Judy Stephens

Meherabad, 1952


1 March to 15 March 2007

Jai Meher Baba to you all!

Well, this is it. This is the last Meherabad Diary of the pilgrim season. We close on 15 March. The Pilgrim Reservation Office told us this pilgrim season was the most Westerners we have ever had. Also, more and more Indians are coming in ever-larger numbers. As one receptionist said, "The new Meher Pilgrim Retreat is a success!"

It is amazing, but we did it! We were able to run such a huge place. We have learned what we need to make it run more smoothly, and what type of help we need to make our departments work more smoothly. We have learned how to have meetings between all the volunteer department heads—though we need to work on it more. Yet, we have made it through a whole pilgrim season, trying our best to work together, and to support each other in our needs to function.

So, in this Meherabad Diary, I want to thank all the volunteer workers at the Retreat. I know how much effort it has taken to make the Retreat run smoothly. Plus, all our hired staff have also worked hard and worked as a team. I can honestly say, I think Beloved Baba would be proud of us!

I leave for America on 18th March-in just two weeks. My daughter, Rabia, is doing fine and is now eight months pregnant. She is due one week after I arrive in New York. I will be in the States until early June. So, this is the last Diary until I return. I hope you have all enjoyed the Diaries, as I have enjoyed sharing our life here at Meherabad.

Thursday 1 March 2007. I had a car pick me up at 6:00 AM to go to Pune. I was there by 8:30 AM. One of my favorite restaurants, The Gourmet Restaurant, is closed for renovation. I usually have breakfast there when I go to Pune. This day I ate at the German Bakery, which is next door to it.

I bought more plants for Marge and my garden. I bought a dog bed for my dog, Foundy. And I also bought a new cell phone. I wanted to be able to take pictures for future Meherabad Diaries, because sometimes I wished I could show you how pretty something was, or how unusual. Since I was going to upgrade my cell phone, I decided to get one with a camera. Of course, now I will have to learn how to use it!

I finished shopping and headed back to Ahmednagar by 1:00 PM. When I got home, I still had plenty of time to spend up at the Samadhi.

Friday 2 March. I took our bus to the Trust Office. I had some errands to run in town. Plus, I wanted to renew my Satellite TV service for six months. I had to also renew my cell phone service. Because of problems with a certain Idea provider, I decided to go to the main service center in Ahmednagar to renew. Well, I found out that the original person I got my service from last year never put the cell phone number in my name. That guy was a crook! Anyway, this nice man had me fill another application. He said he would make sure the cell phone number was in my name within 48 hours.

I went home, took a nap, and then went up the hill to the Samadhi. At night, when I brought my dog inside, he seemed to not have much interest in his new dog bed. I then tried something a neighbor suggested, I put in the dog bed one of the small rugs Foundy uses. Foundy sometimes gets in now.

Saturday 3 March. I was up the hill by 5:30 AM. Mariko and Joseph helped me clean Baba's Cabin Room. Then we were given a change of covers from Dolly. We changed all the covers from Baba's Birthday. They were too fancy to keep on any longer.

Joseph, Mariko, and I next went down the hill to the Jhopdi. After we cleaned it and the Table House, I went home for breakfast and to get ready to do the Historical Tour of Meherabad at 10:00 AM. I am still very tired, so this may be the last Tour until next pilgrim season. Judy Robertson is here, and she has also been giving the Tour. She gives them on Monday. In the afternoon, there was an 'open mic' program in the old MPC Hall. I was too tired to attend. Thought I heard it was very enjoyable.

Sunday 4 March. After my workout, I got ready to go to the Retreat. I rode with Adair. I brought my tripod and video camera. I had a 9:00 AM appointment with Flint Mednick. He designed and over saw the making of the framed tile-mosaic. We have it on the wall at the end of the verandah next to the Lobby. It is a beautiful piece of art and very interesting to hear him tell the story of how it was made. The attendees of the International Young Adult Sahavas made the mosaic. Since the Sahavas is only one week long, it took four years to complete. Yet, there were some pieces still needing to be put in place when Ted told Flint the mosaic had to be put up at the Retreat within two months. So, Flint and his wife, Jessica, spent a lot of time during those two months completing the mosaic.

