Days 34 to 36: Calcutta (28-30 August 1914)

The account of this voyage has to start with Volume 2 because Volume 1, which covers the first part of the trip from the UK, is missing. Volume 2 finds the author already in Calcutta and we follow his journey from there.

Britain had declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914 while Manipur was en route from England. The Germans attempted to encourage the Indians to revolt against British rule but in the event there was an unprecedented outpouring of loyalty and goodwill towards Britain. The story after the end of the war was somewhat different - and for good reason.

unloading
Cutting from the Calcutta Statesman 11 Sep 1914 [3]

Day No. 34: Friday 28 August 1914

After watching awhile the interesting unloading, this morning I strolled up to the Esplanade side of the Maidan & had a good look at the Dhurramtollah Mosque, corner of Dhurramtollah Street & Chowringhee. I had frequently passed it but had not observed it at close quarters. It is a Mohammedan mosque erected during the time Lord Auckland was governor (when that was don’t know) by one of the Native Princes.
unloading
Unloading a 16 ton girder from Manipur [1]
unloading
Unloading a 20 ton boiler from Manipur [1]
Dhuramtollah Mosque Dhuramtollah Mosque
Old postcard views of the Dhuramtollah Mosque in Calcutta [1]
I then treated myself to a gharry & drove from point to point passing at times through may of the Native Quarters, all a delight, dismissing my “carriage” when back in Chowringhee by Whiteaway Laidlaw & Co’s enormous store, to whose Tea Room I adjourned. A discovery I made a day or two ago. I have mentioned that Calcutta knows no cafes & so far as I know (with one exception, Pelitis) Whiteaways is the only place to obtain a cup of tea. No finer tea I ever have tasted & on enquiring as to where it comes from was informed “Darjeeling”. “If & when” I go there must certainly get some.

The afternoon was spent mainly in a little shopping & call at the “Royal” & Mr Quayle’s Office – who by the way has not yet reached India. He should have been here days before us. His Principles were interested to learn that I had seen him in England, & they, not having heard from him, are much concerned that he has been captured passing through Germany to Austria!! His return was booked by the Austrian Lloyd steamer Gablong from Trieste where he was journeying to join her just a day or so before war was declared.

I called in also at Messrs Martin’s Office (one of the leading firms here) to renew my acquaintance with Bertie Lindsay – for many years a colleague at No 1. North John Street. Had chaffed him over the telephone from the “Royal” that an old friend from England was calling – name not given - & he was of course completely mystified. We had quite a long chat & a smoke despite business hours! Oh! The free & easiness of Office life abroad for Europeans. Coats discarded, shirt sleeves the fashion everywhere, nearly all smoking & the cigarette box to hand on the table desk. Bertie clapped his hands, jabbered Hindustani to a responding “bearer” & in no time I had a refreshing cup of tea placed before me.

In all the offices I’ve been in – some half dozen by now – there is the same freedom. I do not wonder at it, all the compensations possible are required here both for the exile and the climate! In the late afternoon I went into the city again (‘tis but 10 minutes from Ship) to make a business call for the Captain & spent some time on the return watching through the railings of the garden surrounding one of the Government Buildings a wrestling bout between two Indians. Both small & slender built but what strength in their lithe limbs! It was astonishing how when one was caught at a disadvantage he would be completely thrown over the head of the other, or lifted off his feet & his body pressed to the ground in the endeavour to gain a point. Each always managed to wriggle away so that honours were easy when I came away. I should have much liked to have seen the finish. Some of the folk hereabouts are great wrestlers I believe.

Reaching the Strand Road, the road running parallel to the jetties & crowded out with buffalo carts straining & struggling along, I was hailed from a gharry. Mr. Chief Engineer. He was bound to Howrah Station the other side of the river, on route to Bally to spend the evening with his friend the Manager of the Bally Jute mill & wished me to drive with him as far as the station. Nothing loth I jumped in!

