Hope you and Maria are well and enjoying life. I am off to Bharat next month and so looking forward to meeting my brothers and their families. Sampling all the smells and tastes will be a treat as well.
Take care and God Bless,
THAT'S MY BOY!
Gerry Titterton was a remarkable Anglo-Indian.
Athough his education had stopped after railway school in Dhalpuri, he was doing very well for himself in faraway Calcutta.
His father Jim, a Dhalpuri ticket collector, was very proud of him.
Gerry had been taken on as a clerk by an international company. Within six months he was made chief clerk, then invited to become a director - "one of 12 board members" Jim announced proudly to everyone he met.
The company, whose name Jim could never remember, arranged for Gerry to have a luxury flat in the most exclusive part of Calcutta, and he was chauffeured to and from work in a Rolls-Royce.
"Only the best is good enough for my boy," Jim would assure his fellow skittles players in Dhalpuri's sweltering railway institute. They would all be immensely impressed, rolling their eyes and heads.
All this talk of how well Gerry was doing infuriated his mother Mabel because not a word of it was true.
Every time she went to the market, or for a walk by the station, someone would be sure to approach her and say how pleased they were to hear about Gerry "going up the ladder".
The only ladder Gerry went up was to clean the windows of Calcutta's office buildings.
Jim, however, loved to fantasise about their son; just couldn't help himself.
"You tell all these fibs about Gerry and I have to face the music," Mabel ranted at him. "Why all these terrible lies ba-ba? Chee!"
Jim, sitting on his easychair in the verandah with his feet propped up, retorted: "So what? Our only child deserves the best."
Mabel paused from dusting cobwebs off the high corners. "Gerry may deserve the best but you know very well he's not up to it. Even found railway school a struggle."
"Well, people do manage without education. Some get on so well that..."
"Yes," she interjected, "but our Gerry, bless him, is not one of them. He's just a window cleaner for heaven's sake. If he hears about your stupid boasting he'll be so embarrassed, I can't tell you."
Jim glared at her. "Don't you want the best for our boy? You've no ambition, that's your problem. Runs in your family."
She clenched her fists. "You just leave my family out of this! We may not have achieved much but at least we're honest about it. You Tittertons haven't achieved much either but you make up for it by bragging. All of you are the same. Full of gas, nothing else."
He grunted. "Nothing wrong with being ambitious, is there?"
Mabel shook her head.
"Ambition is one thing. Pretending to be something you're not is just plain deceitful. I feel such a fool when people say 'Oh, Mabel, what's there for you! Gerry is a director now! You must be so proud of him, earning all that money!' I have to play along with all your lies and I'm getting fed up. One day someone's going to find out the truth and you'll have a lot of explaining to do."
Jim laughed. "Array, who will find out? Calcutta is five hundred miles away.. All the people here have relations and friends in Bombay so I can say what I like and get away with it."
He added: "Trust me."
In the sun-drenched marketplace, Mabel spotted that nice old Mr Felder studying tomatoes piled up on a gunny sack. "You and Jim must be ever so proud of young Gerry," he said, as vendors swarmed around them shouting their wares.
Mabel shrugged. "Well, er, y-yes..."
He smiled. "You're too modest. I've nothing but respect for someone like your son. Worked hard and look at him now. Made it all the way to the top."
He added: "What a wonderful example for all our young boys doing humble jobs here in Dhalpuri - sweeping the station platforms, cleaning the carriages ..."
Later, near the sweetmeat shop, which exuded the enticing aroma of frying jilabees, Mabel met Barbara, the charity collector, whose brown eyes lit up.
"You are just the person I want to see," she began, pecking Mabel's cheek.
"As it happens, our fund for abandoned cats is drying up, and as Gerry is earning such a high salary I wondered if he would care to make a regular donation? Come on, I'm sure he would! It's for a good cause!"
Mabel sighed. "We'll see."
"Oh but do tell him the money's urgently required," Barbara persisted. "He is just the man to help us."
Mabel thought she would avoid bumping into more people by turning into a deserted dirt track and heading for home.
Within minutes, she heard someone calling her. It was Tootsie, whom she hadn't seen for some time, panting up from behind.
"Well hullo there," Tootsie trilled, shaking pebbles out of her sandals. "Mabel, I'm so glad I met you. Oh dear, what to tell you! Our boy Arthur's lost his hotel porter's post. In Bombay. Can't find another job."
"I'm sorry," Mabel said, attempting to get away as Tootsie followed her through the mud. "He's desperate, willing to travel anywhere to find work. I'm sure your Gerry, a director, will be able to fix him up over there. In that big company in Calcutta?"
Excitedly Tootsie added: "Both boys went to railway school together, remember? Best of friends they were, playing Seven Tiles and Gillie-Dandoo."
