Chapter 41: St. Moritz, St. Hellish
Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca 41
St. Moritz, St. Hellish
While in Bombay, a senior disciple showed Śrīla Prabhupāda an appealing post- card of Saint Moritz with its colorful wildflowers and rolling green meadows. It was beautiful. One devotee suggested to Śrīla Prabhupāda to stop and rest there during his long trip from Bombay to New York. Śrīla Prabhupāda had been traveling quite briskly, spending no more than six or seven days in each location. Stopping in Saint Moritz appeared to be a gallant proposal.
Another motive to disembark at Saint Moritz, however, was gold speculation. A few senior men were thinking of fortifying ISKCON's reserves by investing in gold before the price was deregulated. Zurich was just the place to invest in gold bullion. Śrīla Prabhupāda nipped the idea in the bud.
When we arrived in Saint Moritz, a popular ski resort, snow lay on the ground as far as the eye could see. The hotel had a central lobby with an elevator and our lodging was a spacious three bedroom condominium, complete with a kitchen. The large living- room had sliding glass doors leading to a verandah with a fantastic view of the snow-covered mountains. By the standards of many it was breathtaking, but not to Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Śrīla Prabhupāda was very regulated. It never mattered where we were. His life continued like clockwork and his schedule remained constant.
One morning Śrīla Prabhupāda put on his warm saffron-hooded coat and prepared for his morning walk.
"We will go for a walk," he said. "Shall we see how cold it is?"
Since we were on the ground floor, His Divine Grace opened the sliding glass door to walk onto the verandah which led to the great outdoors. Suddenly a whistling blast of ice cold air filled the entire condominium. It was blizzard-like.
"Ooohhh, this is much too cold!" Śrīla Prabhupāda exclaimed with his eyes opened wide.
Whenever I witnessed these childlike expressions, my heart melted with joy. Śrīla Prabhupāda exuded the innocence of a child. While most disciples experienced his powerful, determined preaching, I felt fortunate to see Śrīla Prabhupāda's face light up with endearing, intimate expressions.
"We will walk in the hallway inside the building," he said.
A little arctic blast wasn't going to interfere with Śrīla Prabhupāda's morning walk. So, His Divine Grace, Pradyumna and I headed for the hallway. This presented a different set of problems, though. The resort was designed to operate with very little energy waste. When the hall sensors detected someone's presence, the lights would turn on for a specific amount of time and then quickly turn off again. As we walked up and down the corridor we were required to push various buttons along the way to keep the lights from going out. Otherwise, we would have been walking in the dark.
Pradyumna eventually went back into the apartment. Śrīla Prabhupāda and I continued to walk up and down the hallway. I ran from button to button pushing and chanting, pushing and chanting. This went on for about half an hour.
"The cold weather has given me an appetite," Śrīla Prabhupāda then said. "You can go in and make me some halavah."
"All right, Śrīla Prabhupāda," I replied still concerned about the button pushing. "Do you want me to wait until after your walk or should I go now?"
Śrīla Prabhupāda humorously retorted, "No, I will walk. You can go make the halavah."
We always loved when Śrīla Prabhupāda had an appetite. It was a joy to cook for him. When I went in, I said to the others, "Śrīla Prabhupāda is still walking in the hall. Someone needs to go out and push the buttons to keep the lights on for him."
We all peeked out the door to see Śrīla Prabhupāda chanting, walking and pushing the buttons to keep the lights on. It was quite humorous.
Jai Śrīla Prabhupāda!