By Danavira Goswami
In college my motto was “Success,” and my main ambition was simply to enjoy life. My grandfather had confided once to me that “Money is God.” I wasn’t sure about that, but neither was I sure about God. I evolved to agnosticism. One warm Friday evening, June 9 1970, as I strolled through the campus village, I heard someone call my name. I looked around and didn’t see anyone I knew. Continuing on my way, I heard someone call again. I focused on the only possible source of the sound a saffron-robed, shaven-headed, bespectacled man about my age standing alone between a restaurant and a cinema. Somewhat startled, I answered, “Yes?” to which he replied, “Don’t you recognise me?” Straining to get a closer look, I realised who it was. “Beard! Beard, is that you?” I cried. “It’s me,” he said reassuringly. Bob Searight was his real name; Beard was the nickname he’d caught during his volleyball career at UCLA for sporting an extraordinary long black beard. I had just completed my third year, and he had graduated the year before in engineering. His way of life had been awfully similar to mine; in fact, I had last seen him six months before at the beach with two girlfriends. “What in the world happened to you?” I asked. “I joined the Hare Krishna movement three months ago,” he said. “My God, I don’t believe it!” I responded candidly.