By Michael Foss
Born in India in 1937, Michael Foss's formative years used to be spent among the chilly, gray austerity of england lower than possibility, and the brightly lit and teeming power of wartime India. the following, superbly evoked, is a youth spent among grudging and unloving English family members; a sufferance of cruelly harsh education, a bleak, dank panorama; and a feeling of everlasting chilly and a savage starvation even for dreadful nutrition.
All of this was once without notice replaced for the sub-continent's jumble of conflicting points of interest and sounds and scents: the very important, stinking, scorching, noisy, crowded streets; the calm, quiet grace of moghul structure; the traditional Hindu kingdoms diminished to stones amid the roots of bushes; the enormous Victorian constructions that echoed British energy; the attitudes of the Raj; the self-conscious majesty and pomp. The British, the writer notes, lived on yet no longer in India.
"Our principles for dwelling weren't their rules," he writes during this wry, affectionate mirrored image on a youth spent among continents, civilizations, types of historical past.
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Extra resources for Out of India: A Raj Childhood
They said they had lost their way and didn't know what to do. I told them I would happily act as their guide, and give them some food when we came to my Station on top of Snowdon, but could I please have some of their sandwiches then and there. It turned out they were all undergraduates from my College, Trinity, very young as students were during the war, including one very bright looking one, J. C. Sheperdson, who in all his younger days (and I saw much more of him later) always looked inevitably two years younger than he was, being slight and slim.
But of course this took him a long time, and those who were in Canada were certainly not at the top of his list of priorities. S. Immigration also had to be satisfied. By the regulations then current a person coming from other continents could not enter the United States from a contiguous country (this meant Canada and Mexico) unless he had paid his fare to those countries. S. visa, my immigration was denied. It is difficult to express my feelings on this. On the one hand I was really very set on my future in England, on the other, freedom beckoned across a border a few miles away, and I was getting a bit tired of being behind barbed wire after eight months or so.
Under Tommy's guidance we organized our lives well. We got a cleaning lady to "do" for us, who cycled over from the next village of Cranleigh; of course she arrived after we had left, and left before we had come back, so communication was entirely written. But she very much realized what we needed in the way of cleaning and washing and clearing up the house, and was most helpful. Indeed the whole village was rather sorry for these two young men who had to manage for themselves, and this attitude had considerable advantages for us.
Out of India: A Raj Childhood by Michael Foss