Judy Stephens

Meherabad, 1952


16-29 Feb 2012

Jai Meher Baba to you all!

Thursday 16 February 2012. I went up the hill early to clean Mehera's shrine. When the Samadhi doors opened I took darshan and then went for a walk to the MPR and back to my room.

Meherazad had a special program that started at 10:00 AM. When Pendu was alive he would invite all the surrounding village children to Meherazad for a special program. After he died the program was stopped at Meherazad. Last year, Falu, decided to restart it. The program goes from 10:00 to 12:30 PM.

--photo of shading being put up at Meherazad

About 1000 school children attend with their teachers. Some of the children performed. Huge McDonald did magic tricks, which is always an absolute delight for the children. Mehernath spoke for a while, and then the children lined up and went into Mandali Hall to take darshan at Baba's chair. They were then given a gift bag of treats.

I helped out by being on the verandah of the house to show Mehera's room for new pilgrims. The children were not scheduled to go into the house. When I got in my car to leave down the approach road there was a long line of children walking out. I tried to take a photo but my camera decided to not work.

At 2:30 PM I went to the Music & Arts Center for rehearsal of the Baba birthday play. Shortly after I got home, Parag, my car mechanic, sent some of his men to take my car to give my car a check up. Also, they removed the CD player to fix. The CD was getting stuck and not coming out.

Friday 17 February. I slept late, as I have been tired. I did a DVD workout with my weights. It felt good, I like working out. Just before 10:00 AM I started walking to the theater. As I was nearing the road a jack rabbit came hopping around the corner. He stopped as soon as he saw me, and I stopped as soon as I saw him. We were not far apart. I was hoping if I didn't move maybe the rabbit would continue on past. No, it paused for a minute in surprise, and then spun around and quickly hopped back the way it had come. It was such a precious happening, it gave my heart pleasure to see the rabbit so close up.

At rehearsal one of the residents, who is also in the play, wanted some tandoori chicken. I told her about this nice place on the other side of the village. We walked to my place and went to my car. The car had been delivered earlier. The drive to the restaurant is only about ten minutes. The food was good; while we were there some other Meherabad residents also came in for lunch.

I had a short nap before it was time to be back to rehearsal. We finished after 5:00 PM. I had an appointment with a part-time resident who is getting ready to build a house. She wanted to see the layout of the Page house, especially the inner courtyards.

When I got home I had a nice bath. The theater is so dusty. Meherabad is so dusty. We have to cover everything, and the covers get dusty! But, it is so nice living here; I don't mind the problems that much. If the problems come along with living here, I gladly accept them.

Saturday 18 February. I went up the hill early to clean Mani's shrine. When the Samadhi doors were opened I took darshan and then cleaned Baba's Room. I took a walk to the MPR and back to my room.

I had cancelled the Tour of Meherabad Historic Sites because I needed to be at rehearsal for the Baba Birthday Play. Our rehearsal time for right now is 10:00 to 12:30 PM. We are back from 2:30 to 4:30 PM. We often go longer unless the theater is needed to show a Baba film.

There was a concert at the Meher Pilgrim Center (MPC). Cindy Lowe and friends performed. The play rehearsal went until a little over 5:00 PM. I was too tired to go to the concert. Instead I drove to the new restaurant on the other side of Arangaon Village. It has a lot of wood, quite lovely. The tables and low walls are made of wood. Then there are all around open wide space just below the roof. There are several cabanas out back and a square pond with not water but rock designs in it. The owners had spent time making it attractive. They also have tasty tandoori chicken. I went home after lunch.

Sunday 19 February. I slept late because I was tired. I then drove to the Page house to check on things before going to Meherazad. I got to Meherazad just before the buses and went to the main house. I asked where I may help and was told to help in Baba's Room. I only had to make sure no more then ten pilgrims at a time were inside. Everyone else had to wait outside until someone came out. Meheru was not back from Pune yet.

