Judy Stephens

Meherabad, 1952


1 to 16 October 2008

Jai Meher Baba to you all!

This Meherabad Diary was finished in the USA. I left for the States on 19th October. So, I really didn't have time to work on it until I arrived at my family home in the States. Since I would not be writing a 16th to 31st October Meherabad Diary, I decided to just add the 16th to this Diary. You see, the 16th October was the anniversary of the New Life, and the Trust, for years now, has been celebrating it with an annual 'New Life' walk from the Trust Office in Ahmednagar to Beloved Baba's Samadhi. It is such a joyous event to participate in, that I wanted to share it with you.

Wednesday 1 October 2008. When I woke up in the morning, the water was turned off. A few hours later, it was back on. I later found out someone had stolen the water 'shut-off' valve from the water tank near the staff quarters.

I picked up Fereshteh on the way to the MPR. We are starting to become busy due to this month's Indian holidays. Just before lunch, I went by the house construction site to see how things were going. I asked the supervisor where all the workers were? He said most were on holiday today. Well, the masons are out again on holiday. I also found out there has not been a plumber for the past month, as he was not 'available'. So, I called the contractor (Sharad) and told him I knew plenty of good plumbers. He said okay, he would put him on the pay role. What is so irritating is the contractor never said a word to me that there would not be a plumber—how to install the toilets? Sinks? Bathtubs? etc?

Then, I found out the contractor never bought the granite he and I went to Pune to buy six weeks ago for the counters! I think the contractor thought if he dragged out the work, he would be able to stay on after the 15th. All I can say is, 'thank God this building contractor had a new contract made with the owners, and it expires on the 15th October!'

Thursday 2 October. After I returned to my room from my morning Darshan at the Samadhi, I tried to make a phone call. Instead of hearing a 'dial' tone when I picked up the phone, I heard a message in Hindi. I asked Marge, my neighbor, to check her phone; she too had the same message. Finally, another resident told me to just let the message run, then a dial tone will come on. It worked.

Later, when I was at the MPR, I asked our Lobbyman what the Hindi message said? He said that today became an official 'International Day of Peace' in honor of this day being Mahatma Gandhi's birthday. So, that is what the Hindi message was saying on all telephones.

Friday 3 October. Marge, my neighbors, and I went to Pune. I first went to pick up a stove and fan I had purchased a couple of weeks ago for the house. It had been ordered from Mumbai. They were put in the back of the large SUV Marge and I hired to take us to Pune. I next went to the company where last month Sharad and I selected bathroom items to purchase for the house. This is when I found out why, at the house, we never received the toilets and sinks. Sharad never ordered them!

I was so glad Marge had gone to Pune with me. When I tried five different ATM machines, with two different cards from two different banks, all of them said "unable to give money". I could not understand why they said that, as there was a lot of money in both bank accounts. Marge, bless her heart, was able to take money out with her card. So, she loaned me some money.

At night in Meherabad there was a big storm and it poured rain all night. We have had some wonderful storms lately.

Saturday 4 October. In the morning, again I found there was no water for a few hours. Later, I found out it was because the thief had once again stolen another of our water 'shut-off' valves. However, this time there was some good news. The thief was finally caught later in the day when he tried to sell it to the 'scrap iron man' in nearby Kedgaon. In other words, the 'scrap iron man' was the 'fence' for the thief. They were both caught because the Trust had some people waiting for the thief to show up.

There was no one waiting to go on the Tour of Meherabad Historical Sites at 10:00 am. I took this opportunity to go to the banks in Ahmednagar and finds out why my two ATM cards didn't work when I was in Pune. Well, I found out one of the cards from the new bank where I have an account (for the owners of the house being built) was actually in a savings and not checking account. I was pressing the wrong button for checking, instead of savings. The other ATM card that didn't work? That one was from my bank. Turns out it was just bad timing. The server was down for a couple of hours during the time I tried to use it.

