Judy Stephens

Meherabad, 1952


1 to 15 February 2009

Jai Meher Baba to you all!

Sunday 1 March. I was so tired that I slept late. Then I drove up to the house construction site to see what was happening. On my way home, I noticed some men putting up a large sign in English about 'No Entry'. This was put up near our sub-station and across from the Dhuni. I parked my car and took some photos of the men working. Their truck had many more signs in it, so it looked like they would be putting those signs for all roads entering into Ahmednagar. The sign showed two multi-axels trucks with the universal sign of a line across them. The sign said:

All heavy vehicles are prohibited within Ahmednagar Corporation Boundary
Morning 9 AM to 12 Noon
Evening 5 PM to 8 PM
In Convenience Regretted

Further down the road two more signs were put, both in Hindi. It seems the hours selected to band heavy trucks was during the time people go to and come home from work.

In the afternoon at 4:00 pm, there was an 'Emergency Medical Training' class given by Gurdev. He is a paramedic in Canada, and he showed us how to handle a serious injury from a bicycle fall. He showed how to carefully remove the bicycle and help the patient. Then we also went to a car and practiced how to help someone out of a car from a serious accident. We were grateful for his sharing his many years of experience. Hopefully we will not ever have to use it, but if we need to it is good to know how to help.

To continue the celebration of Beloved Baba's Birthday, the Trust sponsored a program at the Ahmednagar Baba Center 'Cultural & Variety Show'. The program was from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM. The bus took the pilgrims who wished to attend.

Monday 2 March. I picked up Fereshteh on the way to the MPR. We still have many pilgrims and the Reception Office is very busy. We are moving the last of the pilgrims on the upper floor down to the ground floor. The upper floor will be closed in a few days. Though everyone will be on the ground floor, when I closed the office at 6:00 pm we still had 92 pilgrims.

At lunchtime, the kitchen guys brought food out on a three-tier trolley. I was happy to see they would not have to continue to carry those large containers with hot food in them. I asked when the kitchen bought the trolley. I was told a few months back. Boy, we are getting more and more professional!

Tuesday 3 March. I was up the hill early for Darshan. Then I went to my room and did a video workout. I am getting stronger and able to now last the long workouts. Kishore, who is a handyman and also supervisor at the house construction site, came to my room. I want him to change the small enclosure fence I had for my dog. I want it opened at the back and move that part of the fence so it goes along one side of the building. Kishore will make a second gate for easy entry or exit. With the fence along one side of the building, it will help keep wondering cows from coming in the back garden my neighbor, Marge, and I made.

There was a birthday lunch at one of the resident's house. A pilgrim from Mumbai every year shares his birthday with many of us and has delicious food, beer, and wine. Virginia was also invited, and I think she enjoyed the cake and ice cream best.

I had Samadhi duty at 6:00 pm. It has been over 100 degrees for the past two weeks; so on the way up the hill I used an umbrella to block the sun even at that hour. Since Amartithi it has gone from the 90's to now in the 100's. It looks like it is going to be a very hot summer.

I stopped to say hello to Jaloo for a few minutes before my duty at the Samadhi. Though it is hot, she does not seem to use a fan.

Wednesday 4 March. I went up the hill for early morning Darshan before getting ready for the MPR. I picked up Fereshteh on the way to the Retreat. We only had two more days of duty after today—then summer vacation! We are so ready for it. I feel like I am dragging my body around. It has been so long since I felt the normal vitality of the body. It is as if I have only enough energy to generate my will power to keep going. We don't close the MPR until the 15th March, but after next week, there are no more days that I am scheduled.

In the afternoon, our Reception Office gets really warm. If it were not for the verandah, we would not have anything to protect us from the daily journey of the sun from East to West.

A notice was put up on the Dining Hall door from the Trust. This is what it said:

7th March 2009

The last opportunity to every single Baba lover to take Darshan were Beloved Avatar Meher Baba was born at Sassoon Hospital, Pune. The Trust buses will depart from Meherabad by 7:00 a.m. sharp on Saturday. The programme will begin at Sassoon Hospital; Pune at 10:00 a.m. and the lunch will be served at Avatar Meher Baba Pune Center, Pune at 1:00 p.m. All Baba lovers are requested to attend this function and get the last opportunity to take Darshan where Avatar of the Age, Beloved Avatar Meher Baba was born.