We journeyed over the Howrah bridge, spoken of as one of the most remarkable in the world. The Bridge forms a very wide roadway, a continuation of Harrison Road (the busiest street I should say in Calcutta). The making of this Bridge was a great engineering problem, as the quick sand bed of the River prohibited a permanent structure, so it is built on floating barges – a wonderful erection & cost but a few thousands short of a quarter of a million sterling. The Bridge is the only one across the River & it is claimed that the traffic over it is unequalled, a never ending stream of foot passengers & vehicles of every description passing in opposite directions each hour out of the 24, except on a few occasions per week when the Bridge Commissioners close it for a couple of hours at certain states of the tide to permit of the large steamers to pass through. At such times a section of the Bridge in the centre is towed away to make the passages.The innumerable smaller craft can pass under at all states of the tide.
Howrah Bridge
Postcard view of the old Howrah Bridge [1]

The Howrah Bridge referred to was the first to be built across the Hooghly River. Due to the nature of the ground it was decided to build a pontoon bridge with various parts constructed in England and shipped to Calcutta and assembled. The bridge was opened in 1874 and had a section that could be moved to allow the passage of ships. Although it was found overloaded early on, due to WW1 and WW2 it was not replaced by a cantilever bridge until 1943; the replacement is still operational.

Such continuous crowds of people jostling along and lines of carts & carriages hurrying over with their drivers incessantly shouting to clear the way I’ve never seen, and the Bridge is easily one of the sights in Calcutta. The Howrah railway station was another: but as I have already received an invitation to visit the Mills at Bally I leave mentioning this over, as I expect to be at the station again shortly & will deal with it then. Saw Mr. K safely off, and with some difficulty found the gharry (kept waiting for me the hour not being up!!) amongst the many scores of vehicles of sorts drawn up outside the station. Recrossing the bridge I had an excellent opportunity of seeing one of the Bathing Ghats at close quarters – there are many of these bathing places dotted up & down the River banks, though the bathing is not necessarily confined to the Ghats.
Bathing Ghat
Bathing Ghat on the Hooghly [1]
The few Mills we saw on the river banks when we were first arriving at Calcutta all had steps leading down from their green compounds to the river & people bathing. This bathing always seems to be going on amongst the poorest & the dirtiest in the “holy waters of the Ganges”, though I am afraid the manner of bathing doesn’t signify cleanliness but rather some ceremonial connected with their religion, merely a form, like their praying (in all sorts of public places & at all times) which I can’t think sincere or there would be a lot of sanctity indeed.

The River Ganges rises in the Himalayas and flows through both India and Bangladesh. The river has many tributaries but startes to split into a number of distributaries around Farakka where the Bhāgirathi-Hooghly, which goes on to become the Hooghly River leaves and flows through Calcutta. The main branch of the Ganges enters Bangladesh and takes the name Padma, eventually reaching the Bay of Bengal at the Ganges delta.

The river is sacred to Hindus and worshipped as the goddess Ganga in Hinduism. Cremations take place near the river banks and people bathe in the river for purification.



On the voyage out I had frequently promised my young friend the midshipman, Willy, that I would spend an evening with him at the “Seaman’s Institute”, so accordingly after dinner we “gharried” there – a pleasant two mile drive along that part of the Maidan fronting the river to Hastings. The Institute is in a very pleasant & open situation, almost in the country.

