Monday, 29 September 2008

Thursday, September 26th, 2008

Thursday, Sep 26, 08 - Regina Saskatchewan, Canada

It was a simple one hour flight from Winnipeg that brought me to Regina and a stay over in White City with a couple, Jaganath and Chintamani. Jaganath is an accomplished palm reader and had clients and tasks to tend to while Chintamani a nurse at the de-tox centre, attended a conference. I asked Jaganath to drop me off at Victoria Park, the heart of Regina’s downtown.

I chose a park bench under yellow autumn trees to plant myself armed with a mrdanga drum and facing the war memorial, a location where people pass by. At lunch hour folks came by such as a a young father pushing his young son in a stroller, men and women in business suits, and an elderly woman hobbling along. Native people, members of the Cree tribe, sat by listening to my pow wow, drumming and singing. The mantra also attracted people who stopped to talk - Shivaji, Mayank and Priyankar, all from India here on computer business. There was Dave from an insurance firm, Mark a porter, Mike who works for the provincial government and teaches yoga, to name a few.

To break I would read from Steven Rosen’s new book “The yoga of Kirtan” a treasure of a publication which is an interview of master chanters. This casual program of chanting, talking, reading and passing out mantra cards put me in the happiest state. I was really in my element here. It went on for five hours this interactive-ness, this giving and receiving. There were no fellow monks to accompany me but I certainly didn’t feel alone.

In the evening I was asked to speak about the walking inspirations in Ireland at the Krishna centre on Retallack St. Most amazing was meeting Jim who came. He is now retired after working for the government for years. He first met Krishna monks in 1973 and took seriously to chanting. After a period of setting aside spiritual pursuits he more recently returned after a dream where child Krishna spoke to him redirecting him back to spiritual association. Jai Jim!

9 Km

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008 - WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA

Walking was extremely limited today for many reasons, one of them being that I took time after the flight to Winnipeg to view with administration a new location for self-realization practice. The address is 108 Chestnut St. Tonight was our first formal gathering at this Krishna Conscious centre which is a charming century-old building in great condition. The mute yellow outside walls with navy blue window shutters gives the place a real welcoming feel. Inside the house, the staircase and wood frames are made of rich oak and the rooms are of ample size to accomodate many guests.

Among the guests was a religious professor at the University of Manitoba, who very much enjoys the mantra meditation. Another guest was Ruplal Choudhary, who moved here from India a couple of years ago. Ruplal invented, built and patented a machine for mass producing the popular Bengali sweet, Rasagula.

The visit here was a reunion of sorts with Doug (Daruka dasa), who was my support driver for five months last summer during the eastern leg of my third walk across Canada. He is usually accompanied by his parrot Billie, who also made the long trip with us. Our host in Winnipeg is Vrnda devi dasi, a fine example of a devotee and a wonderful human being. She managed to acquire the new facility in the granola belt area of Winnipeg (population 650,000).

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 - TORONTO, ONTARIO, Canada

While walking on Yonge St. in the early morning, a group of young chaps visiting from North Bay passed by me. One of them just had to ask, "Hey, are you a monk?"
"Sure am!"

"Hey guys, he's a monk, a real monk. Are you a real monk?"

"Since 1973," I said, responding to his curiosity.

"Wow! Let's get our picture taken with a monk."

So we all lined up for a pose and the boys of North Bay now have a record of seeing a real live monk.

Amongst other folks who stopped me out of curiosity was a young Chinese chap wanting to know about astral projection and a young Caucasian woman who had questions about yoga. In the evening I did greet yoga students at the Jiva MuktiYoga Studio. It was an invite, a presentation I was asked to give on the subject of bhakti yoga. The particular topic was 'Exploring the Nine Processes of Devotion.' The experience was very transformational for those who came. Basically I facilitated everyone and guided them through the processes. First was chanting in a receiving and responding fashion, then smaranam or reflecting on personal 'leaps of faith' that happened in their lives, then pada-sevanam, a gesture in practicing humility, then arcanam. Here we offered a small lit candle to a sacred image. Vandanam involved having the group write down individually a genuine spontaneous prayer. Dasya, servitorship involved overall tidying up the studio. Sakhyam, or cultivating friendship was executed by pairing up individuals who expressed appreciation for their partner. Finally, atma nivedam, was a demonstration and everyone folowed the procedure of offering dandavats, or prostrate obeisances.

