Judy Stephens

Meherabad, 1952


2 to 15 February 2007

Jai Meher Baba to you all!

Wow! Just four more weeks and the pilgrim season will be over! It has been an unbelievable, full year here at Meherabad. The Meher Pilgrim Retreat holds 200 pilgrims. During Amartithi we brought in 80 extra beds, with even more pilgrims having to go to the old MPC and sleep on mattresses on the floors. The extra beds are now returned to Hostel-D, and the MPC floor-sleeping pilgrims are back at the Retreat in beds, yet we are still full!

The Meher Pilgrim Retreat is much larger in size, and it holds almost four times more pilgrims than the old MPC. We have been learning how to run it, how to make it as comfortable as possible for pilgrims. We have also been learning how much help is needed. We just may have to hire temporary extra workers in the future, for the really busy times.

Friday 2 February 2007. We Receptionists from the Meher Pilgrim Retreat were still on our Amartithi schedule. We were still having three shifts with two Receptionists per shift. I had the 12:00 Noon to 4:00 PM shift. Plus, I also had the 4:00 to 7:00 PM shift because I was covering for another Receptionist. It was such a busy day.

The 800 Hostel-D Amartithi volunteers had returned home. The Hostels are being cleaned and set up to return to their regular accommodations for pilgrims. The extra beds in the Retreat Reading Rooms have been removed and the regular furniture put back in place. Some of the extra beds that were stuffed in the pilgrim rooms have also been removed. Some however will stay for another day.

Poor Housekeeping! With so many beds everywhere, many without nametags on the beds, the cleaning staff does not know which beds to change sheets on. Sheet change is only once every two weeks. However, if a pilgrim departs, that bed of course is given clean sheets. But, with several beds in a room, which bed to change? No name on a bed? Which bed did the pilgrim use?

The pilgrims in the room are usually gone to the Samadhi, or to the Trust Office, or somewhere else. Meaning, no one is around to ask which bed to change. Now, we are trying to get the pilgrims to be sure to put the nametags where they belong on the beds. During Amartithi we just tried to make sure everyone had a bed and that we did not put two people in one bed. The small stuff like details just had to be put aside.

In the evening, at the Retreat, Saligram Sharma from Hamirpur, shared his story of being with Baba.

Saturday 3 February. I was up the hill by 5:30 AM to clean Baba's Cabin Room. It was very dusty from Amartithi. It is cleaned every day, but the dirt is everywhere, and soon builds up quickly. After putting flowers on the Gadi and Beloved Baba's threshold, I went down the hill and cleaned the Jhopdi and Table House with Mariko and Joseph. Those too were especially dusty.

I got ready and went to the MPC to give the History Tour of Meherabad. No one was waiting, so I took the opportunity to clean and organize my room. In the early afternoon, I wanted to get some exercise. So, I decided to take a four-mile hike behind the Samadhi and Retreat. It was a great walk, until I starting noticing my knee was feeling wobbly. By the time I got home I could not bend my knee. I had to swing my leg stiff to get on the bed. I just do not know how it happened. I did not slip or anything like that. Yet, the terrain is mostly little ups and downs when I was not on the path or the road. Somehow that must have done it. Maybe, because my knees have not fully recovered from Chickungunya yet, they are vulnerable. Sometimes it feels like I have some fluid in my knees.

Sunday 4 February. I hired a car to take Virginia to Meherazad. This was the first day it was open since before Amartithi. She always remembers Mehera when we get there. There was some singing in the Mandali Hall and then a Baba movie was shown. On the way home, we stopped for ice cream at Sweet Home. They make homemade ice cream. I sent the driver in to get it. Because I had twisted my knee the day before, I was having great trouble moving around. I got Virginia three scoops, and myself one scoop. Virginia really loves ice cream.

The rest of the day I tried to stay off my feet, so I could keep the twisted knee up.

Monday 5 February. I had a full day at the Retreat. It was so busy I only was able to take 30 minute to sit in the Dining Hall to eat. And, even then I was called for something twice.

With so many pilgrims, there were a lot of things to do. Twice in the day pilgrims had come in to ask for another key to their cupboard lock, they seemed to have lost the one they had. Some pilgrims had departed and not told us. Housekeeping had found their beds empty. They had paid their bills, but forgot to tell us. Then there were others who wanted to extend. There were arrivals, expected and unexpected.

Again, poor Housekeeping! They did not know where all the chairs from the rooms went. So, someone had to go to each room and see which bed was missing a chair. I did not have time to do it, nor did I have the knee to get me up and down the stairs, or even to do all that walking. I was able to slightly bend my knee, but not by much. It was hard to sit in a chair comfortably.

I did not get finished at the Retreat until 7:15 PM. I had trouble trying to get a rickshaw to take me home. Finally, one that was at the Samadhi said he would pick me up and only drop me off on the Samadhi side of the tracks. I would have to walk the rest of the way. I was grateful for that much. I was beginning to think I would have to walk at night on the uneven path from the Retreat to the Samadhi.

I finally made it home by 8:00 PM. I was very tired and my knee bothered me. After feeding my dog, I just laid on my bed with my foot up.

