Friday, 25 July 2008

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Wed. July 23, 2008 - Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

“The chronicle Journal” newspaper featured a front page photo by Jamie Smith this morning captioning it is “It must be love”. A very positive photo of six of our girls, capturing a moment during their Bharat Natyam dance in the performance of, “Dharma” the night before. A short description of it reads, Yoga of Love brings Krishna Youth from across North America together to do cultural performances.” Personally I was elated to see this. I’m sure our Guru, Srila Prabhupada would also be pleased.

The organizer, Dr. Jani and I took a decent distance japa (mantra) walk in Neebing. The sky was clear with green all around us and fresh air was stimulating. At one point my realization went on to express itself to Jani , “ With all the green around us isn’t it obvious that this is the colour most of our food should be?”
He concurred.

In the evening Dr. Jani organized a chanting session in the park at the sight of a gorgeous lake. Under a tamarack tree local folks came to chant and drum with us. It’s what I call a spiritually profitable day.


Monday, July 21st, 2008

Mon. July 21, 2008 - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Festivals in Krishna Consciousness can be very tense from both the administrative and performance perspective. You are involved with a lot of people. To unwind, walking from a festival site back to a local temple or one’s accommodations spot is so much a must for me. It allows me time to go over what went on, what went right, and what went wrong. As it is the mundane world we live in `nothing is ever perfect. So I add up mentally the pluses and minuses.

The last few evenings I had been able to trek the stretch from the ferry docks at the base of Yonge Street on up to the Avenue Rd. temple.

This evening I went to visit a sibling, Pauline, who is turning half a century in four days! My little sister lost her husband to a nasty bullet shot last December leaving all of us startled in an unexpected mystery. In our tradition monks are permitted to see family and to give comfort and so here I am seeing and supporting Pauline. She has increased her level of hope and is looking more positive. She relayed a story about dad going back many years when his employers announced to himself and all co-workers about their being laid off of work at the factory. His co-workers left the building somewhat disgruntled. Dad stayed on feigning that his shoes need re-tying. When all left except the employer he said firmly, “ I need to work. I’ll do anything. I’ll sweep the floor, whatever you want!” So he stayed on being employed. Dad was not a quitter.

When I returned back to the temple being driven by the moody monk (who admits he’s less moody these days) I took another unwinding walk to reflect on the policy of determination in spiritual life. I had a good sleep that night.


Saturday, July 19th, 2008

Sat. July 19, 2008 - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I failed to mention about another one of the highlights at Toronto’s Chariot Festival. It’s the killer kirtan (chanting session) that resonates under the tunnel or overpass. A good 4 000 people come, with resounding drums shattering the heart of Maya (illusion) under the Gardiner Expressway. What an attraction!

For a full hour I was asked to lead the chanting and, of course, that is a great honour. On centre island a new feature was a massive tent erected to accommodate many persons. Rain seems to haunt the chariot festivals everywhere we go and it was no exception here. The tent saved the day and offered ample shelter.

Our youth from the bus tour did a startling performance. Some of the actors are having break-throughs and that is making the difference. Prior to our “Dharma” performance two dancers, one in sufi style and one in Kathak rendered a great piece. Their level of professionalism was something I thought our community needed to see from time to time. When professionalism and devotionalism get married to each other it is a perfect harmony. Our guru Srila Prabhupada., had hired professional Shenai (horn) players to perform in order to set ragas or moods of devotional type. He also encouraged us to do anything well and to pay attention to details in all that we do. In other words, “Be mindful”


Friday, July 18th, 2008

Fri. July 18th - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Andrew is a young cyclist who passed by me on the side walk this evening. He turned around and came back to greet me.

“ I just went through an awesome experience and then I saw you. Maybe this is a coincidence.,” said Andrew. “I’m a bit shaken up about the murder that just happened across the street in my low criminal neighbourhood. I felt like my own life was threatened. Can you explain what I’m going through?”

