Judy Stephens

Meherabad, 1952


1 to 15 July 2009

Jai Meher Baba to you all!

Wednesday 1 July 2009. Fereshteh and I droved to the Retreat for our morning shift at the Reception Office. We passed two trucks full of gravel on their way to the MPR. The driveway and open space for dropping off or picking up pilgrims in the Meher Pilgrim Retreat compound used to be so muddy and held water during monsoon. It was difficult to walk on or drive on. Now, it was being fixed by having gravel poured. Because of the work in the loading area, all cars and buses were to be boarded outside the compound gates.

I had an appointment with Joshi, the contractor for the Page house, at 11:00 AM. The house is only about five minutes drive from the MPR. Fereshteh covered for me in the Reception Office while I met Joshi at the house. The tile work in the three bathrooms was ready to begin. I showed him where I wanted the niches to be, next to the toilets and the bathtub, explaining the exact size to make them.

It was just lovely to be able to leave the MPR office at 1:30 PM. After a nap at home, I went to look at our huge, sick banyan tree behind our staff quarters. Everything that could be done for it had been done. Now it was up to Baba if it would survive or not.

Thursday 2 July. This was opening day for the new pilgrim season at Meherazad. My neighbor, Marge, and I drove a little early so we could get there before the buses. There were a lot of pilgrims from Meherabad, including the more than 100 attending the International Young Adult Sahavas.

I offered to help, so I was asked to be in Baba's Room and help with the flow. While sitting there, I listened to some songs being sung at Mehera's porch by those from the IYAS. They sang with so much feeling and love. It was a most pleasant experience being in Baba's Room and listening to heart felt songs sung to Him.

We stopped at the DSP (Department of Superintendent of Police) on the way home. It was like 'home week' in the DSP office because four other residents were there. Then we stopped for lunch at Josh n' Joli. Their food is always so delicious. After a nice nap, I went to the Page house and was so happy to see the tiles were starting to go up in the half-bath.

Friday 3 July. I had an appointment with my dentist in Pune. On the way I began to feel extremely nauseous. I laid on the back seat, hoping to feel better, but nothing worked. I had no choice but to continue to do all the errands I had scheduled. Then before leaving to go home my head started to feel like it was going to split in two. Most of the shops were closed because it was lunchtime, so we went to a nearby hospital where I could buy Brufen. I was just miserable all the way home. Yet, when I got home I had to pick flowers for the next morning; then went to bed after taking another Brufen.

Saturday 4 July. I woke early to go up the hill and take Darshan at the Samadhi before cleaning Baba's Cabin Room. I was feeling so nauseous and weak; by the time I got back to my room I knew there was no way I could give the Tour of Historic Meherabad Sites. I called the Lobby man on duty at the MPR and told him to please write the Tour was cancelled and to inform the Receptionist. I must have gotten some horrible stomach flu.

In the afternoon, there was a Baba film shown in the Music and Arts Center. Tea and snack was first served at 4:00 pm then the film started at 4:30 pm.

Sunday 5 July. I didn't go to Meherazad because of this stomach flu. I ate very little, hoping it would help. I had to continue taking Brufen because the headaches would come back as soon as the effect wore off.

I had the second shift at the MPR for Reception duty. Since there wasn't anyone to cover for me, I got dressed and went. I was very grateful the afternoon was easy.

In the evening, when I was watching TV, I saw a shrew go under my sewing machine cabinet. We had not seen it before, yet we saw the droppings behind the refrigerator when I moved it. Actually, the shrew is considered good luck in India, and they are kind of cute. It waddled like a duck, was flatter than a mouse, and it's energy was very different. I would have to get a trap to catch it.

Monday 6 July. Fereshteh and I drove to the MPR for our day of double shift duty. On the way home, I stopped by the Page house. The tiles were being put up in the North bedroom bath. The half-bath tiles were almost finished. I also noticed the outside foot gate had been hung. At the bottom it did not look even with the double gate for cars. Otherwise it is a very nice gate. When Karina comes in a week I will see what she thinks about it.

My nauseous feeling and headache continues, but not as bad as it was at first. In the evening when I was watching TV, I saw the shrew come out from under my sewing cabinet again. Very carefully, I got up and watched where it went. Under the bed, I had two pair of sneakers next to a pair of hiking boots. The shrew went in each shoe before moving on to the next one. I didn't see it go into the boots, but I thought it must have, as I could not see it any more. One boot had the tongue folded inside, so that only left the other boot for the shrew. I squeezed the top of the boot so it could not get out, and took the boot outside. Sure enough, when I pounded the boot on the verandah, the shrew came out and went away.

