Friday, 7 December 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tues. Nov.20/07 Miami, Florida
It was a long overnight flight to Miami and so walking had it’s limitations due to catching up from the fatigue it imposes. I’m talking of a sleep after participating in the temple’s morning sadhana. Our benevolent doctor friend Hugo Romeu, aka, Murari Gupta treated myself and the few other resident monks to a motor boat ride off of the harbour at Coconut Grove. We were anxious to see the common manatees, sometimes referred to as large sea cows. The younger monks enjoyed a swim in the salty waters. No manatees to be seen. The doctor did warn that occasional sharks have been known to take bites out of people. Usually though sharks find human flesh foul and little is pursued after the first bite. He did mention that he treated shark bite patients. By this time the boys were out of the water and into the boat. It’s a dangerous world.
One of the top stories of the local paper featured an article, “Detroit, the Most dangerous City.” I recall it used to be Miami in terms of crime. In any event the whole planet is rather insane and dangerous.
The day ended in safe territory, the place where people sing and dance, the temple at 3220 Virginia street.
(Flying, boating, dancing).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sun. Nov.18/07 Buenos Aries, Aregentina
The real star of yesterday’s show at the Montevideo monument was a little urchin boy (about 6 years. old) clad in smudged sweat pants and no top, his face injured by a recent fall or fight. After spending hours mingling in the crowd he helped himself up to the top of the monument’s base and managed to squeeze his body between Bhakti Bhushana Swami and I. There he decided to remain to see what it’s like at the top. Despite hie frivolity he steadfastly kept his ground. Finally after the exuberant kirtan finished he gambled his way to the mic hoping to imitate Ajamaila with an amplified voice. The lengthy kirtan drew us into the night and the show was over but our friend tried to make a last sound. Before disassembling the sound equipment our sound man decided to give the unkept but quiet boy a chance. Our local Mother Superior, Maha Murti, schooled him in a crash course on the popular chant, “Hare Krishna.” He proudly and exclusively delivered the mantra-nothing else. It grabbed the attention of the few remaining stragglers who gave him a cheer and applause. I think it was the greatest moment of the boy’s life.
Today’s venture top the park fueled by local monk, Gunagrahi swami, entailed a three and a half hour chanting session. The park was flooded with craftsmen, musicians and buskers of all kinds. The tango couple were popular but I would see our performance, not far behind in bringing attention, was a show of a different kind.
Reflecting on the day of entertainment from dawn to dusk the robins enjoying spring in Argentina have everyone beat when they send off their melodies at the crack of dawn. When first seeing them on their first day of this trip to Buenos Aries I addressed them while they were perched on trees, “So this is where you guys go in the winter.”

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sat. Nov.17/07 Buenos Aries, Argentina
This morning I was driven to the park at Plaza Francia to look at our site for performing. I had been informed that this year no stage would be set up so Ii was curios how our production , “The Gita” was going to become a reality. A regal monument of Montevideo was to be our backdrop featuring lion and horse images and historic heroes in stone and bronze looking like Demigods and Apsaras. The base of the monument offered various levels from which to make presentations. That was also attractive as a feature and lent itself to a greater feeling of depth. All in all the set up was favorable.
The Ratha Yatra or Festival of Chariots, a component of the Festival of India rolled along several retail and residential streets with hundreds of participants, chanters, shaking the town. Ajamila, also from Toronto, and I took the lead of chanting during the procession. Both the procession and the play were pulled off very successfully. I was proud of the performers. They worked hard and they deserved the praise they received.
The day ended with explosive kirtan in front of the monument with Gunagrahi and Bhakti Bhushana Swamis, my dear friends, playing congos and kartals respectively.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thurs. Nov.15/07 Buenos Aries, Argentina
There are favorable breezes in Buenos Aries as I assume the name implies. Myself and several novice monks, young brahmacaris, took to walking with meditation beads in hand on the streets. Eighty street blocks was the distance covered over two hours of fairly attentive chanting. Sidewalks, curbs, and cobblestone streets are uneven so at least reflexology came to us as a natural benefit to the usual lazy feet of the current age. Even for myself accustomed to an average eight hours of trekking during marathons I am experiencing such lazy feet.
