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A Rabbit For Half a Rupee

A Rabbit For Half a Rupee

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Published by AuthorHouseBooks
Weekly letters from a leprosy hospital in the foothills of the Himalayas form the basis of this memo of an English family living in Nepal in the 1970s. Battling with language learning; bartering in the bazaar; tackling home schooling for two boys and helping to run an international playgroup - these are just a few of the challenges Barbara Collier faces.Later, travelling with three children through Thailand and Burma proves an eventful experience. Sickness brings complications and the alteration of plans in their final year.
Weekly letters from a leprosy hospital in the foothills of the Himalayas form the basis of this memo of an English family living in Nepal in the 1970s. Battling with language learning; bartering in the bazaar; tackling home schooling for two boys and helping to run an international playgroup - these are just a few of the challenges Barbara Collier faces.Later, travelling with three children through Thailand and Burma proves an eventful experience. Sickness brings complications and the alteration of plans in their final year.

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  • CHAPTER 10
  • CHAPTER 11
  • CHAPTER 12
  • CHAPTER 13
  • CHAPTER 14
  • CHAPTER 15
  • CHAPTER 16
  • CHAPTER 17
  • CHAPTER 18
  • CHAPTER 19
  • CHAPTER 20
  • CHAPTER 21
  • CHAPTER 22
  • CHAPTER 23
  • CHAPTER 24
  • CHAPTER 25

Rabbit For Half a Rupee


Rabbit For Half a Rupee


Barbara Collier

AuthorHouse™ 1663 Liberty Drive Bloomington, IN 47403 www.authorhouse.com Phone: 1-800-839-8640

© 2013 by Barbara Collier. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.

Published by AuthorHouse 01/25/2013 ISBN: 978-1-4817-8192-3 (sc) ISBN: 978-1-4817-8193-0 (hc) ISBN: 978-1-4817-8194-7 (e) Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models, and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only. Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock. This book is printed on acid-free paper. Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

Introduction ....................................................................................vii Chapter 1: Seven Items of Hand Baggage......................................1 Chapter 2: Anandaban ..................................................................5 Chapter 3: Comings and Goings.................................................11 Chapter 4: Learning Together .....................................................16 Chapter 5: Ready To Move? ........................................................21 Chapter 6: Philip Flies South ......................................................28 Chapter 7: Lessons for All ...........................................................35 Chapter 8: Food and Festivals .....................................................40 Chapter 9: A Tale of Two Rivers ..................................................45 Chapter 10: First Christmas ..........................................................49 Chapter 11: Pokhara .....................................................................55 Chapter 12: Death of a King.........................................................59 Chapter 13: Sickness in the Family/1 ............................................74 Chapter 14: Sickness in the Family/2 ............................................79 Chapter 15: Grazing Ground ........................................................84 Chapter 16: Family and Other visits .............................................89 Chapter 17: More Visitors ............................................................95 Chapter 18: Christmas and a Merry Birthday .............................100 Chapter 19: Further East ............................................................105 Chapter 20: At Home and Away .................................................110 Chapter 21: Another Move .........................................................118 Chapter 22: Notes from Anandaban ...........................................124 Chapter 23: Man’s Plans? ............................................................132 Chapter 24: Convalescence .........................................................140 Chapter 25: Final Days ...............................................................145 Epilogue ........................................................................................151


nearly 7. almost 5 and Ruth. putting Western materialism to shame.” For me. At times it was challenging and exhausting. meaning ‘Forest of Joy. It was useless to explain that leprosy is one of the least contagious diseases and we were not expecting to live IN the hospital building. barely two years old. as one leprosy doctor discovered when he tried to sell a typewriter. sheer and vast. Jim. We had expected to stay in Delhi. sheer and vast. . Kathmandu! What romantic images it evoked from Kipling: “Himalaya. Philip. cheerful and generous. . . A million summits bedding on a lost world’s past. Prejudice produces fear. The mission had a hospital in the nearby foothills and there was a British Primary School to provide education for the children. were preparing to fly to Asia with the Leprosy Mission. but missionary visas were not readily available in 1970. Nepal. A certain sacred mountain where the scented cedars climb . so Kathmandu. altogether more varied and exciting than anything imagined. heavenward heading. the memorable mountain had pine clad slopes and was called Anandaban.’ Although we were there for less than three years it was an unforgettable place. an accountant. would do a survey of field finances in a number of Indian hospitals. Our weekly letters to our parents vii . The would-be buyer somehow imagined it was infected! Philip and I with David. was suggested as our base. We were humbled to view at close hand an amazing third world culture.IntroduCtIon “What! Taking three small children to Asia to live at a leprosy hospital?” Family and friends were shocked at the thought.

missionary life is no more romantic than any other kind of existence.) I have not changed a lot of lives. Extracts from many of them are included. 1973. In reality. learning a lot in the process. but simply carried on being a housewife and mother in different circumstances. ‘striding through the jungle in a white hat’ as Dad so humorously put it. even if it is full of unexpected things (not always pleasant. viii . of course.Barbara Collier described our experiences. for example: July 23rd. I used to imagine myself as a missionary.

a vital component.CHAPTER 1 seven Items of Hand Baggage One chilly winter morning in Hertfordshire our toddler. But there was no time to be nervous. The boys were delighted to have a duffle bag each. During those early days of 1971 the drums were filled with many of the anticipated needs of a family of five for the next three years. Although Philip had flown to Europe as a teenager our family holidays had not extended beyond Wales or the south coast of England. in desperation. was ‘helping’ me pack. Philip was carrying a large flight bag and a portable typewriter—(no laptops in those days!) During the preceding weeks I had taken a short typing course in the hope of being able to type letters and reports. On investigation I discovered the valve for the pressure cooker. . Immediate necessities were crammed into the airline baggage allowance for four. . Anyone who has travelled with a toddler knows how much basic stuff is needed for any journey. let alone an overnight one of 6. Ruth. containing travel essentials. As well as my handbag I had a baby bag for Ruth. Because Ruth’s second birthday was due several days after the flight booked for us she did not qualify for a seat.000 miles . We were also able to bring a lightweight folding buggy pushchair—a new invention in those days—into the plane for her. I had never flown before. or baggage. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed her reaching up to drop something in one of the three large oil drums being prepared for shipment via India. (David had the potty in his!) A large box of Lego proved impossible to fit in until. . I packed it safely inside the cooker. we emptied it into Jimmy’s bag and the pieces settled down to fill every odd corner—so between us 1 . Rescuing it.

but: “the clouds cleared as we flew over France and as we left Paris we had a glimpse of boats on the Seine. had been waiting since 4. but we were spared having Lego. As we were approaching Delhi at the time it seemed almost symbolic—but. Flying over the Alps was awe inspiring—(what will the Himalayas look like?) After a short stop for leg stretching at Rome we had a beautiful view of the calm. contrasting impressions—swaying bullock carts and honking army trucks filling the road. very refreshing. Dr. At Heathrow Airport there was an extra security alert because of trouble in the Middle East.Barbara Collier we had seven items of hand baggage. We all piled into a taxi for Delhi’s YMCA hotel.” It was a dull morning when we left London. Then there were myriads of winking lights beneath us and Jimmy commented: “It’s like a great big Christmas tree with loads of decorations!” The family slept fitfully during the long night until a rainbow coloured sky announced the sunrise over India. Das. Our Indian director. On that first journey in India I had fleeting. For an awful moment I thought they were going to empty out the contents of the boys’ duffle bags. I was brought back to earth by a sudden. Dark clouds surrounded us as we approached Beirut and we had the impression of a storm. Then we caught sight of the Morning star. little wayside stalls. bright and clear. on April 1st.45 at the airport. I described it in a letter to Philip’s parents: “A last minute police search included frisking. areas of parched grass and masses of bougainvillea trailing over walls.” Japan Airlines gave a very good service throughout. whose owners 2 . blue Mediterranean. against a blue background. including hot towels after every take-off. lest I became too starry-eyed. unexpected attack of air sickness! Five ‘fools’ landed safely at 6am. scattered everywhere. etc.

it is the ordinary open street which is most fascinating. Although the tourist attractions are interesting.30 am we reached the hotel. bikes and variously clad pedestrians all jostling each other. so that it looks as if it is growing out of the ground. bullock carts. set in a flowered garden with neat green lawns shaded by palm and other trees. alongside large. peanut-sellers sitting on the pavement weighing out their merchandise on little hand scales. palm trees and brightly coloured flowers all seen in the brilliant glare of the blazing sun. a fine old piece of architecture about as big as the Tower of London and coloured the same browney red as the soil. two offers of illicit currency conversion and one of hashish. About 7. modern European style buildings. with its cars. trying to catch up on lost sleep while the outside temperature soared to over 100F. Tooting the horn is neither a sign of impatience nor an effective means of influencing 3 . We bought sun hats for the boys from an open fronted shop. the shop keeper produced clean ones from a plastic bag. taxis. tall turbaned doorman with a fierce expression. We were greeted by an imposing. bicycle rickshaws. Our two air conditioned rooms had wonderfully comfortable beds and we spent a restful morning. In the attached bathroom the toilet looked (and smelt) as though it had not been cleaned. A room boy obligingly wiped it over with a rather grubby cloth. Later I washed some of the children’s clothes and used the suds to slosh over several doubtful areas! Philip wrote: “I ventured out for a short walk and in ten minutes had refused three offers of taxis to the airport. guaranteed to discourage any bad behaviour. cows. They tried on the hats displayed and.” April 2nd: Today we went to the Red Fort. but I longed for a bottle of disinfectant. when the style had been chosen.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee sleep on the pavement beside them.

Once we were in the air Ruth fell asleep immediately and slept on my lap throughout the two hour flight. there was much to see. We had arrived! 4 . including workmen swarming up and down wooden scaffolding on a nearby construction site. It is merely a social norm—a kind of ritual to be enacted by a driver when there is anything in front. April 3rd: We got up at 4. Soon we were rattling through the town in the hospital Land Rover on the way to Anandaban. David sat opposite me. slowly circulating the torrid air. a young Englishman.Barbara Collier other traffic. Several Indian people came up to speak to us and some mothers with babies were fascinated by Ruth’s pushchair. Then followed a swift descent. I wrote to my parents: During the long wait the children were very good and. Back at the hotel we got used to the rhythmic sound of the large electric ceiling fan in our rooms. a jolt and a bump and we were on the runway in Kathmandu. in order to see out of the window. John Harris waiting for us on the tarmac as we came down the steps. Philip sat behind with Jimmy. It did not actually leave until nearly 1pm. He steered us through the customs in no time. It was a relief to find Dr. He could not contain his excitement and kept leaning across his companion. of course. wearing a dark red turban. The heat on the plain beneath was so intense that the mountains were shrouded in mist and we saw little as we flew over.30 to catch a flight from Delhi at 7am. Seating was scarce and I found myself next to a silent Sikh. speaking fluent Nepali. From the courtyard echoed the shouts of the dhobi men doing the laundry.

The adjacent kitchen has stone work surfaces and lots of built-in cupboards. also bamboo and tall pampas grass. Our bungalow was solidly built of brick and stone. because the whole slope is wooded with pine trees and banana palms. then filtered through an urn-like arrangement in the kitchen. Philip wrote: The hospital and its outbuildings are on a steep slope overlooking a magnificent valley. giving the appearance of corrugated cardboard.000 feet above sea level. Elsie Harris had prepared the bungalow for us. The name Anandaban means ‘forest of joy’ in Nepali. The hillsides are in deep glacial folds. twelve miles from Kathmandu and reached by a precipitous. A large open fireplace is in the corner of this room. Downstairs on the 5 . Anandaban Leprosy hospital is built into the hillside at over 5. We can never see all the view at once. All drinking water has to be boiled. It is surrounded by foothills. winding mountain road.CHAPTER 2 anandaBan The wide Kathmandu valley was once a glacial lake. rising in the North towards the snow peaks of the high Himalayas. There is also a small scullery-cum-pantry where we cook on a kerosene stove. There was a bowl of sweet peas on the table and the larder was stocked with tins of food. sometimes used as hedges. even making up beds. I described it to my parents: Entering the front door there is a guest bedroom and bathroom on each side of a short passage leading to the main lounge/dining room. with various cactuses.

