Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
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Deloraine, Manitoba

“Oh Lord, help us to be masters of ourselves, that we may be servants of others.” – Sir Alexander Paterson

This quote amongst others is found at our little detour at Peace Garden in the Turtle Mountain District. The message resonates well.

Out here in the open prairie, there’s not much going on to entice your senses, there’s few and far between buildings. Most homes are set very far from the highway, which is my trail for walking.

And yes, peace. In two schools in Deloraine, and Boisaevaine students are hearing me say that I’m on a peace walk. I also introduced my team comprised of man and bird. PJRB radio also came over to the school at Boisaevaine for a separate interview. And Judy came from this Deloraine Newspaper at the Deloraine school. For the young students, me speaking about peace to them does not hold much interest, but it is a strong word that the teachers appreciate. They believe in it, it means a lot. When I had a few minutes with the principal, Mr. White, I asked about teenagers and drugs, and he remarked that it wasn’t too bad in the area largely due to the fact that people are somewhat isolated and are maintaining high family and spiritual values.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said of peace, “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principals.” In the Gita Krishna speaks about principals of freedom and how freedom and peace come from acknowledgement of the Supreme, and controlling the agitated senses.

So there is peace. Hard to find in this world.

Last night a major storm swept through Manitoba. Tree branches (and some huge ones) came crashing all around our tent as we were camping. We had to get out of there and search for a room. Then the news came that reported that a man in his tent got killed by a tree that landed on him in Falcon Lake, Manitoba. How unfortunate. Then after going for a swim in Adam Lake just to relieve the tension of leg muscles, before I knew it, my left foot found itself all bloody. A leach had discovered it to be delicious. The point being, where is peace and comfort in this world?

28 KM

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013
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Towards Simple Ways

Boissevain, Manitoba

After my shower at the campsite in Kilarney I left Daruka for the extra doze at 4:10 AM. To exit I was coming around a corner and this creature almost collided with me. With the dimness of the hour I could barely see. Was it a fox? No. Was it a dog? No. When the creature who accidentally came at me in a kind of a gallop, he backed off and I could decipher the image, it was a tiny fawn. He then retreated and ran towards these trailers which seemed to startle him also and then he came back towards me, practically landing in my arms, and then once again retreated but into another direction and into the darkness, hopefully to safety. What a perkful way to start the day.

It was a long straight stretch on 30 KMs without really stopping. A couple of falcons came to see me, they were perched on a hydro post. An RCMP officer stopped to learn what I’m doing. “I’m walking for peace,” I told him.

“Good, I’m also working for peace,” indicating that it was his job.

Paul Rayner from the community newspaper, The Recorder, interviewed. He went quite in depth and knew of the power of kirtan having experience with it.

What Daruka and Billy did once more today was wave a wand of magic. Billy’s charms gained us a happy footing into a colony of Hutterites. The place was in Wokapa. It has a residence of 140 people who created their own village and infrastructure beginning in 1972. The school there wanted to meet Billy, Daruka, and their monk friend. As a result, we were invited to speak about trekking pastimes, and about Billy’s role in all of this. The kids were great as they sat in front of us, well behaved, boys in pants and suspenders, and girls in dresses and bonnets or headdresses.

There is something favourable to be said about pious God-centric kids. They are respectful and attentive to all we say. It is also not to be ignored, but I must mention their next door neighbours, the Freemans. They are not Hetterites, but eco-friendly family who are young and managing self sustainability. They use minimal machinery, in fact work horses are the modus operandi. We had the opportunity to meet with them. Their kids are home schooled and they do plenty of chores and playing. Tim and Kathleen are doing their own little miracles.

Our guru, Srila Prabhupada, desired this kind of life for our family community members. We should not stop trying.

32 KM

Monday, June 24th, 2013
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Cotton and Cattle

Kilarney, Manitoba

Cottonwood fluff is shedding from the trees and manages to make its way all the way out to the open fields and even highways. On this highway, #3, we find something historic, it was once a major horse and cart trail in the late 1800’s for patrolling and surveying the land north of the 49th parallel which separates the US and Canada. This area’s now predominantly farm land.

One farmer’s fence had broken down leaving some of his cattle to go astray and land up in someone else’s pasture. I was there on the highway when several farmers were there to help and discuss strategy for the cattle’s return home. The farmer who owned the cattle was in despair, but he took a minute to talk to me, “So you’re walkin’?”

“Yes, across Canada.”

“For peace?”

“Yes, and as a pilgrimage.”

“You’re Hare Krishna?”


“Well, that makes sense.”