Later, I went to the house construction site. There was still no plumber—so the masons couldn't work on the bathrooms. The carpenters can't make the lower cabinets in the kitchen because the contractor didn't buy the granite for the counter. Even though I had met Sharad in Pune, took him to the granite site, introduced him to the owner, we all three walked to all the different granites I wanted to purchase, then finally I left him with the owner to buy the granite—he still never bought the granite! This was six weeks ago! He never bought the toilets and sinks, etc. And, I found out yesterday he requested an extension on his deadline contract of the 15th October. He wanted me to give him another month!

Why would I give Sharad more time? Why would I believe him this time? He had been doing this to the owners since he started to build their house eight years ago!!!!!!! I said "no way!" On the 15th October he has to walk away from the construction site, and we are free to get a new contractor.

I received an email from Virginia's son, Jack Small. It was night by the time I read it. He said his birthday was the next day. He asked if I could put a garland on the Samadhi for him.

Sunday 5 October. I went up the hill for my early morning Darshan at the Samadhi. Since it was night when I read Jack's email, I didn't have time to order a garland. However, I picked a flower on the way up the hill for him. It was just a little yellow one, but it was still something.

Well, Baba let Jack know He didn't forget Jack's birthday. As I was standing in line to take Darshan, one of the residents had a bowl of flowers and he picked out a lovely red rose and gives it to me. Since this was the first time it had happened, I knew the rose was from Baba to put on His Samadhi for Jack's birthday! I felt tears in my eyes. Baba is always letting us know how He is always with us and remembers us.

I was still in line when the resident who gave me the red rose walked by again. I told him about Jack's birthday—he also was touched and then gave me the whole bowl of flowers, and said to give all the flowers as well! How loving and kind is our Beloved!! I emailed Jack as soon as I got back to my room. I knew this story would make Jack's birthday truly wonderful—to hear about something so sweet from Baba, of Baba letting Jack know how much He loves him.

I then got ready to take Virginia to Meherazad. After Virginia went into Baba and Mehera's rooms, I took her into Mandali Hall for the program. Paul Birchard was in charge of the program. He, Ward Parks, and a group sang several songs. Just as the program ended it started pouring rain. Everyone had to run to the buses!

In the evening, at Meherabad, it began to rain so hard all other sounds were drowned out. I found it very pleasant listening to it as I fell asleep.

Monday 6 October. On the way to pick up Fereshteh, I drove on the dirt road that runs along one side of our gullies (ditches in front of the Hostels) to see if the water in them was full enough to reach and cross the dirt road. It wasn't the smartest thing to do, because I now had to very carefully drive on the partially flooded road. I think it would have been better to just drive by from a distance.

When I got to the MPR, I was told the electricity had gone out since 9:00 pm the night before. Candles had been used for light. The power didn't come back on until 3:00 pm.

Now, with no power, there was no way to pump the water to the tanks on the roof. So, we put a notice on the Dining Hall door asking pilgrims to please not take a bath until the power came back on. With only two feet of water left in the tank, it would be needed for the toilets.

It was a busy day at the MPR. We had around 24 arriving pilgrims, and they came throughout the day. In the morning, there is a regular program at the in the old MPC, called 'Meherabad mornings'. This is the forum for guest speakers who had met Baba to share their stories. The program begins at 10:00 am. This day's guest speaker was M. Rama Rao. He first heard of Baba in 1963, and saw Baba in 1969 when He lay in the Samadhi crypt after dropping His physical form. In the afternoon, Bhauji gave a talk in the MPC Hall at 4:30 pm. First tea and popcorn were served at 4:00 am.

There was a slow time, so I drove to the house construction site to check on things. Again, hardly anyone was there to work. I noticed the Generator was also not there (in all these years, no application has ever been made for a connection with the electrical company). I asked where was the generator? It was then I found out where all the workers have been most of the past month. The contractor has been building an office for himself by the MPR. He simply pulled the workers from the work on the house to build him a small office! That makes almost three months out of the six-month deadline contract that he has not worked on the house.

