The Continuing Story of Baba’s Bungalow
Imagine how deeply engaged your heart would be if you were planning and designing a brand-new home for Baba to live in—a home for your Beloved, for the Avatar of the Age. And imagine the number and variety of decisions you’d have to make for the sake of His happiness and comfort, for His work, His food, His personal needs and the health and care of His physical body. And of course, imagine that amidst all the planning and details, your biggest concern was to obey Baba’s wishes.
With great love and thought Baba’s Mehera designed the Main Bungalow in Meherazad as a residence for Baba and His women mandali. In the planning stages a primary consideration was that Baba would need one of His men mandali to be in His bedroom every night as watchman. In obedience to Baba’s wish that Mehera remain quite separate from the men mandali, she placed Baba’s bedroom upstairs and the women’s quarters on the ground floor.
Mehera created two rooms upstairs: the larger (16′ x 16′) facing east with four windows looking out into the countryside and another (11′ 8″ x 13′ 8″) with a hot western exposure and less appealing views.
After almost a year of construction, the new house was completed in 1948. Since there was no electricity in those days, Baba needed a lantern at night. He did not like the smell of kerosene in His bedroom so the lantern would be placed in the small room next door and its light would shine into Baba’s room through a window in the common wall between the two rooms.
For a few nights Baba slept in His lovely new room. Mehera and the women were pleased—especially Mehera after all she had done to try and think of everything that Baba would need. But after just a few nights Baba began to complain of noise in the night, noise that was disturbing His sleep and His work. It turned out that the noise was being made by bats. They were flying all around, drawn to the figs growing on the three Umar trees just near Baba’s room. Their flight sounds and bat noises disturbed Baba to such a degree that He decided to shift His room to the one next door, the smaller, hotter west-facing room.
And so it was that, after all her planning and hoping and dreaming and envisioning the “perfect” room for Baba, He slept there for only a handful of nights and then chose to move into the small room facing the quieter side of the garden, so His work could go on undisturbed.
Between late 1948 and early 1958, this was Baba’s bedroom whenever He was in Meherazad. Even after He broke His hip in the 1956 car accident near Satara, Baba continued to live upstairs for over a year. He would somehow manage the stairs despite great pain, sometimes even sitting on a pillow and scooting up and down. Mehera would urge Him to come live downstairs. But Baba remained upstairs, saying it was for His Work.
Below is a short film clip of Beloved Baba’s upstairs, west-facing bedroom in the Main Bungalow. It was taken in 1954 by Bal Dhavale, through the window facing the upstairs verandah.
The roof, walls and attic spaces above the two upper floor rooms are quite inaccessible and had not been examined for many years. Repairs to this tall and most sacred of buildings require extensive planning and great care. From late January to March of 2017, a team of workers headed by Chris Pearson safely managed to repair, reinforce and even replace parts of the roof, rafters, beams and walls which had become structurally unsound due to years of rainwater damage.
This is the attic space above Baba’s upstairs bedroom. A rafter at the far end had rotted and collapsed. Below is the same space after rafter repairs.
Chris found something unexpected: a large beam in the masonry wall that was showing signs of water damage. The beam had to be replaced. (See photo above and below.)
This old roof could no longer do its job, so over many weeks it was carefully opened, strengthened and repaired (see photo above and below). Many old tiles were cleaned and reused.
A local builder created a strong and safe scaffolding around Baba's Bungalow. The Bungalow's roof became quite an exquisite place for Chris and his team to work for about six weeks.
By Baba's Grace, the planning, effort and love that went into this challenging roof project have had good results which should extend the life of Beloved Baba's Main Bungalow in Meherazad for a long time, and allow His lovers to share in His Presence which so pervades His Home.
—Kacy Cook for Avatar Meher Baba Trust, 13 April 2017