Continental Airlines Flt 48 To Bombay

June 27, 2011

Continental Airlines 3440 was supposed to be a normal routine flight. A straight shot from Myrtle Beach to Newark. The two hour flight would serve as a destination point to transfer to my international connection;  Continental Airlines flight 48/ Newark to Bombay.


However nothing is really all that simple with Baba, especially when the ties to the US are being methodically undone; circumstances seemingly beyond my control that are re-arranging things, pointing to possible residency at Meherabad. You see, with determination and apparent impunity, having been given the unique latitude to take off for long annual visits to India that ranged anywhere from 5 to 6 months, I was able to forge an adaptable life-style for myself. I’ve done it virtually all my life, this penchant for ‘pilgrimage’ and trying to maintain an ordinary life in the west. Living in close proximity to the Baba Center in Myrtle Beach six months out of the year and 6 months at Meherabad had become easier with time. However something different had emerged recently.  After 11 years on the on-call Hilton banquet staff (supplemented by a couple of other on-call banquet waiter positions, most notably the Dunes Country Club); the employment at the Hilton, my main source of income had come to an abrupt end two months ago. With a new banquet manager in tow and corporate deciding to take a stronger stand on my seemingly care-free life-style, I was ejected out of the system late last year and couldn’t get back in when the re-hiring re-started in the Spring. And to complicate matters, the Embassy Suites; a sister hotel chain which sometimes served as my other option, this was owned by none other than the same Hilton Corp. placing me in a difficult, untenable position. The only fortuitous saving grace was that I had just turned 62. With eligibility for social security benefits kicking in, a way was being paved providing an opportunity to live at Meherabad as a full-time resident.

Moving out of the lovely home where I have lived for the past 6 years was a daunting task. And then, the car, with a very strange sense of timing; several days after my last function at the Dunes Country Club and two days before departure for India conked out on me. Estimates of repair (a malfunctioning computer and other yet to be determined problems) made it prohibitively expensive for repair. The underlying message was becoming clear – it’s time to make the transition.

So, the reader may ask,  how does this relate to last Thursday’s Continental flight 48 to Bombay. Well, I will explain….

In the interest of keeping things down to a manageable budget I am often on the look-out for other arrivals into Bombay that coincide with mine. A shared car ride to Meherabad is always beneficial for all concerned, not just for the savings but for making things fun and interesting. After a couple of discreet inquiries to the Trust in mid May and nothing showing up on the arrival list for June 24th, I went ahead and made independent arrangements for a car hire.

Thursday June 23rd… I was informed upon arriving at the Myrtle Beach airport that due to heavy inclement weather in the New York area my flight to Newark had been cancelled. I was shunted on to the 1 pm US Air flight to Charlotte with a scheduled connecting 3: 15 pm flight to Newark. Immediately upon disembarking in Charlotte I learned of the unpleasant fact that the ongoing flight to Charlotte had been cancelled as well as many other flights to and from Newark. Many disgruntled passengers and long lines at the US Air and Continental ticket counters made it a challenging prospect – how to make the 8:30 pm Continental flight 48 to Bombay? Baggage had to be picked up at baggage claims which proved to be time consuming. Slowly and laboriously, after an hours wait on line I finally got to the front of the US Air ticket counter. The 5:30 pm flight to Newark I had placed over the phone an hour earlier had also been canceled. The US AIr ticket agent directed me back to the Continental Air desk since it was ‘Continental’s responsibility’ not theirs. Another disquieting long line and hurdle had to be faced. It was beginning to look as though I was going to spend the night at the airport. Finally my turn arrives at the Continental ticket counter. The attendant, a charming french lady, studiously analyzes the possibilities on her computer. Reality was setting in. I wasn’t going to make the Continental flight 48 out of Newark. Most flights to Newark were being systematically cancelled anyway. I was resigning myself to a sleepless night at the airport. Would I be interested in a 6:20 pm flight to Dublin with a connection to London and then a third connecting flight to Bombay she asked? Noting the short connection intervals, although the legal requirement of two hours connecting time was feasible, I was a bit dubious. The prospect of lost luggage crossed my mind making me feel a bit unenthusiastic. But I was willing to give it a try if it could be confirmed. 15 minutes went by, no confirmation. 20 minutes – nothing. It was 5 pm, time was running out. Another group standing beside me, a rather smart, well dressed Indian family of 6 at the next ticket counter were animatingly discussing with the agent a possible Lufthansa flight to Munich and then a connection to Bombay. Was it this evening – was it tomorrow? It wasn’t clear. My attention returned to the agent standing before me who was still looking into the alternatives. She informed me that she could put me on an early morning flight to Newark the next day with an ongoing 4:25 pm flight on Air India to Bombay. What about hotel arrangements and meal vouchers I asked – could that be provided? Yes came the answer. The deal was done.

