Local News

Thousands Expected to Line Calcutta Cortege

Posted September 12, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— The funeral will be elaborate, but Mother Teresa's final resting place will be a simple room inside her Calcutta covenant. Her coffin will be placed in a simple tomb, sealed with slabs of white marble. Thousands are expected to line the streets of Calcutta for the funeral, including WRAL's David Crabtree.

During David's travels around the city of Calcutta, he has met people from around the world including a recent UNC graduate. The ring of love is gone around St. Thomas Church. Those were the last people waiting to pay their final respects to Mother Teresa. The lines were closed by the military early Friday. In doing so, many people became frustrated.

The frustration boiled over when word spread church doors had been locked. Those who were waiting in line were told to leave. The military kept the crowd under control as India's president arrived in Calcutta. All of this was just another day at the office for UNC graduate Anubha Anand, now a producer for Associated Press television.

"There are times when you wake up and you feel like Chapel Hill doesn't exist because you are in such a different place," Anand says. "You wake up and the sounds are different. The smells are different. Absolutely everything is so chaotic here."

It was here team that broke the story of Mother Teresa's death. Anand says it was thrilling to be involved with the breaking story. She credits a team effort for the success.

While she misses North Carolina, Anand loves her work in India and understands why some volunteers leave everything behind to work for Mother Teresa.

"There are some people who are looking for a very different world," Anand explains. "They come here and there are so many possibilities. There is so much stimulus."

WRAL found one of those people. He's a former Massachusetts State Trooper seriously injured in a motorcycle accident years ago. In 1994, he decided to give it all up, move to Calcutta, and work with Mother Teresa. He was located at #7 Royd Street.

John Ebert has worked with Mother Teresa's order for three years. Today with his five-year-old son by his side, he's working with the badly diseased foot of a man with leprocy.

Some of John's friends and his ex-wife told him he was going through a mid-life crisis, but he knew otherwise.

"They said you'd never see her. You'd never work with her. You'll never meet her," recalls Ebert. "And I arrived not only to meet her but to join her."

They became friends. Only a week before her death, she signed a picture for John. It was the day of her 87th birthday.

On the streets of Calcutta, John's patient tries to take his mind off the pain by entertaining a crowd that comes to watch the brother of the Sisters of Charity. John is proud of the example he's giving his son. He knows he'll be back at work tomorrow.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is heading up the American delegation. Several heads of states from the around the world are in Calcutta. That has caused a bit of a security problem. WRAL understands there has been an all-points bulletin looking for air conditioned buses. There are only 12 in the entire city of Calcutta, and 30 were needed.

As of Friday night, that need had been met.