July 4, 1961 – Galbraith, hot dogs and fireworks

Dear Val:

Good luck to you and Harry and Bert on the start of another camp season. I hope that all goes as well as it should and that the summer wraps up successfully in every imaginable way. Sorry I’m not around to help with picking up the films, running off certificates, etc.

I’ll soon be sending off a roll of film, of shots taken in random fashion on the way to India. Between carrying kids and luggage in, on and around everywhere and not having a meter at the time they won’t make much sense, but if anything shows, hold them for me.

Anita wrote a several page round-robin letter which we sent to Sheila asking her to duplicate and send copies to each of the Udells and Burrs and some others. She covers much which I won’t attempt to review here. Anita has been taking to life here like the proverbial duck to water, making friends, handling contacts, dealing in the markets, working with rental agents, all with great aplomb.

I had just about completed all the check-in procedures, which took a week, when I came down with a damn good case of bacillic dysentery. That was last Wednesday. Yesterday I went in to work for the morning. Today is a holiday and I am finally back in good health. I was only in bed for two days, less trips to the head, but it has taken the better part of this time to get full steam back.

At 6:30 this evening we took the kids to the Fourth of July Party in the very large court enclosed on three sides by the quarters for U.S. Embassy secretarial personnel. The open side of the court looks up a low, rocky slope which served as the platform for a good fireworks display later in the evening. Prior to that there were a few dryly witty remarks by Galbraith. This is the first time we’ve seen him … tall, lanky, professorial. And prior to that there were hot dogs and soda pop and cokes. I guess just about all the Americans in Delhi turn out for this occasion and it was lots of fun. There are any number of kids of all ages, sizes and shapes. Jon and Ruth really had a ball. They were completely taken by the fireworks, Ruthie in awe, with dropped jaw and Jonnie with yells of appreciation and vigorous applause that brought grins from yards around.

Sunday, July 9

Much time has elapsed since I began this letter, as you can readily see. We’ve been on the housing hunt quite a bit and while nothing has firmed up I think we’re in a better position than we have been to date, with a couple of leads that might come to something. I think we’ll possibly be set in a place in about a month or so.

I’ve been going to the National Institute of Education and am keeping a casual record of experiences that I’ll send along to you from time to time. You’ll have to judge what not to pass on to others, if anything, in the interest of international relationships. So many aspects of this culture fall under the category of fundamental differences in approach to the way of doing things. There is no real burning drive to accomplish anything quickly either from day to day or on a long term scale. Even desired ends seem often to be buried in general inaction and, to a degree, one has to operate in this context and try to turn it into advantage if at all possible. At least, a primary acceptance of the way things are is essential as the outlook you bring to problems. I’m sure you found this to be true in your travels and it holds true even in running a camp. Mr. A….. is bouncy, full of nervous energy, runs a disorganized operation with no seeming goals, with the help of a staff that is very status-conscious and, to my mind, of questionable quality. They’ll all be described in my journal account. The two main drives at the Institute are somewhat contradictory – mass-production (of what, doesn’t seem to matter), and since nothing is every mass-produced this is explained in terms of their responsibility for preparing proto-types. My job, as I see it at the moment, is to help them begin to see the need for regularizing their planning on a long-term basis and developing a system for determining how to apply their energies toward systematic goals, as well as trying to get them to analyze what the hell they’re in business for in the first place. Their interests are not where I think they ought to be. They love modern mechanical and electronic devices which can never be available in quantity and distribution to begin to make an impact on the educational scheme for maybe fifty years or more, and they disdain the much verbalized idea of using indigenous materials as a point of departure for educational development. And they don’t take care of or even use most of the modernity they have because even in the Institute they have power shortage and power failure problems just as every house and district does. So the National Institute of Audio-Visual Education is an untidy mishmash of physical and mental confusion. What can be done, if anything, is the job ahead and I think I have the right mind-set to look forward to it with anticipation without feeling that right here and now is where I must make my mark. And I must say that although Temple’s Center is not the same thing as a National Institute, there are some uncomfortable similarities between both in terms of goals that you might take a long look at, although Temple’s Center does a very adequate daily job of service which is not effected here in Delhi.

Gene

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