WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE COULD WE BE?
Mehera J. Irani
We set off in a car and a station wagon hired by Magistrate Jal Kerawala who was to be one of the drivers. Baba and the other driver were in the front seat of the car, with Mani, myself, Meheru and Typhoon in the back. As usual a curtain separated us from the front seat. In the station wagon were Jal Kerawala, who was driving, a "perfect boy", Rano and the men mandali. This was during the period when Baba was looking for the "perfect boy", and one of the mandali had found a boy whom he had assured Baba He would like. The boy's family had given permission for him to travel with Baba.
At lunch time we stopped at a dak bungalow. We were carrying our lunch with us, and Baba said that He would like some rice and dal. We also were looking forward to a nice lunch, but it was not to be. The lid simply would not come off the dal container, and though everyone tried to get it off, it would not budge. The dal must have been too hot when packed, and a vacuum had been created inside the container holding the lid on tight. So we all ended up having just rice for lunch.
Off we set again after lunch. We were to spend that night in another dak bungalow arranged for Baba by Jal Kerawala. And we were due to arrive there in the early evening, but the car broke down! We all, including Baba, got out and pushed, but we did not arrive at our destination until after midnight.
Very early the next morning, after just a couple of hours of sleep, we left. Of course, we did not complain. We were not there to have fun; this was Baba's work.
After travelling a short distance Baba decided to change the seating arrangements in the vehicles. Now in the front seat of the car sat Baba on the left, the perfect boy in the middle, and Jal Kerawala in the driver's seat. In the back were Mani, myself, Meheru and Typhoon. We began our journey again, but suddenly the horn on the car stopped working. In India drivers constantly use their horns to warn the other cars, bicycles, goats, bullock carts, tongas, trucks, motor bikes and people on the road. This was during the forties, and cars then were equipped with a backup horn. This horn was mounted on the inside of the car near the driver, and it looked a little like a trumpet with a rubber ball attached to it. To make it sound one squeezed the rubber ball, but this rubber ball had perished, and the horn did not make a sound. Everything went wrong with this vehicle! Baba turned to the magistrate and gestured, "What sort of car have you arranged for Me?"
It is quite dangerous to drive in India without a horn, so Jal Kerawala unhooked this trumpet-like horn and removed the perished rubber ball. He then gave the horn to the boy beside him, and told him to blow through it like a trumpet when necessary.
How happy this boy was! Very loudly and slowly he would "ho-oot, ho-oot" this horn, not just at approaching cars, but at anything that moved up to a mile away. Baba and we all became quite deaf with the noise. "No, don't do that," the magistrate told him. "Wait until we are close, and then go 'toot-toot' quickly and stop."
It was a very funny journey, but finally, we arrived at the dak bungalow in Badnera, and Baba had the boy returned to his family. We were to catch the train that night to start for Kashmir, and as we had had little sleep the previous night, we were looking forward to a rest and a bath before our journey. We were very relieved that we would not have to open our trunks, put on our saris, and then have the trouble later of folding them up and packing them again. We were just about to rest when Baba came to our room.
"Quickly, put on your good saris. We'll have a treat and go to the cinema!"
"Yes, Baba," we said. How could we say, "Oh, no, Baba." So we opened our trunks very quickly and put on our saris and went to the car.
The servants from the dak bungalow came to see us off and the driver got in. We were ready to leave, but the car would not start! The driver tried and tried to start it, but it just would not go. After a few more tries Baba said, "It's too late now. Everybody get out!"
Baba got out of the front seat of the car, but we found that our door was completely stuck. Baba tried to open it, and so did everybody else, but it would not budge. Meanwhile, the servants from the dak bungalow were all staring at us. Then Rano told Baba, "Baba, stand aside. I'm going to kick the door." So Rano gave the door a good kick, and finally it opened. We went back inside the dak bungalow, and while we had not had the enjoyment of seeing a film, we were still left with the trouble of carefully folding and repacking our saris!
So that is the story of the car that caused us so much trouble.
We had just a little sleep, then later that night we went to the railway station to catch the train for Rawalpindi. We had to change trains in Nagpur.
"When the train pulls in, you girls quickly get into the ladies compartment," Baba told us. The station was very crowded, and the train stopped for only a few minutes. Somehow Mani, Meheru and Rano took me through the crowds, and when the train came Rano found our compartment. On looking inside, Rano saw that there were only two women in it, but the door to the compartment was locked, and the two occupants were fast asleep!
Rano rattled and banged on the door, but with no effect. She could not wake them. By now she was getting desperate as Baba would be very angry if the train left with us still standing on the platform. Finally, Rano managed to open a window. She reached in through the window and gave one of the women, a total stranger, some good firm pats on her hip to wake her up. What else could she do?
The door was opened, and in we went just in time. We found that our fellow passengers were Parsis.
"Where are you from," they asked us.
"Oh, we're from Poona, but we're now staying in Ahmednagar," we replied. "And this is our friend who is visiting us from America," and we introduced Rano. They were very happy to meet her.
We chatted and dozed until we reached Nagpur, where we were to change trains. Baba had told us to meet Him at a certain place on the Nagpur station, and that we were to leave the train quickly. Mani and Meheru had to be with me, which left Rano to cope with all our luggage. "Quickly, Rano, get my suitcase, don't forget my overnight bag. Hurry, Rano," we told her as she scrambled to get everything off in time.
As we left the compartment I turned around and caught a glimpse of the Parsi women's faces. They looked so shocked and startled. We had introduced this American woman as our guest, and now we were ordering her around and leaving her alone to handle all our luggage. What kind of people could we be?
We travelled to Kashmir via Rawalpindi where we changed from train to bus.
MEHERA, pp. 163-166
1989 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust