on sandy's one day off he goes to krisha temple in mt. airy, northwest of philly. during the day i'm reading and spreading sand on our icy driveway, then at about sunset we head out. in the dar he asks me if i wore nice socks... you know, without any holes.
i had told my mom and stepfather that i was going to temple with sandy, and their reaction was kinda discouraging... the streotypes of streetside chanting baldies in robes, my stepfather does a little dance, my mom jokingly tells me not to give them all my money. i can't blame them... i know little more about the krishna religion than they do, but that they instantly jumped on it as a dangerous or wierd thing disappointed me. my mother has always seemed to me to be open-minded, and i know she was just joking, but it scares me that she could be this way.
when we get there we take off our shoes and enter a medium-sized room with a few dozen people sitting closs-legged on the floor. the guy infront of me has short hair except for a circle in the back... he is a friend of sandy's by the name of matt. in the front of the room are three alcoves for displays of three dieties, and on the left wall a life-size recreation of the man who brought the religion to the states, sitting on a large cushioned dais. it is a class of sorts, in which a man reads from a certain chapter of the holy text and explains it. this one is about a few different things, including the criticism of people who deny krishna. just my luck... an athiest walking into a lecture denouncing athiests in particular. it disturbs me that most religions have a clause like this... those ignorant people out there that deny the existance of a god, they are fake or blind or half-grown. it is, however, understandable from the point of those who rely on faith to order the world. there will always be outsiders. i do not resent this, only wonder at it in some way.
after the class there is food which is provided free... a buffet of indian food which is mild and good and filling. we sit on either side of a narrow hall, and talk to matt. he's a computer science major and we joke about making lots of money. i ask him how he reconciles the money with renouncing the material world. he say that even though we are not these bodies, we must maintain them on order to do things to help ourselves and others attain a higher consciousness... he wants to have a krishna-conscious family, and maybe start a temple closer to home. he exlpains it almost like he was reciting from a book... he knows it well, and to him it is a question he has already answered, at least for the most part. i admire his assurance. we also talk about how nice it is to be surrounded by people who are concerned with things beyond the every-day... he in his temple and i in my academia. we give quick praise to philosophy majors.
next is a series of chants, which are sung and accompanied by two-sided drums and some small brass cymbal-like instruments and a harmonia (small bellows organ). everyone sings and the tempo races at times... it is a mix of chaotic ecstatic racket and deep mellodious prayer that i can only sit and listen to... it's all in sanskrit, and my words would be empty anyway. all in all it is an interesting experience and one that helps me understand sandy a bit more. matt asks him if i was freaked out and he says "not really... he's cool and open-minded."
afterwards we drive over to hilary's house... i haven't seen her in about a year, and was gonna visit her in nyc but i have to go back to swat next weekend. her room has a few photos from her art school and ants the movie body lotion in the bathroom. her prize christmas toy is a bathtub stopper with a chain and a floating shark at the end. we goof around, talk about random shit... she had me figured out from the second she met me, which always kinda freaked me out, but she must think i'm ok anyway. "you're such a college boy now." she is one of the most attractive girls i know... she's crazy-cool. honest and real. pierced. not affraid to horse around. she looks you in the eyes... amazing eyes. she tells us about how she drank too much the night before and had to be hoisted into her loft bed in the city. her friend who helped her up is here... he's an assistant italian chef, going to french culinary school in new york soon. he and i joke about liking meat, since the other two don't. veal in a box. i tell him i'm thinking about going to cooking school. i really think i'd like to... either that or open my own fine foods store or something like that. we leave early because sandy has to work and dance the next day.