Symbols of the world's religions



Herbert Davy

Immediately we had had tea Baba said that he wished to go round the city and mix with the Chinese crowds. I had had very little experience of Baba's ways and was still rather awkward in his presence. I took them along the Bund, and from the French settlement by tram through the British to the war-stricken districts near the North station, thinking it would interest them. Not at all. There were not enough people.

We took a tram back and saw Nanking Road, the now brightly lit Chinese stores, Chungking Road, racecourse, along Tibet Road. The streets were densely packed with long-gowned clerks and short-coated coolies, endless rickshaw-pullers with cheerful faces and poverty-stricken appearances beseeching us to ride not walk; the narrow streets were hung with paper lanterns and waving banners. Baba was delighted as we threaded the narrow, perfumed alleys, and the Chinese turned to stare at us in a not too friendly manner. Baba was delighted and liked them. After dinner we drove round the three cities — French, British, and the fringe of the Chinese city with its gay lights, restaurants, hotels, and haunts.

On Thursday, the 23rd [of June, 1932], Baba saw some visitors.... Then began a frantic tour of all the steamship agents to book passages for eight or nine people to India and Europe. Until closing-time Chanji and I were harried off our feet trying to do the impossible. At 5 p.m. we two were in rickshaws returning along the Bund towards the hotel; I was exhausted and said in vexation to Chanji that it was a pity that Baba did not know his own mind, and that I was tired of all this fussing....

I was called into Baba's room and ticked off by him. If I worried like this it was of no use my working for him. That evening after dinner we walked behind the racecourse, then took rickshaws — seven in a row — and went to the Cathay cinema in French town about 9:30 p.m. We were due at the station at 11 p.m., and I was on tenterhooks because I knew Baba would run it too close.

We motored to the station and arrived as the train was due out. The hotel porter was struggling with loads of unnecessary luggage as usual. Baba asked me if we could rush the train or not. I said "Yes". We tried, the boys struggled into the crowded second-class carriages, full of Chinese, sitting up all the night, three of us got into sleeping berths, and the capable porter squeezed in all our luggage as the train was moving. For me it was a horrid job.

Next morning 24 June we were met at Nanking by my servants. In my minute house we were nine persons. After breakfast I took Baba up the battlemented city wall, and there we walked along to the left, where at the foot of the sixty-foot wall was the great lake, to the right the city, and ahead the Purple Mountain.

In the afternoon a Frenchman who we hoped would be interested came out with us, and in his car and another hired car we motored up the mountain, then right across the hill-sides, finally jumping down the stoney, slippery descent to the water temple, thence to the Sun Yat Sen memorial, and home by car. Baba loved the rough walking and led the way across country like a scout leader.

That evening we sat in Baba's room and listened to music.

On Sunday we went to the national cinema in the Chinese city, we also drove through the swarming Chinese lanes, so narrow that the car almost touched the walls on either side, the open shops that display a hundred handicrafts and trades, to the temple of Confucius. The Chinese coming Buddha is called Milo Fu — I had in the house a statue in lacquer, which I gave to Baba.

We left by train for Shanghai. My servants all came to the station and asked to say goodbye to Baba. Baba left Shanghai on the Kaiser-i-Hind, and I sailed for Dairen six days later.


THE GOD-MAN, pp. 105-107, C. B. Purdom
1971 © Meher Spiritual Center, Inc.


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