Judy Stephens

Meherabad, 1952


1 July to 15 July 2007

The month of June sure did go by fast! We have been having some good monsoon rain. Everything around here is green, green, and green. The plants and bushes seem to thrive in the monsoon. It is a good time to plant. All the plants Marge and I planted are starting to grow, and by the end of this pilgrim season, that part of the garden should begin to reflect its beauty, even though there is a tree that I think we will have to cut down. Half of the trunk has been eaten away by termites. This happened before we had the fence put in, so we were not paying attention to it. We were hoping it would survive, but this year, while all the other trees are getting their new leaves, it still does not have any. I feel a little sad about it. The heart wants everything to thrive.

With the new month of July comes the opening of Meherazad. Meherazad closes from March until opening day during the first week of July.

Sunday 1 July. Meherazad opens for the new pilgrim season. I had a car pick me up at 9:30am. I went to pick up Virginia. She was happy to see me, though I think she was not sure where we were going.

Sure enough, once we started down the long, dirt road to Meherazad, Virginia began to feel things were familiar. We always go into Mandali Hall first to take Beloved Baba's Darshan at His chair. Then we go into the blue bus. The metal bed on which He dropped His body is in it. Whenever I bow down, I always put my head on the bed. There is something in me, some awareness, of wanting to just tell Baba how much I love Him. I feel so helpless in the knowledge of how much He suffered on that bed. To me, to be able to touch the bed, to be able to put my head down on it, is such an unimaginable blessing.

When it was almost 11:00 am, we went on the women's side. We went first into Mehera's room, where Virginia always remembers her dear friend. Then, we went into Baba's room. Next, we sat on Mehera's porch. It was a very relaxed morning. Some of the pilgrims sang songs. There was one young Indian girl who sang a couple of songs in a lovely voice. Then this little girl of maybe four, held by her mother because she was shy, sang the Gujarati Arti.

The time went fast and before we knew it, it was time to leave. Virginia and I stopped for ice cream at 31 flavors (which only had about six flavors). We were near Idea service center, so I had our driver take me there. It was closed, but I saw the owner inside. I went in and talked to him. He assured me the post-paid service would be turned on in a few hours. This problem has been going on since early June.

Virginia and I again stopped for ice cream. The first place did not have her favorite, chocolate. Sweet Home has homemade ice cream. Virginia had two scoops-and loved every spoonful of it. After dropping Virginia off, I had lunch at the Blue Tank. Virginia still is not ready to eat much since she was ill during the summer

At 4:00 pm, Michelle Dunsworth came to my house. She is going to work with me in videoing and learning the Historical Tour of Meherabad. Bhau will be giving a weekly Wednesday chat with the residents and volunteers, and Michelle has agreed to video it. I will not be free to do any of the Wednesday videoing until sometime in August when Suzie Iimura returns.

Monday 2 July. A rickshaw picked me up at 8:30 am to go to the Retreat. I saw Ted Judson and showed him the drawing of the children's jungle gym for the playground that Suzie and I had designed. Ted suggested Promode's welder to do the work. So, I called Promode. He will come to the Retreat office on Wednesday to get the design.

Tuesday 3 July. I took our bus to the Trust. Then I got off and took a rickshaw to Idea Service Center. I still did not have my post-paid service. This time they had said I needed to give them a Rs3000 deposit. I went into the office, gave the boss the rupees, and said I was not leaving the office until the post-paid service was turned on. It took about an hour for the fax, and phone calls to Pune, to get everything ready to be finalized. I was assured the service would be turned on shortly.

I went up the hill later in the day for my Samadhi duty at 6:00 pm.

Wednesday 4 July. I had a rickshaw pick me up at 8:30 am to go to the Retreat. It has been very windy up there. When walking between the Lobby and the Reception Offices, it is like going through a wind tunnel. I had about twenty arrivals. In the morning, Promode came in to get the jungle gym drawing. He will give me an appraisal of the cost.

