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Time to say good Braai! – Final Day in South Africa

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January 5th, 2009

 Nash prepareing the Braai marinade. Yogini and Nash dicuss the proper way to Braai

Our last concert completed, we woke the next morning to face our final day in South Africa. As with every day, the sun rose high in the clear blue sky. One of the best things about such reliable good weather, is being able to do so much outside. As a final farewell, our hosts were going to introduce us to one of the most popular South African outdoor activities – the braai! Basically a barbecue, but with a much more catchy Afrikaans name, we’d been anticipating it for our entire trip. Gaura spent a few moments each day practicing shouting ‘BRAAI!’ with just the right macho Afrikaner intonation (with success)!

Preparations started early. One by one, cooks arrived – Nash in charge of marinades, Prema Sindhu prabhu in charge of cooking kebabs, Alysha helping everywhere possible – as the saying goes, many hands made light work. It was a weekday, but many who worked nearby ducked out for a few hours to come and have ‘the last supper’ with us.

Just before eating, we were surprised and touched to receive farewell gifts from our friends Hladini and Alysha. They’d both been driving us everywhere and taking care of every need, but they still put effort into such a generous gesture.

One delicious feast and two kirtans later, it was time to load up the cars and brave the traffic. We wrote messages and signed T-shirts together hastily for everyone not coming to the airport. Scraps of paper with scribbled email addresses were exchanged, accompanied by promises to return. We delayed leaving for as long as we could, but finally we had no choice but to go – otherwise we really would be staying in South Africa!

At the airport there was a quick scramble to get the American crew on their flight. We all waited in the check in line with them, making up a group of almost twenty! The airport staff were unamused. As more devotees arrived to say goodbye to us, they frustratedly told us to get out of the line if we weren’t flying!  There was no time for another long, drawn out goodbye. Abruptly, we were split up and we sadly waved to Gaura, Rasa, Vrinda, the kids and Vrinda’s father, Annutama prabhu.

My flight back to London left a few hours later, but almost everyone stayed with me, just so I didn’t have to be at the airport alone. As ever, I was impressed and moved by the characteristic kindness of the South African devotees.  It is said that there are six kinds of loving exchanges by which one builds and nurtures relationships. During our time in South Africa, I really felt I’d experienced a perfect illustration of this. Offering and receiving food and gifts, sharing our thoughts and feelings with deep trust, and most importantly, chanting together, after only ten days, we felt as if we were family. As I walked through the barrier, watched by caring faces, I felt unbelievably lucky.  I suddenly realised that wherever the chanting of Krishna’s name is found, such kindness, generosity and love are automatically present.  The joy of kirtan unites us in every moment shared – as kindred spirits.

Jahnavi Harrison plays Carnatic violin and sings in As Kindred Spirits. When not going to university, she travels the world painting and performing and tracking it all in her blog: The Little Conch.
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