Friday August 15

Its hot here, over 100 deg. F. I like hot weather and I can’t function in the cold. That was one of my prime motivations for emigrating from England in 1971. When me and my two old school friends, Chris and Bob, landed in Australia we went to the north west and got jobs for six months on the mining camps. For the first six weeks we didn’t see a single cloud in the sky. I felt like I had been liberated.

A bit of sun and she’ll be right mate!

Skopje: a small city of 800,000 with the ambience of a market town. No skyscrapers and not much by way of other noteworthy buildings either. The one thing of prominence is a gigantic Orthodox Church cross planted on the top of a small mountain immediately adjacent to the city. It was erected in 2000 for the Millenium and dominates the skyline. At night it lights up, burning its image into everyone’s brains, no matter where you are in the city. The room in Bhavana’s flat that I happen to be staying in looks out onto the hill and the cross.

It does surprise me how the Orthodox Church has become so powerful in Russia, Ukraine and places like Macedonia since the dismemberment of the Soviet empire. After 5-7 decades of suppression the church is now one of the dominant forces in all these countries. They are resilient if nothing else. And it shows that you can’t crush the human spirit and a people’s belief in God. The city is quite nice, quiet, no traffic jams, wide streets and lots of trees. Poor as well, as evidenced by the non-existent street maintenance and overgrown grass verges and parks. You can also judge a country’s economy by the cars people drive. Macedonia is all small cars, quite a few old Ladas, and the odd Merc or Honda.Programs at the temple are well attended, at least at night. About 40 devotees turned out for the evening session. One couple even drove from Belgrade in Serbia, nearly 500 kms., just to hear me speak about Srila Prabhupada. You have to be gratified by that.

The devotees in these more remote countries really treasure whatever senior association they can get. The ISKCON communities are small and in some places, their status is tenuous. So they need and appreciate regular visits by sannyasis and preachers.

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