So I did explain philosophically according to the teachings of the Bhagavad-Gita And my own experience what he was going through. We are all in the bodily concept of life convinced that this body- the shell is the be-all and end-all. We have all heard of the shell cracking and breaking, however, the substance within, the atma , does not break or dissolve. This substance is what we truly are. The reason we live in fear is due to this misidentification with the body. We just need to get priorities straight. The soul must be considered. It is not bio-degradable. It persists. Any unfinished business has its opportunity to continue in the next successive life (or lives).

Andrew, the cyclist, left with gratitude for me to have taken the time to leave him with these concepts.

Tonight I offended someone after acting as spokesperson for some of our youth. I felt bad about his response but I resolved that time will heal and efforts on my part will be a work in progress for regaining friendships.


Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Wednesday, July 17th, 2008

Wed. July 17/08 - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I’m back at home base for several days. And it’s busy! The Toronto Festival of Chariots which is what everyone here is preparing for is one of the largest in North America. One of the attractive features in the city is the excellent processional route, Yonge Street. Guiness calls it the world’s longest street at 1,800 kilometers long. The procession only occupies about six kilometers from Yonge & Bloor southbound to Lake Ontario’s water.

Secondly the participants then hop onto a ferry for a breezy ride to Toronto Island. There the two-day festival takes place under generous shady trees and upon soft well-maintained grass.

My role is to mingle with all participants; to be that saffron-clad monk wishing people well and be prepared to answer practical and personal questions. What really occupies my time, especially today, is rallying enough actors for a drama to be presented on the island. Unfortunately all the talented people appear to be occupied and so I prayed for another little miracle. The organizers are depending on me to produce.

Believing in optimism as the drawing card in a situation makes everything auspicious; one by one the candidates for acting came forward to indulge in our play ‘Vamana.’ My morning walk was up University Ave and passed the park where our guru, Srila Prabhupada visited. The spot is Queen’s Park just behind the provincial government building. The more monks that walk on political soil the better chance the world has at tempering the extreme passion of man.

9 km.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Tuesday, July 16, 2008

Tues, July 16/08 - Orleans, Ontario, Canada

As usual early morning gets the greatest attention. Prior to 4:30 am I was approached by a curious cab driver with a Muslim background. Also a young corporate type fellow asked questions and admitted he had his own path. That is fine. I’m glad they were both open-minded enough to talk and compare notes. That happened in Toronto.

The bulk of the day was spent in transit on the way to Orleans Theatre just outside of Ottawa. We were scheduled to perform our show ‘Dharma’ in the evening. The two young men were familiar with the first principle which translates as Indian Standard Time. The joke is that for social/religious events you show up late by habit. Well, I made sure to be on time and this enabled me the time I needed to sit down with the technical crew. Patience wore thin as I saw 2 ½ hours pass by from the agreed upon time to meet our youth bus (tour) or busters.

Their excuse had been bungie jumping. I was disturbed inside my mind but after a good performance all agitation dissolved. Our guru, Srila Prabhupada, spoke of patience as being like almonds or coconuts. They take their time to get ripe but once maturity has evolved it is very satisfying.

10 km.

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

Sun, July 13/08 - Montreal, Canada

I have never seen a summer so wet. Today the rains poured down like the monsoons of India, atleast at times. While under the main tent of the Festival of India at Jeanne Mance Park I passed by a man of national celebrity status.

Just as 2 years ago Leonard Cohen, world-renowned poet and musician, chanced upon us (and made a repeat visit on day 2), so on this day I stopped as I walked by and turned around to say, “Oh I know you!” I thrust out my hand for a handshake. “Justin Trudeau,” he identified himself. Justin is the charismatic son of the late Perre Trudeau, Canada’s most popular Prime Minister and is himself entering into the political arena of service. He was most gracious and also happy to receive a copy of the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is. He sat down to watch an audio-visual presentation of the soul’s transmigration and browsed around to see our exhibits even though rain descended on all. I wished him well in his career. It has been naturally predicted that he would be a future Prime Minister. Let’s see how karma swings.

