July 16, 1961 – Gene’s job description; antiquities in Delhi (Gene)

Sunday, 16 July, 1961

Dear Dad:

Time goes so fast that it hardly seems possible we have been in Delhi for one month, today, We still have not gotten a flat or a house to live in, though we are quite comfortable in this apartment-hotel for the present. There are one or two leads on a flat that might work out and, if so, we ought to be in our own place in about another month.

My work is getting under way pretty well, now. Each morning I am picked up at 8:15 and go to the main Technical Cooperation Mission building, to the Education Division where I meet with some of the others who also work with the Columbia University group of which I am a part. Then I go by car pool to the National Institute of Audio-Visual Education. This is where I spend most of my working time. I have a small office with an overhead fan, which is warm but pleasant enough.

My job is to be an advisor to the Director of the Institute and his staff and this means that I try to get them to take a clear look at what they have been doing, to examine the purposes they have in mind for all their work, and to look at their future plans to see if they are as effective as they can be. This calls for a lot of diplomacy, for these people, like so many others in the world, are really quite satisfied with what they are doing. Where they are not satisfied, they have worked out over a period of time the reasons why they can’t really do any better and so, for the most part, they think things are going very well.

As is always the case, a person looking in from the outside can see many weaknesses in what they are doing. Some of these are minor, but others are extremely important for them to change if they are to do what they ought to be doing to help in the tremendous job of education that needs to be done in India….and to help bring these changes into effect is part of my job.

This is not an easy thing on which to make headway. I could step in and do the work myself and they would come to depend upon me to continue doing this as long as I am here. But when I left, there would be no carry-over. Things would return to what they were before. This has happened before and will again. The only way to make changes stick is to get them to really want the changes and then to feel that they have made the changes themselves. This is a very slow process if, indeed, it can be accomplished at all and you have to keep yourself in a state of mind to approach this the slow way. It will be interesting to see what results can be gained in this fast-moving year. I find all of this to be completely fascinating.

We have received word that our car has arrived in Bombay via ship. It will be shipped to Delhi by train. This takes about a month, we are told. I have taken out Indian insurance at about the same rates as in the U.S. This took effect the minute the car touched Indian soil and will protect the car during its 900 mile rail trip from Bombay as well as for the next year. It will be good to have the car to get around in although cabs and three-wheeled motor-cycle rickshaws are readily available and quite cheap. Our air-freight arrived a week ago in good condition. We’ve had no word on our sea-freight so far but this is just as well, because storing it would be a bit of a problem until we get our flat to live in.

This is the monsoon season, which in Delhi means occasional heavy showers and very high humidity. The other day (no rain) the temperature was in the high 90’s and the humidity was 100%. Farther south the monsoon means extremely heavy rains and there have been severe floods over widespread areas. But not here. Streets get flooded with every rain, but that’s all.

Anita and the kids are in good shape. Anita and Jon also had a touch of bacillary dysentary, but not of the violent type I had. They’ve been taking their Cremomycin medicine and things have cleared up nicely. Everybody gets this stuff from time to time no matter how long they’re here. Ruthie is the only one who has remained untouched by the bug. I can’t figure why this should be, but why look a gift-horse in the mouth?

We’re gradually learning our way around this strange and interesting city. Over six thousand years of history are in evidence. There seems to be a policy of not tearing down antiquities, and as a result there are perhaps more than a hundred semi-ruins of tombs of unknown history that sit in the middle of roads and among other buildings. Many tombs are, of course, of known origin and there is a structure known as the Red Fort (built of red sandstone) on which work was begun in 1639 and completed in 1648, for the Emperor Shah Jehan. It measures 1600’ by 3000’ and contains many huge buildings. We haven’t been inside yet. Most visiting of this type waits on the cooler weather coming in about two months. After that, we are informed, follows six months of wholly delightful weather in which much activity takes place. I’ll get the usual pictures of all these things for you to see. There is also a very fine zoo to which we’ll take the kids when the weather breaks. The Taj Mahal is in Agra, 120 miles south of here. We’ll make that trip later, too, as well as to other places of interest.

We trust all is well with all of you folkds, Love from all of us.

Gene and Anita, Jon and Ruth

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