Monday, January 04, 2016

1976 Roberta's India Letter -Jan.8

January 8, 1976
Dear Family,

I have alot to catch you up on and just a little time – but I'll try my best.  1st of all all met the nicest Indian couple (about 35-40 years old) on the train from Hyderabad to Bangalore.  It was kinda funny because as I had written to you – the Meth. gave me a big thing of flowers to wear around my neck.  Anyway they thought at 1st I was someone very important or high up – because of the flowers.

We were in the same compartment and talked all the way from Hyderabad to Bangalore – except for getting a short nights sleep.  We made plans to meet in Bangalore and do some things.  When I (WE) got to Bangalore I called up the Meth. woman to find out about where I would stay.  She said that the school was on holiday and that everyone was gone – she was leaving that day but it had been arranged for me to have a room there.  When the Shahs found this out (they waited at the station to help me) they insisted I come to their house.  So I called the Meth. woman back up & told her that I had decided to stay in town.

The Shahs have only lived in Bangalore 5 months – are from Hyderabad.  He is in the cloth business – wholesale & they are members of the Jain religion – very religious.  Don't believe in killing anything – even have a special thing they wipe off the ground w/ before sitting down (inside the house) so as not to kill ants!  They are complete vegetarians – no eggs, fish, etc!

Since I've been here I've been learning how to cook a few Indian dishes – like vegetables, & different types of bread.  But every meal you can count on RICE – sometimes plain white rice, sometimes fried rice w/ vegetables in it, etc.

We've been very busy this week – one day we went to Nandi Hills – a small hill resort about 40 miles from here.  Went by bus early morning & back the same day.  Took 2 hours to get there and almost 3 hours getting back.  Travel – and again I repeat is – SLOW in India.  Sunday as I wrote we all went Mysore.  They have a 20-year-old adopted son who came w/ us to Mysore.

Also I've done some shopping here – went to the wholesale district and bought some rings – also material for P.J.'s – and got 2 shawls, etc.

OH – I'm learning to wear a saree – the 1st problem was finding one LONG enough – finally we found a cotton one – orange & brown print – then had a brown blouse made – later also found a blue & red print saree and got a blue blouse made for it.  Vizay (Mrs. Shah) had the blouse pieces – cost me 7 rupees to have the 2 blouses made.  The one thing that bothers me is that it is Indian custom for women to wear the blouses very tight!  After having one on you can see red marks on the skin.

I'm getting pretty good at wearing a saree – have one on all week – sometimes when I walk I step on it which causes a little problem.  I got the sarees wholesale so that helped alot on the prices – paid about $4 for each!

I'm getting a box ready to send home – but don't expect it any too soon – as I'm sending it via ship – so I might make it home before it does.  By ship it costs 13 Rupees per kilogram – which is about 2.5 pounds.  I'm sending some things for all of you – so do open it up when it comes – as the time gets closer I'll fill you in on more details.

We are now in a park – Bangalore is full of beautiful parks.  We're (Vizay and myself) are waiting on Vigee (Mr. Shah) – we've packed a lunch.  After lunch plan to go boating.  This morning saw another Hindi movie – Vizay loves the movies – and for 2 or 3 Rupees it is pretty cheap entertainment.  Their movies are full of music – scenery is always good – Also alot of customs etc. can be seen in the movies.

The movies are a favorite past-time of the Indian people.  One thing – only in Delhi, Calcutta, Bombay & Madras is there T.V.  I was told in Hyderabad that they will get it next but probably not until 1978!

After the movie stopped at the post office to get stamps – wrote Ruth Shoemaker & G'ma and to my surprise the rates for foreign letters all went up as of January 1st!  The worst part about it was that in Hyderabad I wrote a few letters & card and posted them using the old rates!  I did mail you all a letter from there but mailed them back registered.  –– Just remembered that I sent you all plus some other post cards just a day after arriving in Bangalore.  Doubt if you will get it ––

Rates went up to 1.60 Air-ogram; 1.40 postcards, and 2.80 for letter to Ruth.  This increase means an increase in my expenses!

I've had some funny experiences since I've been at the Shahs house – for 1 thing I realized that my toothpaste was being used up fast – I hated to say anything but finally I asked them if they liked it – cam to find out one of the servants had been putting it on her face!  They have 2 full time servants & 1 part-time.  For an Indian couple they are well off – esp. since they only had 1 child – who is now old enough to work.  He works in a cloth store.

I did not tell you in the post card but on Sunday on the way back from Mysore we stopped to eat.  When getting ready to cross the road my right lens of my glasses decides to fall out.  And along comes a auto rickshaw & crushes it.  The whole thing happened so fast!  So on Monday I went to the glass & frame place w/ Mr. Shah.  Was glad he was there as they 1 st said 68 Rupees – he knew that was too much – finally settled for 45 Rupees – Have to HAGGLE every time!!

I didn't get eyes tested  but they got the prescription from my sun glasses.  I wanted to get the old ones (that I lost lens) fixed but they had no luck getting a glass to fit it.  I was sure glad for my sunglasses as it took 2 days to get new glasses.  Got them yesterday – they seem very good – no problems!

Tuesday we had a funny experience – went to the Ashoka Hotel – 5 star hotel in Bangalore.  Paid 5 Rupees each to swim.  There were lots of foreigners all around the pool but pool was empty – after jumping in we found out WHY – the pool was icy COLD!  I was in the water 5 minutes, took a hot shower & got dressed.  I'm glad I didn't check in the Ashoka hotel for purpose of swimming as single rooms there are 115 Rupees – about $14 a night.  To live in luxury here it takes lots of $ –

Tomorrow Vizay and I are going by bus to Ottachmand [Ottapalam?] – will probably be there 2 days then I'll go on to Cochin [Kochi] from there & she will come back to Bangalore.  It is supposed to be one of the best hill stations in the South.

As for mail just send to Bombay – I keep in touch with them so feel that is the best.

Have been at "home" now for last page – enjoyed boating.  Luckily we got a row boat for 6 people so we got to share the job of rowing.

My pants seem to be getting tight.  In Bombay I thought I would enjoy the good food & then diet on my tour of the South – then in Hyderabad the Methodists fed me like there was no tomorrow.  Now in Bangalore I'm eating like a queen!  They always say that everything has my name on it!  They love the sweet taste – sugar goes on & in everything – carrots, tomatoes, – in milk – you name it!

I hate to leave Bangalore – the Shahs have almost got me convinced to sop here for a few days again between Madras & Bombay.

I've been in India now 2 months – I've got to reach Madras by Feb. 13th in order to get an extension on my visa.  I should have done it in Bombay . . . .

Bangalore is suppose to have the best climate in India.  In winter its not too cold – in summer not too hot.  Nandi Hills was cool and Otty is suppose to be cold too!

I guess the house must be quiet once more – w/ John & Serena back in school.  Or I guess Serena is off for the whole month!

Every where I go people give me addresses of people to call in the places I'm going when I left Bombay I had addresses galore from Banerjee & Jhang...  Now the same is true as I leave Bangalore.  Also when I left Hyderabad . . . .  If I do have trouble they might come in handy –

Think of you all often & trust every one is doing fine.  I wish I could send you all a LONG tape to fill you in on all the details of my everyday life. I think the Astrologer was right when he said I would hate to leave India.

Saw jacks today in a store – were plastic – 2 Rupees – no ball.  Say hello to ladies at the shop – Must close – past midnight –

Love, Roberta

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