"Wow!" I thought to myself. The hospital people were tearing down the section were Baba was born! Tears came to my eyes. I thought of all the Christians who go to where Jesus was born. I thought of all the Muslims who go to where Mohammed was born. And here is the current Avatar—and this time the whole world will come to him. And His birthplace will be gone! My heart felt such sadness, a helpless sadness.

I was planning to go to Pune the following day, Thursday, and stay overnight. I was going to return to Meherabad on Friday. Now, I decided to stay in Pune two nights. It made no sense to return to Meherabad Friday night, and then the following day go back to Pune.

In the afternoon, at 3:30 pm the bus took the pilgrims to our Music & Arts Center. Tea and snack were served at 4:00 pm on the verandah. Then at 4:30 pm a Baba film was shown.

When I got home from the MPR I was so tired I could not even pack for my trip to Pune. I just went to bed and set the alarm an hour earlier than when I would have gotten up.

Thursday 5 March. My car came at 6:00 am, but I was not ready to leave until almost 7:00 am. When I got to Pune I checked into The Lotus hotel. Then I went to the German Bakery to have some breakfast. Sitting there having breakfast was Billy Dunlap. He was on his way back to America. I told him about Sassoon Hospital. He said he had never been to Baba's birthplace. I told him I would take him as soon as we finished eating.

Billy followed me in his car. When we got to Sassoon Hospital, we went into the room Baba was born in. There were some nurses in there, and Billy talked to them for a little while. The nurses did not know anything about the wing being torn down. But, they said we could talk to the Dean of the Hospital. We were happy to have that opportunity. However, first Billy and I asked if we could have some of the peeling paint on the wall? We went and took some, then realized the nurses were uncomfortable with our doing that.

Billy and I were taken to the Dean's office in another area of the hospital. It was a five-minute walk, past a church and other buildings. The Dean was a very sweet woman who explained there would be a memorial in place of where Baba was born. The Dean told us that Mahatma Gandhi had had surgery in the same wing Baba was born in. I said to her it was amazing that the 'father of India' and the 'father of the universe' were in the same wing of the hospital!

I said good-bye to Billy, and then went to Sathe & Co. to purchase the last two toilets for the house being built. I explained that I would return on Saturday to pick up the toilets, as I did not want to leave them in the car for two days.

I took a rickshaw to a place called Budwar Peth to buy special brass screws for the brass door and window hinges of the house being built. We had run out and Pandernath, the carpenter, was putting only one screw on each hinge just hold it in place.

I next had lunch before my appointment with my dentist to have my teeth cleaned. After that I was pretty tired, so I went to my hotel room and stayed there the rest of the night.

Friday 6 March. I went to Dorabji's restaurant on Dastur Meher Road, right down the road from Baba's house. This was the restaurant where Baba and his family would have some meals. A Parsi owns the restaurant, and there are pictures of Zoroaster. I was told they have the best Dansak Dhal and Mutton Birani. It was the first time I went there, and the food was truly delicious. I then walked to Baba's house for Darshan.

I had a 1:00 pm appointment with Dr. Tannu. He has an office in Ruby Hall. He is an excellent surgeon who specializes in dermatology. As a teenager, I had spent a lot of time at the beach, sunning and getting tan. Now, many years later, I have to go and have spots removed to prevent the possibility of them becoming cancerous.

Before seeing Dr. Tannu, I went to Jehanger Hospital, a few blocks away, to visited a resident who had broken her leg falling off a motorbike. She was very fortunate the break was between the knee and the hip—a clean break.

After my appointment with Dr. Tannu, I decided I would relax the rest of the day in my hotel room. In the evening, I ordered room service. It was so nice to just hang out and do nothing.

Saturday 7 March. I slept late, and then took my two video cameras and a regular camera to the Sassoon Hospital. I wanted to make sure I would be able to video this event, and sometimes something can go wrong with a camera, and that is why I brought so many. I have sent some of the photos to Dina in case she wanted to put any in the Love Street Lamp Post.

