I came to Baba's Presence through my family on my mother's side who have been going to Him since 1944. My grandmother's eldest sister had seen Shirdi Sai Baba in 1915 or so when He appeared to them at the family residence at a town called Chincholi in Karnataka State, about 350 miles north of Bangalore. Later on, through a series of circumstances, her mother (my great-grandmother) and her sisters met Baba in Bangalore when He was still a teenager. In a nutshell, that's how our family started the worship of Baba and it has continued to this day through many branches and 'twigs' in the family.
My first sight of Him was a 24 hour bhajan event in Bangalore (Akhanda Bhajan), probably in the year 1963 or so. It was raining heavily and from the outside, I remember seeing a glimpse of the sleeve of His red robe and hearing Him sing a most melodious bhajan "Hey Shiva Shankara Namami Shankara...:
I first visited Prashanti Nilayam in June 1964 when I was in kindergarten, along with my parents, sister and grandmother.
That was 47 years ago and luckily, He has graced me with solid memories of that visit. We stayed for a week there and we had interviews with Him twice a day! Baba didn't have a car then, so he requested to use our car for some ashram business. Each time, He called us in for an interview, He would stuff my little pockets with vibhuti packets In 1964, Prashanti Nilayam was a completely different place, with perhaps 25-30 people at Darshan on weekdays, but Swami was accessible to everyone and everywhere.
I remember He would come out of the evening bhajans and stand near the Interview Room door in the Mandir, and everyone would line up for the day's final Padanamaskar. That was the practice then and almost everyone who asked, was called in for an interview. But the bliss of that first contact with Him, where He would be playful with us kids, pinching our cheeks, stuffing vibhuti, raisins and cashews, remains forever imprinted in my mind. He was the enchanting Krishna that we had read about in our childhood story books, come alive and talking to us!
Since then, the bond has remained 'unbroken' through His sheer Grace and Compassion.