Issue #49

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Issue 49—October 19, 1977 to February 19, 1978


As Mary had become increasingly candid over the years of her reading and discussing her diaries with me, we see more clearly now what the nature of Mary’s existence was when Krishnaji was gone for those several months to India.

The new house in Ojai is being built, and when Krishnaji gets back from India, he gets his first glimpse of it. Simultaneously, the land around the Malibu house is unstable. It seems almost as if nature is conspiring to help Mary break her emotional ties to the place she had lived in longer than any other in her life.

The Memoirs of Mary Zimbalist: Issue 49

Mary: So we begin on October nineteenth, 1977. ‘I went to London alone, to the Italian consulate for Krishnaji’s visa. It was refused as his present passport expires on November sixteenth. I telephoned this to Krishnaji from my hairdresser. Then, I went to Paul Anstee’s to go over plans for the Ojai living room. He had prepared suggestions of furniture arrangements for the living room in Ojai.’ I thought he could get me some materials for Ojai, and he also told of that green lamp he saw in a sale. He thought it would go well in the living room, which it has. Krishnaji rang me via Dorothy at Anstee’s to say he probably wouldn’t go to Rome this year. Anstee then drove me to Jermyn Street and I went to fetch the watch that Krishnaji is getting for Dr. Parchure.’ Do you remember the one he wanted to give him?

Scott: Yes. The Seiko. [Chuckles.]

M: Right. ‘I caught the 4:50 p.m. train from Waterloo. Krishnaji and I had supper on trays. News came on the BBC of the body of Hanns-Martin Schleyer found in the boot of a car in Mulhouse, France; shot in the head.’ That was…

S: The German kidnapped by the Baader-Meinhof group.

M: Yes. Goodness.

October twenty. ‘I telephoned the Indian High Commission about a new passport. It takes a week. Krishnaji decided not to go to Italy, as he doesn’t want me to go alone. Too much disorder—German offices being attacked by leftists all over Italy, etcetera. I re-booked our flights to originate from London.’

S: Ah…so, you were going to go to India that year?

M: I don’t think so. ‘I on TWA from London to NY on the thirtieth, and Krishnaji London to Bombay on November first. His Air India flight will stop in Rome for one hour, and Vanda can see him then. At 11 a.m. there was a trustee meeting, about budgets for the office and for Brockwood. Dorothy gave the financial accounts for the last year. We cleared about 9,000 pounds sterling on the gathering. Krishnaji came in at noon, and after lunch, also sat in till 5 p.m. He asked what Brockwood is to do about children of staff.’ You remember all that debate? [Laughs.]

S: Oh, yes! Very much so.

M: ‘“What do we do with staff having babies?” Krishnaji asked. Do we incorporate them in the school? This

Krishnaji - A Portrait (Copyright Mary Zimbalist)

Krishnaji – A Portrait
(Copyright Mary Zimbalist)

took hours. In the end, he said he will raise it at a staff meeting, asking what it can mean for Brockwood, their responsibility in this, etcetera. Also, he spoke about an adult discussions meeting for two weeks.’

‘It was gray and darkish when we finally went for a walk. Frances McCann was invited to come and take photos.’

‘In the evening I telephoned Vanda about our not coming to Rome. She will see Krishnaji at the one-hour stopover of the Air India flight. I also told her about the Bonn doctor’s report. I then telephoned Filomena. Her voice touched me so deeply I wish I could rescue her from the pain, privation of her present days.’ She was back with her family, and she had arthritis unpleasantly…

S: Oh.

M: ‘The privation of her present days, humanly and otherwise. I think about lifting her magically to Malibu and surrounding her with the company of the Dunnes and me, making her smile, and banishing her physical pains. This is all fantasy. All I have done is remove my visit to which she looked forward. I think of her with a great sense of love.’

She was a wonderful woman, wonderful.

S: Yes. You’ve often spoken of her with such affection.

M: A dear one, she gave her life to my aunt Dorothy, but also my family was more her family than her family was.

S: Yes.

M: And she’d left her children and family and everything to be with Dorothy all those years. Dorothy was as dependent on her as a child would’ve been. [S chuckles.] And when eventually Dorothy died, everybody wanted to employ Filomena, all of Dorothy’s friends. She was the greatest—well, it sounds silly in this day and age—but she was the greatest lady’s maid. She knew everything needed—she packed, and in those days, women like that traveled with steamer trunks of clothes that had to be kept and pressed, and there were endless, endless details, and Filomena was an expert. Perfection, and everyone wanted her, all Dorothy’s friends. She chose to come to Sam and me because apart from my being close to her, we lived in the countryside, and all those years of traveling with Dorothy, her heart was really in gardens and raising vegetables and flowers and all that. [S chuckles.] And so, she came to Malibu, and she worked in the garden as much as the house. I mean, I had someone do the heavy work…

S: Of course.

M: But it was her pleasure to do that.

S: How nice, how very nice. You told me once also that she did whitening of linen with

ashes, wood ash.

M: She ran Villa Madama with an iron thumb, where Dorothy had this extraordinary house. The linen, the washing, the laundry…

S: Yes.

M: …and she had other people who did it, but she oversaw them do it. Yes, you took …how did it go? …the ashes…

S: The wood ash.

M: …the wood ash from the fireplaces, and you boiled it or something, and strained it and used that as bleach for the linen. That was the old-fashioned Italian way to do it.

S: Extraordinary.

M: That’s the way it was done. Anyway, she was a dear and wonderful woman.

S: Yes, yes.

M: October twenty-first. ‘Krishnaji and I took the 10:20 a.m. train to London. On the train, he said, “The day you were in town, Wednesday, there were hardly any people”’—at lunch—‘“about twenty. And I was sitting there looking out of the window. A couple…”’

S: This would’ve been at Brockwood?

