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Monday, April 7th, 2003

Moscow's New Temple
Preparing for Srila Gurudeva's arrival

I get up late, at six o'clock, in the devotee apartment across the broad street and pedestrian walkway from the temple.

Nitai Chand Prabhu comes over and prepares breakfast for me: an enormous apple, cut in quarters, a pear, also quartered, six slices of some kind of long, narrow, bread/biscuit (delicious!), covered with dollops of cream cheese, a big cup of yogurt, and a cup of orange juice. There's no way I can eat it all...

Nitai Chand Prabhu, who, I'm told, is a little unsure of his way around Moscow, will be my guide/escort today. He speaks about two words of English, and I now know three Russian words: "Allo," "Da," and "Nyet." This is going to be very interesting :)

First we go down to the store below the apartment and get an electrical adapter for my powerbook, and an internet card so that I can hook up to the net. We cross the road to the temple and Avadhut Maharaj and one other devotee takes us to see the new temple.

We stand in the road, waiting for a "taxi." (Avadhut Maharaj explains that any old car will pick you up for a few rubles.)

An old "Lada" stops. We get in and I have to smile when I see that it has a "Lada Sport" decal on the windshield: the old rattletrap is about as aerodynamic as a shoebox!

The new temple is a long, narrow, four-story building. It is being completely renovated by Avadhut Maharaj. The new roof and most of the living quarters have already been framed. There is still lots of work to be done though, if the temple is to be ready in time for Srila Gurudeva's arrival in early August...

New Temple [25k] New Temple [25k]

Avadhut Maharaj is awesome! A veritable powerhouse, this manager of the Russian Mission of the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math is everywhere, talking to the carpenters, telling them how he wants a wall framed, explaining to the electrician exactly where and how he wants the air conditioning and light fixtures to be set up... If anyone can have this temple ready by August, he can.

At two o'clock we walk a few blocks to the project that Avadhut Maharaj is perhaps more widely known for, the Jagannath Express Vegetarian Restaurant, just two blocks from Red Square. I won't regale you with any remarks on that rollicking, ravenous repast, and I'll demur from dwelling on the decidedly delectable dainties, lest you get the wrong idea about this monk... Suffice to say: if you're ever in Red Square, stop by the Jagannath Express!

Avadhut has some other business to take care of, so Nitai Chand Prabhu takes me on a brief tour of Red Square (he has to ask for directions twice!). We must look quite a sight — he rattles off something in Russian and I answer enigmatically in English. This is fun!

We take the underground Metro back to the apartment. My last night here: tomorrow I will take the overnight train to St. Petersburg...
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