Judy Stephens

Meherabad, 1952


1 to 15 August 2007

Jai Meher Baba to you all!

Wednesday 1 August 2007. I had a rickshaw pick me up at 8:30 am and take me to the Meher Pilgrim Retreat. The day was cloudy but not too humid, that goodness. Lately, the weather has been very humid.

I was on duty at the Retreat. I only had one pilgrim, so the day was easy. I was walking near the office, when the toe strap of my shoe broke. I hobbled toward the office. On the way a young, kind pilgrim saw me and loaned me a pair of her shoes. I was very grateful.

I saw Frank, our Supervisor, and he said Bhau approved the jungle gym for the children’s playground. It will be made mostly on site. I am very happy about it. The children will certainly love it. Maybe I will be able to include a photo of it when it is finished, so you can see it too.

On the way home, as I neared Lower Meherabad, there were several herds of sheep passing. Since it was evening, the herders would probably camp in the field nearby.

Thursday 2 August. I was up early to do my workout. Then, I spent the next couple of hours working in the garden. We have all these thorny plants that were put there to keep the cows out. But, since Marge and I put a fence for a garden, we do not need those thorny plants.

I then had a bath and caught our bus to the Trust Office. I first stopped to see Bhauji. As always, his office was full of visitors. After a while, I left to go to the bank. I wanted to deposit a check. The woman in the International department said the check could not be put into the computer until early next week. It seems the bank is doing an update of the bank transactions of foreign currency. I was very happy I still had some money in my account.

I went into the bazaar to buy a large white cloth. This cloth will be the base of the quilt I am starting for my grandson. On this cloth I will draw the design of the quilt. I have already drawn the design on paper. Basically, what happens next will be like cutting paper dolls and cutting clothes to put on top of the dolls. This is the same principle; only it is done with cloth. I am hoping I will soon know how to put a photo in the computer, and then I can show the quilt in the Diary.

On the way home I stopped to see Virginia. I reminded her we will be going to Meherazad this coming Sunday. After I was dropped off at my house to unload my stuff, I walked to the Meher Darbar to meet a friend for lunch. She had never been to the Blue Tank (B.T.) Café and I was happy to take her. We walked across the street to the B.T. Café.

Friday 3 August. In the morning I did my workout. Then I spent most of the day working in the garden. I must not have done much last season, because there is a lot of overgrowth. I know I had the Chickungunya, and that put me out of commission for months. Then I went to the States in early March to help my daughter, who had twins. So, yeah, I guess the garden was neglected.

Before it got dark, I picked flowers and put them in the refrigerator for morning. I borrowed a movie to watch on my computer from one of the residents. I found it was a CD video, and I had to go to another resident to be shown how to make it work. Then, when I finished watching the video, I could not get the video to eject. So, again, off I went to one of the neighbor’s room to be shown how to do it. I am learning, thank goodness.

Saturday 4 August. I was up the hill by 5:30 am to clean Beloved Baba’s Cabin Room. I saw Dolly Dastoor and asked how Jal was doing. Jal has had surgery recently and is now recovering. She said he is doing well, but was not able to walk up the hill to the Samadhi yet.

After putting flowers on the Gadi and Samadhi threshold, I walked back down the hill to clean the Jhopdi and Table House. Then I got ready to give the Historical Tour of Meherabad. I met a group of pilgrims at the MPC at 10:00 am. By the time we reached the museum, there were other people waiting to see the museum.

Walking back down the hill, I decided to go to the B.T. Café for lunch. To my surprise, all the doors of the Café were locked. I guess Saturday is their day off. I do like the roast chicken. Oh well, another day.

By the time I got home I was really tired! I had a quick lunch and took a much-needed nap. I woke refreshed by 4:30 pm and worked in the garden cutting branches, bushes, etc. I actually find gardening very relaxing; hours pass without noticing the time.

Sunday 5 August. I woke early and wanted to work in the garden. I spent a good hour cutting and trimming. With the new fence, there are a lot of areas that had never been tended to. Then I got ready to go to Meherazad.

The car picked me up at 9:15 am. I went to get Virginia, and off we went. On the way to Meherazad, on the Aurangabad road, I noticed many windmills along the tops of the far hills. These have not been there very long. It seems Ahmednagar is now using a natural source of energy. Way to go Ahmednagar!

Another big change on the way to Meherazad is that the Aurangabad road is being widened to a four-lane highway. A lot of the road construction machinery was being used on the road. Boy, things sure are changing fast around here.

When we got to Meherazad, we saw dear Bhauji sitting by the Blue Bus with some residents and pilgrims. In Mandali Hall, Meherwan was being videoed by some pilgrims. When it was close to 11:00 am, Virginia and I walked to the women’s side to take Darshan in Beloved Baba’s Room, and Mehera’s room. Every time we go into Mehera’s room, Virginia sees the sewing machine and talks about Mehera sewing.

