Judy Stephens

Meherabad, 1952


16 January to 1 February 2008

Jai Meher Baba to you all!

Yesterday, all the extra beds from Hostel-D were taken up to the Meher Pilgrim Retreat. Some of the extra beds we have at the MPR have already been stuffed in the upper floor rooms on the men's side. These rooms have to be rearranged to fit them in—a lot of work.

Wednesday 16 January 2008. I was on duty at the Retreat (MPR). The six signs with the three main rules in three languages are almost finished. Only the Hindi part is left. Terry, the one who is doing the Hindi and English part, said everything would be complete by Friday. It looks pretty impressive.

At 3:30 PM our bus took pilgrims to our Music and Arts Center to watch a Baba film. Tea and snack was served on the verandah at 4:00 PM. The film started at 4:30 PM.

Thursday 17 January. I worked in the garden until it was time to take our bus to Ahmednagar. I had to go to the bank. I stopped at Virginia's on the way home. I let the people taking care of her know I would take Virginia again to Meherazad this coming Sunday. It would be the last time until after Amartithi.

Friday 18 January. I did my morning workout, and then worked in the garden for part of the morning. Next, I rode my scooter to the Retreat. I wanted to measure the bookcases for the new one I'm having made to hold the Baba magazines, like the Love Street Lamp Post, Glow, etc.

When I was at the Retreat, I saw Pramode. He is the one who built the jungle gym. He brought painters to paint it. When that is done, we will put up the tire swing. Then it will be ready for use! Of course, we will need to plant fast growing trees, as it gets very hot directly under the sun.

Later, I walked up to the Samadhi. On both sides of the railroad tracks, there are now huge piles of dirt that will be made into a smooth crossing over the railroad tracks. Since the Railroad Department raised the railroad tracks almost two feet, our usual crossing during Amartithi would not work because it would be to low.

At 4:00 PM tea and snack were served in the MPC Hall. Then at 4:30 PM, Bhau gave a talk. At 9:00 PM a Baba movie was showed at the Retreat.

Saturday 19 January. I was up the hill by 5:25 AM. So, I was able to help remove the cloths off the Samadhi when it was opened. After taking Darshan, I went to clean Baba's Cabin Room. I then put flowers on the stretcher, Ghadi, and the Samadhi threshold.

I met Mariko and Joseph at Meherabad Mandali Hall. There is a room there that we keep the cleaning supplies for the Jhopdi and Table House. Well, the door lock had been changed. Every Amartithi it is changed because it becomes Bhauji room. Since we didn't have a key to the new lock, we were unable to do our weekly cleaning. We will have to wait until after Amartithi.

At 10:00 AM I went to the MPC to meet anyone who wanted to go on the Historical Tour of Meherabad. There was no one waiting, so I had the day off.

At 4:00 PM tea and snack were served on the verandah of the Music and Arts Center. Then at 4:30 PM, Bill Cliff, Ted Judson, Wendy Halstad, and others gave wonderful performances.

Sunday 20 January. I hired a car to take Virginia and me to Meherazad. When we got there, I found it was becoming harder for Virginia to walk from place to place. She is easily tired, so we had to keep sitting until she was ready to continue. One of the Meherazad residents suggested I use a wheelchair for her. Virginia has one, and I will start taking it when we go to Meherazad. Her body is starting to lose its strength. She is 91 years old.

Meheru and Katie are always so sweet to Virginia. They show her so much care and kindness. It gives my heart so much joy to see it. We had also gone into Arnavaz room so they could say hello to each other.

The program in Mandali Hall was enjoyable, as always. Hughie had the children laughing with his magic tricks.

Monday 21 January. I was on duty at the Retreat. The jungle gym is painted and finished! It looks really nice. The children now have a place to play. But, I still have to get the tire swing hooked up. Though one of our workers at the Retreat used a rope to temporarily hold the swing. A chain is what will be used soon. What is amazing is Balu no sooner put the tire swing up and children and their parents used it!

Shridhar (one of the Trustees) is in charge of scheduling the Amartithi Samadhi duty roster. He called to remind me that he would need the MPR Samadhi sign-up sheet by Tuesday. I told him I would bring it the next day. Those who sign up will be given a time slot to do duty. But, they do not have a choice of the time slot. They have to accept what is given them.

I still have on the MPR Dining Hall doors the sign-up board for volunteers who want to help with Baba's Cabin Room. I will keep it up until Amartithi.

Tuesday 22 January. I woke at 4:00 AM. So, I decided to get up and do my workout extra early. I then worked on the design of the new bookcase I'm making for the MPR. When it was light enough outside, I went for a walk and then worked in the garden.

I took our bus to the Trust at 10:00 AM. I had to go to the bank. A woman who works in the Foreign Exchange department and I have become friendly over the years. She had asked to see the photos of the quilts I have made for my grandchildren. I also brought photos of my family to show.

In the evening at 6:00 PM I had Samadhi duty. I have started going up earlier so I would have time to visit Jaloo. It is something I enjoy doing.

