Symbols of the world's religions



Mehera J. Irani

Udaipur is a very beautiful place surrounded by high, bare mountains, with a lovely lake in the middle of which are two historic palaces. The men mandali travelling with Baba found a cheap Parsi hotel in the town, but Baba took us girls to a rather grand hotel with beautiful gardens and a lovely view of the lake. Everything about it was expensive and up-to-date.

It was on the shore of the lake and was the guesthouse of the Maharana of Udaipur who at that time, I believe, still lived in his palace on an island in the lake. ("Rana" means raja or king and in Udaipur the king is called the maharana instead of maharaja.)

We arrived at the hotel in the morning and were feeling very hungry after travelling on empty stomachs. With us we carried a tin of biscuits, and we were about to nibble some of these when Baba told us, "Don't eat any biscuits. Don't spoil your appetites. I want you to enjoy your lunch."

Lunch time finally came, and off we went to the very elegant dining room in the hotel. There were many tables set with shining silver, and to give more privacy, screens had been placed in strategic spots around the room. This hotel had a set menu, and we were wondering what delicious dish would be placed before us when the waiter arrived with the first course.

Fish patties in white sauce! Poor Mani looked at her plate. She was famished, but she had an order from Baba not to eat fish and milk together. And though Baba ate it, this was not a dish He was fond of.

Kitty was then sent to find out what was to follow. Just cheese and biscuits and some dessert, she returned to tell us. After lunch we all left the dining room feeling rather disappointed, and still quite hungry. We had been expecting a lovely lunch from such a fine hotel. "Oh, no," Kitty consoled us, "the British have a light lunch, but supper is always good."

And Baba said, "Be sure not to spoil your appetites by eating those biscuits!"

In the evening we again went to the dining room with good appetites. Our table was in the far corner of the room with one of the screens next to it, and a fireplace on another side. We sat down and waited to see what treat was in store for us.

We could not believe our eyes. The waiter brought fish cakes and white sauce! Baba was now completely "out of mood" as we say. He stood up to leave the room, and we quickly got up with Him.

At that point Meheru slipped on the floor near the fireplace. As she began to lose her balance she reached out to hold on to the table cloth to save herself, but Mani quickly whispered to her, "No, you'll pull all the dishes on the floor." So Meheru lost her balance and fell down.

There was a very English couple in the dining room, and rather than stand up with them looking on, Meheru decided to crawl on her hands and knees around the table until she was behind the screen where she could stand up unnoticed and leave the room.

She was still very young, and so she got the giggles. I scolded her a little, because Baba was upset and this was not time for giggling, but now it does seem very funny to us, too.

We quickly followed Baba out of the dining room. Baba sent Kitty to tell the staff how poor the food was and how disappointed we were in the hotel. Back came word that the Maharana was having a celebration, perhaps a wedding, in his palace on the lake, and that he had taken all the cooks and servants there to serve his guests!

Later, when one of the mandali came from their cheap Parsi hotel, Baba inquired, "What did you eat?"

"Such delicious food," he replied, "dhansak and kebab, as much as we could eat." This is a Parsi specialty which we all love. Here were the mandali paying so little in a cheap hotel and eating so well, and here were we with Baba paying so much and starving!

"Pack immediately," Baba told us. "The mandali can move, and I'll take you there!"

So we moved to this little hotel and enjoyed ourselves so much. It was not at all grand, but we were comfortable and the food was just to our taste. Baba was happy with the place, and so we were happy, too.


MEHERA, pp. 154-155
1989 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust


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