The ground is carpeted with dry pine needles and all around is soft green foliage. It was the dry season when rain is unheard of. During the drive from Kathmandu Dr. Several gentle showers followed. We may be able to rig up some kind of fencing. Hot water is obtained by boiling a large metal bowl (called a dekshi) on the stove. Soon it will be time for rice planting. Soon after writing that I succumbed to ‘Delhi Belly’ or ‘Kathmandu colic’. From our bedroom window we look across the valley at terraced slopes of wheat.Barbara Collier lower level are the bedrooms. Two days later. Cold water is on tap. As we reached the point on the road where we could look down on the river a small trickle of water was visible. Another side effect was that there was no water for irrigation of crops. Some of the hospital workers appeared. so that the crop will benefit from the rains due at the end of May. A tall pine tree stands near the level of our front door. The Australian agriculturist and others had been praying for rain. The boys love playing and tracking outside and come in filthy! We cannot let Ruth out for long as the ground slopes quite steeply beyond the path. Harris told us that the flow of water in the valley had been too low to work the hydram on which the hospital water supply depended. or some such intestinal infection. after distant thunder. They had been working on the channel all day and said we should have to be careful with water for a few days. so that she has a safe play area. a large bathroom and toilet with washbasin. either following 6 . just right for watering! April 5th:The view outside the bungalow is truly beautiful. shower and a zinc bath tub. almost ready for harvest. a freak shower fell. By the time I recovered Ruth was trotting along the mountain paths like a little goat.

or going to visit ‘Auntie Elsie’ in the doctor’s house. We were adapting to a mainly vegetarian diet. Margaret. a lovely fresh blend from the Terai region. The tangerines were as big as oranges and limes were plentiful. inviting two year old Robbie and two children of the Indian cashier. The milkman brought us about a litre of milk a day in a metal can. obtained locally. Post generally takes about a week. collect plants. Philip wrote to his parents: The children are enjoying this place tremendously. April 14th to my parents: Thank you for your letter which reached us on Monday. most of which the children had. and David has written a list of new things he has seen. The small chocolate Easter eggs we had brought with us were the main attraction. All the changes are accepted as adventures. On Friday it will be Jimmy’s birthday. Butter. We celebrated Ruth’s birthday on Sunday. We could make up the supply with tins of condensed milk. John Paterson (the Australian agriculturalist) and his wife. We used slices of lime in our tea. The boys play with Robbie as well as some of the Nepali staff children. They have enormous appetites and thoroughly enjoyed their dinner of dhal (lentils) with chappatis today. with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee the boys. We never built the fence! April 10th. I am hoping to produce a cake in my ‘oven’. but did not really understand what it was all about. Robbie and a new baby. so we are planning a little party. a sort of tin box which fits over a kerosene stove. They explore. etc. as the unaccompanied baggage did not arrive until the end of last week. despite language problems. cheese and peanut butter came in tins. after it was boiled and strained. have a two year old son. She had two cards by post. used 7 .

Life is very different here. The day begins early. Ruth will come with us and the boys will be able to stay at home and play while Philip works in the spare room. This speeds the cooking and ensures everything is well sterilised. Last week I tried out some shortbread. This is followed by toast.Barbara Collier for cooking. It is wonderful to wake up each morning and look at the mountains. I managed to do some baked potatoes and a sort of pudding/cake mixture which proved quite appetising. We usually sit down to a breakfast of cornflakes or porridge before 7. but not at all uncomfortable.30 am. done on a sort of griddle. Imagine the local market where everything has to be bargained for and you will have some idea what it will be like—should be fun! We shall also be meeting some of the other lady missionaries at. however. while the kettle is boiling. of all things. Apparently. Washing takes quite a while. so here’s hoping! Tomorrow Elsie is taking me into Kathmandu to introduce me to bazaar shopping. Yesterday. with marmalade or peanut butter. the mission wives meet once a month in this way. as the children are usually awake soon after 6am. I use the pressure cooker regularly for other meals. Philip keeps a flask of hot water overnight for shaving. just as I used to on holidays in Wales. which he has turned into an office. a coffee morning! There is something rather amusing about that—Coffee in Kathmandu. we all dress and wash in cold water. One of us lights the stove for an early cup of tea and. which turned out just right at the top. We have two stoves going 8 . as all the water has to be heated in large ‘dekshis’ on the stove. but burnt at the bottom.

which is scarce here. I do the ironing then. or we may use the tape recorder. David wrote describing a local wedding. having blown a fuse. quite a big affair. At present the latter is not working. consisting of an Australian cake mix (from Margaret Paterson). however. April 19th: Jimmy’s card arrived today. Colourful umbrellas 9 . Boiling is done in a bucket. There were nine children at the tea table.) It did not impair their appetites. turned out quite well in our unpredictable oven.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee when we need a lot. supplied by the hospital generator. PS. However. five of whom spoke very little English. Could you send me a recipe for Welsh bakescones. each evening. others with Jimmy’s new printing set. and afterwards they played together in little groups. I also managed some cheese straws. We watched the procession winding its way down the narrow mountain track and across the valley. but it has to be stoked up with wood and may only be used when water is plentiful—not at the moment. (There were no air deliveries over the weekend owing to unsettled weather. with an added egg and fervent prayer for success. some with toy cars. We have electricity from 6 to 10pm. There is an outside boiler house which supplies water for baths. we have had several heavy showers of rain since I last wrote. having brought back some fresh cheese from the town.) The children had a happy time on Friday. please? I have a griddle and could substitute orange peel for dried fruit. being south Indian or Nepali (children of hospital staff.. etc. some with Lego. The cake. unaffected by the language barrier.

almost hidden by fallen pine needles. I have been carefully wringing out the washing over it and was rewarded a day or two ago by the sight of the first pink rosebud opening. Ruth is already learning to tread cautiously near the edge. However. April 20th: There are lots of intersecting paths and steps above us leading to various hospital buildings and living quarters. It is safer for the children to play on the path at the front than on the back ‘shelf ’. accompanied by a throbbing drum.Barbara Collier bobbed in the breeze and a brass band led the way. but no direct way down to the valley. playing cheerful Eastern music. but most of the windows face out over the valley. There is a large geranium pot near the front door and during the dry spell I fed it on washing up water! 10 . Our front door opens onto the mountain path. The other day I discovered some cream coloured orchids growing near the wall of the house. There is a flower border all around the shelf with a rose bush in one spot.

The car was heavily loaded.) It is a case of finding a seat on the regular clinic or shopping trips. She was awake all day and did not drop off to sleep until nearly 7pm. but each time one of us goes we 11 . on Wednesday we are looking forward to our first family outing in Kathmandu. Philip is taking David into town. I had a good day last week. We can rarely travel in together as there is only one Land Rover working at present. so we shall need to explore the shops. Our family trip to town has still not come off. on the ride home. He has several business calls and hopes to make an appointment for us to visit the British Primary School run by the British Council. We reached the hospital just before 7.” Psalm 119. their dim outlines ghost-like among the clouds. However. due to transport limitations. meeting quite a few people in Kathmandu.30 and the night watchman guided me down the steps to our house with a lantern in one hand and our shopping in the other. while I carried a sleeping Ruth. (a lorry is awaiting spare parts held up in India.CHAPTER 3 ComIngs and goIngs April 19th. Watching the swinging pool of yellow light from the lantern illuminating each step in turn I was reminded of a favourite verse in the psalms: “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. There are quite a few things we need to buy.105 Tomorrow. Ruth took everything in her stride. May 3rd. It was gloriously sunny and on the way there I caught my first glimpse of the high Himalayas. so progress was slow along the mountain road as it became dark. which has just reopened after the Easter holidays.

