Senior Citizen's Tour
Posted November 28, 2003
The West Jordan Seniors Citizens Center, having heard good reports from other senior's groups who have visited our temple, came with 57 people on a bus for tour and lunch. They arrived at 10:45 am. We had cooked all morning long. I made fancy rice with peanuts, raisins and mixed vegetables, some spicy spaghetti with olives and chunks of TVP and matar paneer, the very popular Indian dish with peas and curds. For the first time I tried soaking the fried curd in warm whey, turmeric and salt, before putting it with the peas. This soaking gave it a juicy soft, consistency. Sydhartha had made Gouranga potatoes the evening before. We had Vaibhvai's cheesecake and a berry pie, her peanut butter fudge, and she also made a preparation with bean, and TVP. There were fresh watermelon and honey dew slices, nachos, potato sticks, chapattis, papadams, and drinks with fresh strawberries and orange juice.
We'd forgotten to go to Petersons Medical Supply in Provo to get the booties we ask people to wear over their shoes if unwilling to take their shoes off. So we had to let everyone keep their shoes on for the downstairs parts, and then ask them to take their shoes off when going upstairs to the temple room. Both downstairs and in the temple room there are plenty of comfortable chairs, so the seniors can spend most of the tour sitting down.
Because of the size of the group, and of not wanting to project my voice too much, and of many seniors being hard of hearing, I had microphones set up both upstairs and downstairs.
When the building department for Utah County originally mandated that we install an elevator for $40,000.00 we groaned and felt dispirited at the prospect of having to raise all that extra money. However, on days like this we are grateful for the elevator, for otherwise, some seniors would not be able to ascend to the temple room.
I never fail to appreciate how many seniors the age of 70 or thereabouts, suffering from artificial hips, diabetic feet and toes, and plastic kneecaps, have so much trouble to get up one flight of stairs. Prabhupada, at the same age, boarded a steamship and sailed around the world to start a spiritual revolution.
The group was a little reserved when they arrived. I had tied Dennis the llama out the front, and invited everyone to feed him carrot pieces, but Dennis wasn't buying. Guess it was too soon after his breakfast.
It took a while for everyone to get inside and seated. We had brought in several extra tables and many folding chairs in addition to our regular Sankheda dining and sofa sets. I began explaining the history of the temple, the architecture, the artwork, the meaning of Krishna. I got my first big laugh when I told them that we had prepared the Indian food to be not so spicy, but somehow or other the spaghetti turned out that way. So if they didn't want to eat spicy food, they could eat the Indian without concern, but watch out for the Italian, and vice versa.
When we got settled upstairs, everybody was visibly impressed with the temple room. I explained many things. I could tell people were feeling much more comfortable. Every time I would pause and ask for questions, there would be one or two who would raise their hand and ask excellent questions, indicating that they had heard, understood and appreciated the philosophy of Bhagavad Gita. With predominantly LDS (Latter Day Saints-Mormons) groups I always make sure I build as many bridges between the one philosophy and the other to promote understanding. Several people commented they were surprised how well I understood LDS philosophy, and how similar the one was to the other.
After I had been speaking well over an hour, including the downstairs part, I began alluding to the wonderful lunch awaiting downstairs, and hinting that the visitors might be hungry. Yet no one seemed to take the hint. Their hunger for the moment was of a different sort. They appeared so absorbed in high contemplation and further inquiries that physical appetite was a secondary consideration. Finally, Vaibhavi came to the head of the stairs, and loudly said, "Lunch is waiting."
I don't think one person failed to comment on how much they enjoyed the food. Quite a few were laughing that, indeed the spaghetti was much more spicy than the Indian food, and one man said, "This spaghetti is exactly the way I like it."
After the meal, everybody found souvenirs to acquire in the gift store, 'om' mobiles, BBT calendar, brass dolphin, brass deer, brass bells, enamel vases, wooden carvings, jewelry, skirts and dresses, etc. These proceeds, coupled with the donation per head for the tour and meal, will help further temple construction. Inevitably, the tour guide threatens the bus will leave without them if they don't finish up the shopping pronto.
Nevertheless, a lady came up to me to say, "You know, on the bus ride down here, I thought that I would not enjoy this. I thought it would be all chanting and dogma. But I was wrong. I love your philosophy and food, but what I enjoyed by and far the most, was YOUR HUMANITY. Thank you."
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