Preaching in Mid-Air


USA — “Is it Sai Baba?” a bold voice questioned me over my shoulder aboard the Cathay Pacific flight from Sydney to Hong Kong. I lifted my head out of the book I was reading and turned my face towards the speaker to find a tall lady dressed in official attire with a pleasing personality, who stood indicating at the ring on my second finger. The lady seemed Chinese. Instantly I replied, “No, it’s of my spiritual master.” I could read the blank look on her face as she repeated, “Who?”

As a preacher I often look forward to indulging in such conversations. To make things easier for her to understand I quoted the phrase, “Hare Krsna” and now that sounded familiar to her. But she had no clue to its philosophy and she seemed interested.

The book in my hand was the best thing I thought at that time to make her aware of the message I wanted to give. The book I had grabbed to read on flight, though read many times always inspiring me, was “Your Ever Wellwisher” with Srila Prabhupada’s picture on the cover. She took the book from my hand and stared at the back page of the cover as if reading through the gist of the novel. Then looking at me she introduced herself, saying she was Wendy Lease, the flight manager for Cathay Pacific. She resided in Hong Kong and she often traveled far and wide to inspect Cathay flights.

I appreciated her intelligence, both in the material sphere as well as in the spiritual (seeing her interest in me). In the meantime I also introduced myself briefing her and my family, and about my attire and the makeup (the tilaka and neck beads). This intrigued her. She now sat on her knees in the slim passage in between the two rows of the seats. The plane was all packed on this side of her, with all seats occupied. Wendy said that she had passed across me many times during her inspection, as it was a 9 hour flight, and she said my appearance attracted her to halt to talk to me. Strictly no self-glorification (all Guru and Krsna’s mercy), to her I looked pretty and unlike other co-passengers, serene and calm.

I gave all the credit to the man on the cover, the Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness. She was now fascinated with Srila Prabhupada. Her interest overtook the discomfort she was going through with sitting on her knees in the passage, frequently rising up to give way to other passengers and the moving food and drink trolleys.

She patiently listened to the spiritual doctrine put forth in Bhagavad Gita. She even went ahead in going through a power point presentation in my laptop on the scripture, not paying any attention to the rows of people from various nationalities including Australians, Irish, French and even Indians wondering what was going on. It was for nearly two hours she engrossed herself into such a grave discussion.

Wendy disclosed that she had no children and was glad when I gave her the ‘darshan’ of ‘Bal Gopal’ on my computers; it simply stole her heart. She now longed to have the picture, which I promised to mail her soon.

An announcement by the pilot took our attention; broke the spell of the divine aura. She had to now bid goodbye to me as now her duty demanded her, as the plane was about to land in a short while. With a promise to be in touch we exchanged email id’s and hugged lovingly.

The plane landed at Hong Kong and I had to rush to the exit door and the connecting flight to New Delhi; my destination was about to leave in half an hour. At the exit door was standing my dear friend, Wendy Lease, with other air hostesses giving farewell smiles. As she saw me approaching she said “Hare Krishna” with a big grin on her face. I asked to have a picture with her to which she nodded her head, and one of her juniors jumped ahead and took the camera from my hand and clicked that memorable picture with a friend made in mid-air.

I boarded the next plane smiling to myself, with my day being made.