Issue #47

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Issue 47—June 1, 1977 to July 23, 1977


This issue covers the period just after Krishnaji’s operation and the extraordinary “dialogue with death,” and it is a time when Krishnaji and Mary quietly re-enter their normal travel schedule and routine—flying, albeit late, to England to be at Brockwood, then Paris, then Switzerland. The most notable event for their biographies during this period is the beginning of construction that converted Pine Cottage into a proper house for Krishnaji and Mary. This would be most fully their house, with other places, though loved, being places they visited. This house was where they both chose to die.

The Memoirs of Mary Zimbalist: Issue #47

Mary: Now, I believe we start on June first, 1977.

Scott: Yes, that’s correct.

M: Hmm. We seem to have nothing in the big book until the fifteenth, but in the little book it says, ‘I went to town on errands’—so we’re obviously in Malibu—‘and looked

for tile for the new house and had a fitting.’

S:  Where did you have your fittings there?

M: A place that doesn’t exist anymore, called Gisele in Beverly Hills.

S:  Ah.

M: But there’s a woman here in Ojai who’s wonderful, who does things.

S:  Right, I met her.

M: Oh, yes, you did.

On June second, ‘Krishnaji and I left at 9 a.m. for Ojai in the green Mercedes. I fetched our air tickets from the travel agent in the village. At 11 a.m., we had a trustee meeting in the guest flat, then lunched at Arya Vihara. Mark and Fritz gave reports on the school and the center. The Lilliefelts showed us the solar heater they just put on their roof, and we drove home.’

June third, there’s very little: ‘To town to the Swiss consulate for Krishnaji’s visa, which is more complicated from here than from England. Errands and home by 5:30 p.m.’

The next day there’s even less:  ‘Home all day. Desk. Walk in garden.’

And still less the next day: ‘Home.’ [Both chuckle.]

And the sixth: ‘Home, desk, walk. Krishnaji tired.’

S:  You’re obviously mastering the art of brevity.

M: Yes. [S chuckles.]

For the seventh, it says, ‘My mother turned 86, and I telephoned her, but she wouldn’t come to the phone, so I talked to Wooge. Then I telephoned my brother’—things about their flying to Paris. ‘Then went to the bank to open a savings account. After lunch, Krishnaji and I drove to Beverly Hills. Dr. Hausman found a slight bladder infection. It is what makes Krishnaji feel tired. He gave Krishnaji sulfa tablets.’

The next day, ‘I heard from Bart Phelps about a bid on the cottage.’ That was the architect about how to rebuild it. ‘We drove in the two Mercedes to Dieter’s Mercedes place and left the diesel to have its 6,000 mile service and we then went on to Ojai in the green one. Lunched at Arya Vihara with the Lilliefelts, Evelyne, Alan K., Mark, Fritz, Ted, etcetera. Krishnaji rested instead of going to the K & R archives as planned. Then we drove back to Dieter, left the green car for its 9,000 mile service and came home in the diesel.’

The ninth of June. ‘Alan K. came for early lunch. Krishnaji taught him some pranayama.’

S:  So Krishnaji taught Alan some pranayama?

M: That’s right.

‘We were persuaded to go to Westwood by one of the Dunne girls and a friend of hers to see the Star Wars movie at 2:30 p.m. Both Krishnaji and I went.’ These people who persuaded us were so thrilled about Star Wars, and they stood in line for god knows how long [S chuckles] to get us tickets. And so we got there just in time to go in, and we sat there like owls [S laughs] looking at the screen, glancing at each other. Everybody was carrying on about Star Wars. We found it boring. [S laughs.] ‘Not Krishnaji’s or my style.’ [Chuckles.]

June tenth. ‘Elfriede drove me to Dieter’s. I brought the green Mercedes back. Then, went to town for Krishnaji’s French visa, to look at tile, fetch clothes at the place where they were being fixed, etcetera, and came home to walk with Krishnaji in the garden. There was a huge, thunderous surf.’

June eleven. ‘Home all day. I cooked. Mr. Schwartz bought some carpet samples’—that’s the man who did that for me. ‘I did desk work. Krishnaji and I walked in the garden and watched the huge surf.’

The twelfth. ‘Another lovely day at home. I went to the Dunne’s in the afternoon. Betsy was there. Krishnaji rested and walked.’

June thirteenth, ‘Krishnaji and I to town at 9 a.m. We first fetched his passport with the French visa from the French consulate, then met Henry Bamberger at the IRS office’—that’s the man who does my taxes—‘where we got Krishnaji’s sailing permit [1]. We were finished there at 11:30 a.m., so we went to North Hollywood to look at marble for the bathrooms in Ojai. Krishnaji liked a dark gray granite. We came home at 1:30 p.m. for lunch, then took a short nap afterward.’

June fourteenth. ‘I talked to Sam’s [2] lawyer about someone checking my building contract for the house in Malibu. Then, Lou Blau telephoned and suggested another real estate appraiser on the Malibu house. I spoke also to Ruth Carter’—she was a friend who did real estate—‘who says there is a present lull in Malibu sales. Dictated letters. Bart Phelps says another contractor will bid on the Ojai job. Krishnaji and I had an early lunch and went to a 2:15 p.m. appointment with Dr. Hausman. Krishnaji is to continue the sulfur two more days, otherwise, all is well. I am to call Friday for results of today’s analyses. Went to the barber where Krishnaji had a haircut, and we came home.’