All the poles on the hill are up. The pandals that are put as cover are very colorful and very pretty. They will give shade to the thousands who come for Amartithi. Already we have many pilgrims here.

Wednesday 23 January. I was on duty at the MPR. The tire swing has a temporary rope holding up the tire—the children already use it. It will be nice when we have the permanent swing made.

This was the last day for pilgrims at the Retreat to drop off their dirty laundry. There is no laundry service during Amartithi. In the afternoon, a Baba film was shown in our Music and Arts Center at 4:30 PM. Tea and snack were served on the verandah at 4:00 PM.

Thursday 24 January. This was the last day for pilgrims at Meherazad until after Amartithi. Meherazad will reopen on Tuesday 5th February.

I rode my scooter to the Retreat to meet Kishore, a carpenter, who will build the new bookcase for the Lobby. I gave him the drawing of the bookcase. He will work out an estimate of cost and then I will summit it to Bhau for approval.

I next met, in the children's playground, the welder from Arangaon village who will make the tire swing. The top part will be made with ball bearings so it will swivel. The man said it should be done in a day. I thought to myself "let's see if it is done in a week."

At 7:00 PM, we had a Receptionists meeting at the Academy (adjacent to the Savages Kitchen). We went over the final details for Amartithi. One of the Receptionists is very ill, so we divided up her share of the work.

This is our second Amartithi at the Retreat since we opened. We are still trying different ways to make the process of signing in as smooth as we can. Last year we had pilgrims sign in our Dining Hall. It took so long because accounting had to hand-write every receipt for each pilgrim as they paid. This year the receipts will be printed out from the computer. We will use our office for signing in, giving their lock and key to the cupboard, and giving their Amartithi badge with the token number on it. Now, this token number tells the pilgrims when their turn will come up to get in the queue at the Samadhi for Darshan.

The pilgrims next go though our inner door to the Accounting office and pay for their lodging. Next, the pilgrim goes out the door to another desk to pay for their food. We hope this process will work better. Also, we are not going to have an orientation. We put some of the main rules in three languages; these will be posted at the entrance to all the four sleeping entrances.

Friday 25 January. I did my workout and worked in the garden for a while. I then got ready to do the errands I need for Amartithi. First, I stopped at the Meherabad Accounting Office to get reimbursed for the cost of the swing being made.

While at the Accounting Office, I was reminded the MPR Receptionist must make vouchers for the four watchmen at the MPC. The watchmen stay at the MPC around the clock during Amartithi. Therefore, we make the vouchers so they can get money to buy their meals and tea.

I had to next go to Hostel-D to pick up the 300 badges for the pilgrims who will stay at the MPR. The pilgrims who will stay at the MPC will get badges from another volunteer. Yes, we will be using the old MPC. We have an overflow from the Retreat, and we also have a large number of Iranians who don't want to eat at the Retreat during Amartithi. So, they will stay at the MPC and eat at any of the many food stalls.

I rode my scooter to take the badges to the Retreat. I also had the two porters write in large block letters on the badges 'MPR'. This was important, as no one will be allowed into the MPR sleeping wings without MPR on their badges. We will have security men sitting at the entrances checking badges.

Bhauji gave a talk at the MPC Hall at 4:30 PM. Tea and snack were served first at 4:00 PM. When I parked my scooter at the MPC to go up the hill for Darshan, I saw our bus and a blue bus I had not seen before. On the way up the hill, I passed a large group of Japanese people. They were coming down the hill from taking Darshan at the Samadhi. Meher Baba's Samadhi is considered a holy place in India, and we get people who travel to all the holy places. These people were probably doing that.

Saturday 26 January. I was up the hill by 5:30 AM to clean Baba's Cabin Room. After I put flowers on the stretcher cover, I put flowers on the Ghadi and Samadhi threshold. I then met Joseph and Mariko to clean the Jhopdi and Table House. We had brought our own supplies. We were unable to use the regular cleaning supplies, since they were in the locked room where Bhauji would be staying.

I then got ready to do the Historical Tour of Meherabad. There were several pilgrims waiting at the MPC and we the tour took almost three hours. The last place I take the pilgrims is the museum.

The regular afternoon program at the Music and Arts Center had been cancelled because of the preparations for Amartithi.

Sunday 27 January. I was running all over Meherabad, getting things that were needed. One thing we needed for the Retreat was two platforms from the theater. We use them to put up the schedule of Amartithi performances. I called Harry, who would know if any were available. Yes, he said there were two still not used. Next, I saw Raosahab (our bazaar wala) and asked if he would be able to take the platforms in the green truck. Yes was the answer. Well, sometimes things work out in perfect timing. Harry was at the theatre and Raosahab had just delivered groceries to staff members in my area. The two platforms were taken to the Retreat within half an hour.