3 km.

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

Sat, July 12/08 - Montreal, Canada

The procession for Ratha Yatra culminating at Jeanne Mance Park was quite successful. The sun shone and so did chanters. What really shone for me today was sitting on the grass with godbrother, Gaura. He is a unique person and has been taking to the gypsy ways in so-far as traveling about. What impresses me about him is his firm commitment to meet people and deliver them some words of wisdom and perhaps demonstrate his fine cooking techniques, etc. Recently he has been spending time at native reserves. Currently he is residing in Oka where Mohawks of the region occupied and ceased traffic at the major bridge two decades ago. Social/legal issues were at stake as often they are to do with land treaties, land developers and corporations. Last year Caledonia was the hotbed of dispute in Canada over similar issues.

Gaura had connected with the indigenous people there. In my marathon walks I have had the good fortune to mingle somewhat with the native peoples and it has always been a good learning experience.
So Gaura, keep up the good work!

5 km

Friday, July 11th, 2008

Fri, July 11/08 -Montreal, Canada

Montreal is quite a party city. All festivals staged are well attended. Their annual jazz festival is the largest in the world. People stay up late in their night life. This weekend it is the ‘Just for Laughs Festival’ and our youth on the bus tour took advantage of the large gathering of people on St. Catherine’s Street. Despite the strong element of ‘raunchy’ or ‘wrecklessness’ as commented on by some of our youth, our group of youth combined with local devotee youth to penetrate like an arrow with that powerful mantra (Hare Krishna) through the cloud of attempted enjoyment. A puzzled look on the faces of some became our source of entertainment. It seems the world is searching for stimulation and certainly the cheap thrills are out there.

Anyone who has participated in a dynamic group of chanters plying through a barrage of maya (illusion) knows how safe and secure is the shelter of the name. You are truly situated in a transcendental bubble which can pop only when the vibration discontinues and we begin to contemplate the objects of the senses.
Maya is insurmountable as expressed in the Bhagavad-gita, but one who takes shelter of the source can easily overcome.

9 km.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008: Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Apurva, the cook, and I ventured for a chanting walk from Cavendish ( the popular location of Lucy Maud Montgomery's fictional character, Ann of Green Gables) to Cavendish Main Beach. Naturally, many of our youth on the bus, chose to spend time at Ann's place. Some of us vied for other explorations along the beach, where thousands of violet coloured Jelly fish were flipped over at each turn of a wave. The strong and clean air of the Atlantic was most welcoming.

Our Bhagavatam class was very interactive involving the boys and girls. They seem to thrive on the purport readings when I incorporate charades. It was a day to spend time, personal time, with several of the youths. No play practise today.

The day came to a close with kirtan, chanting, near the beach. Sobhai, a local friend, with a retired school principal Mr.Joshi and Mrs. Gupta, came to join us from Charlottetown. They were extremely impressed with the quality of the chanting by our young men and women. When Gopinatha, our sixteen year old very white boy, spoke in Hindi, they were doubly impressed.


Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

Wednesday, July 9, 2008: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Our two monks stationed in this city are Nitai Rama and Karuna Sindhu. Caroline Bund from Winnipeg flew in for the coming event which was our stage production the show "Dharma". After our two buses pulled into Halifax and onto Creighton Street, where the two monks rent an apartment, our youth group began chanting with instruments on the boy's bus. A second chanting session simultaneously burst out from the apartment. A reporter from the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) heard the enchanting vibrations from her apartment on the same street and was compelled to find the source. She made her way to the monks' apartment for an interview.

One of her questions was, " What are you doing in Halifax?" So I explained about our dance, drama and drums presentation at the Neptune Theatre.

Another question. " Some people refer to you as a cult and people express that your community contributes nothing. This is a fear when they hear that you are coming."

