I have been typing up my mother’s letters from the 1950’s when my family moved to Burma. In 1953 my parents took a trip to India:
“Once again it seems almost impossible that I can be here in India – but here we are! We had a pleasant flight over Sat. Aft. and Eve. – arrived here at 10 and dragged through customs (actually we went rather quickly for our Country Director was along and helped “rush” us thru). Then, instead of staying in hotel as we had supposed, they put us up in private homes! It turned out it has been very wonderful. Especially since they bundled Bill off on Sun. eve with a bedroll and sack lunch and he was gone until 7 this morning (Wed.)! We are staying with a couple who own a farm near Washington, Missouri and who are lovely people. They have taken me shopping and sightseeing, and a friend took us on a picnic among some 700 year old tombs (an experience I had never dreamed of) and it has been lots of fun.
Sunday we all went sightseeing and saw the famous Red Fort here in Delhi. The simply gorgeous government bldgs., and other interesting places. New Delhi is a beautiful, clean city with many trees, gardens, open lawn spaces and smooth unclogged roads! Old Delhi is more like Rangoon, but it is positively cold here except at midday. So different from Rangoon – we about perished waiting for the plane to leave Rangoon it was so hot and humid.
Last night went to see an Indian dancer and his program. It was positively enchanting! And then we went to a Chinese restaurant for delicious (and safe!) Chinese dinner. I so thoroughly enjoyed it and the entire evening.
Shopping has been loads of fun, but I see so many pretty and interesting things that it is hard to decide which I would like for the money I have. So many many things which are colorful and so typically Indian. naturally, I’m most interested in woven things – tablecloths, bedspreads, saries, (the things Indian women wear, you know) scarves, and just materials by the yard! I have tried to choose things especially for Jean – I sure which you were here to choose for yourself. But you’ll just have to accept my poor taste till you get to the Orient, I fear!
Bill had a glorious, if not altogether luxurious, experience on his field trip by Indian train and truck but I haven’t heard the details yet myself. We leave at 4 this aft. for Agra. Will add some later.
Feb 27 – Agra – We are in a nice English hotel which looks and is exactly like motels at home. I has a fancy dining room, swimming pool, expensive shops and hundred of servants with kaki coats and red turbans! There are about 50 people here for Bill’s conference , I guess, some from India.
FROM THE DIARY
Feb 22 – New Delhi and Lucknow. Sight seeing and shopping in New Delhi. Bill left about 6:30 pm with bed roll, sack lunch and water on night train to Lucknow to visit agricultural projects. Train quite different from U.S. Had a compartment (first class) with other person. Found that you can’t go from one car to another on the train except in station and can only get food at station. Some trains have dining cars but you have to enter and leave train while in station.
Feb 23 – Lucknow/Fyzabad. Hot and dusty – night cool. Lucknow was a city that showed a strong Mogul influence in the architecture of many buildings. Visited villages around Lucknow and then drove to Fyzebad after dinner. A very hot, dusty trip over very bad road. Stayed in Fyzebad at guest house and visited villages the following day. Returned Lucknow by car and again was a dusty ride in open jeep. Saw thousands of wild monkeys and every means of transportation – car, bus, train, water buffalo, elephants, donkeys, camels and oxcarts.
Feb 24 – Lucknow/Delhi. Took overnight train from Lucknow to Delhi. Had a better compartment this time and a good supply of food and water.
Feb 25/28 – New Delhi/Agra – Hot with cool evenings. By car to Agra. About 4 hour trip from New Delhi. We ate lots of oranges and bananas on the way. Saw all sorts of transportation as well as many monkeys. Drove through several villages and waited for what seemed like hours at train crossings. Arrive Agra about 9 pm. Ate dinner in Lauries Hotel and retire for night in our 3 room suite with fireplace. Very comfortable. Visited Taj on 26th but Bill in workshop most of time 26th and 27th.
Feb 28 – Agra/NewDelhi – After delightful time in Agra (Virginia saw Taj Mahal 4 times in one day and evening) we returned to Delhi. Our plane was TWO DAYS late leaving Delhi so we had much time for sightseeing, shopping and resting.
March 2 – New Delhi/Rangoon – Arrived Rangoon via British Overseas Airways Corp (BOAC) about midnight. Good trip with afternoon tea and dinner aboard. Quickly through Immigration and Customs and friends met us at airport. Tom had been bitten by their pet monkey but no problem and both boys were fine.”
“Our trip to India was most interesting. The people with whom we stayed in New Delhi were just wonderful and enlightened us so much about India in so many ways. They took us sightseeing besides explaining so much about the people and the country. Then Bill took his field trip which we mentioned before and he saw the villages firsthand, also the trains which is an experience in itself! We had planned to come home on Sunday on the British airlines, but the plane was delayed until Monday afternoon, so Bill and I did more sightseeing, more shopping, and visited an honest-to-goodness ice cream parlor and had real banana splits and chocolate nut sundaes just like you have at home. Boy! were they good! We have ice cream made in our refrig. with powdered milk, but there is very little resemblance to good American ice cream. I attended a delightful Indian dance program and had dinner in a Chinese restaurant while in Delhi. Then in Agra we had a pleasant time altho were rushed for time, for the conference consumed so much of Bill’s time that even had to skip a meeting so that he could get a picture of the Taj Mahal by sunlight. We also visited it by moonlight, and even though there was a ground fog that night it was most inspiring and a little magical. The building is just beautiful – so white and clean (compared to other monuments) and so perfect. The formal gardens are lovely – and the way to really enjoy the whole place is to have lots of time to just sit and meditate midst all the beauty or room at leisure thru the gardens. There is an atmosphere of peace and rest that I have encountered very few other places in the world. as you can tell, we were much impressed.”
I painted my “accent” cupboards in my kitchen this week. They were just so dull and boring, I felt the need to liven them up a bit. The first photo looks kind of like a Dali painting with the weird perspective.
The days are starting to get longer and the sun is showing up more often. Lifts the mood. Still sorting out retirement paperwork, insurance nightmares, it’s a process.