My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW DELHI, Thursday —An interesting interlude in my schedule the other day was a trip to Aligarh University. I was called for and with our more than kind host from the Foreign Office, Mr. Atal, who has made our whole tour so easy and pleasant, we drove out to the school. It is a Moslem university.

Its president, Dr. Zakir Hussain, stood firm at the time of partition and rallied many people around him so that there are still in this part of India a large number of Moslems. Dr. Hussain also has done a great deal for adult education and one of the places we are going to visit in the course of the next few days was begun under his inspiration. The ceremony in my honor at the school, was simple but impressive.

Then we drove back to New Delhi, stopping on the way by a canal for lunch, a most pleasant respite. It gave us an opportunity to see what these canals, which are used for irrigation purposes, can really do for the countryside. We take water very much for granted at home, but, as a matter of fact, in a country like this water is one of the things that means most to the development of the land.

I don't think I have ever described to you what driving, even on a paved highway, in India means. It is an exciting experience. No one seems to have the faintest idea of living up to the rules of the road even if the rules are known to them. The paved part of the road is not quite wide enough for two cars to pass, so most of the time one is enveloped in dust.

The real hazards of the road, however, are bullock carts. The drivers either go to sleep in their carts or, if not, they can't control the bullocks which go either right or left as the fancy takes them. Then the herds of loose goats, bullocks, donkeys, the occasional riders on donkeys or camels all are hazards! Also, there's a constant flow of people on foot, carrying heavy loads on their heads.

There are the two-wheeled pony carts, always so filled with people that one wonders if they will pull the pony backwards. The horn honks incessantly and one is always having narrow escapes. One breathes a sigh of relief as a child, running across the road, is missed by a few feet. Minutes later one gasps as a bullock turns squarely before the car and refuses to budge.

Drivers in India are most skillful, but they cannot make time because it is the other fellow that has to be watched. In addition, if one is on a road that has no paving the dust is pretty bad all the time. But at least one can say that driving in India is never a bore.

Back in New Delhi I had the dust from several trips washed out of my hair and in the evening we dined with Ambassador and Mrs. Chester Bowles. The Indonesian ambassador, who was present, again asked me if I could not possibly stay at least one week in Indonesia and do some lectures. But I had to explain again that my commitments at home made my return imperative.

Last Saturday morning at a quarter before nine we left for New Delhi University, where another convocation was held. Here I was also presented with a colorful gown and another diploma by the President of India, who is the chancellor of the University. After that we visited the Girls' college and the school of social work run by the YWCA.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New Delhi (India) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 21, 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

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