From the early days in Germany
Being absorbed in book distribution, we were hesitant to return to the temple, even for weekends. To stay out on Sunday provided a special challenge, as even today Sunday is a day where hardly any shops are open. Everything freezes to the sounds of bells being rung in empty churches, and the Germans retreat to their flats and gardens to once again cut their lawns precisely, so that no blade of grass can grow without the permission of the well-organized owners.
The neighbors compete over who has the latest gardening machinery and who has the best polished car. They cannot wait until they again pile up in traffic jams on the highways on Monday, heading for their assigned places, eagerly to work hard for the increase of the German national product. The signs above the entrances of the concentration camps announced to the incoming Jews: Arbeit Macht Frei — “Work liberates you.”
And so on such days, looking at the empty streets, I decided, along with my godbrother Haraka, to park our car in front of the concrete block living area and go door to door. Being well trained, we started our distribution at the top level, knowing that the housekeeper of the facility usually lives at the bottom, ready to throw us out. To get into such a living complex wasn’t easy, as all the doors were locked and guarded by intercom. My godbrother developed for this purpose amazing mantras. He was expert to get in by any means.
When asked at the loudspeaker who he is, he boldly replied, “Post,” meaning that the postman arrived. People opened instantly, and when catching the sight of him, Haraka introduced himself with a big smile: “Hello, my name is Post. At this time ,the surprised residents couldn’t help but laugh, and they forgot how he made his way to their flat.
And so we went door to door, giving out quite some number of books. When we arrived at the exit door again, we saw a police car parking in front of the entrance. There was no way to escape. They spotted us. And so we went out, just to be stopped by them instantly.
“What are you doing here”, they asked. “Oh, we just visited a friend, “was our answer. They didn’t believe us at all. To our amazement suddenly many of the windows of the large building went open and the local inhabitant waved at the police with the same books in their hands that we had distributed to them a few minutes ago while calling in a vicious manner: “Yes, they were here! They were here!”
The police officers looked at us and said calmly: “Get into the car”. We knew that from now on it’s going to be complicated. To be driven to a police station always meant lots of paperwork, followed possibly by some court case. This wasn’t just a routine ID-card control.
We drove for quite a while. We started to wonder where the police were taking us, as it was not customary to be driven for such a long distance. Nobody spoke to us one word. Finally we arrived at the small police station and we walked in. As soon the three policemen closed the door, they turned to us and said: “Show us all the books.” We emptied our sankirtan bags, and they started to go through one book after another. Then the chief turned to us and asked: “How much do you want for all this”.
We relaxed. We sold to them practically all the books we had. Finally they told us that they heard on the police scanner that some people called, complaining about our Sunday sales. Pretending to be close by and “go there and check it out,” they drove all that distance just to get to the house we distributed in, take us in custody, and get to the books. They were very happy to get them all, drove us back, and wished us the best for further book distribution. The only advice they gave us on the way was: “Don’t go to the same building again.”
We surely followed that instruction. 🙂