Friday, March 11, 2016

From ‘Destination India. From London overland and to India’ by Lloyd L Rudolph, Susanne Hoeber Rudolph

….Police still as nice as all the Austrian police we met.

…impressions of Macedonia: this is a wild, avid, hilly land. The scrub on the hillsides barely seems to survive..

…impressions of Yugoslavia: this is a poor country …It is still predominantly rural and unmechanized ….The rural people seemed cheerful, particularly in Serbia. In Croatia, they looked more sullen, waved less. But these are rather swift, visceral reaction. Much of the country is very pretty – the bottomlands along the Autoput with their luscious swamp growth and water birds, the green farmland of Serbia, and even the dry hills of Macedonia where only sunflowers grow in large fields. We were sorry we missed the coast which is said to be the most beautiful. …Shoes are expensive and quite without style. Very, very few people look neat and well dressed in a middle class sense, although the rural people dress neatly and appropriately. We didn’t become aware of how poorly the white collar types looked until we arrived in Greece and saw the men in the cities and some in the villages in their clean, white, freshly pressed open-collar shirts and freshly whitened shoes. (India too, when we arrived there, displayed a more respectable looking petty bourgeoisie than Yugoslavia.) Though we saw exceptions, the overall impression in Yugoslavia was that ironing boards and pure colors didn’t exist – everyone in the cities had a drab, unironed look. This applied to the army as well. The officers often looked snappy, but the quality of enlisted uniforms – of pale green, poor quality cotton – and the way they were maintained was rather amateurish. We saw the army everywhere – every town had an installation of some sort

….we returned to the old technique of boiling laundry to get it white.

People along the road on the Turkish side didn’t look confidence-inspiring, but rather shifty and cheerless.

The ladies on the streets of Istanbul include an extraordinary number of slim, full-bosomed, well-built women, many of them beautiful and quietly sultry.

…impressions of Turkey: these fierce looking little people are very hospitable, much more so than their unshaven faces would indicate, and incredibly curious …we loved the country and found it very beautiful….

The Persians are considerably taller than the Turks, with more open faces and a more refined appearance.

Relations among men from Turkey on seemed much warmer than in the west. There is a great deal of unselfconscious display of physical tenderness between them – holding hands and embracing are common. Perhaps the fact that women are not usually companions here, but keepers of the home and bearers of children who have no knowledge of the outside world makes companionship of men more intense.

The Afghans alone of all the people we met in the Middle East and South Asia, were totally unapologetic about their lack of knowledge of western manners and ways. (Kabul may be an exception.) Elsewhere we had found people apologizing if they couldn’t speak English. Here there was some surprise that we couldn’t speak Pharsee or Pushtoo. An Indian acquaintance who spent time in jail as a nationalist has told us that he is often unintentionally resentful of westerners because “I forget that we are free.” The Afghans have no such colonial memory, and none of the inferiority feelings associated with such a memory. If they are hostile to a westerner, they are hostile because westerners are infidels with doubtful customs and ways of life, not because the recollection of dominion makes westerners both admirable and hateful. The Afghan does not (yet) suffer from the love-hate conflict that seems to bother the peoples of former colonial areas in their relations with the west. His pride is undamaged.

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