My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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BOMBAY, India, Sunday—We left with the Jamsaheb at 9:30 the other morning and drove first to a prosperous village, where all were gathered to greet us. I thought perhaps they had made special arrangements to have the village looking nice for us.

We were first shown a very comfortable home, where the man of the family was a policeman. The main room had many embroideries, two beautiful chests in which their belongings were kept, and, piled high on a shelf at the side, were the quilts, sleeping pads and pillows. We were allowed to go into every room in the house, even into the room where the women stay when the men are outside with strangers. Many of these women work in the fields and they all go for water carrying their brass pots on their heads. But still, if strange men go into their homes, they are shy and pull their veils over their faces.

This was a village of about 2,000 people, so we drove through some back streets to see a more modest home. I had a chance to look all around and was struck by the difference from the village I had seen near New Delhi. None of the cattle were near the living quarters. Cow dung was not being used entirely for fuel and was not being dried nearby, so on the whole the place was free of flies. I looked along many other streets and into the courtyards and decided that the extraordinary cleanliness pervaded the whole village. This certainly is a tribute to the health work and to the farming advice which has been given to these villagers.

Finally we went to the poorest village that belonged to the very lowest class of people. They make toothbrushes here that are used by the average citizen and grow vegetables in tiny plots near their thatched round huts. I stooped nearly double and went into one. The floor was entirely clean, everything was tidy and in order and the little swing in which the babies sleep was hung up. The doctor had remarked to me that these swings, universally used, made the children's shoulders round; but I imagine this is corrected later on by the good posture which is needed to balance the heavy loads carried on their heads. They showed me an exhibit of all the things grown in that area and all the home industries of the women, together with all the farm and home utensils used. It was extremely interesting, and the methods of dyeing and embroidering materials which are used in their clothes was one of the most complicated but really beautiful pieces of work I have ever seen.

Then we visited an interesting, small medical museum run in connection with the medical college and hospital. The Jamsaheb has a special little building for tubercular cases and then a solarium in which certain other cases needing sunlight are put. This building revolves as a whole, so that patients are always facing the sunny side.

Our lunch at the Jamsaheb's own house was delightful but a trifle longer than it should have been, for we left more than three-quarters of an hour late for Bombay. I was obliged to leave the plane and go directly to a very large reception given by the sheriff of Bombay. You can well imagine that neither my shoes, which had ploughed through dusty roads all morning, nor my dress were exactly suited to a city reception. But everyone was more than kind and seemed not to notice my sartorial shortcomings!

After the reception I went to a press conference, where I answered questions for a half hour. Then we came to Government House, where we again have very large rooms looking out to the sea. After a quiet family dinner I was able to do a little work, and that was the end of my day.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Bombay (India) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 10, 1952

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

  • Brick, Christopher (Editor)
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  • Black, Allida M. (Editor)
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  • Binker, Mary Jo (Associate Editor)
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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

Published with permission from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

TEI-P5 edition published on 2017-04-28

Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.