Vijay Raman Prabhu, the manager of the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, the beautiful two-storey temple here in Saint Petersburg, invites me for breakfast at his house, a simple dwelling, within the temple compound.
It is quite chilly this morning: just two degrees above zero (35°F). Saint Petersburg, a mere six degrees south of the Arctic Circle, is always a few degrees colder than Moscow; I have to get my coat for the short walk to Vijay Raman Prabhu's house.
The kitchen is cozy; I feel quite at home; it reminds me of my grandmother's kitchen in the farmhouse where I was born, except that this kitchen has an electric stove instead of a black cast-iron wood-burning stove...
Breakfast is a hot bowl of steaming porridge (kasha) followed by a few slices of coarse black bread, butter, homemade jam, and slices of cheese so thick that they can really only be called slabs.
After breakfast Vijay Raman Prabhu and I take a walk along the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea, which laps up to within about fifty feet of the temple boundary wall. In less than two months we will be able to walk on water: the entire sea will be frozen solid.