I left when the program started in Mandali Hall. I had play rehearsal from 2:30 to 4:30 PM. After rehearsal I went home, changed into a nice Punjabi outfit and drove to Bhauji's at the Trust. I really enjoy being at Bhau's Sunday Chats. In Meherabad, there were three parties Sunday afternoon, but I figured we will always have parties, but Bhauji won't be here that much longer.

At the Chat there were a few Russian pilgrims, including the mother of one of Bhauji's team members.

Monday 20 February. I slept late and then went to rehearsal for the Play. I then drove to the MPR to have lunch with Donnita, one of my friends who is here. During lunch Alan made an announcement that Arnavaz, who is handling all the costumes for the play, needed help. Donnita offered to help and was at the theater by 2:30 PM. I told her she would be able to go to our Cast party Saturday night since she is now part of the play crew!

Tuesday 21 February. I was up the hill early to clean Mani's shrine. I then took darshan when the Samadhi doors opened. I next cleaned Baba's Room before going for a walk to the MPR and home.

I left for Meherazad around 9:00 AM, because I had to stop at the phone company and pay my phone bill. We can pay the phone bills at the post office in Meherabad, but it seemed lately whenever I went by it was closed. With rehearsals I don't have the time to keep going back to see if it is opened.

When I got to Meherazad it was before 11:00 AM. Everyone has been asked to not be at Meherazad until 11:00 AM on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 10:45 AM on Sundays. So, there were about eight of us waiting on the old clinic verandah until 11:00 AM.

Most of the decorations were up for Baba's birthday. Every place I looked there were pretty decorations. I especially loved seeing the Baba photo just opposite the entrance to Mandali Hall. I had not noticed it before. I asked Falu and he said last year it was put up for the first time. Somehow I had missed it last year.

--photo of Baba opposite Mandali Hall door

I helped out by being in Mehera's room when ever someone new went in. Otherwise I stood by the door listening to the stories being shared on the verandah. Meheru seemed to be enjoying herself.

On the way home I picked up some food and ate it in the car. I had play rehearsal at 2:30 PM. At 4:30 PM I had to leave because I had Samadhi Prasad duty from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. As soon as Arti prayers were over I went down the hill and drove to one of our part-time resident's home. She was having a party to say good-by, because she was leaving in two weeks and won't be back until June. The party was a lot of fun. There were a lot of Iranians and music was played while the women were doing some of their dancing. We just relaxed and enjoyed being together.

Wednesday 22 February. I slept late, as I have been tired. I drove to the Page house to check on things. They have begun digging for the foundation of an outside toilet. I then drove to the theater at 9:00 AM. The rehearsal doesn't start until 10:00 AM, but the finale is a dance routine taken from an opera, and we all wanted more time to practice. It is getting hot, in the 80's, and inside the theater becomes uncomfortable after a few hours. We broke for lunch at 1:30 PM.

------photos of rehearsals and backstage

The afternoon rehearsal finished around 5:30 PM. It is fun being in a play though it takes a lot of ones time.

Thursday 23 February. I went up the hill early to clean Mehera's shrine before taking darshan when the Samadhi doors opened. I then went for a very refreshing walk to the MPR and home. The mornings are cool, not cold, and I now seldom wear a sweatshirt. It is already daily in the 80's, and those early mornings to the Samadhi and MPR walks feel so wonderful.

I spent most of the morning and afternoon at the play rehearsals.

Friday 24 February. I went up the hill early because we were going to change all the covers in Baba's Room. I first took darshan at the Samadhi and then went to Baba's Room. Jayshree and I called two of the watchmen over to help lift the glass cover over the stretcher. When we lifted Baba's pillow I let the watchmen each hold it. I was so touched to see how precious it was to them. They so gently held it and pressed it to their faces. When I took it back to place on the shelf while we cleaned, they both said 'thank you' with such gratitude. I thought to myself, 'we need to include them more often when help is needed.'

This was a busy day for preparations for Baba's birthday tomorrow. At 9:00 AM the decorations under the portico of the Samadhi were going up, as well as the decorations under the Tin Shed where Baba's Gadi is located. In the afternoon, under the Tin Shed, tubs full of red roses were going to have their stems cut and many strung for torans.

