Arriving in India

WWO Army Days India

It was 1943. There was a long train ride to Los Angeles. We were free to visit the city for a day so I went to find Hollywood and Vine. I had heard about it so often. I stood at this intersection thinking bells would ring and whistles sound but there was nothing of the sort. And I saw no movie stars.

Then I was on a ship. Its name was the name of a general but I don’t remember it now. There were several thousand of us on board. The trip to Bombay required a month. I didn’t get seasick even once. All I remember about the trip is that there was a lot of water all around. There were calm days and stormy days. My quarters were a hammock somewhere on the insides of the ship. I don’t remember being bored so I must have read a lot.

There was a short stop in Australia, so I can say I’ve been there. But we stayed on board.

Bombay represented an entirely new world to me. Everything was as new to me as living must be to a baby. Then there was a long, slow train ride to Calcutta which became our home base for several months. We were preparing to take a plan trip to Kunming. We lived in a military camp, drove around in Jeeps, toured Calcutta, and tried to keep dry during the monsoon season. The time passed slowly since there was not a lot to do.

Many years later I wrote a little poem that celebrated this adventure.

The fabulous East is known for its teas,
And poisonous snakes and coconut trees.
The seat is a mat whenever one eats
And when people go out, they dress up in sheets.

This poem was in the form of a Rhyme-O-Gram (a form I invented) where four words are spelled using the same letters. Here, the words are East, teas, seat, and eats.

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