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Wednesday, July 16th, 2003

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Off To London

By way of Dubai

The travel agency calls at nine o' clock in the morning to say that my passport has been returned along with my Turkish visa, so Premasindhu Prabhu and I drive to their office in downtown Johannesburg and they book me on an Emirates Airlines flight to London this evening.

The visa has arrived just in time, because I have to be in London by tomorrow if I am to be in time to fly to Turkey with Paramahamsa Maharaj on Friday. I spend the next few hours packing my few things together and saying goodbye to the various devotees who are connected to the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Ashram here in Lenasia.

Premasindhu Prabhu and his wife, Mathuravasani Devi Dasi drive me to the airport late in the afternoon. I thank them once again for their hospitality. Premasindhu Prabhu and I will meet again during the first week of August when he joins Srila Gurudeva's tour in Moscow, Russia.

It is winter in South Africa, so it is dark by the time the plane takes to the air at 7:15 p.m. All through the night, we fly up the east coast of Africa, along the Indian Ocean, past the twinkling lights of Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, and across the darkened Arabian Peninsula, past the Arab countries of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Oman, and just as the sun reddens the horizon over the Arabian Sea, we land in the desert city of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, at 5:30 a.m. local time.

I have two hours to wait before my connecting flight to London, so I chant my gayatri mantras. I smile to myself: it can't be too often that somebody chants his or her gayatri in this Muslim city...

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