Judy Stephens

Meherabad, 1952


15 to 30 June 2008

Jai Meher Baba to you all!

I returned to India with rain pouring down in Mumbai. The driver of my car was waiting for me with the 'Jai Baba' sign. We had to run in the rain to the car — we got a bit wet, but the luggage was okay. After resting at a hotel in Pune, I bought groceries at Dorabji's, then we stopped at a furniture store so I could buy a 'swivel chair'. I was fed up with always struggling to push my wooden chair away from my desk. The swivel chair will be so much more pleasant. We then headed to Meherabad.

We stopped at the Samadhi first. The energy was so powerful inside, as if Baba turned up the wattage. Oh, it was so nice to be home!

While walking around Meherabad, some of the residents I saw told me about a huge storm only a few days earlier. Some said they had never experienced a storm like that one. The wind was almost hurricane force, and it twisted. Huge trees were pulled up out of the ground, tree branches were broken in many places — including a tree that had a branch fall on top of my scooter shed. One of my new trees had been snapped in half. The residents said there had been three inches of rain already from two storms.

When I walked by Meherabad Mandali Hall I noticed the new roof tiles were all in place. When I was leaving for the States, all the roof tiles and matting had been removed from the building. Only the wooden beams were exposed. Mandali Hall was being renovated. Because the roof tiles were off, I went inside to just see how it looked and felt. There was open sky except for the beams. I had a feeling that that must have been what it looked liked when it was first being built.

One of our Iranian residents was standing on the verandah of Mandali Hall. He told me a sweet story about what happened when they were working on the roof. He said after all the roof covering was removed, they tried to get the crusted dirt off the exposed wooden beams so they could oil them. But, no matter how they tried, it would not come off. Then it rained for only a few minutes — only enough to wash the dirt off the beams without soaking them. The workers were then able to oil all the beams, and began putting the roofing back on. When they were finished replacing all the roof tiles, just after they laid the last tile, it began to pour rain! Baba sure was taking care of His building.

On my second day back I rode my scooter to the Meher Pilgrim Retreat. I had brought stuff from the States for the Reception Office and Lobby. I also spent a couple of hours getting our office ready for the new pilgrim season. The other receptionists will also be doing things, like setting up the computer, etc.

I saw Jeff Deloe, one of our residents and our MPR garden supervisor; he showed me the new neem tree he planted in the children's playground. The playground is on the sunnyside of the building and without shade it would be too hot for the children to use it.

There's some good news to share: I was told that the city of Ahmednagar received permission to build the over-pass over the train tracks. The by-pass work from the Pune road stopped just before the train tracks, and then continued the other side of the Dhound road (I hope future name will be Meherabad Road). All work had been on hold for some time. Hopefully it will continue.

What is really great about the over-pass? We can take it from the MPR to Lower Meherabad without going through that darn railroad crossing in Arangaon village. Now, as any pilgrim here knows, you can sit and wait for twenty minutes there. Also, the by-pass comes from the Pune road, and you can take it quickly to Meherabad, skipping the longer way.

Oh, some more good news: We now have large metal barrrels that will be used for trash-cans. They are painted green, and are placed all over Meherabad. Now we finally have places where pilgrims can put trash.

Dhuni was on Thursday the 12th. Hostel-D opens for pilgrims at the end of May and they had around eighty pilgrims here. So, there were a lot of people at the Dhuni. It was also nice to see all the other residents who had returned from their vacations; though, some of our Australian residents just left to go there for the 50th Anniversary celebration at Avatar's Abode.

When I was on my morning walk in the back-fields near the Meher English School, I had to change my walking path because a large part of the area was packed with camps from groups of sheep herders and their sheep. They must have come in overnight. They will sometimes stay two days, though most of the time they just stay one night.

Sunday 15 June 2008. This was the opening day of the new pilgrim season, and the Meher Pilgrim Retreat had a few pilgrims

Today the National Cadet Corp. began their eight days of training here. For years they have used Meherabad because it has a lot of open space, and the large hostels fit their needs. This year there were four hundred and fifty cadets and instructors who stayed in tents and Hostel-C. They put colored flags along the roads inside Meherabad. Besides their training, they usually do some kind of service project, like cleanup.

Today was also the grand opening of the extended section of Meher Darbar. It was quiet a celebration with music and singing. This new section will be where they sell snacks and soft drinks. The main part of the Darbar will have only the computers and all the Baba material.