The Holiday Inn at Charlotte airport was comfortable enough. I used the time to full advantage. I knew Kim Witkowski (from Myrtle Beach) was vacationing in Amsterdam with her daughter and would be arriving into Bombay the 25th evening; 5 hours after my arrival. Tried to reach her by phone but to no avail, I called her husband Walter in Myrtle Beach. He wasn’t certain whether she was staying the night in Bombay. I then called the driver at his suggestion. Both Kim and her daughter were indeed staying on in Bombay. They would not be arriving into M’bad until the 27th. Based on that information I then Skyped a friend in London and with her assistance managed to contact the driver of my car and relayed the scheduled changes. Upon my arrival in Bombay because of the unconventional early arrival time of 5:15 pm I managed to contact a friend at Meherabad and she agreed to let me stay the night at her house before the MPR opened for registration.

The incident described above are somewhat disparate details that ordinarily would not be of any of interest. Just random events, typical of what occurs when flights are disrupted. So that being the case, what was going on internally? The fact was, I was rather apprehensive about the affairs of my life. The doors were drawing to a close in my life in Myrtle Beach. The car, the house, the job situation, as if by some unseen hand they were all being meticulously discarded. And in its wake, thoughts of doubt kept arising – What if I am not granted Indian residency due to some Indian  bureaucratic technicality? What have I done? So many anxious thoughts plaguing my mind throughout the journey to India.

Arriving at Meherabad I was greeted by a number of familiar faces. Dalia Rock from Charlotte, NC whom I have known for many years and with whom I have traveled with in England along with a number of visits to Tuscon, the Baba Center and Meherabad, had just arrived the day before. Come to find out, she was on that same long line in the Charlotte airport at the same identical time and yet we didn’t see each other! How in the world did we not notice each other? She was on the 5:30 pm flight to Newark that I was on, with the same ongoing Continental flight 48 connection to Bombay, but due to the Continental flight cancellation out of Charlotte, she was diverted and boarded that Lufthansa flight to Munich/ Bombay the very same flight itinerary I overheard being discussed at the Continental ticket counter. She was able to meet up with Gil and Chitra Alverado (mutual friends of ours) who were also on flight 48. They had arranged a hired car to M’bad in advance and Gill, being notified of Dalia’s flight changes to Lufthansa (via cell phone texting) made a point of waiting those extra hours for Dalia at Bombay airport. Gil and Chitra just barely made it on Continental flight 48 due to flight delays out of Raleigh/Durham. To add to the intrigue, Robert and Sharon Philips (also mutual friends) were flying in from Atlanta to join the others. I understand they just barely made the connection from Atlanta because of weather delays. They had a pre-arranged meeting with Susan Kaplan from Minneapolis (who is also a mutual friend in the Baba community). Susan flew from Minneapolis to Newark to join them as well. Amazingly, all told, there were seven of us Baba lovers all scheduled to converge in Newark for Thursdays Continental flight 48 to Bombay. And for some strange inexplicable reason, I was the only one who didn’t know about this unusual Baba convention meeting of sorts that was occurring on flight 48.


