Question: When your feet first touched the soil of America, was there any inner experience that you could share with us?

Sri Chinmoy: Only one thing I can say. When I stepped onto the soil of America, joy and bewilderment, joy and bewilderment in measureless measure I felt.

The same thing I can say about Switzerland. Years later, when I first stepped onto the soil of Switzerland, I knew nothing about Switzerland. I only knew that Indians who suffered from cancer and other ailments came to Switzerland. That much I knew. I said to myself, “This is my land, this is my land, this is my land — Switzerland! This will be the land of my manifestation.” Then Kailash came. Now look at Switzerland, Germany and Madal Bal! This was my experience in Switzerland that evening. I was so delighted, so excited.

Both joy and fear I felt while walking on the street in New York — tremendous joy, and fear also. Such huge, huge human beings! I could not understand their language, although they were speaking English.

I had a friend who was so kind to me. He was from Brooklyn. His name was John Kelley. Alas, I could not understand anything he was saying. His accent was too much for me! Even now, Brooklyn pronunciation still puzzles me. Queens and Bronx pronunciation I understand, but in Brooklyn, their English is totally different.

I used to type 60, 65 or more words per minute in India. Then, for months I did not practise. A score of 33 was needed for the Indian Consulate, and I got less than 33. John Kelley was so kind, so kind, so kind. When he heard that I needed to practise typewriting, he immediately took me to get a typewriter. At the Ashram I used a Corona that had belonged to President Wilson’s daughter Margaret, whose spiritual name was Nishtha. Then Nolini gave it to me. Here in New York, John Kelley immediately got me a typewriter. I practised a little, and right away I went over 33 words per minute.

That night Mr. Mehrotra’s secretary, who was from the West Indies, phoned me up and said, “Ghose, tomorrow morning come and see Mr. Mehrotra at nine o’clock.”

The next morning Mr. Mehrotra said, “We shall take care of you.”

My friend John Kelley wanted me to study at the New School. Many years later I went to the New School to give a talk. I said to myself, “My friend wanted me to study at this place, and now I have come here to speak.”