16 January to 1 February 2011
16 January to 1 February 2011
Jai Meher Baba to you all!
Sunday 16 January 2011. I went up the hill early to take darshan. On the way back down the hill, I like to stop on the path and look at the stars, just feeling the presence of the atmosphere. It is like a lovely romance with Baba's Meherabad.
When I got to my room I did a workout before getting ready for Meherazad. I picked up Fereshteh and Hooyar. We usually arrive at Meherazad before the buses, so we have time to take darshan in Mandali Hall and the Blue Bus before the crowd come. It is so close to Amartithi, yet only two buses. That will soon change.
On the way to Meherazad one Sunday we passed one of the Recycle Rickshaws. It was so overloaded, just like most of the transportation vehicles in India. We took a couple of photos to show you.
On the porch with Meheru, those from Argentina told a little about how they came to Baba. They told about Jose Henrique, who used to live here at Meherabad as a resident. It is Jose's love and work for Baba that touched so many hearts in their town of La Plata, Argentina.
The group sang a song to Meheru before the bell rang to go into Mandali Hall for the Sunday program. The group sang two songs in the Hall before they showed a DVD about the Meher Baba website they had created in Spanish. They have a whole section on the New Life. You can trace the journey with the map, then click on certain areas and it will tell you what took place there. Also, the Song of the New Life is sung on the site. It was very impressive and beautifully put together, with so much love and care.
In the afternoon, there was a 'tea' for the daughter of one of the residents. Her daughter was leaving and she wanted her to have a chance to meet some of the community. It was very sweet, and Alan, along with the MPR kitchen guys catered. On the way home, my neighbor and I stopped at the construction site of the Memorial Tower. Marge had not yet seen it and I really wanted her too.
To say Marge was totally amazed by the size and beauty of the Memorial Tower is an understatement. It truly will be worthy of Beloved Baba's wish.
Monday 17 January. I was up the hill early for darshan. After, I did a workout in my room before going on a 'power walk' to the MPR and back. That is about 2 ½ miles round trip.
When I was in the States taking care of my sister, I usually walked early in the morning for four miles daily. I have been missing that kind of walking. And, I found walking from my room, past the Samadhi, and to the MPR and back is a very pleasant route.
At 10:00 am I met the group from Argentina at the MPC in Lower Meherabad. I wanted them to see the construction of the Memorial Tower because next time they return to Meherabad the Tower will be finished. It should take about one more year until completion. To be able to see it while it is under construction I feel will leave very special memories.
They were able to see the model of the Tower that is kept locked in a room. They had many questions as well as taking many photos. The construction supervisor was on site, therefore, their technical questions were answered.
Tuesday 18 January. I went up the hill early to take darshan and then clean Mani's shrine and Baba's Cabin Room. There was a beautiful full moon above the Samadhi. I took a few photos, but they came out to dark to see anything but a light.
I went back to my room and got on the computer before going to the bank in Ahmednagar. When running errands in Nagar' I try to get things done before 12 Noon, as that is when the large delivery trucks are allowed to start passing through town. Between 9:00 and 12 Noon the trucks must wait outside of town. It is getting to be a 'mad-house' once the trucks start moving!
I then drove to the Page house and noticed the masons were starting to plaster the Electrical Room. It had been left with hard stones, but Karina said she would prefer it to be plastered and painted. I then drove back to my room and tried to rest, but that darn crow was back again. This crow and I don't agree on it being in the tree outside my window during nap hours. Out I go, looking for small stones to throw at it. It flies away, but later tries to sneak backso, out I go again.
At 4:00 pm I met one of the residents at Baba's Cabin Room on the hill. This is the first year that I am supervising the Amartithi cleaning of the Cabin. I had to be shown what needed to be done, and how to do it. During Amartithi itself, I am pretty much responsible for the overall functioning of scheduling, cleaning, etc. I now have some very reliable assistance from Debjani and Yohann. They help get volunteers as well as help in so many other ways. I am very grateful for their help. We finished our meeting just in time for my 5:00 to 7:00 pm Samadhi duty.
Wednesday 19 January. Before going up the hill for darshan, I called one of my daughters. It always makes a mother's heart happy to hear her children's voices. When I went up the hill, I took my camera and again took photos of the full moon over the Samadhi. They too were dark. I think I need to learn how to take photos when it is dark outside. After darshan at the Samadhi I came back to my room and did a DVD workout. I was hungry so I ate something before doing a 'power walk' to the MPR and back. My body feels strong when I have a really good workout in the mornings.
