Daruka, our driver, his pet parrot, Billy, and Anthony and I sped eastward bound on the nation’s busiest highway, the 401. On this six hour drive, I suggested to Daruka that we give his ’93 mercury car a break, near the approaching Quebec border. Anthony and I managed to put in a 7 Km walk on Highway 2, which was parallel to the 401. Needless to say, it was a breather for us humans and a single bird, as much as it was for our conveyance.
When we reached Quebec and Montreal’s precincts, we drove the balance of 100 Km chalking out the walking route that I would be taking through the streets of Dorion, Beaconsfield, and other residential sections, as part of the 4th Trans Canada walk. Finally we reached the desitnation, 1626 Pie Neuf Blvd, the location of our ISKCON centre. Moving along waterfront properties at this section of the St. Lawrence River, doesn’t get more pleasant than this.
By mid afternoon, we reached Montreal, enough time to prepare for the first of a three day festival, an anniversary for the installation of the Krishna murtis (sacred images). It was 35 years ago that the murtis of Radha Krishna, called Sri Sri Radha Manohara, were brought to this location. I was given an opportunity to speak along with others about the pioneering days of Krishna Consciousness in Montreal. I relayed how I had visited this community in early ’73 when the centre was located on Park Avenue at an old bowling alley. A young fine arts student at the time, I was exploring life and so I went to check out my first Krishna temple ever. To reach there you have to take a staircase to a third or fourth floor. Halfway up on the middle landing, on the wall, was written with black marker, “You are halfway up to the spiritual world, keep going!” 23 years later, on my first trek across Canada, I stopped by that building on Park Avenue, long after devotees moved out. The signage was still there, as clear as crystal water. Our guru, Srila Prabhupada, had walked those steps in ’68. On my visit I stooped down at the stair landing, bent over, and in reverence pressed lips to the sacred space on the floor.