Well, I was pretty upset, as you can imagine. I drove to the little office being built. Sure enough, there were the workers. When they saw me, some of them looked down in embarrassment. I told them I do not blame them—they have to do what their boss tells them to do.

In was 7:00 pm when I closed the Reception Office. It had begun to rain and I didn't have an umbrella with me. So, one of the porters walked me to my car. I tell you, I sure do love knowing I have a way to get home from the MPR—for two and a half years I never knew if a rickshaw would be available.

The rain again poured so hard that when I parked my car in its little carport, I had to wade through puddles to get to my front steps. Where I was inside my room, I looked to the corner of my ceiling to see if the leak was still not fixed. The wall was wet, and a little bit of water was the floor as it came down the wall, but it was hardly anything.

Now, the kitchen was another story. I live in a small staff house, along with another resident. We each have our own room, but share a kitchen and bath. One part of the ceiling has not been fixed enough to prevent the water coming down the wall. That part is above the refrigerator. I had to put a towel on the floor to absorb the water. Once again I went to sleep to the lovely sound of pouring rain.

Tuesday 7 October. In the morning I went to the bank to deposit a check, and then do some shopping. Around 5:00 pm, I got ready to go up the hill for my 6:00 pm Samadhi duty. Just as I started to walk out the door, the clouds burst open and it poured down rain so hard I thought it would be very difficult to walk up the hill in that rain. Even to drive the car, with some of the roads being dirt, it could be dangerous.

I waited about twenty minutes. If anything, the storm was getting stronger. Finally, I thought it would not be too bad to take the back road. Most of it has stones on it that world give traction for the tires, and then it meets a narrow paved road that is used by the school behind Meherabad.

I very carefully drove to the Samadhi. Even with an umbrella, the wind was making the rain come at a slant, so my jeans got a little wet. A lot of the benches for sitting under the portico were very wet. The Samadhi duty person going off duty and I both wiped them down with what rags we could find. It continued to rain throughout Arti. Because of the rain, the Trust had provided buses from the Hostels and the MPR to the Samadhi for the pilgrims to be able to attend Arti.

Wednesday 8 October. I picked up Fereshteh on the way to the MPR. We were very busy all day long. We only had around 20 arrivals, but there were so many phone calls, messages to deliver, and so forth, that we were just about running.

At 4:30 pm there was an inauguration of a permanent exhibition that will be kept in the Upper Halls (Old Study Hall) of Meher Retreat, in the compound next to the Samadhi. The exhibition is on the Life and Work of Avatar Meher Baba, and is now open for all Baba lovers. Bhauji was present for the inauguration that took place in Meherabad Hill Library.

Thursday 9 October. In the morning, as I am getting ready for my duty at the MPR, Marge, my neighbor, comes over to tell me our gardener, Sandeep, wants me to come and do 'puja' for the tools. This day was Dessara. Dessara is a holiday in India where all the tools and machines that help provide a living are honored. The tools and machines are washed, garlanded, incense is burned, and a coconut is broken. We even put garlands on our cars, trucks, motorcycles, and bicycles.

Friday 10 October. After going up the hill for my morning Darshan at Beloved Baba's Samadhi, I went for a lovely walk out back, behind my room. Then, I drove to the house construction site and met Rama, the supervisor. I told him he would need to decide what he is able to complete with the building since there are only five days left on the contract. I went in each room and began counting all the brass hinges, latches and handles on all the windows and doors. I want to make sure we are not charged for items we never got.

At 2:15 pm, at the Meher Pilgrim Retreat, there was an 'ambulance' training session for all workers. We now have a new ambulance and the workers need to know how to use and secure the stretcher, etc.

At 3:45 pm, I had an appointment with Sharad (the contractor) at the house construction site. This was a most interesting meeting. He again tried to talk me into extending his contract one more month, as he 'would definitely finish all the work on the house'. I told him he had six months to finish the house, and he only worked three of those six months. I made it very clear there would not be one more day beyond the dead line of the 15th. We then walked through the house, and I asked him what would or would not be done.

