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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 2. March 20, 1957

India will be the Heart of the World

page 4

India will be the Heart of the World

"As I sit here in this huge new building, I feel I am right at the heart of a country that is so industrious and rejoicing in its upsurge. And today with such unrest in Europe and the Middle East one can't help feeling that here is going to be the heart of the world."

Tus writes former VUC student, Roseanne Gordon, from Delhi, early in November, where she was working on the New Zealand section of the Secretariat of the Unesco Conference.

Roscanne was travelling in company with Jane Barnicoat, well known around the College—especially to the Colombo Plan students to whom she acted as hostess on behalf of the Department of External Affairs. Jane also had a job attached to the Conference!'

"Being here in India, everything seems so vital," she writes, "and one realises what a backwash New Zealand is. Even if one didn't like the splendid new shape India is taking, one could spend a lifetime discovering its fascinating history which can be felt everywhere one turns—in Buddhism, Hinduism, among the Moslems and the Sikhs—in the ancient temples, the old tombs, and great white mosques. The leaders of the States have been so respected not only for their wealth, but because they have so often been talented people—poets or employing poets and artists. When we were in Hyderabad for three days it was good to hear the people talk of the poor old 'Nizam—now devoid of his wealth—as a poet and scholar of Persian, very well loved by the people (if not by his hundred wives).

"All the time there is movement and colour—the sound of the wooden mallet beating out silver on the shop floor mingles with the brass bells of the passing bullock wagon. The craftsmanship of the silversmiths, the woodworkers and the weavers is wonderful and minute. We came all the way up from Colombo second class by train, spending a few days in Madras and a few in Hyderabad. The trains are very dirty but quite bearable, and everyone has been wonderful to us as we were always the only Europeans travelling. I guess the few others about must fly.

"On the whole English is widely spoken, for it is a unifying language—there is very little connection between Tamil and the other southern languages and Hindustani in the north. Now, of course, there is a move to make Hindi the national language, but it is limited and cannot cope with the technical terms. It sounds rather like our news in Maori.

"On each of our three laps we were with people—mainly men—who were willing to tell us all about the country and its problems, and we had a terrific time experimenting with food.

"From Hyderabad to Delhi—1040 miles for £4/7/—we were with two Sikhs. The two nights we were on the train wo were thankful for our sleeping bags, for we lay on them on the wooden Beats, in the morning there was a terrific performance of washing, oiling, tying up hair, and sitting cross-legged to mutter prayers. Then I shared breakfast with one of them—chapatis and churd. From Madras to Hyderabad the carriage was very crowded, and people cooked their own meals on the floor. I 'slept' on my suitcases head to head with a Hindu bloke and foot to foot with a Moslem, while Jane and a fat Hindu woman in saree shared a long seat. Jane kicked the poor woman, who snored violently.

"We have discovered that there is quite an art in aiming at the hole in the floor—i.e., w.c. without w. or c.

"Beggars are prohibited, so come to the non-platform side of the train, but on the whole beggars aren't very numerous. A few old leprosy eases. Begging is still a racket in that often the aged won't go into homes as they know they get more by begging, and still parents maim children so that begging is their profession.