our remaining rupees on these stalls, as the closed currency means that we can’t change back into sterling after. It was really great to know the money you were spending was going straight to the skilled craftsmen that made the items. After this we left the craft village and met up with our bus and had a picnic lunch of cheese sandwiches, boiled eggs and sprite. Upon our return to the convent we attended mass at the convent chapel and had the gospel reading bearing the message of turn the other cheek. After a wonderful service we gathered any remaining rupees and hopped on the bus to Spencer’s plaza for a final attempt at haggling. After this final shopping expedition we collected Pizza Hut on the way back to the convent and tucked into our last supper with Sister Cecilia. After eating we had a few hours to kill before leaving for the airport. In this time final packing preparations were made and people either settled into some homework, reading, naps or card games. And so the journey home begins and we carry memories that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Arch summed this up when we said a final farewell to sister Cecelia “part of my soul has just left with Sr Cecelia”. Nathan and James


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