On Sunday, 25th January 09, the bustling beach town of Torquay, witnessed, its first ever show of Le Carnaval Spirituel – a display of eastern culture and spiritual wisdom – a brainchild of His Holiness Indradyumna Swami maharaj. Will they like it? Will many come? After all, this place isn’t Melbourne, one of the most cosmopolitan and multicultural cities in the world. Here people came for the beach, the surf and the laid back life style. Will they accept a different view of life? We will have to wait and watch, I suppose.
Dominic prabhu drove us to the venue from Melbourne. Dominic is very impressive. He has so much energy and common sense to pull anything off. He also doesn’t beat around the bush. If he has to say something, and its right, he says it without a second thought. So, before we have something to ask or tell him, its a good idea if we have pondered over the question a little bit. Also, he is a workaholic. From the morning prasadam time, when I chanced to see him, till we drove back to Melbourne, he worked. I never saw him take a rest. From arranging the vans, getting all materials in it, driving us there for 1.5 hrs or so, setting up the entire venue by proper delegation, controlling sound and light, packing up, driving us all back, getting all the stuff out and still have all the energy in the world, to do them all again if needed. What an inspiration !
The first impression I had of the venue – are we at the right place? It was a sports auditorium.
There were a few kids and very little kids, who spent all afternoon in the hot sun, skateboarding. They would go down a concrete hill, the others would cheer, go up at full speed to another one at the end, be air borne, rotate their wheels in mid air and come back down to do it all over again. And many times, they fell…very hard. Yet, no problems. A bit of swearing, get the dirt of the elbows and try it again. No pain, No gain.
Besides the skateboarding park, the other immediate thing that takes your attention at the venue, is this long and large graffiti. Graffiti is something I had never seen in India. There on the walls, I grew up seeing movie, lottery, circus and political party posters, which would be later chewed away by a wandering goat. Once, I helped a friend in India put up such posters for a rock show. I remember spending a good part of the night choosing the ideal wall space, way past midnight, applying liquid rice on to the back of the large poster and then pasting them on the wall. And that’s why the goat eats them. They like that rice layering behind the posters. How did they ever find this out? Some walls already had many poster and sometimes, we would stick them on top of an old poster. Anyways, the first time I ever saw a graffiti was when I was living in Sydney many years ago. In my suburban train rides, one would see plenty of art work all along the walls by the side of rail tracks. And I am a big fan of wall paintings, so I was happy to have taken the above snap. By the way, the header I have above for my blog is also a wall painting from a temple in Sri Vrindhavan dham. Any guess which temple it is from?
This is the venue where we would do the last and final show – a basketball court. And that’s why I thought, if we were at the right place. I was expecting a grand old Victorian building by the beach side or perhaps even a town hall. But never did I expect to be in a basketball court to share spiritual knowledge. How are we to turn this into a theatre? Where will the lights go? Where are the changing rooms? What about sound? How are we going to get a spiritual ambiance to the whole place?
In the above picture, you can see that we have just started to put up the chairs. We had to carry a set of 10 chairs from outside and bring them in. It was heavy carrying them but I was surprised the speed with which the devotees managed to put about 350 of them out.
And this how it looked, when we returned from the beach tour ! It was beautiful. How did they manage to do all this so quickly and neatly? Dominic and his team mates were the reason. By the way, his team were the same set of people who would get on to the stage in a few hours for their performance. Hard work!
Before I forget, one of the highlights of the evening was the fantastic prasadam that 2 devotees had prepared. One was a superb sandwich in home made bread, prepared by Dominic’s wife, Rajeswari. And the other was a feast prepared by a devotee family from Fiji or Mauritius, whose names escapes me at the moment. This was probably the only time during the day when we were completely silent. After a 2.5 hour beach harinam, nothing like a tasty feast. Yumm !!! I couldn’t take a photo of this session because I was concentrating on my eating. Sorry folks!
It was nice to see the entire crew being called for a team meeting. The briefing session reminded everyone about the final touches required for a perfect event management and how motivated we must continue to be, in-spite of it being the last show. I think, this is an important frame of mind to be in. No matter how many times we tell something we believe in or how many times we might put up a good show, there is always a first time for someone out there. So, we must always present our philosophy, our events etc as if it was the very first time we have ever done it and ensure that people have a grand time.
Slowly, people began to creep in. They bought their tickets, collected the program schedule, spoke to a few devotees, took some snaps with them and then slowly wandered in to take a seat. The show started on time. I am not going to spend much time in explaining each event since this was already covered in our Fitzroy event, last week. I had finished that post, apologizing to you all for the lack of good photos. I had cursed myself then for not having a quality camera. I promised that for the 2010 show, I would have a better one. But Krishna had other ideas. He got to me to another show within a week and equipped with a new camera. So, I am just putting a snap of each performance here and I will see you at the end.
And the show came to another end. The lights went out, the hall lights came on, people arose from their chairs. Many looked around for something more to do. The volunteers guided them to the end of the room where we had set up a book stall.
As books were being sold, questions being answered by HH Indradyumna Swami, the performers and other volunteering devotees had a strict deadline from Dominic prabhu to get the venue back to the state we first found it in. And we were to do this quickly, systematically and neatly.
Rand (not in photo), a young Australian, was responsible for overseeing the usage of the sports facility. He belonged to the local community and perhaps this was the first time, he had ever laid his eyes on the Hare Krishnas. He is not in the above picture but he was amazed with the way we did our work with so much enthusiasm and care. He had also come during the show and I had caught him leaning against the wall the whole time, watching everything unfold in front of him. I am sure he will pursue Krishna Consciousness in many many years to come. He still needs more time, I think to enjoy the Torquay surf and the young Australian life.
That’s it. The next 1.5 hours we drove back to Melbourne. Everyone felt that they had done their best to put up a good show. The crowd turn out wasn’t spectacular but we did get around 150, I think. They all sat through the entire evening glued to what was happening on stage. For sure, it was the first time they had ever witnessed such an event. During the show, I did feel that the people were a bit hesitant and withdrawn with their applauding. I just couldn’t feel the energy from the crowd that I felt at Fitzroy that attracted 500+ and another one at St. Kilda that brought in a whooping 850, which I couldn’t attend but my devotee friends called it spectacular. To me, the crowd here were either conservative or shy. There were also instances when parents let their kids play right in front of the stage, making noise just when the important lecture was going on. I think we should take up an extra room and run it as a child care centre by a volunteering devotee during any shows or lectures. This way, the parents, the lecturer or the performers will not get disturbed.
But what mattered was that the people came, gave us a chance, they saw, they listened and they bought the books. Its important that the Hare Krishnas penetrate more and more into the interior and adjoining centres around major cities. And this event will go a long way in guaging the effectiveness of the efforts put in. Anyways, I am certain that those who attended will remember this day for a very long time and will expect us back at Torquay next year without fail. They will come back changed and ready. And we will come back even more experienced and perhaps get the town hall next time :)…if Torquay has one that is.