Saturday, 29 June 2013

Friday, June 28th, 2013


Saskatchewan/Hwy 3/18

I never feel like I'm in some major league,nor that I'm in theplayoff, but I believe I'm in a good team and that today we made a touchdown.

With japa beads in hand and the maha-mantra on my tongue and lips, the milestone was reached by completing on foot the province of Manitoba. We made a touchdown.

It was obscure. A mere simple sign on Highway 3 that indicates that we are now in Saskatchewan. All seems the same though from an external point of view. It's the same asphalt but the nomenclature changes. It's now highway #18.

To witness the event were the spectators themselves. What would not be a more appropriate group of viewers than a herd of bison, the provincial animal whose insignia is stamped on each highway sign. Nole, just east of Pierson, a village of 140 population, 6 kilometres shy of the border, a group of the beautiful beasts went to a stunned "freeze" when they heard my feet grip the gravel and then decided to go for an intermission from feeding. In other words, they turned their backs on me and went to the far reaches of the field. At least they demonstrated solidarity.

And get a load of this - less than one kilometre before reaching the finish-line, the border, two moose gawked at Daruka, with camera in position and Billie, the parrot on his shoulder. They went the way of the buffalo. "These are humans. Let's get outta here!"

As far as humans go, a good number of passers-by in mostly trucks of canola, wheat, cattle growers and oilfield workers, did stop and cheerlead in their own way. "Keep it up," they said.

So now Daruka and I were left to celebrate with strawberry milkshakes and then make a 3 hour drive to White City for an evening house program of CEC, chat, eat and chant.

20 KM

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Bliss On The Trail

Melita, Manitoba

Daruka and I really relish tenting at camp-sites as a way to accommodate ourselves. We like the simple life and the slight roughing-it-up.

The daily showers and swim cleanses and provides water to the body, which it craves, being exposed to the open sun and wind. Furthermore, H2O soothes the stiff leg muscles which are engaged in repeated action.

The soles of the feet and around the ankles have become somewhat raspy due to dead skin forming. They are not exactly like sandpaper; maybe a little more like velcro and have a tendency to stick to the inner layer of my sleeping-bag, and, when changing into my dhoti (lower monk robe), the cloth tends to hug the feet. I applied pumice to the feet and that makes a difference; a vigorous rubbing.

Now for today's trek: I began at 4AM and practically shcoked the hell out of these guys working for the oil rigs. First of all, who walks in the remote prairie and at this hour? Secondly, the wind enhances a ghostly flow of the vestments.

But what a nice break it was walking a trail with no asphalt! Call it ecstasy where for a full 9 hours your soles get a free reflexology session, gently rolling over stones. And what a joy it was seeing and hearing these coots (mud-hens is the slang) for the first time in my life. And what humour and warmth it brought to my heart to view the puzzled look on an elderly prairie farmer's face in his pickup truck when he saw my alien-self.

Yes, it was the road less traveled (Road 12 North) but it was the short-cut and it saves me 20 kms had I follwed the silly highway.

By God (Krishna's) grace today I managed my old daily average of 40 kms. "Yahoo!" Better still, "Haribol!"

40 KM

Friday, 28 June 2013

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013


Deloraine, Manitoba

“Oh Lord, help us to be masters of ourselves, that we may be servants of others.” - Sir Alexander Paterson

This quote amongst others is found at our little detour at Peace Garden in the Turtle Mountain District. The message resonates well.

Out here in the open prairie, there’s not much going on to entice your senses, there’s few and far between buildings. Most homes are set very far from the highway, which is my trail for walking.

And yes, peace. In two schools in Deloraine, and Boisaevaine students are hearing me say that I’m on a peace walk. I also introduced my team comprised of man and bird. PJRB radio also came over to the school at Boisaevaine for a separate interview. And Judy came from this Deloraine Newspaper at the Deloraine school. For the young students, me speaking about peace to them does not hold much interest, but it is a strong word that the teachers appreciate. They believe in it, it means a lot. When I had a few minutes with the principal, Mr. White, I asked about teenagers and drugs, and he remarked that it wasn’t too bad in the area largely due to the fact that people are somewhat isolated and are maintaining high family and spiritual values.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said of peace, “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principals.” In the Gita Krishna speaks about principals of freedom and how freedom and peace come from acknowledgement of the Supreme, and controlling the agitated senses.

So there is peace. Hard to find in this world.

Last night a major storm swept through Manitoba. Tree branches (and some huge ones) came crashing all around our tent as we were camping. We had to get out of there and search for a room. Then the news came that reported that a man in his tent got killed by a tree that landed on him in Falcon Lake, Manitoba. How unfortunate. Then after going for a swim in Adam Lake just to relieve the tension of leg muscles, before I knew it, my left foot found itself all bloody. A leach had discovered it to be delicious. The point being, where is peace and comfort in this world?

28 KM

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Towards Simple Ways

Boissevain, Manitoba

After my shower at the campsite in Kilarney I left Daruka for the extra doze at 4:10 AM. To exit I was coming around a corner and this creature almost collided with me. With the dimness of the hour I could barely see. Was it a fox? No. Was it a dog? No. When the creature who accidentally came at me in a kind of a gallop, he backed off and I could decipher the image, it was a tiny fawn. He then retreated and ran towards these trailers which seemed to startle him also and then he came back towards me, practically landing in my arms, and then once again retreated but into another direction and into the darkness, hopefully to safety. What a perkful way to start the day.

It was a long straight stretch on 30 KMs without really stopping. A couple of falcons came to see me, they were perched on a hydro post. An RCMP officer stopped to learn what I’m doing. “I’m walking for peace,” I told him.

“Good, I’m also working for peace,” indicating that it was his job.

Paul Rayner from the community newspaper, The Recorder, interviewed. He went quite in depth and knew of the power of kirtan having experience with it.

What Daruka and Billy did once more today was wave a wand of magic. Billy’s charms gained us a happy footing into a colony of Hutterites. The place was in Wokapa. It has a residence of 140 people who created their own village and infrastructure beginning in 1972. The school there wanted to meet Billy, Daruka, and their monk friend. As a result, we were invited to speak about trekking pastimes, and about Billy’s role in all of this. The kids were great as they sat in front of us, well behaved, boys in pants and suspenders, and girls in dresses and bonnets or headdresses.

