(Click on photo to see a larger image of Srila Prabhupada walking alone in the streets of America.)
"To cross the Atlantic Ocean took ten days. This great sea is usually full of storms and fog and is very disturbing. But by the mercy of Krishna, there was no disturbance. The captain of the ship, the main officer, told me, 'This kind of quiet Atlantic I have never seen in my life.' I told them that this is only by Krishna's mercy, nothing else. After the troublesome storm in the Arabian Sea, I knew that if I had had to face a storm like that again, I would die.
I am thinking that the preaching will be very good here. I am lecturing -- some days for an hour and some days for one half-hour. The people of America are now tasting some new thing. This is the first time I have come to a foreign country, crossing twelve thousand miles. All here are outcastes (not followers of the varnasrama-dharma system) yet I am never afraid to speak in front of them. For the first time in my life I delivered a speech in a church. The main thing is that I am alone and I am in my old age. Because of this, crossing twelve thousand miles in a ship, I became very sick. I crossed the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean. I passed through Asia, Europe and Africa. I crossed these oceans and seas and became so sick. Due to my request, they served me vegetarian meals on the ship, yet I could not take them. I fasted continuously for eight to ten days. The pitta (fire) increased so much in my body thus I suffered terribly from colic pain.
Afterwards, the captain of the ship purchased an electric stove for me in Port Said. I then cooked for myself and took prasada. If they hadn't managed this stove for me, maybe there would have been no possibility of me reaching America. I could have died on the way, but instead Krishna mercifully brought me here. Why Krishna has brought me here, only He knows.
It is very expensive here. One room I found in the YMCA has a weekly rent of fifty-five rupees. This is a very, very expensive country. The laborers earn more than gentlemen in India. They are paid eighty to eighty-five or ninety rupees daily. Everybody has a motor car, since all the offices and markets are very far away. Every civilized person has one car, which costs ten thousand rupees each. In India that same car would costs fifty thousand rupees. People drive the cars themselves, they have no paid drivers to do it for them. Nor do they keep servants. There are lakhs and lakhs of motor cars. When I came from New York to Butler, I saw that on two lanes, for five hundred miles there was a solid line of cars. There was no need of electric lights because there were so many cars. At night in the city the shops are lit up and it appears like daytime. There are so many bridges and flyovers (overpasses) that the cars never need to pass each other on narrow roads. Every motor car is generally going not less than fifty miles per hour. Many houses are twenty-five to thirty stories high. In this neighborhood, there are cottages built on small plots. The people are very civilized, but they are ugra (high tempered, not polite or humble).
Today in New York, the Pope came. On television, everyone saw this. Television is an amazing thing. Just staying in one room, they can watch how the whole world is going on, and how they are all corresponding with each other. 'The days are passed in vain work and the nighttimes in sleep.' Here people are generally non-vegetarian. Without meat they can't eat anything. I have been taking muri (puffed rice) and peanuts with mustard oil. Somewhere I found mustard oil. Everything is available, but the price is so high. I purchased two hundred and fifty grams of mustard oil for five rupees. I had to travel to a shop twenty miles distant to get it."
(Srila Prabhupada letter, October 4, 1965)