We stayed for a while, but then we had to leave early. We had planned to stop for lunch. However, plans changed and I stopped at the Blue Tank and had take away lunch, which we took back to Virginia’s and ate. The woman, Neela, who is taking care of Virginia, had just lost her husband. She is a very nice woman and I appreciate her care of Virginia.

In the afternoon, Kishore, one of our workers, came by to show me he had already hired more workers to start a project I requested. For years we have had problems with cows coming into our compound area, because some of the barrier plants have spaces between them that the herders make. The herders then send their cows into our garden.

Well, last week I had spent a couple of hours cutting branches off a dead tree and plugging these openings! This morning, while out walking, I noticed all the branches gone, guess who probably took them?! For me this was the last straw! I called Kishore and asked him to hire some men to dig a trench two feet deep and two feet wide where those open spaces are. This is the work Kishore was showing me. If this turns out not to be wide enough, we will cut another two feet, making it four feet wide as well as the two feet deep. That should keep those cows away! Then I may have a barbedwire fence put on top of the mounds of dirt from the trenches.

Why didn’t I put a barbedwire fence in the first place? I did in parts, but it was behind some bushes, and the herders just knocked it down.

Monday 6 August. I had a rickshaw pick me up at 8:30 am to take me to the Retreat. I love this weather we are having, it is cool, breezy, and feeling refreshing. During the morning, Pat called from the PRO—she said we would have 64 arrivals on Saturday the 11th. I may have mentioned in the last email, we have a group of 50 coming from Mumbai for the Dhuni. With others coming for the Dhuni as well, our count of arrivals is high for one day. We Receptionists had agreed before at a meeting to have stations when the count reached 50 in a single day.

I told Laurel, who is the Receptionist on Saturday, that I would not be able to help until the afternoon, as I do the Historical Tour of Meherabad in the morning. However, one or two of the other Receptionists will be there the whole time.

In the Lobby, the old newspapers had been piling up. We get two newspapers daily, The Indian Times, and The Indian Express. It only takes a few weeks to have a pile of these newspapers. I had the porters and our assistant, Prakash, tie the newspapers in bundles. They were to send them to the Meherabad Trust Office in the afternoon. Our bus takes the pilgrims down to the MPC for Bhau’s talk, so the bus would carry them.

Tuesday 7 August. I was up early to do my workout. I then spent the next few hours working outdoors. I was cutting down some Tacoma bushes that were blocking the sunlight of two of the trees I had planted last year. Now the new trees don’t have to bend to try and get sunlight.

I went inside for some water and noticed it was 9:30 am. I wanted to take our bus at 10:00 am to the Trust, and I was very dirty. I quickly washed and made the bus in time. I went to the State Bank of India, where I have an account. The check I wrote last week still had not been processed. The woman said headquarters had to start up a new process for foreign currency, and it was not yet up and running.

I had been planning on going to Pune with some other people on Thursday. It looks like I will have to borrow some money. I took a rickshaw home and took an early nap, since I was tired from the morning work.

It was drizzling lightly most of the day. I needed an umbrella going up the hill. It was also very windy and I had to hold tight to the umbrella. I was on duty at the Samadhi at 6:00 pm. There were several people who brought special Prasad, and it is tasty.

I am enjoying reading the new Harry Potter book!

Wednesday 8 August. I had the rickshaw pick me up at 8:30 am. It has been very windy and cloudy lately. At the Retreat, the wind is so strong you have to be careful things don’t blow away. I had to keep one of the windows closed in the Reception Office because stuff kept blowing off the desk.

I called the woman at the State Bank of India. She said the foreign transactions are now being processed. She said it would take two days to catch up with the work. This of course meant I did not know if my check would be cleared that day or the next.

On the way home, I noticed new trees that had been planted around the inside fence of the cremation site. Once the trees start to grow, the shade will sure be helpful when the sun is blazing on anyone standing around during cremations.

I also passed by the old MPC on the way home. Seeing it reminded me to tell about the new changes that are taking place there. In the old room W2, next to the bathroom, a photography metal trough with sink was being built on the wall. The room has been used for photography work. This will make it easier with the water right there.

Thursday 9 August. I was up by 5:00 am getting ready to go to Pune. The Sumo picked me up at 6:00 am. The Sumo had already picked up two pilgrims from the Retreat, and someone else from the colony. We got to Pune by 8:40 am and had a good breakfast at the German Bakery.

After breakfast we stopped at the Delta Airline office nearby. I dropped off my new American Tourister luggage that had the lock broken during my return flight to India. Delta was going to fix it. After that we had a glorious morning!

