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Cover for Women of Anglo-India
Women of Anglo-India:
Tales and Memoirs

Co-edited by
Margaret Deefholts
and Susan Deefholts

 

O Woman! In our hours of ease
Uncertain, coy and hard to please,
And variable as the shade
By the light quivering aspen made;
When pain and anguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou!

(Sir Walter Scott - Marmion. Canto vi. Stanza 30.)

 

"Women of Anglo-India" is CTR's sixth book (see the 'Books' menu for the others) on the culture and way of life of the Anglo-Indian community, published over the last ten years (2000 - 2010).

 

In the guidelines for this book we stated:

 

"Seldom has any group been subjected to as exaggerated and as distorted a stereotype as the Anglo-Indian Woman. It is our intention to collect and preserve for posterity, the character and personality of the real Anglo-Indian woman."

Here is one quote from a prominent Indian author:

"Regular touts wandered about in Chowringee and nearby streets, and offered to take well dressed and prosperous Hindu youths to 'Anglo-Indians' in well known Eurasian streets."

 

(Continent of Circe - Nirad C Chaudhuri 1965)

 

This book provides insight and balance into the reality of the Women of Anglo-India. We have captured not only who she was but how she lived. We have captured her as a mother, a wife, a sister, a girl friend and as a person in her own right. Many scholars have stated that the Anglo-Indian woman was the bedrock of the community, in many cases having to be the bread winner and the home builder.

This book series has another important and synergistic function. It funds CTR, a USA registered 'Not for Profit' charity, established in 1999, to help destitute Anglo-Indians in India - by providing seniors with a monthly pension and supporting children's education. The gross sales proceeds of all CTR books goes to the charity (publishing costs are privately borne).

In my preface to Voices on the Verandah (2004) I wrote "I believe that we, the sixty-something generation of Anglo-Indians, have a unique opportunity to contribute to the dual purpose of this endeavor. Join me in influencing, perhaps creating, history. We can and will make a difference".

 

I believe we have and will continue to do so.

 

Blair Williams
Publisher, CTR Inc Publishing

PO Box 6345, Monroe Twp, NJ 08831, USA

Blair Williams, the publisher of this effort, is a Chartered Engineer (London) who immigrated to the USA from India in 1976. He has spent the last 24 years as an executive in manufacturing companies and is now an Industry Professor at Brooklyn Polytechnic. He is the author of a technical publication, "Manufacturing for Survival (Pearson 1997)".

 

On a visit to India in 1998 he was appalled to see the condition of the seniors of his Community, evoking the all too distressing realization that, "there, but for the grace of God, go I." On his return he set up CTR Inc., a 501c(3), 'Not For Profit' charity, expressly to help indigent Anglo-Indians in India. Today the charity provides monthly pensions to over 230 seniors in three major cities in India and is helping to educate over 100 children.

 

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Title / (Author) Review

What does India need most?

(Robyn Andrews)

The story highlights the positive characteristics of so many Anglo-Indian women who have, over the years, worked as secretaries in India, building a reputation as the country's best. The author's interview with Philomena Eaton comes with dialogue that is witty and sings rather than reads.

Mellifluous Mum

(Keith Butler)

One man's recollection of his mother's attempt to pull them out of poverty from a dreary Calcutta street by sending him to a boarding school. The various depictions of his mother as "Merciless-mum, Letter-mum, Telephone-mum, Catholic-mum, Perfect-mum and Mellifluous-mum" is both funny and sad in the way that only life can be.

Five unsung Anglo-Indian Women

(Margaret Deefholts)

This speaks of the grandmothers, mother, sister and daughterwho have been the corner stone of hearth and home, who inspired by example and sustained homespun family values. The article covers the impact that these women have had on the author's life and it dramatizes the inner and outer landscapes of the characters themselves.

Arrivals and Departures

(Sylvia Deefholts)

The author attempts to recapture the life of her mother by visiting the towns of Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Siliguri. She discovers again the excitement of a big city like Calcutta where her mother developed her sporting prowess that led her to excel in hockey and basketball as a young woman. The story captures the reader's imagination and takes one back to a different place and time.