There is something favourable to be said about pious God-centric kids. They are respectful and attentive to all we say. It is also not to be ignored, but I must mention their next door neighbours, the Freemans. They are not Hetterites, but eco-friendly family who are young and managing self sustainability. They use minimal machinery, in fact work horses are the modus operandi. We had the opportunity to meet with them. Their kids are home schooled and they do plenty of chores and playing. Tim and Kathleen are doing their own little miracles.

Our guru, Srila Prabhupada, desired this kind of life for our family community members. We should not stop trying.

32 KM

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Cotton and Cattle

Kilarney, Manitoba

Cottonwood fluff is shedding from the trees and manages to make its way all the way out to the open fields and even highways. On this highway, #3, we find something historic, it was once a major horse and cart trail in the late 1800’s for patrolling and surveying the land north of the 49th parallel which separates the US and Canada. This area’s now predominantly farm land.

One farmer’s fence had broken down leaving some of his cattle to go astray and land up in someone else’s pasture. I was there on the highway when several farmers were there to help and discuss strategy for the cattle’s return home. The farmer who owned the cattle was in despair, but he took a minute to talk to me, “So you’re walkin’?”

“Yes, across Canada.”

“For peace?”

“Yes, and as a pilgrimage.”

“You’re Hare Krishna?”


“Well, that makes sense.”

A few more locals involved in the agri-business saw the small convergence of vehicles and people by the side of the highway. They also stopped. It was then that I could say more about walking for the soul. I kept it rather light. I let people know that it’s a friend raiser and not a fund raiser. I encouraged all the motorists there to please honk when they see me down the road, and see me they have, so they say.

“I can’t do that, the horn on my vehicle just busted”, said one guy jovially.

“Hey, fences break down, horns malfunction, these bodies break down, and I’ll walk ‘til I drop. That was a segue for everyone to move on back to work, back to catching cattle and back on to walking.

News has spread around about the walking Hare Krishna, even before the afternoon’s interview with Jay from The Guide newspaper. Many motorists stop to get their picture taken with a rarity, a monk.

33 KM

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

I Allowed Myself

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Once again I allowed myself to be pulled off the road for an engagement in Manitoba’s major city, Winnipeg. On the previous night, Daruka, Billy, Daniel and I went to The Forks to attend events for Aboriginal Day.

When I walked the Prairie trail, on what can be a boring straight line, I daily think about how the indigenous people executed their travels. They likely followed a meandering river or curvy valley or creek. Their lifestyle and outlook was circular, unlike the white man’s square and linear approach. The land they shared and was for everyone. They demonstrated hospitality to the newcomers and showed them how to survive. Those of the European stock, the newcomers, came in great numbers, did not reciprocate so well with hospitality, cheated the custodians and robbed them of use of land. The new ‘owners’ killed the food supply, the bison, drew lines and squares for lots, saying ‘do not trespass’. They spread new diseases and fire water where there was no intoxication before. They, the first people, were cheated of their land and were given left over reserves, a raw deal for sure.

Not a day goes by when I wonder how life would be to trek a trail that the aboriginal people had done before there was a grid.

After spending an hour with Greg along what to me was a new section of Red River, I met Dennis at a street juncture. Dennis is an aboriginal handicapped person. He asked me if I had time, I said, “Yes, depending on how long.” Dennis is wheelchaired with impaired legs and needed to be taken to the other side of the river by way of bridge, and then a couple of blocks to destination, Holy Rosary Catholic Church for coffee with a priest.

“Fine,” I agreed.

As I was pushing the wheelchair he told me about how he prays to the Lord asking Him if one day he can walk again. “Sometimes I think God doesn’t listen,” he said.

“You can’t blame God for your weak legs. This is karma you have inflicted upon yourself from some time in the past. Be grateful always for what you do have. “

Dennis asked me to wheel him into the Starbucks Coffee shop. Both inside and outside the shop many people seemed to know him. Here he makes a daily visit and requires an antique cup for his coffee. From here I wheel him out and on to the edge of the church yard. Mass had just finished and here too he seems to be known.

I figured that helping him was the least I could do considering the mistreatment of his people in the past. I felt I owed him one.

Our day came to a close when I spoke at 108 Chestnut from a Bhagavatam verse 1.8.30 regarding the bewildering nature of this world, its Creator and their correlation.

12 KM

Monday, 24 June 2013

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013


Mather, Manitoba

Breaking into new shoes isn’t always the funnest thing. A minor case of blisters and blood came my way at the feet. Several consecutive warm days has also encouraged heat rash and again minimal blood. Such things occur as part of the pilgrim’s package.

Highway 3 is very quiet on Saturdays. The occasional motorist stops, as does the newspaper delivery woman from yesterday. In fact, she did it twice today, asking a little more each time as to how I’m faring, where do I hope to get to at the end of the day, and inquiring about my mode of life. Friendly they are here in the prairie. Even their license plate says so, ‘Friendly Manitoba’. Some folks today offered some financial help, I didn’t ask, they just gave. One highlight of the day was meeting Art, and then later, Elaine, his wife, from Mather, Manitoba. They invited Daruka and I for lunch. We agreed, but we told them of our dietary restrictions. In all frankness, it’s hard for me to have the heart to eat what I see goes by me as I pass a herd of beef cattle. They tend to be so personal as they follow me along at my pace right to the very lengths of the pasture until reaching the barrier, the fence. They then stand there as if frozen staring at me until I disappear.

Art runs a local seed company, and also plays a major role in running the village. The lunch was great along with some herbal Bengal Spice tea. The conversation entailed comparing notes – their Mennonite faith to our consciousness in Krishna. Hence, friends were made with exchange of literature. Perhaps the climax of the visit was Art playing on the piano. The piece ‘Obladi, Oblada, Life Goes On…’

Hey, if life could be so easy, simply singing Obladi Oblada, that would be great. Why do we karmically complicate matters so?

26 KM

Friday, June 21st, 2013

I Can See The Mist

La Riviere, Manitoba

From Pemdina Valley I could see the mist with rainbow tones rising as I was approaching. It was as if the sun god was pulling up with his hands the moisture and dispersing it into thin air. It resembled a hint of virat rupa, the cosmic form as described in Bhagavad Gita.

