Saturday, January 12, 2008

My India Diary-Part 10

Day 23-24 Mayapur-Calcutta-Puri 12/29-30

We left Mayapur with the fortunate association of HG Ananda Tirtha Prabhu and his wife, HG Radha-Sundari Mataji, joining us for the ride to Calcutta. We all guzzled coconut water, debated what to do when a street dog is dying on the beach next to the Ganges, and celebrated Mauricio's first passing of water in natural, outdoor conditions. Ki Jai!

We had a quick stop-over at the ISKCON Guest House in Calcutta, stuffing ourselves with thalis, and then I watched, utterly fascinated, as some of the local boys played a pick-up game of cricket. On the ride to the train station it was decided that one of my new services at New Vrindaban would be to impersonate Indian cinema legend Amitab Bachchan for guests on the weekend. The checkbooks will open and the donations will roll in like tidal waves.

The train ride was pretty damn hellish. The possibly communist train conductor wouldn't let me one measly extra blanket, deciding I had an advantage over the working class. He also not-so-gently woke me up at 530 am as we arrived in Puri. At this point, I'm pretty damn grumpy and burnt-out with moving like a tourist sardine in a tin-rickshaw. I'd rather be back at New Vrindaban hauling something heavy through the snow and chilling with Ghosh and Soma over lunch prasad. However, there is one cure to this grumpiness, and that is to hit the ocean. Nothing like getting tossed around by 15-foot waves to get humble again.

We take a short tour of beautiful, mystical Puri in the evening, stopping first at Toto Gopinath Temple, meditating heavy on the sankirtan mission of Mahaprabhu and how fortunate we are to be directly following in His footsteps. We then travel to the Bhajan Kutir and birthplace of Srils Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, the home of Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, and the Bhajan Kutir of Haridas Thakur, praying deeply for the spiritual strength that is essential for the true preacher of harinama-sankirtana. Each and everyone of us must work internally and externally to be able to give the Holy Name freely and powerfully. As I meditated on the fact that Mahaprabhu was just here, I could sense that what had unfolded already, wand what is to unfold by our own hands and the mercy of the Lord is the only solution for this chaotic, in-need-of-love world. We have chosen the highest profession and we must, indeed we can't go back on that choice.

Day 25 Puri 12/31

Last night was pretty hellish, with swarms of mosquitoes attacking my cactus-hide. I turn on the fan and curl up under a makeshift mosquito net, and then proceed to re-catch the cold I had in Vrndavana. I know, I know....this is rather exciting. Sick and grumpy. Sick and grumpy.

I stumble over to join Mauricio for a few rounds in the Samadhi of Haridas Thakur, meditating on the very beads he chanted on, saturated with pure love of the Holy Name. Pretty far-out. If we even unplug the salt-water from our ears, we can hear his vibrations cooling the fires of lust and passion in our own hearts.

We hit the beach again for a little therapy. Justin and I want to get some tubes to enhacne our wave-riding experience, but no luck, so getting dumped on my head by 15-foot waves doesn't really make me feel better. I try to sleep in the sand and sub, and Justin makes some locals' day by sharing pictures and addresses. He gets thoroughly weirded out by their intense need for friendship with an American person. There is no more peculiar excitement for some Indian people than hanging out with a white man. They must think we are all movie stars.

Up on the roof to watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean. The sun just kinds dissolves into the haze, with no fireworks. Kirtan in the evening in the temple room, inspired by Mauricio's always-grooving dancing, gets me off the bodily platform for at least a moment. Now my only goal is to finish my big 7-Up. For some reason my body has gone completely haywire and the only thing I crave is 7-Up.

Puri is wonderful, so I am praying to return in a mood of service, not so affected by my externals, sometime in the future.

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