My voice and the balance of my entire body is active though. Devotees here insist on my leading the chanting sessions and with that comes innovational dance. The afternoon and evening hours see me directing a drama-“The Gita” in preparation for the weekend’s Festival of India. Fortunately the volunteers numbering twelve amateur but sincere actors shape the play that will hopefully satisfy the outdoor audience at the Plaza Francia. The challenges are plentiful. One volunteer was engaged at his regular job. I haven’t as yet secured an available narrator, an integral part of this thirty minute production. Everything is done in Spanish, so there’s a natural barrier for me. And lastly, one of the female actors at the trail end of our rehearsal was informed that her father was struck with a heart attack. She apologized for her having to bow out. With tears in her eyes and empathy from the cast members we were left with a pleasant hurdle to contribute to a new adventure. Tomorrow would be our last and third day for a crack at practice. We have so little time, the consolation is we have Manyana (tomorrow)!
10 kms.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wed. Nov.14/07 Buenos Aries, Argentina
By the solar calendar it would be calculated as thirty years since the departure of our beloved teacher, Srila Prabhupada. It is a day of serious contemplation. The most significant part of the hour and a half flight to Buenos Aries from Miami was reading some of our master’s correspondences to his students. It struck a humorous cord when in a letter of the 4th of March, 1973 to one disciple in regards to dressing deities or icons in the temple, and the dressing habits of people. “The more you can decorate the deities soberly and not fanatically, the more you become decorated with all honors. At the present moment, civilized man has forgotten how to decorate, therefore this mini-skirt …..Human being means to be decorated, not naked.” He also one time wrote that we live in a topless-bottomless world. He was expressing that he did not approve of revealing too much flesh. In support of the culture where covering yourself and looking good was in vogue a friend once said, “ I remember the times when people used to dress.”
It was interesting when I cleared at customs and was received warmly by the the local monks. One of them said to me, “ On your flight there is a famous porn star so a lot of people are out here waiting to greet her. When one person saw us (monks) waiting he joked with us…..Are you guys here to see the porn star as well?”
Of course, I had I had to chuckle but inside I wondered if anyone had any interest in the motherly types of women who don’t mind dressing, and dressing not to kill.
The reception at Centro Bhaktivedanta on Andonaequi in Buenos Aries was warm like at any latino grouping of people. The drums resounded and all chanted,” Hare Krishna” before they had me take the lead.
0 kms today and that’s the “plane“ truth.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tues. Nov.13/07 Miami Florida
On the flight to Miami the man sitting next to me took some interest in my lifestyle as a person in the renounced order. Although we both wore the same brown crocs our attire was markedly different. While he was clad in regular casual wear I donned my saffron cloth.
“can you pick your own color?” he asked. He commented that he liked the colour. I let him know his comment was appreciated and that this colour was reserved for the single celibate men of our order.
As I deplaned I also reminded myself that this life of self-control along with this specific colour of cloth is something you earn after years of comfortable restrain. I say comfortable because for me it has been thirty-four years of experiencing what Krishna explains in the Gita as the higher taste. Travel, whether it be on foot or on flight with the purpose of touching souls, is a great privilege.
The remainder of the day was spent at the Miami ISKCON Centre at Coconut Grove until it was time in the evening to depart for Buenos Aries. I was happy to see the massive smile of our local legal advocate who is also very much a devotee. Apparently a pending and grueling court case involving the temple terminated into a happy settlement.
Legal battles are ugly and in the current climate of social awares they ciontribute majorly to the stress factor.
Over the years I’ve observed the draining and devastating effects that disputes have brought on. Conflict and disagreement are unfortunate indeed but they are components of this mundane world. If we take shelter of our spirituality then it is possible to survive such a trying world.