Tuesday 6 February. I cleaned my room, and then tried to get a rickshaw to Ahmednagar. None were around. I kept calling every half hour. Finally, one was available and picked me up. I had to go to the bank and deposit a check. I would need cash for a planned trip to Pune on Thursday.

When I got to the bank, I first went to the ATM machine outside because no one was in line. A notice came out saying it was not working. I had no cash, and the ATM was broken. What to do?

I then went into the bank. I asked where the woman was who does the International transactions. I was told that she was not there, she was sick. I asked when she would return. "In two or three days." I asked who could do the work until she returned? No one, "I would have to come back." I showed someone the ATM slip saying it was not working. Then, I was told to go to a man's desk that handled that business. I waited for five minutes because he was not there. Finally, I left, knowing I would have to wait from a few minutes to who knew when.

As I passed the ATM machine again outside the bank, there was a long line. It seems the machine was out of money when I had tried it. I would have had to wait in line for at least half-hour, which I did not want to do. So, I went to the Trust Office. I asked Sudam if he would cash my check at the bank when the woman finally returned. I would then get my money from Sudam.

I found out from Sudam, that the reason the State Bank of India changed all their account numbers, was to make it possible to do transactions throughout India. I think this means I can now write a check at any State Bank of India, no matter where I am in the country. Also, I can do a deposit at any of the banks. I think I am no longer restricted to these transactions in Ahmednagar.

On my way home, I stopped at an ATM at another bank and got some cash. I had the rickshaw-wala drop me off at the Banyan Tree Café. After a good lunch, I walked home. I rested in my room until I walked up the hill for Samadhi at 6:00 PM.

Wednesday 7 February. This was the day of Beloved Baba's Internment. This was also my half-day at the Retreat. It was busy as usual. My knee is doing better and I can bend it a little more. But, I feel tired a lot. I think pain drains the body of energy.

The preparations for Baba's Birthday play are in full swing. A bus takes the pilgrims down the hill from the Retreat twice a day; at 9:15 AM and then at 2:30 PM. I am not sure if I will get involved this year. Sometimes I help with stage props, or makeup. It is a lot of fun. I just don't know if I have the energy.

I took the 2:30 PM bus from the Retreat. It took the pilgrims to Hostel-A, the Music & Arts Center. I only live a few minutes walk from there. There was a movie to be shown at 4:30 PM so I was not sure if their rehearsal would be over.

At 4:00 PM tea and cake were served on the theater verandah. At 4:30 PM two films of Baba were shown. Something was wrong with the projector, and it was very hard to see the screen. It was too dark.

Thursday 8 February. I have been very tired lately. One of the other Residents who also had Chickungunya thinks we both have a relapse. I am not sure. Usually at this time of year we just try to make it to the end of the pilgrim season—we are worn out. So, it could be a combination of a relapse, being worn out from the pilgrim season, or drained of energy because of the dull pain in my leg from having twisted my knee and my sciatica nerve being pinched. Baba is giving me a blessing it seems. It is a shame I am still attached to the easy, pleasant blessings.

I took a walk to the Retreat in the late morning. The walking felt good on my leg. I also wanted to count the money from each pay phone and turn it in to the Trust. We Receptionists have three boxes, one for each of the pay phones at the Retreat. Once or twice a week we go to each one and empty the coins into the box with the phone number on it. We had not counted the coins for some time and the boxes were getting heavy.

I counted all three boxes. Then I gave one of the counted bags to the Trust accountant at the Retreat to take to the Meherabad Trust Office. I knew the one I gave the accountant was the heaviest, so I carried the two lighter ones.

Only a few of the Retreat workers were on duty. Most were at the 'Workers' meeting Bhauji was giving in Hostel-A. Every now and then Bhauji has a meeting for the workers of Meherabad.

I walked back to Lower Meherabad. The coins were a bit heavy in my backpack. I was very glad to drop off the bags in the accounting office. Then I walked to the Banyan Tree Café and had a nice chicken lunch. I walked home and rested the remainder of the day.

Friday 9 February. I was covering for another Receptionist at the Retreat. So, I was up there by 9:00 AM. It was a busy morning as usual. Our shuttle bus left at 9:15 AM taking the pilgrims in the play to the theater. The shuttle will bring them back for lunch. Then again at 2:30 PM, it will take those in the play to the theater (Hostel-A). They are back by 6:00 PM.

I called Sudam at the Trust Office in Ahmednagar to ask if he was able to cash my check at the bank. He said the woman told him she was too busy, and she also did not know how to do the transaction, as the bank had changed policy. So, I will have to go on Monday. I will ask Suzie if she can cover the morning for me.

I left a little early because I wanted to see our doctor at the Meher Hospital. I needed an acupuncture treatment. Dr. Anne also has these tuning forks that she used. I could feel my leg relaxing. I live next to the hospital, so I had a short walk home.

A Baba movie was shown in the Retreat Dining Hall at 9:00 PM.

Saturday 10 February. I was able to sleep in all morning. Actually, I spent most of the day resting. I had asked one of the resident's to clean Baba's Cabin Room and then the Jhopdi and Table House. I had cancelled the Historical Tour of Meherabad. I simply did not have the energy to do anything. I just wanted to sleep or lay down.

