ITTLE COLORED LIGHTS were strung
all round the building. Inside was a smell of incense and a rhythmical murmur
of voices. He checked his sandals at the cloakroom and headed for the main
A couple of hundred people were sitting cross-legged
on rugs. He found a place five or six rows from the stage, near the aisle
that separated men from women. Musicians played sitar, sarod and tablas.
A swami led the crowd in a four-part musical chant.
"Aum, aaaauuuummmm," they sang, "Haa-ree
Kriishnaa." More quickly, "Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare
Hare." And as a descant, "Om Mane Padme Hum," repeated twice
for each call to Krishna. Once everyone was comfortable with a part, the
swami switched them. Faster and faster the changes came, higher and higher
the ecstasy, till one inspired, wordless soprano struck everyone else dumb
with awe, then melted into a silence that was resolved by a sitar chord
and another slow round.
He sat there for two hours, maybe three, then felt an
urge to move. He seemed to float out. He needed space. Out past the pink
and blue lights, he saw the moon, full over the ocean. He wandered towards
it, the sand caressing his toes, and turned back. The hotels of Miami Beach
stood before him, answering the moonlight with a thousand little homages.