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Thursday, April 24th, 2003

Return To Moscow
...and warmer weather

Goswami Maharaj, Muraliswar Prabhu and I return to Moscow today. We leave Naradev Prabhu's apartment at six o'clock, and Premananda Prabhu drives us through the empty streets of the sleeping city on the way to the Tomsk airport.

I stare out the window at the birch trees in the snow-covered forests; having shed their deciduous covering in the fall, they now stand silently with their slim, starkly beautiful naked white limbs unabashedly raised in the air, the thin papery layers of their mottled skin stoically enduring the last of the Siberian cold...

There are about a dozen devotees at the tiny airport to see us off. Goswami Maharaj gives a short talk, we offer our obeisances, and we walk the short distance across the tarmac to the waiting Siberia Airlines plane.

It's a rather small airplane; certainly the smallest that I've ever been on. As we climb the exterior stairs I notice that the tires appear to be under-inflated and that the treads are extremely worn. Inside, there are no stowaway bins for our carry-on luggage: just a continuous open rack...

No worries though — the plane may be old, but the pilot's an old hand. The ride is smooth, and the landing in Moscow is about as perfect as can be. The pilot brings the plane down fairly sharply, lifts the nose slightly just before touchdown, cuts back the jet engines until they are almost silent, and we're rolling along the runway with nary a bump to indicate that we have landed. Someone in the back applauds...

Sundarananda Prabhu picks us up at the airport, and we drive to the temple in downtown Moscow. There is no snow anywhere. Moscow is a warm 10°C (50°F) — almost summer weather.
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