June fifteenth. ‘Krishnaji and I went to Ojai in the green Mercedes, Krishnaji driving the first half of it. At 11 a.m., there was a meeting with architects Gammel and Hirshon, Erna, Theo, Mark, and Ted to review where we are with the plans for the administration school director’s building, and to receive contractor’s bid at 4 p.m. Meanwhile, Erna and I went to Ventura for the preliminary hearing on factors in the C.U.P.’—that is the conditional use permit—‘change on the McAndrew Road property’—that’s Pine Cottage and Arya Vihara. ‘No environmental report was necessary. The decisive meeting on this will be on July seventh. We saw Mr. Sperling of the commission; he said he had prepared our case and his boss, a Mr. Lapidous, would present it. We came back to McAndrew Road. Willa Erwin, a splendid secretary’—she was a lovely woman, she was Erna’s secretary in the Foundation—‘had typed two dozen letters I had dictated. At 4 p.m., a contractor gave his bid to Gammel and Hirshon, who turned white’ [laughs]. ‘It was for $520,000—twice the professional estimator’s figure and our budget. This is the same contractor whose bid Bart Phelps is awaiting on the cottage plans. It was so gloomy that everyone began to laugh’ [chuckles]. ‘About 5 p.m., Krishnaji and I felt it time to leave, so we got in the car but I couldn’t turn the key in the ignition. Krishnaji tried, Theo, Erna, Ted, Mark, Michael Krohnen, Gammel and Hirshon’ [S laughs], ‘and the Auto Club man, who had been called out, tried! All failed.’ [Laughs.] ‘So, Erna and Theo drove us home to Malibu and had supper with me in the kitchen. By this time, it was 9 p.m. I searched for something in my handbag after they left, and there was the key to the green Mercedes; it was the key to the gray I had been trying to use. Ultimate idiocy. Krishnaji was very nice about it—saw that I was tired and not functioning.’ [Both chuckle.]

S:  While we’re on the subject of the different Mercedes…

M: Yes?

S:  What about the license plates?

M: Ah, yes.

S:  I don’t think that has been talked about on these tapes.

M: Oh. Well, Krishnaji decided…you know that in California you can buy special license plates if you pay $20 more or something.

S:  Right, right.

M: So in thinking about what we might put on special license plates, Krishnaji came up with the idea of using KMN, and that stood for Krishnamurti, Maria, Nitya—because when he and his brother lived in Europe years ago, they shared their clothing, and their things were monogrammed for both of them—KJN, as their mutual surname was Jiddu and then K for Krishnamurti and N for Nitya. I even have a pair of socks that has KJN…

S:  I have some things like that, too.

M: Yes, I think I gave you some.

S:  I have some handkerchiefs and some socks and some other things…oh, shoe bags.

M: Shoe bags?

S:  Yes.

M: In those days, you know…

S:  Everything was monogrammed.

M: Everything was monogrammed, if you went to the right places to get things, like your shoe bags. And, so, he suggested that for the car.

S:  That’s nice.

M: I kept it sort of secret because it seemed an in-joke kind of thing. I didn’t tell people. They’d say, “What are those initials?” And I’d say, “Oh, it’s just something we chose.” [Laughs.]

S:  Yes.

M: And, then, when we got the next car, it had to be KMN-1, and KMN-2.

S:  Yes.

M: And that’s the secret.

S:  I know. I know all this.

M: You know all that. I know you know all that. [Laughs.]

S:  It’s just that it’s not recorded any place, and now it is.

M: Anyway, for history, this important matter is now public.

S:  Exactly, exactly. [Both laugh.]

M: June sixteenth. ‘Krishnaji proposed we both go in the green Mercedes to Ojai on awakening—no breakfast, just dress and go. So, we did, leaving at 6:30 a.m. The mist along the ocean was beautiful. He said, “Be without thought,” i.e., just look—no reactive thought, no associations stirred by what one sees. We picked up the car key at the Shell station and went on to the cottage. Theo was waiting there to invite us to breakfast, but we came right back home. Krishnaji driving the green, starting it perfectly with his own key. He followed the gray and drove through whatever there was of traffic.’ You see, normally he didn’t like to drive in traffic…

S:  Mm, hm. Yes.

M: …but, in an emergency, he did. ‘We had breakfast at home by 9:30 a.m. In the afternoon, Mr. Sandler, a real estate man suggested by Lou Blau, came to look at the house. He suggested $550,000 to $650,000—not ask over $750,000, which is no more than last year’s estimates. John Frankenheimer’—he was a movie director, a very nice man, and a friend of the Dunne’s—whom Amanda told of this house, telephoned and would like to see it. He will come Saturday. He and his wife want to move from the Malibu Colony.’

S:  Which is along the beach.

M: Yes. ‘I talked to Lou Blau, and Sydney Field came by to see Krishnaji.’

June seventeenth, ‘I went to town to get a haircut. In the afternoon, I went over the new house matters with Bart Phelps. The cost estimate without stonework is about $400,000, all more than envisaged but it must be done’

S:  What is this?

M: This cottage [3].

June eighteenth, ‘Miranda came in the morning. Then, John Frankenheimers came to see the house. I told them the price was $900,000. I asked Betsy to let Cary know I am offering it as I had promised to let him know when the time came’—that’s Betsy Drake, ex-wife of Cary Grant. ‘He turns out to be in London. Dieter came by to put the cars up on blocks for the summer. I talked to Erna, who reported that James Vigeveno died. Blanche Mathias telephoned. She had an operation on her eyelid on Thursday. Krishnaji spoke to her. I worked at the desk and packed. Krishnaji watched a movie on TV called Elmer Gantry, remembered Erna and my counting the donations after the Ojai talks, and said, “My god, are we like that?”’ What? Oh, I know what it was. Do you know the story of Elmer Gantry?

S:  No.

M: It’s a book by Sinclair Lewis, I think, in which Elmer Gantry is a character who poses as a religious man but really is just out to make money.

S:  Ah, ha.

M: June nineteenth. ‘Home all day. Started packing. Did our cooking. Al Blackburn telephoned early. Don’t know how he got my number. He said he had to speak to Krishnaji who at first demurred, but then spoke to him. He wanted to tell Krishnaji that James Vigeveno died of cancer two days ago. Krishnaji asked me if he should telephone Annie, and I said I thought we should. I rang and spoke to her briefly. We both used first names.’ We’d been on opposite sides of the legal case, you know. She sided with Rajagopal.

S:  Right.

M: ‘I said I hoped she would accept my sympathy. She thanked me, and then Krishnaji spoke to her, saying he remembered what a kind man her husband used to be—brief but appropriate conversation. Krishnaji told her he was leaving Tuesday. I telephoned my stepfather and was able to speak to my mother who, for a minute, was rational. She seemed to know me, and said, “When am I going to see you?” Then, it blurred. I could hear only ranting as Wooge struggled to talk to me. I rang my cousin, too; she is much better.’