M: It’s at Brockwood. ‘“…a couple of the students were watching me, but I was looking out the window. I suddenly had the feeling that the body was very holy. It has continued since. I never felt that before.”’ [S chuckles.] ‘We were forty-five minutes in the taxi queue at Waterloo because of the demonstration of taxis in White Hall for higher fees. An ancient gentleman in the queue chatted with Krishnaji and me, and we shared a cab when we finally got one. Krishnaji sprang for the jump seat, saying “Je vous en prie. I am younger than you.”’ [Both laugh.]

‘We got off at Huntsman. Krishnaji fitted again and I went around the corner to Hillier’s for the new trousers delivered this morning, which are a little bit big in the waist. We then walked in the rain to Fortnum’s, where Mary L. lunched with us. She delivered to her publisher this morning her book about her grandfather, Lord Lytton, when he was viceroy of India. Next, she will edit the Krishnaji/Bohm/Shainberg video discussions into a book. She said that when she does volume two of Krishnaji’s biography, she will go to India again. While Krishnaji went to the bathroom, we talked about his not going to Italy—really best for Krishnaji. It is tiring, etcetera, and something made me tell her of the incomprehensible thing that Vanda told me this summer—her taking Krishnaji in the early 1960s to a doctor in Geneva who told Vanda that Krishnaji might have cancer of prostrate and that she never told Krishnaji. Mary said she felt what I felt, as though the blood had drained out of her body at such a story. Krishnaji went to Truefitt for a haircut, and I sent a case of wine to Paul Anstee, who will not let me make his advice a business matter. Krishnaji and I went looking for face oil to take to India, which we found at Fenwick. We searched and found a taxi, and so to Waterloo and the 4:20 p.m. train to Petersfield. Bud telephoned from Paris in the evening; he and Lisa are back from Tehran and fly to New York tomorrow.’

October twenty-second. ‘Dr. R. D. Laing, and his wife, and three nice children came to lunch. He sat next to Krishnaji, and afterward, Krishnaji, Laing, and Bohm talked for an hour and a half in the drawing room. I served coffee and then left in spite of Krishnaji saying I should stay, as I was trying to prevent Mrs. Laing and possible child coming in.’

S: Right. So, you were out there running interference?

M: Yes.

S: Was that the first time R. D. Laing and Krishnaji met?

M: I think so, but I’m not sure.

S: I know he came again, because I remember I sat with him at lunch.

M: Well, we’ll see what is revealed. ‘After, Krishnaji said Laing “had never thought about these things,” but that he was intelligent and listened. Helen Brew is hoping this meeting might result next year in a filmed dialogue that she would produce. We will see. Nothing was said about this with Laing and Krishnaji today, and I have made no commitment to Helen Brew. It will or won’t develop later. Krishnaji, Dorothy, and I walked in the late afternoon. The smell of leaves in autumn moves me so much; it seems to stir some vanished remembrance.’

The twenty-third. ‘Krishnaji spoke to the school and guests. Then, Alan Hammick, brother of Huntsman’s Mr. Hammick, arranged by Lintott, came to lunch.’

S: Ah!

M: Yes. He was, I forget—he did either the trousers or the jackets or something.

S: Yes. Mr. Lintott, I remember him.

M: Mr. Lintott was a nice man.

S: Yes.

M: ‘Krishnaji, Dorothy, and I walked.’

October twenty-fourth. ‘Krishnaji received a letter this morning from Indira Gandhi written on the twenty-first of June and sent “sea mail.”’ [Both laugh.] You’d think the prime minister…

S: …could afford an air mail stamp.

M: …exactly. Well, thrifty, she must’ve been, or her secretary, or whoever. ‘This must be the one she told Pupul that Krishnaji had not replied to. It was an indignant, and put-upon letter, listing terrible accusations against her son Sanjay. He is taking it to show Pupul but today he dictated a short letter saying he had received it and was coming to India and perhaps they may meet.’

‘I put the Mercedes in winter storage in the garage.’

The next day it just says that ‘Krishnaji talked to the students, and I worked at the desk.’ And the day after there’s even less.

October twenty-seventh, ‘I went to Winchester for a cardigan that Krishnaji wants to wear on the plane. As the Mercedes is in storage for the winter, I went in Doris’s mini. At lunch, Krishnaji talked briefly with a young Yorkshire man who had come all the way on his bike to see Krishnaji. He arrived yesterday, and was crushed when he was told that Krishnaji was not seeing people. Krishnaji was also in bed all day yesterday. But today, the young man, Paul Mitchell, sat at Krishnaji’s table and afterward, Krishnaji talked to him in Dorothy’s office. Dorothy is ill with a violent reaction to a cholera shot [1]. Krishnaji and I took Whisper across the fields and through the lane. At lunch, Krishnaji said, “My brother and I, when we were here, never saw our shadows. We said ‘Let’s go where we can see our shadows.’”’

S: It’s true, in England, for most of the year, there is only very diffuse light, and with that light, you don’t really get shadows.

M: I never thought of that. [Chuckles.] I completely understand that. [Chuckles.]

Now, the next is the twenty-eighth. ‘I did packing and desk work. Dorothy is still ill from the cholera shot. Krishnaji and I walked with Whisper. I went back to Winchester for Krishnaji’s jersey and some cheese for him to take to India.’

October twenty-ninth. ‘I first did desk work and packing, then helped Krishnaji assemble his things for India. He leaves Tuesday next, the first of November, on Air India. The flight stops in Rome, so Vanda will try to see him at the airport. I gave him a letter and cassettes of Brockwood talks and also letters for Filomena, including checks. I hope it will work.’

‘At lunch, Krishnaji and David Bohm fell to further talk about the brain registering, and a gleam came into Krishnaji’s eyes and he said “I shall have a discussion on it tomorrow.” It will be at 11:30 a.m., just when I will be at Heathrow. I said, “Rest.” He looked mischievous and said he would do it.’ [S chuckles.] ‘As I will miss the discussion, George Carnes said he will send me a cassette of it. Later, Krishnaji said, “I want to fix it in my mind, or I will forget it.” In meditation, he has seen something about it. In the evening, he said to me, “Register lightly, that’s the thing.” Dorothy is still in bed, but better. I went and had a talk with her. She leaves for India with Shakuntala and Frances McCann on the twentieth of November. Krishnaji and I took Whisper across the fields and through the lanes. The beauty of the earth and him. I was up late getting every last thing done.’

