As I head towards the end of my Indian adventures, I’ve arrived at a place that unexpectedly and movingly feels like home. I‘m in Tiruvannamalai (hint: pronounce the “Tiru” and the “lai” confidently and bus drivers will get the gist), staying at the Grace and Compassion Priory. My grandmother has volunteered for many years at a residential home in Bognor Regis run by sisters from this order, and I’ve known the nuns there for as long as I can remember, so there was no way I could come all the way to India without visiting the order here.
I was welcomed with open arms by sisters asking excitedly about me and my family and declaring that they met me in Bognor Regis when I was this high. Since then I’ve visited temples and ashrams in Tiruvannamalai and have been shown round the hospital, nurses’ training college, residential home, crèche and craft training school that the order runs here. I’ve also been spoiled rotten by the nuns and have eaten an enormous amount of delicious Indian food and sweets, all of which is threatening to counteract the effects of my (hitherto very effective) “India diet” . . .