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Friday, August 29th, 2003

New Delhi, India

New Delhi

And the road to Govardhan

It is cloudy all the way from Mumbai until the final approach of the Jet Airlines domestic flight to New Delhi. "Cumulus clouds: these are big, white, fluffy clouds." I remember my standard-four (sixth grade) geography lesson as though it were yesterday.

In the past eight days I have traveled by train from Saint Petersburg to Moscow, and by plane from Moscow to London, from London to Dubai, from Dubai to Johannesburg, from Johannesburg to Mumbai, and now from Mumbai to New Delhi. I am not looking forward to the five-hour rickety bus ride to Govardhan...

Sandeep Prabhu, the manager of the Govardhan Ashram has arranged for Janaki Vallabha Prabhu meet me at the airport, with a hired taxi (yay!). It is only nine-thirty in the morning, but outside the air-conditioned airport the heat is already oppressive (32°C/90°F).

The taxi plunges into a medley of cars, buses, motorbikes, scooters, bicycles, rickshaws, animal-drawn carts, cows, dogs, and pedestrians. The drivers swerve in and out of the traffic lanes (are there traffic lanes?) vying for every foot of space on the road, honking, gesticulating, spitting... After almost three months away — in South Africa, England, Turkey, and Russia — I had almost forgotten what traffic in India was like!

Soon we are on the (relatively) open road, however, speeding (or so it seems) on our way to Govardhan. It's strange to see road signs with directions to towns and villages right out of the pages of Srimad Bhagavatam:

Mathura     ↑ 12 km
Govardhan → 20 km

We arrive at the Srila Sridhar Swami Sevashram, in Dasbisa, Govardhan in the early afternoon; Janaki Vallabha Prabhu shows me to my room and offers me some prasadam; it's good to be back.

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