Mabel's frown suddenly gave way to a huge grin. She reckoned she should have done this ages ago.
"I'll ask Jim to pop over to see you," she said. "Jim will be delighted to give you Gerry's address and telephone number. Anything you want to know."
"How wonderful!" Tootsie yelped, clasping her hands. "Thank you so much, Mabel. It would be great for the two boys to meet up again, that's assuming our Arthur can get past all Gerry's front-office staff, eh?"
She paused, nodding. "You see, Arthur is prepared to turn his hand to any job, however humble, even window-cleaning."
(Rudy Otter is a retired Anglo-Indian journalist who continues to entertain with his short stories.)
Thanks Rudy for your permission to post this article.
The summer I was 14, we swaggered about like John Wayne, with a 'catty' hanging from the neck. These were home-made catapults, with half-round carbon reinforced, vulcanized rubber.
On this blazing hot summer day which I remember so well, Johnnie and I, ever restless, wandered over to the School playing fields well before the hockey match was due to start. High on a Peepul tree overlooking the Pavilion, a solitary Bulbul, head cocked, was singing its heart out; we stopped to listen to the clear, sweet notes trilling in the summer air. Johnnie turned to me, 'Bet you cant', he said. Without a word, eyes fixed on the bird, I took up my catty, put a pebble in the leather pouch (or pidthee), aimed along the pulled back rubber and released the stone.
At a full 70 feet, the chances of hitting the bird were small. But this time the shot sped true and the bird fell. I ran down and picked up the body of the headless Bulbul. It lay warm in my palm, the breeze ruffling the soft downy feathers about its neck. And then, an awful guilt hit me almost physically in the pit of my stomach and my mouth tasted sour like a boxers when hit in the gut. Oh God, dear God, what have I done?
On a whim I had destroyed a beautiful, harmless creature which gave pleasure to all. My eyes misting over, I threw the catty away in disgust, but the pain and the shame still remain and will forever. I did not go shooting again until 5 years later, but this time it was on shikari (big game hunt) for Tiger with a professional shikar (hunter), who had a withered arm. My humble tasks were to pull/push/heave the great man onto a tree overlooking the watering hole, lug up the guns, pour the coffee (which tasted of Triple X rum), and remain ALERT. But that night Sher Khan did not oblige. Some years later I heard that the shikar had been mauled to death by a wounded tiger. He had neglected a cardinal rule of shikari: Do NOT approach a wounded tiger before putting in another shot or two, even if it spoils the trophy skin. But that is another story.
While on my long journey across the internet, searching for anything and everything to do with Anglo-Indians, I have met many people, but a couple from Portugal really came to my rescue when I needed help. These very patient, helpful and warm-hearted people are Terry and Maria.
Words fail me when it comes to thanking them for not only building this beautiful website , but also with my cookbook. A million thanks Maria and Terry.
I hope one day, in some small way I too could help someone.
With Warmest Regards,
(this is an excerpt from my old Bravenet Forum)
How many readers remember the old cinema houses in Anglo Indian enclaves in India that catered to our Hollywood tastes or should I say 'Americanism'?
I remember, the cinema houses we had in Madras: Roxy, Odeon, Uma, - these cinemas dated back to the 1940's and were frequented even by the foreigners who worked at the various embassies.
Later on came the modern ones in the 1970's - Blue Diamond, Emerald and Sapphire - these cinemas were the investment of a famous Jeweller in Madras. Devi was another cinema that was really ultra-modern in every sense of the word, much like the Village cinemas we have in Oz today.
If you know of any in your home town that had English names or similar please respond.
My friend Ronnie Butfoy wrote this article with the aim of having it published. Unfortunately he passed away in September 2005, before publication could be arranged. Now, as a tribute to him and his memory I am including it in full. Through Denna Stephan (Ron's daughter) I was fortunate to have communicated with Ron initially via the net and then actually in person, and also his lovely wife Barbara and Denna who was on holiday in Bangalore at the time. I was touched when Ron thanked me for "giving him" a good friend in my brother Maxwell Rose who was close to Ron while he was struggling to survive in hospital. Once again he whispered his thanks to my brother and those words still echo in my brother's mind. A great loss to us for sure but at least I was fortunate to have shared his weird sense of humour which matched mine (*smile*).
My friend Ron - REST IN PEACE.
Here is Denna's tribute to her Beloved Dad.
(this is an excerpt from my old Bravenet Forum)
How did I get there?
Pays to have friends in high places, eh?
- Logan, Queensland, Australia
I am an Anglo-Indian originally from South India, but now an Australian citizen living in Sunny Queensland (Oz) - beautiful one day, perfect the next!