October thirtieth. ‘I was up at 6 a.m., and made a little fire in my fireplace with the last of the basket of wood we have gathered on walks. Krishnaji gave me the back massage he has given since we went to the Bonn clinic, morning and night, to stimulate circulation in the lower back, where the blood supply goes to the leg. It has helped very much. I was packed, and dressed by 7:30 a.m. I made our breakfast and his for Monday and Tuesday of muesli. Then, I said goodbye to most of the staff. I was in tears, with Krishnaji. He said, “Sia benedetta”—be blessed. “An angel goes with you” and more. He came down to see me off, and so did most of the staff. I went in a taxi, seeing Krishnaji in his white dressing gown, his arm in what seemed a blessing. From Heathrow, I took TWA noon flight to New York. I write this on the plane. Krishnaji is talking now in the assembly hall at Brockwood.’

‘(Later.) Bud met me at the airport, and talked all the way to town. We dined in the apartment. Bud gave me Mother’s cabochon ruby ring’—she’d left it to me in her will.

S: I’ve never seen that ring, have I?

M: I gave it to Toodie.[2] ‘In the evening, I talked with him and Lisa, mostly about Toodie and Penebaker troubles.’ Penebaker was Toodie’s husband. ‘They told me about their trip to Iran, and Bud told me about Mother’s last days. I telephoned Amanda, Erna, and Elfriede. Bud and I go tomorrow to the Vineyard. Krishnaji must be asleep in his room at Brockwood. I follow him in my mind and heart.’

October thirty-first. I’m in New York now. ‘I did errands in the morning, including taking Sam’s watch to the Patek agent to be cleaned, etcetera. Bud, Lisa, and I lunched at the apartment. Then, Bud and I took an Eastern shuttle to Boston and then Northeast on a little eight-passenger plane across to the Vineyard. My cousin Lorna met us. We went to Elmholm to see Wooge. Bud and I dined with him, but I am staying with Bud in his cottage.’ My brother had a cottage across the street.

The first of November. ‘Bud and I met Mr. Cronig at Elmholm about the inventory appraisal of Mother’s furniture…’ Well, you don’t want all this. ‘Wooge and I went to the graves and chose a stone to be for both Mother and his grave, a simple granite footstone. In the afternoon, I went to the village with Bud, and then my cousin Lorna came to the cottage, and we gave her Mother’s gold matching toilet articles, and her pearl necklace, gold watch, and furs. She was pleased. Bud, Wooge, and I went to Menemsha’—do you know, that little fishing village up the island?

S: Yes, yes.

Staff and students saying good-bye to Krishnaji. (Copyright Mary Zimablist)

Staff and students saying good-bye to Krishnaji.
(Copyright Mary Zimablist)

M: ‘Lorna came over for supper to Elmholm. I made an appointment with Mitchell Booth next Sunday to discuss my agreement with KFA about my buying the Ojai land. I spoke to John Rubel’—oh, that’s again an architect—‘about the KFA office roofing. Krishnaji was to have left London at 10:15 a.m. on Air India, stopping in Rome, where Vanda may have seen him, and then gone to Bombay, arriving at 4 a.m. their time, November second, ten-and-a-half hours earlier than here.’

S: Just briefly, who owns Elmholm now?

M: Mother left it to Wooge’s younger daughter because Bud had a house up-island and I was never going to live at the Vineyard again. I had my house in California.

S: Sure, sure.

M: And so she left it to Sally McAdoo Coy, and Sally’s there right now, as a matter of fact.

S: Mm, hm.

M: November second, my diary says, ‘Krishnaji should have arrived in Bombay at four this morning. I talked to Bud most of the morning. I took him to the airport at 1 p.m. He returned to New York. I lunched with Wooge, and spent a couple of hours with Lorna. Read to Wooge. Had supper with him. And, again, writing to Krishnaji.’

The third of November. ‘Wooge and I took flowers to Mother’s grave. Lorna came to supper. I spoke to Philippa in Connecticut.’

The next day, ‘I drove Wooge to Chappaquiddick, then did bills for him. In the afternoon, I posted a letter to Krishnaji in Bombay. Lorna came for supper.’ Do we want all these things that I did?

S: I think so, yes. We can always cut it out later. I think it’s nice because it shows something of the life you were living that included Krishnaji; and somehow, even when he wasn’t there, the way you were thinking of him sometimes, and different things that you would do for him.

M: Okay.

November fifth. ‘Read to Wooge. Lunched with him, and when he took his nap, I went over to Lorna’s and she took me to the airport for a 4:15 p.m. Northeast to Boston. Caught a 5 p.m. shuttle to LaGuardia and so to New York and Bud and Lisa’s. The three of us dined and talked.’

November sixth. ‘I had a quiet morning. Bud went to a football game with his children. Lisa and I lunched together. At 4 p.m., Bud was back, and Mitchell Booth came to discuss the best way to handle my agreement with KFA about the McAndrew Road property. It’s terribly complicated.’

The next day I went by train to visit Philippa and David in New Haven; and the day after that ‘it rained five-and-a-half inches, and there were floods.’ [Chuckles.] ‘Lisa and Bud had to go to Boston by train for Lisa’s speech at the Boston Museum. I went with Khen’—oh, that’s the…

S: Vietnamese cook.

M: Yes, and who eventually became a third parent to Lindsey. ‘I went with Khen to Parent’s Day at the Buckley School, Lindsey’s class.’ Khen and I stood in for family because his parents weren’t there. ‘I then walked in the rain to an exhibit of Joseph Cornell’s boxes.’ Joseph Cornell was this strange artist who did these lovely…he would take a box and then, like a doll’s house, he’d make a scene in it, but it was very surrealist. He once used a photograph of me from Vogue as part of one of his pieces, and somehow we met and were sort of friendly. ‘He had an exhibit of his things at the Whitney Museum. Then, I went to Cooper-Hewitt for a pre-glimpse of the exhibit from the collection opening next week. Toodie’—that’s my niece—‘had supper with me. She may come to Los Angeles at the end of the month. She stayed for the night.’

