Her little house is not far away from the temple, in a quiet and peaceful residential area. Her husband was away on his job in Kiev, so we had plenty of space. A naturally kept garden surrounds her house and has a big pond which is inhabited by lots of frogs. Upon our arrival we were welcomed by a huge frogs' kirtan, which continued throughout the entire night. Fortunately my room was facing to the back of the house, so I was not disturbed by the noise.
Some nights their croaking was so intense - as if crying for their very life in utter desperation! The thought entered my mind that we should chant Hare Krishna with exactly such kind of intensity - like these frogs were tumultuously croaking. I could see a bubble coming out on each side of their cheeks, with which they could vibrate such loud noise. It almost looked like a child making a big bubble with a bubble gum. Krsna had engineered an amazing little body with the perfect facilities to make such loud noise. I was almost a little envious of their strong voices - as preachers we often struggle with a chronic voice problem....
There were also two cats patrolling the pond and performing their playful pastimes, and lots of birds were inhabiting the big trees flanking the banks of the pond.
It was very hot during the day - always around 35 or more Degrees. Ukraine has very hot summers and very cold winters. In the early morning of our last day we went to the nearby Black Sea and took a refreshing swim. We were not the only ones who had this idea - already at 6am the beach was quite crowded. I almost felt sorry that we had not gone for a swim every morning...
So the principles are universal and have to be preserved. But the details might vary according to time, place and circumstance.
In our Vaisnava culture it is a clearly established principle that a woman should be viewed as mother. Canakya Pandit says it, and Srila Prabhupada says it many times throughout the Bhagavatam and in his lectures. The fact that Prabhupada addressed some of his lady disciples as 'Prabhu' is however a detail - according to time, place and circumstance. Unless we clearly distinguish between principles and details, it can easily happen that we take a detail and try to establish it as a principle. In this example it would mean that just because Prabhupada sometimes addressed women in this way, we establish it as a universal principle that every woman should be seen and addressed as Prabhu. But no - the more we have developed the recommended vision of seeing every woman as mother, the more we want to address her in such way.
The same is there with the principle of woman's protection by her father, husband and son. This principle has to be maintained, since it is Krsna's system for protection. Of course, the ultimate protector is Krsna and Srila Prabhupada. Nevertheless, Krsna advises that a living man should protect a woman. If we dismiss this good advice, we cannot be surprised if so many unwanted things will happen to us women. How exactly the principle of protection is lived might differ according to time, place and circumstances. In former days a woman would never travel alone, because traveling meant walking - there were no planes, trains or busses. So naturally a woman would never walk long distances without the protection of a man. Nowadays traveling looks a little different, and often it simply means that devotees take us to the airport, and devotees receive us at the destination. Although recently even flying has become more dangerous also. The protecting role of the father, husband and son might also be accepted by spiritual fathers and sons, understanding ISKCON as our extended family.
It is not always easy to distinguish between principles and details. It requires deep understanding of the topic, and maturity. And some details might maintain the principles more than others.
On the 27th of June devotees drove us to our next destination of Kishiniev in Moldova....
Your servant, Devaki dd