Hastings is a good class suburban district & bordering on the far side of the Maidan is a long way from the city. The Institute is well used by our mariners – from Officers to Apprentices – the later particularly being made so welcome, that the boys when they are able to leave their ships gladly flock & meet there night after night. A fine well stocked reading room & writing room, billiard room, a small bar, a gymnasium, draughts, chess, piano & the inevitable gramophone make a splendidly equipped club. In the large room concerts & “singsongs” are held from time to time, sometimes these being arranged by a ship’s company. They are always a success I hear. Whenever there are sufficient ships in port, and teams available, football matches are arranged for Saturday afternoons – the Institute has a ground lent to them for the purpose. This is a very popular event, winding up as it always does – with the teams being entertained to tea at the institute.
Hastings Moorings
Postcard showing Hastings moorings at Calcutta [1]
Seaman's Institute
Postcard showing the Calcutta Seaman's Institute [1]
Every Sunday afternoon there is an “Apprentices’ Tea” and there are few cadets on the steamers but what respond to this invitation! Small wonder the Mission is a success & doing such splendid work amongst the younger members of the Ships Company, for it is in the hands of a really “live” man. The Rev. C.A.J. Nibbs, the River Chaplain as he is styled, stands as a friend and a father to them. He is a general favourite with all “who go down to the sea in ships” as I had frequent opportunities of gauging. “Church” is the very last thing “pushed” at the Institute’s habituees & perhaps that is the reason why the Sunday evening service in the little “Queen Mary Chapel” there is so well attended.
Seaman's Institute
Photo entitled 'His Nibbs at the door' and presumably the Rev. Nibbs [1]


We had not been in but a few minutes before Mr Nibbs came across to be introduced. He gave me the warmest of welcomes & a cordial invitation to make full use of the Institute during my stay. I hoped to do so, as a change from being afloat, it is a little bit of home, a retreat! We had a long talk. We soon got on common ground. He had had a Curacy one time at Bootle, then a Manchester living, then he call to administer to Sailors came to him. The work greatly appealed as his father is a Navy Commander & all his brothers follow the sea, so he & his wife came out here for 5 years, which is just up but owing to the war difficulties of returning to England and of appointing a successor are prolonging their term. The ground floor of the building forms the Institute proper- the rooms above form the Parson’s House with a separate outside entrance.
Seaman's Mission
Calcutta Seaman's Mission [1]
Church Missionary Society
Sign outsite the Church Missionary Society Calcutta [1]
I had to go & be introduced to the “Memsahib” (Mrs Nibbs) & a very pleasant hour indeed I spent. I was shown all over the house; had to see Mrs Nibbs’ menagerie – a dog, a monkey, a parrot & other birds and a mongoose- and, speaking of these, reminds me that I was more interested in, when sitting in the drawing room, watching the lizards run about the walls! Several of them, & they are encouraged, for the keep the insects down- the flies, the ants, mosquitoes & cockroaches.

The ants are the demons – all table legs & meat safe legs stand in small pales of acid to circumvent the ants from reaching the food. They are everywhere in this climb indoors and out. I was taken to see the kitchen at the bottom of the garden. All Indian kitchens are detached & away from the house perhaps it is desirable if only to prevent the Mistress enquiring too closely into things! I heard a lot about Native Cooks & their ways. “Bawatchi” he is called in Hindustani. Instead of one fireplace as we know it (Kitchen I mean, there are no fireplaces in the houses) there are several let into a square table of brickwork, and each of these – quite tiny – are fed with charcoal & are lit just at cooking time.
The Bawatchi
Cartoon showing a Bawatchi - an Indian cook [1]
My attention was more particularly given to watching, creeping up the wall the largest cockroach of the many I’ve seen since landing in this wonderful country, & when it was killed with a dexterous tap it was left lying there, Mr Nibbs remarking “don’t bother to move it, there will be no trace of it my morning, the ants will see to that”! Oh this land of creepy crawly things! Conversation at one part of the time turned on the tornado of a few months ago and I was told that, despite the precautions taken, for they saw the storm coming, they had 96 panes of glass broken! I have unconsciously run to length regarding this evenings’ portion of my doings, but my enjoyment of the Institute and the extreme kindness of his Reverence & his wife must be my excuse for dilating somewhat.

Willy and I wound up our “night out” by sojourning to Castellazzo’s – a noted Italian confectioners in Chowringhee where we sat for a while on an outside balcony overlooking the maidan spending the time guzzling cakes & beating off the rummiest collection imaginable of flying insects attracted by the electric light & possibly the confectionery. Then to ship. Then to bed.

