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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Gertrude Bell
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1 entry, paper

Wed 17. [17 December 1902] Up at 6.30, H [Hugo] to Church and I to
the Crawford Market - fruits and flowers in great profusion. I bought an
immense string of Jasmine flowers for an anna. Also photographed
much to the interest of the populace. Then out and tried to buy a sari
in the native quarter in a bazaar but cd find none to my liking. So
home, shopping by the way and in at 10 when H and I breakfasted. I
spent the morning packing and mending. Lunched at the Yacht Club,
where Mr Robertson joined us. Went off to the Towers of Silence.
Drove up the Govt House Road - Walkeshwar - and turned to the right
along the top of the ridge - exquisite view from the gardens. A Parsee
took us up past the temple where the sacred fire is always burning
and within sight of the Towers, a long low wall with fat vultures sitting
on it. He also showed us a model and the view over Bombay. One
Tower was only for ......., another the oldest and smallest for the
[space left blank] family. Outside vultures were sitting on all the palm
trees looking horrible with their necks and fat bodies. Down the other
way and to the Hindu burning ghat - 2 fires were burning, but both low
and some fat and cheerful white robed mourners sat under the
verandah by the wall. A miniature[?] temple at the entrance with tiny
images of Ganesha and 2 other gods. Opposite the verandah a tank
from which water flowed down a gutter between the fires and the
boundary wall. The ordinary fire cost 5 rupees but you can have your
pyre of sandalwood which cost you 500. A dead man was lying on a
litter waiting to be burnt, or rather waiting for the medical inspection for
he was killed in an accident. Our guide said in the plague time 100 a
day were burnt here. The ashes are collected and thrown into the sea
- or the Ganges [Ganga] at Benares [Varanasi]. Iron screens stand
between the fires in case of high wind. I asked if I might photograph.
He said if the mourners didn't mind. At first they objected, but I
apologized in Hindustani and they consented. They were much
interest at seeing the picture in my finder and became quite lively! So
back to the Yacht Club to tea, after which I went home and spent some
time teaching Muhammad how to pack the bedding. Off soon after 8
to the Kolabu station. Mr Robertson the Allcrofts and Mr Storrs in the
train. H's companion is Sir Alfred Haslam mine a Miss Reinholds[?].
Mr C. Bentinck got in at Charni Road.

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