The buses did not arrive until after 11:00 am. There were four our five buses that parked on the street and unloaded the pilgrims. I had my video camera recording the pilgrims streaming in from the buses. The area to the entrance of Baba's room was set up for the program. Colorful pandals were giving shade, and carpets were on the ground for the pilgrims to sit on. Chairs were placed in the back area, next to a table holding bottle water for everyone. Information about the history of the hospital, and Baba's birth were given. Then music followed by the Ahmednagar and Pune Center musicians.

There were two rooms that were used when Baba was born. One Mani took pilgrims to—a small room. The other, Jal (Baba's brother) took pilgrims to, the 'Maternity Ward'. I explained to the Trustees this was not a confusion of where Baba was born. It was the way all hospitals work. The Maternity Ward is where the expected mothers wait. Then when it is time for the baby to be born, the mother is taken to the 'Delivery Room'. After the baby is born, the mother and baby are both taken back to the Maternity Ward. So, the small room Mani took pilgrims to was where Baba was born. The 'maternity ward' where Jal took pilgrims was where Shirin was before and after Baba was born.

The Trust had been trying to have the Sassoon Hospital have some type of memorial for where Baba was born. They had been working on this for months. The ground floor is to become a parking lot, and the first floor will have a memorial room above where Baba was born. The Trust wants them to have something on the ground floor that marks the birthplace. The two rooms, the Delivery Room, and the Maternity Ward, the Trust hopes they will be able to purchase. Meaning, all the windows, floors and doors the Trust would take to Meherabad. Mehernath said the Trust would make a replicate memorial of the two rooms at Meherabad with the material from the two rooms at Sassoon Hospital.

When the program ended, everyone boarded the buses and went to the Pune Baba Center. Baba's room was opened for pilgrims to take Darshan. Baba's chair, foot pillow, and bed were covered with a lovely light blue satin material. At one end of the large meeting hall two tables were set up to serve the food. The pilgrims were sitting in rows on the floor, or on chairs along the walls. The food was very taste, but some of it was very hot!

When I left, I went to pick up the toilets at Sathe Co. I next went to the hotel to check out, and go get Steve at a new hotel he was trying. When we got to Meherabad, I dropped off the toilets at the house construction site.

Sunday 8 March. I went up the hill for Darshan at Beloved Baba's Samadhi early in the morning. At lunchtime, I went to Virginia's. In the evening, we had a receptionists meeting at 7:00 pm. We talked about how we need to make drastic changes in our running of the Reception Office. We just cannot continue with 10 or 11 hours days, with 30+ arrivals, and 120 pilgrims in the building. We are drowning and we are exhausted. We decided we would have two shifts each day. Maybe from 9:00 am to 2:30 pm, overlap a half hour to discuss the morning with the second shift person that would start at 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Also, we need to hire a clerk.

During lunch, Hostel-D fed almost 300 children from a care center in Ahmednagar for abandoned children and parents who cannot afford to care for their children.

Monday 9 March. I went up the hill for Darshan at the Samadhi. Then I got ready to go to the MPR. I picked up Fereshteh on the way. We were busy as usual and Fereshteh took the bus to the MPC at 3:30 pm to hear Bhauji talk at 4:30 PM. First tea and snack were served at 4:00 pm. When I closed the Reception Office doors at 6:00 pm we had 15 arrivals and a total of 62 pilgrims staying at the MPR.

Tuesday 10 March. I slept late, as lately I have been very tired. I then got ready to go to Ahmednagar and buy an exhaust fan. My neighbor, Marge, has one and it helps take the upper hot air out the window. Anything to help keep my room cooler during the hot summer I find very interesting, and usually will try it.

During the day, Kishore and his helpers worked on the side fence, with a gate, to keep dogs and cows out. I went to a training session at the Meher Pilgrim Center. Kris Heins, a pilgrim who is here for part of the summer, is a professional in conflict management and communication skill training. She was offering a session at 10:30 am at the MPC. She will also offer several sessions during part of the summer.

In the evening, I went up the hill for my Samadhi duty at 6:00 pm. I stopped by Jaloo's to say hello, but she was resting.