Later, I took one of the residents to see the new staff quarters being built near the MPR. We then stopped at the MPR where I checked the signup sheet for Amartithi volunteers for Baba's Cabin Room. Amartithi work is going on everywhere.
I took some photos to share with you. I also took a couple of photos of the new desk in the Lobby of the MPR. How 'official' it looks now. Not funky with put together furniture as we had used all these years.
In the afternoon at 4:30 pm there was a short play by Joe DiSabatino. A short film of Baba followed this play. I had too much computer work to do, so I just spent the rest of the day in my room.
Thursday 20 January. I went up the hill early for morning darshan. I had breakfast before going on a power walk to the MPR and back. After a refreshing bath, I went to the MPC to check on the updated volunteer signup sheet for Baba's Cabin Room. Yohann and Debjani have the Selfless Service Office there. I sure appreciate all they do.
You know, I think I am going to start calling Baba's Cabin Room only Baba's Room, because that is what it is called. I always said 'Baba's Cabin Room' because I thought it would be clearer, since it is a little cabin that was His Room. But, above the door it says 'Baba's Room'. However, many residents refer to it as 'The Cabin'.
I saw Adair at the MPC. It had been quite a while since she had last gone to see the construction on the Page house. I was going up there next, so I suggested we meet at the house. We met up a short time later. She was very happy with how the house was looking.
Coming back down the MPR road, I took some photos of the widening of the road by the Trust. I also took a photo of a herder with his goats walking alone the MPR road.
On the way home I got a call from Asha who lives at the Trust. She said my bank called to ask her to let me know the check I just wrote has the wrong date on it. I had put 2010. Tomorrow I will drive to the bank to make the correction. It is bad enough that it takes five weeks to clear our money from the US banks. A wrong date would add so much more time. I'm glad they caught the mistake.
My neighbor, Marge, was in the back yard. She oversees all the major cleaning of the inside of the Samadhi. We usually have a major cleaning about every three months. But, with so much dust from Amartithi preparations she thought we should clean before Amartithi. She said we should also do a cleaning before Baba's Birthday; the dry weather and thousands of pilgrims here makes for a very dusty place. Since we both had to scheduled the days of cleaning, I let her know the only date I had could do Baba's Room on the hill, which would be Monday. We decided Tuesday would be a good day to clean the Samadhi, as that is the last day of Meherazad before Amartithi and most of the pilgrims would be there.
Every Thursday evening our fresh home-make bread is delivered to Savages Kitchen. We order it from one of the residents. When Marge, my neighbor, comes back down the hill from her Samadhi duty she picks up our bread. When she gets outside my door and calls me, I quickly go out and get the bread. Often, the bread is still warm, I quickly cut a big slice and this is the one time a week I allow myself lots of butter on the bread. Oh, yum! I love fresh homemade bread.
Friday 21 January. I was up the hill early for darshan. I use this time to say my prayers outside Baba's Samadhi window, before the doors are opened. It is my 'alone' time with my Beloved.
I then went back to my room and had breakfast before taking a power walk to the MPR and back. I picked up the signup sheet for Amartithi Samadhi duty. I took it to the Meherabad Trustees office and gave it to Shridhar, who is in charge of putting together the list of volunteers. There are hundreds who will do this duty over the three-day celebration.
Shridhar pointed out a section of names that were not clear to read. I realized my thumb must have been on the names as I was walking back down the hill. Thank goodness the smudged names were the Argentina's, because I just saw them singing at the men Mandali's graves site. They had been waiting for Jal. When I walked toward them, I noticed Jal had started to have them share in the garlanding of some of the men Mandali graves. I waited until they finally finished lastly putting a garland on Maula Baba's grave (the saint's tomb). They kindly rewrote the names I pointed out, and I was able to turn the list back in to Shridhar.
I spent most of the remaining day working on one of the Meherabad Diaries. When I went to 'copy' the Diary so I could 'paste' it on an email, to my horror I had accidently pressed the 'cut' key! Oh panic! The whole Diary disappeared! I frantically called a few people until I reached David Bowling. He so calmly walked me through the steps to retrieve the Diary once again.
