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Thursday, June 12th, 2003

Durban, South Africa.

Prasadam Seva

Do you want fries with that?

Who woulda thunk it? The hardest part of Goswami Maharaj and my seva to Srila Gurudeva while visiting this country is prasadam seva: eating everything that is offered to us.

Now don't get me wrong — I'm not complaining. I understand that as emissaries of Srila Gurudeva everybody wants to accommodate us properly, ensure that we are well looked after, and make our stay as pleasant as possible, and we are truly grateful and humbled by the awesome reception that we receive everywhere we go.

However, because we spend so little time (two or three days) at any place, one of the few ways that the devotees can interact with us is to make sure that we have plenty to eat. Many devotees gather to help in the kitchen and prepare an elaborate variety and quantity of dishes to serve to us.

All the preparations, without exception, are superb, and we feel an obligation to taste every one of them. We don't want to hurt anybody's feelings; what if the one preparation that we refused was the only preparation that a particular devotee had cooked? The only way to express our appreciation is to sample them all: the proof of the pudding is in the eating!

But oh! so many preparations. I dare not step on a bathroom scale — even though all the scales here are metric and my weight is flattering given in kilograms!

Yesterday, for instance, was nirjala-ekadasi, a day when we generally reduce our food intake and fast from all kinds of grains and beans, yet just before we left for the Prema Shanti Ashram in Chatsworth, Rishabdev Prabhu and his wife Chintamani Devi Dasi served Goswami Maharaj and me fourteen (14) different preparations for breakfast — for breakfast!

I would love to be able to do justice to all the wonderful preparations that we are served, but I would need a ruminant's four-compartment stomach to be able to digest all this wonderful prasadam.

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