Daruka joined and we were pacing along. We passed by the location where ‘The Passion’ play is annually presented in the outdoors attracting people from far and wide. Then we caught the attention of a group of people having breakfast in the town restaurant. Dennis, the retired school teacher, pulled out of the group and came outside to invite us for some early morning breakfast. Daruka and I accepted the offer of cranberry juice and the company of district farmers. We all hit it off well, chanting while sitting at a round table. Being with Dennis, an educator whom everyone in the district seemed to have been taught by (so it seems) set a tone for the day.

Daruka and I eventually backtracked to Manitou and the elementary school. There, 130 students assembled in the gymnasium to hear about a monk’s lifestyle and his associates and to view a blue front Amazon parrot. The principle Deb Morrow, was most gracious, while the reception by the students was quite overwhelming. The applause made us feel like rock stars. There also appeared to be no end to questions regarding life as a monastics. In truth, the kids questioned about Billy as well, but I’ll give it a 50/50 attention to both topics.

Further on in the walk westbound on Highway 3, many motorists came to congratulated me for the trek and for visiting their neighbourhood. Two more journalists from different papers came to interview, also Jackie and Maryanne, local farm girls I guess you could say, cycled from their endless prairie laneways to meet and talk.

Finally, where the educational element became interwoven in our day once more is when Alix, the local art gallery coordinator, joined me for a stretch to Crystal City when along with Daruka and Billy we accidentally stumbled upon a graduation ceremony. Grads and friends were gathered in the street. Gals in pretty dresses and guys in suits took notice of the unusual team that we were. It then became an exchange of mutual congratulations.

What a glorious day. The last few kilometres I tackled solo, but I wasn’t alone, a trillion mosquitoes accompanied me.

32 KM

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Slightly Naïve

Manitou, Manitoba

She was slightly naïve, but definitely gigglish, and not sure what to ask. “Do you eat?” is what she blurted out embarrassingly.

Most people out here have rarely seen a monk, let alone meet someone on a passionate walk across the country and for a fourth time. It really made a difference that the Morden Times featured us on the front page of their weekly. We were supposed to have been well down the road by now since the interview with Andrew Pruden last week. Consequently the delay of Daruka’s moving worked in our favour. The newspaper just came out today when I was trekking on Highway 3. Suddenly everyone in the Pembina district was informed.

That’s why I’m out here, to clarify my being and purpose for being in this area. Not everyone has to follow the rank and file conventions. You can say it is possible to be a non conformist to ‘the system’. I said to the young teen with the inquisitive question, “Yes, I eat and very well on a veggie diet with a lifestyle of self discipline. It means simple living and high thinking. It addresses taking care of the soul as well as the body. Both she and her boyfriend next to her were all smiles. And for that last stroll I could hear the honking of horns and for the more subdued approach, a wave of the hand that demonstrated approval.

Both Daruka and I are in bliss about the response from what we perceived could be a conservative area – Winkler, Morden and Manitou. One last mention, where in the world do you find a place on Earth which is named after the Great Spirit, or God? That’s what is meant by Manitoba – Manitou.

38 KM

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013


Winnipeg, Manitoba

I had my eye on a green space off of Portage Avenue where I blazed a trail. Daruka confirmed this would be a good place. It’s called Vimy Ridge Park, this place would do for a kirtan, a chanting session tonight.

After an early jaunt beginning at 2 AM, I wanted to prolong my long stay in Winnipeg with a little party. The best party is sankirtan, outreach chanting, only we will do it on the grass. It was last minute, yet Daruka, Vrinda and I pulled together a spontaneous get together in the evening where casual walkers browse and use valuable time.

We laid out some imitation grass mats imported from Sri Lanka, placed our harmonium mrdanga drum, karatals (and cymbals) and a bowl of fruit on top before plopping ourselves. The ceremony began, people took notice, some stopped for the sound, some to see the exotic instruments and us, and some were charmed by Billy, our Amazon parrot. Our message is, “We are doing kirtan. It’s an ancient system for calming the mind. It has roots in India. Join us if you like.” And some people would because it’s all attractive. Either Vrinda or I take the lead on singing. She ambles her fingers on the harmonium’s keyboard. Daruka keeps the simple ‘ching ching ching’ sound on karatals, and I maintain tempo on drum. We are not professionals, but devotionals, and that’s what really counts in the end.

You have people walk away with fruit, a smile, a friend made and a tad closer to what’s Divine.

28 KM

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

The Last Haul
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Some anxiety is building up inside because according to schedule I was supposed to be on Highway 3 headed west, but as my support person Daruka is still moving his paraphernalia to a new location, I’m stuck in the city. 
In one sense, I’m not in the city.  I chose once again to take a river trail.  This time it’s Red River.  I’m trekking along official and unofficial trails in the section of Saint Boniface where The Grey Nuns established their mission long ago.  I stumbled upon two characters knocked out flat on a park bench.  They had placed a piece of log in an open city disposal unit and lit the log to flames.  As I walked by in this early crack of dawn moment, I lit up myself.  The fire was crackling providing the two some warmth and a sleep that couldn’t be broken in their shared cozy positions. 
As I mentioned yesterday, there are two types of people you meet in urban parks.   These guys were just like out of a scene from the story of Jagai and Madhai.  In an ongoing adventure along the Red River, I pursued the unofficial path chanting the maha mantra all the while.  The trail got interesting along the river bank. It was steep to one side, and a metal fence to the other.  The path became so narrow that it ended up not being anymore.  I manipulated a fence as in climbing over it, and landed in an industrial yard of massive rusty rejected machinery which had a formidable gate at its end.  I was trapped inside.  In the meantime a fox in all its glory passed by the gate of barbed wire, “Auspicious,” I thought of the fox, “ I must think and be like one, like a fox – silent, calculating and stealthily moving.”  At the gate’s base was a foot of space to the ground, so I cobra-yoga-ed my way out of there.  Thank you, Krishna, for bringing back my boyhood and bringing protection.  No guard dog came my way. 
I did have lovely exchanges with people once reaching a normal path.  I like to give a mantra card and tell each soul about our kirtan sessions at 108 Chestnut.  Later that night, at that location, Vrinda, who has been our most gracious host in Winnipeg, Daniel, an up and coming devotee and I prepared a prasadam meal of quinoa and rice pasta and wraps as we await Daruka’s return from the last haul of his hoarding paraphernalia.  
Sorry, Daruka, but you’ve been accumulating too much stuff.
30 KM

