Prague, Czech Republic
30 July, 2003
I've not written to my journal for a week. Here's why. As you'll recall from the previous entry, I went from the Lutotin preaching center to a nearby tourist camp to participate in the summer festival of the Czech yatra. Several hundred devotees gathered there. HH Danavira Maharaja was also present.
Exactly one week ago, on the evening of July 23, the camp grounds were visited by a severe electrical storm. Not only torrents of rain came down but also big hailstones fell that shattered the glass of some devotees' automobile windows. And there was lightning. I can't say if it was due to a bolt from the sky or something a bit less spectacular, but during the storm an electrical surge caused a bright flash and a loud pop at the outlet where I'd plugged in my Fujitsu-Siemens computer. In a split-second the motherboard was toast. Bhakta Fuji was killed dead as a doornail. The next day the computer was inspected by a service technician. He ruled that the repair would cost the price of a new computer. Not worth it.
I almost did buy a new computer. But my disciple Omkaranatha das Brahmacari informed me that two weeks before he'd purchased a brand-new Compaq notebook. He'd gotten the laksmi from his parents, and as he bought it he had a thought in the back of his mind of presenting the computer to me. But before you say, "Krsna's mercy!", it turned out that this brand-new computer had problems of its own. I could not get it to work with my external hard drives, on which all of my data and programs are backed up. So I gave the Compaq to Vidyagati Prabhu in exchange for his trusty Dell Latitude.
But to set up the Dell to function as my Fujitsu-Siemens had functioned was a grand adventure. Vidya's Czech-language Windows 2000 operating system had to be replaced with my English-language Windows Millenium. Twice we had to go back to the beginning and start the installation process over. It was not until today that am able to say that the work is done; and in truth it is not completely done, though what remains are just some minor details.
In the meantime, Vidyagati's new Compaq turned out to be less than a blessing for him. Today, after days of trying to get it to run the programs he had used on the Dell, the Compaq went into service. Can you believe it? A brand-new computer! When Omkaranath gave it to us it was still packed in its carton.
When I tried to get it to work with my external hard drives, I got a taste of Windows XP, which replaces the 9x Windows series (Windows 95, 98, 2000, Millenium). I was not impressed. I'm sticking to Millenium. Not that Millenium is a great program. But at least it does the simple things I require an operating system to do, like recognize a removable hard disk and assign it drive letter E:\.
Now let me tell you about the "witch" I visited this past Sunday. Actually she is an elderly homeopathic healer name Ekatarina. She is not a "witch" in the sense of practicing black magic or even the mild Wiccan religion. But her appearance and her lifestyle is such that 300 years ago she would have been in danger of being accused of witchcraft.
Ekatarina lives in the hills west of Prague, in an old, broken-down farm compound that is protected by a big wall. Her house is fronted by a glassed-in sun porch that is a jungle of potted plants that are spread all about the floor and hung from the rafters. She is a friendly, soft-spoken woman who is self-taught in homeopathy. She has a reputation of being very good at prescribing natural cures. Devotees have been visiting her since 1996.
I sat with her for an hour, answering her questions about my health, my experiences in life, my childhood. After the interview she told me she would send me the medicine--good for 6 months--the next day in the care of another devotee. And so the next day my disciple Vasuman das brought it: one small white pill. I took it. I do notice an effect. Whether it will really last 6 months, that I shall have to see.
Anyway, it was a very interesting experience. The ride to Ekatarina's place was along country roads that wound through a hilly landscape that seemed strangely familiar to me. It was as if I had seen this region before in a dream.