On the 15th I will once again meet the contractor at the house, we will walk through to see what had actually been finished. All useable material that had been paid for will be kept. Everything else must be removed. Then, after nine years, the owners will finally be finished with Sharad, and be able to hire a different contractor.

In the afternoon, in the MPC Hall at 4:30 pm, Bhauji gave a talk. First tea and donuts were served at 4:00 pm. In the evening in the MPR Dining Hall a Baba film was shown.

Saturday 11 October. I was up the hill by 5:30 am to clean Baba's Cabin Room. Then I put flowers on the stretcher, Ghadi, and the Samadhi threshold. I next went down the hill to meet Fereshteh at the Jhopdi. We clean it every Saturday mornings. Fereshteh will continue to clean it while I am in the States visiting my family in eight more days.

I went to the MPC to meet the group waiting to go on the Tour of Meherabad Historic Sites. When we went to the Rahuri cabin, there was a new sign on one side of the door. The sign requested everyone to please close and latch the door when they leave.

After we went to the Cage Room, each pilgrim had a chance to stand on the step of Jaloo's room and greet her. She has such a sweet voice and her eyes have a beautiful light when she smiles. Needless to say, I just love Jaloo!

In the afternoon, Adrienne Shamzad gave a concert in the MPC Hall. She has been studying the guitar and writing songs since she was around thirteen. We all very much enjoyed her songs. Her final song was in Persian, and it was absolutely a perfect pitch. It was truly magnificent.

I then drove to the house construction site. The carpenters were putting the metal grills and screens on some of the screen doors. There are only four more days until the contract is finished.

I took the back road of Meherabad when I drove home. As I neared my area, there were a group of maybe seven birds just standing on the road. I slowed down so they could take flight. I was surprised to see they were all a lovely green color. They looked like parakeets. We are getting more variety of birds because of all the different trees and foliage.

Sunday 12 October. Last night around 10:00 pm, I got a phone call from my daughter, Mehera. She had been in an automobile accident the day before. She said she was okay, not injured. But, her car was almost totally smashed and was being fixed. Mehera said when she was getting ready to take the girls to Montessori pre-school yesterday morning, her son, Ethan, asked her to come back for him, as he was not ready. This was the first time he had ever not gone with her to take the girls to school. After dropping the girls off, she drove to the intersection a half block away and began to turn left on the green light.

Mehera said all of a sudden, a car running the red light, slammed into her driver's side at 50 mph!!!!!!!!!!! By God's grace, none of the children were in the car! And, Mehera has a huge Mercedes SUV—the kind with steel bar frames around the doors. She said below the steel frame the SUV was totally crumbled!

The Mercedes has air bags not only in the front, but also all along the sides. When the air bags opened, there was a smoke smell from the friction. Mehera didn't know that and thought it was smoke from a fire. She tried to get out of the car, when all of a sudden she heard on her car speakers, the Mercedes security department asking her if she was okay. Surprised at hearing someone talk to her from inside her speakers, she said was hit by a car. It seems one of the luxury items on this type of Mercedes is a 'security chip' that alerts the headquarters if there is an accident—like security alarms in the homes. The car has a GPS and the company headquarters knew where the accident took place. The company called the nearest hospital to inform them of the accident, they called the police, and they were able to track down her husband—who was at that time only twenty minutes away! Now, Russ and Mehera own a construction company, and Russ has a license in three States, so he could have been anywhere in three states! Yet, he was only twenty minutes away! He was able to quickly be at Mehera's side.

When I woke Sunday morning, I found I was shaky inside, and close to tears. I realized by morning how different that phone call could have been. I went straight up to the Samadhi and thanked Baba for protecting the children and my daughter. What a reminder that in a 'second' one's world could so suddenly change! When I went back to my room, I emailed my daughter and told her in so many ways how much I valued her, how she has enriched my life, etc.