The exercise was experiential and I think it gave all there a sense of feeling lighter and more at peace with themselves while recognizing the potency of the Creator.

13 Km

Saturday, 27 September 2008


(A comical article on Bhaktimarga Swami's walk of Ireland)
By Praghosa Dasa
We are now in serious danger of ruining our long practiced and much cherished reputation of our 21st century sannyasi!

What are we talking about? Well a couple of weeks ago a certain member of the sannyasa order all but snuck into the emerald isle unnoticed. Usually a visiting sannyasi’s arrival is known well in advance and there is at least a modest welcoming party to greet him. However not this time, rather it was a very humble entrance at a regional port and from there, almost immediately into a walking tour of the country. This is where things really began to deteriorate, you see walking in and of itself is quite a sattvic activity, not least because it is so environmentally friendly and of course healthy to boot. It is also an excellent way to focus on the concept of simple living and high thinking, what to speak of developing tolerance due to the constant battle against the elements, particularly the wind and rain.

But that is only the beginning, this Swami then had the audacity to stay over at various persons homes along the way, encouraging them in their spiritual life, taking a little prasadam and then leaving at the crack of dawn the next day and never staying over in any one home for more that one night! There is little doubt that a little prasadam in the evening is hardly going to sustain you for the duration of an eight hour, forty kilometre daily walk right? So what does our trend-setting Swami decide to do? Struth, he only goes and starts eating the fruits and berries growing on the wild bushes along the roadside! That really was the straw that threatens to break the back of the 21st century sannyasa dharma. Hence my rallying cry to all right minded thinking devotees out there who care passionately about protecting and preserving the unique sannyasa dharma we have developed over the last few decades – stop this man by hook or by crook before his odd behaviour catches on and we become a laughing stock!

You can help by sending him a cell phone, the latest laptop computer, an electronic personal organiser, a blueberry, the latest digital camcorder, an ipod or all of the above! You could also write to him at the below address impressing upon him that you get no financial benefit from ‘walking miles’ and then introduce him to the wonderful world of ‘air miles’ and all the perks that flow from them. His address is:
The walking Swami,
The Shack,
The Back of Beyond,
Planet Earth

Ps Physician heal thyself! I guess I’ll send him some of my own electronic collection first :-)

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Sun. Sept. 21/08 - Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

It was 4am. I was chanting on my beads while turning the corner at Bay and Bloor, Toronto, when a black dude, Andres, stopped me with his voice. “Hey, can you stop for a minute? I saw you with these robes and I thought How can I let this wisdom pass me by.”
“I’m not a scholar or even very wise but I do represent a tradition.”
“Isn’t it restricting to conform to one type of clothes, one type of routine and one type of thought pattern? Isn’t there a danger of losing individuality and the prospect of free thinking?”

I explained that even though we belong to an order of discipline we are encouraged to be independently thoughtful. “I’m a monk and perhaps a creative one and I’ve been encouraged to express my individual creativity while conveying the universal messages of truth.

Our dialogue went on. It ended with increased understanding. I continue to wear my saffron and he his favorite color, black. And we can be friends.

The day time was occupied with teachers and students of yoga in the outdoors near the world famous falls, and on one of the countries oldest sustained walking trails, The Bruce Trail. At a Grotto-type rock formation we spoke about the fundamentals of bhakti yoga. A picnic was held at the monument of Laura Secord who was known for warning the British that the Americans were coming (1812). A kirtan, a lively song and dance drum jam finalized the gathering at a Gupta Ashram.

The yoga folks are receptive to the message of Bhakti (devotion) as they are folks who have for the most part filtered through lots of experiences in life. They are generally thoughtful men and women.

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Fri. Sept 19/08 - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I volunteered yet another day in the kitchen preparing two veggie dishes (one curried, another steamed), then rice, dahl (lentil soup), halva a dessert, and salad done for the noon time slot. All done in quantity for about 40 people. As I was completing this satisfactory task one of the resident monks asked me to come and speak to a guest.

