At eleven o' clock, after spending only one night in Saratov — the shortest stop on our five-city tour of central Russia — we cross the wide Volga River and drive to the next city, Balakovo, just a little further up the river, about 160 kilometers east-northeast of Saratov, near the border of Kazakhstan.
We arrive at the apartment of Aleksander and Oksana (our hosts for the next three days) a couple of hours later. Balakovo, with a population about 350,000, is the smallest city on this tour, but is one of our longer stopovers.
Nityananda Prabhu, Lalita Devi Dasi and Alexey help to prepare lunch: a delicious bean soup, a potato and pumpkin subji, bread balls, a traditional Russian rice and pumpkin dish, and something that looks and tastes a lot like the South African Indian chilibites (minus the chili).
I learn that I am scheduled to speak at three consecutive evening public programs at the Dialog Cafe, on the subject of "Vedic Culture in the Modern Age."
At six o' clock in the evening, in an auditorium at the Dialog Cafe, in front of an audience of about fifty people, I talk about Krishna consciousness thinly disguised as Vedic culture.
During the question-and-answer period, I plod through a motley assortment of about twenty-five questions, mostly from naive, unsophisticated individuals seeking a Vedic stamp of approval for their various materialistic activities or quasi-spiritual misconceptions about what constitutes Vedic culture.