Twentieth ‘John Frankenheimer called. They do not want to buy the house. They think the price is fair, but the place is more than they want to take on, he said. I felt nothing, but I’m not swinging in expectations in all this. Ruth Carter’—that’s a friend in real estate I mentioned—‘called and said she felt I was unimpressed by her suggestion of $650,000 price last week. I told her I was thinking of $900,000. She asked if she could show it during the summer if someone came to look at her Carbon Beach house. She has listed it for $1,200,000. She wanted an exclusive contract. I said while I’m away (i.e., till November) she can show it with an asking price of $1,200,000. If some extraordinary client drops out of space during that time, no other real estate agent will have that right; but on my return, I will reassess the whole situation. She agreed. I then had a long talk with Lou Blau and a real estate specialist in his office over the formula for my acquiring the McAndrew Road property from KFA. It’s very complicated. They understand all the factors and will work it out. Blau says I must have title to it before I start building. I must then settle Malibu within eighteen months.’ That’s the law, you couldn’t deduct…

S:  Yes, the capital gains tax.

M: Yes. Naturally the price of the house had gone up because we’d had it so long, so there would be capital gains. ‘The pitfall would be if I have to cash in stock to pay for the new house and don’t sell Malibu within the time frame, then I’d have to pay capital gains on it.’ Well, that’s what happened, unfortunately. It’s a long, boring story. We may come to it in here.

S:  Yes.

M: ‘It’s the risk I have to take. This is all getting into high finance, but there it is. Bart Phelps came by with a copy of the specifications for me to take with me. We discussed it a bit. I rang Bamberger; he was in New York, due back tonight, but returned my call. I have put $83,000 in a savings account and have given him power of attorney to transfer from it to the checking account with which he pays my household bills while I’m away. I told him of the Blau plans, etcetera. I’m going to have to let all this work itself out in its own complicated way. Betsy telephoned and said that the news on television was that U.S. airlines cannot land in Britain after tomorrow. TWA knew of no such thing. All this telephoning put me behind in packing. I tried to get Krishnaji to go to bed and leave me to finish at my own speed, but it disturbs him for some reason, and he kept coming in. I stopped after 10 p.m. and when around 11 p.m., I heard his quiet “Maria, Maria” in the hall, I was in bed in the dark, and he was pleased’—he thought I was asleep—‘and went off satisfied and relieved to his own room and sleep.’

June twenty-first. ‘I checked with TWA at 7:30 a.m., but they didn’t know if the flight would go to London or Paris. I telephoned Dorothy to check at her end before going to the airport. She knew nothing of the possibility of American planes not landing. At 9:30 a.m., TWA said it was alright for plans to land in London. If London is closed, it won’t be till Thursday that it reopens. I spoke to Erna. Wooge rang asking me to have Bud bring Gerovital from Paris’—that was for mother. Alan K. and Amanda each came at 9:30 a.m. We were all packed and ready to go by 10:15 a.m. and I had done the daily four miles on my stationary bicycle. Alan K. brought an Ecuadorian straw hat’—it’s in the closet there.

S:  Yes. That’s a Panama hat.

M: Yes, only it’s from Ecuador, the best Panama hats are—‘for Krishnaji to wear in the sun.’ [Laughs.]

S:  Yes.

M: We said goodbye to Elfriede. I drove with Amanda to the airport, while Krishnaji went with Alan, and we took TWA, leaving at 12:30 p.m. I am writing this over the Atlantic. Krishnaji slept a little before and after lunch. He is now exercising by walking up and down the aisle. We have our preferred seats, all the way forward in first class. The sun has set, but it is the longest day, and it will soon rise again. I cannot sleep. Krishnaji looks well. Amanda kept remarking on it, and it fills my heart to see him in his proper health.’

On the back lawn of Brockwood looking south

On the back lawn of Brockwood looking south

June twenty-second. ‘No sleep on the airplane, and breakfast was inedible for Krishnaji, but we both felt better than we might have on landing at Heathrow at 7:15 a.m. I corralled our four bags and two camera cases and by 8 a.m., we were out to meet Dorothy, Doris, and Ingrid. We arrived at 9:30 a.m. at Brockwood. It was green and beautiful. Everyone keeps saying, “This is the first day of summer.” Krishnaji went to bed for the rest of the day, with lunch on a tray. I wanted nothing so much as sleep. I took a short nap before lunch, a long one in the afternoon, and after supper, went for a walk around the place. The grove, in which uncounted rabbits were killed after the fence was wired, has had to be filled in and replanted from their devastation. New azaleas, some new trees, and the grass has come back. The handkerchief tree is still in bloom. The hay was smelling deliciously in the meadow. Four of the garage units have been turned into classrooms and will be divisible into sleeping quarters during the public gathering. They are very nice, white-painted, mullioned windows and doors—Robert Wiffen’s design. The place grows ever better and more beautiful. I spoke with Mary Links by telephone.’

June twenty-third, ‘Krishnaji slept on and off, but got up for lunch. Together we looked at the garages made into classrooms, and he is pleased. He, Dorothy, and I walked in the grove with the dogs and weeded.’ You know, we used to do a lot of weeding.

The next day, ‘I woke up early, did the ironing and my exercises. In the afternoon, Krishnaji, Dorothy, and I went weeding in the grove.’ Then it says:  ‘New Mercedes van arrived for Brockwood.’ That was your doing.

S:  Yes. [M laughs.] We needed a mobile video production unit for the public talks in Saanen and Brockwood.

M: June twenty-fifth, ‘Narayan here for the weekend. Talked in the morning. I went on errands to West Meon and Alresford, borrowing Doris’s car. At 3:30 p.m., Scott and I telephoned Erna about getting a third Sony video camera for Saanen. Mary and Joe Links came to spend the night in the West Wing. Krishnaji, they, and I had tea in the kitchen, then went for a short walk in the grove. After supper, Mary and Joe and I talked.’

The next day, ‘Krishnaji rested. I spoke to Fleur, Jenny, Phyl Fry’—that’s Christopher’s wife. ‘Krishnaji, Dorothy, and I walked. The long grass gave Krishnaji hay fever. Mary and Joe left. In the evening, we watched Christopher Fry’s Sister Dora on television.’ That was something he wrote for television.