coca cola. etc. but it takes on the air of a picnic party. peanuts. Cows wander about and sometimes try to snatch vegetables out of shopping baskets.) 6th May: My bread-making is not very successful yet. In some areas there are three or four temples in sight from the same spot. Dr.Barbara Collier take one or more of the children. so we do not intend to rush things. The Mission is urging us to move in. There is no vacancy at the school until the end of the year. Harris went on holiday towards the end of April leaving Jennifer Turner. She had 12 . which may become worse when the rains start in earnest and the road is impassable at times. We once nearly lost some carrots that way! We were beginning to learn the average prices of things and shopping was less hazardous. Kathmandu itself revolves around a very large rectangular park or maidan. but it will take time to find accommodation. Traders sit on the pavement selling fruit. the Tundikhel. as it resembled hard German bread in texture! We are fortunately able to obtain fresh bread from the Kathmandu bake house several times a week. most traders knew enough English to explain the price (one lady showed me the money in coins. The only real problem is communication and shopping. in charge of the hospital. The last lot was named Himalayan Humpernikel by the family. We could count up to ten in Nepali but got lost with higher figures. The main streets are broad and have wide pavements lined with trees. They also make delicious rolls as big as baps. The car is usually well laden with people and shopping. Away from the centre streets are lined with open-fronted shops where you can buy almost anything. the English nurse. Fortunately. which helped. One of the delights of a shopping trip is to sit in the Land Rover munching a fresh bread roll on the way home. and Mrs.

when a clinic was held in Kathmandu. Yesterday Kedar was using a sort of mud to clean stove blacking off the cooking pots. He enjoys this and likes to hear his voice on the tape recorder. The cashier’s wife. Next week I hope to begin regular lessons with the boys. Before the Harrises left we were relieved to obtain some help in the home. although he only looked 11 0r 12. Kedar was a Nepali boy of about 15. I told my parents: “He is cheerful and willing and does not seem to mind sweeping and washing the stone floors. obtaining useful phrases. Ruth joined in eagerly. You may imagine what she looked like when they had finished! Now that she is more cautious about climbing we allow her to trot up the steps to the Thomas’ house to see the chickens. but the Harrises assured us he had already been doing coolie work. while I managed on my own. Ruth is quite happy ‘helping’ Kedar. She 13 . Mrs Thomas. while everyone was away. carrying heavy loads in a basket for long distances. Although we understand little of each other’s language we get by with demonstrations and signs. because she would never manage the 12 mile ride into town once she was in labour. as we have not yet been able to make arrangements about school.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee a fully trained Indian nurse and several leprosy trained paramedical workers with her. which will enable me to start the boys on things without her interrupting. she was expecting her third baby in a month’s time and I fervently hoped the baby did not decide to come early. On Thursdays. At first we thought it hardly fair to expect him to do housework. Kedar goes after her and carries her back under one arm. the laboratory technician was in charge. She was actually booked into hospital two weeks before her due date. all of which I was getting behind with. Philip and I spend time with him each day.

” The weather had been changeable. We began to have visitors. an ice axe and a monkey.30 one evening there was a knock on our door. Next day all the Nepalis said: ‘Go to Anandaban’. He travelled light. mobile ‘phones and satellite communication it was not easy to know when guests would arrive in Kathmandu—even less so in the hills. It was good to have news of Mollie Clark. in the hope of meeting us. We hope he made it. a nurse we had met in England. We had an enjoyable weekend and managed to get 14 . the wheat crop would be ruined and local farmers would only have their rice crop to live on for the next year. Dr. A Swiss engineer had been stranded 2 days journey away when his car was stuck in mud. but if the boys follow her there are loud protests. carrying only a map. Philip described one unexpected arrival: “About 8.Barbara Collier does not seem to mind that.” Before the days of reliable telephones. One night he slept in a Nepali home in the mountains. the postman handed us a letter announcing their proposed arrival. You may imagine the boys’ delight when they found a real mountaineer with a real. live monkey had come for bed and breakfast! Next day he set off in better weather. Some thought the monsoon had arrived early. When Tuleram. they had actually travelled with him from town and were less than a hundred yards behind him on the path! With them they had their hospital books and work for Philip to do. Gaeter and his wife came to visit from another Himalayan mission station. who worked with them. If so. Harris had spent the week before we flew in going to and from the airport. Dr. like a wet English summer. hoping to reach his car by the evening and that the mud had dried enough for him to get home.

but they sent her home. We had expected her to stay in after the weekly clinic. overlooking the central park. I asked Kedar to call the children for lunch. We celebrated with a tin of frankfurters which I had spotted in Kathmandu. giving her backache. for ice cream and bought cream cakes for David’s birthday. Philip was driving and the road was more bumpy than usual after heavy rain. We took the children to the Park Restaurant. Typing it out exercised my new found typing skills.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee their transistor radio going with a battery from our tape recorder in time to hear the BBC World News. Two days later her third son was born. complete with photograph. The boys enjoyed them more than steak. Then Kedar marched in playing the recorder with the three children following him. May 14th: On Tuesday we had the use of the land rover and Philip drove us into town for our long-awaited day out. signature and two thumb prints to prove his identity! I had no regrets about not having one. Philip had obtained his Nepali driving licence. a nice surprise—(post was rather irregular with the onset of the rains. Three days after that Mrs Thomas was driven into town to await the birth of her baby. which was very popular. We were all relieved when she was safely settled in hospital. A few minutes later I heard a gay Nepali tune being played nearby.) Nana sent David a recorder. Soon after they left Philip handed me a 30 page report he had written. 15 . A letter from the grandparents arrived on David’s birthday. Even a bicycle could be perilous on some stretches of the road. which would cost about the same in England. like the pied piper.

I still find it difficult to give them as much time as I should like and Philip has too much of his own work. Every day brought us fresh experience in adapting to a different culture and provided learning material for the boys. Philip was later to see the consequences of this first hand. Meanwhile. then flooded with water from higher levels. In March there had been a bitter civil war in Pakistan and refugees were pouring into West Bengal. The boys have settled into the routine of having daily lessons and look forward to doing things. She passed on a good book with composition suggestions for David. Today I took the boys down to watch the people working in the fields. First the field is ploughed with a yoke of buffalo. Margaret Paterson was a trained teacher and offered help in home schooling. but he hears David read occasionally. May 18th: We have had one or two drier days this week which have speeded up the rice planting. put them in bundles and pass them to the foreman in charge 16 . men gather the young green rice shoots from the small nursery fields. Yesterday we walked down the valley and along the canal bank to the hydram to discover how the water system works. Meanwhile. Jimmy has completed his first reading book and David has quite a lot of practice writing letters. May 14th. Confused reports reached us and the plight of five million refugees was a grim thought. the wheat harvest was in progress and rice planting had begun. The boys wrote and drew pictures about it.CHAPTER 4 LearnIng togetHer During May and June we were preparing for two major changes—Philip’s first tour of Indian hospitals and our move into Kathmandu.

