Letter From C. Richard Wright: Bombay

In Bombay

Excerpts from a letter of C. Richard Wright

Inner Culture, August 1936

Royal Hotel, Bombay, India, June 2, 1936.

Sorry that time does not permit my long tale of our terrific motor journey from Delhi to Bombay along the edge of the vast Rajputana Desert-but that must await our return, as must many other anecdotes.

At the present moment I am relaxing in the more moderate climate of Bombay, not relaxing exactly, for I am arranging a three-day campaign in Bombay, while Swamiji has returned to Calcutta.

Constantly he remarks on the loyalty and devotion of his little nucleus back in America, and it is the cooperation and steadfastness of all in the West that will finally lure him away from the eager clutches of the Eastern devotees. (Wish I could bring home several for companions.)

So, all in all, it is a trifle empty and quiet in Bombay, with Swamiji off in Calcutta, but he will be here in time for his lectures on the 8th, 9th, and 10th of June.

Bombay is the cleanest and most Westernized city in India, full of activity, both modern and ancient-beautiful buildings of grand architecture with elaborate decorations and trimmings in a setting of shady trees and palms-wide boulevards twist about the island or peninsula on which rests Bombay, and the “Champs Elysees” of Bombay is Queen’s Road, which skirts the bay and beach and climbs atop Malabar Hill, where is seen a glorious panorama of Bombay by night, with its multi-colored neonlights and nickering signboards and firefly auto lights weaving about the maze of streets.

The city proper is a whirlpool of activity, with large department stores, small shops, street peddlers, horse-drawn, four-wheeled buggies (quite dignified), trams with trailers, double-decker trams, rubber-tired buses, bicycles, and the latest and best automobiles in all India—a progressive city in a retarded India, with much wealth apparent. And Bombay enjoys the best climate of all India’s large cities; Calcutta at 105 degrees, Delhi at 109 degrees; Lahore at 115 degrees, Benares at 107 degrees, with Bombay at 97 degrees, and the monsoon is expected to burst here next week, and then things will be cooler, and, of course, wetter. But India suffers greatly just before the monsoon, but is somewhat more bearable thereafter. All in all, Bombay is rather appealing in its way, and the same is true of all Indian cities-in their own way they attract.

Well, the blue of the night has settled about us, with a fresh sea zephyr kissing the leaves and cavorting in our room in ecstasy under the fan, so there is not much else to do but pray that you are all well, and assure you that we are the same.

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