In West Wing with tapestries

In West Wing with tapestries

The twenty-seventh, ‘I went to Alresford about the repair of one of the framed tapestries.’ You know, the ones that hang in the drawing room. ‘Krishnaji stayed in bed. No walk because of the hay fever, but he walked in the house.’ [Laughs.] ‘I attended the school meeting.’

June twenty-eighth. ‘Borrowing Doris’s mini, Krishnaji and I went to Petersfield and by train to London. The city is in banners for the queen’s jubilee’—I don’t know what jubilee that was. ‘Krishnaji left trousers to be altered at Huntsman, and we walked to Fortnum’s, stopping to buy a jersey for Vanda. Krishnaji is shocked at current prices, “65 pounds for this one?” he said.’ [S laughs.] ‘We had a pleasant, leisurely lunch with Mary L. While I went to the lavatory, Krishnaji started one of his questionings with Mary—how is it, chance or otherwise, that someone turns up to look after him? Example: me. And he repeated again that the only thing he regretted in his life was the association with DR and RR’—that means Rajagopal and Rosalind.

On train to London

On train to London

S:  Yes.

M: ‘He said what an extraordinary life he has had. This remark came up after my return when we were talking of the difficulties facing the young, Mary’s grandchildren, for instance, on how to find jobs, etcetera. He said he had been so fortunate, looked after always, cared for. Did something arrange it all? Did “they” therefore see to it that someone (me) would come along, interested, able to care for him? I asked him if, without asking him to tell us anything he didn’t want to discuss, if he knew more about this. He said he did, but “It is not my job to go into that.” Yet, he does raise this question frequently. It seems as if there is mystery in some part of it for him too, as there is about “that boy”—his younger self. We walked up Bond Street, failed to find a replacement for my wallet at Asprey’s, but got a small boy thing for Lindsey’s’—that’s my nephew—‘birthday at Rowe’s’—that’s the store that sells children’s things. ‘We also collected some detective books at Hatchards.’

S:  Where was that?

M: On Bond Street, Rowe’s. You’ve passed it.

S:  Oh, yes, yes, yes. Farther down, yes.

M: ‘We got a taxi to Waterloo and so to Brockwood a little after 5 p.m. I fell asleep in the train, and Krishnaji was tired too, but not especially so after his one effort since our arrival.’

June twenty-ninth, ‘I packed and Krishnaji rested and read all day. He was tired from yesterday. He started packing at 5 p.m., but did it energetically and in short order. All my letter writing is up-to-date, a rare summit. We watched a Wimbledon match, Virginia Wade defeating Chris Evert. Krishnaji was for Evert, “Come on, Chris, I have fifty pounds on you,” he said. “What’s the matter, Chris?”’ [Both M and S laughing.]

S:  One has to say, for the record, that he would not have had fifty pounds on her. [Laughs.]

M: No. He wasn’t exactly a betting man, and he never carried any money anyway.

S:  I know [laughing heartily].

M: The next day, ‘my brother telephoned from Rome. He said that Filomena in Rome came to see them and she saw Daisy for the first time.’ That’s notable because Daisy was christened Daisy Dorothy and the name Dorothy comes from our Aunt Dorothy, a character who Filomena had worked for, so Filomena always called Daisy “Dorothy.” [S laughs.] It gave her pleasure. It was very sweet. ‘I spoke briefly to Bud of the possible expenses I may have in building in Ojai and to think over what I can best afford to liquidate, etc. We left Brockwood at 11 a.m. with Dorothy, and had a picnic lunch in the car near Heathrow. Our 2 p.m. flight was delayed until 4:30 p.m., so we sat in the first class passenger lounge and read. On the flight, an obnoxious man, an I-am-the-center-of-the-universe type, sitting across the aisle from Krishnaji, refused to stop smoking though we were in nonsmoking seats. I bore down on the steward to enforce it. He seemed to be servile to the man, and apologetic to me; suggesting we move seats. I spoke freely, which upset Krishnaji. The steward said to Krishnaji, “It doesn’t matter; it doesn’t matter. If someone is boorish, what can you do?” We landed at Charles de Gaulle, that horrid airport, got our luggage, changed traveler’s checks, and then went by taxi to the Plaza Athénée. We walked around the block, had supper in our rooms, and soon went to bed.’

July first. ‘We both rested all morning, then had a leisurely lunch in the garden: melon gazpacho, omelet fines herbs, haricots verts, fraises du bois. Nadia Kossiakof came for coffee. She and her husband Nicolas enthused over their visit to the U.S.—there’s such freedom there, they feel. “Tout est politique en France,” she said. She spoke of Madame Duchet and her quiet death.’

‘Krishnaji and I went to Charvet; each ordered three shirts, Krishnaji’s all blue, mine two white and a pale pink.’ (This is one of them, what I’ve got on now, one of the whites.) ‘We went for errands on Rue Mont Thabor, like oil for Krishnaji’s razor. He saw a small quartz clock by Braun and thinks he will get one in Switzerland. It’s supposed to be correct to one minute per year, which is what pleases him. We bought some books at Smith’s, then walked back to the hotel and rested all the rest of the time. Eventually we had supper in the rooms. There is here a comfort, and quiet sense of a familiar haven, but one barely feels in Paris.’

S:  Would you have walked from the Plaza Athénée down to Charvet, or would you have taken a taxi?

M: I don’t remember what we did specifically that time.

S:  But typically? Because it’s…

M: Yes, it’s quite a walk, Avenue Montaigne to Place Vendôme.

S:  Yes, but it’s walkable, and because you walked for exercise, it’s not too far for that.

M: We used to walk distances in Paris, but I think probably that time we didn’t. I’m guessing we didn’t. It doesn’t say.

S:  When you did walk it, would you have gone down the Champs d’ Elysées, or would you’ve gone on the rue St. Honoré?

M: We probably would have walked down the Champs d’ Elysées to Concord, then the rue de Rivoli.

S:  Right.

M: The next day, ‘we left the Plaza Athénée a little after 9 a.m. Our expenses for two nights and a day came to over $600, really out of hand.’ I mean, today that would be…

S:  Cheap!

M: One night or something.

S:  Exactly.

