Judy Stephens

Meherabad, 1952


1 to 15 February 2009

Jai Meher Baba to you all!

Sunday 1 February 2009. This was the last day of Amartithi. I had the 12:00 midnight to 2:00 am shift at Baba's Cabin Room on the hill. So, I had had only a few hours sleep. It was so lively around the Samadhi, and the line at Baba's Room seemed hardly ever not to have pilgrims waiting to go inside. By the end of my shift, the Samadhi line looked like it was only 30 minutes long. So, I went and stood in line to take Darshan. After taking Darshan I went home and slept for a few more hours. Then I was back up the hill by 8:00 am to listen to the Iranian group singing. On the final day of singing there is scheduled a lot of performances by Westerners. This year there was the International group singing, the Argentina group sang two beautiful songs, and the Iranian group sang songs. Mr. Thade, the commentator, asked the Argentinians to please come back again next year. I had not heard him ask that of a group before. He so very much enjoyed their magical music. When the Argentinaians sing and play their instruments, you really feel the beauty of their extraordinarily beautiful music.

Susie Biddu then made an announcement that the Armenian group from Iran would perform. I do not think they were scheduled and most of the group of 35 was all here for the first time except two who had been here before. They had fallen in love with Baba, and the fire of their singing sparked the audience who also went wild with the fire of their singing and playing the daaf, a Persian musical instrument. We were so happy they performed! They are all Christians living in Iran whose families had fled persecution in Turkey.

The last song was a collection of International pilgrims singing 'Baba Hu'. This is traditionally the final song — and I have to say the whole audience catches the fires of expressing the joy of singing it to Baba! It is electric! Some try to jump on the stage and dance — and have done so in the past. But, this year the commentator kept the pilgrims from doing that by asking them to please not distract the performance.

I then went back to Baba's Cabin Room to close down with Joseph and Mariko. We did a final complete cleaning and took all the Amartithi things to my car. There were still pilgrims going in for Darshan, but most of the large numbers had gone home.

I had reception duty at the Meher Pilgrim Retreat from 4:00 to 7:00 pm. It was busy, but more fun than anything. But, I must say, as much as I enjoy Amartithi, I also am happy when it comes to an end. Everyone works so hard during this time! There were a record number of pilgrims this year that had accommodations at Meherabad, almost 14,699 all together. The estimated attendance, including those not staying in our accommodations was around 30,000 pilgrims.

Monday 2 February. I picked up Fereshteh and we went to the MPR. This was the last day of Amartithi shifts of hours. We had the first two shifts, and would be finished by 2:00 pm. There were a lot of departures, and many coming back into the MPR who had been staying in private homes or the MPC. There was an elderly Indian women and her husband who came into the Reception Office and requested the woman be moved from upstairs to downstairs. She had been here for Amartithi. They were only going to be here for three more days, but they had a problem. The poor woman would not ride the elevator by herself; she was frightened to do so. So, she would only go downstairs when her husband came to get her. She had said it was too hard for her to walk down the stairs, so she stayed upstairs a lot.

I felt so bad for her! Poor thing could not have the freedom to move around, go for tea, etc. I immediately checked our room assignment and found I could move people around and immediately brought her downstairs. She and her husband were so happy, and I was happy for them.

I noticed before going to bed that my eye was itching and bothering me. I put eye drops in it before going to sleep.

Tuesday 3 February. I woke with my left eye having gooke in it, and it was red. I called Dr. Gus and made an appointment at the MPR for 10:00 am. He saw my eye and told me not to touch anything. He said if it was a virus I was highly contagious and could easily spread it. Then they wiped down the door where I had touched it when I came into their office. He gave me some antibiotic eye drops and said I was not to touch anything. He also said if the drops didn't help by morning, I was not to come for my reception duty on Wednesday. I then went to tell the receptionist on duty and we wiped down the office, as I was on duty the day before and had touched almost everything.

I found a substitute for my 6:00 pm Samadhi duty. And, I called some other receptionist to cover for me on Wednesday — since Dr. Gus said there was no way I could guaranty I would not accidentally touch my eye. But, there was a chance I had a bacterial infection instead of a virus.

Wednesday 4 February. I woke with my eye looking better. I called Dr. Gus and asked if he could check my eye and see if I was okay to go for my day at the MPR. He said to come over to his and Rada's house for him to look at my eye. When he looked at my eye he said it was definitely better, so it wasn't a virus. He said it was okay for me to go to the MPR for my receptionist duty. I called the other two receptionists who were going to split my day and told them I was okay to be at the MPR, and they didn't have to come in for me. I know how exhausted everyone is, and I didn't want to add to it.

Thursday 5 February. I slept late and took my time getting up. Then I had a late morning meeting with Phiroze at the house construction site so I could gave him the information for finishing the front wall and gates. He said it would take about two months to finish. He is the contractor who will help finish the outside of the house. Joshi is the other contractor, and he will finish the inside of the house. Joshi is working on another project and will not be able to start until the middle of April.