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Two Types of People
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Walking mystic mountain paths
I reflect while sliding, losing footing
How after mystic mountain baths
Ascending or descending
Travel is safer when rains have been rooting
-  Nitai Priya
I have been losing footing as well, but at the base of the river bank at the Assiniboine River which runs like a curvy vain, through not mountain, but flat plains.
Before highways there were rivers like the Assiniboine to carry humans and cargo through this vast land.  The origin of the word Assiniboine: Assini – the native word for stone.  Along the Assiniboine indigenous people would camp, immerse stone in fire, then submerge the stone in a container with water.  This was their technology for boiling food. 
A tribe was named after this called the Assiniboines.  Cree, Ojibwa, and Dakota tribes also frequented this river.  They came here for centuries in their nomadic way.  Then came the French, the Scots and Brits, and then a constant wave of immigrants. 
My trekking along both banks of the Assiniboine today gave me so much exposure to the water, to trees, bushes, especially burdocks, and earth, wet and dry.  The people I met along this course, and they are of two kinds: those that look after themselves and those that don’t.  Walkers, runners and cyclists are fans of health.  The other type – they are prone to a kind of denial. 
I met Chris who asked if I was from Tibet.  I could tell he was a little intoxicated.  I said, “No, you got the first letter right, though.  Capital T for Toronto.“  I chatted with him and then before parting gave him a firm word about halting his drug taking.  It seems that little nooks along the river are places where people hide from responsibility, where they toke up, drink, sniff, and do any old little thing to escape reality.  Others venture to such places to get closer to earth, prakriti, and to the Creator, Purusha.  In meeting these two types of people, I admit, I see more of the latter. 
27 KM

Monday, 17 June 2013

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Being A Father

Winnipeg, Manitoba

I had never before thought to say Happy Fathers Day to those in passing who are obvious daddies, but it worked. Response was phenomenal. Perhaps we’re looking at a group of people who feel and are a bit underappreciated these days.

On this gorgeous day I saw dads pushing strollers, riding with their kid on bikes, or even some walking with wife and offspring. There was one man by himself waiting by the street light to cross on Marion, and I expressed to him, ‘the mantra’. He must have been in his 60’s so I assumed he had not been a bachelor. His response – “And happy father’s day to you.”

“Thanks,” and it hit me that I didn’t have kids, so I didn’t deserve the title. When I returned from a faster than usual pace at walking due to running late for a speaking engagement, I received a poem via internet from a student of mine addressing me as father. This was then a confirmation, as a monk, you are a guru, which means you’re a guide, a coach, counselor, and cheerleader all at the same time – all are functions of a parent.

Furthermore, you lead by your example in roles that are both traditional and contemporary, the father figure is known to provide, protect, achieve, be heroic at doing dangerous things, be effective in emergency situations, and also be a donor as in begetting children.

To say happy father’s day during the morning’s trek to total strangers was a way to repay my own father who was a good dad. Although deceased, I still feel I can thank him through others for doing all of the above and including taking the time to tell me of the birds and the bees.

I had two occasions today to speak from 14.4 of the Gita about Krishna’s post in this regard. “All species born into this world come from the womb of nature with Me as their seed giving Father.”

18 KM

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

You Got It Wrong

Winnipeg, Manitoba

With Daruka still engaged in moving, I’m left to do some walking in Winnipeg. I’m still having fun. I took trails along the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. When I was near the provincial legislative building I met with two couples of the First Nations.

It’s interesting the perception people have when you’re in a monk’s attire. One of the fellows took a martial arts stance at me. Everyone else smiled. It was his girlfriend who said, “You got it wrong, this guy is about love and peace.”

We got to talking about walking and one of the girls said, “Many of First Nations people walk, but we’re walking away from our homes and abusive situations.”

Each one of the four new friends I made helped themselves to plucking fragrant lilac flowers from the bushes and then adorned themselves. They look more like the love and peace flower children that I could ever appear to be.

I also met Wade, a young traveler who slept under the nearby bridge last night. He ran with a gusto as soon as he saw me. “Are you a real monk?” he asked panting with excitement.

“Yes, I am, a walking one.”

“I’ve never met a monk in real life… I like walking.” And with a healthy boast of a young man, he says he has large calves in his legs from all his trekking. He also mentioned he has slave shoulders, meaning bulging, from all the backpacking he does. I was actually impressed with Wade. He told me about his mom’s being a vegetarian yoga teacher. I also asked him about his dad, as tomorrow is Fathers’ Day. “Oh yeah! I’ve got to call him!” I can understand from his affection towards parents that he was essentially a good young guy. I hope he shows up tomorrow at the ISKCON Centre at Chestnut Street, 108, at 4 PM.

Another man I met at Wellington Boulevard was a Korean. “You are Buddha?” he asked.

“No, I’m Krishna.”

“Spell it for me.” So he took out his phone and had me spell it with “Hare” in front of the Krishna. “I’m going to look it up,” he said with a great curiosity.

I had reached a destination before returning back to 108 Chestnut. I stopped over at Leonard and Rameshni’s place for chatting, and the ultimate walkers food – some wraps and Gatorade.

In capping off the day, I spoke on the Gita’s verse, 8.6, regarding how your thoughts impact your destiny. A twin set of girls from our community turned 2 today, and we celebrated. They were remarkably non-fidgety and were quiet to my message, as were all the others who came, family and friends.

29 KM

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Friday, June 14th, 2013


Morden, Manitoba

When journalist Andrew of the Morden Times came to interview me I asked him a curious question, “Does the name of your newspaper have anything to do with a play on letters and not words, as in modern times?”

Enough already.

We got to talking about the walking mission. I explained that life runs on two tracks, the physical and the spiritual, much like a train moves on two parallel rails. If you’re missing one then the train does not go forward. With walking you are obviously having a good workout. When you make it a pilgrimage then it becomes a soul workout in addition to the physical benefit. I am chanting mantras in the course of my walking, so there’s a perfect partnership between matter and spirit.

Andrew, and Derek, also from the newspaper, and I sat cross legged for quite some time with Q and A’s with some discussion to the point where our legs went to sleep. The interview went great.

The area I’m walking in, Winkler and Morden, is not foreign to spiritual topics and piety. This is clearly Mennonite territory if ever there was. For instance, Don Kalippenstein, who’s with sales at the local GM dealership was on his way to a local prayer meeting and saw me and offered a lift to which I had to decline, “I’m walking all the way to the Pacific, so I can’t cheat.”