November ninth. ‘The rainstorm is over, so Bud and Lisa were able to get back from Boston on the shuttle. I left for JFK at 9 a.m., and took a TWA at 11 a.m. for Los Angeles. Amanda met me at the airport. Malibu never looked more beautiful. I had supper with Amanda and Phil.’

The next day, ‘I left early in the green Mercedes for Ojai. The cottage is astonishingly advanced. I met Max Falk, the builder, and Bart Phelps, the architect. I spent the day conferring with them, and talking to Erna and Theo, who leave next Tuesday for India. I had supper at Arya Vihara, then spent the night in guestrooms above the office.’ What is now the lower flat was an office in those days.

S: Right, right.

M: November eleventh. ‘Ojai is beautiful in its early silent morning. I spent most of the day with Erna, being checked out on things to be done in her absence. I answered messages, including a message from Mrs. Vigeveno requesting I call her. She had nothing to say.’ [Chuckles.] ‘Then I went with Erna and Theo to parent-teacher meeting, in the Pavilion, moderated by Fritz. Then I drove back to Malibu.’

November twelfth. ‘In the morning, I found a letter from Krishnaji in a pile written at Brockwood on November first. His Air India flight was postponed for nine hours, so he returned to Brockwood from the airport, went back to bed, had an oil bath, lunch, and a nap. He wrote to me just before leaving again for Heathrow. I went to the Dunne’s in the afternoon.’

The next day, ‘I was home all day. Some people came about possibly buying the house. I talked to Lou Blau about the KFA agreement.’

On November fourteenth. ‘There was a cable from Krishnaji sent on the eleventh, saying he was leaving that day for Rishi Valley. His program is changed. He’s to speak in Bombay later. I was in all day working at the desk.’

S: Krishnaji telegrammed you on the eleventh, and you didn’t get it till the fourteenth? That’s quite a bit of time, isn’t it?

M: Yes. It is. [Chuckles.] I didn’t notice it when reading it.

S: Anyway, yes. Just something of note.

M: Telegrams don’t exist anymore. You don’t think about telegrams.

S: No. But it should’ve been there in a day or two.

M: Well, yes, it should have; but from India, who knows.

S: Well, that’s just it. That’s part of what you were living with.

M: November fifteenth. ‘I went to the airport to meet Erna and give her a letter for Krishnaji, and see her and Theo off to India. I then met Bart Phelps at the Pacific Design Center and looked for door knobs for the house.’

The next day, ‘I went to the hairdresser for a haircut. At 11:30 a.m., to Henry Bamberger’—my accountant—‘then did errands. I was home by 3 p.m. There was a letter from Filomena; she had received mine, carried by Krishnaji and given to Vanda who gave it to her. Vanda evidently was able to see Krishnaji in transit.’

The next morning, ‘I went to Ojai, and did office things and building things. I spent the night in the guestroom over the office.’

On November eighteenth. ‘I met Bart Phelps, and Mr. Weingarten’—he’s the man who put the hi-fi system in—‘then a TV man, a telephone man, an electrician, etcetera. At 4 p.m., I went to the Pavilion for another parent-teacher meeting, moderated by Fritz, and again spent the night in Ojai.’

The next day, ‘I did office work in Ojai. At 2 p.m., I went to a discussion outside the Pavilion, with Fritz conducting it. I got a letter from Sunanda saying the heat in Madras made Krishnaji go on to Rishi Valley. There was also a letter from Ahalya saying that Tapas died, October twenty-ninth.’ Then, it says down below: ‘President Sadat of Egypt came to Israel.’

There was really nothing the next day.

On November twenty-first, ‘I received the first letter of the year from Krishnaji written in India from November third to the ninth, and sent from Bombay. The heat there bothered him. He saw Mrs. Gandhi. I worked at the desk all day. Mr. Schwartz came with carpet samples. I talked to Miranda in Eugene, Oregon.’ Miranda had a job as a newsperson on television.

Then nothing about Krishnaji or the KFA until November twenty-fifth. ‘It was very hot and at 8 a.m. I left for Ojai. There I met a man about burglar alarms, and Mr. Schwartz about curtains and rugs. Then I worked on mailings. At 4 p.m. I went to Fritz’s parent-teacher discussion. I had supper at Arya Vihara, and spent the night in a guest flat.’

The next day, ‘I did mailing envelopes all morning with Ruth Tettemer. At 2 p.m., I again went to Fritz’s discussion next to the Pavilion. When I returned to Malibu, Krishnaji’s  letter number 2 from India sent from Rishi Valley, was there.’

S: Would you like to say something about the numbering of letters?

M: Alright. Well, because of uncertainties of mail, especially in India, we had agreed to both date, actual date, and number the letters; so most of his letters, and I presume mine too, followed that pattern.

S: So that would’ve have meant that the second letter he sent you that year was number two?

M: Yes.

S: Right. I just wanted this on the record.

M: Good. November twenty-eighth. ‘I was home all day. Mr. Schwartz brought more carpet samples, and I ordered for Ojai. Also, I ordered Indian cotton for sofas.’

The next day, ‘The wind stopped. I had lunch with the Dunnes. George Duff and family—that’s Amanda’s brother—were there to see Tally and Willy at their beach house.’ Tally and Willy, that’s William Wyler, the director and his wife, who were long-time friends of ours, and they had a beach house.’

November thirtieth. ‘I went to Ojai, arriving by 9:30 a.m. I met Charles Moore and Bart Phelps. We went over everything, and also went over all cabinets with the cabinet maker. Charles stayed for lunch, and Bart was there all day. The painter did samples of the English “magnolia” color.’ I brought back a tin of that from England as I wanted the outside of the house to have that. ‘I had supper at Arya Vihara, and again spent the night in the guest flat.’