Day No. 35: Saturday 29 August 1914

The individual’s day in these climbs starts early on account of the coolness of the morning, so that by 7a.m. I was out on the racecourse, the far side of the maidan, with my good friend Mr. Morris. Today is Race day, a great event, for the native evidently is as keen on having his “bob” on as his English brother resident here. There were many people out watching the horses exercising, & probably trying to pick up the latest “tip”! English ladies out riding were frequently met with – 6 a.m. is a common time for them – but they have opportunities for resting later as owing to the “bite of the sun”, this fierce frizzling fiery sun, the generally remain indoors from 11 to 4p.m. when the direct heat tames somewhat.

A tramcar soon ran us back to the ship, just in time for breakfast, to find that our table was graced with a lady, a Norwegian. She is the representative of the Salvation Army & pays a breakfast call it seems each voyage & takes away with her all she can collect. She was very pleasant & vivacious & gave me an interesting account of their work; work done in the face of almost insurmountable difficulties and prejudices.

Had a good walk round the market this morning. Its proper name is the “Sir Stuart Hogg Market” but is spoken of by everybody as the “New Market”, possibly on account of its rebuilding (just now finishing the last corner) following a very disastrous fire. I remember reading about this in the English papers many months ago & little then did I think that I should see it! At the entrance the Visitor is assailed by Coolies who all clamour for the honour of attending on the Sahib or the Memsahib to follow them round & carry their purchases which are made at the various stalls. Instances, a lady will do all her housekeeping shopping here (taking the goods away with her, not the custom here to deliver them) buying, say, Butchers meat, groceries, vegetables, fish, fruit, flowers, & more likely than not, poultry – it being so cheap here, household sundries, cottons &c. &c.; & thus may visit a dozen or more stalls walking a considerable distance too in the process for the market covers a great area.

Naturally she cannot carry such multitudinous purchases around with her, so the coolie with his head basket is an institution; engaging him is not by any means a tax on the articles bought, as, when ultimately he deposits his load in his employer’s gharry he is rewarded according to by-law, so:-
10 minutes = 6 pie (half penny)
½ hour = 1 anna (1-penny)
1 hour = 2 annas (2 pence)

Is there anywhere where labour is so cheap and such super abundance of labour too! (the rate of pay for the collie working the ships – the dock labourer – is but 6 to 8 annas a day if I have not mentioned this before.) But as to the market itself. Here is colour if you like right at the entrance, at the fruit stalls. Such a luscious variety, then, passing on, arcade after arcade is traversed where, excepting a piano & an elephant, almost every conceivable article imaginable can be purchased. Novelties & curios; Indian silks; shantungs; lace of all kinds – a particular local variety called “chicon work” always being predominantly displayed; stacks upon stacks of sari (this is the dress of the native women - & men sometimes – one piece cotton garment with stamped pattern hem) & draperies; native household utensils; then cocoa – nuts, in their scrubbers and without; then on to the meat section, very extensive; poultry, fouls, ducks, pigeons either live or dead; then confectionery (pass on quick!) sweets & toffee (mainly English); tea & picture postcards; rice & grains and spices for curry making; then vegetables and fruit again, and it was here that I noticed text- like little labels of different wordings thanking God for the sweet fruit and pasted on each melon – a heaped stack of them – as an extra inducement evidently to buy them!!! Although I’ve got a label as a souvenir I did not buy the melon, I stole the label instead as I stood there!
Label
Label from melon [1]
Change being difficult to obtain, there are, at the entrances, money changing stalls, where, behind brass bars, stout Hindoos squat before little mounds of the various coins laid in rows (a very small charge is made, a pie or two, and these are twelve to the penny) and from all accounts it is here that the unwary are liable to be landed with spurious coin!

I might here state that the coinage of India is:-

Silver
Rupee - equivalent in our money to 1s 4d
½ Rupee - equivalent to 8d
¼ Rupee - equivalent to 4d
2 Anna piece - equivalent to 2d

Nickel
One Anna - equivelent on 1d

Copper
½ Anna - equivalent to half penny
¼ Anna (called pice) - equivalent to farthing
1/12 Anna (call pid) - equivalent to 12 for a penny

Then there is a “profusity” of paper money, 5, 10, 50, 100, Rupees & higher amounts still.

