occupied. We had Western cooking. Our meals were sent over from the men's quarters. Baba and the other women ate Indian food which was cooked in the villa; Rano and Dr. Goher acted as links with the outside world. There was an attractive garden supervised by Mehera.
The day arrived for the official opening of the ashram and it was very efficiently organized by Kaka. The women from Meherabad, Ahmednagar and other parts arrived and we had our meal sitting on cushions in the garden. Kaka made a speech, relayed from the men's quarters, calling on all to love and serve Baba more and more. Baba then opened the main door with a silver key. He sat on the couch and was garlanded. Gulmai performed the "Arti" ceremony with Mehera standing on the other side of Baba.
After this started a period of intense activity; meetings and disagreements over the Discourses and other matters . . .Baba sitting quietly and not commenting until we had exhausted ourselves, in the end always getting the decision He wished. Jean and I alternatively being ill, much to Baba's apparent disgust, as He had said He had planned several excursions we must both be well and not miss them. We did rally for the most important and there was one delightful walk where Baba said Rama and Sita had wandered in their flight. As we came back, two rainbows appeared in the sky and He said this was a good augury for us.
Every evening we gathered in the sitting room; often I read stanzas from Hafiz, Baba's favorite poet. One evening I read The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson. Sometime after, Baba said: "If I can stand Delia's reading "The Hound of Heaven", I can stand anything." When not reading poetry, Baba insisted on the four of us telling jokes. Luckily someone from America had sent out a large book of jokes and in the mornings the book was passed round and we each selected three or four and wrote them out ready for the evenings. Norina used to say hers with great aplomb. We often noticed while we were talking Baba's far away expression and the movement on the air of His fingers. Yet He always knew exactly what we had said. Jean was given some special meditations and also writing and typing. There was further clicking of typewriter keys from Norina, busy with her memoirs; Elizabeth with business letters and myself typing very slowly, chapters of Dr, Ghani's book, God Speaks.*
Very soon after our arrival, Baba announced that our return passages were booked for the middle of October. He said that one of my tasks on returning to England was to establish for Him "The Universal Spiritual Centre in Great Britain." He Himself selected the first Committee and I had to write to Mr. Purdom and Will Backett to explain all this to them. It was to be run in conjunction with the parent League in America and Elizabeth and I had endless discussions and correspondence with solicitors so that the form should be kept the same, though adapted to English laws and ways.
Baba told me that I was only to stay six weeks in England and then sail for Panama to arrange for Him to go there, as He wished to visit the Republic on His next trip to the states. I even had to write to Panama and ask for circulars to be sent with all data about Panama. These Baba kept in His pocket and later returned to me.
Jean had her own instructions but we were both told that we would eventually return to India.
Needless to say, as all know, plans were changed. Baba postponed His trip to the U.S. by starting His New Life and did not come to the West till 1952. When He returned to India after visiting the U.S., England, Switzerland, only two Westerners returned with Him: Rano Gayley and Dr. Donkin; but this is anticipating by nearly three years.
When the last day of our departure arrived, Baba said we were not even to shed a tear as we would be seeing Him again, whatever happened. So Jean and I left after a three month's stay, happy with Baba's promise, and ready to do the tasks allotted to us. Having gained an added insight into Baba's working and His technique of changing plans, building and destroying when the work is finished. we returned to the West, strengthened and re-charged with Baba's unfailing love.
* Dr. Ghani collated the first material for this book by Meher Baba.