At 11:00 AM, we volunteer supervisors of the Retreat had our monthly meeting with the Meherabad Trustees. We meet upstairs in the administration hall. The main issues were the need for more hired help by next pilgrim season. Then tea and a snack were served, before we continued. The departments who need the help presented the problems they were having, and why the extra hired help was needed.

I wanted to video the beautiful foyer decorations (left over from Baba's Birthday celebration) before they would be taken down the next day. But, I did not have time. I was getting a ride back to my room, and they were ready to leave.

After taking a nap, I went to visit my friend, Virginia. She is always happy to have company. I will be gone for three months to the States. So, I hope she will still recognize me when I return.

Monday 5 March. I took a rickshaw to the Retreat. We still had almost 70 pilgrims, though a number departed that morning. But, then a number of pilgrims came.

I had two porters in the morning. So, we got out the three metal trunks we keep in our 'luggage room'. These are for storing the decorations. Before the decorations were taken down, I videoed them, so we would know how to put them back the next time we decorate. The Lobbyman and the porters carefully took down the foyer decorations, wrapping them in newspapers.

I had lunch and then left at 2:00 PM. Suzie had the afternoon shift. I spent part of the time working on the computer, than I went up the hill to Baba's Samadhi. The weather is breezy, and though it is hot during the day, the breeze makes the weather enjoyable in the morning and evening time.

Tuesday 6 March. I woke late and worked around the house. The fence on the roadside is almost done. It is looking good. When we have Bougaville flowing over it, it will be so pretty.

Marge and I had someone dig some more holes so we can plant the bougavillas I had bought in Pune. I prepared the holes with manure, fertilizer, and good dirt. Then I planted four of the plants.

I called the police department to see when I would have to go in to have my papers stamped. Mr. Tagat said not until a few days before leaving. I am leaving here on the 17th, flying out on the morning of the 18th. We always have to have our papers stamped, 'no objection to leave.' This allows us to leave India.

In the evening I had Samadhi duty. I am on duty at 6:00 PM. There are still quite a few pilgrims here. So, there is still a lot of singing at the Samadhi at Arti.

Wednesday 7 March. I took a rickshaw up to the Retreat. There is only eight days left of the pilgrim season. I looked at the number who slept at the Retreat on Tuesday night-50! That would have been almost a full house at the old MPC. A number were leaving, but I had eight expected arrivals for Wednesday.

I spoke with Jeff, the gardening supervisor, about the care of our Reception Office plants during the summer. Jeff said to bring them into the Dining Hall. His gardener would take care of them and their own Dining Hall plants. This was a relief. The plants are so pretty and it would be a shame for them to die from lack of watering.

I went home at 2:00 PM. Being so exhausted from the Chickungunya relapse, it feels so nice to be able to take a needed nap. I woke at 4:00 PM. Anne reminded me not to forget Bhau's talk at 4:30 PM. I had totally forgotten!

Bhauji had been giving a series of five special talks, on service, to we residents and the volunteer workers. His talks have been in the old MPC Hall. This was the fifth and last talk of the series. I grabbed my video camera, tripod, and rode my scooter to the MPC. The hall was already crowded. Indira had a special snack for everyone, as well as tea with and without sugar.

Bhauji finished at 6:00 PM. It was so cute, Bhau said all the Mandali use to watch their favorite TV programs, and he would laugh at it. He said, now, he makes sure his talks are finished in time to watch his favorite shows at 7:00 PM!

Thursday 8 March. I worked in the garden until it was time to take our bus to the Trust. I went to the phone company, and paid some money so my Internet service would still be on when I returned. I also went into the bazaar and bought a large plastic tub. This will go in Foundy's yard. Sulu will keep it full of water, and Foundy can keep cool during the summer.

I had lunch at the Blue Tank, than took a wanted nap. I am finding it so hard to get out of bed! I then walked up the hill to the Samadhi, again finding it very difficult to do so. I have so little energy. I had forgotten how it felt to not be tired all the time.

