14 The Mall
Dear Alex and Jean
We have now been here
long enough to be able to tell you a little more about the way we live. Like an Inspector of Schools, it seems I
shall go on tour quite a lot. As my
district spreads from here as far east as Assam, some of these will last
about a month. The other day a bundle
of requisitions for my services came from six stations scattered all over
Bengal – many of them very difficult to get at. So I am going to try to postpone this tour
till April, when the patients may have moved off to the hill stations such as
Darjeeling and Shillong. Tess and Sylvia Ann will then be able to
come along with me and we will make a holiday of it as well. I have already done a three days’ tour to
Allahabad and Benares – 200 miles from here – motoring as usual. My patients are mostly British troop wives
children, and officers and their families, though I am responsible for
Indians too. At
On shorter day tours – to places up to 80 miles or so from here – such as Cawnpore – the whole family – self, Tess, baby and ayah – set out by car after an early breakfast and arrive at the Military Hospital sometime in the middle of the forenoon. I leave Tess and baby at the bungalow of one of the doctors of the hospital – with his wife and probably one or two children – improvise my eye-testing department on the hospital verandah and work till lunchtime, when we all foregather to the aforementioned bungalow to a small luncheon party to which probably the Chief of the hospital and his wife have been invited. Between three and four in the afternoon we set out for home. This makes a very pleasant day.
Weather is still lovely
– we sleep without mosquito-nets and have tea in the garden every day,
breakfast on the verandah. But fires
are no longer necessary and in another two months, I suppose, Lucknow will be like an oven. Rains and a moisture-laiden
stifling atmosphere come in August and September so we are busy planning our
hot-weather programme – the exodus to the hills as
it is called. Chaubatia,
7,000 feet high on the Himalayas is the nearest place from here. You will not find it on the map : but it is almost due north of
April - all go on tour to Shillong and Darjeeling plus a few days leave.
May - Take Tess and Baby to Chaubattia and stay for a few days.
June - Go to hills near Chaubatia on duty for two weeks and take ten days leave.
July - Stay in Lucknow.
Aug-Sept - Take two months leave.
We hope it will work out something like that.
There would seem to be a good deal of scope for private practice here, but our bungalow, being in the heart of the Cantonment – where everyone around is entitled to free treatment from me – is badly situated as far as that goes. However, I have had two private Indian patients in my first month here. The Ford V8 continues to do well – to show what distances are here: since getting it three months ago we have done about 5,000 miles. Both Tess and I heartily support the insidious propaganda for the supercession of ‘Sweet Afton’ who has by now served her master well and deserves retirement.
Have you examined the ‘Go-by-sea-and-return-by-air’ time tables for visits to India? You must save up for that: if you get eight weeks holidays in the summer, you could have a full five in India, and we’d arrange to take leave and meet you in Kashmir – the Switzerland of India. One lives inexpensively on a houseboat, I believe, and punts one’s way downstream to Srinagar. You may not manage it for a year or so, but it would be well worth your while.
We, by the way, are talking of a scamper home by some such method in summer 1937 – by saving the expense of a hills establishment, dispensing with our army of servants who must be paid and clothed – they cost £13 or £14 a month – and asking our relatives to feed and shelter us when in Scotland we may just be able to do it. Now that will set you a problem as to where you will put us up?
Sylvia Ann has now reached the gravy-cum-mashed-carrot-and-cabbage-followed-by-custard-pudding stage. She also delights in a stick of barley-sugar and gets into such a sticky mess during the consumption of this that she might be re-christened “Slavery Ann”.
Tess received Jean’s letter and sends her love. We also enjoyed the wedding cake, which the post-man we are glad to say hadn’t eaten.