Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

My Adventure Begins, in India

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

My Adventure Begins, in India

Article excerpt

As a widow supporting two children from infancy, Mother earned every penny we lived on. Her spending priorities were education and travel.

For years I resisted traveling abroad, preferring to work summers as a camp counselor in Maine. But then Mother asked me to accompany her to India. At age 20, my resistance crumbled.

We arrived at our bungalow in New Delhi on a hot summer day. There we were welcomed by Multoni, the head servant; his assistant, the sweeper; Christopher the cook; James the driver, and the gardener.

In back of the house was a large garden. One day while walking there I came upon a village, or so it seemed to me. The inhabitants turned out to be the families of the household staff.

Mother had been asked by the Ford Foundation to give a course on United States foreign policy to doctoral students in New Delhi. She taught in the morning. I attended her classes. We then returned to the house for lunch and a siesta during the hottest part of the day.

In the late afternoon, I enjoyed exploring New Delhi and Old Delhi: the Red Fort, government buildings, and markets, where I munched on delicious mangoes. I would return from these excursions by tonga - a horse-drawn cart - or by motorcycle, clinging for my life to the waist of a turbaned Sikh driver.

After dinner, in the relative coolness of the evening, we sat in the garden or walked to the Claridge Hotel.

Part of each week, mother and I traveled to other parts of India. James drove us to Agra and Jaipur. We took longer trips, flying to Kashmir to stay on a houseboat on Dal Lake across from the Shalimar Gardens in the shadow of the Himalayan mountains, and to Bombay to see Mother's friends. In Bombay I gazed in awe on the monumental Gateway of India, built to commemorate the 1911 visit of King George V and Queen Mary. The monsoon season was under way. Day and night, the waters of the Arabian Sea lashed the seawall.

I enjoy railroad stations. At Victoria Terminus in Bombay I jotted down in my notebook the exotic names of departing and arriving trains: the Hyderabad Express; the Firzepur Punjab Mail; the Madras Mail; the Bangalore Post; the Deccan Queen, bound for Poona. …

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