M: No, it wouldn’t be even that. You couldn’t stay there today for $600. [Both chuckle.] Anyway, ‘Krishnaji thinks we mustn’t stay at the Plaza again. We must find a nice medium hotel, he said. But, perhaps I should figure out ways to accept Bud’s offer of the Le Tour apartment.’ You see, my father, who had died, lived in Paris in the building of Le Tour d’Argent, and my brother now had the apartment. But, for some reason, Krishnaji was sort of reluctant to go there. ‘The get-out-of-Paris rush was on, mostly south, so we reached Charles de Gaulle Airport in thirty-five minutes—a most unattractive place, “awful” says Krishnaji.’ I’m not sure why we took a dislike to it, but it seemed pretentious.

S:  And it’s not attractive.

M: That’s right. ‘We took an Air France 11 a.m. flight and landed in Geneva an hour later. It was a clear, warm day. Cointrin Airport in Geneva is much nicer than De Gaulle. There were no porters, but finally, some sort of baggage official helped us load two carts with our luggage and helped push them to the Hertz counter. Fortunately, he accepted a tip. We set off in an Opel Rekord, large enough for the five bags and two camera cases, but with horridly stiff gears, and found the Intercontinental Hotel where Narasimhan met us and guided us to his apartment building. He provided lunch, vanishing into the kitchen, and refusing all help from Krishnaji or me. A South Indian friend had provided the curries. The conversation never quite got off the ground, but he was pleased to entertain Krishnaji, and soon we left and went down the hill to the underground parking garage opposite Patek-Phillip. We left the watches to be demagnetized and walked to Jacquet. Alas, it was closed till Monday, so we failed to order neckties.’ Every year Krishnaji would order ties for himself and Joe Links. ‘But Krishnaji had an idea where we could find the Braun quartz clock he saw in Paris—at Grand Passage.’

S:  I remember that clock. Yes. It was black plastic; a little travel alarm clock.

M: I don’t remember it. I remember that such a thing happened, but I don’t visualize it. He wanted to give it to Balasundaram or somebody, or maybe just take it to India. ‘He said we would find it at Grand Passage, and so we did. He is very pleased because it varies by only sixty seconds a year.’ [Chuckles.] ‘I bought some other small things, and at 3:30 p.m., we set off for Gstaad, along the lake, up through le centre ville of Lausanne at Krishnaji’s suggestion, so we could come down into Oron by the long road.’ If you remember, there’s a long straight road—you go up the hill, then you go zooming down.

S:  Yes. [Laughs.]

M: He liked that, and I did too. ‘Like a toboggan run,’ it says here. ‘It was hot. My leg ached from walking on pavements in city shoes. But the stiff clutch pushed in, and hurt the foot more. We greeted the friendly linden tree, both remembered simultaneously, laughing at the place in the road where we had seen the Swiss’—oh, this was our remembering a trip once from Gstaad leaving early in the dark to go to Geneva and the airport, and as we came to this spot, there was a whole platoon of Swiss Army people, and they had lights on their bicycles, so it looked like a great, big caterpillar in the dark.

S:  Right, of course, all riding their bicycles. Yes, the funny Swiss army.

M: ‘…simultaneously laughing at the place in the road where we had seen the Swiss army with lights on their bicycles looking like a caterpillar in the pre-dawn of the dark last time we motored from Gstaad to Paris. At Bulle, we stopped to buy Gateau Bullois and a glass of apple juice for Krishnaji.’ Do you remember those cakes?

S:  I do indeed. They were delicious.

At his desk in Tannegg

At his desk in Tannegg

M: Yes. ‘We arrived at Tannegg at 6:20 p.m. Vanda and Fosca were there. Krishnaji’s room has lost its view of the valley to two cupboards and a dressing table and a horrible red carpet. It looks hot and Wagnerian in the hall. I was too tired to unpack. Krishnaji went to bed. I took a shower and had supper with Vanda. We talked at some length. I told her more fully of Krishnaji’s night after surgery. I was staggered by her telling me that some years ago “before you were there,” he had been examined in Geneva, and the doctor told her that Krishnaji had a tumor in his bladder that might be cancer. She never told Krishnaji, and nothing further was done.’ [Long pause] So…

S:  [chuckles] She was extraordinary.

M: I was absolutely aghast. She believed what she wanted to believe, and it didn’t matter what implications or facts there were or anything.

At his desk in Tannegg.

At his desk in Tannegg.

Sunday, the third of July. ‘Krishnaji, as a result of yesterday’s drive, has hay fever. It was too hot to close the car windows; at least, he refused to, and so the pollen reached him. He stayed in bed and took tablets given by a homeopath, E. Roth, who came to us through Carol Smith at Brockwood with combination of allium cepa and sapodilla, two every two hours for six times, potency six. I unpacked and put everything in order, then went to Saanen for yogurt for Krishnaji. He stayed in bed. I had a nap after lunch.’

S:  Why would you go to Saanen for yogurt?

M: I don’t know. There was the Saanen shop, I don’t know. [Both chuckle.] You know, what do you call it?

S:  The Molkerei.

M: Yes. [Laughs.] ‘I read and took a long nap in afternoon and then went for a walk to the end of the road. It helped the leg, which still aches.’

July fourth, ‘I exchanged the Opel Rekord for a small Renault, much easier to drive. Did all sorts of errands in morning and afternoon—marketing things, etcetera, mangoes fetched from the Siddoos. I met Vanda walking with Martha Crego and brought Vanda up the hill. Krishnaji remained in his room, his hay fever is contained but it wakes him at night. He rested and took the same pills as yesterday, but the dosage was one three times a day.’

The next day all it says is, ‘Krishnaji in his room all day. I did errands in afternoon.’

July sixth, ‘I worked at my desk on letters. Krishnaji remained in bed with his hay fever. After lunch, my brother telephoned from Bonn where he has consulted with Dr. Scheef’—who is in the same line of medicine as Dr. Wolf, who we had consulted in New York. ‘Bud said that he had set it up for Krishnaji and me to go to him in September. Scheef will try to get all our records from Dr. Wolf’s widow. Bud and Lisa go to Geneva tomorrow but only for a few hours on business, so I won’t go down to see them. Then they go to Paris until they return to New York on Tuesday. Edgar Graf came to see Krishnaji, who is trying to help his back’—meaning Edgar Graf’s back. ‘Vanda claims that the TURP operation that Krishnaji had was only invented a few years ago; therefore, Krishnaji would’ve had to have had a full operation years ago; therefore, it was alright to ignore the diagnosis of the doctors in Geneva. This seems to obliterate for her the possibility that if Krishnaji had had cancer, as the doctor told her, he might not be here now. My brain shivers at this sort of thinking; it becomes un-discussable as she believes what she wants to believe.’

