Nostalgic. 5 ISKCON

It was 1998 and I've just landed at the Chicago O'hare international terminal. Having had to fly from the dreary Chennai airport, it was an amazing experience to take in all that light and the curvy glasses of ceiling in that fantastic airport. And I realized that it is the same airport shown in the movie 'My best Friends wedding' which I saw a few months before at Devibala. I was waiting for my connection to Omaha, Nebraska (whose provincial airport actually reminded me of the Chennai airport) and wondering whether anyone will come to the airport there to pick me up.

Anyway, after taking in a decent meal (after all those stale ones in Lufthansa), I was walking around when I was approached by a strange looking man. He was of Mongolian origin, but was wearing a white dhoti as a panchakanjam and a white jibba. A kattu kudimi and a big namam in the forehead completed the strangeness of this fellow. And he was approaching me with his hands together greeting me with a 'Namaste'. It was a strange sight to say the least. He introduced himself as 'Haridas'. He was inviting me to have a look at his stand somewhere in the terminal.

Anyone who has read Sujatha's stories know why that is not a bright idea. In one of the stories (9th story in the link), a similar guy who was waiting for a connection in Chicago (eerie similarity!) is lured by a similar Indian looking guy for a short trip to a nearby temple and is made the center piece of attraction in a bizarre human sacrifice ceremony.

So having read that already, I was not ready to fall for it and was determined not to get out of the terminal (with so many people) at any cost. So I walked with him to his stand. He was talking about his previous birth where he was this South Korean (or Vietnamese, not sure which!) fellow who did so many things and finally found God through the ISKCON movement.

Before that, I've been to the small Iskcon temple in T.Nagar, not sure whether it is still there now, but has no idea who those people are. So he gave me a little sermon on the Krsna consiousness movement and its founder. By this time, we've reached his stand which is a small table with lots of big books. They were distributing free books and it caught my attention because of those 2 words 'free' and 'books'. So I picked one and he wanted my name and address. I told him that I was new to the country and though I've a name, I certainly don't have an address yet. He was a bit skeptical to believe, but then I took my leave with a couple big dozers from the stand.

All this came back to me, when I visited the 'new' Chennai Iskcon temple in ECR yesterday. It made me wonder how so much has changed yet there is so little change itself.



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