23rd October 1931

Letter : Herbert Davy ( Nanking ) to Meher Baba

PAGE 1 :

( Send letters via Siberia and address to c/-  Dr. Borcic Weishengshu, Nanking )

** Part of this letter was written in ship stationary.

Dear Baba,

    I hope you and all the others ( Rustom, Ali, Chanji, Meredith, Margaret & Esther ) are all well; here the weather is very fine plenty of sunshine and cool air. I was glad to get off the boat for several reasons. There are a number of Europeans here - diplomats, advisors of all nationalities, and a growing number of experts from the League of Nations.

( We shall be in all about 15 League people soon).

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    Now at the beginning there seems to be money difficulties in regards to the teaching of English - western standards are so inapplicable to any thing in the East. It would seem that I shall have more leisure than I anticipated when speaking to you about this ; there are 2 terms, one from September till the end of January, and the second term from the last week in February till end of June. Then 40 days vacation.

PAGE 3 :

    I am very disappointed because so far I have received no letters, this may be due to misdirection ( ie. the wrong address ) or to accidents and bombs that have interrupted the Trans-Siberian & Chinese railways.

    There are American University run by missionaries called "The Nanking University", but the Government body is called "The Central University". The richer students go the American, and the poorer students to our Central  University. There are 2,000 students in all, and 70 in my department of English Literature...

PAGE 4 :  ... with whom most of my time will be spent. But through the language classes that the remaining 1,930 students must all attend, I may see a little of the majority though theoretically they are not in my department. But I shall have to help the language teachers to evolve more efficient methods of teaching English, if I can.

    All the Europeans and Siamese in the ports and on the boat told me the most depressing information about China - Men who have spent 20 years in Shanghai, etc. - and even up country stated.

PAGE 5 : ( 25th October )

    No moral courage - endless bribery & "squeeze" and corruption - inefficiency - no religion Of any kind - chaos  &  banditry - unsafe for a foreigner  to walk in the streets of Nanking - communistic students.

    I am relieved to find the Chinese I have met pleasanter than one group of my fellow-passengers !

    But you will realise that the work would be very gradual and very difficult if the above standards were wholly true. A diplomat confirmed from his own experience my own impressions about the boat - ( I mentioned my impressions in a letter from Singapore [ 23rd September ]).

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    I am living in a hotel until the house which the Swiss Professor and I are to share is found. Whether it is the political uncertainty, the endless crowds and poverty stricken coolies in the street outside; the organization  of the teaching ; or just the suspence that starting a new job involves ; I find it very difficult to think of you and our friends. More difficult than on the boat. The atmosphere of China seems very different from that of England. Possibly due to diet, I have been a vegetarian for 7 weeks and just lately I have felt intolerably sleepy and lacking in energy. Once before after 7 weeks I had the same experience.

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   Neither on the ship nor here in the hotel can one get fresh vegetables or proper variety - here it is dangerous to eat  any vegetables or fruits from the ground because the Chinese use human  X  night soil for manuring all their crops. Similarily there is no water supply of drainage in Nanking - everything must be boiled and cooked.

   The last few days I have had to eat fish and poultry at least ( best ) once a day. When I have my own cook it will be easier to arrange my diet. I am sorry, but do not see how I could avoid it.

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    I had to (be) inoculated for Cholera - I tried to avoid it but in the end I concentred. Owing to refugees, cholera and other diseases about.

    I had lunch with the "Minister of Home Affairs", we had a long talk about Gandhi and his passive resistance movement in India. He had a keen interest in Gandhi and his achievement, but found "non-violence" difficult to comprehend. Significant from several points-of-view !

    This letter will sound rather pessimistic, perhaps because I don't start my regular lectures till next Tuesday - I shall then, I hope, be more optimistic and confident.