By Francis Gonsalves
Ever heard of “Carmel” school or college? My sisters studied at Carmel School in Bandra, Mumbai. In boyhood I’d often tease them: “Why do you go to a camel-school?” A well-informed classmate explained, “That school gets its name not from camel but from ‘caramel’ since the nuns wear chocolate-brown robes!” I later learnt that Carmel had nothing to do with camels and caramels but is a coastal mountain range in northern Israel.
Carmel institutions, nationwide, are run by Catholic religious called “Carmelites”. At school, the flowing brown robes and veils of the nuns seemed outmoded and intimidating, However, I now know many Carmelites who are refreshingly vivacious and up-to-date. These practise Carmelite spirituality, which stresses prayer and penance.
On my recent trip to Israel, I visited many sites atop Mount Carmel ideally suited to dhyan (meditation) and sadhana (spiritual practices). Situated 30 kms from the seaside town of Haifa, Mount Carmel has many grottoes and elevations that transport one towards Transcendence: God.