Sunday, April 17, 2016

New Acquaintances

Have you ever met someone new and trusted him or her implicitly? I do not typically trust or disclose much personal or pertinent information about myself to strangers or casual acquaintances but when I do, it is because I feel like I haven nothing to lose by holding back. I guess that is how I have felt lately. I instinctively felt that I could trust this person with myself because sHe knew who I was and where I was headed or what I wanted in life or in death. I can’t describe it any other way and for some reason, I feel like I want to express every part of it, expose the darkest corners of that dream and let you see inside.
I got that feeling recently from someone in real life and it caught me off guard. I disclosed information that I have been holding on to for a long time. I did not think twice or hesitate about disclosing it. I even felt this person was trustworthy and worthy of my truth. This has not happened to me a lot but it has started happening with more frequency. At first, I met a few people that I trusted with vaguely personal things, and then I met many people—complete outsiders from my world—but I felt that they were not outsiders, they were insiders and they knew me. They knew the deepest parts of me because they experienced, felt, and understood the same experiences.
Lately I have been focusing only on violin studies and my personal puja. I do not worry if people do not see me at the temple; in fact, I have stopped going every day. There was a time when I had to go to temple for darshan once a day. It was compulsory. Now I do not really care and many times I do not even bother going to feasts for very long if I am not feeling it. Instead, I stay home and worship my personal deities. I gather flowers and leaves from my garden for Them and bathe Them with a simple abhishek. I give them Tulasi leaves and sing for Them without fancy melodies but with heartfelt lyricism.
All right, so in my dream, I travelled to Mayapur with some friends. We would be there about a month or so and I heard that Indradyumna Maharaj was coming back to India around that time so I brought my violin with me. I waited around the Mayapur Chandradaya Mandir in hopes of seeing some familiar faces or making new friends. As it turned out, a few young women were walking by, clad in bright yellows, pinks, and whites, and carrying instruments, costumes, and sewing baskets. I immediately fell in with them and befriended their leader. They were all from Eastern Europe and met at various events. The leader was hand-sewing new outfits that employed Indo-Western fused fashion elements. I was taken aback because I have never seen another devotee wear, much less create that kind of garb for temple activities, and she was doing it by hand. I have experience with sewing machine but I will be the first to admit that my hand stitching needs more practice and I realized this would be an excellent way to learn and improve my craft. Interested, I asked her if she needed help, an assistant, to press, gather, pleat, baste and so on. I explained that I had some experience but I wanted to learn more from her and she agreed. First, I noticed she was making pleated trim by hand so I offered to show her a technique I developed that made the process much faster. When I showed her, her face lit up and she said, “That’s brilliant! What else do you know? Quickly we became best friends by exchanging methods and techniques; she also loved music and studied back home so naturally Maharaja brought her along during Harinam tours and concerts. Her quarters hosted a dozen other girls, equally talented in various fields. Some girls were dancer/choreographers, others costume designers, other actresses and directors, and some were painters. When they learned that I studied violin, they asked me to join their troupe and I was so excited that they invited me in!
Later on, I went back to the temple where I saw a disturbing sight. My mother travelled to India and was lying in a cot sick and weak. I went to see her but she said it was merely jetlag and she’d been worse before. I told her that she should have told me should would come so I could arrange lodging for her but she said, “No, just let me sleep and close the door.” When I opened the door to exit, rays of light streamed in, and I noticed some boys in bed with her, my nephews! All four curled up with grandma, snuggled in close like wolf pups in a den. I asked her why she brought them along, scolding her, “Don’t you know they can’t stay in these quarters? This is for the local pilgrims who cannot afford lodging! They need beds, not woven cots! The heat will get to them, they need running water, showers, and AC!” Next to them, I saw another devotee I recognized from Dallas. I was stunned; certainly, an American can afford a room in the guesthouse, so why was he bunched up on a horrible cot in the underbelly of the building? When I kissed my nephews and mother, they felt hot! I felt obligated to check the other devotee as well, so I touched his foot and sure enough, he was burning up with fever and his body was covered in sweat. Disturbed and embarrassed, I walked away in search of a devotee friend who runs the guest services in hopes of securing a couple rooms for my family and possibly this other devotee. I searched around the compound but I could not find him and he is usually easy to spot because he rides around on a bright blue motorcycle. Instead, I ran into my new friends and told them what was going on. They said they had some friends who would gladly take them in. Their house was outside of the temple compound but a short walk away. They also had AC, indoor plumbing with hot water and plenty of space for four young boys. I was relieved. Maybe these women were heaven sent, I thought, they were the loveliest and kindest ladies I ever met and they took me in like one of their own.



                                                                                                     
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