Tuesday, December 29, 2015

1975 Roberta's India Letter -Dec.31

Dec. 31, 1975
Dear Family,

Hi!  I'm in Hyderabad and I like the beginning of the South – though it's a good thing no-one asked me at 5:20 AM Monday when I arrived here!

1st of all I was sound asleep on the train & the conductor shakes me and tells me we are in Hyderabad!  I quickly gathered up my things and found the train station a small scale of the station in Calcutta.  I walked out of the station & got bombarded by taxi drivers, rickshaw drivers, beggars, etc.  I finally got in a rickshaw & asked for hotel Taj Mahal – well to make a long story short it was full and so were the next 5 I checked out.  I got a phone finally & called 4 more places.  The last one had a double room empty for 14 Rupees.  So I went there – getting there about 7:00 AM!  It was dirty, bugs on the floor & bed (on the floor I can tolerate but not on the bed) and the bathroom down the hall had Eastern style plumbing and smelled like a bathroom just walking past it.

There were no locks on the doors – but I took the room in desperation against my better judgement!  Not wishing to face the room again just yet I went out to have some breakfast.  I found a small restaurant nearby & sat down to eat.  A table of 3 men (about 60 & older) asked me to join them.  I did & found them all to be retired gov't officials.  One of them – Mr. Magda invited me over to meet his family & have tea – he has 3 daughters here – 1 in last year (intern) of Medical school & 2 still studying in college – both in pre-med.  I made plans to meet him at 5:00 – having the day to hopefully find another place & get tour arranged, etc.  I walked to the tourist office & made my reservations for yesterday.  The tours that the gov't have are excellent & very reasonable.  They cover all the main points & give good background etc.  Yesterdays tour (more details later) was from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM & cost 10 Rupees – about $1.25

The man at the tourist office gave me some more names of hotels to check out.  I walked past the Ritz (at $12.00/night) & was considering it.  The reason for the hotel problems is that right now in Hyderabad there is a sporting tournament going on – that over 100 schools are taking part in.  The town is full of people in gym-suits!

So I was on my way to check out 1 more hotel & walked past a BIG school that had in big letters METHODIST on it.  I walked inside & was put in touch w/ the head master. (an Indian) I asked him about possible hotel ideas & he told me to go & see the Meth. Bishop – he sent me there by car.  The Bishop greeted me w/ open arms & got me some tea & snacks.  I asked him about a hotel & he said that the Meth. Guest House had 1 empty room – till Wed. and by Wednesday he would work something else out for me.  (I have reservations to go to Bangalore on Friday.)

Even though I had paid the 14 Rupees I didn't mind the idea of going to get my things & moving in to the Meth. Guest House that day.  The Bishop insisted I do it when he heard where I had checked into in desperation.

So the driver took me there – I got my things & went to the Guest house.  So I never had to sleep w/ the bugs or use the bathroom there!  The Guest House had about 20 rooms – mostly occupied by Meth. (Indians) & some retired missionaries from the states.  It was very nice – well located & very clean!

I stayed there till this morning when I got moved (by driver) to Hotel Emerald – a very luxurious hotel – at 35 Rupees I have a BIG room, telephone, 4 channel radio, fan and a private bath w? a sit down toilet and HOT & cold water!  This is living!  It is very well located & about a block from Meth. school & 3 blocks from Bishops house.  Just 1 block of of "main street" in town.

The Methodists (Indians) have been so nice to me – I've had all my meals w/ them – except for yesterday lunch when I was on the tour.  Tomorrow night I'm invited to the head masters home for dinner – guess he is having a number of people in.  The Bishop (Indian) has had me for 2 meals & the rest I've had at the Guest house – there is a cook & 2 servants there.  I paid 10 Rupees a night there & the Bishop told me if I couldn't afford to pay that was OK – this morning before I left I tried to give $ toward the food but they (at the guest house) wouldn't hear of it.

Back to Mr. Magda – I met him as planned on Monday p.m. – his family – all who spoke excellent English was very nice.  He had invited me for tea – which turned out to be 2 pieces of chicken, rolls, sweets, bananas, oranges & tea.  Mr. Magda also has a son in Toronto & a daughter in Texas – both doctors!  Mr. & Mrs. Magda hope to come to the U.S. next summer.  They walked me back to the guest house & I had told them I would eat supper – which is served at 9:00 pm – but even by then I wasn't any too hungry!

Tonight I am going to a Hindi movie w/ the Magda daughters and then to have supper w/ them.  Tomorrow I'm to eat w/ the schools head master.  (Oh – I'm repeating myself!)

This morning at 10:00 I had made plans to see the school – when I got there they gave me a wreath of flowers to put around my neck welcoming me to India.  I took some pictures of the school – it has 3,800 students – also had a picture of me & alot of the staff taken.  I hope it turns out so you see the flowers!

While I was at the school the Bishop called & he has made arrangements for me to stay in Bangalore at the Baldwin Girls School – I imagine it is Methodist.  He apologized for making me move out into the hotel & wanted to know if I could afford the 35 Rupees a day charge.  There is a Meth. conference starting her tomorrow or I could have stayed at the guest house or w/ one of them – but because of the conference they had taken in all they could handle.  But I'm fine here ––– I forgot to mention there is also a run on the floor!  I've got to admit – I'm enjoying the luxuries!

The tour yesterday was good – but I made a mistake for wearing my sandals.  The Golconda Fort had 370 steps in each direction – and when you refer to steps in India you aren't talking about nice even steps!  Also there was alot of walking around the tombs!   We went to the Mecca Musjid [?] – which is one of the biggest mosque in Asia – can hold 10,000 people!  Spent 2 hours at the Salar Jung Museum – and I can say wasn't bored!  The museum has 40 rooms & the Childrens rooms were by far the most interesting!  Also visited the zoo & Chan Minar [?] – I held back from buying any bangles (bracelets) but there were literally thousand of them!

I wrote G'ma an air-ogram this morning.  I really have had very little time for writing.  I hope you send this letter on down to them.

From Bangalore I plan to go to Mysore City then to Ootocamund [?] – a hill station.  When the British were here they 'developed' the hill stations because they couldn't take the heat!

I plan to spend about 2 months at the most in the South – being back in Bombay by the end of February at the latest.  I hated to leave Bombay but I knew I wanted to see the South & had to allow myself enough time.  Before I left they made sure all my clothes were clean, that I have telephone #'s of people in the South to call should I have trouble & packed me both a lunch & supper for the train trip.

When I got on the train they made it a point to find someone who spoke English & told them to look after me.  2nd class is such an experience – an American – especially when it's one travelling alone who is a young female is the center of attention!  It's a weird feeling to look up & realize everyone is looking at you!

I'm going to close before I start another page – hoping all is well with everyone.  I'm starting the new year tomorrow in good health & good spirits –

Love, Berta

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