A Daughter’s Return


Jahnavi and Tulasi

A good day today. We all drove out to the new Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 building to welcome home our daughter Jahnavi from San Francisco. She’s been on the Youth Bus Tour for the past six weeks and we have been missing her.

Naturally, she’s had a great time, helping the Festival of India stage Rathayatra festivals in cities I’ve only heard the name of. In the last few weeks she’d been in Toronto, Montreal, Thunder Bay, Vancouver and had started down the coast of the US reaching San Francisco a few days ago.

We were all very excited at the prospect of seeing her again, and strained at the railing by the arrivals door. We waited…and waited…

Above: Exterior and interior of the new Heathrow Terminal 5 building

All the waiting gave me a chance to see the new terminal and how the 4.2 billion pounds had been spent. It was impressive, clean and simple with lots of glass, great functionality and a great arched roof. The single-span roof is 160 metres long, and completely separate from the rest of the building – the longest roof in the country.

I like buildings that are well designed, but I become more satisfied when I see ingenious ornamentation combined with function. I’m a fan of cathedrals, which were designed to take the mind to God, and I guess I like them slightly better than airports which are also designed to take you to a destination. But for public transport combined with ornamentation I think I still like the new St. Pancras train station slightly more than Heathrow’s new terminal. The Victorians knew what they were doing.

External ornamentation of St. Pancras train station – and the soaring roof (below)

So how about the baggage at Terminal 5? The sophisticated new system didn’t get off to a good start, and unfortunately for my daughter – and for us who were waiting – today wasn’t all that good either. It took a full 90 minutes to locate a bag, even after all the other bags from the plane had been offloaded. Somehow or another, this one bag had been placed behind a desk in the baggage hall. Don’t ask.

Jahnavi didn’t have a phone to let us know she’d arrived, so we continued to wait, with every distant young woman appearing as if it might be her pushing a trolley – you know how it is when you’re waiting. Finally she arrived, to be smothered in hugs.

She’s only over for a short time, to attend the first European Kuli Mela over in Belgium. She’s then returning to the USA to complete the final leg of the tour and from there to attend the Burning Man Festival down in the Nevada Desert. The devotees have a camp and a makeshift temple, and are performing fire sacrifices, kirtans, and a Rathayatra. That certainly trumps my English pop festival experiences in Knebworth Hertfordshire, and Windsor!

There will be a lot of young devotees over in Belgium, and I’m very glad that the event is happening. There’s always something wholesome about Vaishnavas coming together, but especially when they share common factors in their lives. Many of them are aged 18-30 and are sons and daughters of the first generation Vaishnavas. Growing up with parents who practise devotion to Krishna means that sometimes they have to do their own spiritual exploration, to see whether being a Vaishnava is for them. But Sri Krishna – as Srila Prabhupada phrases it – is “so all-attractive” and the philosophical ideas supporting the path of Krishna consciousness so logically satisfying, that most of them have the form of Krishna, His words, His kirtan, and the culture of bhakti, as a permanent frame of reference in their lives.

Srila Prabhupada said one time that: “Krishna consciousness is so simple you may miss it.” He meant that those of us whose minds are so sophisticated, complex or crammed with conflicting ideas may not be able to easily grasp the simple ideas of Krishna-bhakti. Taking birth in the family of devotees means that in the last life some advancement on the path was made, and this life is now a continuation of that one. As parents it is a joy and a privilege to care for such ‘old souls’ and we can learn as much from them as they can from us. Simple attraction for Krishna is perhaps the greatest lesson.

Below: An image from Radhadesh, Belgium, today

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “A Daughter’s Return

  1. Lila

    4.5 billion on glass and concrete! that sum would sort out the housing crisis in this country in no time. some people certainly know how to waste money. Especially when it’ s not theirs.
    with my good wishes to you and your family.
    I hope to hear about Jahnavi’s festival.

  2. Sita

    The St. Pancras Station’s interior is very similar to the Egmore Railway Station in Madras/Chennai.
    Thanks very much for sharing such details.
    Hari Om &Pranams.

  3. I’m happy that such details are of interest to you Sita. I mainly write about the life of a Vaishnava and the different issues that arise as we try to live that life so far from its original home. But many who read in India, and other places, say that they like to hear about England also, so I add a few notes about my country too!

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