December first. ‘I did things in the KFA office, then drove to Santa Barbara to look at marble. They had nothing. And then to the cabinet maker to finish checking all the dimensions, etcetera. Then I drove home to Malibu.’

December second. ‘I went to town’—that always means Los Angeles or Santa Monica—‘on errands. I looked at appliances for Ojai and bought cotton yardage for the Ojai bathroom curtains. Then tea with Evelyne and I gave her the notes on her compilation of Krishnaji’s writings on meditation for a small book. I came home with a migraine. Tired.’

Then, again, there’s nothing about Krishnaji or the KFA until December ninth. ‘I went to Ojai. I talked to Carl Marcus about his donation to KFA. Then I did office and house things. Went to Fritz’s parent-teacher discussion. Spent the night in the guestroom.’

The tenth of December. ‘I cleaned the flat. Toodie came for lunch and brought a friend. Then we went to a concert of baroque music in the Pavilion. I signed the Sandler contract’—that’s the real estate representative—‘brought by Evelyne from Lou about the sale and handling of the Malibu house. I came home to supper. Waiting for me was letter number three from Krishnaji in Rishi Valley.’

Then again nothing until December thirteenth. ‘Today, Krishnaji goes from Rishi Valley to Madras. I did desk work. Philippa and David arrived for the holidays. I went over at 4 p.m. and had an early supper with them all.’

The fourteenth. ‘I went to Ojai. Went over things with Bart Phelps and Max Falk. The marks on the beams are not obscured by “pickling,” so I decided to have them painted white. We discussed drawers in the buffet, fire screens, and lighting. Charles Moore was suppose to come, but couldn’t. I spent the night again in the flat.’

December fifteenth. ‘There was a meeting at noon with architect Ron Gammel and Mr. Meyers of his office. Max Falk, Ruth Tettemer, Mark Lee, and Ted Cartee were there about the Falk bid on the Oak Grove School office building. That continued in the afternoon. I came back to Malibu in time for supper. A cable had come from Krishnaji in Madras; he has had no letter in three weeks, am I alright? I cabled him back.’


Editor’s Note: These seem almost “throwaway” lines, but there was real concern here. The postal service in India was absolutely unreliable. In both Krishnaji’s letters to Mary, and hers to him, there is often worry because they would go for weeks without hearing from each other; and they both knew that each was writing to the other every day and posting off the accumulated writing at least once a week. What each was most concerned with was that they hadn’t heard from the other person because the other person was unwell or injured. Letters, also, just went missing, which they could tell from their numbering system, but again, they wouldn’t know that until the next numbered letter arrived.


Then again nothing until December seventeenth. ‘I went to the airport to fetch curtain material for Krishnaji’s room in the new house, sent from London.’ That would’ve been Paul Anstee’s helping me.

December nineteenth. ‘Wind in Malibu. To Ojai where there was no wind.’ Wind was always a factor because of the fire danger.

S: Right.

M: ‘I went over things with Bart Phelps. Charles Moore came in the afternoon. I stayed on to discuss with Mark, Ted, and Max the reduced bid on the school office and resident’s building. Max’s figure is now $300,000. But there is only $270,000 in our   budget—inflation. I left at 6:30 p.m., and came home to Malibu.’

Then not much until the twenty-first. ‘Bart Phelps and two architect friends came by with a sample of lighting fixtures for the hall. Bart is going to teach for a semester in Texas. John Rubel’—that’s another architect in the office—‘replaces him on the job. I worked at the desk all day.’

The next day, ‘I spoke to Scott Forbes in Massachusetts about video equipment for India.’ Do you remember that?

S: I most certainly do. I collected all money for that equipment. Bought it. Then I took it to India and trained people how to use it, but I had to keep going back to India about every other year to retrain and service the equipment.

M: [chuckles] ‘I drove Amanda, Phil, Philippa, and David to Ojai to see the house. We had a picnic lunch on the guest house terrace. On the way back we stopped off Hueneme Road to see birdS: egrets, and many hawks. When I got home, there was letter number four from Krishnaji, written November thirtieth to December tenth in Rishi Valley.’

December twenty-third. ‘There was a cable from Krishnaji in Madras about a cable received from Rajagopal asking, “Does it mean anything?” I replied by cable. I started cooking for Christmas Eve.’ Oh, yes, Christmas Eve. I always made…

S: The bean stew.

M: Yes, the bean stew for vegetarians, and what the Dunne children, when small, used to call the Christmas mouse! It was a mousse. [S laughs.] Out of, um, what’s the cookbook?

S: Julia Child’s?

M: Julia Child’s cookbook. There’s a wonderful recipe in that for chocolate mousse. There’s a little bit of coffee in it and other things. ‘I spoke to Blanche Mathias, and spoke to Mary and Joe Links.’

December twenty-fourth. ‘I cooked to Handel’s Messiah!’ [Both chuckle] I used to like, when I did a big cooking, to play music to fill the house. ‘Amanda, Phil, Philippa, David, and Betsy came to Christmas Eve dinner. We ate at 6 p.m., and opened presents afterward. Another happy Christmas evening in this blessed house.’ We’ve always celebrated either on Christmas Eve or Day, and not both. So, it was Eve for that year.

December twenty-seventh. ‘I sold all the Greyhound Bus shares, then went to town, had a haircut, and took a present to Winky. When I got home there was a letter from Krishnaji dictated on the seventeenth. He had flu in Madras. His temperature went up to 102, but it was now normal. He wrote to Dr. Scheef that the bronchitis pill had helped a lot. There was also a letter from Erna saying that she and Theo had the flu as well; the three-day type. The students at Rishi Valley had it, teachers too, and Dorothy.’ Everybody got the flu.

S: Now, before going on, I think we ought to just stop. I don’t know if it’s on earlier tapes or not, but could you mention about Krishnaji waving at the Greyhound buses?

M: [both laugh] I’d forgotten that. [Laughs more.] This reminds me because somewhere in all this…Greyhound was a large investment of mine and Greyhound got taken over by Armor & Company.

S: No, that’s another story.

M: Have I told that story?

S: I don’t think…I don’t know if you’ve told that or not.