Bhau came for his first Wednesday afternoon chat with the Residents and volunteer workers. Tea and a snack are served at 4:00 pm in the Meher Center Dining Hall (MPC). Bhauji starts his talk at 4:30 pm. Michelle Dunsworth videoed for me. I am very grateful to her. I will not be free to do it until Suzie Iimuri returns in August.

Thursday 5 July. I did my morning workout. Then, as I went to get my cell phone out of my purse, I could not find it. I remembered I left it in our office near the computer. Heather was on duty. I called her and asked her to please put it on my shelf.

Before noon I decided to walk to the Retreat and get my cell phone. Then I walked to the Blue Tank for lunch. The walk home after lunch was a good way to digest the food.

Friday 6 July. After my morning workout, I worked in the garden. There is a plant called Tacoma (I think). It is an incredibly fast growing bush. It grows tall, bushy, and has bunches of yellow flowers. The plant is very pretty and the Tacoma seems to sprout everywhere. I have been transplanting many of the shoots along the fence Marge and I had built.

In the afternoon, I went up to the Samadhi for Darshan. The sky has been cloudy most days. So, it is best to walk with an umbrella. The weather has been cool—which I love!

We had a Receptionist meeting in the Academy at 7:15 pm. We spent most of the time talking about how we would handle the large numbers of pilgrims coming for Silence Day.

We went next to the MPC to meet Irene at 8:00 pm. She wanted to show us how to do some things we would need to know on the computer. She will be going on vacation in a few days and this would be the only time to have us all get together.

Saturday 7 July. I was up the hill by 5:30 am to clean Beloved Baba's Cabin Room. After cleaning, I put flowers on the stretcher cover. Then I went to the Gadi, under the tin shed, and arranged flowers there. Before going back down the hill, I always like to put a few flowers on both sides of the threshold of Beloved Baba's Samadhi.

Joseph, Mariko, and I cleaned the Table House and Jhopdi. I then got ready to do the Historical Tour of Meherabad. When I got to the old MPC, no one was waiting for the Tour. Ever since we moved up the hill to the Meher Pilgrim Retreat I have found many times no one is there for the Tour. So, I finally figured something is off. Somehow, something needs to be changed. It may be that the pilgrims are just more removed up at the Retreat. Before, the pilgrims were already at the MPC and I would just be waiting on the front verandah. Maybe I will have to go up the hill to the Retreat and take the bus down to the MPC with the pilgrims who want to go on the Tour. Humm! Must be time for a change.

There was an '07-07-07' party at the Muir compound that began in the evening. The Muir family started this annual party with the first one on '02-02-02'. The next year, the party was on 03-03-03, etc. Fun, huh!

Sunday 8 July. Every year, just before Silence Day, we do a through cleaning of the Jhopdi and Table House. This means the underside of the metal covering is not only swept, but all the wooden posts are wiped with a damp cloth.

The Jhopdi had been completely worked on just two weeks before. So, our cleaning was only minor. We did the regular cleaning of the windows and sweeping, though, this time we also polished the window frame and door.

The Table House had the full works. The women from the Archive Building, under the supervision of Jessica Mednick, cleaned the underside of the roof and beams. Mariko, Joseph, and I cleaned the Table House itself. The Table House screen door was opened for a once a year inside cleaning. Meriko was given the privilege of this job. She is very careful and meticulous in anything she cleans that Baba used.

We finished and put everything away by 1:15 pm. I had signed up for lunch at the Retreat. The walk took about 20 minutes from the Jhopdi area. After lunch I helped Adair, who was the scheduled Receptionist on duty. We had 'stations' for the expected 60 arrivals that day. Heather helped in the morning.