A few more locals involved in the agri-business saw the small convergence of vehicles and people by the side of the highway. They also stopped. It was then that I could say more about walking for the soul. I kept it rather light. I let people know that it’s a friend raiser and not a fund raiser. I encouraged all the motorists there to please honk when they see me down the road, and see me they have, so they say.

“I can’t do that, the horn on my vehicle just busted”, said one guy jovially.

“Hey, fences break down, horns malfunction, these bodies break down, and I’ll walk ‘til I drop. That was a segue for everyone to move on back to work, back to catching cattle and back on to walking.

News has spread around about the walking Hare Krishna, even before the afternoon’s interview with Jay from The Guide newspaper. Many motorists stop to get their picture taken with a rarity, a monk.

33 KM

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013
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I Allowed Myself

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Once again I allowed myself to be pulled off the road for an engagement in Manitoba’s major city, Winnipeg. On the previous night, Daruka, Billy, Daniel and I went to The Forks to attend events for Aboriginal Day.

When I walked the Prairie trail, on what can be a boring straight line, I daily think about how the indigenous people executed their travels. They likely followed a meandering river or curvy valley or creek. Their lifestyle and outlook was circular, unlike the white man’s square and linear approach. The land they shared and was for everyone. They demonstrated hospitality to the newcomers and showed them how to survive. Those of the European stock, the newcomers, came in great numbers, did not reciprocate so well with hospitality, cheated the custodians and robbed them of use of land. The new ‘owners’ killed the food supply, the bison, drew lines and squares for lots, saying ‘do not trespass’. They spread new diseases and fire water where there was no intoxication before. They, the first people, were cheated of their land and were given left over reserves, a raw deal for sure.

Not a day goes by when I wonder how life would be to trek a trail that the aboriginal people had done before there was a grid.

After spending an hour with Greg along what to me was a new section of Red River, I met Dennis at a street juncture. Dennis is an aboriginal handicapped person. He asked me if I had time, I said, “Yes, depending on how long.” Dennis is wheelchaired with impaired legs and needed to be taken to the other side of the river by way of bridge, and then a couple of blocks to destination, Holy Rosary Catholic Church for coffee with a priest.

“Fine,” I agreed.

As I was pushing the wheelchair he told me about how he prays to the Lord asking Him if one day he can walk again. “Sometimes I think God doesn’t listen,” he said.

“You can’t blame God for your weak legs. This is karma you have inflicted upon yourself from some time in the past. Be grateful always for what you do have. “

Dennis asked me to wheel him into the Starbucks Coffee shop. Both inside and outside the shop many people seemed to know him. Here he makes a daily visit and requires an antique cup for his coffee. From here I wheel him out and on to the edge of the church yard. Mass had just finished and here too he seems to be known.

I figured that helping him was the least I could do considering the mistreatment of his people in the past. I felt I owed him one.

Our day came to a close when I spoke at 108 Chestnut from a Bhagavatam verse 1.8.30 regarding the bewildering nature of this world, its Creator and their correlation.

12 KM

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013
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Mather, Manitoba

Breaking into new shoes isn’t always the funnest thing. A minor case of blisters and blood came my way at the feet. Several consecutive warm days has also encouraged heat rash and again minimal blood. Such things occur as part of the pilgrim’s package.

Highway 3 is very quiet on Saturdays. The occasional motorist stops, as does the newspaper delivery woman from yesterday. In fact, she did it twice today, asking a little more each time as to how I’m faring, where do I hope to get to at the end of the day, and inquiring about my mode of life. Friendly they are here in the prairie. Even their license plate says so, ‘Friendly Manitoba’. Some folks today offered some financial help, I didn’t ask, they just gave. One highlight of the day was meeting Art, and then later, Elaine, his wife, from Mather, Manitoba. They invited Daruka and I for lunch. We agreed, but we told them of our dietary restrictions. In all frankness, it’s hard for me to have the heart to eat what I see goes by me as I pass a herd of beef cattle. They tend to be so personal as they follow me along at my pace right to the very lengths of the pasture until reaching the barrier, the fence. They then stand there as if frozen staring at me until I disappear.

Art runs a local seed company, and also plays a major role in running the village. The lunch was great along with some herbal Bengal Spice tea. The conversation entailed comparing notes – their Mennonite faith to our consciousness in Krishna. Hence, friends were made with exchange of literature. Perhaps the climax of the visit was Art playing on the piano. The piece ‘Obladi, Oblada, Life Goes On…’

Hey, if life could be so easy, simply singing Obladi Oblada, that would be great. Why do we karmically complicate matters so?