S:  [chuckles] We should just say for the record who Edgar Graf is.

M: Oh. Edgar Graf was a Swiss, and he was the one who got things done for the Saanen talks, getting the tent up, etcetera. He did what had been done by de Vidas before, and he took over all those arrangements.

July seventh. ‘Today is the day for the Ventura hearing on our zoning application in Ojai. I received from Erna copies of various requirements from the building department about the cottage—not too bad—and replied to her. I walked up the hill and around twice daily for the leg. Errands in afternoon. Krishnaji saw Mr. Russu very briefly.’

July eighth. ‘There was no cable from Erna, so I will wait for a letter about the zoning change application. Frances McCann, Simonetta di Cesaro, and a young Italian painter came to lunch. Simonetta brought Krishnaji a gray silk shirt. “Too fancy,” he thought. I asked him if we could give her a sample shirt and have it copied in cotton. She is no longer working for the lepers in Rishi Kesh but for the Tibetans. The Siddoos came at 4 p.m. to have Krishnaji sign a lease from them at $1 for three years for the school and adult center buildings for the KF Canada. They own the two buildings. Scott Forbes arrived in the new Mercedes van rigged as a video center, and brought Krishnaji’s books and sun umbrella. As it was raining lightly, Krishnaji walked down the hill while I went to the post to fetch the Krishnaji/Anderson video cassettes air-freighted from Ojai to be shown here on the tenth. I then met Krishnaji by the bridge and we drove to look at the tent now erected for the public talks. He likes the yellow Renault. Vanda is eating almost nothing, and looks ill. She refuses all urging to eat more.’

S:  We just need to add something here: The reason the Siddoos wanted Krishnaji to sign for the Krishnamurti Foundation of Canada to rent property that they had purchased was because Krishnaji was the president of the Krishnamurti Foundation of Canada, from which he soon afterwards, according to my memory, resigned.

M: Yes, he resigned, and told them to dissolve the Foundation. But they never did.

S:  Right. But anyway, at that point, Krishnaji was president, which is why he was signing.

M: Yes, that’s true.

S:  Yes. I’m just trying to make sense of this, otherwise it seems silly that they’re asking Krishnaji to sign an agreement…

M: …for three years for one dollar.

S:  Yes…to rent property that they own.

M: Yes. Good, good.

The next day, ‘I went to the village on errands, then went by the camping site. Dorothy, Montague, and Doris have arrived in the Land Rover with no mishaps. Kathy Harris, who bicycled with six others from Brockwood, came by. Vanda ate a little more at lunch, but nothing at supper. Krishnaji has scolded her. I have urged gently. It is worrisome.’

S:  That she doesn’t eat very much?

M: Yes, she would sit at the table and just pick at her salad and not eat anything. ‘Krishnaji and I walked in the rain to the river. A policeman stopped us, asking if we had picked wildflowers or mushrooms. They must be trying to protect them. We felt very approving. Before retiring to bed, Krishnaji had me pick out his clothes for tomorrow’s talk. He said goodnight with a thinking-of-something air, and then said, “Tomorrow I have to talk,” and stretched his eyebrows. He is wearing the orange silk kimono dressing gown that stays here all year for the summer, sannyasi-color and very becoming.’

July tenth. ‘The day began with clouds, but the sun appeared before it was time to go to the tent for the talk. Krishnaji breakfasted at 7:45 a.m. Vanda went to the talk with Mrs. Walsh. Krishnaji and I got to the tent just before 10:30 a.m. Henri Methorst was making endless announcements. Despite the rain and it being the first talk, the tent was nearly full. Scott had four monitors and all the video set up in the new Brockwood Mercedes van. Mary Cadogan had brought, from London, the third Sony video camera that was needed and which I’ve donated with Erna ordering it ten days ago in Los Angeles, and Donald Hoppen bringing it to London.’

Editor’s Note: The year before, the Saanen and Brockwood talks had been video-recorded with one video camera, but this year was the beginning of the much more complex, three-camera video recording procedure. For years, the only cameras we had were black and white surveillance cameras, so the production value of these recording is not high, but it seemed important to have the best recording we could have, even if it was not professional. From now on, all of Krishnaji’s public talks would be recorded in Saanen and Brockwood, and not long after in Ojai and India. Soon after this full recording began, Krishnaji said to me, and he repeated it several times, that he “was the first one to be recorded.” Of course, with hindsight, I now wish I had asked him, just for the record, “the first one what?” but at the time, it seemed obvious and the kind of question one didn’t need to bother him with. These memoirs will continue to offer the text of any talks or discussions that Mary indicates are especially good, and when there are links to the videos of these talks, we will offer those as well. At the moment, the video of these talks are for sale by the Foundations, but not offered for free. 

‘Krishnaji looked well, fully of energy, and gave a strong opening talk, laying the basis of there being no security in thought and finally coming to the fact that the real seeing of this is the action of change and intelligence, and in this, is real security. He walked up the road right after the talk. Scott warned me that the mad girl, Christina Shroeder, who lay in the driveway here last summer and appeared naked in the Oak Grove after an April talk, is here, is lurking by the river, and waiting to “cut him off at the pass,” as Scott put it.’ [Both chuckle.] ‘I asked Scott to walk with Krishnaji a ways so that nothing happened. Vanda brought Mar back for lunch. Krishnaji said on the way back, “I had no idea what I was going to talk about when I began.” Krishnaji ate in his room, though he sat before lunch with us. In the afternoon, Dorothy brought Mrs. Billimoria and Mrs. Puri up to Tannegg with things they have brought from India for Krishnaji, mangoes too. He talked amiably with them for a while. I took Mar to Caprices, then walked partway with Krishnaji and Vanda to Alpina, and then I drove up the hill.’