Was that a missed opportunity? Was I not being diligent enough to connect up with these friends who I know so well? Trying to make sense of it all, a friend of mine observed, that on the surface of it at least, these are all individuals visiting Meherabad for a relatively short time (two to four weeks), consequently they probably needed to make the most of their stay at M’bad. On the other hand, with a 6 month stay and possible residency in place. I may be in a different set of conditions. Sounds rational enough, but digging deeper, I am acutely aware that my tendency to worry about finances (sharing the car expenses was a concern, and as Pat Sumner eloquently put it upon my telling her of the strange circumstances – she quipped without hesitation “it’s only money”). But there is a larger issue which gains prominence and demands my attention. It’s the ‘what if’ syndrome – the car, the home, the job etc. This resistance to changing circumstances tends to accentuate conflict, that perplexing need to have things a certain way.

It’s comforting to know that Baba would exhort His dear ones to remember that material circumstances in and by themselves have only relative value. Baba’s methods was to use situations for His work. Once the intended purpose has been served, like a temporary scaffolding, the props are no longer required. Material acquisitions are not indispensable as most people seem to think they are. There’s something to be said about not holding on to pre-conceptions, thoughts fixated on the past about what could have happened if only there was sufficient foresight, holding on to the what-ifs, can prove to be a drag on the ability to living life to the fullest. Meeting life as it comes without pre-conception, now that is a life worth living. It’s a great and proper introduction to this new transition I find myself embarking on. It’s Baba’s way of saying Welcome to Meherabad Jerry. Welcome home.

June 28, 2011 Update

Am  settling in at the MPR. Jet lag and fatigue slowly diminishing. It’s nice to be here as always. The monsoon season as usual creates such an interesting atmosphere here with wind, overcast skies and occasional rain.

Leah J. posted a quote of Baba’s recently which aptly sums up the entire experience for me….

“Shut the trap of your mind and end all worries. Open the trap of your heart and release love.”


It’s been nearly 7 years since posting. A lot has happened since then. Many rich and endearing experiences. Suffice to stay, by Baba’s grace, I’ve managed to create a rather comfortable, lovely life for myself here at Meherabad. A beautiful, spacious home and all the amenities and luxuries one can think of (within walking distance of the samadhi/ Baba’s tomb). In January 2015 I married a bright, cheerful, loving devoted Baba lover who is intimately close to Baba and the Dehran Dun Baba family. A short two minute video of my wife’s grandmother Prakashwati can be seen garlanding Beloved Baba  (turn on the audio for the soundtrack). Click on the following video:

A Decidedly Touching Moment With Meher Baba/ Prakashwati Sharma And Baba – Dehra Dun 1953