My response... "There are misconceptions about what we do, but as far as a contribution goes ~ we are known for bringing music, song and dance in a most age-old traditional fashion. Sixty percent of North Americans are lonely according to statistics. A similar percentage of youths are overcome by depression and stress. The missing link is chanting. This is what we are here to give."

The performance of our show "Dharma" was of good standard and our audience offered a standing ovation to something that was very different ~ entertainment with a spiritual edge.


Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Tuesday, July 8, 2008: Saint Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada

A young African monk and I walked down Water Street, in this first official resort town in Canada. The sun was very present, throwing happiness on everyone. We passed some pedestrians who in soft tones uttered, "!" It was the first time we had heard that mantra. Likely these folks spotted the signage on our buses earlier on.

A fellow in a pickup stopped and said the traditional slogan, " Hare Krishna?" as a question.

"That's right!" said Jaya Keshava, the African monk. The man's response was, " Welcome!"

For all of us on the bus tour, the whole fifty of us, people in this quaintest of towns, were extremely friendly. Whether young or old, the inquisitive level towards higher consciousness was way up there. One youth came to ask questions while we were waiting for the Whale Watching ship to pull up. He ended up acquiring Japa (meditation) beads and learning the entire mantra. Casually our young men and women perused the town, browsing through shops. Shop owners had so much to ask and so much to say about what goes on in their lives. We did spot whales. Rob Carney, who lived as a monk, in our New York ashram for a year, twenty years ago, shares the whale watching business with his wife Jo Ann. They were great hosts on the ship. On board were live starfish but what really held my interest today was people ~ good people. Even the mayor waved from his office during a town council meeting.


Monday, July 7th, 2008

Monday, July 7, 2008: Caratusk, Maine, USA

I passed up on the white water rafting, this time around, but our youth indulged in the water fun. One of the guides, to accompany and supervise, is a Theatre Major, who has studied the epic of India, The Mahabharata. He was fascinated by the philisophical depth, its moral fiber, strong sense of family-bond and spiritual insight. He read through all the battle scenes. I chatted with Terry for a good while and offered some great prasadam cooked by Apurva. The salad was an assorted green mix, picked from the woods, with wild raspberries and strawberries, dandelion and various mints. Terry loved the time with his new found friends. We left him with a book, Introduction to the Gita.

As usual my heart pulls when I must leave or part from someone who shows a keen spiritual interest. Will he keep a connection with his soul, with wisdom learned and present a clear "No!" as an answer to maya or illusion? I wish all sincere seekers of the truth, the best on their journey to find themselves.

Manu and I made our way to a clear creek for a refreshing swim. I would say of the state of Maine, that it is God's country. Great water! Good fragrances! We even hit the famous Appalachian Trail at its northern source. It is many people's dream, especially Americans, to walk this trail in its entirety, a duration of sixth months from Maine to the southern states. It is my experience that folks who trek long distances, or even cyclists who go for the long haul, are people who are going the journey partially, as a journey for introspection.


Sunday July 6th, 2008

Sunday July 6, 2008: Towaco, New Jersey, USA

I had trekked the Manhattan bridge on the previous day. Today I rode the subway, which runs a line on this monstrosity of a bridge. A quick zip over to Tompkins Square Park, along with the youth bus crew, will be memorable. I met Eddie, who migrated from Prague decades ago. " I know Prabhupada! I met him personally. I know him!" he told me excitedly. " He rented a room from my friend. I have seen him and talked to him."

With little else to say, he was simply content to pull me to the side and conveyed proudly that he had come in contact with a man of a very special kind. For him, the monk Prabhupada, who at seventy years of age crossed the ocean, had two serious heart attacks, and risked his life to deliver the science of the Bhagavad-gita to America, was his hero.