Wednesday 11 March. My last day at the MPR for this season—so happy! I looked at the daily totals for the last few days of this pilgrim season. Each day has at least 64 pilgrims. So, as of this day, we close with more then 68 pilgrims at the MPR. That is more than the 56 the MPC had at full capacity!!!

Thursday 12 March. This was Dhuni Day. I slept late and didn't get up until around 7:30 am. I then drove to the Arangaon Grand Panchayat (man in charge) office to pay the annual property tax for the house under construction. There had been an assessment on the square footage of all built up area of the property when the electricity was turned on. The assessment was way off, but the people at the office were not able to understand what I was trying to say. I paid the taxes, but I am going to take Anand, the electrical engineer for the Trust, to go back to the office with me in the next week. Anand knows the man and he is Indian. I will have to bring a copy of the blue print of the house to give the Pancharyat. Then the assessment can be readjusted—since that is what you pay the taxes on.

I called the head office of Dish TV in Delhi to complain about my latest Dish TV bill. I had paid for one year, Rs 3,600. Yet the local people in Ahmednagar said they would only have the amount go to cover eleven months. They even hand-wrote that on the bill.

Well, when I called the head office, I found out that the local Dish TV people in Ahmednagar had only sent in Rs 1,800—six month payment! I told the people on the phone I had the receipt and it shows I paid Rs3,600. They gave me a 'complaint number' and said I could reference it when I faxed a copy of the bill to them. I will go to Meher Darbar, the cyber café nearby, to take care of this problem.

Evening Arti was at 5:30 pm and the Dhuni was lit at 6:30 pm. During the Dhuni, a wind had picked up and I could smell rain. I was told there had been a light rain in Nasik, not far from Ahmednagar. The breeze felt so refreshing.

Friday 13 March. I went up the hill early in the morning for Darshan at Beloved Baba's Samadhi. I tell you, it is a most wonderful way to begin the day. Around 8:00 am, I just could not keep my eyes open any longer. I slept for the next two hours, feeling much better afterward.

My neighbor, Marge, and I went to lunch at the Yash Palace. It is the closest non-veg restaurant to Meherabad. I had not eaten there in at least five years! I had once gotten food poisoning there; it was so bad that I had to have an injection to stop the dry-heaves. I was so sick for three days! That was the last time I went there. Now, here I was going back to the scene of the crime. Marge eats at the Yash Palace all the time, as do others. I am very happy to report I enjoyed my meal and so did my body!!!!!!

While at the restaurant, we heard what sounded like thunder, and I even for a moment smelled rain. I told Marge, but she said she didn't smell it. By the time we left the restaurant, we saw the dark clouds. We dropped off some ice cream at Virginia's for them to have. When we stopped for gas, we saw lightning and rain coming down in the distance.

Sure enough, within the hour thunder, lightning and rain came to Meherabad!!! It has cooled and washed everything. I laid down for a nap, and fell asleep to the sound of the storm. It is a very precious sound when the weather has been so hot. The storm continued into the night.

At 3:30 pm the bus left the MPR to take the pilgrims down the hill to Bhauji's talk at the MPC. Tea and snack were served at 4:00 pm. Then at 4:30 pm Bhau gave his talk. He also invited everyone to come to the Ahmednagar Baba Center Saturday at 7:30 pm for an end of the season program.

Saturday 14 March. I woke before 4:00 am. So, I got up and worked on the computer until it was time to go up the hill to clean Beloved Baba's Cabin Room by 5:30 am.

After putting flowers on the Gadi and Samadhi threshold, I went down the hill to meet Fereshteh at the Jhopdi to clean.

It is my rotation month to Archive clean the Samadhi. I was really tired and did not have the energy to walk back up the hill, so I drove. It takes me about 40 minutes to clean the Samadhi—it is a most enjoyable 40 minutes too!

I was not doing the Tour of Meherabad Historic Sites, so I was free the rest of the day! Oh, how sweet it is to know I don't have scheduled time. Everyone needs a vacation, time to just be. I drove to the house construction site directly from the Samadhi. The front gates are coming along. The problem is that the electricity is only on a few hours a day. The welders have just that window of time to work—so it will take longer to make the gates than it normally would.