Standing outside the kitchen was a Mr. Dan Mc Grady who came to our temple (formerly a church). Expressing that 50 years ago he got married in this very same building. He was not surprised to see it had changed. As his head moved about to look at the surroundings he hit a sweet moment of sentiment. “Everything changes. Nothing remains the same. That’s the way the world is. You have to move on isn’t it”.

I told him I couldn’t agree more with his profound message while he was both nostalgic and philosophical. “ I wish you the best Mr. Mc Grady”.

After savoring the meal I organized a chanting party set for Queen’s Park where our guru, Srila Prabhupada had walked mornings in 1976. That place can also strike up a nostalgic nerve. Students of the University of Toronto use the park as a thruway to their classrooms. They are unaware of some of the “greatness” that strolled under these bushy trees over the course of time simply because they are absorbed in their academic responsibilities. Some took notice of our chanting and broke into smiles and bursts of joy.

6 Km

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

Sun. Sept. 14/08 - Cork, Ireland

The Latvain contingent consisting of Aigars, Puslana and Arturs, three young men who recently made radical changes in their diet, lifestyle and life outlooks drove a long two hours again from Limerik to join me and take part in the completion of the Irish walk. It was from Cork, Ireland that the fateful Titanic picked up some final passengers before embarking on that journey that did not make its destination. I have always felt that walking is the safest mode of transportation, the least risk taking. Fortunately our journey drew to its completion. By 8:30am a small group of legs hit St. Patrick Street for a happy finale at the city centre.

Nina, a local physician, joined us. Ananta and Premarnava, the local monks of Ireland handled the drum and kartals (hand cymbals) respectively providing that soft touch to a kirtan (chanting) which I had the privilege of leading. It was a good feeling even with the usual drizzle casting itself upon us.

Following,” the last step ceremony” to the tally of approximately 518 Kms our small walking party made our way to Tesco 24 hour department store in the suburbs to pickup supplies for a tasty brunch. The parking lot filled up quickly with automobiles each parked by its motorist to space as close as possible to the buildings main entrance. This of course means, “Let’s avoid walking as much as possible. “ At least the store is large inside and you can do a lot of walking there.

Nina reminded me that while economic prosperity in Ireland has taken hold, social complexities increase. From her medical experience the rise of alcohol intake has increased measurably. Livers are not what they used to be.

I guess we as humans must ask, “What really makes life rich? Amenities or simplicities? Disease or health? Lonliness created by consumerism or meaningful relationships? “I met one woman a few days ago who said she was going on a shopping diet. Naturally I applauded her for her courage. I hope she succeeds in her challenge.

I like the Irish folk. I found that the almost constant wetness from above somewhat hampered human interaction. Still the shamrock shines here and the grass is not greener anywhere else. It’s a fine place to walk and chant. The only thing is that a little more space for pedestrians and cyclists would be nice. I hope the decisions-makers here will have a good hard look at how alternative travellers can be accommodated. One cyclist told me, “the roads are too tight-no shoulder.” He’s right. I guess pilgrimage was easier in the days of St. Patrick before the automobile hogged all the roads.

I’m grateful to have walked on Emerald Isle from Belfast to Cork and I thank all those kind supporters who allowed this to happen. HMMMMMM! What country to tackle next?

12 Km today
518 Km in the last 14 days

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

Sat. Sept. 13/08 - Youghal, Ireland

On the previous night a kind-hearted student Prasanna, from South India honoured Igor and I. Prasanna also shared accommodations with fellow students in Waterford. Last night I took a bed in a tight quarter with other travellers in a single room at a bed and breakfast. We certainly shared stories of travel before resting in this town of Youghal. At 4:30 am I was prepared for the first day’s trek outside the B&B when police pulled over and inquired, “Is everything alright?”