A Woman for all Seasons

 (Darryl Earle)

This is in praise of a teacher, Thelma Williams, who like so many AI teachers have dedicated their lives to the service of others. In the author's words, Thelma bears out the adage that teachers are born, not made, and that it is the spirit of teaching, not the mechanics, that really counts.

A Century of Memories

(Ann Lobo)

The author recounts the life of her great grandmother Mary Ann Leonard (1860-1937) widowed at the age of thirty and who made a living in Bombay by supplying tiffin lunches to British and AI men working at Victoria Terminus. She represented one aspect of AI culture, which compelled women to work for a living due to difficult life circumstances.  The latter part of the story is about the author's mother Babette. The numerous descriptions of the foods prepared in the kitchens of these two women would fill a recipe book that one would want to buy.

Tiny but Mighty

(Lionel Lumb)

The author fondly remembers his Grand Aunt “Bird” who inculcated in him a love of books. Many of her strengths as teacher and storyteller are evident in "Tiny but Mighty".

My Sister

(Esther Lyons)

The empathy and compassion of a sister is clearly illustrated in this piece. It gives the reader a sense of appreciation of a sister's love and caring.

Memsahibs and Mentors

(Joyce Mitchell)

This is a tribute to a grandmother, aunt and a family friend who influenced the life of the author in so many different ways. It allows one to think of the women in our own family who have, in more than one way, touched our lives.

Daisy

(Ralph Moore)

The story centers around the author's mother who against all odds for a woman of her time ran a successful hotel called Blue Haven in the fishing village of Gopalpur. The story is skilfully and sensitively constructed around the living conditions in the early to mid twentieth century India.

Our Ray

(Tanya Noble)    

Ray Noble is one of the first sets of AI airhostesses to fly forAir India, at a time when airhostesses were beautiful and graceful and air travel was glamourous. Her story is told through the perceptive lens of her grand daughter.

Joyce Smith: An Anglo-Indian Woman

(Valerie Palmer)

A story about a mother's devotion for her children while handling the responsibilities as Vice Principal of a prominent school in Calcutta in the 1950s.

Sybil

(Gerald Platel)

The story starts with a poignant visit to a nursing home by the author to see his 90- year-old mother. The reader can guess what the end might be but is captivated by the narrative and the strength and resilience of such a remarkable woman as Sybil.

The Diffident Goddess

(Debbie Rodgers)

The author is remembering her school-girl friendship with Hanna, a girl coming from a deprived Anglo-Indian background but who pretends she has it all.

The woman from Rajastan:

Norma D’Sena Shires

(Reginald Shires)

A husband lovingly recounts the life history of his dear wife Norma.The story will touch the heart of every woman who has known the love of a good man.

Serving in the Women's Auxiliary Corps
(Deborah Van Veldhuizen)

The contribution to the war effort by two amazing Anglo-Indian women are detailed in this article with verbal clarity.

The Turning of the Wheel

(Geraldine Charles)

The author successfully captures the Indian side of her heritage through retrospect and flashback while transporting the reader through a time frame spanning several decades by the turning of the wheel.

Femme Feng Shui

(Joy Chase)

A delightful piece honouring five women in the four corners and center of the author's home, which brings true Feng Shui to her dwelling.

           

Calcutta days of Love And War

(Dolores Chew)

Gives insight into the plight of the Anglo- Burmese community through the displaced lives of two women who arrived in Calcutta from Burma, in the midst of war.

The Girl who had no Home

(David McMahon)

The story of an orphaned child (also the author's mother) who found solace in the love and caring of nuns, is a beautiful story that has been previously published in AITW.

Crossing the boundaries of Culture

(Dorothy McMenamin)

The conflicts in cultural values of Anglo-Indian women trying to maintain their western outlook while  living in India and their adaptation to life in other countries where there is no household help is discussed at length in this article.

           

The Dance of the Outsider

(Judith Sandhurst)

Unlike other articles in the book that are written mostly about women mentors, the author describes, with a keen sense of observation, her own realization of her AI identity as a young woman growing up in Canada.

