Racitambara dasi: My husband, Caitanya Simha, they had been working on the building of the L.A. temple and then it was finished. Then one day Srila Prabhupada called him up to his quarters and he said, “I’ve just received a call that we’ve just purchased a 13-story building in New York.” And he was explaining to my husband that it was an old nursing home and it was just a very old broken-down building and the whole bottom floor needed to be gutted and made into a temple room, and all the floors had to be repainted and scraped and sanded and it was just a tremendous amount of work, and he was asking my husband how long that would take. So my husband was working it all out and he was about to open his mouth to say, “Possibly we could do it within a year.” But just before he got that out, Srila Prabhupada looked at him and smiled and he said, “I am due to be in New York in six weeks.” And the next thing I knew, my husband came home and said, “Pack, we’re moving to New York in the morning,” and we did.
We started work immediately, and honestly in the six weeks I don’t remember sleeping. I guess we must have. It was a 24-hour marathon for six weeks, and we did it. I don’t know how it manifested, only by Prabhupada’s mercy. But then there’s a sweet little end to this. When Srila Prabhupada was arriving, we were lining the walk from the front door to the car and everybody was standing there with beautiful gifts and so many things to offer to Srila Prabhupada. And then I saw my husband come rushing out from doing the last-minute things and I could see him looking, everybody had something to give Srila Prabhupada and he felt he had nothing. So he rushed back in and he went into the pujari area, the flower room, but every last flower had been used and all he could find was one rose, kind of dead and blackened. So he just grabbed it and ran back out and he was holding that, and then Srila Prabhupada came out of his car and he just kind of floated along swan-like.
Everyone was giving him gifts and his arms would pile up, and then he’d hand them back to his servant. Then my husband was watching all these gifts, and finally he put this old rotten rose behind his back. Srila Prabhupada was looking straight ahead the whole time, and then he came to my husband and he stopped and he held his hand out. My husband didn’t do anything for a minute, and Prabhupada moved his hand like “Give it to me.” So he brought this old wilted rose out from behind his back and put it in Srila Prabhupada’s hand, and Prabhupada held the rose between his two hands in a pranam and turned to my husband and said, “Thank you very much.” He is just such an amazing soul. The most wonderful thing about Srila Prabhupada is he just knew everything, he just knew your heart.