Shortly thereafter on this beautiful coastline place where waves crash rhythmically against rocks within earshot, a local fellow, Justin, walked towards me asking what the police wanted. So I told him. I asked him what he’s doing so early in the morning. “You meant this late in the night? Well, I was with a Seniorita, but everything was quiet.” He said disappointingly. I mentioned to him that I was on a trek to meet folks and to encourage them to consider the spiritual component in life. As we spoke a van pulled up with young men of Latvian decent. They had come to participate in the culture of simultaneous walking and chanting for the day. They brought a fresh enthusiasm to the day. The spiritual component to their life had come very recently. While trekking the road I engaged them in learning a greeting mantra starting with, “Vancha-Kalpa……….”I’m convinced they will use it all the time now.

In the great outdoors of green landscape we saw no magical mushrooms or leprechauns but experienced the power of chanting, the power of healing while on heels.

40 Km

Friday, September 12th, 2008

Friday, Sept. 12/08 - Dungarvan, Ireland

Fairly recently paved was route 676 for Tour-de-France competitors a year ago, so a local person told me. The road is indeed mighty smooth and it led Igor and I to the town of Dungarvan where we caught our first glimpse of the Celtic sea and the Atlantic, now being on Ireland’s southern coast.

Weather was most co-operative and for the first day really. People are out and about. The back roads towards Youghal were our choice. Ananta and Premarnava navigated our route and while doing so knocked on doors of the country homes hoping to interest people in the soul’s transmigration and to read about it in the books of Srila Prabhupada which they had available. One man took interest and acquired a Bhagavad-Gita, as his belief in reincarnation became confirmed upon having a powerful deja-vu experience in the past. Another man inspecting his soon-to-be completed home was a writer for human rights issues. He was delighted to purchase the Bhagavad-Gita as he was open-minded and familiar with the ancient text.

Igor and I had interactions with people as well. It started over dogs. One black Labrador followed us for kilometre after kilometre. He responded well to the name we gave him, Vamana, named after the walking incarnation, who we were honouring today, by the Vedic lunar calendar. The owner eventually drove to find him and hence we made another friend. I had similar occurrences like this in Canada. Make a dog a friend on the road and the master will follow. There are pilgrim’s stories like this found in the account of the lives of pilgrims like Sivananda Sen in medieval Bengal who gave help to apparent stray dogs.

After Vamana, the dog, was reclaimed another dog showed up and a similar thing occurred.

The view and interview at Dungarvan were spectacular. Paul Mooney from the Dungarvan People became quite inspired, I would say, about walking while meditating over mantras. When he saw the beads he said, “It’s like a rosary.”
“Yes it is. It is much like the rosary.”

47 Km

Friday, 12 September 2008

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Thurs. Sep. 11/08 - Waterford, Ireland

The Holstein adjusted her two front legs, from the sleeping position and then hoisted up her large frame with rear legs. The rest of the herd followed suite. They then became mobile in a neat procession, off to the barn for milking. This is my view from route 676 southbound.

A cattle crossing then happened before Igor and I, causing traffic to stop. One Holstein stepped out of line and headed down the cow- plopped road. The anxious farmer chased after her and won her back in line with his upraised arms. I shouted “Its hard to keep them in order isn't “.

He chuckled, “This one always gets away “.

Wildlife near the road has it rough. Rabbits, hedgehogs and rats become easy “road pizza” after contacting tires.

People in Ireland are immersed in the sport hurling. Kilkenny won the championship and Waterford, the current city I am in, lost. Karma!! I found people in Kilkenny proud, while Waterford folks a bit easier to approach. I wonder why?

Mark Power of WLR FM radio interviewed asking about the pilgrimage. Cathy Power (no relation) had Ananta and I in the newspaper office for a good while filling us in on Irish current events. She was intrigued when I quoted the Bhagavad Gita “Where Krishna identifies himself with time. Time is the most powerful representation of God in this physical world “
Cathy was great.

The sun shined finally!! Kegs of beer line up outside taverns. People scurry about in the street. An elderly man offers the sign -of- the-cross gesture to an icon of Mary, the original Madonna. Life goes on in Waterford.