M: Well, I was horrified because…

S: Armor meat.

M: Armor is not good for a vegetarian to own; it’s immoral. And I was puzzled because this was a large investment, and somehow Krishnaji got wind of this, and he said, “Don’t mix up these things.”

S: Yes. I was going to ask you about that story second because that’s important, too. I think, as I remember your telling me the story, he said something like: Keep these things separate.

M: Something like that.

S: Yes.

M: In other words, he didn’t think it was an issue. [Chuckles.]

S: Right. But there is also the story that every time you passed a Greyhound bus when you were driving…

M: Yes.

S: … Krishnaji would wave to the bus. [Laughs.]

M: Yes, because by that time he knew about my investment, which I’d never discussed with him. I’d forgotten that! [Both laugh heartily.]

S: Yes, okay.

M: December twenty-ninth. ‘A pipe broke in the upper terrace under the eucalyptus trees. I got Mr. Carlson’—he was the builder—‘and a plumber to stop it.’ This is the beginning of why I didn’t get any profit from the house because suddenly, the earth on my side of the canyon started slipping, and it delayed endlessly selling the place. ‘Philippa and David came over for coffee as they return to Connecticut tomorrow. I then worked at the desk.’

The next day. ‘I went early to Ojai, met an auditor, Cliff Hey, and went into the KFA safe deposit box for inventory. Then back to the cottage to go over various things with Max. I lunched at Arya Vihara and left for Malibu at 3 p.m. Carson’—the builder in Malibu—‘had put a new pipe under the driveway to connect the sprinkling system along the drive by the gate.’

December thirty-first. ‘I was home all day, mostly doing desk work. Had supper alone. Read. Then late I listened to a Krishnaji tape, and so I ended the year and began 1978—listening to him.’

Then there’s really nothing for our purposes until January fourth. ‘Charles Moore came in the morning for coffee and to look at ocean stones in the Japanese garden for use in Ojai.’ You can look out the window and see them out there.

S: Right. Yes. They’re the deeply grooved stones.

M: Yes. They were in up at Trancas Beach. A friend of Sam and me, Sidney Franklin, the director, had a piece of land there, and at some point, a big storm washed the sand away and uncovered these big gray stones that were raked by the sand going back and forth and back and forth, who knows how long. And he found them so beautiful that he got some workman to fish them out of the ocean, and at one point, I saw them and admired them

and he gave me some. And I had them in Malibu in a little Japanese sort-of garden out front, and then I brought them with me here to Ojai. They’re like statues to me.

S: Yes. They’re very unusual. Yes.

M: ‘Rajagopal telephoned. I don’t know how he got my number. He wanted me to know he had “no ulterior motive in calling, just wished happy new year as he had always loved me” since years ago.’ He was the most dishonest human being. He would pretend to love Krishnaji, love me, love everybody, but everybody was mean to him, and he was innocent of everything; and the next time, he was an absolute swine about the way he behaved to all of us.

S: It was a very dysfunctional personality.

M: Well, yes, if you want to put it that way. [Both laugh.]

January sixth. ‘I drove to Goleta about Formica for the kitchen in Ojai. Then, continued to Ojai where I first signed on to the waiting list for a P.O. box at the post office. I went to the cottage, and the office. Lunched at Arya Vihara. Fred Kulsa came at 2 p.m. and I gave him some new photos of Krishnaji for book jackets. Kathy Harris and Alasdair from Brockwood came by. The tile man came for the bathrooms. I drove home.’

The next day. ‘Fred and Lorry’—Lorry was the gardener and Fred was the husband of Elfriede, the housekeeper—took three of the ocean stones from the Japanese garden in Malibu and got them onto Lorry’s truck, which Fred and Elfriede drove to Ojai. Amanda and I went to the county museum. We had a picnic lunch in the car, then to see a recently acquired de La Tour painting and others. And an exhibit of Indian sculpture. We then went to a movie, A Special Day, with Sophia Loren and Mastroianni.’ I don’t remember it, but I’m sure we enjoyed it.

Then there’s nothing of note until January ninth. ‘I took the curtain fabric to Mr. Schwartz, and went to Design Research, Magnin, and home. There was a letter waiting for me from Erna. Krishnaji had telegraphed a reply to Rajagopal after receiving my cable. Erna’s letter written on the twenty-sixth said that the first and second Madras talks went marvelously well; they were strong, and new. Krishnaji looked well, rested, but has been in bed all the time in Madras.’

Then nothing relevant again until January twelfth. ‘I got a cable from Krishnaji saying he will fly from London to Los Angeles on February fifth. I booked his ticket. Later, letter number five came, written before, and then after he had the flu and through December twenty-seventh. He said Rajagopal had telephoned him on the twenty-seventh.’

The next day, ‘I drove to Ojai where I did office things and house things. I spent the night there.’

January fourteenth, ‘at 2 p.m., I went to Fritz’s discussion at the Pavilion, then drove home through the rain.’

The next thing about the Foundation or Krishnaji is January eighteenth, when I note that Krishnaji would have gone from Madras to Bombay.

On the twenty-first, ‘I drove to the airport at 8 a.m. to fetch yardage from London sent by Saxby’—that’s the decorator who worked with Paul Anstee. ‘It’s the wrong color blue. Then I drove to Ojai to do some work on the house. Evelyne came to see the house and talked with Mark and me about a benefit concert for the school. We went to Fritz’s discussion next to the Pavilion. I drove home and went early to sleep. Krishnaji must’ve given his first talk in Bombay today.’

On January twenty-fourth, ‘Letter number six from Krishnaji arrived. It was written in Madras, and took eighteen days to come.’

January twenty-fifth. ‘I drove to Oxnard where I left the green Mercedes to have the oil changed, greased, wheels aligned, and miscellaneous adjusted. I took a rental car to Ojai and with John Rubel went over the house matters. Lunched at Arya Vihara, then went with Ted and Mark to Eloise’s Barn’—Eloise is the daughter of Evelyne Blau who had horses on the place—‘and discussed moving it further back in the field with a cement foundation. Came back to Oxnard, left the rental car, fetched the green Mercedes, and came home.’