We first stopped at the Guruprasad memorial; next we went to the Bund Garden Park just up the street. We walked to the tree Babajan sat under. After paying our respects, we went to the Pateleshwar Caves, right beside the Jungle Maharaj Temple. The Pateleshwar Caves was where Baba went during the first 9 months after Babajan kissed him on the forehead. Baba had also said all the Avatars had been to that place.

Next, we went to Sasson Hospital, and went into the room where Beloved Baba was born. My eyes filled with tears knowing the Perfect Masters chose that room to bring Baba into human birth. I had only been outside the building some 30 years ago, never going into the room itself. I was very deeply touched. I even kissed the walls!

We next went to Baba’s house and into His room. Then, we went to Babajan’s tomb. I tell you, we were all feeling as if we had immersed in a sea of absolute wonder.

Now, it was time to run some errands. We went to Jagtap nursery so I could buy another Bougainvillea. This one had pretty lavender flowers. We next went to Dorabji’s to buy food to take back home. By this time it was 12:30 pm and we were ready for a good lunch. We went to ‘The Place’ where they have steak! With a full stomach, we were ready to return to Meherabad.

We got back to Meherabad by 6:00 pm. I went to the Residents mail table and found a cell phone bill from Idea! Can you believe they had the nerve to say I owed Rs 300? That is about $6.00. Now, I cancelled my service with them on the 17th of July. I had only had less than two weeks of service from Idea, and in those few days they kept blocking my calls. I will have to call them, because they are supposed to be sending me my deposit back, not sending me a bill!

Friday 10 August. I was up early doing my workout and then taking Foundy for a walk. After, I spent time in the garden until I got ready to take our bus to the Trust at 10:00 am.

I went into the bazaar and bought some pretty blue material that I will use in the quilt I am making my next grandchild, who turns seven in November. This grandchild is a boy who wants a volcano that is exploding, and a rocket ship crashing into it. What a far cry from the unicorn and angel quilt I just made for the granddaughter. I decided to make Ari a theme of space, with flying saucers, fighter jets, planets, etc. And yeah, it will have a planet with a volcano exploding and a rocket ship crashing into it—but I will have two caped people flying to save the ship!

By the time I got home I was pretty tired. I had some lunch and took a lovely nap. Later, Kishore came by and we went to measure the trenches he had dug for me to keep the cows out. The work voucher will be signed by one of residents who handle this area of work. Then the diggers can be paid. After that, I picked flowers and put them in the refrigerator for tomorrow.

Bhauji gave a talk in the Hall of the MPC at 4:30 pm. First tea and cake were served at 4:00 pm.

Saturday 11 August. I was up the hill just before 5:30 am. The doors to the Samadhi are opened by 5:30 am. I often arrive just after they are opened. If you are there when they are opened, everyone says, ‘Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai’ until the doors are completely opened and latched with the hooks. We then go in and remove the top cloth holding the garlands. Under the top cloth are two or three extra cloths, to protect the marble. Each cloth is removed saying Baba’s name. Next, a temporary cloth is laid until the cleaning at 6:00 am.

I then went to Baba’s Cabin Room and did the cleaning. After putting flowers on the Gadi and the Samadhi threshold, I went down the hill to clean the Jhopdi and Table House. Mariko and Joseph were there to help.

When I got back to my room, I had a bath and got ready to do the Historical Tour of Meherabad. Two of the people on the Tour had gone to Pune with me on Thursday. I finish the Tour at the museum on the hill, near the Samadhi.

I decided to go straight to the Meher Pilgrim Retreat to help out. I was going to go to the Retreat after going home for lunch, and having a nap. I am usually exhausted by the time the Tour is over. But, I was afraid it would be much harder to go to the Retreat later than if I went directly, while I still had my mind in a ‘busy’ state.

I was really glad I went straight there. The bus of 50 pilgrims had arrived only a few minutes before I did, and they all went into the Dining Hall for lunch. I sat with the other two Receptionists, and we talked about what we would do. There were now almost 80 expected arrivals that day.

By 2:30 pm most of the arrivals had come. Laurel, who was the Receptionist on duty, said she was okay and we could go home. Yea! I was very tired. We took a rickshaw home. Across the street from the MPC, I saw a lot of sheep. I think the herders were camping.

Sunday 12 August. I was up early to do my workout. Then I took my dog, Foundy, for a walk. I decided to work in the garden for an hour. As I was trimming a branch, two bees flew at me and stung me on the lips and on the left arm. Realizing I had disturbed a beehive, I dropped everything and ran for the house! I quickly put ice on my lip and arm. After a while, I went back outside and continued gardening—but keeping away from the beehive area!

Shortly, I decided it was time to start on the quilt. I took out the white cloth and ironed it. I needed it smooth to be sure I had the right distance for drawing borders and dividing the cloth in four sections. It is easier to gage distance between designs if the cloth has some markings. I worked until it was time to meet my friend, Karina, for lunch at the Blue Tank Café.

