14 The Mall








Dear Alex


I have had several letters from you.  I think, for which many thanks.  I have just returned from a 3,000 mile tour to Calcutta and Shillong (Assam Hills) lasting 10 days.  On account of the expense it was a solo trip this time, and Tess and Sylvia Ann had unfortunately to be left at home.


I set off one day after lunch by train for Calcutta, arriving next morning early, and saw patients at The British Military Hospital then that morning.  After lunch with one of the doctors and his wife, I went on by suburban train to Borrackpore, and stayed a couple of nights with the Black Watch Chaplain and his wife – Mathieson is his name.  We knew him in Lucknow.  He hails from Caithness and was at “Varsity (Edinburgh) about your time.  He remembers you slightly in interdebates with the Caithness Society.  Here I again saw patients at the hospital and had tennis and a dinner party to which we all went at the doctors.  Before dinner we sat out on the lawn which gave on to the Hoogly river, up which nature craft continually passed.


The next part of the journey – to Shillong – I think I described on the last occasion.  Leaving one day at noon and reaching what seems the edge of India – the Bramaputra River – early next morning; crosses in a barge on which one breakfasts; then ascend 5,000 feet up a 67 mile road to Shillong.  Shillong resembles Scotland in many ways – pines and firs, wooded low hills on the plateau, a good golf course, colourful red roads against the all pervading green.  The climate was perfect, too, max 62º min 42º, so that one crouched round big fires at night and could bask in the warm sunshine by day.  Going out to dinner at the Civil Surgeon’s that evening I wore my overcoat for the first time since coming to India.  Indeed the variations in temperature had been a problem on the journey.  In Lucknow we are in heavy suits, but in Calcutta I had to hasten back into silk, and in Shilling underclothing and coat.  I had two days at the hospital in Shilling and then did the return journey: 48 hours by road, boat and rail, and wasn’t I just glad to be back!









I wondered if Sylvia Ann would remember me.  When she saw me her eyes got bigger and bigger and still bigger, and she stared as if racking her brain to “fix” where she had seen me before; then made a dive into my arms and said “Dadd-ie””.  We are teaching her to say “Auntie” satisfactorily but she has not yet mastered “Nuncle” or “Ganpa”.  I enclose a snap of her taken at about 16 months.  Her latest feat is dipping her fingers into a finger-bowl at lunch, wiping her mouth with her fingers, then finally mopping it with a table napkin: although of course once begun she wants to carry on doing this indefinitely.


I enclose also an advert for a cinema film we recently went to in Lucknow, as being an example of “English as she is spoke”.  It is a very good one, and you may pass it on to Dad or anyone else who would appreciate it.  It gives a new division of social classes.


By the way, we should miss the “Listener” very much if you stopped it: it does keep us in touch with house affairs and is next best to listening in direct.  I shall also only be out of India about four weeks next year (if I get out at all!) so that does not really matter.  So if you would like to renew it, I can assure you we would appreciate it very much.  It is quite a weekly event with us and there is always a scramble for it.


Did you do any photography this summer?  I am going to try some interiors of the bungalow one of these days.


With love from all to both,