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November Pilgrimage to Meherabad

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Our little party of five - consisting my daughter Chloe, son Will, and friends Rachel Dymond and Ange Ayres, arrived in New Delhi at 3.20 a.m. on 18th November. This was to be Will and Angie's first trip to Meherabad and for Angie, India as well. For ease of introduction our train was thank-Babaful-ly leaving from Hazrat Nizumadin Station (as opposed to the chaos of Mainline New Delhi) but even before sun up the converging roads were chocablock and we were instantly immersed into the flood of sounds, smells and visuals unique to the wonder that is India. The fact that Will had been granted - most uncharacteristically - time off work mid term and Ange had received out of the blue funding for this trip made me feel that it was with Baba's Blessings, although not devoid of trepidation.

2013 had been a harrowing year for our family, but had also gifted incredible synchronisities, that had eased the pain and also fuelled and coloured and determined the itinerary of our trip. So I feel that I cannot write of the one without also sharing some of these.

In April our precious cat Daisy died. She'd been part of our family for nearly 20 years and despite, or possibly because of her fierce and fiery temperament, an indelible bond had grown from childhood between Chloe and her. Daisy was a tabby cat which, coupled with her feisty nature, likened her to a tiger. At the time of her dying, Dina Gibson - as a thank you for my recent subscription to Love Street Breezes - sent a thank you email to Chloe's address by mistake. When opened, it revealed a picture of Baba with His arms around a tiger. Dina was completely ignorant of our family and as such, the implications of such a picture. How remarkable is Baba's love and attention I thought, to each and every one, that when Chloe's heart was raked most raw to drop this seed of love!

meher-baba-tiger.jpg

meher-baba-tiger.jpg

And then in July my mum went to Baba. She'd been diagnosed with lymphoma and then suffered a fall some 6 months prior. In the height of pain she told me that Baba had spoken to her - saying how He would not lessen the pain but He would give her the strength needed to survive it. Her diminishing stamina and energy had changed her life over night from that of an active social butterfly to housebound. My father suffers from aspergers syndrome, and so to now live in his reclusive world, devoid of music and frivolity had impacted hugely on her mental health. But, in His compassion, during this period her mind became considerably calmer, allowing her to give her attention exclusively to people, events and situations (something she'd never been capable of before). Following a second fall she was admitted to hospital from whence her health rapidly declined. Despite doctor's assurances that she would make a full recovery she insisted that it was now time for her to leave us. On the evening of the third day we talked out everything that needed to be talked out, and the following morning she gently slipped away, holding my dad's hand and with my arms around her, whispering Baba's name in her ear.

My mum had always accessed and communicated love through the medium of angels and feathers, and in the ensuing days the strength of her love manifested likewise - firstly a beautiful white feather landed on my shoulder as I was stepping out of the house, then a double rainbow encircled our home, and then a perfect pair of gold foil angel wings fell from our ceiling on the day of her Thanksgiving Service. I presume these came from the foiled top of a bottle of Cava opened earlier, but I believe their formation was created by love in evidence of its phenomenal power to reach beyond and breach all limits of time and space and worlds, to connect us.

Whether this love also helped clear some of my sanskaric debris or not I don't know, but it definitely initiated an internal shift - fortifying my bridge to and connection with Baba. And it was in honour of this love that I was carrying mum in my heart to lay at His Samadhi.

We were beginning our little pilgrimage with a safari in Ranthambore National Park, to experience India's fast disappearing past, and to grant Chloe her wish of hopefully seeing a tiger in the wild. In the meantime we relaxed and recovered from our flight, as India paraded comfortably past our carriage window between New Delhi and Sawai Madhopur - the picturesque and unassuming township adorning Ranthambore.

We stayed at the Hammir Wildlife Resort - the converted hunting lodge of the Maharaja of Rajastan - and a hop and skip from the park itself. Apparently during the dry months of April and May tigers are occasionally seen wandering down the road and even inside the grounds of the hotel. Another snippet of sobering information was that four people had not so long ago been killed by tigers. Although tigers don't enjoy eating us they do enjoy the sport of killing us - so it was with respect that we prepared for our first safari by jeep. The park is also home to crocodiles, leopards, monkeys, snakes, samba and spotted deer, monkeys, antilope, sloth bear, hyenas, jackals and more monkeys! It spreads over an area of 392 sq. kms of dense forest, lakes, water falls and mountains penetrated by dirt track roads of fine soft dust! Historically tigers are tracked either by their pug prints on this fine dust or the warning cries of monkeys or Samber Deer = their diet of choice.

Although we didn't actually see a tiger the thrill of tracking one is truly intoxicating - even when remaining hidden from view, the excitement of its felt proximity is quite indescribable. AND THEN - whilst walking up the approach path to the interior fort in late afternoon, a peacock, chorused by monkey shrieks of alarm, suddenly flew out of the bush directly in front of Will and Chloe - accompanied by a large leopard. What words to describe their shock, exhilaration, horror and delirium? To be so close to something so wild and raw and beautiful that could vanish as quickly as it appeared, left them numb and disbelieving and quite giddy from adrenalin. This state of heightened fear and excitement remained undiluted with us all, having to walk by torchlight down the same track and knowing, by the monkey's continuous squeals of warning, that the leopard was still lurking somewhere in the undergrowth.

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