In the evening, there was a Receptionists meeting at 6:45 PM. It was the last meeting of the pilgrim season. It was about our summer jobs—closing our office.

Friday 9 March. I woke late-again. After several cups of coffee, I was able to do part of my workout. Then I spent the rest of the morning planting two more bouganvilleas. We now only have three left to plant. But, first we want to have the tata (matting) fixed on the rest of the side fence. The holes are next to the fence, and the men may step on our new plants.

I took a short nap, and then went to the Blue Tank for lunch. I again took a nap after lunch.

Bhauji gave a talk at the old MPC at 4:30 PM. There are still quite a few pilgrims here.

Saturday 10 March. I was up the hill by 5:30 AM. The double doors to Baba's Samadhi were still closed. So, I took the opportunity to stand at the open window and say the prayers. Before my prayers were complete, there were a lot of "Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jais." The workers opened the doors and began to remove the garlands and the cloths that covered the lower portion of Baba's marble.

I finished my prayers, with difficulty in concentration, because of the many Ki Jais. I went around to the doorway of the Samadhi to take Darshan. I was given a cloth from the Samadhi to help fold. A new one was temporarily put on, until the morning cleaning begins at 6:00 AM. I was invited to place it on Beloved Baba's Samadhi. Then I was also given a flower to put on top. I felt Baba showering me with His love, which my heart needed, because of an unpleasant experience I had the day before.

I then gathered the things I would need and cleaned Baba's Cabin Room. This would be the last time until I return in June. I am leaving for the States next Saturday. Then, I put flowers on the stretcher cover, the Gadi, and the Samadhi threshold.

I always bring an extra bucket. I use it for the trash I pick up on the path, on my way down the hill. Sometimes there is not much, a few candy wrappers. Other times there is a lot and my bucket is very full when I reach Lower Meherabad. I dump the trash and go to the room in Meherabad Mandali Hall, where the Jhopdi and Table House cleaning things are stored. Mariko and Joseph were there to help. They are going to do the cleaning when I go to the States.

I did not do the Historical Tour of Meherabad. I simply did not have enough energy to do it. I have begun to once again take the homeopathy for Chickungunya. I am hoping it will restore some balance in my system.

I spent most of the day working in the garden. It seems to help me relax.

Sunday 11 March. I woke early and did my workout. I had taken a sleeping pill and felt better. My exhaustion had been playing havoc with my sleeping pattern. I next worked out in the garden for a while. I then took a rickshaw to Virginia's. I picked up an extra gas cylinder I have there, and brought it back to my place, because yesterday, the gas cylinder Anne and I had ran out. We use this gas for cooking. It seems only on Thursdays are we allowed to get a refill on our gas cylinder. So, I was very glad I had one at Virginia's. When I get back from the States, I will order a second cylinder and keep that one at Virginia's.

At 10:00 AM, in the MPC Meeting Hall (the old Dining Hall), there was a guest speaker. Merwan Merchant shared some of his stories about his grandmother, Kharmen Masi, a close early disciple of Baba's. He also talked about Pleader, one of Baba's men Mandali who in later life lived with Merwan's family.

The summer weather has arrived. The air is very hot during the day. To keep the room cool, the curtains and windows will have to be kept closed. In the evening, the windows are opened to allow in the cooler air.

Outside my room, the sunny East side of the house gets extremely hot during the summer. So, I had poles put up all along that side of the house. And on top of the poles is bamboo matting. In some places, I have some green garden shadcloth. But, I don't have enough to cover the whole side. That is a project for another time. All over Meherabad you will see residents putting up shading of some sort.

Monday 12 March. Dhuni Day. I took a rickshaw to the Retreat. This is our last week. We close Thursday for the summer. When I got to the Reception Office I looked at how many had spent the night, over 60! I had seven expected arrivals.

With Dhuni, we are getting a regular crowd who come each month. It is becoming a busy time.