S:  Just to mention, Alpina’s a hotel.

M: Yes. It’s on the same mountain as Tannegg, but down the mountain a bit. ‘Krishnaji’s face looked thin in the evening, but he does not appear to be over-tired, just normally tired.’

July eleventh, ‘I spoke to my brother in Paris. He says he thinks he has arranged the apartment in le Tour so that it is convenient for all, including me and Krishnaji to use. We must all try to avoid the enormous cost of hotels. They leave for New York tomorrow. At 3 p.m., I met Mary Cadogan and Dorothy about Friday, and all the committees [4] coming up to Tannegg for their annual meeting. Krishnaji received an Indian friend of Edgar Graf, Madan al Himat-Singlike. Then, we went to Saanen about shoes.’

July twelfth, ‘Krishnaji gave an intense, very strong talk on authority, its falseness. It was hot in the tent but the lights of the video made it hotter. When I picked him up at the road, he wanted to go to the Saanen shoe store. It was cool there. Mr. Kohli found him light shoes he liked. We came back to the chalet, and there were Suad al Radhi for lunch and a Madame Janine Pinson, a friend of Vanda’s who wants her son and daughter to go to Brockwood. Suad brought pastries of honey and pistachio, apricots, and sweets which, alas, were later found to have little bugs, and a silver ring from Afghanistan for me. I think one of the Dunne girls will like it.’ [S chuckles.] ‘I fetched Narayan up the hill at 4 p.m. Krishnaji talked to him and the three of us walked to the river and back. Narayan stayed for supper with Vanda and me, and then we drove him way up to his chalet above Saanen where Donald Dennis and friends have rented rooms, and Narayan is with them for a couple of nights. It’s a nice old chalet, warm, gray wood, low ceilings, and bright flowers in boxes outside.’

There’s really nothing for the next day.

July fourteenth. ‘Krishnaji gave Saanen talk number three on skill, clarity, and compassion. It was all new. Later, he said it is like a triangle: the base is compassion. Suzanne, Hugues, and Marjolaine van der Straten, Simonetta di Cesaro came to lunch. A letter came from Erna; the Ventura planning commission approved a zone change for the McAndrew Road property for an adult educational center and religious retreat, including permission to add on to the cottage. At last, the door opens to building. Erna further wrote that Topa Topa Ranch was against it, saying it could become a hotel, but a Mr. Zogg defended KFA and approval was unanimous. Also, a contractor named Max Falk, half-brother to an Alan Tansill, an old admirer of Krishnaji, and both of whom plan to leave everything to the Krishnamurti Foundation of America in their wills, offered to build the “house for Krishnaji without a fee,” but when Bart showed him the plans, he said it was too extensive to donate his time. Bart is pursuing it with the fee as he is highly recommended by other architects. Whatever happens with this, the path leads further to this move and I follow it without question. Narayan came to talk to Krishnaji about Rishi Valley, went on the walk, and both he and Edgar Graf stayed to supper with Vanda and me.’

July fifteenth. ‘At 11 a.m., there was the annual meeting at Tannegg of all the Krishnaji committees. There were about forty-five people. Mary C. opened the meeting. Dorothy gave a good report of Brockwood. The Siddoos spoke of the school opening in September in Canada. I reported on the Oak Grove School in Ojai, and Narayan spoke well about Rishi Valley. Krishnaji handled his health question very well. “About my health: I’m fine.”…“I had a very minor operation, nothing worth mentioning. The doctor says I’m fine, and I expect to live another ten or fifteen years.” Scott spoke about video matters. Krishnaji reported on the March international trustee meetings, but didn’t mention why only four Foundations were there; so I added that it was about schools, so only Foundations with schools were there, hoping to make it clear to the Spanish group present who feel they are a Foundation like the others. Mary Cadogan and Jane Hammond, also Mar de Manziarly, were at lunch with Vanda and me. Krishnaji came in for coffee, and Jane tried pressure points in his feet. She has cured her husband Ian’s hay fever that way, but none of the spots in Krishnaji’s feet hurt. At 4 p.m., Graf brought two women from Lugana Radio. Krishnaji gave a taped interview. Later, we walked.’

July sixteenth. ‘Vanda left for Florence. Mrs. Walsh drove Vanda to Zweisimmen where she caught a direct train. Krishnaji spent the day resting in bed.’

S:  There’s a direct train from Zweisimmen to Florence?

M: Yes. Normally.

July seventeenth. ‘Krishnaji gave the fourth Saanen talk, full of fire. At 12:30 p.m., Mr. Mirabet came to give Krishnaji the annual donation of $4,000. Krishnaji decided to give $3,000 to Brockwood and $1,000 to a Rishi Valley fund Narayan wants to collect and keep in the West for books, purchases, also for teacher’s travel. I am to open an account in Ojai with it, and Krishnaji wants to donate $500 of his Miss Dodge money to it.’ Well, his Dodge money was only $500. [S laughs.] ‘Narayan came at 4 p.m., and we told him all this. Krishnaji is so full of hopes for Narayan making Rishi Valley what it was meant to be. He exhorts him, encourages him, and calls him “old man.” We all three walked to the river. “This operation has done me good. I have more energy,” said Krishnaji. Narayan stayed to supper and Donald Dennis came to fetch him.’

The next day, ‘I marketed, then brought Mar de Manziarly for Krishnaji to place hands. Went and brought up Pascaline Mallet, Gisela Elmenhorst, and a young German woman, Dr. Suzanne Shaup, who works for Sherg, the German publishing house and who has just done the translation of Talks to American Students which has been retitled’—excuse my lack of German—“Gespräche öber das Sein,” which literally means Speaking of Being. It is hardcover and Sherg Verlag, which seems to own O.W. Barth Verlag, is a major publisher with good distribution. It is said to be well translated, and Suzanne Shaup turned out to be an intelligent young woman. We all had lunch, and then Krishnaji, who was spending the day in bed, quite tired from yesterday, joined us in his orange silk kimono for a while after lunch. I drove them all back to where they live.’

