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Thursday, July 24th, 2003

Ankara, Turkey


Partying in downtown Ankara

Now here's another Turkey first (although I don't know whether I should be advertising this one :) One of Ramaray Prabhu's business acquaintances owns a nightclub in downtown Ankara and has agreed to let the devotees from the Sri Govinda Math Yoga Center perform there tonight.

Two sannyasis at a nightclub — what would Srila Gurudeva say? This is not my scene at all. I've never liked clubbing. (I can just hear my incredulous friends saying: "Lalit?! At a nightclub?!?")

I don't know about this... but what the hey! I decide to go because: we are in Turkey; this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing; it is preaching of sorts; I will be in my sannyas vesha; there are at least twenty devotees going; most of my fellow clubbers are forty and fifty somethings...

But enough with the excuses already. At nine-thirty we head downtown to the nightclubs. Ankara is just like any other western city: the streets are crowded with younger people milling about, sitting in sports bars, lounging outside restaurants, drinking coffee, conversing, smoking...

The Yolcu Rock Club is on the second floor. When we enter the smoke-filled room, the band is belting out an old Jethro Tull (or is it Black Sabbath?) number. I don't know: it must be at least twenty-five years since I was last in a nightclub.

We climb up onto the stage, Ramaray Prabhu introduces us, and for the next two hours we sing the maha mantra:

hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare

Most of the nightclub's clientele are in to it (nobody gets up and leaves). Some of them join in, clapping and singing. Of course, since this is a rock bar, many of the patrons are drinking beers, but the only ale that we drink is Adam's.

We end our gig just before midnight. Ramaray Prabhu, Krishnendrani Devi Dasi and Rukmini Devi Dasi hand out some invitation cards and invite the audience to visit us at the Yoga Center.

All in all, it's been a good experience: we have encouraged the local devotees, exposed a few more young Turks to the maha mantra, and given them an opportunity to find out more about our mission here in Ankara.

But I've had enough, thanks — my throat is raspy, my eyes are scratchy, and I just want to go to bed. I'm too old for this sort of thing...

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