On January thirtieth. ‘I drove to Ojai where I met Charles Moore and John Rubel, but was home for supper.’

January thirty-first, ‘Krishnaji left Bombay early this morning and flew to London. At 11 a.m. here, I telephoned Brockwood and spoke to him. His voice was strong, eager, and full of energy. It was so extraordinary to be talking to him, I forgot to ask him more than “Are you alright? Are you well?” He was and he is. I reminded him that he is now a U.S. resident with his “green card,” so he must fill out a customs declaration. He asked me to find the porter who last year said he could go into the customs area and help him with the luggage.’ How was I supposed to do that?

S: [laughs] I don’t know!

M: [laughs] Till Sunday. ‘Exuberance! In mid-morning, some real estate people, including Carla Zimbalist, came to make an offer on the Malibu house.’

S: No relation to Sam?

M: Yes. Niece. This is the first offer I’ve had. In late afternoon, I talked to Louis Blau about a counteroffer.’

February first. ‘I went to town on errands: plants, books for Krishnaji. Then using the Dunne’s VW, I got eight outdoor chairs for Ojai. When I returned home, Krishnaji’s letter number seven was there, written in Madras and sent of the fifteenth of January. Later, I went to meet Erna and Theo at the airport from Delhi, via the Pacific.’

On February third, ‘I drove to Ojai for house matters, lunched at Arya Vihara, talked to Erna in the afternoon, then drove home.’

February fifth. ‘There is a light rain. I drove to the airport well ahead of time.’

I used to think, I must drive carefully, because suppose I have an accident, and I’m not there to meet him. What will he do?

S: Yes. What would he do? [Laughs.]

M: I used to ask him that, “What would you do?” He would say something like, “Oh, I’d be alright. I’d call the Lilliefelts.” He didn’t have the Lilliefelt’s number with him.

S: …[laughs]…or any change for the phone.

M: …exactly, or any change for the phone. I’d put $20 in his…I told you that.

S: Yes…in his passport.

M: Yes, But he never used it. He finally gave it to a barber in Rishi Valley, I think. [S laughs.]

‘Krishnaji’s TWA flight was on time at 4:15 p.m. I saw him through the glass as he went into customs, smiling and bright. I had found a porter and tipped him $10 to find and help Krishnaji.’ [Both chuckle.] ‘It is Krishnaji’s first arrival on his own with the green card, and all went well. He came out smiling and hugged me in the lift going down to where we had a long wait for his bag. The highly tipped porter never reappeared.’ [Both laugh]

In those days, a $10 tip was a very good tip.

S: Yes. He probably just went home. [Both laugh.]

M: ‘We drove home through the rain, Krishnaji talking a streak all the way. We had supper on trays in his room. He was full of energy and wanted to tell me everything that had happened since he left for India in November. In spite of getting up early and hours ago in Brockwood, and the long flight, he was not sleepy. We talked for hours, until quite late, about everything, including ourselves. I have the immeasurable happiness of having him here.’ Even though he was tired, whenever he came back, even though he’d been up for twenty hours or more he wanted to talk.

February sixth. ‘I woke up filled with happiness. It had rained all through the night, 1.60 inches. Krishnaji stayed in bed all day, alternately sleeping and talking. There is a stream of energy in him. He says it began in Rishi Valley as if something had opened in his head. One feels it strongly being with him.’

February seventh. ‘We were home all day. Krishnaji resting and talking.’

The next day, ‘Krishnaji rested in bed all day. A nun and mother superior of the Franciscan Order next door…’ Oh, yes. Some nunnery had bought the adjoining house [chuckles]. ‘…came to call and discuss their broken pipe, which is pouring water onto my land, and that’s making my slide worse. I gave them Carson’s name and number for repair.’

February ninth. ‘The nun’s land is draining onto this side. Elfriede went over and cleared their drains. Then, Carson came with a plumber and put a temporary pipe to divert their rain down their side, luckily, just before the rain began again. Krishnaji slept most of the day. He lunched in bed. I went to the market. It was a wild night of wind and rain. I went out at 1 a.m. with a flashlight to look at the slide and see if it had moved. It looked the same, but the wind was tremendous. Krishnaji followed me out.’

S: Oh.

M: I don’t know how he knew I was out; I wouldn’t have let him know. ‘The sense of the storm seemed to wash over one.’

S: When you mention the slide, you mean actually that the earth is subsiding, sliding down.

M: Yes. It’s clay, but when it’s wet, it gets like Vaseline, sort of, and it slides.

S: Right. These are the famous mudslides that are all in that area.

M: Yes. You would read about mudslides in California; it’s because of that. And unfortunately, my side of the canyon had just that clay. The Dunnes had a lot more rock underneath, and they had no slides. But I had nothing but slides. And it’s the reason that I couldn’t sell the house for so long. It cost me a lot to try and put pipes to drain it and so forth, and also, people didn’t want buy something where the hill was going to slide.

S: Yes.

M: February tenth, ‘The rain has stopped, a total of 16.71 inches; and the wind had shifted to the west. I talked to Erna. Ojai is awash in the storm; bridges are overflowing and uncertain, so Erna and Theo cannot come down to lunch today as planned. There is enormous damage all over southern California. Flash floods swept cars, houses away; washed bodies out of graveyards. A ninety-two-mile-per-hour wind hit Newport.’

The eleventh. ‘Bud telephoned from New York. He and Lisa are going to San Francisco on Thursday, then coming here Saturday to Monday. They’re buying my half share of Seven Gates left by Mother to both of us, which will help with money needed for the Ojai house.’ Mother had bought the land up at Seven Gates[3] but she never did anything with it, and she left it to both of us. Bud and Lisa wanted to build a house on it, and so they bought out my half share. ‘Krishnaji and I stayed in all day, resting and reading. The television not working makes for peace and music.’

