800 miles, 20 years – 1

Balaji Temple, Aurora, IL

Balaji Temple, Aurora, IL

700 miles, 20 years back in time. Such was the journey. I was in Chicago for two weeks to train our new Digital Analysts. This was my first time teaching for longer than couple of hours. The
class full of bright graduates, most of them just out of college. I had thought it would be a challenge going through the two weeks and teaching a few things a bit technical. However it turned
out to be an enjoyable time and a learning time for me as well. Looking across the high-tech classroom and meeting a pair of bright eyes every bit of an eye scan reminded me where I myself
am. I had started out taking courses and classes listening to those who had imparted knowledge and skills onto me. Now it was my turn teaching, influencing and inspiring.

The first week passed bywith lots of excitement and soon it was Friday afternoon. I had given a little thought to what I could do on my weekend. There was the Aurora temple I could visit and then maybe some of the
closer suburbs and their main towns. I always have loved walking on the main streets with the man
colorful each different from the next town across America. But I knew that wouldn’t take all of
the weekend. Then there was Michigan and Des Plaines, two close places to me. It would mean a 200+
mile drive one way to the city and there would be more cities I would have to cover. I thought
that would be a lot of driving. Moreover, I wanted to visit these cities with my family.

Friday evening the local Enterprise guy picked me up from the Q-Center in St. Charles where our
training facility is. After signing the paperwork, I decided to drive to the Aurora temple. The
temple had many memories for us with frequent trips when our son was growing up. In Hindu
religion, a child’s first haircut is at the temple and the hair is offered to the deity. I don’t
know the significance of this but it was a tradition we had followed. As I drove to the city, I
passed by the CERN center which reminded me of the close ties he has with physics even now. The
suburbs of Chicago are sprawling with well planned wide roads and ample shopping. Even among these
I could see vast green fields. The sun was going down and it was a feast to see the tips of the
stalks glowing in the golden light.

2016-09-16_232030117_a06e4_iosI barely remembered the way the temple was. It had been much revamped with a new structure depicting the gita near the entrance. The whole campus was sprawling with a huge pond and a smaller one and the rest covered by a lush of green. The inside also seemed unfamiliar, it was very colorful and demonstrated the prosperity of the temple and of its devotees. There is a basement area dedicated to an auditorium and a cafeteria of sorts. There was so food being served at that time. I had darshan and sat for a while mulling our times here twenty years back. Our son was less than an year when we used to drive about 40 miles to the temple, him being in the baby seat and Ace-of-Base singing away Happy Nation. He was hooked to that song in particular and to the album. Those were times of high stress for me particularly having been new in a country so
vastly different from India. He and the weekends were definitely a source of relief. Thinking of those times makes me wonder how did I ever get past them and I feel fortunate to realize where I am today.

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