More on Gopa and Kisori…
Today I was thinking of the first time I ate at Gopa and Kisori’s. It was 2001 and for some reason I was up from New Vrindavan, spending a weekend at their house. They were gracious hosts even then.
Excited to have me over for prasadam, they pulled out their Kurma cookbook and proceeded to take an hour and half to make pasta with tomato sauce. The time passed slowly. My hunger increased quickly. I had never seen two people take such a long time to cook such a simple meal. I felt so embarrassed.
At the time, Gopa and Kisori were Karl and Kelly, uninitiated and still pretty new to Krishna Consciousness. They had been introduced to the devotees about 4 years earlier but were becoming much more serious around the time that I happened to visit.
Their enthusiasm to serve the devotees, even a meager, fallen pretender like myself, was evident then. Karl and Kelly opened up Kurma’s cookbook, broke open a fresh container of hing and set to work cooking the most time consuming, basic, devotional, delicious meal I had been served.
Spices, herbs and salt were irrelevant. As far as I recall, the taste of the prasadam was probably not an exact reproduction from Kurma’s Kitchen. The taste was love in the form of hospitality and sincerity in service. Such love is usually reserved for gurus and sannyasis and other spiritually elevated personalities. And here I was, unfit to recieve any service, recieving the royal treatment. Truly embarrassing.
Coincidentally, my birthday fell at that time and as a present they gave me a framed photo of Srila Prabhupada chanting with the devotees. This black and white photo has travelled with me to New Vrindavan, Tucson, Philadelphia, Hillsborough and Gita Nagari. Worn and stuck to the glass, never changed out of that original frame, the photo endures as a testimony of a hometown aquaintance reborn as a spiritual friendship. Prabhupada’s mercy, caught on film, encased in glass, passed from soul to soul, stays with me.
This special birthday gift, one of the few I have ever recieved as a devotee, from devotees, is not a token or a momento or a relic. These words seem to conjure plastic images of broken pieces of some sentimental value. Or historic snapshots of dated cobwebs, fragile and easily broken. Instead, this photo of Srila Prabhupada and the devotees dancing and chanting, given to me by Gopa and Kisori, is simply an attachment.
At different times of my life the prominence of both varies. Moved from my North Carolina kitchen to my Gita Nagari laundry room, the photograph appears to have been relegated to a lesser space in my house. However, this hierarchy of rooms is purely artificial since I spend almost as much time in the laundry room as I do in the kitchen. And my friendship with Gopa and Kisori has ebbed and waned over the years, mainly due to my geographical locale; they’ve remained in the same house while I’ve lived as close to them as 15 minutes and as far away as a five day drive.
But the basis of these attachments is spiritual. An attachment to the image and an attachment to the friendship.
Neither of which can ever be lost.