At 10:30 AM in the morning, at the Trust in Ahmednagar, there was the Baba flag hosting with Bhauji. Prayers and Arti would follow in the Ahmednagar Center.

As for myself, I spent the morning at rehearsal. In the afternoon we had a dress rehearsal. We have all worked hard. Tomorrow is the big day.

Saturday 25 February. I set my alarm clock for 2:00 AM. Yes, you read it right, 2:00 AM. I drove to Hostel-D to pick up Jayshree. We had to clean Mani's shrine and Baba's Room before 3:30 AM. Heather was coming with a special cover for Mani's shrine and it would be placed at that time.

When the Samadhi doors opened at 3:00 AM all the old flowers were taken out. All the women Samadhi cleaning supervisors went to the storage room to get all the many cloths that would be placed the full length of Baba's shrine. They did something different this year. All the women were inside on the upper part. They would allow three people at a time from the waiting line to come in and help place one of the cloths. The next three in line would go in and have their turn. Since there were not many pilgrims up the hill at that time some of us were able to get in line more than once.

By 4:00 AM there were no more spaces to sit, and the line got longer and longer. The flowerwalas were busy delivering the many garlands to the pilgrims who ordered them. Plus they bring many extra for those who had no chance to order one. It was not long before Beloved Baba's shrine was piled high with flowers given with the love of His lovers. This would continue all day.

At 4:55 AM we began singing Meher Dhun. At exactly 5:00 AM we said 'Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai' seven times. We followed this with Happy Birthday to Baba and then the prayers and Arti. Then the singing began from His pilgrims. This went on for three hours, until 8:00 AM when it was time for all to go have breakfast.

The Prasad given out was ravi and other special treats. Tea was served under the tin shed at 6:00 AM. The whole morning was a joyous treat for the heart. So much love He gives to all and His lovers love to share this love with each other. Hugs and Happy Baba Birthday were heard everywhere.

We all met at the Music and Arts Center between 2:00 and 3:00 PM. This was it. There was a lot of excitement. We had to rope off an area for the women and men's dressing places.

---show photos of areas of preparations

I had three parts: I was one of three demons of war, I was one of the weeping widows, and I was in the last act, a dance finale.

--show photo of demons

---show photos of widows

---photos of dance

Now this meant I had three scenes that followed one another. From a war dance, I had to quickly change into the widow scene. The funny part? We had pre-tacked the folds of the white sari and tacked it to parts of my sari-slip. This way I would be able to remove the demon custom and step into the sari. Ha! Ha! It didn't turn out that way. I tried to quickly change, but the other widows were already getting on stage and we couldn't find the hook to hook the slip. Plus, the sound man was trying to tape the mic to my face and attach the battery to the sari. I had to go on stage without having the sari slip hooked! But we were weeping widows because our husbands had been killed in battle, so a messy sari looked fine.

I then quickly slipped out of the sari and put this orange robe over for the dance finale. We had practice so much that I felt very happy when we finished performing and everything went smoothly.

The audience loved the play! Some pilgrims said they wished we would travel and perform elsewhere too. I felt very happy! Everyone did an excellent joy! We ended it by singing Happy Birthday to Baba, and then saying, Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai." I think Baba would have been pleased!

My friend, Donnita, helped with the costumes, so she was invited to the cast party that immediately followed. We walked to my place to get my car. Then we went back to the theater to pick up some other cast members who are staying at the MPR. Alan's house is near the MPR and the party was on his rooftop. It was so much fun. Yet, by 9:30 PM I was ready to go home and to sleep.

Sunday 26 February. I slept late, and then I went to the theater to help clean up with the other cast members from 9:00 to 12:00 noon. We had clean and put back everything, etc. After this I drove to the Trust at 1:00 PM. They had the Narayan Seva program from 12:00 noon to 3:00 PM. This is the annual 'feeding of the poor'.

---photos of feeding program

I put my things in Bhauji's Chat Room to save a seat. I then walked around taking photos. I helped for a short while and then went to rest in one of the rooms. At 4:15 PM Bhauji came into the room for his Sunday Internet 'Chat'. He really enjoys it and we love being with him during it.