Well, I was patting myself on the back for getting the shrew outside when I saw another shrew come out from under the cabinet. I caught that one by quickly putting a basket over it and then sliding a solid, flat object between the floor and the basket. I also took it out side and let it run away. I figured there must be a nest under the cabinet, so I started using something to pull out the nest. Yes, stuff kept coming out. What also came out was another shrew!!!!! I could not believe it! And, this one got away.

How in the world was it possible I never heard or noticed those shrews in my room? It really was only because I was watching a late movie, something I almost never do, that I was up late enough to see the first one quietly come out. Now, I am going to lay a trap for the, hopefully, last shrew.

I sent a text to Anne, my roommate, who was out. She was very surprised there were three shrews.

Tuesday 7 July. There was a Receptionist meeting at 8:15 AM in the MPR Staff Room. We made our new schedule for the next couple of weeks. Suzie is back from Australia and ready to start work, and Becky Kent has finished training and will take a couple of shifts.

At 9:30 AM I had an appointment with Dr. Gus. He and Rada were trying to figure what treatment I would need. As they asked a lot of questions, they were also going through a program on their computer that corresponded to my answers. Next, they will study what we had discussed and prescribe some treatment.

I then went to the ATM in town, but it was closed. On the way home, I passed a huge elephant being ridden and two saddu's walking in front of it. I stopped at a fruit stand and bought a banana to give the elephant. I was a little nervous when the elephant walked up to me to get the banana with his trunk—but the two saddu men were there so I felt okay to give it.

At 6:00 PM I had Samadhi duty. I first went to say hello to dear Jaloo. She was very happy to see me.

Wednesday 8 July. Only for today, I switched with Adair from morning to afternoon Reception duty at the MPR. This was the morning time scheduled to do the annual cleaning of the Jhopdi and Table House before Silence Day. The annual cleaning is the only day each year when the screen door on the Table House is opened, and someone goes in to clean. We try to have someone new each year. It is an incredible honor to be inside the Table House. This is where Beloved Baba wrote a large part of His book.

Jessica Mednick got the four Archive cleaning women to help. We also had three pilgrims. Viola Marks, from New York, was the one who was allowed to clean inside the Table House. Simon and Carla, from Argentina, cleaned the rafters and then they did the final finish of washing the Jhopdi floor. At 1:00 PM, when Viola was finished, the Table House screen door was once again screwed closed until next year.

While we were cleaning, a huge herd of sheep passed on the main street in front of Meherabad. I took some photos and will send them to Dina.

I went home and had a fast bath. Then dressed and went to the MPR for my afternoon shift in the Reception Office. Before closing the office at 6:00 PM, we rearranged the office furniture for the next day. We are expecting almost 130 arrivals. During Silence Day and Amartithi we have to rearrange our office so the flow of large numbers of pilgrims will go smoothly.

We also set up three stations, for better and quicker orientation. Station #1 would check the name of the pilgrim with our printed expected list. Then the departure date would be confirmed. If the date were different, we would send the change to the person at our computer. Also, badges would be given to new pilgrims. These badges would have to be worn to get into the sleeping wings of the MPR, as well as to get on the buses to go to Meherazad or town.

Station #2 would give out locks, name tags, and explain how things are done.

Station #3, (our new station), would give out tickets to the Baba film on Silence Day, give badges to pilgrims already in the MPR, and would show the rules. The pilgrims would also be informed to please read the extra notices put up for special activities during Silence Day. Then they would be sent into accounting through a door from our office that we open during busy times.

Thursday 9 July. I was up the hill early to take Darshan and then help change the cover on Baba's stretcher in His Cabin Room. We also changed the curtains and shelf cloth. Because the glass cover over the stretcher is extremely heavy, we always get two or three men to help as well.

Fereshteh and I were at the MPR by 7:55 AM. We had breakfast before starting the 'big day' of almost 130 arrivals. All the receptionists were on hand, and our day went surprisingly smoothly. Because the day would be so busy, we arranged for some to take a break, while others went home early. It was hard to believe, but all our pilgrims came before 6:00 PM. We were able to close the office at the normal time.

Friday 10 July. I love the quiet energy of Silence Day. I slept until 11:00 AM. Then I went up the hill for Darshan. The line was so long, I only took Darshan at the Samadhi threshold. I went to see Jaloo. She and I only smiled at each other; it was very sweet.

