It is Ramai Prabhu's birthday today. Ramai is like one of those Reader's Digests' "The Most Unforgettable Character I Have Ever Met." I thought of him this morning because it is a little cold here in Kolkata. Heh! After spending the winter in Russia, it is difficult to think of 10°C as being "cold" anymore.
It is a lot like the "cold" 50°F (10°C) California winters I used to experience when I first went to live in Goswami Maharaj's temple on South 13th Street in San Jose, shortly after I arrived from the sunny, tropical climate of South Africa in 1984...
I used to walk into the kitchen, rubbing my hands together, complaining, "It's freezing!" to which our pujari, the affable Ramai Prabhu, would dryly retort: "No it's not. Freezing is 32° Fahrenheit." Duh!
Another memory: many of us newer devotees at the temple used to try to playfully "prove" how humble we were. Whenever somebody apologized for something with a statement like, "Forgive me Prabhu, I am so fallen," the other neophyte would insist: "No, no, Prabhu. It is I who am the most fallen."
We would banter back and forth like this, trying to out-humble each other, but whenever we remonstrated with Ramai Prabhu, after a just a few iterations of the "I am more fallen" mantra, he would capitulate and say:
"I will have to concede in defeat in this contest of humility."
To which we would have to reluctantly acknowledge that he was therefore more humble than us. (Kind of like the sycophant story in Sri Guru and His Grace!)
Birthday 'bats to you, O "Pedaling Pujari of the Pacific"!