I did some shopping. After a run and subway ride to Manhattan's B&H Superstore with Manu, our bus tour group leader, purchases were made in the audio department. This is an efficiently run store, operated by Orthodox Jews. Following this, I managed to make it to a theatre costumer. I asked the management for a discount on a theatre prop. The owner came to the counter after being paged. On the basis of non-profit, I made my plea. As quick as you can snap your fingers, he said, "A ten percent discount!"

I was stunned. I gave him my thanks and a spontaneous, " Can I give you a hug? " He reacted as if it was a first time line. "Just take it to the desk," he said as straight and business like as could be. Finally he did show up at the counter and unfroze like the kindest person.

The evening's performance showed some improvement over last night, despite limited technical special effects.

God's mercy on us all!


Saturday July 5th, 2008

Saturday July 5, 2008: Edison, New Jersey, USA

The number of youths joining the summer tour is increasing. Four boys joined and one or two girls as well, so space becomes a valuable commodity. Communal dynamics are now becoming a reality. If one person contracts a bug, a virus or germ, then likely we all get infected. Throat infections and head colds are all becoming common. The long driving sessions takes their toll on all passengers, affecting our sleeping. In general, I am faring quite well, up to this point, considering I am one of the oldest on this tour.

Like any kind of camping adventure, things happen. In the middle of the night, our bus driver made a sudden, quick turn. That sent Apurva, a co-elder, flying from the third bunk adjacent to me, banging my head (as I'm on the second bunk) and finally landing him on the floor. Ouchhh! Especially for him. Apurva got bruised but ends up being a real trooper, carrying on with his service as if nothing happened.

For the evening, our group presented our show, this time billed as "Kirtan Yoga". Jayadvaita Swami, a native of New Jersey, has been a staunch and faithful monk since the late sixties. He was there to see our performance at the theatre. He offered his appreciation and as an editor, offered some minor corrections to the script.


Friday, July 4th, 2008

Friday, July 4, 2008: Washington, DC, USA

Today's walk was partially a march. The fourth of July parade is an annual event all over America and by some great fortune, a Hare Krishna float, a mobile chariot resembling a temple, is hand pulled by enthusiastic members down Constitution Street. It is observed by millions of people, by personal presence or on television. For the last decade and a half, the Krishna Chariot is at the tail end of the parade, which is possibly the best spot in the march, as it leaves a lasting impression. Anuttama, the co-ordinator for our float, had me positioned in the middle and near the front of our procession group, where I flung two banners in the air while marching.

Since our float had such a unique spirit about it, as well as look, I could see that the chariot was a real crowd pleaser. I was quite amazed by the attendance, of the public, of ISKCON's stationary exhibits under the auspices of the Festival of India. People were particularly interested in kirtan (chanting) and the Bharat Natyam dance presentations.

It was also my good fortune to walk some distance to our site, very near to the Washington Capital building, with Hari Sauri, author of A Transcendental Diary . He told me of how in '76, the year of America's 200th anniversary, our Guru, who was accompanied by many devotees, looked admiringly at the Capital building's dome. At that time, he was considering that a similar structure could become a future temple in his choice location, Mayapur, India, the headquarters of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.


Monday, 7 July 2008

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

Sat, Jun. 7, 2008 - Atlanta, Georgia, USA

There were emotional moments for me. The location for the weekend's Chariot festival was Piedmont Park, the very place visited by our guru, Srila Prabhupada, in February of 1975. I happened to be here when he took that walk in the cold. He wore a tailor made saffron coat. His Hands and face were exposed while holding his cane. It was biting cold outside yet he expressed an aloofness while our small travelling party of monks from Canada were feeling the chill.

During his trip to Atlanta Prabhupada had displayed some transcendental ecstacies. He had sat down before us in the temple's main room to teach us a devotional Bengali song, "Parama Karuna" in reference to the grace or mercy that flows from guru and God.

Seeing this park in the city where memorable moments creeped up on me during the Ratha Yatra, Festival of Cahriots, through Piedmont Park left me in awe. The temperature during the chariot procession reached 102 degrees fahrenheit. With the other extreme in climate we were still not able to transcend the extremity.

