Touched down Melbourne!
Phew… I am back down under after a very busy April trip to India. Will write more on that later but I had a memorable taxi ride yesterday in Chennai while on my way to the airport. The hotel porters had managed to place my lugguage well in to the taxi hoping that I would give them some money as tips.
Me: Hmmm…I am sorry but I don’t have any change to give you all…..
Porters (in a disappointed tone) : Its ok Sir…next time
Me: Tell you what…I have some prasadam from a famous place…care to have some?
Porters (surprised) : Ok sir…sure sir..
I start to distribute my last packet of prasadam that I had managed to get from my trip to Mayapur last week. I had intended to distribute them to my friends in Melbourne..but now that I made this offer to the poor porters, there will be no more of that. After making sure that all the porters get some share of my prasadam, I climb into the taxi and we soon move into the the packed streets of Madras.
Me (to driver) : O I forgot…would you care to have some prasadam too?
Driver : Sorry?
Me : I have some prasadam remaining from what I gave your porter friends at the hotel…do you want some?
Driver (surprised) : Yes Sir…please give me some
Me : Take this big piece…its tasty!
The driver starts to eat them as he somehow speeds through the heavy traffic of autos, buses, scooters, bulls and pedestrians.
Driver (in English) : I am liking Hare Krishna Hare Rama prasadam ver much.
Me (shocked) : What ????!!!!!
Driver (in Tamil) : I really like this Hare Krishna Hare Rama prasadam
Me (super shocked) : How did you know this is Hare Krishna Prasad??? I never said so….
Driver : Ha ha…I know… I am 52 years old…I have been around….
Me : Tell me really…how did you know that this is from Hare Krishna’s?
Driver : No other temple makes this kind of prasad in Chennai…I go to the Hare Krishna mandir also
Me : You mean the one on East Cost Road?
Driver : Yes…I go there once a month as its far away from the city here…a friend of mine asked me to go there…I went there…it was very beautiful….they also gave me a pouch…
Me: Oh…so you chant too…how many rounds?
Driver : Yes..yes..the pouch had a string of round balls and I put one finger out through this pouch they gave me and I count..16 times….either in the morning or after I finish my work….
Me : Hari Bol !
Driver : They also say this..”Hari Bol”
Me : This prasadam is from Mayapur near Kolkata…I was there last week…
Driver : Oh Mayapur….I read about the place in a book the temple gave me…but actually I ate this kind of prasad many nears ago at a gaudiya vaishnava group in Gopalapuram…near the Chief Ministers house…I recognized this taste immediately…
Me : I see…you must go to Mayapur when you get a chance….have you been to Vrindhavan?
Driver : I haven’t been to any of these places…Sir..I am a very poor man…I have been driving a lorry for almost my entire life between Chennai and Kollam (Kerala) and now I drive a taxi. I have no money at all to go anywhere.
Me : I see…can you save Rs.5 per day? Can you do that for a year?
Driver (after some silence) : Yes…perhaps I can spare more…
Me : Good. That way you will make enough money to get to Vrindhavan. Don’t worry about anything else…keep your faith in Sri Krishna and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, keep going to the temple and continue the chanting….it will all work out…trust me….
Driver : Yes Sir…I will try saving….
We continued speaking about Sri Krishna for the rest of the trip and also the Mayapur temple. Finally we reached the airport and he rushed out the door to get me a trolley. As I climb out, I can’t believe my luck in having a met a complete stranger in the form of taxi driver who had a connection to ISKCON. Infact, the entire day I have had some ISKCON connection or the other…earlier I had passed by a pharmacist in Chetpet called “Hare Krishna Medicals”, stayed in a hotel next to a semi-sky scraper business building called “Chaitanya” and read an article in the Jet Airways inflight magazine on Mathura which spoke about Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the 6 Goswamis & Sri Krishna. Nice feeling. You take all this as a sign.
The driver had managed to find a working trolley and placed all my luggage on to it and was ready to depart.
Driver : Ok sir…we will meet later
Me : Ok…it was nice talking to you…you gave me a pleasant shock today….here take this 100 rupees..
Driver (with beaming eyes) : 100 rupees??
Me : Yes..keep this..and this is not for your food or petrol…but the first Rs.100 towards your savings to go to Vrindhavan….let it be from me..
Driver (slight tears in eyes) : Sir…thank you..thank you very much….
Me: Its ok…take care..Hare Krishna
Driver : I will surely save…I will definetly go to Vrindhavan…and I am sure I will meet you again….
Me : Ha ha… that will be another pleasant shock…anyways, whats your name?
Me : Ahh..very appropriate name for you. Bye…Hare Krishna
And I left the driver there as I wheeled my trolley into the crowded Chennai airport. As I turned to look back, I see the old poor driver with dirty cloths still holding the Rs.100 in both hands and looking at it. He then touches it to both his eyes and continues to look at me till I disappeared behing the walls of the new airport. I am looking forward to yet another pleasant shock from that driver…and it will be in Vrindhavan for sure!