A Rabbit For Half a Rupee of transplanting. when a grey mist hovers over the hills and green and grey predominate. Church was definitely different. May 21st: Kedar’s English knowledge is growing and he is very helpful in teaching us Nepali. The view across the valley is like a patchwork quilt. The monsoon is well on the way now. This morning it was clear at first and the sun appeared while we were eating breakfast. weather permitting. They work quickly and steadily. but it was good to share the radiance of his smile. The women stand in a long row and each has a bundle of shoots. correcting us when we say things wrongly. It must be a back-breaking job.) Blending with it are the brown fields prepared for rice planting and the pale green of new crops appearing here and there. An ex patient. Jennifer Turner tried to point out the words of a Nepali hymn one morning. There is the yellow of ripening wheat (some of which has been spoilt by the rain and will only be fit for animal fodder. but we still see quite a lot of sunshine. A Sunday morning service was held on the hospital roof. One Friday evening the local shoe-maker led the Bible study. Then they pass on to the next one. Finding the script intimidating I gave up and just hummed the tune! We were working hard at learning the language. Darker green trees stand out in places and the little houses add touches of colour. We could not understand a word he said. lighting up the houses on the hilltop to the west. On Friday and Sunday evenings we met in one of the staff houses. he still bore the marks of leprosy on his face and hands. but this afternoon I was in the kitchen when I noticed 17 . Our times of Christian fellowship and worship were enriched by Asian Christians. replanting the shoots in the ankle-deep water until the whole field is covered. It is beautiful even in the rain. Today has been very warm.

Philip wrote: “The bungalow has eight rooms and a flat roof. He was introduced to the landlord and we have been given an option to take over the lease as soon as some necessary repairs have been done.L. There was a sudden shout: “Pani Ayo!”—It’s raining. The flat roof has been leaking. June 3rd. Philip was very enthusiastic when he heard about it and called in on Friday. The position is very convenient. I was asked if there was any news of accommodation for us. When they were bathing in the tin tub recently they told me how they missed the bath at home in England. which has spoilt 18 . An extra blessing is a European bath. ten minutes by taxi from the airport and accessible to almost everything. which will delight the boys.” June 10th: We went to town again to see the landlord of the bungalow.Barbara Collier mist on the mountains and realised it was raining. When I went shopping last week the boys were invited to play with some of their future school friends at the home of another missionary family in Kathmandu. A garden completely surrounds the building. While there I heard that the office is to be moved to a new site at the university and the American family renting the bungalow will also move at the end of June. but had to reply “Not yet. “Water has come!”). then “Luga!” (washing) and we all rushed down the steps to rescue the dry washing from the back shelf before a heavy downpour.” Later that afternoon I called at the S. They told me the school has decided to employ another teacher and hope to open a new class in September—good news for our children. echoed by the children.I. It is a turning off one of the main streets quite near the royal Palace. (literally. office to buy some Nepali language books—we need a copy for ourselves.

having abandoned the Land Rover way back on the road when it landed in a ditch. On the way home the road was quite bad after heavy rain. Adina. This morning the lorry went out again. Adina came down to eat with us and we all prayed for the safe return of everyone. The rain was torrential. Everyone was safe. to supper. Eventually. If it had not been for the lorry they would have been stranded for the night. the hospital driver. as Mollie Clark was travelling down at the beginning of July. taking some workmen to help haul the car out of the ditch. seems to be able to manoeuvre the car through incredibly narrow gaps at times.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee the ceilings and he did not seem keen on the idea of resealing it and redecorating. At midnight we heard the lorry and Philip went out to meet it. We had invited Jennifer and her Indian colleague. so it was a blessing it was repaired in time to be available for the emergency. I went to see Elsie to discuss what might have happened and just before 9pm. June 11th: Yesterday it began raining mid-afternoon and continued all night. At 8pm. We did not want to enter into a rental agreement until we had some assurance that work would be done. Philip was planning to go to India earlier than expected. 19 . We slipped and slithered along with little more than a foot between us and the edge in some places. but the Land Rover bringing everyone back from the clinic did not arrive. Only recently the lorry was off the road with a broken axle. This was the first time they had broken down on a clinic trip. though very wet. so you may imagine what the road was like. Prem. John Paterson took the lorry out to search for them.

Since the extra heavy rain she has been in bed with pneumonia. 20 .Barbara Collier June 24th: Kedar’s sister. We heard that some paddy fields have been washed away. It is officially school holidays here so I am (thankfully) easing up on teaching. Elsie has lent me some books on ‘things to make and do’. asked for time off this month to help with the rice planting. which will give a few more ideas to occupy the boys during the rainy season. who works for the Patersons. but we are expecting to meet the headmistress when she spends a few days of her holiday at Anandaban. We began to learn the Devanagiri script and proudly told our parents that ‘namaste’ means both ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’. apart from reading. No news of larger premises for the school yet.

This had thoroughly alarmed me. The movement improves the muscles in hands with nerve deformities. Margaret Paterson and I called to see them on Monday. One young boy had produced a pullover in a week. In June Elsie took me to see the patients doing knitting for occupational therapy. That meant preparations to move house were stepped up. His flight to India was booked for July 5th. Philip was then asked to chaperone a Nepali schoolgirl. but had little chance to do so. to my parents: Just now I am busy making lists of the bare essentials we need to move house. They have a lovely little house with a thatched roof. then his mother and now his younger brother is in bed. It helped me realise what a daily challenge medical missionaries face in outlying areas.CHAPTER 5 ready to move? As a former nurse and midwife I was interested to see what went on in the hospital. Most patients could manage squares. First his sister. 21 . thinking mainly of Mrs. I am not looking forward to telling Kedar we are leaving. Before going on holiday Dr. It was amazing what even the men managed. We received the good news that David was offered an unexpected vacancy at the British Primary School for the new term starting on July 12th. July 2nd. His family have had a lot of sickness lately. facing the broad expanse of the Eastern valley. however stiff their hands. which were then made into a blanket for them to keep on discharge. who was going to Karigiri for an artificial limb fitting. Harris had casually asked if I would be available for ‘emergencies’. The landlord says it will be ready by the 15th. being fully occupied with the family. Thomas’ baby. Working in a well-equipped London hospital was a far cry from an isolated hillside in Nepal.