Prakash, our assistant, was stationed at a table in the Dining Hall, to have the pilgrims sign in and give them their nametags. The two tables next to it were the accounting tables. One was to pay for the food, and the other for the accommodations. Now, the pilgrims who had already stayed at the Retreat would go straight to the Lobby. In the Lobby would be the assisting Receptionist. We would give out the cupboard locks and put the room number on the nametags. The pilgrim would then get their room key from the Lobbyman. If this were the first time a pilgrim came to the Retreat, they would go to the Receptionist Office for an orientation.

Adair finished at 7:00 pm, and we went home. It was very busy but the 'stations' really worked well.

Monday 9 July. Around 7:30 am, I got a call from Roxanne, the Housekeeping supervisor, telling me I now had 55 expected arrivals. Eeeek! I did not have any scheduled help. I went to Adair and told her my problem. She said when she got back from the clinic at Meherazad she would come up and help.

I had a rickshaw pick me up at 8:30 am. When I got to the Retreat, Heather had called and said she would be up to help me in the morning. I was so happy! I thought all the other Receptionists had scheduled work elsewhere. It was my good fortune Heather had other things to do that day at Meherabad.

Boy, was I glad for the help! We were hopping! The assistant and we two Receptionists were kept busy until lunch. It slowed down until after lunch. Then Adair came and we were busy once again checking in pilgrims, changing their rooms, changing their departure dates, etc. We were also giving out tickets to the Baba movie on Silence Day. Each pilgrim had a choice of a ticket to the 10:00 am showing or the 4:00 pm showing. We finished a little after 7:00 pm and went home.

In the morning, there was a 'Meherabad Morning' at the MPC. This is a new scheduled Monday and Friday event. At 10:30 am a video may be shown, or Baba lovers may share their stories of coming to Baba. At 10:30 am, Fridays, Sam & Roshan Kerawala share some of their many Baba stories. In the afternoon, Bhauji gave a talk.

When I got home I fed my dog, read some to relax, and then went to bed.

Tuesday 10 July. Silence Day. I woke to my note 'Silent' taped to my dresser. I spent most of the morning reading, or working in the garden. I really love the quiet of Silence Day.

At the Samadhi, there was no morning cleaning. Also, of course no Arti. The line for His Darshan was very long. With over 1000 pilgrims here, the line stayed this way all day.

Before lunch, I went to the Jhopdi to take Beloved Baba's Darshan. This is where He began His silence. There was a short line. Next to the open door was a basket with some flowers still inside. Above the door was a 'Turin' of flowers. As my turn came, I stepped inside the Jhopdi. The little stool with Baba's photo on it was piled high with flowers. The two windowsills were also covered with flowers. I moved some of the flowers aside, so I could see more of Baba's face.

There were two showings of a Baba film at the theatre. One showing was from 10:00 am-11:00 a.m. The second showing of the same film was from 4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.

After being open all day, the door to the Jhopdi was locked at 6:00 PM. Joseph & Mariko locked it as I was up the hill. I had Samadhi duty at 6:00 pm. On the way up the hill, I passed this sweet old Baba lover from Iran. He was in the Prem Ashram. I said 'Jai B' and then caught myself. Darn! Well, once again I did not make it through the whole day without saying a word. I have been a Baba lover for 40 years, and I am ashamed to say I have seldom made it through the whole Silence Day without saying something—to my dog, my children when they were small, or whatever.

I remember a Baba lover named Dana Field. He used to put masking tape across his mouth to make sure he did not speak. Maybe I should consider doing it?

At the Samadhi, there were several kinds of Prasad. When there are a large number of pilgrims here, a table for the Prasad is put just outside the portico, near Mehera's shrine. The pilgrims do not go back through the portico, but out the outside walkway. There are usually two or more people giving out the Prasad.

Wednesday 11 July. I met Mariko & Joseph at the Jhopdi. We removed all the flowers from inside and swept the room. We then did the same for all the flowers outside the Table House. These flowers are placed under the trees around the area.

I was on duty at the Retreat and had a rickshaw pick me up at 8:30 am. We had around 160 pilgrims; most would stay until after Dhuni on the 12th.

