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Poolside Check-in -

braja - Mon, 20 Jun 2005 22:42:35 +0530
Fireside Check-in doesn't quite seem right anymore but I'd be interested in hearing how everyone's lives are progressing.

We're off this afternoon for three weeks in Florida. Unfortunately I have to keep working through but I'm still considering it a break of sorts. We've purchased a property in Alachua, primarily due to my need to escape from the cold of the north-east US. My lungs and brain don't cope too well. I'm no fan of Florida but I've given up hope of finding utopia and we have some good friends there and the potential for greater access to kirtana so the prospects are reasonable.

At this stage we're not planning on moving till next summer but we bought the place now as it was a nice plot of land for developing, well, how does Brajananda-ghera-bindhu sound?
brajamani - Mon, 20 Jun 2005 23:04:14 +0530
Sounds nice. However I agree w/ you about Florida.

For my wife and I it is all about music festivals all summer long where we sell Indian imports smile.gif
braja - Fri, 24 Jun 2005 00:02:20 +0530
It's quite strange around here. Debra the librarian turns out to be Devaki; a guy in the phone store gives me a "Haribol" as I leave, and the person to call for air conditioner repairs is a devotee. Even the locals are so much nicer than upstate NY. Both places are rural, but they are more relaxed and polite here--perhaps it's due to the weather (Hi 32/ Low 22 C today and most of the week), the numerous churches and Southern charm. Whatever the case, it's quite refreshing. I've heard figures suggesting that there are 800 devotees in the area and some 200+ families.

Just before we left, we went to an ISKCON program in Albany, NY. The devotees there are all Indian and most are disciples or aspirant disciples of Radhanath Swami. One of the leading preachers from Chowpatti was visiting--he also stopped by our house and we had an impromptu kirtan that was very sweet. Gauranga Das is a sharp, witty and educated preacher, who appears on Indian TV. His classes are of the Indian variety--long, filled with Puranic stories, Rama-lila, Mahabharata, etc., along with many stories of Prabhupada and esoteric quotes from the Bhagavatam. (Seriously, he had memorized verses that I would probably never have even noticed, let alone set about memorizing.) His audience were very responsive to his class, but both my wife and I noted that the only other Westerner there just couldn't appreciate it, not having experienced this kind of katha previously. After the class and another kirtan--these people are pretty serious about spending their time in hearing and chanting!--there were six initiated PhD students serving out prasadam. They were all IIT graduates who moved to the US for work or further study.

The juxtaposition of these two very different approaches is fascinating--Alachua, something like a last-stand, lowest common denominator, family oriented, American ISKCON versus the directed spirituality mixed with old school katha of the new brand of Indian preachers.