7 Km

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

Wed. July 02/08 - Port Royal, Pennsylavnia, USA

One of my favorite monks in Krishna Consciousness was Bhakti Tirtha Swami. A former black panther from the activist years of America and native of Cleveland, Ohio. He came to Krishna Consciousness to become an even greater radical as a monk. Bhakti Tirtha passed away three years ago from cancer. At a country ashram in the hills of Pennsylvania lies his samadhi, a memorial tomb next to a temple of Radha Krishna. It happens to be a fine structure to circumambulate while chanting on beads. Today was a day to indeed reflect on saints.

A half day fast was observed to honour the passing of Bhaktivinode Thakur, one of the true fathers of the bhakti, or devotional movement in India in the 19th century. Amongst many of his great contributions are his outpouring of songs of deep feeling. He was a great spiritualist and while he did much to enhance the cause of spreading bhajan meditation he maintained a large family who all became great saints themselves amoungst them Bhaktisiddhanta, a life-long celibate monk, who also became a great pioneer of Krishna Consciousness.

Amongst our ranks in the saint category is Apurva. Himself a family man, spent his years as an excellent cook in devotional service. He and his wife, Kamalini, are traveling with us on the youth bus tour. The couple are extremely dedicated and take time in the morning for power walking, which means they are my kind of people.

Apurva sees to it that no food (prasadam) is wasted. If a plate is left half eaten he will see to it that it gets eaten, either by the dog or some other entity needing. He scrapes his hand at the bottom of a pot to see that justice is done to all prepared food. He has won my respect totally.

The rich soil of this country yeilds great herbs and crops and my walks here give great joy seeing the well maintained fields in Amishland.

5 km

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Mon. June 30/08 - Moundsville, West Virginia, USA

Balabhadra, his wife, Chaya and daughter Laksmi run ISCOWP Internation Society for Cow Protection with a primary focus on ox training. They did an excellent job at telling our youth group about the pros of life based on agriculture and cow/bull protection. We mingled with the ox who were content at grass chewing. Balabhadra showed us the instrument for castrating the bulls, a two minute rather painless procedure.

Gopinatha, one of our 16 year old boys who was raised in Vrndavan, India, captured hot urine in his hand as it came pouring out of the cow. Daring as he was he proceeded to drink the fluid cupped in his right hand which had some of us in hysteria. This action of his should be of no surprise to those of us who have faith in the healing power of what comes from a bull and cow.

My impatience towards being able to find time to do some countryside walking got the better of me. I decided to tackle the gravel road leading to the Ridge Road despite signs of oncoming heavy rain. I became drenched and cordially refused rides along the way. I was intent to walk and to visit Bahulaban, a location of a house formerly converted into a temple whose dieties since then were re-located. The building is abandoned yet stands to remind us of some rich history of a unique spiritual development in North America and the world druing the sixties and seventies.

In better condition is the cabin near the house. In the summer of '73 I was assigned, while a novice, to be a personal servant of a monk, Subhal Swami. No one explained to me what exactly that meant or how to go about it. I felt that he was a bit cold in disposition. Anyways, I was not sure exactly where I should station myself for the night while assisting him. So I discovered a mattress under the cabin and lie there for the night's sleep. When I awoke in the morning I realized it was a mattress owned by others. To my surprise I found myself surrounded by four dogs who graciously allowed me their shared space.

The visit to Bahalaban struck emotional moments for me. It was near the cabin in the summer of '74 that I recieved a rite of passage from our guru, Srila Prabhupada - the brahminical initiation.

6 km

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Sun. June 29/08 - Chicago, Illinois, USA

"You are in samadhi (trance)!" said Romapada Swami, a monk godbrother. He gave a kind shoulder massage in order to wake me up from a sit down dose, the effects of all night bus virbrations.

