July 29, 1961 – housing for TCM vs. Embassy personnel (Anita)

July 29, 1961

Dear Harry,

Your most welcome letter with all the exciting news about your recent travels arrived yesterday and I must say that the little junket seems to have restored your good spirits. Or is it just that you’re so glad to be back in the good ole USA? In any case, you sounded in top form.

I’d love to see you here in “Mother India.” In case you’ve forgotten, I’m the girl whose brow was never marred by even the tiniest drop of perspiration – even when we used to indulge in a hot game of tennis on the TC courts – but here I ooze and drip just like the rest of the world. Five minutes of being outdoors or in one of the tiny shops that don’t feature air-conditioning (and which one does?) and I’m literally floating in good honest sweat. I gave up make-up the first day here. Now if I could just give up clothes …

What make Aloyse think I’ve surmounted cultural shock? I think I’m in some kind of trance, that’s all – combination of weather and inadequate diet.

The past two or three weeks have been pretty grim. It was the house-hunting that got us down. No one at TCM was able to give us any help on this score – mostly because no one we know (and there is no one in charge of this particular section of problems) had ever had to go through the house-hunting ropes before. Our chief-of-party is new here himself and hasn’t the foggiest notion of what is involved in drawing up Indian leases, dealing with agents, getting proper wiring, etc. What’s more, he’s not about to find out. His wife, bless her heart, has been a college president’s wife for years and is used to people doing things for her. Her only concern with me is whether or not I will attend the social functions that she considers a must. And even this concern gets over-shadowed at times by her problems of interior decorating and her inability to get along without a deep freeze. Actually, this could had five years in Beirut and he’s quite an administrator in his way, but something is wrong in this situation.

Anyway, we finally forged ahead on our sweaty own and chose an apartment which we had turned down our first week here, have negotiated the lease, and will move in we hope, in about a week when all of the work has been completed. It’s hardly the most desirable place in Delhi, but it is in Gold Links (a central area) and on the ground floor so kids can play in front and back. I’ll be without a phone for at least three months and will have to depend on servants to carry messages or work out some kind of arrangement with the landlord who does have a phone and lives upstairs.

The whole damn business has been a ridiculous waste of time – especially for Gene, who’s been trying to get going at the Institute of Audio-Visual Education – and we can’t help but be somewhat embittered by the inefficiency of the whole system. Incidentally, the housing allowance which is granted by TCM is now completely out-of-date because of the way rentals have sky-rocketed. We managed to get a flat for 950 rupees because we took a second-rate flat. A nicer one would have run closer to 1400 or 1500.

A whole mess of people are due in the fall, as you know, and in view of our difficulties even the party chief is becoming alarmed now about the problem of housing and is beginning to think that maybe there ought to be someone in charge and that TCM had better start holding desirable flats for its staff as Ford Foundation and the Embassy find they have to. Don’t ask me why we always have to be the guinea pigs.

Actually, without the kids we would have been disposed to stay on at this crazy apt-hotel until something reasonable opened up. We are choosing to take this flat because 1) it’s hopeless in this place with two small kids – you have to depend on an aya more than I care to and 2) as far as we could ascertain in our bumbling way, nothing in the way of a better flat is expected to turn up before the end of September, if then.

I have managed to appraise Francis S……. of some of these difficulties and he and Rose are prepared to stay in a hotel for about six months while they look about leisurely for a home. “Leisurely” is their word – there is no such thing as looking “leisurely”, but they’ll have to find that out for themselves, along with a few other things.

On the subject of cultural shock – moving, working with a book-bearer and sweeper for the first time, etc., etc. We’re all on the run-down side from bouts of dysentary, incredibly hot sticky weather, etc. etc. etc. I think we’ll pick up when we get into the privacy of our own place, can have the food we want (especially the kids), and all the rest, I’ll let you know.

Write to us soon. I promise to answer. And wish us luck with that Indian landlord?

Love to George. Big hug from all of us to you,

Anita

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