July nineteenth. ‘Krishnaji gave Saanen talk number five. He spoke with great intensity on discontent, the necessity for it, leading to compassion which is intelligence, and on suffering and what it has to do with love—nothing. He ended with his story of the teacher addressing the pupils, and a bird comes to the window and sings. The teacher listens and when the bird is finished and flies away, he tells the pupils, “You have heard the lesson for today.” It was one of Krishnaji’s talks that leave me in tears. When he got in the car, he wanted to go right to Kohli in Saanen for a second pair of the lightweight shoes. We lunched together in the dining room, and then he slept until 4 p.m. In the afternoon, there was a tea for the Patel family, eight strong, also Narayan and Graf. There was talk of Indian politics between Krishnaji and father Patel. Disappointing to the two sons, two daughters and a son-in-law and daughter-in-law; the son-in-law and daughter-in-law who wanted Krishnaji to talk on other matters. The mother sat monolithically, the father voluble. One son, Siddarth Patel, seems to be the most interested in Krishnaji’s teachings. After they left, Krishnaji, Narayan and I walked to the river, and Narayan stayed to supper. Krishnaji wants me to take him shopping tomorrow for shoes, jeans, and Lamy pens. Later, Krishnaji said, “That operation must’ve done something to me. I feel such energy.”

July twentieth. ‘Mar came to Krishnaji to put “hands.” I took Narayan shopping. Krishnaji wants him to have proper shoes, so we went to Kohli and got two fine pairs; then for trousers, but failed to find them; then to Cadonau for a Lamy pen and pencil. This took all morning, but was considered a great success. Narayan went off with a young American woman, Beverly Nichols, who wants to teach at Rishi Valley. Dorothy and Montague moved up from the Land Rover in the camping site to the rooms downstairs. Edgar Graf brought a Swiss editor, Dr. Werbel, who has a Swiss TV and radio magazine, to interview Krishnaji for an article on him and the new German book, the translation of talks to American students. He brought a translator who also recorded it all on cassette, but seventy percent of what was said was in German between the two and Graf; Krishnaji looked out the window.’ [Laughs.]

‘Krishnaji and I walked to the river, Dorothy joining us. Krishnaji is pleased with the raincoat I bought him this morning from Kohli. On our return, the aggressive Mr. Paco Forilla, from Grenada, who keeps pointing to a letter from Frasier, telling him to ask for “Princess Alliata” who will arrange for him to see Krishnaji. My saying Topazia’—Alliata was her last name—‘is not here, etcetera, etcetera, only increased his insistence. So, finally Krishnaji saw him for a few minutes. It seems he had come all this way to ask on behalf of a woman Krishnaji knew years ago the question, “Why did I marry my husband who is now dead?” [Laughs.]

S:  Really! [Laughs.]

M: [laughing] ‘Krishnaji said, “How would I know?” And the man left satisfied. “People are crazy,” says Krishnaji, and say I.’ [Both chuckle.]

July twenty-first. ‘Krishnaji gave Saanen talk number six, an extraordinary one on death and love. I fetched Mrs. Billimoria, Mrs. Puri, and Narayan up to lunch. The Simmonses were there too. Krishnaji came in before and after. At 4 p.m., Krishnaji talked to the Siddoo sisters, Dorothy, Narayan, and me on having a teachers’ training center in Bangalore. Dorothy took exception to “training,” saying it couldn’t be taught as a method, etcetera; that they must learn by doing. She got tense about it, “defensive,” Krishnaji calls it. He rephrased it as a “teachers’ educational center.” Narayan spoke well and enthusiastically about it. Krishnaji wants me to speak to Dorothy about this “defensiveness,” as she gets upset if he does it. This seems to happen every summer. Dorothy gets intense and somewhat defiant about something. It annoys Krishnaji, and he wants me to talk to her about it.’

July twenty-second. ‘I woke up around 4 a.m., and having had no walk yesterday, I went out at 5:45 a.m., went up the hill, across the field, and down the other road. The fields smelled of hay and moisture, clean and full of summer. Then I did my exercises, but extra, and it felt very well. I ran errands in the morning. Jean-Michel Maroger and his mother came for lunch, and Krishnaji joined us in the dining room. Jean-Michel is now doing translations of the talks on audio cassette; using Krishnaji’s voice, then his French translation, then Krishnaji, etcetera. He does it excellently. Very nice family. He invited Krishnaji to where he and his wife and children live near Blois and Chenonceau. Krishnaji later said it would be nice to go there. At 3:45 p.m., Graf brought a Mme. Geiser of Swiss journal Fémina to interview Krishnaji. Krishnaji was sleepy at first, rather vague, and then gave her an absorbing lesson in the basics of his teachings, leading her step by step into what he thought of conditioning, religion, belief, the future being a projection of the past, the observer and observed. He said, “To see the whole is to see more than the parts.” And when she said, “You have taught for fifty years. Are you tired of it?” he said, “I am not tired because I don’t expect anything.” I joined Krishnaji on the walk after bringing Fosca and the marketing up the hill.’

July twenty-third. ‘I went down to the village early for fresh fruit. And at 11 a.m., Mr. Colell, and Mrs. Rusak, a Spanish lady, and a Señor Marcos Martinez Montegudo came to bring the latter’s donation of a thousand Swiss francs for Krishnaji’s use in the work. We had a cheerful conversation, translated back and forth. They are nice people. Krishnaji stayed in bed and said half the donation should go to Brockwood and half to Saanen gatherings. He had lunch in bed. I lunched alone in the dining room. At 4 p.m., Graf brought another German journalist, Silvia Schaefer, to interview Krishnaji for a German paper. I went down to town on errands, and had my hair trimmed a little. Krishnaji was tired today.’

S:  Okay. I think that’s all we have time for. We’re about to run out of this tape.

M: Okay. Let me just mark the twenty-fourth for domani.

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[1] Before leaving the United States for six months or more, all resident aliens (people with green cards) must obtain a Sailing or Departure Permit, which is given by the Internal Revenue Service. Back to text.

[2] Sam was Mary’s husband who died in 1958. Back to text.

[3] Pine Cottage, which originally really was just a cottage, was transformed into a beautiful house that Mary and Krishnaji moved into, but it continued to be called “a cottage” or “the cottage” by Mary, Krishnaji, and, of course, many others. Back to text.

[4] These were the Krishnamurti Committees from the various countries. Back to text.