The Tin Shed, Part 1—”Everybody, Everybody”

During the 1930s Meher Baba and the Eastern women would gather in the open area on the north side of what is now the Meher Retreat building on Meherabad Hill. Sometimes they played badminton. In 1937 when some of the Western women visited Meherabad from the Nasik ashram, this charming photo was taken by the north wall:

Margaret, Kitty, Khorshed, Nonny, Jean, Norina, Baba, Mehera,
Nadine, Mani, Bhagu, Delia, Naja and Rano, 1937.
(Photo courtesy of MN Publications)

Later, a tin roof was erected over this space and it became known as the Tin Shed, serving as a living, dining and recreation area for all the ashram women in the late 1930s and ’40s.

A bell was kept hanging there and when Baba wanted to see the women it would be rung and someone would call out, “Everybody, everybody, Baba wants you.” All had to come immediately—no matter where they were or what they were doing. Katie (one of Baba’s close ones who lived in the ashram) recalled, “You had to leave halfway and run. One day I was in the bath and had soap all over me. I didn’t have time to rinse or anything. I just put my dress on and ran because Baba called. I arrived dripping with soap!”

Baba seated on the gadi, under the Tin Shed with Meheru and Manu Jessawala, 1938.
(Photo courtesy of MN Publications)

In the evening, Baba might sit with a drum on His lap and all would sit around playing the harmonium, cymbals and bells and singing bhajans.

There was also a table tennis set which had been brought from Cannes. Sometimes Baba would play with them. Katie further recalled, “Every ball was a smash and we had to run for them. Mehera and Mani would give a good back-and-forth rally with Baba, but not us. We tried our best, but couldn’t take a single ball. Baba would say, ‘Can’t you even play?’ And we replied, ‘Baba, every ball is a smash. How can we take it?’ Baba never let us get lethargic in any way!”

Or He might say, “Now, let’s go for a stroll” and they would all walk outside the compound with Baba. After they returned, Baba would say, “Do the arti.” They would stand around Him and sing the arti. Afterwards Baba would embrace each one and say, “Sleep well and don’t worry about anything.” Katie also recalled, “We had that lovely, lovely opportunity of getting embraced in the morning, getting embraced in the night, but starting in the Blue Bus tours this stopped—no bowing down to Baba or touching Him.”

The Tin Shed was also where everyone gathered for meals. The next part of this series will share tales of those times.

—Meredith Klein for Avatar Meher Baba Trust, 7 May 2015