Monday 28 January. I had duty at MPR. I had a rickshaw pick me up extra early so I would be at the Retreat by 8:15 AM. At 4:30 PM we had a meeting for all volunteers who signed up for Baba's Cabin Room duty. During Amartithi we have two hours round the clock shifts. At the meeting the history of the Cabin and the procedure for the shift were given. It is nice each year to have things go a little smoother. Also, it is great to have so many eager to help.

It is so busy. The pilgrims who had to transfer to our Amartithi auxiliary rooms did so in the morning. We had put beds in the Reading Rooms and the large Administration Hall. Rox and I left at 7:30 PM

Tuesday 29 January. I helped Heather until almost 3:00 PM. There were pilgrims who had to go out of the MPR to the MPC for Amartithi. They had to leave by 9:00 AM; one of our buses would take them.

I had Samadhi duty at 6:00 PM. When I got up the hill, I put the rope I brought through the five rings of the poles that would form the line at the Cabin Room. This is needed when the pilgrims began to come in large numbers to take Darshan during Amartithi.

Then, I went to visit Jaloo. Five women from Nagpur came to visit Jaloo and they sang Baba songs to Jaloo. The women had such lovely voices that I sat and listened to them. These women were part of the volunteers for Amartithi. There were so many people for Darshan that the line was six deep. I saw Indira and she said there were 1500 volunteers for the thousands of pilgrims who will be here for Amartithi.

Wednesday 30 January. I carried up the hill two of the metal racks from my room that I use in Baba's Cabin Room during Amartithi. These racks hold the buckets, cloths, sponges, and also the volunteer's personal things. Then I walked to the MPR for breakfast. After breakfast I walked back to the MPC and got a rickshaw to help me carry up the hill everything I would need to keep Baba's Cabin Room clean.

Joseph and Mariko and I set up the Cabin Room and began the first two-hour shift. These two-hour shifts will continue by other pilgrims during Amartithi. Just as my shift was ending, Meheru came to the Samadhi and Baba's Cabin Room. I was happy that I was there during that time.

I had the 4:00 to 7:00 PM shift as a Receptionist at the MPR. We were expecting 116 pilgrims to arrive on this day. And, I am happy to say everything went pretty smoothly. Our new arrangement for check-in worked better than last Amartithi.

I walked home later and had a good nights sleep, even though thousands of pilgrims were coming to Meherabad all night by bus, car, taxi, train, etc.

Thursday 31st January. I was up the hill by 8:30 AM. I wanted to hear the Iranians perform at 8:55 AM. Everyone is given five minutes to perform, whether dance or song, or just music. When they came on they were fantastic. I really love their music.

I walked to the MPR for breakfast. On the way, I passed a young Iranian woman who had tears running down her face. I said 'Jai Baba'. She said "What?" I said again "Jai Baba." She asked me what that meant. I told her. She said she just heard of Baba two days before, she did not know anything about him, but she was feeling His energy. She was so overwhelmed by Baba's love. Since we were in the middle of the field, I asked her to sit with me on the rocks, and I told her some things about Baba. The young woman was staying at the MPR, as other Iranians brought her. We must have 50 Iranians here with us. They are warm, loving people.

After breakfast I walked back to Baba's Cabin Room. It gets quiet hectic around 11:30 AM, as pilgrims have mostly sat down on the hill, and those trying to pass by the Cabin can hardly find a place to put their foot. It is wall-to-wall pilgrim. We had stopped the line for the Cabin by 11:15 because there was nowhere for pilgrims to go when they came out of the Cabin.

Bhauji had been talking for a while. AT 11:45 he was told he had to stop as announcements had to be made before Silence. It was so funny, over the mike we heard Bhau say "But I don't want to stop talking." We all laughed!!!!

After the announcements in the different languages, 'Begin the Beguine' was played. Then the whole hill full of thousands of Baba lovers began chanting Baba's name to the tune of Meher Dhun. I cannot tell you the magic of hearing His name chanted by all those lovers of Baba—it fills the heart with such joy! My heart knows the day will come when the whole world will chant His name during this time.

At the stroke of 12 Noon everyone shouted "Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai!" Then silence covered the hill like a blanket for the next fifteen minutes. It was such a powerful time.

At 12:15 PM everyone said "Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai!" several times. The prayers in a number of languages followed this. I had my Cabin shift from 12:00 noon to 2:00 PM. Then I went to the MPR for my 4:00-7:00 PM Receptionist shift. During Amartithi we have at least two Receptionists per shift.

Most of the pilgrims began leaving after the Silence time. It is amazing to see Meherabad clear out so quickly.

Friday February 1st. I have included the first day of February in this Diary because it is part of Amartithi.

All night I heard the buses leaving. Up the hill at Baba's Cabin we closed by Noon. But, before going down the hill, I sat near the stage and listened to the large group of pilgrims singing Baba Hu, and a few other favorites. Everyone who was still up the hill was clapping and singing along—so much joy in the singing.

And now another Amartithi has come and gone. Baba truly opens the wine shop doors. And as one pilgrim said "all drinks are on the house!"

In Beloved Baba's sweet love, Judy

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