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Sunday, April 13th, 2003

Another World
My first TV interview

The Russian devotees have arranged another Rama-navami program, in conjunction with some other religious groups, in downtown St. Petersburg. Goswami Maharaj and I are scheduled to give a talk there that afternoon.

At midday, I am told that the subject of my talk will be "The Spiritual and Cultural Elements in the Culture of India." (gulp!) Oh, and I should also say something about Lord Rama...

At three o'clock we drive to the Esoteric Cultural Center, Drugoy Mir — Another World. I am to give my talk first, and Goswami Maharaj will speak after me. The hall is crowded: there must be at least two hundred people there.

I see the crew from the Russian TV station, STS TV, bustling about, plugging in cables and setting up their klieg lights: they will be filming the talk. I can feel the pressure building...

Then Aditi Devi Dasi (the St. Petersburg Math's press secretary and public relations officer) informs me that STS TV would like to interview me after my talk, for the St. Petersburg version of their evening program, "Details" ...

Goswami Maharaj and I go into the hall and are introduced to the Russian audience by Muralishwar Prabhu, our interpreter. I'm sweating under the bright lights, but inwardly I am calm. I try to represent our guru-varga for twenty minutes or so, then I defer to Goswami Maharaj.

STV 1 [22k]

Ragalekha Devi Dasi motions that the TV crew is ready to do the interview right away, so I leave the hall. The impromptu interview is held right in the entrance hall, and Ragalekha Devi Dasi interprets.

I'm not nervous at all; in fact, I'm surprised at how relaxed and at ease I am.

I answer questions about Lord Rama, about the significance of my name, about the danda (staff) that I carry, and — since they have been told that I was born in Africa and lived half my life in California — about my first reaction to the Russian snow and ice.

And that's it — my first TV interview (Hi mom!)...
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