During my recent trip to Tasmania, I had booked myself into few packaged tours with various tourist companies. One of the tour was being organized by a cruise company in Hobart and lunch was included as part of the package. Before I left, as I was confirming the booking, I told the booking lady that they can remove the food item from my package as I wouldn’t be able to eat what they had prepared. The lady on the other end was concerned.
The booking lady : Are you allergic to anything?
Me : No..no…my community has a special diet…we are pure vegetarians…and we also don’t eat onion, garlic and mushrooms.
The booking lady : Oh…that doesn’t leave you with many choices, does it?
Me : Yup…its alright…don’t worry about it…I will manage…
The booking lady : I can check and see what I can do for you…
Me : It’s alright…I will carry some fruits or something
With that, she kept the phone down thinking that perhaps I should get a real life. About 5 minutes later, my phone rang.
A lady : Hi…can I speak with Manoj please?
Me : Speaking…
The lady : I am calling from a restaurant near Hobart who will be catering for a cruise next week. I understand that you have booked yourself into this trip. And I was told by a lady at the booking office that you have a very different diet
Me : oh hello…yes, I do have a different diet…
The lady : Let me see if I can help you…can you tell me your dietary preference please? What can you have and can’t have? Is there a name for your type of food?
Me : Well…I am pure vegetarian..that means I eat no meat whatsoever including eggs…also in the community that I belong to, I do not eat any onion, garlic and mushroom…certain airline companies prepare “Jain” meals which is similar to what I have…
She interrupted : Oh ! What a coincidence ! I cook those kinds of food for myself too…I eat Krishna food…
I was shocked. The ground slipped beneath my feet. Can you believe that? I am in Melbourne talking to some restaurant in Tasmania who knows about Krishna food !
Me : Oh my god. That is exactly the diet I follow !
She (laughing out loud) : Really? Are you a Hare Krishna ?
Me : Well…yes….I can’t believe I am having this conversation.
She : Small world aint it? I think about 30 odd years ago, I was in Pitt Street in Sydney getting to some place and I came across some Hare Krishnas on the same street singing and dancing. As I stood and watched, a young lady ran up to me and pushed a cookbook into my hand. It was written by a french author and I can’t remember the name but I took it home and started cooking. And I haven’t stopped since.
Me : This is incredible ! No one is going to believe me if I told them that we are having this conversation !
She : It will be my honour to cook Krishna food for your upcoming trip. I will have some prasadam delivered to the boat. It could be something with some fresh garden vegetables including cheese which I make using lemon juice and no animal components and it will all be offered to Krishna.
Those were her words. I could not believe what I was hearing. What are the chances of such incidents happening? She said, “Prasadam, Krishna, Offer”. WoW. For the remainder of the days right up to the cruise, I couldn’t help but recollect this phone conversation and wait eagerly for the lunch session. On the day, as we reached this small island, many kilometers from Hobart, the captain announced that it was lunch time. We stopped on this piece of land and from my window seat, I could see the food being moved to the boat.
The devotee cook had prepared an absolute delight – lemon rice, cauliflower subji with baby tomatoes, green salad, fresh olives, home-made cheese and a capsicum side dish. And all tasted by Krishna !! It was superb. As all those around me sat and seemed to be relishing the trans-atlantic salmon or some organic pig meat, I sat there numb and ecstatically taking in the mercy. I was so thankful to the tour company and the cook for being so understanding and cooking this special meal with so much love and care. To express my heartfelt appreciation for the cook’s efforts, I am sending across a cook book written by Chef Kurma along with some devotional books for her.
– a true story.