Accounts are kept in Rupees, Annas, Pie; R.A.P. the equivalent of out £. s. d.

The coins are all round except the Anna which is this shape and size:
Anna
Anna Coin [1]
I have been in the market every day but did not have a really good look round until this morning. I enjoyed it.

Just round the corner in Chowringhee is the Indian Museum and as I have been told not to miss this on any account I went in arriving simultaneously with the daily deluge. Just got to shelter in the nick of time & right glad I was. What a rain storm! One is tempted to say off-hand that museums are all alike, though this is different. It has a style of its own & the scheme of things is good. The exhibits are distinctly interesting. The room of antiquities, and, my word, very real antiquities! ; the section devoted to products of the Country with samples of native craft work drawn from all parts of India; & the room containing specimens of India’s myriad “crawlers” appealed to me most; for the rest, one’s examination was but of a cursory order.
Anna
The Calcutta Museum from a postcard [1]
I appeared to be the only European there at the time, the many others visiting being natives – family parties, evidently from the country or the villages for their delight and wonderment at seeing an electric lift going up & down was great. The native is very child-like in his pleasures & they waited in crowds to descend to the next floor per lift for the sake of the experience – each journey made amidst screams of laughter. Small matter to record probably, but I mentioned it as it amused me so. ‘Twas funny. The museum is very extensive & makes a fine addition to that street of fine buildings, Chowringhee.

During the afternoon I went out to the suburbs & paid a visit to the Zoological Gardens, one of the recognised sights, & the Sunday Evening resort of English Society when the Military Band plays, the native being shut out then by virtue of the increased price of admission – one rupee. When I left the Tram I skirted the Race-Course for about half a mile. The races were in full swing & such a gathering of conveyances outside was a wonder – they were an outstanding collection both by their numbers & their variety. Another half mile up a well shaded lane with a stop to look at the dinghys and barges on “Tolley’s Nullah”, a creek tributary of the Hooghly, as I crossed over brought me to the Gardens entrance at Alipur (pronounced Ally-poor). I spent a very enjoyable two hours; plenty of interest, the grounds are beautiful & there is a splendid collection of animals. A note over the tiger cage – a man eater – claimed that this beauty had had two hundred victims.
Zoo
The Calcutta Zoological Gardens from a postcard [1]
Zoo Zoo
Local people at the Calcutta Zoological Gardens [1]
The Zoo is well in the suburbs, quite country in fact, so that when I left there it was an opportunity not to miss to go back to Calcutta through some of the villages & see the home quarters proper of the natives. Next to the Zoological Gardens is Belvedere House standing in very extensive grounds; I just went inside the gateway & stood on the lawn to size it all up. Splendid! Belvedere was the Residence of the Lieutenant – governor of Bengal but, as I have explained in the notes of a previous day, His Excellency now resides at government House.
Belvedere House
Belvedere House from an old postcard [1]
Farther along I passed the Maharajah of Cooch Behar’s House a fine place – and, later on, another fine Mansion, Hastings House. This was the Country seat of Warren Hastings when he was Governor General of the Fort here (Fort William) in 1774. There are other interesting associations, for it was just hereabouts that Thackeray the Novelist lived when a child. I passed the house in which he lived at Alipur, the thoroughfare is called Thackeray Road. He was born in Calcutta.
Hastings House
Hastings House from an old postcard [1]
Before I ultimately struck the trams on the Kalighat to Calcutta route my wanderings had taken me through many side lanes, & villages, with odd collections of native houses – if such they can be called, for in the main they are the most miserable of structures. Shed-like huts, generally roofed with bamboo thatch, the walls either of bamboo lattice work with cloth (sometimes) hung inside, or hard baked mud – only very occasionally are bricks used for these dwellings & then only for a foundation. In front of all these wretched shacks there invariably runs an open dirty drain. Somewhere on every hut cakes of cow dung are plastered to dry in the sun when it is used as fuel.
Coolies Shed
Postcard depicting 'Coolies sheds' in Calcutta [1]
It is almost incredible that human beings live their whole life in such rude dwellings, the most pitiable of shelters, and as for internal comforts so far as I could see there were none (only sometimes a trestle bed – the native as a rule sleeps on the earthen floor - & a few cooking dishes) & owing to the extreme poverty the great majority of the natives of this India with all its wealth live under such conditions. Fortunate indeed for them that they require such a trifling wardrobe & can exist, as they do, on such little rice and grain.

