I was sitting in our big white van cruising through the streets of LA, when Gaura, who was driving and eating and talking on the phone (always multitasking!), threw the question to us over his shoulder, “hey guys, how would you like going to Australia?” Need I make our unanimous answer explicit?!
When Australia sent out initial feelers to Gaura, they were thinking to bring him and maybe one more person, that’s it. Ultimately there was six of us! Due to a combination of Gaura’s love for all of us and his insistence that we come, and the Aussie organizers giving in to Gaura’s “demand”.
And so it happened, that six of us stepped out of the airport coming to Australia for the first time. It didn’t take Vish and Gaura long to figure out that now we’d done kirtan on every continent (save for Antartica).
It’s an amazing thing when total strangers met for the first time and immediately feel bonded. This was the case with the Australian crew that brought us over, took care of us, and traveled with us through the country. I didn’t feel that I was among strangers at all. Maybe our goal, or interest, in kirtan simply took over and connected us on a higher level.
Before we arrived Sitapati, the main organizer, sent us a forty-page playbook, indicating every show, every meal, basically every detail. We were quite blown away by such detailed pre-planning. The person behind such meticulous planning had to be a seasoned older gentleman. When Sitapati met us at the airport, I think everyone of us asked him a version of the question, “Who are you?” Because we simply didn’t expect the force behind such a major tour to be our age.
And this turned out to be one of the many sweet things about the Australia tour. The guys who brought us out there were not rich people dipping into large bank-accounts. They hustled to get us over there, called everyone they knew with the idea, collecting funds as one person here and there would donate. There was a real grassroots feel to it.
We did around ten shows and one 24-hour kirtan during the fourteen days we were there. But because the organization was seamless and our reception so enthusiastic, we did not feel drained or tired but enthused and inspired. So many Aussies love kirtan! I was delighted by Janardan in Brisbane, Tina in Sydney, Krsnagraja in Melbourne, to mention a few. Notably, this enthusiasm was not limited to experienced kirtan-singers like the above, but to those completely new to it.
“Is there anything bad about Australia?” I kept asking our hosts as we drove through the beautiful country side from Brisbane to Sydney, then Sydney to Melbourne.
I was particularly happy when Sitapati, who had never seen The Mayapuris and As Kindred Spirits play together, commented that “We couldn’t imagine you without each other. You complement each other so well. ” His observation highlighted something I’d been reflecting on for a while. Gaura and As Kindred Spirits are melodic, sweet as honey, soulful, while we are passionate and fierce, with an edge that would border on aggressive without the soothing vibe of our kindred spirits. We feel so blessed to be singing, dancing, and serving together.
And being Down-Under only made it more dreamy and surreal. Did we dance with Kangaroos? No, didn’t even see one (though Gaura did chase a wallaby up a hill with his iPhone for a close-up) But everyone we did kirtan with put a kangaroo’s jump to shame, as they reached their arms high in the sky, jumping high, spirits soaring! Singing the holy names!
What more can I describe than this? Millions of opulences are of no use to me, my only wish is to have these pastimes constantly appear in my mind.