Vineeta Tripathi Enjoy this ‘NEW LIFE’ you are embarking upon Jerry…I personally feel everything worked out the way it should have. Now with the worldly affairs and responsibilities out of your way you will be able to serve Baba better. In this note I noticed a lot of Baba miracles. Help always came your way when you needed it. So Trust Meher, don’t worry and be happy! In His love, Vinnie
Jim Oppenheim
Jim Oppenheim Very eloquent Jerry. See you around the Samadhi hill. HAHA I tried to rent a bicycle the other day and Govind said, nahe as it was reserved for none other than Jerry Watson. WELCOME HOME
Leah Johnston
Leah Johnston Unwinding! You are in perfect hands. Jai Meher Baba.
Jane Viscardi Brown
Jane Viscardi Brown great story, Jerry..thanks for tagging me …..I love when Baba said ‘The film has already been shot’…I have had to depend on that many times…XO JB
Judith Watson
Judith Watson Jerry, that’s quite a story about a complete change in your life. Where did you write about this, on the plane or the airport?
Ellen Rebekah Drager
Ellen Rebekah Drager Enjoy your new life Jerry! What a blessing to be finally fulltime in India. Give Dolly and Carol Gunn a big hug for me, ok?
Rachel Therrien
Rachel Therrien Thank you for sharing this “transition” story Jerry! By the way, you write “pretty” well. Maybe you should think about a book project in India…ANd enjoy your NEW LIFE!
Eric Teperman
Eric Teperman thanks for the good retelling, Jerry; the details are different, but the actualities of it all are very very familiar to anyone who hase lived theri lives “with” Baba now. Glad you are where are you. Jai Baba!
Marie F. Rhodes
Marie F. Rhodes What a write up Jerry. Like you I have been moving one place to another every few days. Waiting o Senior housing which may be several week ahead of me. Some nights in the car. Trying to work things out but at this point total chaos. Pray hard for me at the tomb. For courage to follow my heart. Sending lots of Baba Love. Home here for a few hour and then on the road again.
Zenda Blair
Zenda Blair A wonderful story and I have always admired your trust in BABA.
Liselotte Eskildsen Scheu
Liselotte Eskildsen Scheu so glad that you finally made it “home” Jerry. Even when you lived with us, I thought you belonged in India. ❤
Robin Reeves-Oppenheim
Robin Reeves-Oppenheim Wow, what a great story. Very well written and a really entertaining and interesting read. Your flight story sounds like our trip home from India in February 2010 when Jim, Gaya and I were detained overnight in Amsterdam due to an employee backing the
Susan Saunders Smith
Susan Saunders Smith Enjoyed your lengthy story. Sounds like Baba to me, Maya wringing you out, testing your endurance, faith, especially as you travel to the Source. All the best in your new adventure.
David DeFauw
David DeFauw Great story. Good Baba luck to you.
Andrea Winzimer
Andrea Winzimer Tag me Jerry! Loved it! I’m coming in October – yea!
Jerry Watson
Jerry Watson Hi Caran, I tried reaching you upon arrival in Bombay Saturday eve. but no answer (I managed to get through to Bevan and stayed overnight at her house). You must be a very busy girl since I haven’t seen you at M’bad since my arrival. Just got my old Indian cell phone activated again:956 171 4548 It’s nice to be back again after two months absence.
Susan Herr
Susan Saunders Smith
Susan Saunders Smith Hey Jerry, Jai BAba. Does Bevan live in Mumbai now? Sounds like you stayed at her house in Mumbai. Changes
Jerry Watson
Jerry Watson Hi Susan, Bevan has her condo at Meherabad as you probably know. With an arrival time of 5:15 pm into Bombay, about one hour breezing through customs and a 6 hour drive to M’bad that would get me to my final destination at around 1 am; I was simply beiSee more
Jerry Watson
Jerry Watson Hi Andrea, How wonderful that you are planning a visit to Meherabad. Bevan mentioned that you will be accompanying Jeff W. Will see you then.
Pamela Butler-Stone
Pamela Butler-Stone Hi Jerry, Quite a saga! It reminds me of my first trip to India, with lots of opportunities to trust Baba, as flights were missed, couldn’t land in India due to landing gear malfunctions, etc. Baba seems to be making it clear that your time in Myrtle Beach is ended (at least for now). How wonderful that He brought you Home to Meherabad. Thank you for sharing your story
Pam Kahl