Monday 16 June. This was my first day of the new pilgrim season at the Meher Pilgrim Retreat. One of our local Iranian residents is going to start helping me in the Reception Office. I am having her start with only the morning hours, giving her a chance to become familiar with where things are. I find it very sweet that she is so eager to be of service to Baba.

I had eight arrivals and was finished by 6:00 PM. We receptionists no longer have a hired assistant in our office. I hope we find someone in the near future.

Tuesday 17 June. It was a stay-at-home for me. In the evening I had Samadhi duty. The weather has been overcast for days with a lovely wind. It is very pleasant weather.

Wednesday 18 June. I was at the Retreat by 9:00 AM. Fereshteh, the Iranian helper arrived shortly after me. I showed her around the office and she was happy to start learning. She is also teaching me some Farsi words, and I am helping her with English.

Thursday 19 June. In the evening there was a 'decades' dinner party at one of the resident's homes. The party was for those who will or did turn 60 or 70, or like one resident, who will be 40 this year. The rest of us were just invited. It was a very harmonious and relaxing evening.

Friday 20 June. A notice was put up from our Meherabad water committee telling us we can no longer water our gardens until further notice. The only rain we had was before the monsoon started, and we don't have enough water in the wells to allow us to use it for gardening. Peter Booth said the plants won't die, they just won't grow.

In the evening at 7:00 PM we had a Receptionists' meeting in the Spiritual Training Academy. We are going to have a Group Meeting at the MPR on Tuesday and we needed to discuss what we wanted on the agenda. We Receptionists have a two-month rotation on attending the meetings. I have the first two months. So, I will began this Tuesday.

Saturday 21 June. I was up the hill by 5:30 AM, just in time to be present when the Samadhi doors were opened. I am always happy when I make it in time — one minute later and it is too late.

After helping remove the various cloths from the day before, I went and cleaned Baba's Cabin Room. Then I put flowers on the stretcher cover, and also flowers on the Ghadi under the Tin Shed. Before going down the hill I put two little flowers on each side of the Samadhi threshold — that always feels like the icing on the cake!

I met Fereshteh at the Jhopdi at 7:00 AM to clean it and the Table House. I am training her so she can some day do it by herself if I have to be away. Mariko and Joseph also help, but it is nice to have more people learn.

I went home and got ready for the Historical Tour of Meherabad at 10:00 AM. There was a group of women waiting on the MPC front verandah. Until we went up the hill the tour was mostly women. Then more pilgrims joined us up the hill. When we went to the Cage Room, I asked Jaloo, who lives in the compound, if the pilgrims could stand at the doorway and say hello to her.

She said yes, and each pilgrim sweetly stepped up to the door, put their hands together and gave their name before saying 'Jai Baba'.

When I got to my room to make lunch I realized I was very tired. My body has to once again get used to the energy it takes to do things here. At 4:00 PM tea and cake were served on the Music & Arts Center verandah. Then at 4:30 PM two old video interviews of Padri was shown.

Before it got dark, I rode my scooter near the Garden Terrace Condos, as I am seeing to the final stages of construction of a friend's house. There were a lot of sheepherders in the vast open areas behind the Condos. Then, the construction supervisor pointed to four little deer running. They were running so fast that if a dog tried to chase them it would not have a chance. It looked almost like they flew. The supervisor said he sees deer quite often in the back area. That is behind the new Meher Pilgrim Retreat.

Sunday 22 June. After my morning walk I went up the hill to clean the Samadhi. This is my month rotation and I try to start by 8:30 AM — right after Arti. It is especially lovely in the Samadhi when a cool breeze is blowing.

I went to my friend, Virginia's, house for lunch and picked up some ice cream to take to her. She just loves ice cream. When I told her we had it for dessert, she said she would like some before as well. But, we had to persuade her to wait for her lunch first.

Monday 23 June. I was at the MPR by 9:00 AM. My training assistant, Fereshteh, is now going to stay until 6:00 PM. She is very happy to be of service to Baba at the MPR.

At lunch time some men from the military came to have lunch and look at the Retreat. They very much liked it. We are happy when they come because it is good public relations. And, we are happy to show the beauty of the place that was built with love for Baba.

Tuesday 24 June. When I was out walking this morning, I saw two more camps of the sheep herders. It is such an ancient scene. There is something soothing in seeing their camps.