At 4:30 pm in the afternoon, in the MPC Hall, Mehernath Kalchuri shared some of his stories of growing up with Baba. Then in the evening at the MPR, Hooyar showed a Baba film in the Dining Hall.
Saturday 22 January. I forgot to press the alarm on my clockand to my absolute dismay I woke at 5:20 am! Yikes! I am supposed to clean Baba's Room before Arti. I was literally out the door in five minutes. I drove my car to the railroad tracks and quickly walked up the hill. I was so delighted to see the Samadhi doors had not been opened yet. They are opened at 5:45 am. So, I was okay time wise.
I stopped by the Selfless Service Office to go over the updated Amartithi signup list for Baba's Room. Then I picked up Margaret and we drove to The Big Bazaar, a three story modern type of superstore. It is on the other side of Ahmednagar. I was looking for a few things I would need for Amartithi. By going there I was trying to avoid going into the regular bazaar, but it didn't work, as I could not find some things I needed.
When I got home I got a call from one of our medical doctor's asking if I would be able to help Jaloo by spending the night with her. I said yes, I would be happy to help. For the past day, Jaloo had been very ill and was on IV drip. A doctor or nurse would have to be with her until the drip was finished. I said I would be there by 6:30 pm.
I packed my overnight bag before going to a concert at the MPC Hall at 4:30 pm. Cindy Lowe sang some new songs and some old favorites. She said one time when Bob Brown first heard her sing 'after all this time'; he said that it would be a 700-year hit!
The concert was over by 5:30 pm, and this allowed me to take a little time to back to my room and have a bite to eat. Then I walked up the hill with my bag. Jaloo lives in the building directly behind the Samadhi. The IV drip was still on when I got there. Nurse Laura stayed until Dr. Anne came at 7: 30 pm. They gave Jaloo a couple of injections and drew blood for some tests. After the IV drip was finished and remove, the medical team left. Jaloo, Thaku (the servant) and I settled down for the night.
However, Jaloo was restless. All night long, every fifteen minutes or so, Jaloo would call my name or Thaku, then she would mumble something in Maruti. I was told she often did this and for me to first make sure she was fine. Basically, what happened all night would be my reminding Jaloo it was night, that Thaku was sleeping, or remind Jaloo to rest. Jaloo repeats things often, so one just needs to be patient. Anyway, I would check on Jaloo some of the times, and other times I would remind her it was night. Needless to say, I slept little if at all.
Sunday 23 January. Since I had resigned myself early that I would not get much sleep at Jaloo's, it did not really bother me that about every 20 minutes or so Jaloo called me. Janaki came early and I was able to leave by 6:15 am to take darshan at the Samadhi before going to my room and getting ready for Meherazad.
Meheru was on the porch visiting with pilgrims. When the bell rang all went into Mandali Hall for the program. There was some singing and then a Baba film was shown. When Marge and I got back to Meherabad, we stopped at the Savages Kitchen for the special lunch that is served on the last Sunday of the month. It was three kinds of pasta and a green tossed salad with buttered bread. I enjoyed sitting with so many other residents and community memberswhich was the purpose of these special lunches.
After a rest, I drove to the Page house to see what work was being done. On the MPR road I saw trucks dumping dirt to widen the road. The Trust is doing this on the whole section of road from near the MPC to near the MPR.
Monday 24 January. I went up the hill early to take darshan. When I got back to my room I did part of a DVD workout. I then gathered all the supplies Heather gave me to do the Amartithi Baba Room cleaning. This type of cleaning is done only once a year.
Three pilgrims met me at Baba's Room. After explaining what needed to be done we began the cleaning. Walter is from the States, and Ronda and Matt are from Australia. After two hours we took a snack break. I brought bananas and oranges, plus chocolate for energy. Ronda had to leave, but Garda from Australia came by and happily took over her spot.
We started at 9:00 am and finished a little after noon. I have to admit we did a very good job. I think Baba would be pleased.
Tuesday 25 January. I went up the hill early to take darshan and then clean Mani's shrine and Baba's Room. After putting flowers everywhere I went to my room and did a short workout before going on a 'power walk' to the MPR and back home.
In the evening I had Samadhi duty from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. The weather has been warming up and I didn't need a jacket once the sun went down. In fact, it is getting hot during the day.
