Thursday, February 18, 2016

1976 Roberta's India Letter -Feb.19

February 19, 1976
Dear Family,

Hi – again – Mr. Mehta is mailing letter to Panna today & wanted to know if I would like to include anything so thought good chance to send you more details of my trip to Madras especially.  As we went into Ceylon (29th Jan) we had to declare $ on form – then as you exchange $ the banks would make a note of it on the same form.  Well – somehow I miscalculated and figured I had $100 more than what I actually had. (The reason for this being that I had left $100 in Bombay – Anyway – the black market in Ceylon is very bad – and when I went through customs & I could not account for changing the $100 over – they (the customs people) really got excited.  !st I got pretty upset but then I just told them I had left $100 in Bombay & had figured that I had that $ w/ me – then everything was A-ok.  Alot of people smuggle in gems from Ceylon.  The man ahead of us looked very nervous – but he got through ok – then I went to use the telephone & Mary found an envelope of small brown stones he dropped.  We don't know if they are worth anything – 1st we divided them – then I just let her have all of them because I'm not that mad about such things.

I'm just now beginning to get caught up on my sleep – after the nights I spent on the trains.  My 1st night here – right across the street there was a wedding at 12:00 midnight.  Then last night was the reception – We had a good view – as the Mehtas have a big terrace – also they are on the 5th floor – (I'm glad they take afternoon naps here.)

Ceylon was a nice country but it has the poverty – I had heard what a rich country it was – I'm sure that is true for those who have the gem mines – but not for the average person there.

All over India – especially in the cities – there are bill board signs w/ sayings on them.  Someday I'll have to write them down – but some of them are "HARD WORK IS THE ONLY SOLUTION" – DISCIPLINE IS THE NEED OF THE HOUR" – "WORK MORE, TALK LESS" – "EVERYONE MAKES THE CHOICE – ORDER OR CHAOS" – "HELP PROVE WE ARE A NATION ON THE MOVE."  And in Bombay you see the signs – "GIVE TO ONE BEGGAR, AND YOU CREATE TEN MORE."  Which is true –

The Mehtas are pure vegetarian so have had some really delicious vegetable dishes here – I especially like the eggplant.  They make their own butter, curd, buttermilk & cheese – need I say how good it all is!  The Mehtas also belong to the Jain religion – I have uttermost respect for the Jain people I have met.

Mr. Mehta ready to do – so I'll finish for now –

Love, Berta

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