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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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

-6.2087634, 106.845599

Sun 15. [15 March 1903] Very hot, no air, intolerably stuffy. Fell into
talk with Captain [space left blank] at breakfast and discovered that
he was a Buddhist after the manner of Sinnett[?]. He believes Mme
Blavatsky to have been a divinely inspired emissary of the
Mahatmas of Thibet [Tibet]. He spends some portion of every day
meditating on who he is. When he dies his soul is to do 1000 years of
Purgatory and then be reincarnated. His mother cd see the
molecules in a diamond and had the satisfaction of knowing
frequently that her soul was already in Purgatory. She has been dead
3 months but she has twice appeared to him and given him advice -
hoffentlich not as to the management of his vessel. He had an
argument with H [Hugo] as to the futility not to say the immorality of
prayer, in which H was a little confounded, especially when I stuck in
with the prayer for rain in the church service. He approved more of my
ignorance than of H's certainty and held out hopes that in a future
incarnation I might be permitted to know more. He encouraged me to
try and be a man! When called on for reasons he referred us always
to Thibet and gave Fielding's Soul of a People as an example of
what Buddhists are like. He gave us a silly little book about the True
Way to read. H stuck at an opening injunction to combat
consciousness, the truth being, I fancy that the real[?] Buddhism has
no social idea and the modern of the Captain's sort is put to it to
engraft it with some of the Xian ideals and the duties of citizenship
inherent in modern society. I played chess with Donk. Lunch was
uncommonly warm. Read some of Schultze's book on Java [Jawa],
lent me by Herr v Ditman. We got in unexpectedly early, about 3. The
port of Tanjon Priok has outer roads where some English merchant
boats and some Dutch gun boats lay at anchor and an inner, canal
like harbour, small but exquisitely arranged. The neat wharfes [sic]
reminded us of the Hook of Holland [Hoek van Holland]; the station
was next door; we hadn't the slightest trouble about landing. The sea
has retreated, hence the necessity of Tanjon Priok. We had some
apollinaris and biscuits at a neat Dutch refreshment room (served by
a Chinaman) registered our luggage and set out into Holland. There
were straight roads and canals, the one bordered by palms, the other
set with lotus. On one side rice fields, on the other jungle of the
densest and marshiest. All indescribably green. We got to Batavia
[Jakarta] in 20 min and jumped into a sadoe which is a tonga.
Batavia is now almost exclusively Chinese. The houses have high
tiled roofs and stand by canals. It's absurdly Dutch. It took us near 20
minutes to drive to the Hotel der Niederlanden which is in
Weltevreden. It began to stream and we could scarce see the neat
Dutch houses set back in their gardens and the CafÈs along the
Canal. The hotel is bad. We marched round the whole court and
examined into the inner life of all the inhabitants. There were sitting in
easy chairs, barefoot, dressed in pyjamas or sarongs according to
their sex - made[?] of batek [sic] the wax painted Javanese cotton.
Big white orchids flowering on the pillars of the verandah. They don't
understand comfort as we do - no punkahs, one dark bath room for
the whole hotel and you have to put on the frac[?] to wake a call. We
ordered tea - when at last it came it consisted of a mountain of bread
and cakes and 10 eggs! Washed and changed and out in the dark to
find Mr Ramage. All the houses are mostly verandah, brilliantly
lighted at night so that you can see the intimes familien Leben. We
didn't find Mr R. but we landed up at a house where they put H onto
him through the telephone. So home and walked a little by the canal
past the big cafÈs. Very hot night, but I slept.

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