33 Km

Wednesday, September 11th, 2008

Wed. Sep. 11 / 08 - Kilkenny,Ireland

Our host over night was a man from Hyderabad from south India. Kalyana offered us his home for the night. After showering and dressing and making ready for the day, I opened the door to see the sky. The constellations were as clear as could be. After an hour of trekking on high way N10 towards Kilkenny a mediaeval city with a remarkably well maintained 13th century castle, my two support Irish monks pulled up with their motor home and out came Pragosh.

Pragosh is Irish born and he is a leader in the Krishna Consciousness movement. He wanted to join Igor and I for the walking experience. While he was his usual bubbly self, he did tell of grave historical moments in Ireland. Of course I have heard of the imposed one-crop-only staple diet, the potato which got hit by blithe, in the eighteen hundred's and caused a massive exodus of Irish residents for North America. Many starved to death. Pragosh told me of Oliver Cromwell, Britain's father of democracy, loved by Britain but loathed by Irish men. He took over Dublin by military force and oppressed the people. When have humans not been mean to each other?

There is kindness in the world, however. The other day a dozen army trucks were parked by the side of the road. Men who were with the forces, were outside the vehicles on a break. In order to dodge traffic, I had to take to tall grasses where the soldiers were standing. To the first soldier I met we shook hands and I told him what I was about. The entire group of men respectively moved aside allowing me to proceed. Some were nodding, apparently they heard about the pilgrimage I am conducting. One senior man asked questions, the most curious one being “Don't you get tired? “

My answer was “It's like military training, I guess “.

Pat Malone came to join our troop of umbrella-ed. The second half of the day, was another great battle with the elements , constant drizzle and wind . The walk is very cleansing internally and externally.

45 km

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Tuesday, September 09/08 - Ireland

I would like to re-name Ireland and call it Indraland. Indra is the rain god and appears to be very generous here. Igor and I tackled the early morning shower. My loose-weared lower-robe called a dhoti become drenched and clung to my right leg causing a tear. This is the second dhoti ruined and ripped since walking here nine days ago. I am learning detachment quickly. If it keeps up I'll leave Ireland as a naga baba, a naked renunciant.

Some motorists stop. Their remarks express concern. "Are you broke down?" "Do you want a lift?" "Please pray for me!" "Pray for my father who is in the hospital!"

The local papers in Carlow also gave their time by mid-day when periodic sun and wind made the atmosphere very pleasant. Our back-road trail led us up a mountain where the air was particularly invigorating until Indra became generous again.

I feel blessed with a great team of players Premarnava, always gentle, is a careful driver as a support. Ananta whips up a fabulous pasta. He is also the more out going one. In the evening he went door -to- door making sales of Bhaktivedanta Book Trust literature. He does crack me up at times. He told me of some comments by people on previous door-to-door ventures.
"I'm a monk!" he said
"Oh! What denomination?" asked the man at his door
" A wet one!" he burst out. The home owner ended up taking several books out of the jovial nature of Ananta.

Another time he approached an English woman after knocking on her door.
" I'm a monk and I ..."
She cut him off. In a tight upper-lip tone she said " Well, be a monk somewhere else! it took Ananta several house calls before he recovered from that. A monk must be prepared to take some punches.

38 Km

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Monday, September 8th, 2008

Monday, September 08/08 - Newbridge, Ireland.

When reaching a town or city in Ireland you may come upon a street light like the one's in Newbridge. It is a long wait for a pedestrian, a good one minute and thirty-five seconds. Either this is ridiculously a long wait or I'm just an impatient North American and unworthy of wearing vocational clothes. Like the rain in Ireland this is one more feature of the country I must come to accept.

Igor has been asking questions as we walk togeher. We both favour the quiet back road where it is without engine noises and where we can converse. We end up chanting together. I'm teaching him bhajans such as "Shri Guru Vandanam" a song to praise the guru. The road sometimes becomes a classroom.

Vicky from the paper in Newbridge was lively. I referenced St.Patrick as one who guided people in pilgrimage. Mout Croagh Patrick was the rock he climbed which was done barefoot. I showed Vicky my crocs and she was astounded that this is my footwear in Ireland. The Kildare National also conducted an interview.

Pat Malone and family had invited the four of us lads to his home for Sat-Sang, chanting, discussions and refreshments. What a beautiful devotional family!