Wednesday 26 January. I was up the hill early for darshan at the Samadhi. After breakfast I went on a power-walk to the MPR and back.
It is starting to get crowded at Meherabad. There will be 1200 volunteers by Friday. There are a few hundred supervisors, and they are the ones who came today. They will prepare things for when the rest of the Indian volunteers come.
I had made a narrow cabinet for my room and it was delivered at 1:00pm. It was to replace a large shelved stand I had made years ago. Now my room has a little more space, plus the cabinet has doors and will keep things inside dust-free.
At 6:00 pm I went up the hill to cover Samadhi duty for my neighbor, Marge. Marge, over the years, has been making beautiful cloth flowers and other decorations for Amartithi. She was touching up on some of these decoration and feeling the pressure of limited time.
Thursday 27 January. I was up the hill early for darshan at the Samadhi. I then went back to my room for breakfast. I had a meeting at Baba's Room at 9:00 am to give all the new volunteers an orientation on what to do during Amartithi.
Later in the morning I met Joshi at the Page house to show him the type of stones that had been selected for the driveway. Joshi had given me two brochures of local driveway tiles and stones. I took photos from the brochures and sent them to the Pages on the Internet. That is how they were chosen. It's amazing how handy the Internet has become.
I was asked to again spend the night with Jaloo. Since I thought I would be kept up all night again, I had a few cups of tea to help me stay awake. However, to my surprise Jaloo slept most of the night. It was I who had trouble going to sleep because of all the tea I had. I did myself in!
Friday 28 January. Janaki relieve me at Jaloo's by 6:00 am. I took darshan at the Samadhi and went to my room to prepare for Amartithi, which would start in a couple of days. There is so much organization needed.
I stopped at our supply store to see if they had any of the floor mops yet. No, they said, they still had not arrived. I also wrote in their book that the stones that surround our drive circle had not been whitewashed. Every year all the stones of Meherabad are whitewashed. It makes the walkways and road boarders look so clean and cared for. Somehow they workers who did the work just stopped at our area.
I called Ted, who oversees a lot of this work. He said it was to late and we would have to wait until after Amartithi.
There was a program in Meherabad Mandali Hall at 5:00 pm about Baba giving the Divine Theme. It was so well prepared and presented. The research and knowledge that was shared brought joy to my heart. I was thinking how fortunate we our to be living in the age, when this knowledge is available to everyone. All this will be put on the Internet. I was sorry I did not bring a camera.
There are two new tents around Hostels C and D. There are now 17,000 Indian pilgrims registered for accommodations during Amartithi. However, on the opening day 3,000 extra pilgrims showed up. They were registered and given accommodation in the New Pilgrim Education site near the MPR. That new number brought the registered Indian pilgrims to 20,000. That is the largest number ever.
Saturday 29 January. I went up the hill early to take darshan. However, there was already a long line from the 1200 volunteers who are staying in Hostels D & C. So, after saying my prayers, I took darshan only at the threshold of the Samadhi.
We all heard an alarm clock going off. The clock was in the metal cabinet that had been moved from the Samadhi portico to Baba's Room; this is where it always goes during Amartithi. No one could turn it off because Baba's Room is unlocked only after the Samadhi Supervisor arrives and first opens the Samadhi doors. We just had to listen to it ring and ring until final we were able to open Baba's Room and turn the clock off.
The MPR snack table was to be set up for Amartithi goodies at lunchtime. I went there at 4:30 pm and bought all kinds of stuff for my neighbor, Marge, who seldom goes to the MPR. There were four kinds of cookies: oatmeal, ginger, peanut butter, and butter cookies. There was just baked carrot cake, brownies, lemon cake and banana breadoh, and chocolate éclairs. Yes sir, it is yummy stuff! They will add more selections too, like popcorn, al-la-carte foods, teas and coffee, soft drinks. I think you get the picturea place to visit!
I stopped at our Trustees office and picked up some 'volunteer badges' for those volunteering at Baba's Room. To get into some facilities you need to wear the 'Amartithi badge'. It is also fun to have a 'volunteer Amartithi badge'; it feels special and I save mine.
Sunday 30 January. Amartithi. I was up the hill by 5:00 am because we were going to change all the cloths in Baba's Room for Amartithi. We did a regular morning cleaning before changing the cloths.