This was the last day for pilgrim's dirty laundry to be dropped off. In the Dining Hall, the gardener has been bringing in the potted plants and putting them in the area by the pond. In our office, I empited my shelf and packed my things in bags to take home.

Bhau had his last talk of the season in the MPC Hall. Tea and popcorn were sent down on the bus at 3:30 PM. Evening Arti was at 5:00 PM. The Dhuni would be lit at 6:30 PM.

All my arrivals, plus an unexpected arrival, came early. By 6:00 PM I was able to close the office and go home. I thankfully caught a ride with one of the pilgrims who was going to the Dhuni.

Tuesday 13 March. I woke without feeling exhaustion. Those sleeping pills are working! It will be such a relief to arrive in NY and be helpful without dragging my body. After breakfast I got on the computer to do some work. Just then my daughter, Rabia, called me.

Rabia had just gone to her doctor, and the doctor said she had begun to dilate. Meaning, the twin babies are preparing to make their entrance into the world. Because they are twins, the doctor wanted to have her come to the hospital on Friday, and they would induce the labor. But, my daughter said, "But, my mama is coming on Sunday! I want to wait until my mama comes!" The doctor said, "Who is having this baby? You or your mother?"

I had to laugh at that one. The doctor did say they would set the hospital date for next Tuesday, though he doesn't have any control over what the babies will do. So, here is the big race! Will I arrive in New York first, or will the twin babies arrive in New York first!

At 10:15 AM there was a video showing of Padre; one of Baba's close Mandali. Baba said Padre was one of His four pillars of Meherabad. This was the 25th anniversary of Padri's death.

The video was shown in the new Media Center Multi-Purpose room (the former men's dorm) in the Meher Pilgrim Center. Little by little the MPC is being transformed into its new life of activities for service to Beloved Baba.

At 6:00 PM I was up the hill for my Samadhi duty. This was the last duty on the hill for me until my return from the States.

Wednesday 14 March. When it was about time to get a rickshaw to go to the Retreat, I found none were available. Not one! I called Roxanne, who lives near me. Yes, she had a rickshaw coming at 8:30 AM. I happily walked to her place.

Roxanne is the volunteer supervisor of Housekeeping at the Meher Pilgrim Retreat. This first year of running the Retreat has been so much work that Rox will often sleep there, or go back up in the evening. She is the one who found the different hired supervisors for the whole place. She not only trained them, but all the hired workers under the supervisors. She sees to the daily care of the Retreat—and that is a huge undertaking!

I have so much respect and appreciation for the tremendous job she has done. Our Rox is very particular; she will not allow a job to be done in any way but the best.

This was my half-day. Suzie does the second half of the day. We had eight arrivals, two were unexpected. Plus, several pilgrims came into the office to extend their stay until we closed the next day. There were around 30 pilgrims spending the last night at the Retreat.

When Suzie arrived in the office, I was free to do my summer jobs. I straightened the games cabinet and locked it. I then had all the plants from our office taken into the Dining Hall, where they will be looked after during the summer by the gardener. I will be leaving for the States in three days, and I don't have time to come back up to do the work.

Thursday 15 March. This was the closing day of the Meher Pilgrim Retreat. All pilgrims had to be out of their rooms by 9:30 AM. Breakfast was the last meal. But, the kitchen will not close down until after Friday, because there is the annual 'workers' lunch there. We residents serve lunch to all the workers of the Trust. It is a pleasure to serve them, as they work for us all year long. The lunch will be in the Retreat Dining Hall.

It has been a very busy year. The Retreat has been such a success. So many more pilgrims are coming than ever before. Our Mumbai and Pune Baba Lovers, new and old are coming in larger numbers, and more often. As word spreads about the new facility, the beauty and care of the place, both foreign and national pilgrims are finding 'home' here. Baba seems to have opened His doors a little more—His love is drawing the pilgrims and filling their hearts with His unparallel love, compassion, and understanding.

My love to all you dear lovers of our Beloved Meher Baba. It has been a pleasure to share life here in Meherabad with all of you. I will be in the States for the summer—taking care of babies!

In Beloved Baba's sweet love, Judy

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