Before I met Baba, I was closely connected with Norina Matchabelli. I had passed some months in Europe to visit museums as I was strongly interested in art. However, because my mother was seriously ill, I had to return to New York. Back home, I immediately phoned Norina and she urged me to come to her house to tell her all about my stay in Europe. She then told me that an extraordinary man, a great master, Shri Meher Baba was expected to come to New York and she was very eager to meet him. Norina had been invited by her friends Malcolm Schloss and his wife Jean Adriel, who had owned a shop for metaphysical books in New York and thus had contact with the spiritual retreat of Meredith Starr in Devonshire, England. Mr. Starr had been in India with Meher Baba and was expecting his first visit to the West in autumn 1931. Malcolm and Jean had prepared everything to go to England but then Baba had informed them of his intention to come to New York and asked them to prepare everything for his stay there. From a friend the Schloss’s got a house in Harmon on the Hudson outside New York and arranged everything for Baba's stay there. So they informed all their friends of this unique event.
When I saw that Norina was so excited, I thought I would like to meet this extraordinary man too. Though I had no idea what a master was and India for me was a far away unknown country. I never had read spiritual books and was totally ignorant of metaphysics, philosophy etc., I was only interested in art.
On November 6th, 1931 Baba arrived in New York and a few days later Norina phoned me that she had met Baba. To my great amazement she was crying; I never had seen her crying and was quite embarrassed. She told me that the next day I too could meet Baba in Harmon. She advised me to make myself look pretty, not to be covered like an onion; I should not feel shy but be totally free. All this made me feel uncertain, timid. When I arrived in Harmon I saw all these strange people, Meredith Starr and his friends barefooted, with beards, strange dresses, having vegetarian, raw food (they offered me a kind of raw cabbage which I had never eaten before) and it made me feel uncomfortable, nervous, suspicious. When I was going up the dark staircase to Baba’s room, I wondered how I should greet such a holy person, and having been brought up a Catholic I decided to fall on my knees, make the sign of the cross and kiss his hand. My heart was pumping with excitement. Then the door was opened, all was in bright light, I saw Baba sitting on the couch and to my utter amazement I ran, actually I ran and threw myself on Baba — like a child who after a long, painful separation saw his father/mother again. Imagine, I threw myself on Baba, I was so happy, an immense joy filled all my being as if I were on fire, all burning; no interfering thoughts, no problems, only pure love and joy. Baba looked at me, all love and smiling. I sat at his feet as if I had never done anything else but sit at his feet. Only the mandali (Chanji and Adi jr.) were in the room, none of these curious people.
After a while Baba asked me "Do you know who I am? I felt rather stupid, but I don’t know how and why I answered "You are the source of all goodness." Baba was very pleased, he took my face and pressed it. I don't know what he "said" to me. There was an inner relationship as if he were talking to me, there was no separation that needed words. It was incredible, I was just I, something that had no beginning, no end, that had always been and would always be, living continually; I just was full of joy, totally happy.
Then Baba asked me "What do you want to do?” I said "I have just come back from Europe. I want to become an artist." Baba responded: "You will be a painter; you will do my portrait, I will pose for you. Come here in 2 or 3 days." All of a sudden I was seized with such a fear, but knew I was not to say ''No, I can't." I had to do it, it was my first act of obedience, whether I liked it or not. Then Baba asked me about my mother. I told him that she was extremely ill and that I had to come back because of her. He said: " Tell your mother that if she cannot come here, I will come to see her, she must not worry." I was quite stupefied that someone whom I hardly knew would take the trouble to visit my mother.
Two days later I came to Baba with my little paint box. I again had to eat that vegetarian raw food but I was less afraid of those curious Westerners. Norina was so