I’m from wheat country. My family used to plant a thousand acres of wheat every year, so I grew up with wheat. It was part of my life. When I went out to expand my horizons, I’d meet people who had only seen wheat in a bread wrapper and didn’t know anything about it. It was a culture shock for me, but I got used to it. In July, when the wheat was ready to combine, Srila Prabhupada was sitting in a chair, when he looked at the field and said, “The wheat needs water? The wheat needs rain?” I’d been listening while the big shots had been talking to Prabhupada, but now Prabhupada was talking wheat, which is where I live. I could talk now. This was practically the only conversation I ever had with Prabhupada, and I disagreed with him. I said, “No, Prabhupada, it doesn’t need any rain. It’s ready to harvest, and you don’t want rain during harvest.” Then I realized where Prabhupada was coming from. He was saying that the crop was not good, that the crop was weak. Immediately, my respect for him went way up, because not only did he recognize that it was wheat (it sounds funny, but people often don’t know a wheat plant when they see it), but he knew it was a poor crop. That takes a bit of an eye. I could see that Prabhupada had some insight into wheat, and I said, “Yeah, we had an off year this year.” That was neat.
One of the local kids had a motorcycle and pulled into the driveway close to where Prabhupada was talking. The kid couldn’t see that there were a lot of people in the yard. He turned the motorcycle around, revved it up a bunch of times, and roared down the road back to his house. He was just a kid running up and down a quarter mile on the ridge road making his motorcycle go “rrrmmm, rrrmmmm, rrrmmmm,” the way a kid does. He was going back and forth making a lot of noise, peeling out, and heading down the road. Every time he’d come we’d have to stop talking because it was so loud until he left. Finally Kuladri said, “Maybe I should ask him to stop.” Prabhupada said, “Oh, don’t. If you ask him to stop he’ll just do it more.” I thought that was insightful into the way teenagers think.
Before Prabhupada came in 1974, there was no support from anywhere for New Vrindavan. We were literally eating weeds. We didn’t even eat rice. White rice was a Sunday feast item. There wasn’t much money, but some construction projects were going on. For every penny that came in we were always trying to decide, “Gee, how should we spend it?” So when Prabhupada was scheduled to come, the question was, “We want to do the right thing for the Guru. Which is more important, to use money to push on the project or to rent a nice vehicle for Prabhupada to ride in?” The only vehicles we had were junky trucks. Nobody had a nice vehicle. This question went back and forth for a couple of weeks, and finally the “rent-a nice-vehicle-for-Prabhupada party” won. When Prabhupada arrived at the airport, we drove a nice airport rental car over to pick him up. I opened the car door for him, he got in the car, and the car wouldn’t start. The devotees had already driven this car to the arrival area, but when Prabhupada got in, it was completely dead. They messed with it for fifteen minutes, but nothing. It turned out that some devotee’s brother was at the airport with a car, and Prabhupada drove to New Vrindavan in that. I thought it was funny how Krishna intervened. We performed the sacrifice for the Guru but still got to keep the money for construction projects. There’s always a logical explanation for anything, but to me that was a little miracle.