I arrived in Alachua late on Sunday morning after setting off from Mexico on Saturday afternoon. It was a bit of a marathon, I was traveling for about 19 hrs. including transits in LA and Charlotte.

 LAX was a bit of a scene. My own fault because I didn’t read my ticket carefully enough. I had a three hour transit so I thought I had plenty of time. The Alaska airlines flight from Mexico came in 20 mins. early into terminal 3. I looked at my ticket and headed for the United terminal 7. I had to walk about a kilometer with my bags on a trolly. When I got there they had a special check-in for paper tickets because most people now get electronic ones.

They were badly understaffed and incompetent and I had to wait in a line nearly an hour. Then when I got to the check-in the agent pointed out that my ticket was United, ‘being serviced by US Airways’–and US Airways were in a completely different terminal, on the other side of the airport. I had to rush out with all my bags, catch a shuttle to terminal 1 and then check-in with US Air. Fortunately they were not busy, but it was close.

The 5 hr. night flight was smooth and I slept most of the way, something I can’t normally do on over-nighters. Then 3 hrs. transit in Charlotte and a 1 hr. flt. to Gainesville. Pleasant surprise though on arrival. Pushkar prabhu met me at the airport and brought me to the farm. He is the same old loveable grouch, funny and witheringly witty. And still pumping out his excellent oils of Krsna-lila.

I was put up in the guest quarters on the farm. Formerly owned by Sadaputa prabhu’s branch of the BI it was bought by Ambarish prabhu some years ago and donated for guest accomodations. Its a large trailer style house, spacious with kitchen and I was given a private room with attached bath. That’s always appreciated. When you travel you need a bit of private space, and especially when you have your own deity with you. Mine of course, is Srila Prabhupada and his tooth.

I was surprised to find my old friend from England and Mayapur Kalyapani prabhu was staying in the same building. He’s been in the Alachua community about 3 years. He was in good spirits and health. He has to be: he earns a small living cutting trees and he keeps the grounds up on the farm. He showed me a couple of chain saws that he swings from branch to branch with as he trims the trees–no small feat for a man in his fifties.

 I gave the Sunday feast class. Attendence was only about half of the normal because it poured with rain in the late afternoon, the first decent rain fall they have had for many months. I saw a lot of old faces- Adideva and wife, Toshan Krsna, Ranjit, Mukhya dd, Devavrata, Parijata dd, Vidyananda, Kesihanta, Tamohara and I was happily surprised to see another old and dear friend, Jagat Purusha. He was visiting his daughter for a few days so we had a bit of a reunion. I hadn’t seen him for quite a few years.

 During the week I gave the morning and evening classes and they were well received, although it seemed that not so many came to the Monday evening class. Then I found out several hundred listen to it on the internet and they also broadcast it with a live video feed. There are more people listening at home than at the temple. The marvels of modern technology, although it did strike me that perhaps its also a bit impersonal. Kind of like virtual sat-sanga. Book sales went well, and I sold five full sets of TD, so I was happy with that.

One afternoon I visited with Pancaratna prabhu to discuss fund raising for the Archives and the same evening I showed the Archives ppt. at the temple. The Archives has to develop a good donor base if it is to continue its operations and my humble attempt at helping them includes making presentations as I travel around. Pancaratna prabhu organizes the ‘Friends of The BBT’ and we are trying to tie up the Archives with FotBBT.

 One problem I have had to deal with is a faulty DVD drive on my new Toshiba laptop. I got it in late January on the internet from Circuit City but the drive has never worked properly. It won’t play anything unless you re-boot the computer. I live in Mayapur so I had to wait till I came to America to try and fix it. I spent an hour on the phone with a Toshiba technician and initially it seemed it was a software problem. But no such luck. And because I am not in any one place for more than a few days, its unlikely I will be able to get it fixed until I get back to Kolkata on August 21.

I had a back massage at Rasatala’s Ayurvedic clinic one morning. He’s got a nice setup in ‘downtown’ Alachua and it helped. My back is gradually easing off, mainly because I am keeping off my feet.

 Another great feature of Alachua is the size of the community there. I got invited for lunch everyday and enjoyed excellent company and prasadam.  Mukhya mataji invited myself, Laksmi Nrsimha, Kirtiraja, Dhruva Maharaja, Purushartha, Sesa and Caturatma prabhus and cooked a fantastic meal for us.

At Laksmi Nrsimha’s house I shared another wonderful repast with yet another devotee whom I had not seen for a very long time, Mandalesvara prabhu; and Yadubara prabhu who had just arrived.

Then at 5.30 PM I went over to Dharmatma’s for yet another dinner with he, his wife and youngest son Devala, who came up from Orlando for the day. Devala has a scholarship at a university based on his soccer skills as a goal-keeper. He’s 6′ 4″ and a young man whom any parent would be proud of. He is doing well with his studies as well as his soccer and could well turn professional (for the doubters, don’t forget that Srila Prabhupada was the goalie for his school team!).

I also found time to spend two hours with Sadaputa prabhu. I hadn’t seen him since 1995. We worked together on a proposed science museum project in 1991, after he published his book Vedic Cosmology. He was very friendly in his own unique way and we had a good discussion about the Mayapur planetarium. He was integral with the TOVP in the 1990s but when things stalled there his involvement also faded. He’s still keen to do the planetarium and he will be at the TOVP exhibits meeting on Tuesday 10 at Brahma Tirtha’s house.Nalini Kanta prabhu also invited me to speak at his weekly evening BG sessions which he holds at his house just adjacent to the temple property. He has a beautiful temple room and about 20 devotees were gathered, already having a shastra-meet, when I arrived. I decided to speak on ‘Writing’ and many devotees were entranced as I read out how Srila Prabhupada was personally instructed by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati, and also by Srila Rupa, Sanatana and Jiva Goswami’s as he was writing his commentaries at the Radha Damodar mandira in Vrndavana during the early 1960s.

As for the sessions in the main temple, I spoke on the topics of ‘Association’ – 2 hrs. and ‘Prasadam’ -five sessions of about 1 hr. each.  I visited Ijya at Krishna.com and gave him some video stuff to start selling, and they will also be selling the CDs of the seminars that are available here on lotusimprints.com by download.

Yadubara came in on Thursday June 5 and premiered his latest DVD 7 on his acclaimed series “Following Srila Prabhupada.” If you haven’t got one yet, get one as soon as you can. Its real nectar. He’s doing a fabulous job of preserving Srila Prabhupada through the visual and audio medias and deserves everyone’s support.

Caturatma prabhu, the Alachua TP has been taking really good care of me making the arrangements for my health, transport, book sales and accomodations. He’s as lively as ever and the community is pretty nice (although I did a bit of a double take one morning when I looked around, saw all these aging, grey haired persons and realized that they were all my contemporarys!) The Deities of Sri Sri Radha Shyamasundara, the carving of which incidently my wife Sitala arranged for and supervised, are well looked after with beautiful clothes and a steady roster of devotees to serve Them.

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