India and the little boys….

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DSC_0254I shall start as near to the beginning as I can.  Its always the best place to start..

Gateway to India

… circa about 1932 and the man in the suit to the left of my picture is my grandfather, who, although commissioned into the British Army, ended up both serving and being loved by the Indian Army.  A lowly born man.  Quiet. Artistic with no ambition in 1916 other than to sign up and serve his country.  Being another recruit who was way under age to both serve and fight, he was not scathed physically but was scarred emotionally.  This didn’t stop him extending his commission and with a wife ( somewhat difficult) and 2 young boys, headed off on their journey of a lifetime…..in 1931 to India….

And as my father, the left one in the picture below is now heading up towards 90 years of age and speaks fondly of his time there I feel I should relive his journey both through his eyes, as he remembered it and then, later , I shall make that voyage again, some eighty years on and visit the places he saw.  Embrace the things he did and see if the Indian Magic can sprinkle some of its dust on me as well….

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The two young sons…my father to the left and his older brother.    I don’t know exactly where they were.  It was of course one of their many homes and maybe the Bridge in the background may give a clue.  He isn’t entirely sure.  They look settled and happy.

The first big excitement was the delivery of a car.  Having become an Officer he felt they needed a car and this is it arriving .  The location says ” Bangalore” on the back of the photograph, but I could be wrong and would welcome confirmation….but maybe that was the location when it came off the boat and was simply in course of transportation to BangloreDSC_0255.JPG

An excitement locally and one where my Grandfather ended up taking lots of local children for rides where ever he went. They simply jumped on the side and hung on until he reached his destination.  They didn’t care where he went, they just wanted to be in the motor car.   He firmly believed that living in the country meant ” Cultural Immersion” and so my father and his brother went to the local school each day, on horseback, until they were older and were sent to Boarding School, but again in India.

My grandmother, or Nana, took to her new Colonial life like a duck to the proverbial water.  A trained Nurse in England she brought her skills with her and helped out at local clinics in the day and embraced, rather too fully, the Ex Pat life at night.  The picture below is one Christmas, Bangalore.  My nana in the white dress with her beloved Popeye (dog) in front….My grandfather was relegated to the back of the picture, as he was deemed rather  ” uncouth” for the photo.  ( ie not dress properly, don’t,ya know!)DSC_0241

and then afternoon tea on the lawn in Lucknow with various family members. My grandmother loved her shoes and found someone locally who would make them from photographs from magazines.  For a girl who grew up on a Farm in Worcestershire, this was heaven personified…..

DSC_0243   The photographs have fascinated me for years.  First looking at my grandmothers photographs and then my parents.  I was brought up on stories of baby elephants for pets and chimpanzees jumping through the house.  What a magical place it sounded. It became second nature to me and why I have not visited, I have yet to answer!

A few years ago my father returned to visit his old haunts.   Now its going to be my turn.  I want to embrace their past. My history.  I want to relive their stories of Hill Station Camps and Tents in the Snow. I am looking at old photographs and planning my journey.  I want to visit where they lived and take photographs of how it has changed… I want India to work its magic on me as well…. I have a rather sneaky suspicion that it will

 

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16 thoughts on “India and the little boys….

  1. Good morning from Portland! I loved this post for several reasons. I am fascinated by India and hope to visit soon. Next month I am visiting Indian friends who live in Florida. They have a home in India where I am welcome to stay. Plus, I am a history buff and I love reading about the English in India. Some great movies and books have stoked my imagination. I think it will be meaningful for you to discover India through the eyes of your family and also through your viewpoint. Your trip exciting and worthy of several posts. Lori

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    • Yes your day is beginning and ours is closing. I also am fascinated by India and I don’t know why it has taken me this long. Maybe its just the right time now and looking at old photographs stirs one. I think you should visit. Especially with your way of life that you advocate, I think you would enjoy the gentleness of the people and the meditation fun. particularly like films such as Jewel in the Crown and Heat & Dust. Not sure if you ( being out of UK) can open this.. its worth a viewing
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/b06z8840

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  2. Good morning from Portland. I love your post. The black and white photos are nostalgic. I am fascinated by India and hope to travel there soon. Next month I am visiting Indian friends in Florida who maintain a home in India where I have a standing invitation. I look forward to reading your posts about your trip to home and your impressions as filtered through your family’s life there as well as your viewpoint. Once again, splendid post. Lori

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  3. These are such lovely photographs! The bridge in the background is a typical Mughal bridge, so it could be anywhere in Northern to West-Central India. The boats and the palms point somewhere more South than Bangalore, Kerala maybe. It’s lovely to have such memories….:)

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    • Kerala, eh? Not sure that was one of the names I have heard but I did look at the map and it didn’t seem to fit with Bangalore. I thought it was when it first arrived from a Seaport. I shall find out how south they went. Loads more photographs… but don’t want to bore people rigid so early on!

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  4. First I want to thank you for following me and my blog. I hope to share comments back and forth with you in the future. My wife and I are really big on Indian food. We make it and eat it regularly. However I don’t think we’ll ever go to India and that is because I have to be careful with my health As I am on anti rejection drugs for my kidney transplant. But I do love spicy foods and I’m drawn to visit Thailand. I think my stomach makes me visit places!

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  5. Well thanks back to you for reading some of this. My Tales of India will continue. I have a box load of old photographs. Interesting ones as well from the time when British Troops were controlling the Afghan Border.. Kyber Pass and other stuff like that. Sorry to hear about your kidney transplant but hope all is going well and you are starting to make a good recover…Thailand. I think its a bit hackneyed now.. I love Malaysia. The people are so gentle and polite and helpful and the countryside is beautiful. Meanwhile, if you are making a Korma Curry one night, please be sure to invite me! 🙂

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  6. Enjoyed reading this post.

    First of all the picture of two young boys is adorable and cute. Jolly and happy is the mood!

    It’s really nice to look at old pictures of India in colonial days.

    The car being transported seem to be somewhere in Kerela or Tamil Nadu perhaps. these boats were common in terms of construction plus the coconut tree in background also fits more to kerela.
    The hill stations like Shimla, Mussoorie and Darjeeling etc. were once sumer capital of the “Raj”.

    lovely post! let me know if I can help you out in some way on your journey through India! 🙂

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    • It can be a double edged sword. The ” white man” living off the spoils of others – I would like to think my grandfather did try in his own humble way. Yes I think it was towards Kerala, and I asked my father for the name last night. It was unknown to me and of course some names have now changed, although I always think of Mumbai as Bombay. I shall source more photographs…and tweak the stories. I would die to visit Shimla…..thank you for your kind offer

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