I received this most blissful call. Jambavan, a rather orthodox Vedic Hare Krishna priest, told me he just finished walking a two day trek across the city of "The Big D", Detroit, known to 60's music lovers and vintage cars as Motown. Actually, just his trekking like that proves he may not be so orthodox after all. I mean, who really gets out of their set of wheels for a dharmic cause.
Jambavan, with his white dhoti, kurtan and his associate Yugala from Kansas City, was in his usual saffron attire, when they began from Brightmore on Detroit's west end and finished at Gold Coast near Belle Isle.
"People thought we were Muslims," said Jambavan. One lady expressed gratitude to meet two nice guys instead of the usual drug dealers of the neighbourhood. "People were receptive," said Jambavan.
"We stopped by at a famous Christian Monastery at Father Casey Solamus", a deceased but renowned man of miracles. After two days their 20 mile trek was completed while stopping by just to do the mendicant thing meeting people.
I asked Jambavan why he did this. "At first I was thinking to go out and do some fund raising for a new outreach centre but that soon changed," he told me. He felt as if he was part of an exploratory committee and discover the various moods of different neighbourhoods. He thoroughly enjoyed the grassroots one-on-one approach and said he would do it again.
"In a temple everyone's nice to you but when you're out you do encounter some harsh things. It was austere as much as fun." He also said it was for internal development and visiting humility.
So, Jambavan, may you inspire others to do the same. Actually, Americans are open and curious. Jambavan is trail blazing and challenging stereotypical priests who tend to spend the bulk of their time in the rectory.