Walking on the Beach in Malibu. (Copyright Mary Zimbalist)

Walking on the Beach in Malibu.
(Copyright Mary Zimbalist)

The twelfth. ‘I cooked all morning. The Lilliefelts and Mark Lee drove down for lunch. Krishnaji asked us if the schools “are worth it.” Mark gave a firm yes, and so did Theo. Erna didn’t demur. Krishnaji said they had asked him in India to whom he talked. He said nobody and because he is speaking to nobody, not seeking a result, there is greater energy. It is also evident that if one is nobody, one hears. He asked about Fritz’s meetings, but both the Lilliefelts and Mark didn’t want to talk about it until Krishnaji has talked to Fritz himself. Erna brought a statement written by Donald Ingram Smith at Rajghat on January twenty-eighth, 1978, recounting a meeting last April with Mrs. Vigeveno and the Blackburns about the archives. It was said that the real archives are in an air-conditioned vault under Rajagopal’s house, and that they would remain there until other adequate air-conditioned housing is available. There was no mention of his agreement with KFA and his flouting of it.’ You see, he was supposed to share the archives with the KFA.

‘There was sun, rain, and hail in town. The deal is off on the sale of the Malibu house.’

Walking on the Beach in Malibu. (Copyright Mary Zimbalist)

Walking on the Beach in Malibu.
(Copyright Mary Zimbalist)

The next day, ‘Birthdays come lightly at this point.[4]’ [S chuckles.] ‘It rained heavily in the night. Krishnaji and I lunched at home and then went to town, Krishnaji had a checkup with Lailee Bakhtiar. All is well. The results of blood and urine tests will come in a few days. We then went into Westwood for a new electric razor, a Braun. Krishnaji had read an ad in the New Yorker.’ [Chuckles.] That was what prompted this. Every year, he had to have a new electric razor.

S: [laughing] I remember.

M: ‘There was some rain and hail on the way home. The deal to purchase Malibu is off; the lawyer buyer wants to sell two other houses first. Bud telephoned about my birthday and so did Alain Naudé, just back from London, where he visited Mary and Joe, and Florence, where he stayed with Vanda.’

February fourteenth. ‘The weather is clear and beautiful. Krishnaji and I drove to Ojai in his green Mercedes, himself at the wheel, smiling. The skies smiled too; it was a perfect day for his first trip to Ojai, and his first glimpse of the new house. He looked at it, shyly, and met Max Falk. Erna and Theo were there. Radha Burnier also came; she is lecturing at Krotona.[5] Krishnaji looked at everything. “It is stupendous,” he said. We lunched at Arya Vihara. Everyone was there to greet Krishnaji. After lunch, he talked alone with Fritz Wilhelm. Then, he came back to the cottage and asked for the removal of the trellis outside his bedroom window.’ Don’t remember that. ‘He is right.’ [Chuckles.] ‘He talked about the cottage all the way home. He is pleased.’

February fifteenth, ‘Krishnaji and I went to town. He had a haircut. We lunched on Mexican food at the farmer’s market. Then, at Krishnaji’s urging, we went to Beverly Hills Silk & Woolen, where he chose material for clothes for me to wear in India next winter; kurtas, bundies, and pants. We took the material to the dressmaker, and he explained how they should be made.’

S: [laughs] Krishnaji explained to the dressmaker how these Indian clothes should be made for you.

M: Yes. Well, she didn’t know and he did, you see.

S: Of course, of course.

M: And he wanted things to be correct.

The sixteenth of February. ‘Krishnaji rested in the morning. He spoke of the necessity for young people to carry on. This has become urgent to him. He wonders if Fritz can do the adult center and is doubtful. He spoke of the Buddha having two disciples who really understood his teachings, and both of them died before the Buddha. “That is sad,” said Krishnaji.’ It made me cry when I first heard that.

S: Yes.

M: ‘In the afternoon, he saw a man named John Ferry, who had written a good letter last spring. He turned out to be not so young. He had taught at Happy Valley and left it; before that he was in the insurance business; now lives in Cambria, does real estate, and is now writing a book, which he intends to publish himself. He had no questions to ask Krishnaji. Just wanted to talk. He was polite, “Mr. Krishnamurti, Mrs. Zimbalist.” Krishnaji asked him to come to a discussion meeting if any are held.’

February seventeenth. ‘We were home all day except I went for marketing. Radha Burnier came down from Ojai for lunch. We talked of what people come to her and why, and from that, to what people expect from Krishnaji, etcetera.’

The eighteenth. ‘I met Bud and Lisa at the airport. There was an earth slide on Pacific Coast Highway near the Getty Museum, so I brought them back via the valley and Malibu Canyon. Lisa has a cough and is very tired. So, after greeting Krishnaji, she went to bed. Krishnaji had supper in bed as usual. So, Bud and I ate in the dining room and talked till quite late.’

February nineteenth. ‘Bud’s fifty-eighth birthday. I cooked in the morning, and then we had a birthday lunch. Krishnaji, Bud and Lisa, Amanda and Phil, and Toodie, who  brought a young actor, Lance…somebody. Krishnaji talked to him quite a bit. He made a surprising good impression on all of us. Lunch went well celebrated with some Cheval Blanc 1953’ [S laughs] ‘which Father gave me years ago. The weather was golden warmth. Krishnaji and I rested after lunch. Amanda and Phil went home. The others sat on the lawn all afternoon talking. At Bud and Lisa’s invitation, Artie Shaw and Joan someone came for drinks at 6:30. Then, they, Bud, Lisa, Toodie, and Lance went out to dine at Orsini Restaurant in Malibu. Krishnaji and I had our usual supper on trays.’ Artie Shaw was a friend of my brother’s, you know, the musician.

S: Mm, hm. Yes. I think we’re going to have to end it there. We’re running out of tape.

M: We are? Very well.

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[1] Dorothy was going to take her first trip to India that winter. Back to text.

[2] Bud’s eldest daughter. Back to text.

[3] Seven Gates Farm on Martha’s Vineyard. Back to text.

[4] It was Mary’s birthday. Back to text.

[5] Krotona is a Theosophical community in Ojai. Back to text.