We had our first MPR Supervisors meeting in the morning. One of the issues we discussed was the rearrangement of the Lobby. When we first opened the MPR in June 06, we were not sure how things would work in the Lobby. We figured we would put the furniture and desk in one place and give it a try. It has now been two years and we are beginning our third pilgrim season at the MPR. We feel the whole Lobby needs to be changed around. A few of us have the interest and are making suggestions for the changes.

In the evening I had Samadhi duty at 6:00 PM.

Wednesday 25 June. I was on duty at the MPR. My new assistant, Fereshteh, learns fast. I had late arrivals and got home just before 8:00 PM.

Thursday 26 June. I went to Pune with two pilgrims. We stayed the night at this old mansion near the German Bakery. The room was huge, with an adjoining sitting room that had a refrigerator. There was a large balcony and big bathroom. The downside was the mansion was under renovation and some of the old paint chips would fall from the ceiling, the carpet on the wood stairs was torn and the gardens had piles of sand and building materials all around.

I really like the place and it would be hard to find a better price.

I am working on a project at Meherabad, so I spent most of the day taking care of things that I needed for it.

Friday 27 June. One of the pilgrims with me in Pune is a Montessori teacher. She had an appointment to take pictures at the one and only Montessori School in Pune. We drove her to the area where the school was supposed to be — according to a map she was given. We hit such a traffic jam, plus the map turned out not to be accurate. Finally, the pilgrim got out and walked until she found it. She said we would never have found it in the car. Then, she found out why the traffic was so horrible. There were two religious procession of a total 250,000 pilgrims walking to this holy place, and they converged right near where we were!

On our way out of Pune later in the afternoon, we passed a number of other smaller religious processions.

Saturday 28 June. I was up the hill by 5:30 AM, in time to be present when the Samadhi doors were opened. It is such a treat to help remove the garlands and help place a new temporary one. I then cleaned Baba's Cabin Room, put flowers on the stretcher, Ghadi, and Baba's Samadhi threshold. I then went down the hill to clean the Jhopdi, with the help of Fereshteh.

At 10:00 am I was at the old MPC to give the Historical Tour of Meherabad. It is a long tour, that I enjoy very much, but my body has to get used to it again. Until then, I get so tired after it is over.

At 4:30 PM there was a film of an interview of Dr. Goher, but I was too tired to go.

Sunday 29 June. This was my last day of my rotation to clean the Samadhi. My next turn is Nov or Dec. On the way up the hill, just where the path splits near the top, there was a tiny kitten trying to follow a pilgrim down the hill. I picked it up and held it for a few minutes. It started to purr — oh was I tempted to keep it! But, I just can't take care of an animal right now, so I put it back down. As I was walking away, I looked back and saw this tall man playing with it. I hope he kept it — it was so very cute!

There was an 11:00 am meeting of the MPR supervisor group and the Meherabad Trustees held upstairs in the big hall of the Retreat. I rode my scooter and passed a construction site near the phone company. I heard from one of the rickshaw drivers that a Darmshala was being built there.

Now, the Trust has plans to build a Darmshala, but I thought it would be out near the MPR. So, when we all gathered for the meeting I asked the Meherabad Trustees about it. They said that this Darmshala is privately owned. It has nothing to do with the Trust. So, I guess the Trust will still be building one soon.

After the meeting was over, some of us went into the Lobby and talked about where to change the furniture and the area of the Lobbymen. We all agreed it should be in the back of the Lobby, not on the side where it is now. We will change it as soon as a phone jack is installed in the back corner.

Monday 30 June. On the way up to the MPR I stopped at our Meherabad Mandali Hall to pick up Fereshteh. Instead of having her go to the MPR directly, we can meet on my way up and I can give her a ride to the Retreat.

In the morning there was a special Arti at the Samadhi for the 4th Anniversary of Dr. Goher going to Baba. Meheru attended and of course, it was a wonderful Arti. I was on duty at the Retreat so I could not attend.

Two men from the Indian Department of Forestry came to the Retreat to take pictures of the reforestation that is going on all around the MPR. There are row after row of curved shape trenches being dug for the planting of trees. We had a bit of rain in the afternoon. It wasn't heavy rain, but it did give the thirsty plants a little bit of water.

In Beloved Baba's sweet love, Judy

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