There was a show in the Music & Arts Center (Hostel-A). It was on the teachings of Upasni Maharaj. Tea and cake were served on the verandah first. Then at 4:30 PM the film 'Be As It May' was shown. Upasni Maharaj would say there were three things worth living

1. Do not bothers others
2. Be useful to others even at your own suffering
3. Then be as it may

Sunday 11 February. I woke late, 8:00 AM. For me, that is like waking at noon. Yet, it took two cups of coffee to get me going. I decided to do a workout. I was not sure if my knee would give me trouble-it didn't. It felt good to exercise my body. After a bath, I stopped at our theater to see how the play preparations were looking. Jeannie Nordeen is handling the props, costumes, and make-up. There were two large canvases on the stage floor. Laurie Blum was painting one of them.

I then took a walk to the Samadhi. It was a lovely walk. The wind has begun to blow. Right now it is more just a gentle breeze. The wind is my friend; I love it! So, walking to the Samadhi with a light breeze is quite a relaxing and refreshing trip. Then, sitting in the Samadhi, listening to the breeze and the birds, it is really just the best of moments.

I stopped to visit Jaloo, who lives behind the Samadhi. It is always a pleasure for me to just sit with her.

I was feeling tired, so I walked home and took a nap.

Monday 12 February. Dhuni Day. I was up at the Retreat by 9:00 AM. The morning passed so quickly because of being very busy with the 140 or so pilgrims. I took time for lunch, then back to the office. I made plans with the three pilgrims with whom I am going to car-ride share to Pune Tuesday.

Later, I took a rickshaw and got home by 6:30 PM. I quickly dropped my stuff in my room and rode my bicycle to the Dhuni. Evening Arti was at 5:00 PM and the Dhuni was lit at 6:15 PM.

Tuesday 13 February. The car with the three pilgrims picked me up at 6:15 AM. We were in Pune by 9:00 AM. We had breakfast at the German Bakery. Then, we all wanted to go to Jungle Maharaj's Temple. Next to it is a stone excavation with caves. That is where we wanted to sit. That is where Baba would often go during those nine months after Babajan kissed Him on the forehead, and, where Baba said all the Avatars have been.

From there we went our separate ways, planning to meet at 5:00 PM at Dorabji's. I first went to Jagtap Nursey to buy another ficas tree for our Reception Office. I also bought a few plants for the garden I share with my neighbor, Marge.

Just before 5:00 PM I called one of the pilgrims on his cell. David and Robyn were running late, so they would go straight to German Bakery to meet Ostria and me. When I started to get out of the car, I saw two large elephants coming down the road. I went into the German Bakery to have the pilgrims come and see the elephants.

Robyn wanted to ride. They both had sitting platforms on top of them. She got on one, and feeling quite nervous, I climbed on the other one. We got on from the back. The elephant owner had us step on the back of the elephant's leg. He had the tail turned in such a way that we could step up on it and grab the railing of the platform. It was fun!!! Yet, I have to admit the whole time I was a little anxious.

We made it back to Meherabad in time for the pilgrims to have dinner at the Retreat.

Wednesday 14 February. When I woke up, I went to my computer to get email. But, my phone was dead. I would call later in the day to complain—no one would be at the phone company office before 9:00 AM.

It was my half-day at the Retreat. As usual, it was incredibly busy. But, I took time to make a new Orientation Notebook. The one we had was falling apart. I had not been able to find any interesting notebooks, with something pretty or cute on the cover. So, in Pune I bought a clean, see through one.

I cut out the cover from our old Orientation notebook and taped it on the inside of the cover of the new one. This way the cover showed the adorable dog we had from our other cover. The dog is cute because it has glasses on, a scarf, and nail polish. I was quite pleased with myself when I finished. The new Orientation notebook looks very nice.

I had lunch at the Banyan Tree Café. Then, I got my video camera and went to the old MPC to video Bhau's talk. Bhauji is giving a series of five special talks on service to the residents and volunteer workers. The old Dining Hall is where many of the talks are held now. So, it is now just called 'the MPC hall'.

The room was packed. This was the third of the five talks. One day these videos will be available from the Los Angeles Baba Center.

Thursday 15 February. Tried my phone when I woke—still not working. I finally got through to someone at the phone company. They said they would be at my room by 12:30 PM. I had wanted to get rid of some of my things. So, I went through my trunk and got rid of a lot of unused stuff. I was just getting on my scooter at 11:00 AM to visit Virginia. But, before leaving, the phone men came. Yeah! They fixed my phone. The dial tone sure can be nice to hear.

After visiting Virginia, I went with my neighbor to an ATM in Ahmednagar. We both needed money, and the ATM near Meherabad wasn't working.

I then had lunch at the Banyan Tree Café. Only, the name has changed to The Blue Tank. They gave it that name because there is a blue water tank on its roof. The food is always good, and it is safe to eat. Also, you usually meet someone from Meherabad sitting there having a meal. It is like a family restaurant.

In Beloved Baba's sweet love, Judy

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