Then I went home and my neighbor, Marge, and I went into the bazaar and bought a 6' ladder. We took it to the Trust office and left it there. It would be picked up by our Meherabad bazaarwala in the truck the next day, and taken to my room. Marge and I then had lunch at the YashanJali restaurant. They have very good food and seldom has anyone gotten sick from eating there.

Friday 6 February. I was up early to do my morning workout. I had a meeting with the other contractor, Joshi, at the house at 12:00 noon. We walked through every room and around the house on the outside. I gave him a copy of the blue prints and electrical layout. He will make a copy for himself and return the original to me.

In the afternoon, the ladder Marge and I bought was delivered. I had tea and then went up the hill for Darshan at Baba's Samadhi, then stopped to visit Jaloo.

Meherabad and the surrounding Baba community have a recycling system. It is to help Prithvi (women's village help group). In the Nurses and Doctors quarters area, we have barrels labeled glass, plastic, boxes, and water bottles. We wanted to show everyone who uses the barrels exactly what goes into what barrel. The burnable paper goes into another barrel and is separate from the recycle system. The meeting took place at 8:30 pm with the other residents at the recycle barrels. It was a late meeting, but the only time most could attend. We decided we would each take one-month rotation to keep it in order. The pickup comes once every two weeks on Saturday morning. The pickup is by Prithvi, an environmental group that raises money to help women in villages. They also have an organic farm nearby that we buy some fresh produce from.

I had a meeting at 6:30 pm with Sharad, the dismissed contractor. He stored some of the plumbing that was brought from the States. I showed him the guest room floor. His workers had put a ½ inch stone flooring instead of the one-inch stone flooring that is throughout the rest of the house. Yet, we were charged for the better flooring. I told Sharad the whole floor will have to be redone with the correct stone. He tried to tell me this was only a different kind of stone, and it was okay. I told him no, it was not okay.

Saturday 7 February. I was up the hill by 5:30 am to clean Baba's Cabin Room. Then I went down the hill to clean the Jhopdi with Fereshteh. At 10:00 AM I went to the MPC to give the Tour of Meherabad Historic sites. There were several Spanish speaking only pilgrims, and one in the group who spoke English had to translate everything into Spanish. Since the Music & Arts Center was still being cleaned from Amartithi, there was not an afternoon program.

Sunday 8 February. Sirish came by 9:15 am to drive Marge, Virginia, and me to Meherazad. It was very busy and I only took Virginia into Mandali Hall for the program. The group from Argentina sang a few songs. It was really sweet to see how Virginia enjoyed hearing the songs in Spanish, as it is her native language. Then an Introductory film of Baba for new people was shown. It was very well done, and we all enjoyed it.

In the afternoon at 4:00 pm, there was a meeting at the MPR. This was so PRO, Housekeeping, and Reception departments could discuss what went well with Amartithi and what needs to be changed.

Monday 9 February. I picked up Fereshteh and we went to MPR. We had only one arrival due. So, I felt free to leave for a little bit and attend the Meherabad Morning session in the old MPC Hall. This week's sharing was on the 1969 Darshan at Guruprasad in Pune. This was the 40th anniversary of the 'Last Darshan given in Silence' with Beloved Meher Baba. Those who attended the Darshan and wished to share some of their story was invited to do so. I had gone to the 69' Darshan with the LA and Sufi group for the time of 10 April.

There were some very moving stories, and I was so glad I went. It brought back the amazing experience of being at the 69' Darshan.

Tuesday 10 February. I had a car pick me up by 6:00 am. When we started down the road I felt something was not right — the driver was driving like he was afraid he would hurt his car if he went fast over the dirt road. When we got on the paved road, I was surprised he didn't go much faster. After about two kilometers of this I called Ashok, the one who rented the car to me. I was pretty upset and asked what was wrong with this man, why was he afraid to go at normal speed. At the speed we were going it would take at least four to five hours to get to Pune!

I found out this was someone he found to take me, as he had rented out the car I was to use. I told Ashok to please not do this to me again. What I finally did with this hopeless driver was to have the driver stay behind another car that was going the speed I wanted to go. And, that is how I got to Pune at a normal time.

But, that was not the end of the problem. The driver knew only where the main road, MG Road was in Pune — nothing else. And, he did not understand one work of English. It was very frustrating to have to be so alert to everything on the road — part of the pleasure of going to Pune is having a driver who knows the area, knows some English, and knows the most frequently asked places.

I went to Pune to pick up another toilet and also have my hair done. After going to Dorabji's for foodstuff, I picked up a packed lunch and returned to Meherabad at 2:00 pm. I had Samadhi duty at 6:00 pm and so I had to be back at Meherabad.

I dropped the toilet off at the house construction site and went home and changed clothes and up the hill I went. All over Meherabad there are piles of bamboo poles, taken down from the tents that were used at Amartithi. Walking across the main road, there was a line of at least ten wooden bullock cart caravan — they were migrant workers, with all the pans, tents, etc. What a sight it is! It could be any time in history.

When I got up the hill, there was still a very long line at the Samadhi, as we still have several hundred pilgrims here.

Wednesday 11 February. I drove to the MPR for my reception duty. It was so busy and I was not able to finish until 7:45 PM because a large group of 12 arrived at 6:45 PM. Many of them were here for the first time, so they had to be given a full orientation.