There was also this nice lady who was eating at McDonalds when she saw me passing by. She asked her husband who was handicapped and moving in an electric wheelchair to find out what I was doing. He came to me and whipped out his cell phone so I could talk to her, and she so kindly said she’d pray for my safe journey. He then whipped out something else, a twenty dollar bill and in mutual exchange I gave him a Krishna Tone CD to listen to.

Other motorists came forward offering rides in the good Samaritan spirit. At one point in today’s walk, I stopped dead on my tracks to see and read a country side billboard which had a message that I’m very much in favour of. It read:



The Choice of a new generation

I thought to myself, “Now that’s a good policy.” I shared the message with Doug, my support person. We agreed to drink to that, so we indulged in a pineapple/banana/coconut smoothie, offered it to Krishna and drank to our hearts’ content.

32 KM

Friday, 14 June 2013

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

We Are A River

Winkler, Manitoba

In the drive down highway 75 for reaching my destination point and commencing the daily walk, I noticed the beautiful curvy course of the Red River. In fact, yesterday, I walked over the river (by bridge, of course, and not as Jesus did). Despite its natural aesthetics it left me a sad impression, something seemed not right, something was amiss.

I’m sure the river functions well as a flood drain, as a water supply for irrigating farmers’ fields, and adding joy to waterfront property owners who like the calmness of its liquid flow, but what else? It dawned on me that why is it not utilized more? I could picture a happy canoer gliding along leisurely in a sportive mode of travel.

My thought provoked a greater depth of wonder. Why is it that as humans we underutilize our spiritual potential? We are like rivers that could do so much more. It’s natural to ponder this world of phenomenal happenings which come in daily doses. What of the prairie sky, its rich colour? What about a seed so small and how it can transform into a giant beauty as time passes? Just the sheer satisfaction of seeing the tree lined river inspired some appreciation for something too great to explain. There’s a world of miracles out here with rich wholesome opportunities, but in general we appear to be too dull to tap into an innate resource – the spiritual one.

Our guru, Srila Prabhupada, made the point about us being distinct from the animal kingdom and utilizing the human form of life as it is meant to – to probe into spiritual subject matters. When Doug and I returned back to Winnipeg for the overnight stay, I spotted the river once again and viewed its meandering loveliness and saw at least two canoes occupied by people and oars.

The river seemed complete.

25 KM

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

The Grey Dot

Altona, Manitoba

The grey dot was very tiny. It was in the distance far from where I was located. As I approached it coming closer on foot, it still remained a grey dot. In fact, all images on the prairie horizon appear far away and stay that way for a long time, even as you forge ahead.

Finally, after some time, and what seemed like forever, the grey dot became a larger dot, and then revealed a new manifestation. There to the side of the highway in front of me, it sparked a light of joy.

It's the van!

Doug, who is a devotee of Krishna for many years, is a driver and owner of a silver grey van. The Grey Dot is the name he chose for his van. Doug is there to see that I get his support. In a type of leap frog fashion, Doug checks up on me with the grey dot. I'm grateful.

I'm not alone here in the prairie. While Doug is further ahead in the wake of my reaching him I've got company. There's the mantra that I'm constantly chanting as I step along, also birds are persistently around me, it seems I arouse them affirming their territorialism. When I tread along the red winged black bird goes frantic and so do the swallows whose nests are situated at the ceilings of the bridges. When they hear my footsteps or feel the footvibes they go hysterical. There are fierce flight attacks against each other, often times small birds after a larger one who got too close to the nesting area. It's quite exciting, like a Mahabharat battle in air.

Speaking of attacks, a large dog came at me. I first attempted friendship, but he insisted on barking. I pulled over to the other side of the road, I thought I'd be safe with traffic now between us, but no, he crossed and almost got hit by a car. Uh oh, now I'm in trouble. He's on my side of the road. The funny thing is he kept dashing in the same direction and making a dip through the ditch, and then charging towards something in the field. "What's he going after?" I thought. Then, I could see in the distance a moving black dot. As the dog kept moving forward away from me he was about to become a dot himself and then the first dot revealed himself to be a bear. But a small dot in a big field. The dog's master came out of the house and called him back.

It's rare to see a bear in the prairie but they have been sighted. I'm glad this bear came and distracted my assailant. I moved on and became an orange dot in the eyes of the motorists.

One motorist, Greg, pulled over. He spotted me and wondered if I needed help. "No, I'm okay, I'm walking to BC (British Columbia). It's a 4th trek across Canada." He expressed that he was a Christian. I could see that he was an open minded one, thank God.

"I put my mother to rest yesterday," Greg said, "she struggled for a whole week before passing. I spoke at her funeral."

Greg seemed not sad and remained upbeat. "There's two ways to be in this life I often say, up beat or beat up." My guru was always upbeat and that's why I love and revere him so.

Greg had to move on to see his aging father who is missing his wife very much. "Nice meeting you Greg."

After 7 hours of walking, Doug came to get me in The Grey Dot. From that spot near Altona, The Grey Dot disappeared on the horizon and will reappear tomorrow.

32 KM

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Sitting Eagle

Dominion City, Manitoba

"Sitting Eagle" is the name of the first person to talk to me today. He was driving his daughter to school and waited extra long at the juncture of the road before turning. Obviously he was curious about what I'm doing.

"You don't see too many people walking on the highway these days," he said, "what to speak of seeing..."

"I'm a monk," I said, "a Krishna monk, and I'm doing this walk across Canada to promote spiritual awareness..."

Sitting Eagle and his daughter are of aboriginal descent. And they were fascinated to listen. Then I met Ken, also a first nations person who is a self employed plummer. He offered a ride and I told him how I couldn't take a ride. The rest of the dialogue was easy as I segued into inviting him to a kind of powwow, actually a kirtan that we conduct every Wednesday and Sunday nights in Winnipeg.

An elderly couple also stopped to offer a lift. They were blown away by the walking mission. When I said it was a pilgrimage, that resonated with them. When he said he was of French origin, while she was English, I remarked sarcastically, "Those are two groups that historically always got along." They chuckled. And that would be a great day when we can - all get along.

There were a number of other interactions along this very flat terrain in prairie land. The people are not flat in the least personality wise, they were really nice and sweet.

To seal the day, I spent the time in kirtan, our brand of powwow, and then rested in Doug's living room, who leaves his TV on. It remained like that all night. I couldn't find the remote to turn it off and Doug was fast asleep. Nevertheless, I slept like a baby in the company of newscasters. One of them fortunately woke me up at the precise time desired. Thank you for the service.

