By Hubert Evans

Hubert Evans' attention-grabbing memior recounts his time in India and the folks and occasions which formed the heritage of the subcontinent. A needs to learn for someone attracted to the historical past of India and the internal workings of the Raj.

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2 UP-THE-COUNTRY 1. REPORTING FOR DUTY Nobody told us in advance where we would be posted, or to whom we ought to report. Apparently, it had been like that from the very beginning, and it has since amused me to read how a young writer in the Company’s employ, a Titan-to-be in our imperial past as it happened, his name Mountstuart Elphinstone, turning up at Mirzapur on a borrowed horse and weary from the road, had met with the haphazard reception which—even down to the last detail -I was myself to know when I arrived at that very same station one hundred and thirty-three years later.

The standard dictionaries, such as Platts Urdu and UP-THE-COUNTRY 37 Classical Hindi Lexicon 1884 (a veritable Liddell and Scott) will confirm that this was so. Just one small matter I had to settle for myself. Planning to be two days in the saddle, I had to decide what to keep with me and what to send ahead. If it was the first time in my life that I had to work that out, it was also the last; for my bearer, once engaged, would relieve me of that responsibility ever afterwards. The situation was saved by something so humble I didn’t think it worth listing above: viz, my old haversack.

A couple of weeks later, enclosed in an imposingly embossed, very white, very stiff, cover from the seat of Government, comes in original a letter reporting the lengths to which an Englishman holding an official appointment of responsibility could go to snub and insult an Indian gentleman. The affront had not been delivered in the privacy of an interview, it had been advertised in a manner arguing deliberation. By omitting the honorific prefix ‘Pandit’ not in the message within—oh! no, but on the envelope which every Tom, Dick and Harry could see, I had ensured that my contempt for the addressee should become public property.

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