How these terrible Indian famines must polish the people off. Seeing all this, & stopping to think, who dares to state that England in India hasn’t got a colossal undertaking on hand. There can be no question but that we are there for the good of the people & though the difficulties of the work must be great yet we are successfully, even though slowly, accomplishing it.
Native Dwellings Native Dwellings
Photos showing a family group and a girl going for water [1]
But, reverting to the poor condition of the Native. Possibly the coolies in the particular suburbs I was in this afternoon are better off than most, as work is very plentiful in Calcutta. At any rate the demeanour of all the peoples I met did not betoken misery & its companions, there was no sullenness or dispiritedness but a happy manner throughout.

I took many photographs, the native children all seemed pleased that I was doing so & would pose splendidly, but the attention of the natives crowding round one & all jabbering at once were oftentimes embarrassing. At one place a coolie followed me “take photo baby sahib”? While waiting a moment for him (he didn’t come back) I marshalled some boys in a row, and in an unguarded moment gave them some pice for their trouble. What a scene! How others crowded round me for their share! all fighting to get near me, holding their hands out, laughing & shouting “boxes”, “boxes”, “boxes”, (a corruption of “backsheesh”). The Village was “up” & I had to beat a very ignominious retreat. I elbowed my way through the mass of brown bodies & “hopped it”, outpacing my persistent bodyguard as they pursued me to the tram at the end of the road, one most fortunately coming along just in time. It would have made a capital cinematograph picture!!
Village Scene Native Dwellings
Photos of a mother and children in a local village [1]
At almost every collection of few huts, and in-between places besides, there is a large pond spoken of as the “tank”. These are very frequent & form the wash place common to all, children or women are busy there washing the brass bowls, which shine like burnished gold after rubbing with the mud, or the earthenware “chatties”; the tanks are used for bathing (they are good sized lakes you know) and the native washerman, the laundryman, the “dhobie” as he is called, is struggling through piles of weekly wash.

There is more strong language used over this individual than anyone else on earth I should think, to all of which he is bland & imperturbable, and after seeing their performance I can well believe all the stories I’ve heard of the treatment of clothes, returned with heart breaking regularity minus buttons & always holes & rents. The only consolation is that washing is cheap, very cheap. I had a pile of laundry back this morning & my experience is the same as others; references to the dhobie & his ways have been made to me by every person I’ve met. No soap is used, the clothes are soused in the lake, rubbed in the mud, slapped & slapped again on rocks & stones! , rinsed through, then laid out & the sun does the rest in no time. The washing is done. Oh yes, the dhobie-wallah is an institution without a doubt.
Huts
Photo showing 'Huts by the village "tank" [1]
Dhobies
Old postcard showing 'Dhobies' - Indian Washermen [1]
I ought to mention that today I definitely decided that I would not go to Darjeeling. My going there has been under great consideration but owing to the rains still keeping on, & Darjeeling is getting a tremendous shore tide the daily rain returns in the Morning Papers, the prospect of living in clouds for an undue proportion of the time at an altitude of nearly 8,000 feet does not appeal. I have discussed it with everybody, some say “chance it” – the majority are against it, & talking it over with Mr. Steenstrand when at the “Royal” this morning I told him I had decided not to go – he thought it a wise decision – but that I had settled on Puri – he thought that a very wise decision & called Meadows in the discuss it, he having been there. Puri is on the coast, the house of the famous Juggernaut Car, & I reckon there to see something of the India of the story books. All being well, I go there on Wednesday night next – 17 hours journey.

The author never made it to Darjeeling but collected various postcards of the place and these are reproducted on the Additional Images page HERE.

