Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Blind! Homeless! War! The Past!

Hamilton, Ontario

In Vancouver at a performing arts festival, people will be on the ultimate experiential walk when they will be on a two hour walk through the city. The catch? They do it blindfolded.

Personally, I’d love to participate in the experience and build up an appreciation for not only sight, when devoid of it, but also sounds, smells, textures and especially the steps you take which become more meaningful. It’s my luck that I won’t be around for it, but I like the thought.

I had learned about the upcoming program from glancing at the front cover of The Globe and Mail at a newsstand while on my daily trek. Next to it was a stunning picture of a homeless Irishman, photo taken in London 1970. The photo journalist, Don McCullin, has captured the weather worn face of his subject, whom he calls Neptune, on display at the National Gallery in Ottawa. What captured my eyes from this front page was not only news from the blind walk and the grubby looking Neptune, but the remark made about the Hare Krishnas. McCullin mentioned how the Krishnas would come around at night giving these people soup, “Then they’d dob their faces with that absurd kind of religious sign.” McCullin was referring to the earthen tattoo that we Krishna monks are known to bear on our foreheads. It looked like one of our fellows was trying to anoint Neptune in addition to feeding him.

More photos of McCullin were featured in the paper, yesterday’s addition – impressive shots taken of Vietnam, Cypress, and a protestor of the Cuban missile crisis in London, 1962. Sigh… people dislike war, but they love visiting nostalgia, whether good reminiscences or not.

Today I trekked less and got driven by Indresh, an active member, to Hamilton (an hour from the ashram) to see my former ashram in-charge, Visvakarma. The purpose was to see him and speak about an idea he had. Having just come from Lithuania at a Krishna fest, he had the concept to duplicate a retreat similar to what he experienced, to Canada.

I was skeptical about it because of the perceived mammoth logistics it would take. As the three of us spoke, I grew fonder of the idea as we interrupted our sangha (association) looking at photos of the old days.

“That’s it,” we thought. The idea of a Vaishnava memory retreat seemed cogent. Legacy! The sweet old days! Nostalgia! Pioneering Krishna Consciousness in our home land! These things resonated with us. And so, a seed was planted to launch such an event.

5 KM

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