The only cars now being allowed on the hill were 'Trust Vehicles'. I had to get a printout sheet for my car, as I go up and down the hill so often. When I parked my car at 10:00 am to put the rope on the poles for a queue, already there was a long line to take darshan in Baba's Room. Baba's Room is next to the Samadhi and Baba used it from 1935 until he moved to Meherazad. It is also were His body was brought on the stretcher, and that stretcher is still in His room.
At 12:00 noon we began the Amartithi two-hour shifts, though as I just said, there was already a long line. One of the residents had started volunteer work early to help keep the line flowing. In fact, some of the Samadhi volunteers came to tell us our line was interfering with those coming out from the Samadhi darshan exit. We never had this problem before and someone helped us 'snake' our line. Until after Silence on the 31st there was this incredibly long line.
With 20,000 registered Indian pilgrims, maybe 450 Western pilgrims, and the unregistered pilgrims who just come and sleep anywhere, the number total was probably close to 35,000 or more.
I wanted to take photos during Amartithibut I was too exhausted right from the beginning. I did not realize the two sleepless nights I had when I stayed with Jaloo just before Amartithi would affect me so much. I have never been good at staying up all night, and I found I was so tired all Amartithi. Plus, I was scheduled to be up the hill the first night of Amartithi from 12 midnight until 6:00 am. So, I am sorry I just didn't have it in me to take photos.
Monday 31 January. Beloved Baba had instructed that when He dropped His body the song, Begin The Beguine, was to be played seven times while His body lay in the open crypt. Because of that, from the very first Amartithi, Begin the Beguine was played; though it is played only once before the singing of Baba's name.
So, every year, just before the Silence from 12:00 noon to 12:15 pm, "Begin the Beguine" is played one time immediately followed with the chanting of Baba's name for three minutes to the song Meher Dhun. Imagine, thousands of His lovers, from all over the world, from all religions and walks of life, all together on the hill of the Samadhi, chanting His name for three minutes before saying together 'Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai! Then absolute silence for the next fifteen minutes!
It is an electrifying experience, one that my heart longs to experience each year. I look forward to that magical time! With the song putting you in the romance of being with Baba, then losing yourself in His name, when Silence starts you feel you have merged in His arms and He is holding you with such love. It truly is an unforgettable moment with God!
This year something went very wrong. The scheduled program was upset by a talk that went into the time allotted for a Bhajans that was to be played just before the recording played of Begin the Beguine. So, what did the commentator do? Did he skip the Bhajans? No, he had the Bhajans loudly played instead. In fact, the Bhajans was so loud on the speakers that I found it disturbing. Then from that there was the Silence for fifteen minutes!
I was shocked that a Bhajans was chosen over playing Begin the Beguine and the chanting of His name together with more than 20,000 of His lovers who were on the hill! I could not believe it. My heart felt robbed! Those who made that decision, what were they thinking? God Himself requested Begin the Beguine! To choose a Bhajans, instead of His lovers singing together His name?
I was very upset! So, later I went to the posted program and counted how many Bhajans were scheduled to be sung during the Amartithi period. The number? 96 Bhajans were scheduled! Could they not have only had 95? And let us have that precious joy of chanting Beloved Baba's name once a year with His lovers from all over the world? Everyone was upset. We are going to write our protest so such a thing will never happen again.
Tuesday 1 February. I was able to sleep at night because someone else was scheduled to supervise during the night to make sure there was someone on duty in case a volunteer forgot to show up.
The last couple of hours before the closing of Amartithi were, for me, some of the most fun of the whole three days. There were the Iranians singing with so much joy and enthusiasm that people often got up and danced. There were the songs sung from the group of 'International' pilgrims. They were the combined singing of the Westerners and Easternerseveryone sings and it was just so much fun!
Then, Amartithi was over with the closing ceremony. It was time to remove everything that had been used for this special celebration, and return to our regular life here in Meherabad. Though there were still the 1200 Indian volunteers staying in Hostel D & C. They would remain for two more days.
When I was doing some laundry later in the day, I heard the joyous singing of all the young Indian volunteers celebrating together. In the past, when I had more energy, sometimes I would join them. They sing and dance and play their musical instruments in a giant party. This time I only listened from my yard and felt happy for them. Me? I only wanted to rest.
In Beloved Baba's sweet love, Judy