Baba replied, "Meher Baba is prepared to receive the Queen of Romania" (at Portofino, Italy). Of course she didn't come.
Another time Norina introduced a friend who was a passionate devotee of classical music. The interview was going poorly, the lady's attention was wandering. Baba said to Norina "Get that record!" "That record?" Norina gasped. "Yes!!" She put "La Cucaracha" on the phonograph. The lady excused herself and left. Baba's eyes twinkled.
One can smile at Norina's naiveté about whom to bring to Baba, but it is interesting to note, first, Baba gave in to her whims, and second, how lucky these people were to meet Him, ready or not! Sometimes He refused, for example, in India, she begged Baba to meet Krishnamurti (he once was acclaimed as Avatar of the Age by the Theosophists, a position he wisely repudiated). Baba said, "Leave him alone, he is on the fifth plane and will stay there until he dies."
It was she who told me Einstein met Baba.* His daughter Maria had been drawn to her in her role of the Madonna. She said Einstein remarked, "All I know is nothing compared to what Baba knows."
She introduced a very well-known Italian philosopher to Baba. He literally entered talking about God, God this and God that, spouting metaphysics. Suddenly Baba threw His alphabet board into a corner of the room and the man stopped talking instantly. Tears came into his eyes. Silently he experienced Baba's real darshan — an overwhelming wave of divine love. He bowed to Baba as he left, apologized and said, "Now I know what Divine Love is."
One day at Winstead, Connecticut, where Elizabeth and Norina had established a summer retreat, she told us a mother and daughter would visit us. This is the mother's story: she was five months pregnant and was driving herself and a woman friend, a well-known opera singer, over the Alps to Rome, to meet Baba. There was a bad accident and the friend was killed. Overcome with guilt and remorse, the woman met Baba, who told her, only He could do it, but He would switch the soul of her unborn child with the soul of her friend. Her daughter was thus her old friend.
One of the souls drawn to Baba through Norina was Anita de Caro (now Mme. Vieillard) who met her in New York in the Thirties.
"I was a very young girl when I first met Norina. I met her through a school friend, who wanted to be an actress; I wanted to be an artist. Norina had been very well known before meeting Baba. I would like to give you a little description of her. She was very tall, extremely beautiful. When you saw Norina, Baba and Mehera together, they looked like three beautiful creatures coming out of a painting of DaVinci. They all had a kind of long, slim, thin-boned expression and a great beauty when they were all together . . . Norina . . . had great beauty, she had culture, she had a romantic theatrical attitude towards things. Everything for her had to have style . . . But really, in her heart there was the longing and desire for something that she herself didn't know.
"You see, because of her culture, because of her background, because of always wanting the high and not realizing it had to be low, you can see what she had to go through. When she met Baba she cried and cried . . . I remember how she told me — we would speak Italian together — she said to me, 'O darling, at last I have found what I have always been looking for . . . ' But the God she was looking for was a God she saw only in the high, and she couldn't see it in the low, so how difficult it was for her, only for Baba could she accept it. . . . '
Norina was one of the privileged Westerners who joined Baba in India in the Nasik Ashram in 1936, together with her dear friend Elizabeth. This was a very intense period of Baba's work with the group. Norina with her very strong personality and autocratic manner was often a storm center for the emotional conflicts Baba brought up. At times, Baba had put her in charge of household affairs — a very vulnerable position!
Bringing up the "shadow" side of a disciple by actualizing it in some crisis — even a petty domestic one, so that person can face the negative in himself, is one way Baba peels the ego. "Elimination of the ego is My specialty" He once told an English reporter. He used to joke and say "Other ashrams are a vacation — nice, quiet meditation, yoga,
* the mandali have no record of this meeting