Earlier in the day, when I did the extended room bookings, I noticed many pilgrims would be going out to Hostel-D for Baba's birthday. We have so many pilgrims coming, that even with 200 beds for pilgrims, we are not just full, we have an overflow. Those here for some time will have to go to other accommodations. It is amazing! When we moved into the MPR, we thought we were finished with having to do this to pilgrims — and here we were in our third pilgrim season in the MPR and we are already so full!

Thursday 12 February. This was Dhuni Day. In the morning, I went to the bank to order checks, as I found out I had run out. Then I went to the house construction site. I noticed the rocks for the wall had been delivered. I also met with Phiroze, the contractor who is building the wall and gates. I am pleased with the progress.

Friday 13 February. I was up early to take Darshan at the Samadhi. Later, the supervisor of the house construction site came by to remind me to bring a list of all the brass for the door and window hardware that was missing. Sharad's men were supposed to bring the brass, and I needed the list to make sure it was all there.

Before Sharad's men got to the house, I noticed the carpenter, Pandernath, was putting up the doors in the Guest room. Kishore and Pandernath showed me how the door was too short. Yet, they measured it with the other doors in the house, and it was the same size.

Well, I knew something had to cause the problem. So, I looked at the other floor stones in the doorways. To my utter surprise I noticed all the rooms have one-inch stone floors — and the guest room had only ½ stone flooring! The bill given was for the one-inch stone flooring! Hummmm! This looked like the workers switched the bigger stone flooring for the smaller stone flooring! By chance, I had an appointment with the contractor, Sharad, the next day at the house — for him to return all he had stored. I was going to make sure he saw what his workers had done.

Saturday 14 February. I was up the hill by 5:30 am to clean Baba's Cabin Room. The Samadhi area was already full of pilgrims. After cleaning the Cabin Room I put flowers on the Gaadi and Samadhi threshold before going down the hill to clean the Jhopdi.

At 10:00 am I was at the MPC to give the Tour of Meherabad Historic Sites. There were only a few of us and it was a very pleasant tour. At the Cage Room, the key had been brought back so I was able to show it. There were only three women, and one by one they went to greet Jaloo at her door. Jaloo was in a very warm, friendly mood and the women really felt her sweetness. It was a very special moment.

In the afternoon at 4:30 pm, there was a concert in the Music & Arts Center by the Argentinian group. Tea and snacks were served first on the verandah. Just before the performance the electricity went off and did not come back on. So, the Argentinians moved to the front of the stage.

When they began singing, it was like magic. They have the most beautiful singing voices, rich and soothing. Spanish is really a beautiful language, and when put to song, it captivates the heart with its beauty. The women from the group performed a few very graceful dances.

I had a meeting with Sharad at 6:30 pm at the house construction site. He brought some of the plumbing he had been storing that had been brought from the States for the house. I showed him the guest room stone floor. I told Sharad the whole floor would have to be redone with the correct stone. He tried to tell me this was only a different kind of stone, and it was okay. I told him no way was it okay. To be fair to Sharad, I truly believe he was not aware of the switch. His expression showed he was trying to cover for his workers — and not have to pay for the new stone floor. Which is not honorable!

Sunday 15 February. I went up the hill to clean Baba's Cabin Room and Mani's shrine for another resident who had to go out of town. One of the Argentinian women asked to help. She very much enjoyed helping and I also enjoyed her help.

I then got ready to go to Meherazad with Virginia. Sirish drove us. We stopped at the Sukhsagar restaurant and I ordered the food and ice cream that we would pick up on the way home. When we drove up to the verandah for Virginia to get out, we saw all the beautiful decorations that had been put up for Beloved Baba's birthday.

We were a little early when we reached Meherazad. So, I just pushed Virginia in a wheelchair around the gardens until it was okay to go into Baba's room. We were the only ones for a little while. Then we went into Mehera's room for a little while. When we walked out on Mehera's porch, Katie was sitting there greeting all the pilgrims. Some of the Argentinians were also sitting on the porch, and they were going to sing a couple of songs.

Virginia's native language is Spanish. So she stayed on the porch until after they sang. We then went into Mandali Hall for the program. In the Hall the Argentinians again sang some songs. Then Rosie Dumphy sang a song and did a pantomime along with it — it was witty and gave us a good laugh.

On the way home, we stopped at Sukhsagar to pick up the food and ice cream. I realized I had forgotten to put my wallet back in my purse, so we had no money. I explained this to the manager of the restaurant. He said just pay next time. But, I told him I would send our driver back with the money after lunch.

After a nap, I went up to the house construction site to look at the work being done. The stonewall is being completed by a new contractor named Phiroze. When I looked closer to the old part of the wall, I saw Sharad's workers had not watered the cement when they had built some of the wall, and the cement was crumbling! I am so glad we are rid of Sharad. I called Phiroze. He said he noticed the problems on the wall and he would fix it so I was not to be concerned. It is such a relief to have an honorable contractor.

All these problems are an opportunity to learn detachment. It is a chance to remind us that this is Baba's play; I am only a witness playing my part in it.

In Beloved Baba's sweet love, Judy

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