Why I have written this book
Growing up in India during the days of the Raj was to experience a time of opulence and a lifestyle that has gone forever, and is now history. During my many travels, I often found myself telling table companions about some of my fascinating and exciting experiences, and have frequently been strongly urged to commit my tales to writing. At last I have succumbed to those pressures, and this vivid, warm-hearted and affectionate account, with its profuse illustrations, is brimming over with my love of India. I hope it magically depicts its beautiful places and its people, its animals and the unusual lifestyle, and that it will keep you engrossed from the first page to the last.
About the book
This is a true saga that spans two generations from 1896 to 1947. An era during which some of the momentous battles were fought during two World Wars, and the opulent lifestyle experienced by those who were fortunate enough to have lived in India during a time that has come to be known as The Days of the Raj, but which ended when that country gained its Independence in 1947.
I returned to England in 1946 as my parents felt it was no longer safe for us to remain there, and was married in 1948.
My ancestors went out from England in the 18th century with the East India Company and settled mainly in that great city of Calcutta, and established their business there.
My parents met out in India in 1924 and were married from the Prince and Begum’s palace in Bhopal, where they lived while my father was in charge of the State’s own army and helped the Prince run his Productivity Trust which he created to help better the lot of his people.
In 1926 they moved to Calcutta where I was born and lived there until 1936 when I was taken to England with my younger sister and left at at a boarding school there for five years.
At the outbreak of World War 2, my mother had returned to England on a short visit, but due to the Blitz and escalation of hostilities, we returned to India in 1940 to be greeted by a father who was a stranger to me.
To continue our education, my sister and I were sent on a four-day train journey to a school in the Nilgri hills of South India, until we were forced to evacuate and flee overnight to Dehra Dun in the Punjab, because of a threat of invasion of South India by the Japanese.
It was here that I met and was enamored of a British officer cadet in training at the Military Academy, and who unexpectedly crossed my path two years later.
In Calcutta I witnessed the tragedies of the Great Bengal Famine, and the strife between the Hindus and Muslims, which led to the ‘Calcutta Killings’ and brought that great man Mahatma Gandhi to that city to make peace between them, and who chose my father to help him.