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22

Extracts From A Letter From

Captain William Donkin, I.M.S.

To the Backetts

 

Bangalore, India, October 14, 1942

 

 

. . . I don't see much of Baba these days except whenever I can get leave every few months, and I was in Dehra Dun for three weeks in August, seeing Baba every day and hope to see him again at the end of this month.

 

In spite of all hints to the contrary, he still does a lot of mast work, and those whom he can take with him to where he is staying, he does; doing the usual bathing, feeding and so on. You will of course remember Mohammed, the mast who was in Cannes. About a year ago, he said he wanted to leave B, and so went to Bombay, where he was looked after by Agali (the hero of Sobs and Throbs) The latter is now a rather materially inclined fellow in a restaurant business. Lately, Mohammed after spending some months in Ratnagiri on the West coast, his old home, decided to come back to B, and now he is with him at Lonavla.

 

Actually the real cream of the masts was old Chatti Baba, of whom I think I sent you a photo a while ago. You may have met Eruch Jessawala. He does a good deal of mast work with B. The following tale of his is interesting. You know that when B works with the masts, he shuts himself in a room with them and allows no one else in. Just before B left Bangalore in April 1940, he tried to get Chatti Baba to sit with him for half an hour in his hut in the "Links" compound. Chatti Baba refused repeatedly, being rather childish — liking to keep himself to himself.  Eventually, on the very eve of Baba going away with us all, Chatti Baba of himself came to B's hut, and said he would sit in with B. They were alone in the hut for about an hour and at the end of it Chatti Baba rattled on the door to be let out. And Eruch, who was on guard outside, went to unlock the door. Eruch, being a fattish, phlegmatic sort of chap, not expecting anything or being sensitive or anything, says that as Chatti Baba came out he (Eruch) felt a powerful and painful electric shock, which upset him for the moment. Baba of course, always says that these masts help him in his work. So doubtless the sparks fly a bit when they get together, and Chatti Baba was said to have been a sixth plane mast, a Pir in fact.

 

While I was at Dehra Dun, Baba sent me to see all the places at Hardwar and Rishikesh, including the bungalow where they had all been. You would have loved these famous Hindu pilgrim centers, at Rishikesh, where the Ganges comes sweeping out of the Himalayas, a grey rushing turbulent river, with cool water from the glaciers in the Himalayas as with Kardinath and Badrinath 100 miles away. The hills on each side rise to 6,000/7,000 feet, covered with trees up to their summits. Hardwar, or "God's door", is 15 miles below Rishikesh. The Ganges passes through a small cut in a line of hills there, and is a great place in the traditional Hindu style, with bathing ghats, temples, etc. A very colorful and fascinating place.

 

Baba was in a very gay mood while I was in Dehra Dun, plenty of jokes and talks about his school days, with funny incidents. He is really very active these days, and of course keeps on rushing off on mast tours all over India. On these tours there are often a lot of funny incidents. Gustadji usually goes too, and what with G's finger language and B's nods, they usually cause some inquisitiveness in the trains. At one station, someone insisted that B had come there to find a brother he had lost. In spite of denials, the man insisted that this was so. He said he could read faces and knew it to be true. After about half an hour, about 40 people collected round Baba and party on the platform, every newcomer being told this false tale . . . people giving great sympathy to Baba at the loss of his brother.

 

Another time in a train, Baba was told that he ought to go and take darshan of a famous saint at Ahmednagar called Meher Baba . . . Another time B insisted on bargaining over some oranges on a station stall where there was a picture of himself. The man held him in great esteem, but did not recognize him in the flesh when he came to bargain over oranges at the station stall with him!

 

Aga Baidul, whom you all remember, is the chief mast finder at present, as Kaka is mostly with his sister in Bombay. Kitty and Margaret are both pretty fit.

 

Continued on page 63.

 

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