Dubai Good Friday
20 October 2010

Friday in the Moslem world is reserved for worship, as Sunday used to be in the west. Everyone is off work, and thus I flew back to Dubai from Muscat on Thursday 23 to a busy schedule of four programs on Friday September 24.

Although I got Thursday night off, Atul Krsna prabhu was busy teaching his Bhakti Shastri course to the third batch of students, from the total of over 100 devotees who had signed up. All the students were working during the day till 7.00PM, and then came to the class from 8.00PM-10.00PM before returning home.

I was happy to find Naru Gopal prabhu, our Chairman of the Mayapur Administrative Council at the flat. He had just flown in for his first visit, on his way to America.

Friday was hectic. My first stop was Shyama desh, Sharjah, which is the neighbouring Emirate about 45 mins. drive from Dubai city. The gathering ran from 7AM-9AM.

It was well attended and the last one to be held in that particular venue after 7-8 years. It was a business premises housing road works paraphernalia and the owner was moving to a new location. Now the devotees have to find a new venue.

From there we drove back to the Dubai Sindhi Hall, the scene of my first program on Radhastami. It was packed to capacity, with about 500 devotees attending.

Before giving my seminar, I showed a 60-slide powerpoint presentation of the BRC. Everyone was very enthusiastic to see the work being done at the library. Of course, there is always more to say than time to say it and I went seriously over time. When I finished, I was an hour over schedule.

Then we jumped in the car and zoomed off down a newly opened highway for a nearly 2 hours drive to Abu Dhabi. Avatari desh as its called, is the principle Emirate, the political center and the richest, because it sits on 95% of the total oil reserves of the UAE. It also has some serious car parking problems with double lines of cars occupying the center and sides of practically every road in the city.

The devotees had hired a hall and a good crowd of nearly 200 turned out to hear me narrate some Srila Prabhupada katha, despite my being so late.

Unfortunately the hall they hired had to be vacated for another group and so I could only speak for half an hour.

Then after taking some prasadam and rest at the flat of Purnaprajna prabhu, I did my final program of the day at the home of one of the devotees from 8.30PM-10.30PM. Again it was well attended by over 100 devotees. Although I was invited  to stay overnight I chose to drive back to Dubai. When I got back to the flat at near 12.30AM I was surprised to find that I was first in; my fellow visiting teachers, Atul Krsna and Naru Gopal prabhus  were still doing programs elsewhere and neither of them got in until after 1.00AM! Such is the enthusiasm of the devotees in our Middle East yatras.

I had Saturday off with just one lunch engagement at the home of Sriman Mahesh Advani and family. Mahesh and his wife had been particularly enthusiastic after seeing the BRC presentation at Sindhi Hall and after an excellent lunch he informed me that he would become a Patron Member, the membership fee of which is $10,000.00. We are naturally extremely happy to receive the support of these nice devotees because the BRC relies solely on donations and membership fees for its upkeep and development.

Apart from Mahesh’s contribution, the devotees from Bahrain later informed me they were sending Rs. 1,00,000.00 as a gift for the BRC from their whole congregation, so I was left with a feeling of deep gratitude for their generosity and support for this important project.

Saturday evening we went on a special sight-seeing trip, which I will mention in my next blog entry. I did one final program on Sunday evening. All in all my ten day visit was one of the most enthusing tours I have had. The enthusiasm and attentiveness of the devotees in these yatras is hard to match anywhere in the world.

All of them are working full time, yet they maintain their sadhana, home Deities and attend the programs after a hard days work, staying up very late to hear as much as possible before tracking home to face another day in the daily grind. I am quite sure I got more inspired than they did and I look forward to another visit in the near future.

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