I then got ready and took Virginia to Meherazad. Virginia first greeted Meheru and Katie; we next went into Baba's and Mehera's rooms. After, I took her to Mandali Hall for the program. There was singing and a Baba movie.

This was Dhuni Day. Evening Arti was at 5:00 pm. The Dhuni was lit at 6:00 PM. There were a lot of pilgrims here, so of course it was crowded at the Dhuni.

Monday 13 October. Fereshteh and I went to the MPR. I had hired Sirish (the driver who takes Virginia and me to Meherazad) to come to the MPR and take my car to the Muruti repair shop, as the car needed break fluid and also to have the oil checked. There had been a red light showing on the dashboard, and with my leaving for America in a week, I just didn't have time to take the car myself. It is really nice to be able to have people who can be hired for some of these jobs.

Sirish returned the car in a couple of hours. He is really a nice man who has become a Baba lover after seeing a Baba film at Meherazad.

On the way home, I stopped by the construction house site. The contractor has only two days left. When I got to the site, I was upset to see the workers still working on the house instead of removing the machines, etc. In fact, they were building part of the front stonewall fence by the road! I asked Rama, the supervisor, why he had not began to remove the things? He said he would the next day.

Tuesday 14 October. After going up the hill for my morning Darshan, I went into Ahmednagar to get money for some work I am having done on the house while I'm in the States. I had to also go to the DSP (Dept. of Superintendent of Police) to get my residency papers signed so I could leave the country—and return.

I stopped to see Mehernath at the Trust Office. I wanted to hire a small truck for the 'New Life walk'. So, Mr. Pund, Mehernath, and I went to this open parking area where the various trucks are for hire. We picked one out. After an agreed upon fee, the truck was to be taken to the MPR by Wednesday morning, so the pilgrims could help decorate it.

I had an appointment with the Electrical Engineer who works for the Trust. On his own time, he will help get the electrical connection to the house. We went to the house site and I showed him what was needed.

In the evening, I went up the hill for my 6:00 pm Samadhi duty. I informed the man who schedules our duty time, that I would return in December. Fereshteh would cover for me until I returned.

By 9:00 pm, Anil (Meher Tailor) had a rickshaw deliver 60 Baba flags for the 'New Life walk' to my place. It is fun holding and waving Baba's flag during the 'walk'.

Wednesday 15 October. I remembered upon waking I had not called the MPR to let them know the green truck was coming, and to allow it to park inside the compound. I immediately called at 6:30 am; as the truck was suppose to be there anytime.

Fereshteh and I drove to the MPR. This would be my last day of reception duty until I returned in December. Fereshteh would continue to help my substitute while I'm in the States.

The green truck was parked between the two bus parking areas. In the morning, the pilgrims decorated the truck with our many holiday decorations we keep at the MPR. It looked very pretty when it was finished. The purpose for the truck was for musicians to sit during the 'walk'. The truck was driven to the Trust Office at 5:00 pm. I had given instructions to the driver to drive slowly so the decorations would not fall off.

I went by the house site on the way home. I became upset when I saw the workers were once again using the house to do other work. They were welding parts of a water tanker truck. I was furious! This was the deadline of their contract! They still had all the machinery and junk all over the property!

When I saw Sharad, the contractor, I asked why he was once again abusing the owners by using their house for outside work! He said, 'the truck isn't on the property'. I said, 'no', but your generator you are using is in their garage!!!!!!!! I also told him it was really sad, after nine years since he started to build the house, there still isn't any running water or electricity! There isn't even any plumbing from his water pipes to the house, or any cable from the electric power pole to the house! This work I will have to have done on my own.

Needless to say, I went to bed pretty upset. I am trying to stay detached and just deal with the problems—but it is very hard when there is so much abuse and unethical behavior.

