Smoke and Water
Thunder Bay, Ontario
I landed in this northern city with haze all around. There is a reported ninety (that’s 90) forest fires in bone dry northern Ontario. The sky is bleak. The famous rock formation called The Sleeping Giant set in Lake Superior’s North Shore is completely obscured. My mandate here is clear though. I was to attend the Thunder Bay version of the Festival of India. The stage show was lined up with acts, and it was complete. I was not to play any real part in it. With no troupe accompanying me I could not conduct a performance at Marine Park, nor was I needed to emcee. A rep from Magic Radio Station was present and behind the mic.
Also, Nirantara, a spiritual brother from Los Angeles was scheduled to be on set three times for the night. He did, and he sang his stuff, like his take on Otis Redding’s ‘Sittin’ at the Dock’, with lyrics, ‘sitting at the dock at Bombay, wastin’ time...’
I was expected to walk around the grounds doing a monk’s schmooze, and to give some time at the book table for Bhagavad-gita sales. I met people who were curious about Indian food, Indian sounds, Indian smells, and Indian looks. A steady stream of the local demographical people came, many first nations also, into a sattvic (good) world of positive karma.
John Raferty, a local member of parliament, had lit the traditional Vedic dheeya flame to open the ceremony followed by classical dancers and singers. People did specifically come to drop by to purchase books, to swallow samosas, to release their kids on to jumping castles, and to get an earful of ‘My Sweet Lord’ (Krishna) with Narantara’s strumming on his guitar.
While the hundreds of participants were having a blast in this alcohol drug free environment, communities all around us in the boreal forest were being evacuated from their homes. The fires are relentless and are smoking up hectare after hectare. Such dualities. One thing that was not hazy but very clear was that the Krishna Cultural Festival of India flowed real well, like one of those cascade rivers you find up north, thanks to the hard work of Dr. Jani and wife, Sneha.