26 KM

Friday, June 21st, 2013
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I Can See The Mist

La Riviere, Manitoba

From Pemdina Valley I could see the mist with rainbow tones rising as I was approaching. It was as if the sun god was pulling up with his hands the moisture and dispersing it into thin air. It resembled a hint of virat rupa, the cosmic form as described in Bhagavad Gita.

Daruka joined and we were pacing along. We passed by the location where ‘The Passion’ play is annually presented in the outdoors attracting people from far and wide. Then we caught the attention of a group of people having breakfast in the town restaurant. Dennis, the retired school teacher, pulled out of the group and came outside to invite us for some early morning breakfast. Daruka and I accepted the offer of cranberry juice and the company of district farmers. We all hit it off well, chanting while sitting at a round table. Being with Dennis, an educator whom everyone in the district seemed to have been taught by (so it seems) set a tone for the day.

Daruka and I eventually backtracked to Manitou and the elementary school. There, 130 students assembled in the gymnasium to hear about a monk’s lifestyle and his associates and to view a blue front Amazon parrot. The principle Deb Morrow, was most gracious, while the reception by the students was quite overwhelming. The applause made us feel like rock stars. There also appeared to be no end to questions regarding life as a monastics. In truth, the kids questioned about Billy as well, but I’ll give it a 50/50 attention to both topics.

Further on in the walk westbound on Highway 3, many motorists came to congratulated me for the trek and for visiting their neighbourhood. Two more journalists from different papers came to interview, also Jackie and Maryanne, local farm girls I guess you could say, cycled from their endless prairie laneways to meet and talk.

Finally, where the educational element became interwoven in our day once more is when Alix, the local art gallery coordinator, joined me for a stretch to Crystal City when along with Daruka and Billy we accidentally stumbled upon a graduation ceremony. Grads and friends were gathered in the street. Gals in pretty dresses and guys in suits took notice of the unusual team that we were. It then became an exchange of mutual congratulations.

What a glorious day. The last few kilometres I tackled solo, but I wasn’t alone, a trillion mosquitoes accompanied me.

32 KM

Thursday, June 20th, 2013
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Slightly Naïve

Manitou, Manitoba

She was slightly naïve, but definitely gigglish, and not sure what to ask. “Do you eat?” is what she blurted out embarrassingly.

Most people out here have rarely seen a monk, let alone meet someone on a passionate walk across the country and for a fourth time. It really made a difference that the Morden Times featured us on the front page of their weekly. We were supposed to have been well down the road by now since the interview with Andrew Pruden last week. Consequently the delay of Daruka’s moving worked in our favour. The newspaper just came out today when I was trekking on Highway 3. Suddenly everyone in the Pembina district was informed.

That’s why I’m out here, to clarify my being and purpose for being in this area. Not everyone has to follow the rank and file conventions. You can say it is possible to be a non conformist to ‘the system’. I said to the young teen with the inquisitive question, “Yes, I eat and very well on a veggie diet with a lifestyle of self discipline. It means simple living and high thinking. It addresses taking care of the soul as well as the body. Both she and her boyfriend next to her were all smiles. And for that last stroll I could hear the honking of horns and for the more subdued approach, a wave of the hand that demonstrated approval.

Both Daruka and I are in bliss about the response from what we perceived could be a conservative area – Winkler, Morden and Manitou. One last mention, where in the world do you find a place on Earth which is named after the Great Spirit, or God? That’s what is meant by Manitoba – Manitou.

38 KM

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013
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Winnipeg, Manitoba

I had my eye on a green space off of Portage Avenue where I blazed a trail. Daruka confirmed this would be a good place. It’s called Vimy Ridge Park, this place would do for a kirtan, a chanting session tonight.

After an early jaunt beginning at 2 AM, I wanted to prolong my long stay in Winnipeg with a little party. The best party is sankirtan, outreach chanting, only we will do it on the grass. It was last minute, yet Daruka, Vrinda and I pulled together a spontaneous get together in the evening where casual walkers browse and use valuable time.

We laid out some imitation grass mats imported from Sri Lanka, placed our harmonium mrdanga drum, karatals (and cymbals) and a bowl of fruit on top before plopping ourselves. The ceremony began, people took notice, some stopped for the sound, some to see the exotic instruments and us, and some were charmed by Billy, our Amazon parrot. Our message is, “We are doing kirtan. It’s an ancient system for calming the mind. It has roots in India. Join us if you like.” And some people would because it’s all attractive. Either Vrinda or I take the lead on singing. She ambles her fingers on the harmonium’s keyboard. Daruka keeps the simple ‘ching ching ching’ sound on karatals, and I maintain tempo on drum. We are not professionals, but devotionals, and that’s what really counts in the end.

You have people walk away with fruit, a smile, a friend made and a tad closer to what’s Divine.

28 KM