Life I tried to avoid a Hare Krishna follower today. She approached me in the drizzle as I hammered up the road, Christmas shopping in my lunch hour.
"I'm in my lunch hour." I said.
"Talk to me!" She shouted.
By now I'm ten feet away.
"Please talk to me!" She pleads.
"I'm a non-denominational spiritualist!" I shout out of desperation. I mean it usually works ...
"What does that mean?"
I don't know! I want to shout back but I just smile from under my umbrella and carry on up the street.
I do whatever I have to do in the shop I was heading to, then I'm on my way back down the street towards her. I know she's there and I'm wondering if I should cross over the road like a coward. She spots me. We're toe-to-toe.
"It means," I say, the inevitability intoxicating, "That everyone is right somewhere along the line, and everyone is wrong somewhere along the line, and their's really no point fighting wars over it." Or stand in the drizzle holding a clipboard, I want to add but think better of it. I hope this is enough. I try to walk away.
"That's lovely." She says. She reaches for her bag... can I ...
"I've got to go." I'm feet away now.
"Say Gayatri..." She pleads.
"It's against my religion." I grin. What religion?
"You don't know what it means..." She shouts.
"What does it mean?" I shout back.
"I AM HAPPY!"
I smile again. I turn and walk away.
Apart from the fact that for once I actually stopped to talk because part of me wanted to ask her into the Starbucks nearby for their new EggNog Latte (I'm weak), I wonder who was suckered in this conversation. I've always had issues with people trying to imprint their own beliefs on others, and that includes the man who stands in Church Street with the megaphone telling me I'm going to hell. Any religions obviously wants to publicise themselves so that they can gain followers but perhaps the best policy is action rather than agenda. Wierdly, she may have been doing both.
I think I was trying to return the favour. Given a moment she would have fitted in a whole Google search's worth of Hare Krishna. I was doing something else with our time together. It was fairly clear that she'd spent the time I was in the shop trying to work out what a non-denominational spiritualist was, as though this thing I'd made up for such occasions when I want to encapsulate my odd don'tactuallyknowwhatthehellsgoingon-type feelings was something important she'd missed, right there in the others section of the census with Jedi. If I'd worked at it, could I have found my first follower, started my own cult, gone somewhere along the road to an organised religion? Probably not. But maybe she's there right now looking it up on the internet...
But the other arguement is that I played into her hands. I'm wondering what leads someone to stand about in the horrific weather we had this lunch time doing what she was doing, when she really looked like she could have really needed that EggNog Latte. She seemed so -- obsessed -- as though the only important thing she had was to get me to say the 'happy' word. And for whatever reason I smiled throughout and did walk away thinking that actually life is pretty good (Which it mostly is actually. No really. I'm not making it up), so was that what she was playing at? Probably not. But here I am writing about the encounter and mentioning the very word she couldn't get me to say. I even googled 'Hare Krishna' looking for it because I couldn't remember.
But I told you. I'm weak. And I'm wondering if it's possible to date someone if you agree not to mention the whole religion thing...