27 KM

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Top Notch Schools

Rainy River, Ontario

Daruka and I had signed in at the local elementary school. It was 10 O'clock on the dot. We were escorted by staff to the gymnasium. There, a hundred students (Daruka's guess) sat in anticipation to see us. The teachers were eager to expose their students to an expanded cultural experience.

I began to speak. Daruka partnered on this, especially with Billy perched on his shoulder. Many questions were geared to Daruka about the bird.

In the beginning I felt a slight apprehension. Younger children take a special training to keep them enthused. I wasn't sure I had that. Teenagers, yes. Les enfants? I'm not so certain. We went ahead anyway. Obediently they followed our every instruction about chanting. First, OM, then Hare Krishna, then clapping in a synchronized way, and then dancing. By and by we came to our closure keeping things simple and not too philosophical. Imagine a gym full of kids singing something in Sanskrit.

The next group, or the bigger leagues, also located next door was at secondary school level. In between presentations we were hosted by Jackie and Martin; she, who runs the West End Weekly, and he who accommodates her newspaper printing in his insurance office, for lunch at their home. What a fantastic couple. Ashley, their daughter, had booked us in the two schools in the first place in this last town in Ontario. Crossing the river here means you are in the States.

Our high school group, although smaller in number, were a bunch of bright young people as were the elementary students. I expressed to the students our true identity, that we are not these bodies, but spirits. I then asked, "What does a spirit then do?" One chap answered, "He does spirit things."

And right he was.

Both Daruka and I were really impressed with the calibre of the students in this town. There was a huge line up for our autographs, Billy's included, as he took the opportunity to sign by leaving an imprint on the paper with his beak.

When I walk through this town, the size 1,000 people, in both 2003 and last year, along Highway 11, I was a bit disappointed. It looked somewhat run down. As some say, 'you can't judge a book by its cover'. Similarly, you can't judge a place by one selected street. You have to mill around in the town and browse through the whole thing to get a more clear picture. Ashley told us that colour, by paint, was going to be added to the town in addition to new fancy lamp posts and park benches.

Because the to and fro trip to Rainy River took us 8 hours, where was there time to walk in any serious way? In the course of our journey though, we spotted pelicans, swans, turkey vultures and geese. We also couldn't resist a peek at Rushing River, the white water is sensational.

4 KM

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Gandhi and the Name

Winnipeg, Manitoba

I set out when I thought all were in slumber. I checked out the Assinaboine River in the downtown residential area of Winnipeg. I wasn't very surprised to see its level very high, due to excessive rain this year. The foot path is flooded.

It's early morning for me, but late for party goers.

"Holy ______ Gandhi!" shouted one of them as they saw me on the other side of the bridge while I was doing my rounds, chanting on my beads. They, the partygoers, were at their last liquor stumbling steps for the day.

But sober were the folks at the Durga temple, my first speaking venue for the day. Daruka and I sang "Guruvastakam" in praise of the guru in traditional morning melody. I then spoke from the Gita and its conclusive verse, 18.66 in regards to surrendering to the source. I received questions galore. And so it rendered a rich morning of deeper than normal depths. The goddess Durga was overlooking me with a smiling glance.

A final talk was at the ISKCON Centre on Chestnut Street. From chapter 7 we were discussing the perspective of God's presence in water, in sunshine and moonshine, in sacred sound and in the skills and talent that we are all endowed with.

Our small place was packed with people. The prasadam (blessed food) was from another world - totally divine. To match was our collective kirtan. We were drunk on the sounds of Krishna's name.

A final note about Gandhi; he chanted the name of Ram when he was assassinated. He received bullets from a man who was out of control, but he, Gandhi, knew enough to say a sacred thing at death.

5 KM

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

Perfect Day
Piney, Manitoba
This was perhaps one of the best days of my life.  As a way of prepping myself for the actual reconvening of the 4th cross-Canada trek, I resorted today to a quiet Prairie dirt road, where virtually few folks are seen.  The road runs parallel to Highway 201 in southern Manitoba close to the American border.
I have been reading part 2 of the book Radha Damodara Vilas, by Vaiyasaki, and I picked up the term, “a walk with God”.  This is in reference to a very popular monk’s talk at San Francisco’s Chariot Festival.  Vishnujan Swami spoke of the event in the 70’s, the presence of Jaganatha, the large image of Krishna, who goes for a chariot ride, replicating an ancient festival held in India where people promenade in procession, pulling God on wheels.
I like to think that the trek I am taking is “a walk with God”, that is, God in the form of the mantra:
Hare Krishna
Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna
Hare Hare
Hare Rama
Hare Rama
Rama Rama
Hare Hare
The thought of a walk with God gave me joy.
And so did the weather… give me joy.  It’s been just perfect with a breeze at a temperature in the mid 20’s.
Today I also worked other leg and body muscles that don’t always get addressed.   In order to facilitate my support man, Daruka, I helped him move carrying collectables up and down stairs into a Uhaul.  It’s a good sign that he’s selling and giving away a lot of his cherished belongings which seemed less like treasure these days.  That shows he’s learning detachment.  Helping Daruka move his paraphernalia didn’t necessarily steal away the day’s upbeatness.
Finally, at the afternoon, up ‘til evening, I had a great but simple meal of baked potatoes and avocadoes at the residence of Rachitambara and family.  This lady is such a saint, and being with her and her friends put a groovy close to a perfect day.
20 KM

Friday, June 7th, 2013

To the Crows Especially
Fort Francis/Steinbach, Canada
Cranes, eagles, magpies, ravens, owls, and crows.  That’s what you see.  And there’s deer, they are like ants, just everywhere, and in great numbers, especially at dusk.
To all of the above I salute you.  This is your space.  Can you share some of that please?  Though some of you look at each other as a meal, I can understand where you are coming from, after all, each one of you has to survive.  It is said in the Vedas, ‘jivo jivasya jivanam’, one creature is food for another creature.  This is a law of nature.  But, let it be known, you will survive, your spirit will persist while your gorgeous bodies will eventually dissolve.
I noticed some members of the crow family who were feasting on – well, I couldn’t quite make out what it was that I was looking at, the remains of some animal was what was left of your feast when you flew off due to my intrusion.  I am very sorry to have spoiled the fun, but I did move on, so all four of you could just go back to your feasting; I won’t step in the way.  As I said earlier on, this is very much your domain.  I happened to be passing by doing what I have to do, that is, travelling on foot, moving about, meeting my own species (humans) and attempting to convince them that life is sacred.
I very much believe in the signs that I’ve been reading along the way – the ones that read ‘no hunting’, or ‘no trespassing – private property’.  The property, however, is under the proprietorship of the Creator, that is the truth of the matter.
My dear Crow Clan, I hope you can have some empathy for me, to do my work I mobilize myself very slowly with every step on the ground while all of you have these remarkable wings that engineer a great flight into space.  I can’t do that.  In many ways, you are far superior to me. 
A final appeal is that we all try to act as harmoniously as possible in what’s rather and simultaneously a beautiful but crazy world.
20 KM