"We're on!" said Romapada, meaning that he and I, Chandramauli Swami and Amujavilas Swami were to address the Chicago community. The chariot parade took place here a day after detroit on Gandhi Marg, a primary street in the heart of little India of Chicago. Things went well for the procession followed by an indoor feast and entertainment held in a Croation hall. The hall had its walls adorned with warrior heros of Croatia's past. The figures resembled some of the warriors portrayed in the epic Mahabharat of which Karna is one. The banquet hall was inspiring enough from that angle.

The performance was well executed by our throupers, the youth. The Chicago youth kids in their early teens performend bhajans and I must admit they were good, sounding much like an angelic choir. Bhajans (mantras) and choir voices with minimal musical instruments are very compatible with one another. There is a need to downplay instruments and focus on the pure voice of mantra, I feel.

4 km

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

Sat. June 28/08 - Detroit, Michigan, USA

The motor city gets drenched. Rain has favored this area of Michigan. As our two busses pulled up after a 12 hour drive from North Carolina we plunged into flood water as well as rain from above. Nothing seems to stop an enthusiastic group from the Krishna community from going forward with their chariot festival. Chanting in the rain on Belle Isle is an annual event here it seems. The site of booths, exhibits and food displays were fore-grounded by serious pools of water surrounded by spongy sod. Somehow participants transcended the conditions and rationalized that at least it's not blistering hot.

At the end of the event a group of blue T-shirted folks combed tourist at Belle Isle hoping to commit anyone to making vows on-the-spot to being "born again" and accepting Jesus. It had been quite some time since meeting such passive-aggressive spirituality. I agreed to listen only on the condition that they will listen to my message. It was a mutual agreement however when it was my turn to speak it landed on deaf ears and so I felt the contract was broken.

I managed to disinvolve myself from bus activities by strolling to the Detriot River. There I met simple folks as dusk hit. There were fishing, playing old time jazz from their portable radio while children frivoulously moved about. For some of them I guess I looked like a big salmon passing by. They had never seen a white guy with such pink robes on before.

4 km

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Fri. June 27/08 - Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA

The Unity Church hosted our Krishna Culture Festival Tour. Anapayami, an accomplished Bharat Natyam dance teacher, performed with her students in this modern church. The community is Christian based but they believe that communication with other forms of spirituality enriches what they have already achieved. Our "Kunti and Karna" performance did well followed by a kirtan chanting session. People got on their feet, started swaying and chanting. It was just magical.

I am so proud of our crew because after only three days a production was assembled for a hour and ten minutes. Lines were memorized by the leading actors within that brief period.

After the performance and after tasty prasadam was served (compliments of our traveling cook, Apurva) I chatted with people, some of whom lived and spent their time in an ashram where monks live. I was astounded by one person in particular who told me of his life prior to coming to spiritual. It was much like the story of Karna who was an abandoned child. Well this former monk who I talked to (now with family) was ignored by his biological parents and was transferred from foster home to foster home until finally he met with decent people at the age of 12. There are millions of kids who go through that kind of life. My reflection of these people who get such a bad bargain on life have spirituality to resort to.

2 km

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Wednesday June 25/08 - Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA

It was lack of leg-power usage that described this day. Our bus for the boys happily subjected us to horizontal posture within our bunkbed interior. The conditions are crammed, to say the least, but they are happy conditions. Like camping you find yourself traveling light and moving with people that are congenial.

I was hosted by a very dedicated couple, Ksauri and his wife. I woke up to the smells of fantastic herbs permeating the air. Water is extracted from a well-source. It's tasty although I never take great fancy to water. It comes across as bland to me. Blackberries are in abundance. So is poison ivy. You must watch where you step and if not for the formidable ivy then wood ticks could get you.

The actual area of our youth's stay is a place called Prabhupada Village which has a rural temple under going construction. While the younger set who are age 16-25 sleep in the bus confines. I have that privileged space at Ksauri's. The day did steep in heat and we worked extremely hard at drama practice. No time to walk.