Sunday, 10 December 2017

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

Toronto, Ontario

Thursday With a Friend

Ahhh! Thursday. I think it’s a day people look forward to. Why? In the West–maybe limited to North America–is Thursday, perhaps, special? Well, the stores are open later on Thursday and people seem to like shopping. And with Christmas and all, I could see a kind of frenzy this night on my walk.

Also, Thursday means nearing the week’s end and approaching the parties and outings. Spirits are lifted. Compare it to Monday morning—what a contrast!

There is this gentleman who has routinely come for darshan (deity viewing) at the temple, for years, and just before I left the building for my walk, I saw him enter. “Oh I know what day of the week it is!” I said, and we had a good chuckle.

I received a call today–again about Thursday–that was just before I met “Mr. Thursday,” (the Lord knows I can’t remember his name) and on that call I was asked, “Maharaja, is it true that your guru, Prabhupada, never liked to travel on Thursdays?” and I confirmed it was true, so if he had to be on a voyage he would pack and have his luggage set and ready to go a day prior as if to be leaving not on the Thursday. Whether it was an old family practice, I’m not certain, but I’m going to find out.

Lastly, on this Thursday evening, I did dare the dark, but not so dark—city and Christmas lights were lit.

I like Helen Keller’s statement about walking in the dark. “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”

With me was God, Paramatma, on this night.

May the Source be with you!

6 km

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

Varadero / Toronto

More About Appreciation

The plane landed, Air Canada, Flight 1741 at 2:00 p.m. Passengers applauded. They don’t always. They showed their appreciation. It’s what the world needs now. Like your pilot who lands you safely.

I received an e-mail from Chaitanya Priya, our stalwart trooper in Havana. The message read, “Thank you to be inspired us. (She’s learning English.) All devotees are very happy with your visit. I’m would like that you have a good travel. We wait for you to next year. Please, excuse our offenses.” Of course, there weren’t any.

I’m glad that everyone feels that way about the visit from Hayagriva and I. We also know that our timing was right. A well-known musician in Cuba had his mother pass away and our communication or conversation with him and his wife made a difference, especially after we gave him, or rather sang for him, the maha-mantra.

Also, a woman from eastern Europe was in a quandary about her life regarding soulmates and we suggested she make God her soulmate. That, and more discussion with her on life in general, gave her a fresh start to her thinking.

These last two situations occurred randomly. We had no idea that we would factor them into our schedule, but they were meant to be.

Also, in Matanzas, at the main city square, Hayagriva and I, upon our arrival there yesterday, were rather hungry. We ate pizza, a Cuban version, and people came up to Hayagriva and recalled how he had led some great chanting sessions right there in public. They remembered the monk, and the group with him, singing their hearts out. They expressed their gratitude.

May the Source be with you!

6 km

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

Santa Clara / Matanzas

Cuba: Close to the End

At Club Video, we conducted our last formal presentation in Cuba.  Followers of Deepak Chopra came, as did the regular bhakti yogis of Krishna.  We went rather enthusiastic with our own aerobics and became like children in a playground.  It’s great to see adults become like that.  I was the guy on the drums thumping away as best I could.

It was a long drive to Matanzas and to the cathedral at Monserrate where we made lasting connections with residents who practise devotion.  We touched three generations there.  Each one loves the attention and the greatest goes to the youngest.

Our final stopover was the overnight stay in Varadero.  We are now in the habit of thanking our cab drivers who really do a fine job of delivering the goods—us.  If there’s a garland to circle his neck or a group of people to chant upon his arrival after transporting his passengers, it really makes the difference.  Appreciation for any endeavour goes the longest distance, probably around the world.

I’ve found that a healthy pat on the back for the guys and a respectful bow to the female devotees also offers them an incredible boost.  After all, I only come once a year for a week, which is just a drop in the bucket as far as encouragement is concerned.

In many ways Cuba is cut off from the rest of the world culturally, socially and politically.  This has its advantages.  I love the Cubans.  Their warmth is unsurpassed.  My trip winds up soon, as does the year.

May the Source be with you!

7 km

Monday, December 4th, 2017

Santa Clara, Cuba

Life of Mixed Blessings

I believe there are more horse-driven buggies in Rodas than there are cars, thus, you’re looking at heaven.  The few motorized conveyances in this town spew out dark fumes, thus, you’re looking at hell.  The area around is blessed with great agricultural soil.  That’s good.  There are vegetables, fruits, sugar cane, beans and rice.  On the road leading to town, harvested rice kernels are strewn out on one of the lanes of the highway for drying.  That’s how infrequent a vehicle comes by and how co-operative, respectful and efficient things can carry on in Cuba.  It’s sweet, really.

A diesel-fuelled car drove us to Santa Clara, a city of left-wing attitudes.  Here we had a meal of local yucca, beans and rice, cane juice and flavourful cucumbers.  The casual visitors to our hostel room were also delicious—nothing to do with cannibalism, of course.  They prescribe to Krishna devotion—Indradeva, a vet student; Devananda, a retired metal engineer; and Dhanvantari, a young charismatic aerobics and martial arts teacher.  That’s Santa Clara.

When in Havana, Hayagriva and I walked along the Malecon, the sea wall.  People are rather poor, more so in the city.  A man was catching fish for a meal.  He left one by his side after the catch.  We felt sorry for the discomfort of the fish but it was the man’s prize, not our jurisdiction.  The only water in sight for relieving the little fellow of his suffering was the ocean with it’s life-threatening waves and over a deep wall.  What were we to do?

The average salary, I’ve been told, is less than $25.00 a month.  If you live in the countryside, you’re probably better off.

May the Source be with you!

6 km

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

Rodas, Cuba

The Food For Us

In the bush, not far from Havana, where we have land, a fabulous soup was cooked up in the out-of-doors, with all ingredients from that spot.  There was yucca, carrots and cabbage, some greens and raw turmeric.  It was just missing some sea salt, however, cheers to the cook, Nanda Tanuja.  How organic can you get?

And today, after a rough three hour ride to Rodas—rough because the exhaust filters through into the car’s interior—Sruti treated us to some simple buns with a unique veggie paste inside.  Yummy!  I can see that in these smaller places Krishna Consciousness is having some impact through food.  Mainly it’s the ladies who convert to a veg-based diet first.  And with today’s talk, the attendance was overwhelmingly female.  It seems the guys were outside working on machines.  I'm not judging here.

One question that popped up from one of the guests, “I still eat meat and eggs, but is it okay to offer Krishna fruit, flowers and water?  Do I qualify or do I only offer items to the Lord after I get free from meat eating?”

Answer is, “No, you perform whatever service you can.  Don’t delay.  Do it with love and pray that Krishna provides you with the means to get closer to Him.”

Another question was, “What do you tell a person who says to you, ‘Christ is the only way?’”

My answer is, “You just closed the door on me because we can’t have a two-way conversation.”

May the Source be with you!

6 km