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Thanks Gen and Dan

Fort Frances, Ontario

Wood ticks are plentiful, you just brush yourself against a tree, or feet through the grass, and you’re likely to take one or more or two ticks for a free ride. Some of this piggy backing they have done when I take a brief break from the road.

“Never mind,” said one of the participants at Little Beaver Cultural Centre, “they are not the dreaded deer ticks, not to worry.”

Daruka, Billy the bird, and I had completed a presentation at an elementary school at a village of Mine Centre. It had to be simple, after all, the attention span of the kids is what it is. They took marvelously to chanting, and of course, our blue front Amazon, Billy, stole the show.

Our evening was spent with adults. So today, we went from ticks to kids to biggies in an evolutionary take on association. There, at the cultural centre, we introduced more chanting for the day, until the sun started tucking itself away (and here in the north it goes quite late). How sweetly this group chanted.

Daruka and I were determined to visit spots like this one where we had been on our past excursion here in September of 2012. People even remember me from 10 years ago. Bobby Ryder was one of them, “I recall seeing you on the highway then. You were on the road in the middle of wilderness.” For Bobby, a statistic taker by profession, it took a decade for her to meet up with me. And because I insisted on walking to the cultural centre instead of being driven, that meeting materialized.

“You stood out,” said Bobby, referring to the devotional apparel.

Our hosts, Gen and Dan, Lindsay and others at a group session requested firmly another visit by ourselves, for a workshop and a retreat.

The nice thing about these smaller places is that people have more time. There is something more satvic about these folks. Satvic means mode of goodness.

7 KM

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

I Met A Backpacker…

Thunder Bay, Ontario

I met a backpacker from Scotland. I met Shona, an acquaintance who helped me on a drama at Lakehead University in the past. And there was Derek, an artist, who took to a kirtan with me five years ago. It was all these stumbled upon folks that I met, and all because of being accessible, being on foot, in the robes, and on the street. They were touch-heart encounters.

In the evening at the Vedic Cultural Centre, I delivered more selected sutras, codes, and aphorisms for the attendees to take home with them. I selected these codes which were no more than four words to make it easier, and here they are:

Athato brahma-jijnasa

One should inquire into the Absolute.

Ananda-mayo’ bhyasat

I am seeking inner pleasure. (Vedanta Sutra 1.1.12)


Clean the heart of all impurities. (Siksastakam 1)

Tam eva viditva

Freedom is possible only by knowledge of the Absolute. (Svetasvatar Upanishad 3.8)

Ma himsyat sarva bhutani

I commit no violence to others.

Ishavasyam idam sarvam

Everything is controlled by the creator. (Sri Isopanishad 1)

Nityo Nityanam Cetanas Cetananam

The Supreme is the prime eternal amongst all eternals, the life of all that lives. (Katha Upanishad 2.13)

Suhrdam Sarva Bhutanam

The Absolute is the friend to all living beings. (Krishna to Arjuna; Bhagavad Gita 5.29)

10 KM

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Great Day in Thunder Bay
Thunder Bay, Ontario
I hadn’t been here since the opening of the Vedic Cultural Centre, it’s inauguration in November of last year.  It has a living space for two, a temple and a store that sells goods from India.  It appears that each of these three departments are interdependent upon each other, financially, socially and spiritually.
Thanks to the inventors of this great dream come true – Suniti and Prem, two doctors by profession.
Thunder Bay is a very isolated city in Canada, yet if you traverse the  nation by engine, wheels (as in cycling), or on foot, all travelers funnel through this place.  If it’s not someone’s nesting place, then at least it’s a stopover. 
For me, this is where I will reunite with Daruka, my marathon support person of the past, and his cheerleading companion, Billy, a blue Amazon parrot.  Billy and Daruka appear inseparable, with her always perched on his shoulder, except at night time when it’s time to go to bed.
After the flight from Montreal, I eventually landed at this northern town and found an opportunity to walk to the VCC to the home of Prem and Suniti.  Midway through I came upon a road construction site.  Now, these guys (men at work) are busy with heavy machinery.  It is quite naturally a no motorist/pedestrian zone, yet I was not willing to detour and figure out directions in this new place, so I more or less torpedoed my way through and practically ignored all the workers but for a momentary glance.  Some were head scratching and making remarks over the noise (nothing vulgar that I could detect).  Maybe some were a little startled that I went right through the chaos and could get away with it.  I picked up on the phrase, “Hare Krishna” from one hard-hatted worker who sounded respectful.  To others I guess I looked like a moving traffic cone.
“Nice to have met you, boss.”
By evening I had a 2nd visit to the VCC to lead a chanting session.  Helen a yoga teacher came.  There was also Mrs. Rita Agarwal who has been in Thunder Bay forever. Dhip, a student, played the djembe while I was on the mrdanga.  Luke is new, he’s great.  Other students came.  I also led the group in learning two Sanskrit phrases and also came up with a body movement to accompany them.  “Aham brahmasimi “(I am spirit), and “Para dukha dukhi “(I am saddened to see you saddened.  The last one is a message of empathy or a feeling of compassion.
We partook in prasadam (some consecrated food), in this place, fruit.  Then I met three young dudes, one of which remembered me as the travelling monk while I walked through the area last September.
“I’m the one who gave you directions, remember?”
“Yes”, with a smile.  I vaguely remembered but acknowledged. 
A great day in Thunder Bay, eh?
9 KM

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

No Birds But Bees

Amherst, Quebec

The bees were busy buzzing at the beehive. Last year, Surya, the owner of these prized hives, produced three tonnes of the golden gel known as honey that his drones got together. It seems pretty labour intensive.