Alone-Naturally, Circa 1970

(Marilyn Goss)

This is a story of a young girl landing her first job in Melbourne as a secretary and coping with the Aussie accent of her boss while she tries desperately to make sense of it all. With her family still in Calcutta, sadness and loneliness underlies the humour with which the story is told.

Mona

(Marilyn Goss)

A hauntingly beautiful story of a woman's slow decline into madness. Abandoned by her military husband, Mona's decline was gradual much like the plight of the AI community after the British left India.

                                   

Mrs. Dunn Descends on Lahore

(Lionel Lumb)

A humourous tale of an over bearing woman who is used to ruling the roost and everything else. All the characters in the story pay deference to the ubiquitous Elizabeth Farquhar Dunn in this well written story

The Last Nail

(Richard O'Connor)

This story is told in flashback of a daughter returning from Australia to attend her mother's funeral in Madras. The raw emotions of sadness, anger, regret and helplessness unfold as she thinks back on the difficult life of her mother and of her own struggles to fit into a post-independent India that had little or no respect for her as an Anglo-Indian woman.

Vera's Partition Baby

(John Walke)

Conceived in India and born in Pakistan, the author serves up a number of interesting anecdotes of his mother and her colourful storytelling throughout his childhood.

Anglo Indian Memsahibs in England Are Like This Only

(Rochelle Almeida)

The observations of the author after meeting a group of Anglo-Indian women ranging in age from 45 to 85 in the outskirts of London, are detailed under sub headings: appearance, dress, speech and writing, food habits, education and professions, marriage and family life, child rearing and lifestyle. The author remarks that although they've embraced English mores in an attempt to blend with their Anglo Saxon counterparts, for the most part, the metamorphosis is superficial.

In their Own Words: “Anglo-Speak” in
The UK

(Rochelle Almeida)

Any Anglo-Indian would know and understand the phrases used in this piece. If one is not concerned with the slaughter of the English language, then this article could be read with a smile on one’s face.

Anglo Indian Women In the Economy

(Lionel Caplan)

The author explores a different facet of AI women that is seldom talked about or given due credit, their outstanding contribution as nurses, teachers, secretaries, telephone operators etc. They were often the economic main stay of the family at a time when AI

men were finding it difficult to get work. Besides being employed, they also assumed responsibility for upbringing of children and welfare of ageing parents.

Will the Real Anglo-Indian Woman Please Stand Up!

(Dolores Chew)

Here is a historical perspective of the AI woman and the often absurd reasons for her being sexually objectified and vilified by Indian and British novelists alike. This is a well-researched and concise documentation of AI women during the period of the British Raj and beyond.

           
The Anglo-Indian Woman

(Shirley Gifford Pritchard)

Using a generic version of what an AI woman stands for and represents, the author attempts to cover all aspects of Anglo-Indian culture in colonial days until "along came Ghandhiji and Indian Independence in 1947 when her world changed and she was literally caught between India and England and felt she belonged in neither country."

Anglo-Indian Women and The Negotiation of Community Identity: 1920-1947

(Brent Howitt Otto, S.J)

The author is a post graduate student in International history at Columbia University and the London school of Economics, and is writing a thesis on the relationship between AI emigration and the experience of World War II, Partition and Independence. The author's maternal side of the family hails from Calcutta which perhaps has helped him to focus on AI women and their negotiation of community identity in this well thought out article.

  

An Anglo-Indian Male's Perspective

(Blair Williams)

This essay provides another view on the creation of the stereotype of the AI woman as a female of easy virtue. The English used it to reinforce their racial separation, while the Indian used it to strengthen the restraints imposed on their interactions with those

of the opposite sex. The author however, finds it infuriatingly false and makes a convincing argument in favour of the Anglo-Indian woman.

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Book Cover for Wpmen of Anglo-India. 100% of proceeds go to CTR!
Women of Anglo-India

US: $15.00 + (S&H - $3.50)
OTHER: $16.95 + (S&H - $13.50)
S&H for two is $16.50

 

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