42 Km

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

Sunday , September 07, 2008 - Hare Krishna Island, Ireland.

The followers of Krishna in Ireland were celebrating the birth anniversary of Radha, Krishna 's eternal and beloved consort, this weekend. Innis Rath is a village in the north which has within its' district a 23 acre island called Hare Krishna Island. This became the venue for a glorious service to the Goddess Radha. I had the honor to speak on her behalf by the grace of our guru, Srila Prabhupada, who has written about her in reference to appreciation. Radha is the epitome of devotion. She appriciates anyone who is engaged in devotinal service

As an exercise I asked the full house group of listeners to break into twos and to express to their partner some appreciation that they have never expressed before. Acknowledgment of another's good deed or behaviour can be a Rad principle. The affect was possitive. I allowed five minutes for this .

Happily it was difficult everyone to stop. They were enjoying themselvs so much. I picked up the microphone and asked the assembled people, "please stop appreciating each other!" which didn't seem right but was met with an outburst of laughter.

The morning stretch of the day saw that I had company - Adin Word , a young tallman with long legs. Egor who is also of s similar physical struture , was also with us. We tackle a mere 12 km and walked to the edge of Newbridge.

12 Km

Monday, 8 September 2008

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

Sat. Sept. 06/08 - Kill, Ireland

At 4:30 am I set foot with three worthy pilgrims - worthy because we started out at this early moment and like real troopers stepped with me every inch of the way. John Francis Leader, his fiance, Vraja Lila (both local), and Igor from Belarus and I took to the streets of Dublin from the City Centre and left south bound. We were met by Friday night strugglers who were delighted to see us and in particular the sober.

Dublin is at the heart of the Celtic Tiger. Ireland as a whole has been booming, in a certain way for the last twenty years and its Capital City, Dublin teams with youthful energy and these days attract tourists in greater numbers than Rome.

John, Vraja and I in particular talked for hours about local Celtic culture, about druids(wondering spritualists) and the way it was before Christianity infiltrated. These are startling resemblances to the culture of ancient India.

After leaving the city we reached the suburbs and then finally the countryside. Of the three contrasting regions it was unanimous when I asked as to everyone's favourite area. It's the place where we interacted with sheep and horses and even a whole community of dogs. Igor said that he felt light after the day's trek and that thoughts were clear. He felt free.

Well, Igor, imagine doing this every day. Imagine the whole world taking to pilgrimage from time to time. It would make a different world.

42 km

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Friday, September 5th, 2008

Friday, September 5 /08 - Dublin, Ireland

Route 108 is a plesant trail early in the morning but it turned into a monster by rush hour. There is no shoulder but frequent puddles on the pavement's edge. The traffic is thick but tolerant. Europeans are much more used to working in tight spots. No one honked a horn out of agitation. Rain came like hell.

I suggested to my support monks that we move their home (van) to a parallel road to be safe. So we transfered to Route 132. Rain and wind was now horrendous as we commenced walking near Dublin Airport. A major mistake occured. The camper van which I took shelter of for a break was parked facing north. I exited the van and headed in that direction thinking it south (there is no Sun to tell directions) But I was specific about Premarnava staying close by, that I would be struggling just to hold my umbrella and dodge traffic and puddles and to park at every round about or juncture in order that there was no confusion direction wise. Well this mistake in the wrong direction put me in a storm for five hours with no means of comunication. It was a desolate area. Whithout more details I had to console myself by recalling that Krishna, when young, got caught in a storm with a shcool mate of his, Sudhama, they were stuck, lost all night in a forest until found the next morning .

Eventually I made my own way to downtown Govindas Vegetarian Reastaraunt and to meeting the missing monks. Unfortunately I missed my media that there was little interest in Dublin over the pilgrimage story, unlike the smaller places.

The storm persisted for hours today but I belive I came out stronger and will be less intimidated by rain after my Irish stretch is over. When Irish eyes are smiling...

40 km.

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

Thursday.September 4/08 - Ireland

GARDA means police in Irish. A Garda car pulled over with two officers in it. They expressed concern all over their faces. "Who is this weirdo?" might best describe their look. Their actual questions" What are you doing?" Where are you going?" "Where do you stay at night? "When all their questions were answered regarding the cross country walk they beamed and nodded in approval and went about their way.

Signage in Ireland is interesting. It's in Irish first then English. One sign said something like "So you like littering the landscape? FINE!"

I had left the beautiful Mourne mountain region behind me now and the Northern Irlandis at least one day behind me as well. I recall having seen a Capucchin monk of the Franciscan order. While wolking on a major street in Dundalk and elderly monk in his dark brown hooded robe came out the shop in front of me, walked some paces ahead and turn a corner quickly to enter another edifice.

In Drougheda I felt dizzy spells more than once and had to stop and sit. I attribute the uneasiness to the cearbon monoxid or fumes from the cars funnnelled into the narrow downtown street. Once I reached the countryside it was over. A phatographer, Paul, came to take shots for the local paper, The Independant. Ananta and Premarnava,the two monks with me (Tim bused it back to Dublin) went to the magnificent cathedral. They were intrigued by the preserved head of Saint Oliver Plunket who was martyed in 1609 during religious conflict.

On the serene road Rout 108 I met a walker way out in the middle of nowhere. Austin is a young traveller, a walker, who trekked across Europe, a distance of over 2000km. He has been on other ventures as well. When I asked him where the village Naul was he gave the perfect walker answer "An hour and forty-five minutes up the road". It was great having met another walking freak.

The weather was good and scenery spectacular! Rolling hills/mountains in behind. Ocean in the distance. The day led into night when hosts Mathura and Katyayani arranged a gathering of Krishna devotees who came to chant with us . Also thanks to Raghupati and Nalini for getting groceries for us monks.

Today I saw images of vines taking down fences and in other places vegetation bringing a slow decay to a stone wall. " Maya", temptation can also suddenly creep up and gradually bring us down to our knees.

A final perk about today's walk earlier on was meeting a Torontonian in his friend's front lawn. He know exactly where I live. Small world.

40 KM

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Wed. Sept. 03.09.08 - Ireland

By the end of a day’s walk the body is both strong and weak; the mind relatively peaceful and appetite normal. There is a tendency at least for myself to eat more when I am indoors. There seems to be nutrients in the outside air that allows you to sustain for a long period.

Speaking of eating, I had succeeded in turning on my traveling companion monks to what I call Canwalk wraps. Tortillas with cream cheese, herbs and fresh veggies are the ingredients.

The routine walk was pleasantly broken with intermittent catnaps and interviews. Two papers from Newry and one from Dundalk sent reps for questions. One fellow Chris was so intrigued which was demonstrated by his queries. Those moments are always stimulating when a keen interest is shown.

The public had been responsive, motorists and pedestrians. The weather was nasty. Strong winds, rain, little sun.

And here is something you may have heard or read before. It’s so appropriate.

The Irish Blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind always be at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Author Unknown


Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Tues Sept 2/08 - Ireland

Sheep dot the landscape as do cattle against the green. From the town of Moira Tim and I braved the secondary road. There is little space to walk. Pavement to accommodate two lanes leaves no shoulder. There is a narrow strip of elevated grass and then an eternal hedge. Fortunately much of the hedge is comprised of blackberries, now in season. Those little berries kept me physically fueled throughout the day after Tim left for duties and while I was left armed with an umbrella. The towns of Banbridge and Rathfriland were on today's route culminating with the city of Newry where we were hosted by Rajesh and Sonia Dudeja.

There was plenty of interaction with people, but like Canada the obsession for cars is great. There are few people visible outside. Stingy nettle and thorn branches brush the bare ankles. It is almost unavoidable. The ordeal of walking can be painful at times as you take whatever comes of its own accord. Such is the life of a wandering mendicant.

A photographer from Banbridge came out to greet me and a lively interview was conducted at the studio of 101.4FM IUR radio in Newry.

Our travelling crew discussed the principle of "anger" as a trait in all of us that seems to fall from the sky, as it is put in the ancient text Srimad Bhagavatam. Anger is checked by wisdom and reason. When anger rules it checks wisdom and reason.

47 km