eventually killing it. like all Nepali homes (windows let in too much cold air in the winter. which is dark. She was born with a deformed leg which caused embarrassment to her family. hobbling on crutches. so I think Philip will have a difficult job escorting her. arrived. July 5th: Today has been quite hectic. Kokhana is a very overcrowded place and it was some time before a welfare worker discovered the truth about her. 22 . Not liking to leave it on the path.30. we gave chase with a rake and some bricks.Barbara Collier We sat on the wooden verandah and. where our new landlord works and Philip finalised arrangements for the lease. She was obviously frightened and spoke no English. We reached the airport at noon and while we ate our picnic lunch waiting for the plane. although there was no history of the disease in the family.) Yesterday Kedar called me to see a two foot snake in the process of swallowing a live frog outside the front door. We all travelled in to see Philip off at the airport. The frog had been released during the chase. I admired the tall fields of sweet corn all around us. I should have liked to see inside the house. Maya. The ride was even bumpier than usual as we had to go in the lorry (much to the boys’ delight!) On the way we called at the government offices at Singha Durba. apparently unmoved by its narrow escape. A large white cockerel strutted around the yard and a brown hen with baby chicks fussed about. the little girl. but Kedar doused it with water and it soon hopped away. Maya had a sad story. They bribed someone to take her into the government leprosarium. The little thing seemed stunned. while Margaret talked to the mother in Nepali. After breakfast at 7 we were ready to leave by 8.

I. She confirmed there was also a place for Jimmy next term. by some miracle our drums have arrived. Indian airmail charges are very cheap. Later she was given a place in the Nepali girls’ boarding school and a German teacher helped her to become independent. the school head mistress came to supper. which would be a help. We shall have a smaller bed made for Ruth to save space and there is a spare double bed here which we shall move with us. Now the boys keep running up to the carpenter’s hut to see how they are progressing. Now we know why! However. then I received another one yesterday (8 days). Everyone has been very kind and helpful. although he has been there over a week. Mollie Heath.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee She was transferred to Shanta Bhawan mission hospital where it was found necessary to amputate her leg. but they have been there since June 23 . so the boys could start school together. Some air hostesses clubbed together to pay for an artificial limb for her. I expect to manage with the bare minimum at first and gradually build up the furniture until the place looks like home by the time Philip returns. The following week I wrote to my parents: “I am hoping to move into Kathmandu as soon as the bungalow is ready.Y. Philip’s first letter from Calcutta did not arrive until Tuesday. book and the hospital carpenter has started work on them. so that the boys do not miss too much of the term. We did not get notification from the airport until yesterday. back at Anandaban. At Karigiri in South India one or two people could speak Nepali. We still have not heard from Karigiri.” July 15th. Later. Someone discovered a plan for bunk beds with drawers underneath in a D.

I was fortunate to have John Paterson with me. 24 . because none of the repairs he had agreed to do have been carried out. so I planned to join her. I spent a very pleasant half hour in the main women’s block and was surprised at how much of the conversation I followed. which will mean two full months. We ended up singing together for a few minutes. cutting out coloured shapes from magazines to decorate oat tins as waste paper bins. smiling and full of excuses. so he talked with the landlord at some length in Nepali. knowing that next week I shall be too busy to say ‘goodbye’. I left Kedar in charge of the boys. Elsie usually goes to chat and help with knitting on Thursdays. July 17th. Somehow I missed Elsie. I do not fancy moving in until the windows are secure. Little Ruth asks at every mealtime. This afternoon I thought I should try to visit the women’s ward. who must have been in a different part of the hospital. I do not know how Philip is getting on in Karigiri yet. The outcome was that he agreed to repair the window locks and wire screening by next Wednesday. I shall have to pay a rupee per day from the end of June (storage fee!) When we went into town yesterday I called at the bungalow to inspect it prior to paying the rent. “Daddy coming?” The boys have turned the living room mat into a magic carpet which whisks them away to Karigiri at regular intervals to see how he is.Barbara Collier 22nd. as they rarely have outside visitors. Singh was there. There is a possibility he may have to stay until the beginning of September. Mr. as only a low wall separates us from the bus garage and breakers yard. with a dish of flour and water paste to complete the job. They were so grateful for the visit. But it meant I just had to make myself understood in Nepali.

We have only had one letter from Karigiri so far. We had quite a good crowd. Last night we had an informal slide show in our house. The children will follow a little later with Elsie in the car. Elsie is a bit sad at our going. Harris and I will drive into the airport with the lorry to clear the drums. so she only sees them at holiday times. Tomorrow Dr. We moved in on Friday. so that we may once again inspect the bungalow. It was good to have a dry day and the Anandaban coolies to carry the stuff while John Paterson directed. The school she attends in Kathmandu is not far from the bungalow. July 25th. The boys are thrilled to bits and keep discussing what they will do with this and that when it is unpacked. John Harris will help me clear the drums from customs the day before the move. so he will not be out of work when we leave. Her own children are at boarding school in South India. as the specialist says she will need at least six weeks there. Margaret and I served refreshments for all the staff as a sort of farewell ‘do’. She will miss Ruth. Kedar is excited at the prospect of seeing our new home and he will help me with an initial clean through before moving in. but everyone here is supportive. but Philip seems happy and Maya is settling in well. I am glad to say. Philip may have the task of bringing her back. including most of Kedar’s family. From next week he will be working for Elsie. Kedar came with us for the day. who trots along the path to see her nearly every day. so we should be able to keep in touch when she returns. July 20th. my hands are full just now. which is a blessing.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee As you may imagine. There 25 .

It had broken and the roof tank was empty. 26 . John looked at it and said. though!) Eventually Mr. None of us has properly adjusted to the heat yet. with a twinkle in his eye. spreading leaves. We have a tank in the garden. It has continued hot with thunderstorms at night and intervals of heavy rain during the day. promising to do something about it.Barbara Collier were one or two hitches. lots of flowers and grass and a little peach tree which gives just enough shade to sit under (no fruit. with less trees affording shade.) At least he did not say ‘the day after tomorrow’ (bholi parsi) which means the same as ‘manana’. “You have some nice pumpkins growing on your rhubarb patch!” That evening I managed to heat enough water for the children to have a tepid wash in the huge new bath. After unloading John looked at the water pump which is supposed to pump water up to the roof. as it had been a baking hot day. Singh sent the key round and called to look at the tanks. A water board man called today and said he will fix it ‘tomorrow’ (bholi. The garden has been neglected for a month with the rains stimulating every kind of growth. not far from the kitchen door. July 29th. The landlord did not send round the front door key. Apart from the pumpkin patch. The furniture came in through the front window or was carried round the back. so we had no water in the house. Nearby is what I took to be rhubarb with large. there are a few ripening tomatoes. It is several degrees warmer than in the hills. so all our water has to be carried in buckets. so we had to put Kedar through an open window to let us in the back door. well over 90F. This cheered them up.

