Please accept my blessings. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I am writing to you from Dubai in the Middle East. The weather is perfect outside, although a little hot, at around 40 degrees Celsius, but it really makes a change from the miserable weather in Russia and Ukraine that I’ve been through for the last couple of weeks.I last wrote from Murmansk. Somehow the devotees are pushing on Srila Prabhupada’s movement in that remote place, despite many difficulties. As I sat in the airplane waiting to take off on the morning of September 10th I noticed the sign on the top of the airport building – Murmansk, City of Heroes – and I thought “yes, for devotees to continue trying to serve Srila Prabhupada and spread his message in conditions like these, they must be heroes.”
[singlepic=292,240,240,,left]We flew to Moscow, and then I had some hours in Dayal Caitanya and Kamala Locana’s flat there before we drove to Domededovo airport on the southern side of the city to fly to Simferopol in Ukraine, where the devotees were having their annual festival. About 2000 devotees were gathered there, and it was a wonderful experience. Every evening many devotees would come to the main tent and have kirtana from about 7 till 10. It was quite amazing to see hundreds of devotees dancing in ecstasy to the kirtana which was sometimes very melodious.
I’m actually putting together a video with footage of some of the various places I’ve been to in this tour, and some of the classes and kirtanas there, and I hope to make that available in a few weeks.
On the 13th I flew to Frankfurt from Simferopol. The airport was packed out and in a state close to chaos. The only way to find out which part of the surging mass which was meant to be queues for different flights was the queue for my flight was by asking the people in the queues. But some people in the same queue would say they were queuing for different flights, and in the end the devotees assisting me decided to just join all the queues and see how things worked out.
In the end I got my boarding pass and headed through security and boarded the flight for Frankfurt, and when I arrived there I took the overnight flight to Dubai.
Sandip, the husband of my aspiring disciple Bhaktin Karin, originally from Estonia, picked me up at the airport at around 6.45 in the morning and took me immediately to my first programme, scheduled for 7.30. I had had about 3 or 4 hours sleep on the plane, and was feeling quite fatigued, but what can we do? The preaching has to go on.
We arrived at the place in Ajman, about 30 kms from Dubai, around 7.30, and I was able to take a makeshift bath in a workers’ bathroom, and then went into the room the devotees were having their Nama Hatta programme in.
The United Arab Emirates, which Dubai and Ajman are parts of, is a strict Muslim area. It is illegal to preach any religion there other than Islan, and the devotees told me how, a few days before, they were having their weekly programme in someone’s flat, when the police came in closed everything down. Apparently some neighbours had complained. So now the devotees are meeting in the factory of a favourable Hindu business man, and this is where I was to do the programme.
It was Friday, which is the main day off for everyone in the Muslim world, plus it was the month of Ramadan, and the devotees explained what people do during this period. The Muslims fast from 5 in the morning till 5 in the evening. After eating in the evening they then go out on the town. Shops are open till around 11 at night, and the streets are packed. Then they take a little rest and get up around 4am and eat again, and then sleep till 9 in the morning, when they go to work.
So the devotees have their main programmes on Friday. I did the programme in Ajman till about 9.30, and then went to Dubai and did the programme there with a few hundred devotees at 11.30. Then I went to Sandip and Karin’s flat and had a proper bath and prasadam, and then I went back to Ajman to a second programme there at 7.20 in the evening. One thing I can say is that if one tries to become a preacher in Srila Prabhupada’s movement, one will not have a lot of spare time!
This evening (Saturday) we will go to Abudhabi, about 150 kms away, for a programme there, and then tomorrow morning I’ll fly to Johannesburg and try to make it for the Sunday programme in Pretoria.
Hoping this meets you well.
Your ever well wisher,
Bhakti Caitanya Swami