I was sharing a room with two Australians. They had their mattresses and nets comfortably arranged when I moved in. I felt like a squatter. I set up my business on the concrete floor in a corner of the room that would have been comfortable for one person. But the Ashram was filling up with people from all over the world. Rooms in the ashram were very inexpensive and were at a premium, hence the doubling and tripling up. There was a small Western-style bathroom, (the Indian-style bathroom had what looked like a bed pan cemented to the floor) and a sink with running water. Home sweet home!
I had told a few friends that I had hoped to lose some weight on my trip to India, little did I know that Sai Baba must have heard me, and had me pay a price for that desire!
Everyone was abuzz about the new super specialty hospital that had been built in one year. "An impossible feat", said the President of India, when he had visited the marshland where the hospital was to be built. "Thereís no way to bring heavy machinery onto that land", they had said. And the plans that Baba drew up himself for the architecture would take at least 3 years. The next morning after Babaís announcement that the hospital would be completed the next year on his birthday, and this before the first brick was laid!
Well, the land somehow became solid and only hand workers were allowed to work on it. No machinery! It was built in grand Indian design and larger than a number of city blocks. Everything was supposed to be free. And doctors from all the world came to donate their time. The first surgery was a heart surgery and it was done on Babaís birthday. I went to take a look at it and indeed it was grand, but thatís not what this story is about really.
I lay on my mattress on the floor listening to the Aussies swap beer stories and how the women and fishing are so good, and what in the world are they doing here anyway. They didnít seem to get who this 'Sai Barbra' was, as they called him. A week came and went and then one of the Aussies got dysentery. It was a bad case and he was constantly in pain. It was difficult to get any sleep, and then I caught it. With one bathroom to share it was comical to see. However the comedy had just begun. I began losing strength and couldnít go out to buy water or food. The Aussie who was well seemed to forget I was there while his hands were full nursing his friend. I seemed to lose track of time after a while, and I felt "This is not the way I wanted to lose weight!"
I slept and didnít eat and didnít drink any water for I donít know how long. I felt as if I could leave my body at any time. I didnít feel panic, or scared.
It seemed natural, but the thought or idea of it seemed wrong. I lived in a dream state and no longer lived in the world, when the door of the room opened up and a man from Minnesota asked where he could put his bed down.
The Aussie who was well was out of the room. The other Aussie was recovering, but he wasnít aware that I was even there! The man from Minnesota
yelled out, "This man is dying! Whatís the matter with you people? He needs electrolytes and water right away." I was given huge amounts of the stuff and in a week or so I had recovered enough for him and I to engage in a conversation.
This is what he told me:
He said his name was Frank, but Iím not really sure thatís what it was. He had been to see Sai Baba once for a few days, seven or eight years ago. He worked as a specialist for the Honeywell Corp. His specialty was air conditioners.
Now it seems he had a dream where Sai Baba asked him for his help and would he come over to India? Frank told his wife about the dream and she said no, he couldnít go. They couldnít afford it and a hundred other reasons. The bottom line was, she placed a heavy pressure on him.
"If you go, donít expect me to be here when you get back", she told Frank. Frank apparently hadnít buckled under the pressure because here he was. A knock on the door! "The head of the Specialty Hospital has a car waiting for you, if you could join us as soon as possible" an Indian in a Nehru-style jacket said! I said to Frank, "Thatís pretty good attention, man." He said, "Yeah, but I hadnít told anybody I was here and I donít know anyone at the hospital"!
Frank wasnít easily ruffled at these seemingly impossible miracles. He was a yogi. Even-minded, you know, at anything that entered his world.
The problem was the doctors were performing surgeries with broken air conditioners. It was intolerably hot! The air conditioners were from the Honeywell Corp in Minnesota and Frank got on the phone with his supervisor there and told them they needed about a hundred s235890 model coils right away and could they send them over to India. ASAP!
Frankís supervisor said, "So youíre in India, huh? Thatís great, we thought you took off with a woman from St. Louis!" They both had a good laugh.
Iíd watch Frank get up early every morning and do Yoga exercises. I was in awe at his mechanics, and perseverance. Heíd go to Darshan every day and get last row in a crowd of 5-6,000 people, while Iíd get first row and hand a letter to Baba that Iíd written for him, or sometime heíd ask me how I was doing!
Frank stayed 5 more days and never once complained about his seating situation in the darshan grounds. He said, Iím where I am supposed to be. When I asked him, "What will you do if your wife isnít there?", he said calmly, "Sheíll either be there when I get back or not." I thanked him for saving my life, and he said "Godís grace." We shook hands and he told me he was a big Barry Manilow fan and if I ever performed out his way, he hoped heíd like my music as much as his.
So, a guy flies in from Minnesota after having a dream, saves my life, fixes the air conditioning at the hospital, and flies home just like that! Barry Manilow
I just want you to know I love you!