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54

 

with a lantern. I talked for a few minutes with Dr. Donkin―a rare chance because he is so often on night duty and varnishes during the day!

 

With Adi Sr.'s car leading the way, we started the pilgrimage to the Master's abodes, past and present, at Ahmednagar, about 8O miles east of Poona. Driving at what seemed moderate speed after the breakneck California freeways, along dirt roads built like old-fashioned washboards, we encountered the typical Indian traffic hazards of bicycles, mixed herds of goats and sheep; cows; bullock carts piled high with a peasant family and all its possessions; or women carrying enormous brass water pots on their head and sometimes a baby on the hip. Native trees lined the road that wound over the flat plains of the Deccan with table-like "mesas" in the distance, over which enormous clouds piled up in all the colors of the rainbow. Dawn was breaking spectacularly just as we passed the Agha Khan's Castle, where Ghandi was interned by the British and where his wife, who died in prison, is buried. Later on a huge double rainbow, Baba’s good-luck sign to us, arched over the fields to our right. Our car was second in line and we reached the halfway dak bungalow (resthouse) ahead of the others, and in time to try the unique Indian contribution to sanitation, a paved hole in the ground.

 

Another hour and we had reached Ahmednagar and the home of Sarosh Irani, Baba's long-term disciple and past Mayor of Ahmednagar. We were greeted by his charming wife Viloo and daughters and treated to a sumptuous "brunchfast.” Our next stop was the place where Baba lives now — Meherazad in the fields of Pimpalgaon, past the little "guard-booth.” Here Francis gave us the guided tour in small groups. We were shown the meeting hall (once a garage), where Baba sits with the Mandali from ten to twelve in the mornings (sometimes He is as early as 8:00 a.m.), and four to six in the afternoon. On to Baba's house, with the pleasant paved verandah overlooking the beautiful garden tended by Mehera. The flowers here seem to know they are in God's garden and bloom like sparks of fire. Baba's room used to be on the top storey before the ‘57 accident, but now His bedroom is on the first floor. Francis told us that Baba is never alone at night ― one of the Mandali is always present, or Rano Gayley, the only woman ever allowed to stand guard for Baba.

 

There is a painting by Marguerite Poley of a winged white horse on the walls of Meherazad. Apropos of this, Ivy Duce tells of the following incident:

 

 

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