Day No. 36: Sunday 30 August 1914

The arrangements made for me today was that I was to have a Motor run into the Country with Mr. Steenstrand, returning to his chambers for breakfast. Sunday morning breakfast in Calcutta by the way is at 12.30 – this is common to all the Europeans I believe. Accordingly Steenstrand Sahib arrived with the Royal Insurance Co’s Motor Car at the ship at 9 a.m. to take me the promised trip. After Captain W.O.T. had hospitably entertained Mr. S. & suitably toasted this land of chronic thirst (!) we set out.

The drive to the outskirts of the City was made interesting by passing through many of the native bazaars. What traffic & what multitudes of people everywhere! Sunday in Calcutta, so far as the Native is concerned, is the same as any other day in the week. Except amongst Europeans everyday life and work goes on, the native knows not Sunday as different.

We were bound for Barrackpore & soon reached the Grand Trunk Road. This is something like a road, very wide & straight, & runs for over 1,000 miles to Delhi & Bombay. The road is lined with monster trees planted for the purpose of protecting marching troops from the sun, the road originally being a military one. The branches of these lofty trees from each side met and mingled overhead, it was a vault of foliage, and, ahead, always looked like an arch of trees that we never caught up to. Something like an avenue!

Ample opportunities offered to see the rice or paddy (the greenest of greens) growing in the swamps; & jute as well, this very tall. Many parts of the Country passed were uncultivated – virgin forest, jungle, even at side of roadway. On the way we passed Barrackpore Park containing a fine Mansion which until recently was the Viceroy’s Country residence. There is not much I think to see at Barrackpore, but one thing of interest in connection with it is that the Indian Mutiny first broke out here.

Time did not permit of exploring the place – we merely adjourned to an hotel (of sorts) and, after our arduous morning (!) suitably refreshed ourselves, sitting under the verandah bordering on the garden & obtaining a nice draught caused by the wafting of bamboo fans. This was the first punkah I has seen working, as in Calcutta electric fans have displaced this old time system of freshening the air. The poor old “punkah–wallah” who squatted on the edge of the verandah mechanically pulled up & down the cord which moved the hanging fans to & fro. Squeak, squeak, squeak! Once he stopped, & he was at once yapped at, & the poor old devil started again. The monotony of it for him, expected, as he is, to go on for hours!

Half past midday saw us back in Calcutta & duly seated round the Steenstrand table for this peculiar feature, mid-day breakfast. It was a semi-dinner really; several Indian dishes on the menu, prepared, as I took it, on my account as such were under discussion when I was here few days ago. An after-meal smoke on the high-up verandah overlooking the City, & waiting for the rain to cease - a flood of floods this time – when I left, as Sunday afternoon is a recognised siesta time so I adjourned to the ship to do likewise.

Another fierce cloud burst in the evening prevented my going to the Cathedral & brought a disappointment for it may not be opportune again before we sail. However, when the rain was over, Mr. Engineer Matthews & I still of the opinion that we were in need of spiritual comfort found we could get to the Seaman’s Mission in time for service so we hied us to a gharry.

Just outside the jetty Mr. Matthews stepped on a gutter grid which collapsed, he slipping down a drain nearly thigh deep & lay in the thick mud. He was much shaken but not seriously hurt. A clean white suit for the occasion too! He was a hero, for he went to Church notwithstanding that he was a striking study in black & white! The service was enjoyable &, when over, some thirty of the congregation adjourned to the Reading Room & smoked to their hearts content & partook of the Mission’s hospitality to the tune of lemonade or pop.

Conversation was brisk & many stories were told, but the Lay Reader (a worthy gentleman) related an experience which interested me most. This, by the way, was not a “story”! Reaching his home two nights ago in the late evening & standing on the step for a moment something unusual caught his eye round the door verandah. A snake! & when killed with his cane measured just short of 6 feet. And this mind you bordering on a big city. Oh! Who wouldn’t call this a delightfully ideal land for a residence?

A late drive back to the ship along the Maidan in the refreshing cool of the night was a delight.