“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” Maya Angelou
While I’m most comfortable and peaceful surrounded by Mother Nature’s awesome bounties of streams, lakes, trees, mountains, gorges, and fields of grasses and wildflowers where birds, butterflies and larger wildlife find refuge, I occasionally enjoy a few days stay in a large city.
Such skyscraper metroplexes offer awesome museums to visit, live performances to attend, dozens of art galleries to pursue and intriguing new places to eat.
The one big city I visit most is Dallas. It’s where I was born, and where my oldest daughter and oldest grandson both live. I came here specifically this time to see the grandson, David, get married, but spending time with my daughter, Deborah, and Shanna, her daughter and my granddaughter who came up from Argentina for her brother’s big event, has been a big bonus.
Shanna inherited my love of travel and exploring new things in life. So when she asked if I was: “Up to a temple visit and then a vegetarian dinner,” the answer was a quick yes, even though I had no idea where she would be taking me.
It was to a modest, sometimes rundown, section of East Dallas, where the Sri Sri Radha Kalachandji Mandi Hare Krishna Temple’s tall towers overlook an ethic neighborhood of East Indians.
I was fascinated.
The first thing we did on entering the building was to go to a back room where we took off our shoes. Shanna was familiar with the place from her earlier Dallas yoga study days. We then went into a large, long room with a glossy wood floor and a stage full of Indian gods. A monk was leading a few devotees in chanting as they stared ahead at the stage, or as one young man did, danced to the chanting. Shanna and I sat on a side bench and watched and listened as the room slowly began to fill.
The women who came into the room were all dressed in colorful saris, while the men’s clothing ranged from pajama looking outfits to a just-got-off-from work American business look. One woman carried a small child and beside her walked a sweet-faced imp of a girl, perhaps 4, who came over and played high-fives with us. We smiled at the mother to let her know that the child was not bothering us.
A bit later, when our stomachs started protesting, we retrieved our shoes and went across the hallway to Kalachandji’s, This small, buffet style, eating place inside the Hare Krishna Temple was voted the best vegetarian restaurant in Dallas in 2010.
I have to admit healthy food never tasted so good, and the rice pudding with which I ended the meal was heavenly. And since we ate our meal in a courtyard open to a sky with a tree in the middle, I even felt Mother Nature’s presence a little bit.
Life is good.