Thursday 16 October. I woke with the excited feeling it was the day of the 'New Life' walk. The MPR green truck was already at the Trust Office. We had one of our buses take the pilgrims from the MPR to the Trust. It was suppose to leave at seven o'clock.

Around 6:30 am, as I was leaving my room to go catch the bus, I heard a musical band playing Baba songs! My neighbor Marge was on her front verandah and said 'they're playing Baba's songs!!!!!' I told her the band was probably here for the 'walk'.

I was going to catch our MPR bus as it passed by the Dhuni area. There were other pilgrims and some residents also waiting. The best part of all was the band was also by the Dhuni playing different Baba songs, and they were good! I had not heard a Baba band before—I wondered where they came from?

Then Mr Pund came and told the band that the buses were leaving from Hostel-D. Fereshteh, Hooyar, and a few of us decided to wait for the MPR bus. Finally, I called to ask where was the bus? I was then told the driver was still at the MPR waiting for my call to leave! I asked why? Why was he waiting for my call? It was Mehernath who instructed the driver to leave at seven o'clock. So, I said to please tell the driver to leave for the Trust Office.

We few still left decided not to continue waiting for the MPR bus, so we caught the next bus to the Trust. It was one of the Meher English School buses. It was full of children and lots and lots of energy. We enjoyed the ride.

At the Trust, the whole compound was packed with pilgrims, residents, office workers and others all getting ready for the walk. Tea and breakfast were served while the Baba flags were signed out to those wanting to carry one. We also put the flags on the trucks and other vehicles. It looked so festive! Mehernath and Raj made a poster that covered the whole front width of the truck. On the poster were photos of the seven Avatar incarnations—showing what Baba said 'to bring all religions together like beads on one string'.

Just before we began to line up to start the walk, Bhauji came out and stood in front of the green truck. His helpers accompanied him. Bhauji said a few words, but I could not hear even thought I was standing close by. There was just so much noise with the excitement of getting organized.

We began walking, the first vehicle having a large photo of Baba on the front. The band was walking in about the middle of the Padyatra (religious walk). We took a side street at the corner of the State Bank of India. It was a long street in the bazaar. Karim, from Australia, stood on the green truck back and held high Baba's flag—waving it from side to side. He did this during most of the walk. Everyone was in high spirits! We would be dancing as we walked—the bank playing music that contributed to the joy we were all feeling.

Our first stop was at the Jain (religion) temple. They have in the past offered us refreshments and shade to rest. Since it was a very hot day, the break was much appreciated. After about twenty minutes we started once again to walk.

By this time we had already rejoined the main road. We had police assistance for traffic until we got to the Kinetic Chowk and headed toward Meherabad. We stopped at two other places before reaching Meherabad. One was at Fereshteh and Hooyar's house. A water tanker also traveled with us, so people could drink or pour water on themselves, since it was a sun-scorching day. I bought water at a nearby store. I don't drink water that has not been processed—I just don't want to take a chance.

When we reached the Dhuni area, the flags were collected from everyone. Everyone then walked up the hill to the Samadhi. After taking Darshan, we went to the East side of the compound where food was being served. We were all so grateful to be able to eat and sit.

I had found it difficult walking up the hill, and even more so coming down to my room. It seemed no matter how long I walked, my room was even further away! I have been so busy lately that I have not exercised as much as I am used to—and boy was I feeling it!

The truck I rented? I found the only ones who sat on it were the children. I won't do that again next year. A small rickshaw for Baba's photo, yes, but that will be it. It was a wonderful walk; we danced and chanted all the way!

The next day when I went to the Trust Office, Mehernath and Raj showed me a photo of some of us Westerners with some of our Indian Baba family (all dancing) on the front page of a Marathi language newspaper that is distributed throughout the whole state of Maharastra. Raj said the photo caption said how we foreign and Indian followers of Avatar Meher Baba were dancing in joy and harmony in honor of the New Life.

In Beloved Baba's sweet love, Judy

Jai Meher Baba to you all!

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