Pam Kahl Quite the journey, But look where you are! So glad for you Jerry! I will miss seeing you at the center and around MB but I am very happy for you, hold on, now the real fun starts! Say hi to Bevan, we miss her in the neighborhood! Jai Baba!
Scott O'Neil
Scott O’Neil Good luck Jerry, and if you know of anyone coming from Myrtle please let me know I have some original negatives of Baba that need to get back. Jai Baba
Ellen Van Allen
Ellen Van Allen Thanks sharing that, Jerry. Congratulations! You are so fortunate. I am here for now, but hoping to be back soon. Jai Baba.
Nancy Wurzel
Nancy Wurzel Quite a wonderful story, Jerry! Captures unique mind crush of a journey 1/2way round the world not going smoothly. But, I’m so happy for the resolution:)> Best wishes for your *new life*!! xo
Nivedita Nagpal
Nivedita Nagpal alls well that ends well! WELCOME HOME. When i return from Doon, i shall come to Meherabad after the 12th july.
Gail Roberts Morris
Gail Roberts Morris I really enjoyed your story Jerry!!
Ashok Bhansali
Ashok Bhansali JERRY ! WELCOME to INDIA,Are you in touch with Sam & Roshan,SAm had viisted one of our prayer meetings held at our hous.In PUne we as the Pimpri Chinhwad group met between 7.30 p.m to 9 p.m ,Would you be interested ? Mr Gadekar also participates,
Jerry Watson
Jerry Watson Hi Ashok, Yes. I know Sam and Roshan (and Gadekar) fairly well. Thanks for the invitation. Whenever I am in Pune (an overnight stay) I will certainly keep it in mind.
Niki Harrison
Niki Harrison Thankful my first experience was smooth as silk~ I may have thought I wasn’t suppose to go at that time or something full of worry and second guessing. It has been almost three years now and I long to go back again some day……..
Roger Robinson
Roger Robinson So, you’renon your way HOME! All the best!
Kathy Hahn
Kathy Hahn This is amazing Jerry – so blessed to be there full-time. keep on writing – it’s precious. thanks you sor sharing.
Nikhil Bhimra
Nikhil Bhimra Hey Jerry
You’ve got the nack of writing. Wonder if you ever thought of writing more?
Cheerio See more
Anneke de Jong
Anneke de Jong Great life story Jerry,(must have missed your posting it) with the tryels/doubts/we travel through/so you are in a new life/great!! way to go. its called surrender, and what has to happen will happen.just hold on to you know what.look forward to sharing coffee with you soon, and catch up
Jessica Cookie Riendeau
Jessica Cookie Riendeau Wow, what a treat to read your story,m even though it is laden with the usual mishaps and hesitations we all carry around, I completely identified with it! I wish you all the best and hope to see you at Home.
Lynn Pace
Lynn Pace great story and in Baba, all is well – though it may be awhile before we see it! It is comforting to know you are surrounded by so much LOVE!! Best wishes and Big Baba Hugs!
Max Reif
Max Reif Thanks for passing me the link, Jerry. I hadn’t seen this. I’m esp fascinated by your concrete account of Baba dismantling your lifestyle of years standing, forcing change. I often wonder whether something or other should continue…but your post helps reinforce the thought that when it’s over, one knows!
Marysu Bennett
Marysu Bennett Will miss our visits in MB but now, one more “reason” to head to India!
Lynn Pace
Lynn Pace Jerry, I just read your saga again…it is so amazing how Baba works…and where are you now? I would love to get an update…sending Big Baba Hugs!
Alice Klein
Alice Klein I just read this like a thriller! a page-turner… all the twists and turns… Baba certainly does seem to have nudged you, quite forcefully really… And He’s washed you up on His Indian shore.
Debbie Cobb Lynn

Debbie Cobb Lynn · 10 mutual friends

What a story! So happy for you to be in Mbad. I have no idea when Josh and I get to come again. Hope to see you sooner rather than later. Aloha and JMB
Jerry Watson
Jerry Watson Hi Debbie, Nice to hear from you. Hope Josh is doing well. The East West Gathering 50th anniversary celebrations here at Meherabad are coming up (from Nov 1st to the 4th). Lot’s of people including about 300 sufis from Walnut Creek, Ca. and DC are here to join in the festivities.
Marysu Bennett
Marysu Bennett How are things going for you? Take me to the samadhi once in a while, okay? I love your story, how Baba can complicate and simplify at the same time!! He makes the knots but we need only to trust Him for the unsnarling to happen!! Love, love!
Jerry Watson
Jerry Watson Hi Marysu. Doing well thanks. Are you still in the Richmond area? Will you be affected by the approaching storm?