Arrived to Delhi at midnight this morning (to see the above airport welcome sign), picked up smoothly and arrived to the Kothari Guest House by 3:30 am or so. Awoke by 10 and showered up, ran into Sophia and some of the satsang who are staying here also, and then wandered over to the Gusainji baithak where Shyamdas made his home over recent years, overlooking the sacred Govardhan Hill.
Nice mellow arrival day. The big outing was a bunch of us (including Madhu, Ishwari, Vallabhdas, Vraja Gopi, Anja, Govind and others) heading down the parikrama trail to do some Giriraj trash pick up seva—using gloves and pick-up gadgets to fill larger bags with the schwank that pilgrims toss along the side of the hill they also happen to worship and view as the literal body of Lord Krishna. I doubt I have to look far to see some sort of parallel in my own life, culture or practices, but nonetheless, it’s jarring to see how Indian public spaces are often simply fracked to the gills with garbage.
We were all heartened by the positive response we got from walkers doing their sacred pilgrimage circumambulation of this most popular hill. Many folks offered a friendly “Radhe Radhe!” or “Jai Shri Krishna!” as they walked past, some stopped to engage in conversation (“Um, what are you gringo bhaktas doing cleaning up here?”). Most were delighted and highly encouraging, and I think some even thought about their own trash practices. Some children even joined the fun, which was unexpected and cool.
We also had good hang time around the house. There’s no good stereo here, but I got a chance to play for Mohan the Radhe Govinda chant on the new Shyam Lila album, just mastered and ready for listening. Last year in Nathdwara I asked Mohan to please chant a bit for me; I used some of it on this song and it was all worth it to hear him, headphones on, singing along with the rest of the track too. Vallabh and Madhu also heard snippets and—suddenly self-conscious that maybe they wouldn’t really find my music to their taste—I felt gratified by each of their smiles and thumbs ups. As always, wonderful to see everyone here in Bharat.
In the evening we debriefed our clean up efforts and talked about how the Shyamdas Foundation might best focus its efforts on Giriraj trash seva in the future. By midnight it was time to walk myself home, and thus ends day 1. Feels great to be back in India!