Just after taking rest at about 11:00 p.m., I heard the buzzer ring. Rolling out of my sleeping bag, I went into Srila Prabhupada's darsana room, where he was already sitting at his desk, microphone in hand, peering over the pages of the Srimad Bhagavatam. After offering my obeisances, I sat before him, eager to know the purpose for his call. Prabhupada looked at me over his glasses and, indicating something in mid-air, said, "There is some noise disturbing. Just stop it."
I listened, but to my ear there was only silence. Seeing my puzzled expression, Prabhupada's eyebrows raised and his finger pointed upwards. "No, just listen." After a few seconds I started to pick up on what seemed to be a very faint, distant hum. Prabhupada confirmed my perception. "Ha! Now go and find it and stop it."
Now tuned in, I walked off toward the entrance door, following the sound, which seemed to be coming from a source high up and distant. When I entered the building and started up the staircase, the humming got louder, by the time I reached the top floor of the four-story building, I was sure that I had identified the cause. I banged on the door of one of the single rooms. After a minute the door opened to reveal a sleepy, agitated Visala dasa, quite grumpy about being awakened at such a late hour.
"Visala Prabhu," I said humbly, "you've got your fan on, and it is disturbing Srila Prabhupada in his translation work."
The fan was hanging from the ceiling, whirring around at full tilt. I couldn't think why he would want to have it on in the cold of a winter night, but in any case there was no discussion. Visala was immediately profusely apologetic at the thought that he might be causing an inconvenience to Srila Prabhupada, and he quickly shut off the fan.
After thanking him I went back down to Srila Prabhupada's quarters; when I entered he was deeply absorbed, sitting by the light of his desk lamp studying the texts and flicking on and off the switch of his Dictaphone microphone as he constructed his purports. He gave me a brief glance of acknowledgment, and I took rest, impressed by the intense concentration he applies to his work and grateful for the opportunity to assist him in his efforts.