After lunch, we took a rickshaw to my place. I showed Karina what Marge and I had been doing in the garden. Also, I showed her the dresser and sewing cabinet I had had made.

After a nap, as I was getting ready to go to the Dhuni, my daughter Rabia called from New York. She said her husband, Oliver’s new company was advertised in that mornings New York Post business section. I was so happy to hear it! I had not told anyone about his new company until it went public. Now I could talk about it.

Oliver started a company called Robot Galaxy. His partner had been the president of Gap International, and knows about the business world. Oliver wanted to make the kind of robots that children could build their own. The store is mostly geared toward a boys marketed. The company that designs the robots for him is in Southern California. The manufacturer is in China. They will open with two stores in October and hope to open 70 within five years.

When we got off the phone, I walked to the Dhuni. Evening Arti was at 5:30 pm and the Dhuni was lit at 6:45 pm. Neela had brought Virginia and a stool for her to sit on. There were around two hundred people at the Dhuni. So, the pilgrims had to take Darshan at the Dhuni two or three at a time.

Monday 13 August. I had the rickshaw pick me up at 8:30 am. As soon as I opened the door of the Reception Office, I had pilgrims coming in needing something. Some pilgrims came in to say goodbye, they were going home. We had many pilgrims leaving, for they had come for the Dhuni.

Tuesday 14 August. I worked in the garden for about an hour. I have to pace myself, because I have to spend most of my time now working on the quilt. I laid the white cloth on my floor and began to draw the design on it. It is fun, and time goes fast.

I had to keep an eye on the time, because I needed to take our bus to the Trust Office. When we got there I took a rickshaw to an ATM. The ATM at the State Bank of India was packed, as usual, though I believe the bank is now putting in a second ATM machine. Anyway, I went to the HDFC bank. It is nice having several ATM machines around now.

When I got home I started to work on the quilt, but the electricity went off. It is too hard to pencil draw on white cloth with not much light. So, I took this opportunity to continue to read the new Harry Potter book. It sure is good.

When the lights finally came back on, I began to draw the quilt design until it was time to go up the hill for my 6:00 pm Samadhi duty. But first, I picked flowers to take up the hill in the morning.

Wednesday 15 August. I was up the hill by 5:30 am. The Samadhi door was already open so I was not able to help with removing the cloths that stay on it over night. I will be cleaning Mehera’s shrine every Wednesday morning until I leave for the States in October. The person who usually does it is going on vacation.

After cleaning Mehera’s shrine, I put flowers on it. I then put flowers in Baba’s Cabin Room and on the Gadi. There are daily two bundles of flowers that are ordered from the flowerwala, and the person cleaning Mehera’s shrine uses them. They were there by 6:45 am, but since I had to leave to go back to my room and get ready to go to the Retreat, I had someone else put them on the shrines.

The rickshaw picked me up at 8:30 am. I had an easy day, only a few pilgrims arriving. This day was India’s Independence Day. Our permanent workers, if they can be spared, are allowed to take it off as a holiday. Prakash, our Reception Office assistant, came to work at 11:00 am. He works from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. Around 12:30 pm he asked if he could have the day off. I told him it would be silly to take the whole day off, as he was already at work. I suggested he take only a half-day off. That way he would have another half-day leave coming to him.

On the main road in front of the old MPC, the annual horse drawn Tonga races would start at 12:00 noon. The races last about an hour. They are quite lively. But, since we are now up the hill, I will not be able to go look at them. When we were using the MPC, I would just walk out to the road and watch. It is fun to see! The riders on the motorcycles, who ride along side the tongas, blast their horns, and continue to yell during the whole race. It is wild!

In the afternoon, Bhauji came to the MPC and gave a talk in the Hall to the Residents and volunteer staff. Most of the residents who were free from work were able to attend. I was up at the Retreat and not able to go to the talk.

For the pilgrims, there is a Baba movie shown in our Music and Arts Center (Hostel-A) at 4:30 PM. First, tea and cake are served on the verandah at 4:00 pm.

When I got back home at 6:45 pm I took Foundy, my dog, for a walk. He is having trouble with his rear right leg. We think it may be arthritis. By taking him for a walk I make him use that leg, otherwise he hops to avoid using it.

I then worked on continuing the drawing of the design on the white cloth. It is looking good. I am almost done with the drawing part. While drawing, I had an idea. Ari likes to look at those books that have a lot of activity on each page. The book will ask you to find how many you can count of something. So, I thought I would put Ari’s name in a lot of places in the quilt, and see if he can find all the places I put it. An example may be putting his name in a star, on the wing of a fighter jet, etc.

In Beloved Baba’s sweet love, Judy

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