As happens to me too often I went through a period during which I was very busy both with working for Faiths & Beliefs in Further Education (fbfe) and also with the various other things I get up to.
On the 30th of April I held my bi-annual fbfe London Region Forum. It was quite successful, and it is likely that things are going to be less hectic between now and September.
I had agreed to a first visit to Kingston College for the 1st of May, but I felt more like having a day off instead of going to yet another college to make my case for multi-faith activities.
It was a beautiful morning and I decided to leave early and pay a visit to the Kingston Gurdwara before going to the college. As there is no direct rail link between Kingston and Southall I took the 607 bus to Ealing and from Ealing the 65 bus to Eden Road in central Kingston. From there I took the K1 bus to the Guru Har Rai Gurdwara.
The only sangat present in the Gurdwara was a lady busy preparing langar. She asked me if I liked some ‘nasta’ and whether I wanted ‘chai’ or ‘dudh’. I sat down and enjoyed my parantha, sabzi and chai with chini (not khand). The lady either spoke Hindi or city Panjabi strongly influenced by Hindi.
The big advantage for me was that she used fewer nasal sounds and less high speed talking, so I could actually understand her and answer her in my version of Panjabi (you are allowed to laugh).
But my inadequacies in the field of understanding and speaking Panjabi are not the subject of this article. What I found was that by simply being in the Gurdwara, listening to the reading of the Guru Granth, enjoying my cup of tea and my bit of langar I calmed down, I relaxed and when I went to the Kingston College everything went really well.
The Gurdwara is to be a refuelling station where both physical and spiritual food is on offer. Even when no function takes place, when there is no kirtan, katha (and especially no extremely noisy dhadis) the Gurdwara is (should be) a place of peace.
Nobody needs to do anything very special, just treat all comers with respect, try to leave those that just want some peace and quiet alone, and sit down with those that need a listening ear.
What we do not need is sevadars that shout at each other, or even worse at the sangat. What we need even less is Prabandhaks fighting each other.