I then went into Ahmednagar to buy an exhaust fan. My neighbor, Marge, has one in her room on the upper transom (top window), and it takes the hot air from the upper part of the room and blows it outside. I will be here for one month of our summer, and it is so nice to find different ways to keep my room cool. Speaking of cool, our weather feels like the monsoon season. We have clouds and coolness from the rain—how lovely it would be to have it continue!

In the afternoon, Harry and Sharon Muir gave a concert in the MPC Hall. They are wonderful professional musicians who now live here. Their music is 'folk' and the foot just wants to tap away when they play! Tea and cake were served first at 4:00 pm. Their concert started at 4:30 pm. Of course, this was the last concert of this pilgrim season, as the season ends tomorrow. Since I have been very tired, I went to bed early.

Sunday 15 March. I was up the hill early to take my morning Darshan. The moon is still almost full, so I didn't need my flashlight except in certain places. The air continues to have that 'going to rain' smell.

I picked up Fereshteh at 7:30 am to go to the MPR. This was closing day, and we wanted to have breakfast there—the last meal of the pilgrim season. After breakfast, we went into the Reception Office and began our share of the 'summer closing jobs'.

Fereshteh started on the games cabinet in the Dining Hall. The many games and cards used by the pilgrims were all over the window ledge, on top of the cabinet, and one of the near-by tables. I don't know if it is the adults who don't take care of the games, or if it is the children. But, it is such a mess. For years I have been buying new games and cards for the pilgrims to play. However, I have decided not to do this any more unless there is a sign-out system where care and responsibility is attached to using the games.

At 10:00 am Fereshteh and I went to the opening of the Andra Rest House. It is a private Dharmshala, built by the Andra Pradesh Baba lovers. It is a two stories facility still under construction. However, today at lunchtime, they were going to 'open' for pilgrims. The ground floor was finished enough to have people stay there. What is really sweet is there was this newlywed Iranian couple who had yesterday come to the MPR for the first time. They did not know we closed on the 15th March. They went with Fereshteh and me to the opening, and they hoped they would be able to stay there.

Fereshteh and I went back to the MPR to continue the closing work. I went up to the Music Room and had the porters take all the pillows and mats to Housekeeping to clean and store for the summer. Then the porters put all the musical instruments in the cabinets and locked them. Fereshteh and I have to clean all the bookshelves in the Reading Rooms on the women's side, we planned to do that on the following day. We had the porters put locks on each cupboard and bring us the keys, which we then labeled.

At noon, Ferteshteh left to go to the lunch that was going to take place at the official opening of the Andra Guest House. Bhauji was to attend. I didn't go as I had a lunch date with Virginia and Neela.

In the evening, starting at 7:30 pm, there was a potluck dinner at the Muir compound. This was their annual 'end of the pilgrim season potluck'. The whole Baba community was invited. It is a time when we can just relax, let go, and enjoy visiting each other.

I would normally end the Diary at this time, but I want to also share with you Monday and Tuesdays events. Monday is the annual 'workers' lunch. This used to be held at the MPC, but now is at the MPR. The serving tables are arranged in a u-shape. We residents stand inside it and serve the over 100 workers of the Trust. A lot of the women bring their children as well. It is a fun and relaxing lunch, a way to say thank you to all the workers.

Then on Tuesday 16th there is a workers meeting at the MPR. All the workers are given the 'rules of conduct' for the summer. This includes to not ride the children's merry-go-round in the playground; since it was made for children it would break—and has done so in the past when the workers used it.

Though I will be at Meherabad until I fly to the States in April, this will be the last Meherabad Diary until we open the MPR in June. I need to have unscheduled, no demand time to relax. And, since I usually go to the States almost as soon as the pilgrim season ends, I seldom spend any summer time here. I am really looking forward to being with Baba, free of any demands on my time. The idea of just walking around, doing nothing here at Meherabad, just being with Baba—that sounds so heavenly!!!!! Hey, it sounds like almost being a pilgrim!!!!!!

In Beloved Baba's sweet love, Judy

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