My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

BOMBAY, India, Monday—The flowers are beautiful here and from the veranda outside our room one looks straight across the ocean not to Spain, as my husband used to say as he stood on a beach in Campobello Island, New Brunswick, but to Arabia.

So far India means color to me—brilliant color in cotton saris, in silk saris, and in beautiful embroideries so vivid that perhaps at home they would look out of place. Here, however, they fit into the landscape. The birds can be heard at all hours; the parrots chatter; and there is one bird that cries like a baby. I thought at first I must be hearing a jackal but I have discovered it is a bird.

It is far more tropical here and warmer than in New Delhi but still very comfortable. We actually spent this morning being very lazy. I had my hair done, then we went shopping, and later we drove along the shore and looked at the sailing boats since I wanted to see the sails unfurled. I got out of the car and watched the loading of these small boats, which engage in coastwise traffic. Most of the boats have two sails, one of which is enormous.

We drove through a slum area on the way back and saw many huts built of straw matting along the pavements. These huts are occupied by gypsies, other nomadic tribes, or anyone who wanted temporary home in pretty uncomfortable surroundings but nevertheless cleaner than one would expect. The streets are cleaned by people using little straw brooms—just a few sticks tied together—and the sweepers scrape up every bit of dirt into tin containers.

We returned on time for a luncheon given by the Governor and Her Excellency, Rani Maharaj Singh. It has been a great joy to have Mrs. Pandit here, for she is the most thoughtful hostess imaginable.

After lunch we went together to Bombay University and I spoke to a crowded meeting of students and had forty minutes of questions. As usual, discrimination in the U.S., suppression of free speech among our university professors, and our attitude toward China and toward communism were among the questions.

It is good to have an opportunity to talk frankly to students and I take a delight in doing it.

When we get back to New Delhi I will have the opportunity to attend the Indian premier of a film I saw before leaving the U.S., called "The River." This picture was produced here in Bengal on the banks of the Ganges River by an American named Kenneth McEldowney, but he insists that it be known as an Indian film because India and the Indians are responsible for it.

The Indian rupees that were invested in it in addition to the American dollars are now being repaid in dollars, and the equipment brought to India will now be employed in the production of other Indian films. Many of those who worked on this film had their first experience in producing a Technicolor movie and therefore were trained as technicians. The entire proceeds of the premiere performance will be donated to the Hon. Rajkumari Amrit Kaur Indian National Committee for Children.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL