Randos, Beaches, Violins


I’ve been thinking more about loneliness recently.  As I mentioned in my last post, there are six billion people on the planet.  If you’re lonely, go and make friends!  I spoke about my friend Aaron in my last post.  I met him last winter on the Red Line subway.  I asked him, out of the blue, what he was studying and he said he was in a dual med school/PhD cohort.  So I recited for him, also out of the blue, one of my favorite passages from Sir Thomas Browne’s Religio Medici:

“I have resolved to pray more, and to pray always, to pray in all places where quietness inviteth- in the house, on the highway and on the street, and to know no street or passage in the city that may not witness that I have not forgotten God.”

Aaron was very impressed, both by my recitation and the beauty and depth of Sir Thomas Browne’s words.  Believe it or not, Sir Thomas Browne’s essays are funny, whimsical and very deep.  We know that America’s greatest novelist, Herman Melville, lived in the Civil War/Gilded Age era, but many scholars consider him to be a Renaissance writer, along with Shakespeare and Andrew Marvell.  This is because he is Sir Thomas Browne’s only disciple in posterity.  Please read Religio Medici, if you can.

Anyway, I got Aaron’s phone number, and now we text and chat and go to dinner and museums, we commiserate over each other’s struggles.  I made a new friend.  Do not allow social media to atomise you.  We all need real connection.  That’s what E.M. Foster said: “Only connect.”  It is so true.  Just connect.

As I mentioned earlier, I call my program of meeting random people and making friends with them “Dinner with Rando” because, after our initial connection, I invite them out to cheap ethnic restaurants and we talk.  “Rando” just means someone you don’t know, although it has a somewhat derogatory connotation- like someone who shows up uninvited to social occasions.  Anyway, another “rando” who is now my friend, Tom, has been very inspired by the poems I have recited to him and sent to him over the past few months, so he sent me one of his poems that he has just written:


“There are three things one can do

To grow their neck:

One: look down in prayer

And grow long like the willow.

Two: Look up at the sky like

A flower opening

To the sun.

Three: Hold your head high.”

I told Tom that I am so grateful and honored that these poems have inspired him to discover the poet in himself.

There’s a group of late middle-aged, Catholic men I have grown close to at my college gym.  They’re all businessmen who’ve been quite successful, but now they are tired.  They very much appreciate when I recite Guru’s poems for them.  I was sitting with my friend Nick at the college juice bar.  He is a businessman in his early sixties.  He asked me to recite Sri Chinmoy’s poems, and he gave me a list of four topics, and I just recited and recited for him while he meditated.


“Float with the current
If you have nothing to give.
Float with the current
If you have only to dance aimlessly.

Float not with the current
If you have something to give.
Float not with the current
If you have something to give unreservedly.”


“When the son grows old,
His parents’ love does not diminish.
When the sun disappears
Behind the screen of evening-night,
Our love does not diminish.
Absence of beauty’s light
Light’s beauty
Can never take away
Our power of realisation-love.”

Sri Chinmoy, Sound becomes. Silence is, Agni Press, 1975

“Not to swerve from the path of truth
You saw the light of day.

To serve man and become perfect
You saw the light of day.

To become the Satisfaction-silence of God
You saw the light of day.”


Afterwards he thanked me and told me he had recently ordered, from Ganapati Press, volume V of Sri Chinmoy’s poetry and had begun studying it.  He told me I was a great help to him in his study because it’s easier to assimilate spiritual poetry when you hear it out loud.  I can only agree.

A few years ago I had a dream that I was walking by Chicago’s lake shore, by the outer hills that lead out onto the sandy beach.  Many homeless men camp out there in the night.  In my dream, it was early morning, and I saw a disheveled homeless Black man come out of his tent.  He was holding a battered violin case.  I watched, fascinated, as he put down the old case and took out a tattered violin.  He then leaned it on his shoulder and began to play a transcription of the opening movement of Bach’s first cello suite.  The notes were shaky and bedraggled, but I could recognize the piece.  Somewhat hesitantly, I went up to him.

“What are you?” I asked randomly.

He looked at me and said, “I am an unconditional Smile.”

He paused and then said, “I am an absolute Smile.”

After another brief silence he said, “I am an endless and eternal Smile.”

I fell to the ground and clutched and kissed His Feet, for I knew I was in the presence of an emanation of my Lord, Sri Chinmoy.  Like Babalu-Aye, the derelict cripple of the Yoruba mythology who bestows Compassion on mankind, so my Guru takes many humble forms to inspire and uplift the world.

On 26 August 2021, the day before I was to leave for New York to recite the one thousand poems from the Wings of Light, I was walking back from the grocery store when an elderly homeless Black man crossed in front of me pushing a shopping cart full of junk.  He was wearing a beaten up top hat and a scarf, in spite of the hot weather.  I immediately dropped my groceries and folded my hands.  The man turned to me and gave me a cryptic smile and waved four or five times, enthusiastically.  I knew, and he knew that I knew.

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3 thoughts on “Randos, Beaches, Violins”

  1. Hi Mahiruha, nobody believed me in when I stood in front of the driveway, waiting for someone, when I saw a beggar man walking towards me. He stopped walking looking around and to Annam Brahma, turning around a bit in Guru’s inimitable way and watching the ongoings at the gate that leads to the court. He was wearing a very long dark-red coat and it seemed he was wondering why nobody recognised him. When I told the girls in Annam Brahma what I had just wittnessed, they laughed at me saying friendly I was showing off. But I didn’t.

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