There were around 1,230 pilgrims in Hostels D, C, and part of B. At the MPR we had 175 pilgrims. It was a very busy time. Some of us call Silence Day our 'mini Amartithi'. I was very happy I had this day free.

There were two showings of a Baba film. One was in the morning at 11:00 AM and the other in the afternoon at 3:30 PM. In order to be admitted, the pilgrims had to have their 'ticket', given to those staying at Meherabad accommodations.

Next I went to the Jhopdi to take Darshan. This is the only day of the year when pilgrims are allowed to sit inside. The Jhopdi was opened from 9:00 AM until sundown. I closed it at 6:45 PM. Many garlands and flowers are placed in the Jhopdi during the day. The Trust provides a large basket of roses outside the door in the morning so pilgrims have a flower to offer their Beloved.

Saturday 11 July. I was up the hill early to clean Baba's Cabin Room. There was a very long line waiting to take Darshan at the Samadhi. But the pilgrims had wait outside the railing until the Samadhi garlands from the day before were removed, and a fresh cloth was put on the Shrine. Then the pilgrims were allowed in.

I went down the hill and went into the Jhopdi to remove all the garlands and flowers from the day before. The flowers I put all round the bushes and trees next to the Jhopdi and Table House. The garlands I put on branches of the trees, because pilgrims like to take them home. I swept the floor and then locked the door.

I went to the old MPC at 10:00 AM to give the Tour of Meherabad Historic Sites. There were around ten pilgrims, and we had a lot of fun on the Tour.

There were two Baba films shown in Hostel-A in the afternoon. At 3:30 PM the film was in Hindi, and at 4:30 PM it was in Telegu.

Sunday 12 July. This was Dhuni Day. I went to Meherazad early to help with the large number of pilgrims that were expected. The first buses would be leaving Meherabad at 9:45 AM. There would be eight buses in all. Of course this does not include those who drive their own cars.

Dolly Dastoor had many volunteers who spoke Telegu and Hindi, and she placed them around Meherazad to direct pilgrims. So I just enjoyed sitting on Mehera's porch, and if needed, pointed to Mehera's chair for pilgrims to take Darshan. I had to leave by 11:45 AM because I had the afternoon shift at the MPR, starting at 1:30 PM.

Evening Arti was at 5:30 PM and the Dhuni was lit at 6:30 PM. I was happy I was finished by 6:00 PM at the MPR, and so I was able to attend Dhuni. There were still hundreds of pilgrims here, and the line for Dhuni was very long. Dark clouds were all around, but the Dhuni finished before the rain started.

Monday 13 July. Fereshteh and I drove to the MPR for our 'double' shift. There were 80 pilgrims who departed in the morning. The poor housekeeping workers! They had to change all those beds and clean all those rooms! They really do a great job!

During the day we had a lot of rain and it was very windy. We have had many cloudy days, and it has made the days cooler.

Tuesday 14 July. There was a receptionist meeting in the Staff Room at the MPR. Suzie had returned from Australia, and Adair would now fill in for any receptionist going on vacation or an emergency. We set a schedule for the next month. My Sunday shift will now be in the morning instead. We have Becky Kent helping with two shifts a week until she has to leave at the end of August. We are very grateful for her help.

I stopped by the Page house. The floor tiles had not been delivered for the North bedroom bath. So off I went to Anand Traders to find out what the problem was. Found out they had never ordered the floor tiles I had ordered and paid for back in April! Why? Never will you get an answer to that question here! And now the kind of tile we wanted had been discontinued. We had to call Johnston Tiles to order a close substitute. They would send them in a few days.

I had Samadhi duty at 6:00 PM. I first went early so I would have time to see Jaloo. She was very happy to see me. As I was with her I heard Bhauji had returned from his visit in America. We are very happy to have him home!

Wednesday 15 July. Fereshteh and I drove to the MPR for our morning shift. The computer server was once again not working. We have had so much trouble lately. A new server will replace this one soon. Until then we just have to endure and hope it will work well enough.

Fereshteh covered for me in the office while I attended the group 'MPR supervisor' meeting. We meet at the Gate House, the building right at the entrance of the MPR compound. One of the topics we discussed was if everyone wanted to accept a donation of two teakwood, hand-made rocking chairs. 'Yes', we all said. We are not sure if they will go into the Reading Rooms or on the front verandah.

Throughout the day it was very windy and raining. I love this kind of weather—beats the heat!

I was told Bhauji was at the Samadhi in the morning for Darshan.

In Beloved Baba's sweet love, Judy

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