There is a group of Russians here, and nine of them were in the Chat Room. We always have lots of Iranians, but this day there were more Russians. At 8:30 PM it was time to stop. However, it took some convincing for Bhauji to agree. However, there was also a musical program scheduled in the Trust from 9:00 to 11:30 PM. I stayed and drove home with some Iranian friends. I was so tired!

Monday 27 February. I was so sure I would sleep late, I was exhausted and I didn't set the alarm. To my surprised I woke at 5:00 PM. I love being up the hill in the early morning so I decided to go up for morning darshan when the Samadhi doors opened. I had a lot of laundry to do before going to lunch at the MPR. After lunch I drove Dina Snow to see the Page house, as she is a good friend of theirs.

My neighbor Marge had gone up the hill to take down all the decorations at the Samadhi and under the tin shed. She said she was a little short of help.

In the evening, after Arti, there was the annual wedding anniversary party for Jal & Dolly. It was so much fun. Though I was tired I still went. This was their 56th wedding anniversary party. Bhauji came, to the surprise of most. He sat at the dining table and people came in to see him. He would take the hand of each person and give it three taps for Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh. When it was time to leave we all sang the Gujerati Arti and Bhauji was then taken from the house in his wheelchair. His car was waiting and his team helped him into the car.

---photos of Bhauji

--photo of car leaving

Tuesday 28 February. I went up the hill early to clean Mani's shrine before taking darshan when the Samadhi doors opened. I cleaned Baba's Room and then walked home to get ready for Meherazad, this was the last day it would be opened for pilgrims until next July.

I drove my neighbors, Marge, Paul, and Archana. We stopped for tea near Meherazad, at a tea stall we liked. As we sat there the three Meherabad buses passed by. So, we skipped our second cup of tea and left. I wanted to help at the house if they needed me.

As soon as I parked my car I went to the main house. Meheru was on the porch greeting pilgrims. I asked Shelley if she needed any help, and she had me go to Baba's room. I stood at the door and made sure no more than ten went inside at one time. When I left I wished Meheru a quiet summer. Then Marge, Donnita, and I went to have lunch. The lunch was very relaxing and we really enjoyed it. Paul and Archana took the bus back to Meherabad as they had things to do.

I dropped Donnita off at the MPC so she could take a rickshaw back to the MPR. Marge and I drove to our little houses. After a short nap I got ready for my Samadhi Prasad duty from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. I got up the hill a little early and had time to say hello to Jaloo. Her room now has a ceiling fan. All this time she had a table fan, but it seems it would often break, so they finally decided to change.

There were so many pilgrims for Arti. I think now that the main activities are over soon most of the pilgrims will leave. Meherazad is closed and there is only a little over two weeks left before pilgrims season comes to a close. However, there are now private places pilgrims could stay during the summer if they wished. Before there were only Trust pilgrim accommodations, and when the pilgrim season ended there were only residents here. It was a very quiet time that I loved.

Wednesday 29 February. I slept late and then did some laundry. I had a 10:00 AM appointment with Jack Small at his mother, Virginia's, house. Virginia died a few years ago, and he is going through her things and selling what he isn't keeping. He is also going to ship some things back to the USA. Jack is an old friend and he asked the Pages if he could store some stuff at their house. Yes, they would temporarily do it. Jack and his mother moved here in the 70's, so he has a lot of stuff to go through.

I stopped at our Meher Hospital to see the eye doctor. She comes on Wednesday mornings. Since Amartithi I have felt there was dust in my eyes. I used my eye drops but it has continued. She gave me some antibiotic eye drops and hopefully that will do the trick.

I then drove Jack to the Page house so he could see it. I had an appointment with the contractor, Joshi, at the house so it was good timing. It turned out Jack and Joshi had known each other from years back, and they remembered meeting when Jack worked with Adi Sr. at the Trust Office. I then dropped Jack off at the MPR and went home.

In Beloved Baba's sweet love, Judy

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