My years as a tongue speaker: Part 3 – Fire in the temple

Racing into the City, down 19th Avenue, left on Masonic, right on Stanyon, left on Fredrick, and right away I could see the fire trucks and smell the smoke. I parked just up the street next to old Kesar stadium (home of the 49ers pro football team), jumped out, and ran to the door of the Hindu temple.

Fire hoses snaked into the temple from the fire truck, and people were running in and out. The place was chaotic. I stepped back and saw, in foot-high letters painted on the walls, Christian phrases like “Jesus is the Way,” “Lord Jesus Christ,” and more.

As I began to move in the direction of the basement where most of the activity was happening, David suddenly appeared carrying bags of his personal belongings and shouted at me to take the bags he was carrying, so he could dart back down the stairs to the basement. In a moment he was back carrying more bags, then we ran out into the sidewalk and down the street to my car, into which we threw David’s few possessions. We hustled back to the temple, David disappeared again, and I simply stood in the middle of the room contemplating this place of the Kirtan rituals and studied once again the altar for the offerings to various Hindu gods.

Then I noticed a little cluster of Hare Krishna devotees huddled in the back behind and to the right of the altar near the kitchen, which had been the source of some really good Indian food I had eaten. The little group of former hippies turned Krishna worshipers moved toward me and began yelling at me. I was a young man, not big but not small, and I stood my ground and faced them. At that point David rushed by carrying more stuff. As I turned to follow him, two of the devotees grabbed me from behind and shoved me up against the door of the temple. One had his hands on my throat and was squeezing as hard as he could. I was about out of breath when a fireman came up behind them and swatted them away. I fell down gasping for breath, and saw the devotees lying around on the floor after their brief encounter with a San Francisco fire fighter. I quickly gathered myself up and headed out the door and up the street to the car. David was there inside, so I jumped in, wheeled down the street, and eventually made our arrival at Mill Valley and 10A Judson Lane, Golden Gate Seminary.

The adventure had only just begun.

Leave a Reply