There was a Commemoration Program for Beloved Baba's 82nd Anniversary of His Silence Day. The program was to take place at the Music and Arts Center (Hostel-A). The morning session was from 9:45 am to 12:00 noon. This consisted of garlanding Baba's photo, a welcome speech, program introduction, bhajans, and then our dear Bhauji gave a Special Talk on Baba's Silence. The talk was in Hindi.

In the afternoon, the program was from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. It was opened with bhajans & group songs. Then a short speech followed by "The Divine Sense of Humour"-a short play by the Bombay Center.

Thursday 12 July. After working out in the morning, I went out to the garden and spent several relaxing hours trimming, pruning, and generally making the area look nicer. Then, I walked to the Blue Tank for lunch. Sam

I got a call from Idea, the cell phone company I have been trying to get a post-paid program with since the 8th June. They had finally turned my service on last week. Now, they call and tell me my home address belongs to someone else. They said I would have to fill out another application. I told them I live in the Doctors Quarters in Meherabad, and there are four of us with that address. I think there is an empty space between this woman's ears. Because the woman repeated again I had to fill another application with a different address. She simply would not, or could not, comprehend that more than one person could share an address. I tried to tell her I don't have another address. What does she want me to put on another application? I told her she has my address. I also asked her if she looked at the copy of my BSNL landline phone bill I gave them? I told her she could see my address on it. I really was talking to a blank wall.

Then, I find out later that day, my cell phone has the outgoing-calls blocked. I call the Idea Service Center in Ahmednagar. They said they would straighten it out. Hah! Of course my phone stayed blocked. I could get calls, but I could not make any. It looked like I was going to have to go once more to that Service Center where I got my service. This is really becoming a problem. It all started when I applied for a post-paid service. There are more choices with post-paid than pre-paid.

Evening Arti was at 5:00 pm. The Dhuni was lit at 6:45 pm. There are still hundreds of pilgrims here from Silence Day. So, you can imagine how long the line is. Surprisingly, Jal Dastoor is able to have this number of pilgrims take their Darshan at the Dhuni quickly. The singing during this time is quite lively.

Friday 13 July. I spent most of the day reading and working in the garden. I went up the hill to take Darshan at the Samadhi. There were quite a few pilgrims there. The weather has been so beautiful. The wind feels cool and refreshing. Sometimes it rains, but the heavy monsoon rain lasted only for a short while. There are still weeks of the monsoon season left, so it is likely we will get more heavy rain.

There was the 'Mornings at Meherabad' program. At 9:30 am there was the sharing of entertainment. Then at 10:30 pm Sam Kerawala shared some of his Baba stories.

Tea and donuts were served at 4:00 pm in the Dining Hall of the MPC. At 4:30 pm Bhauji gave a talk.

Before it got dark I picked flowers and put them in the refrigerator for the next morning.

Saturday 14 July. I was up the hill by 5:30 am to clean Baba's Cabin Room. After putting flowers on the Gadi and the Samadhi threshold, I walked down the hill to clean the Jhopdi and Table House. Mariko and Joseph were waiting for me.

After cleaning, I went home to get ready for the Historical Tour of Meherabad. There were several pilgrims. When we got up the hill, there were more people waiting to see the museum.

After the Tour, I like going into the Samadhi and spending some quite time with Baba. It is so peaceful and soothing there.

In the afternoon, there was a program at the Music and Arts Demonstration Center (Hostel-A). Tea and cake were served at 4:00 pm on the theater verandah. Then at 4:30 pm, two videos were shown from projects done by the Ahmednagar Baba Lovers.

Sunday 15 July. I got a phone call at 5:30 am from the Receptionist who was scheduled to work at the Retreat. She was ill and asked if I could cover for her. During the day I had a few pilgrims. Otherwise it was an easy day. Most days will seem easy after the Silence Day crowded time.

In Beloved Baba's sweet love, Judy

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