I was given a jar of the stuff by Bhakti Raghava Swami, who was occupying Surya’s absolutely gorgeous and rustic home atop a hill in the Laurentian Mountains. Bhakti Raghava is a big promoter of rural sustainable village development in India. He’s a born Canadian and adopted the lifestyle, as I have, the lifestyle of a monk.

Keeping bees is one way to demonstrate sustainability, and there’s no reason why there cannot be self sufficiency as a reality in rural Canadian regions. Pioneers did so, mind you, a good chunk of their diet depended on the slaughter of animals and also on fishing.

Bhakti Raghava spent so many years in India and then abroad in places like Cambodia, more particularly, Ankhorwat, the ancient Vishnu city. Once while in Maypura, India, in the 70’s, some dakoits came to our rural settlement, released one of those hand made bombs, which was aimed at him. He lost his leg because of it. It was suggested by a peer, and all in good cheer, that it is Bhakti Raghava Swami who should be the one walking cross-Canada, and hence, gain Terry Fox status.

Bhakti Raghava did tell us that the other day, not intending any marathon, that he did venture off with his two crutches in the bush by some trails. Eventually he got lost. This was a reminder of Krishna as a youth losing His bearings in the forest and was missing for hours along with his friend, Sudama.

Those of us visiting from the city did have the opportunity to divert, but not deeply in the bush. On our return to Montreal we stopped to wade dans le Riviere de Rouge. Soothing!

And another super highlight of the day was chanting at one of those old fashioned picnic tables at a park in Montreal. When you sit and face each other, there is an automatic encouragement that comes from doing so. It’s sort of a transcendental buddy system.

Try chanting using the picnic table method someday with a group of friends.

10 KM

Monday, 3 June 2013

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Dump the Fat

Montreal, Quebec

Bonjour, and hello to Montreal.

My dear friend, Gokulananda, picked me up at the Megabus Station. This place can’t be more than 3 or 4 kms from my destination, the ISKCON Centre on Pie Neuf Blvd, yet it seemed to take forever to get there. The reason? Streets were barricaded in many directions for motorists to make way for thousands of cyclists.

It’s an annual event here in Montreal. The spirit is more or less ‘Go Green’ when over 10,000 cyclists scoured the streets for hours. You ask my opinion? It’s good! Anything to challenge the shiny coffins (automobiles) and I’m a happy chappy.

In this regard, auto versus bike, a student of mine, Hari Lila, recently sent on Facebook a picture of a person in a car and a person on a bike, the caption for the two read something like this:

This burns money and makes you fat.

This burns fat and saves money.

Point well taken.

There is another method which helps in the process of reducing fat. Kirtan. I was blessed to deliver the Gita message today from verse 2.40 which encourages a little by little devotional efforts to God. And then I was blessed to honour the great feast, and then finally to lead one of those sweaty kirtans.

Initially when I entered the kirtan hall, I saw a group of people sitting down and chanting, but butts will go off the floor as soon as the mic is lead to me. It was agreed upon beforehand that I would lead when ready. So, legs started swaying, all started dancing, yes indeed the sweet sweat began. We all dumped some fat.

3 KM

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Lately the Bruce Trail has captured my interest.  Among the visitations made today, one was the stop over to see a spiritual brother of mine, Visvakarma, who resides in Hamilton.  Over the phone with the visit in-planning, I suggested, “Can we walk and talk somewhere?”
“Yeah, the Bruce Trail is a two minute walk from my place,” said Visvakarma. 
“Oh!  Great!”
It just so happened that Visvakarma had guests over and also had a meal prepared.  The meal part is always an austerity.  Before coming I just had a full on rich and tasty Punjabi lunch at a Mississauga household.  And now, another indulgence?  Where’s the room in the stomach?  And there’s another meal to follow at the home of a Kashmiri family.  It doesn’t sound like the simple life of a monk, does it? 
But burn off some calories we did in Hamilton, on the country’s oldest footpath, the Bruce Trail.  The trail takes you along an escarpment.  To access it we crossed railroad tracks, which you could get fined for.  Visvakarma, Gaura, Ralph a scientist/botanist, and Gary an accomplished guitarist, and I went on that trail, identifying the wild plant life we know. 
A cave on the side of the cliff really caught Ralph’s attention.  Ralph, who’s got to be in his 60’s really got close.  A climb was okay, but the descent was danger/hilarious.  He slid down something mean, and eventually plopped with his back cheeks in the mud.  What a landing that was.  And all for the sake of checking out what could be his future home. 
The cave actually reminded me of the cave I sat in in the Himalayan foot hills in Daradun, India – a cavity in the mountain side where the warrior Dhronacharya meditated so many thousands of years ago. 
Ralph’s fall didn’t faze him in the least.  He kept going and teaching us about the plant life and also the birds.  Without seeing them and merely hearing them, he had the species pegged down.  His wisdom was enviable. 
When you meet someone who’s gifted, you automatically consider that there is divinity there. 
5 KM

Friday, May 31st, 2013

You Are A Diamond Forever
Toronto, Ontario
Yura really liked the walking trail we took.  He’s a York University Student who decided to reside in our temple ashram like 6 other people.  Getting the best of both worlds, material and spiritual, is what his program’s all about.  Part of that balance (school by day and temple life by night to early morning) is walking and chanting. 
“I saw everything from a different perspective,” he told me.  I guess he could appreciate the mystical aspect to chanting while meandering from street to street and capturing some beauty.  At one point, we went over this walking bridge that suspended above a railroad track when the sun was lying exactly at the far east of the tracks inviting one to explore its far reaching edge. 
For Yura, sunrise was a real thrill, and at sundown when I took a second stroll, a chap who caught up to walk abreast with me, showed his excitement, not for any scenery, but merely to meet. 
“Hey, you’re a monk?”
And I said, “Yes, my name is Bhaktimarga Swami.  And you?”
“I’m Dale.”  And then he told me that he was a miner from up north; that he extracts diamonds from the earth. 
“Yes, diamonds are forever,” and we both chuckled over the remark from the James Bond flick.  Then we went deeper into dialogue, identifying the precious gem like the nature of the soul and how it is buried in the body and needs to be extracted in order to perform to its full potential.  I then left Dale with a final parting as he was going in his different direction, not necessarily in ‘aim in life’, but in terms of trekking east, as I was headed north. 
12 KM