At present the stone floors echo in the empty rooms. who will help with cleaning and washing. the place where I bought the basket. A Swiss family living near us pick them up in their car and drop them at the end of the lane each day. so we should be mobile before long. 27 . It means I can spend more time each day buying essentials to set up home. I wondered how Philip was coping with the heat in India and a large fir tree. Anti-mosquito coils burned in the corridor. it was sometimes hard to sleep in the heat. but did not prevent the annoying buzz of the odd hungry female insect. reminded me nostalgically of Anandaban. The boys are enjoying school and look like settling in very well. Balaju. has a wonderful collection of cane furniture at reasonable prices.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee On Monday I returned from the servants’ registry in triumph with a little lady called Sita. seen from the bedroom window. The Anandaban Land Rover will help me pick some up next week. At night. This was a real answer to prayer. which will save some time and expense (taxi fares mount up!) The Patersons are leaving me a bike when they go on furlough and today I bought a basket carrier for Ruth.

Entering. having responsibility for an eleven year old schoolgirl with one leg and no English could be an added complication. mostly children. but he had no idea how to spend it. He wrote:July 6th. we passed a long queue of refugees. awaiting the onward flight. the declaration of one new leg gave immediate clearance through customs! The two night stopover in Calcutta. refugees from what is now Bangladesh were pouring into India. lining up to collect milk which had been made up from powder and was ladled out of a large aluminium tub. One of them invited me to come with them to the camp. Then my host. In the dispensary the doctors’ first task was to identify donated medicines—labelled in the different languages of their donor countries. Later. Many of the guests were young doctors helping with the refugee relief work. a young South Indian with a black beard. A young Indian air hostess in a smart uniform sari attended to Maya’s every need throughout the flight to Calcutta. The next morning a Salvation Army van called for us and took us first to their HQ (where I was fitted out with gumboots). As the plane came in to land Philip saw a wheelchair being brought out ready to transport her.CHAPTER 6 PHILIP fLIes soutH On a journey of over 1000 miles. Then she was well cared for in the guest house and again on the further flight to Madras. on the return journey. meant that Philip had a day to spare. In fact. In fact people were so helpful that Maya’s presence smoothed the way at every point. and a Salvation Army nursing sister took 28 .

much more comfortable for Maya and less hassle. Rain had been heavy and parts of the camp were six inches deep in water. I am staying at one of the Leprosy Mission’s biggest hospitals in South India and shall be here until the beginning of September. The chase reached dry ground and the doctor crushed that serpent’s head with such savage ferocity that one almost felt the whole event symbolic. A young woman with an infected eye came up to the doctor as we approached the tent. It proved a fortunate mistake. With a shout. The hospital has its own guest 29 . as intended. for the railway station. We moved on to the outpatient tent. having in one corner a small fire surrounded by bricks and stones. Arriving next day at Madras they took a taxi. Snakebite could mean death to undernourished refugees. Children laughed at the gum-booted doctor splashing after the snake but the chase was deadly serious.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee me with them around the camp. Somehow. Tents were bamboo frames with thatched roofs about twenty feet by sixty. He examined the eye and was writing her prescription when suddenly a snake swam by. in conversation Karigiri was mentioned as their destination—result. For the first time in his life Philip was south of the sun. A family would occupy a space about ten feet square. It was summer and although Karigiri is north of the equator it is south of the tropic. surprisingly cheap (though the train would have been cheaper). where the floor was covered in water. the driver took them all the way. the doctor turned and chased it. Rice and vegetables were cooked in metal pans on these fires. but the work went on. He wrote to Barbara’s parents:July 19th. Little mud walls like the walls of a paddy field kept out the water (sometimes).

The schoolgirl I brought for limb fitting has settled in well.Barbara Collier house where I have a room opening onto the veranda. all single storey. The visiting surgeon was a nun. Tomorrow I am going to visit the famous hospital at Vellore (about 10 miles away) founded by Dr Ida Scudder. Apart from leprosy work they have an artificial limb workshop here. But I was wrong. There are quite a number of buildings. spread out over a wide flat field. The guest house manager looks after us. although only a few people here speak Nepali. providing Indian food at midday and European food at night. cashew nut trees and many other trees and shrubs—always some in blossom. Expecting to see the matron and a visiting surgeon I thought I knew at once which was which. When offered a new operating theatre for leprosy work she refused it and threatened 30 . about 100 miles south of Karigiri. This will be the longest time I have been away from Barbara and the children since we were married. and I am missing them. Sister Immaculate is an amazing character. Around us are coconut palms. In her early thirties she is in charge of the Leprosy department of a large general hospital. Philip’s stay at Karigiri had to be prolonged because he was to report to a meeting scheduled for early September. We were greeted by two ladies. the other in flowing white robes with a smart white head-dress. He therefore had time to visit other Leprosy Mission centres and wrote to his parents:July 28th I returned today from a three day visit to Vadathorasalur. one in European dress.

She goes to Government health centres and holds skin clinics (being a dermatologist as well as a leprologist) and is constantly teaching other doctors. nurses and students the basic facts of leprosy The battle against leprosy is largely a matter of personality and it was a refreshing change to meet one of the few people who has ‘got what it takes.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee resignation if leprosy patients were not treated in the same theatre as general patients. shave etc. wash. passing several monkeys playing by the roadside. including the one we had lived in.30pm and reached Vijayawada at 9. We travelled by sleeper and had a good journey there. a local beauty spot. We now find that all the daytime trains for Madras have gone. My colleague has booked us in at this hotel for the day (somewhere to put luggage. my first experience of Indian rail travel.’ While there I met the builder who constructed the houses at Anandaban. so after a 30 mile lift in the jeep we took a bus at 9. Yesterday we were due to return overnight to Madras but the train was cancelled. We shall have to travel overnight tonight.—also rest in case tonight’s train is also cancelled. When she visits schools she so wins the confidence of the staff that they let children with leprosy stay in school and teachers give out the drugs—a tremendous break-through. August 29th (written from a hotel in Vijayawada). Then there were 30 mile bus rides and even longer jeep rides. From Karigiri I visited leprosy hospitals at Ramachandrapuram. about half way between Madras and Calcutta. We saw the three hospitals and an outpost clinic and visited the Ghats.) I left my Schick 31 . Salur and Vizianagram—three within 100 miles of each other.30am this morning. I came back to Karigiri in an eye clinic bus.

