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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

Reference code
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper
India ยป Mumbai

19.0759837, 72.8776559

Sat 13. [13 December 1902] Spent the morning fussing about
luggage and plans. At 12 drove off all through the native town to
Byculla to visit my Babi, Haji Sayyed Muhammad at the Naseri
Printing Press. Found him asleep in his hall, woke him up and had a
pleasant conversation with him but I cd see he regarded me with
suspicion and he backed out when I asked him to sell me some of
Beha's books. The native quarter is bastard Indian. There are the
wooden houses with columned verandahs, the naked people, and a
fakir smudged with yellow ochre and the cross legged shopkeepers
and people sitting making things in the shops and an extraordinary
variety of costume and nationality, but English advertisements
everywhere. Late for lunch after which H [Hugo] and I looked up
journeys. The train book is a pure joke - all the trains leave between
1 and 4 AM and take 26 hours to get anywhere. Drove out to Malabar
Point to leave a note at Govt House and realised the charm of
Bombay. The sun was setting, the wet sands all gold, the sky purple
and the moon a brilliant disk so bright it seemed to be falling out of the
sky. Got out and plunged down a dark street of stairs surrounded by
howling children to the Walkeshwar temples which stand in a hollow
round a big camp. By this time it was near dark; the sands in the bay
were covered with the twinkling lights of fish sellers. Our garriwalla
took us to what he said was a Parsee church. We were at once
seized by a Parsee who said "De ceremony is going on" and hurried
us through a push[?] of bands and people and tables spread with
food to a brightly lighted room full of people where we were seated in
the front row and found a marriage in full swing. The bride and
bridegroom were sitting in an enclosure made of jasmine flowers
strung on silver threads, the bride's mother fanning them while 2
priests recited prayers and threw grains of rice at them. It had been
going on an hour - the first ceremony consists of the two being placed
on either side of a cloth attached with linen ropes beneath the cloth
and the one who throws a handful of rice over first rules in the house -
and was to last an hour more. At midnight they go through the whole
thing again "Just to tie de nuptial knot" said my Parsee friend. We
presently bowed ourselves out leaving the poor bride groom still
sitting with his lap full of a shawl a bouquet and a cocanut. We
wandered round first on the bride's side where we drank her health in
port and then on the bridegroom's where we drank his in champagne.
He is the Chandi station master and his father is a solicitor. Sir J.
Jeegu Ghoz[?] had come to the wedding. We asked one of our
cheerful hosts how long it wd last and he replied "Till de finish." So
home through the scented golden night. Dined at the Yacht Club and
talked afterwards to the Gascoynes, Mr Fletcher, Miss Thornwill Mr
Storrs, Lady Boughie and Sybil.

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