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An Indophile's homecoming

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WARM WELCOME: John H. Stone speaking to an elderly woman at Alagadapa in Nalgonda district. PHOTO: NAGARA GOPAL
WARM WELCOME: John H. Stone speaking to an elderly woman at Alagadapa in Nalgonda district. PHOTO: NAGARA GOPAL

S.Ramu

The entire village accorded a rousing reception to John Henry Stone

ALAGADAPA (NALGONDA DT.): "Namaste, bagunnara?" asks a white man in broken Telugu.

"Oh, John, ninnu chusi yenni rojulayyindi? (Meeting you after a long time)," reciprocates the 65-year-old Yadawalli Saidamma with a spark in her eyes.

Then John Henry Stone, Director, Centre for International Rehabilitation Research Information & Exchange, University of Buffalo, US, asks her about her provisional stores she ran four decades ago. "Do you remember that I gave medicine to your son," he enquires with affection.

It's a homecoming for Mr.John, who stayed in this tiny village from 1967 to 1969 as a volunteer for Peace Corps, an independent Federal agency of the United States designed to promote mutual understanding between Americans and the outside world.

Long-lasting ties

The entire village accorded a rousing reception to Mr.John when he visited the village on Saturday and Sunday. "Then I was only 24 and now I am 63 but my attachment with this village is a long-lasting one," he told The Hindu .

He visited the village in 1975 and 1984. He is so nostalgic of Alagadapa that he continued mailing some letters to his pals in the village even he lived in Brazil for 17 years.

"I lived in a mud house in the main square of the village. I used a kerosene lamp and children were my friends," he recalled.

"I like the people here. They are hardworking, intelligent, kindhearted, hospitable and family oriented," he observed.

Mr.John married his college mate Vatsala, an Indian, in 1971 and they are blessed with two children--Anita and Lara. "I feel guilty for failing to bring my wife here," he said.

He also said that he was here for a couple of years to help farmers clear the land in a more scientific way.

Asked what was the transformation he observed, Mr.John said: "In fact there is no much change in the village.

I found that there is electricity, more tractors and mobile phones."


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