The hammer was an essential tool. It sounds as if Barbara has done very well with the house. When it ran outside I chased it with a hammer and a piece of wood and laid it to rest in the flower bed. I could have done some gardening. Sita tells me he is a strict vegetarian and will not even touch eggs. a beard. as well as tackling wild life in the form of a rat which found its way into the house. No. but it has already provided us with one delicious meal. We were finding out how much we missed a man about the house during his absence. arriving home on Monday (6th). Philip’s words were over optimistic. it did not turn into an aeroplane to whisk us to India. Struggles with the water system continued. a red tika on his forehead and wearing a white dhoti.Barbara Collier razor at Salur. In desperation I attacked the padlock with a hammer and a screwdriver. Today I needed big scissors to cut out curtains. The other evening I was viewing the pumpkin patch and discovered a huge one. Our new milkman is a Brahmin and looks like a typical holy man with long black hair. They were in the grey drum and the padlock had jammed (I broke the key trying to turn it last week). Guess what? (As David would say). I wrote to Philip’s parents on August 3rd. but Jimmy’s wheelbarrow was also in the drum. so I shall probably have a beard when I see Barbara next week. 32 . After about ten minutes it gave way and the boys and I spent a happy half hour unpacking the last of our luggage. Maya’s artificial leg is fitted and I shall fly with her to Calcutta next Sunday. with plenty more to follow. ready for use. August 7th.

We now have a telephone fitted in Philip’s office. 33 . Lal Durbar is the name of the area where we live and means ‘Red palace’. our home help. Yesterday I took the children to see the king’s palace a few hundred yards up the main road. however. It has been turned into a hotel by a famous Russian called Boris. Mummy!’ August 22nd. He has called his restaurant ‘The Yak and Yeti’. had been taken ill with gallstones the previous week. It is the site of a former Rana palace. We shall have to take you and Father for a meal there when you visit! The boys are very happy at school and it has certainly helped them during Philip’s absence to be occupied most of the day. David said: ‘Now the house is really looking like a home. Jim looked like Christopher Robin in his white sun hat. though it has not been easy. so I was kept busy with all the household chores. We still managed an outing. But the sun went in as we got there and I was only able to get one photograph—a pity. He will choose a desk when he returns home.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee We now have a collection of cane furniture. For that reason I think it was worth the effort of moving. Sita. empty except for a bulging bookcase. Great excitement! As well as the ladder to the top bunk there are four drawers under the lower bunk. I filled the Land Rover for under £23 on Thursday—not bad! The boys’ bunk beds arrived yesterday. A large red brick building remains a few hundred yards away. because a line of flags were flying for the Queen’s birthday.

) Now the rain has stopped and they are all up on the flat roof.Barbara Collier September 4th.” 34 . Excitement has been mounting this week and this morning was very wet. which made the boys restless. I just heard David shout: “Coo! Yours has landed in Japan again. We ended up making jet planes out of corrugated cardboard (to bring Daddy home quicker. flying their planes down to ground level. In two days’ time Philip is due to arrive back.

The Simrose family who replaced the Patersons are living in the house we used to occupy. Sadly.CHAPTER 7 Lessons for aLL Philip’s plane was only 45 minutes late—good by local standards. The Paterson family were due to fly out with the same Thai jet on their way home to Australia for furlough. A tailor in town is making me a slip and blouse to wear with it for less than ten shillings. Philip wrote: The Land Rover picked us up on Friday afternoon and we arrived about 6p. She will need more physiotherapy to teach her to walk with it. Two year old Robbie was so excited.m. Ruth is very proud of her Indian doll dressed in a sari and the boys have a pith helmet each. I have a beautiful blue sari. There was a glad reunion with the children and we had a miniature Christmas with gifts and a celebration. On Saturday we picnicked high on the hillside in one of the few spots clear of trees. All weekend the weather was glorious.” The boys were starting two weeks school holiday the following week so we arranged to visit Anandaban for the weekend. they had to go through to the departure lounge while Philip was in customs and missed him by five minutes. I wrote to my parents: “Philip was carrying Maya’s new leg. They look like ‘real missionaries’. After supper with the Harrises we settled in the one room flat over their house. as she was not used to wearing it for long periods. He looked very grown up in long trousers and a bow tie. On the return route we found the path was missing 35 . I chatted to them while we waited and watched the plane circle the valley before landing.

Barbara Collier because of a landslide. She is normally very pretty. with Betty cooking more as fast as we ate them! On the way back to town the next day we saw the snow covered peaks of the high Himalayas in all their glory for the first time. One of the teenage girls has been very sick for the past few weeks. We took pictures of some of the patients. due to a sudden onslaught of the disease. We obtained a calor gas stove with two burners. In a few weeks they would be visible without any clouds at all. I ignored it. There was still a layer of cloud but the peaks stood out above them. Betty Simrose sat at the end of the table with a paraffin stove and a waffle iron at her elbow. A friend asked me for my welsh bakescone recipe and in return gave me a recipe for mincemeat using pumpkin as a base—another use for our thriving vegetable! The rains had turned the garden into something of a wilderness. One morning we got back from church to find one munching away outside the back door. When the gate was left open cows occasionally wandered in to obligingly eat the grass. Later we were invited to a ‘waffle’ tea party at the Simroses’. When they started eating the dahlias I decided it was 36 . I should like to send photos to the makers of that buggy showing the precipitous paths we have negotiated! On Sunday I spoke to some of the patients with Herman Simrose translating. but she has lost a lot of weight and has a blood count of 40%. Later Barbara visited the women’s ward with Jennifer Turner. It developed into a sort of contest as to who could eat the most. but a few minutes later there were three more in the front garden. Ruth was in the pushchair. a great improvement on the old kerosene cookers. I realised we needed help to control it.

I told my parents: She often lapses into a long stream of Nepali. Shelah had to be shown the difference between a floor cloth and a dishcloth.”—a linguistic faux pas! We still had 37 . On his return Philip joined us for one or two hours per week. until I pull her up with a blank look and a plea of: “bujina!—I don’t understand!” then we both laugh and try again. multi coloured daisies and gladioli and the pumpkin patch continued to grow so fast it threatened to invade the house. swiftly splashed her dirty face with a handful of water and dried it with the hand towel.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee time to shoo them out. Actually. Having Shelah working for us emphasised the continued need for language learning.” I was greeted with an amused. We had a lovely show of dahlias. we were able to hire a gardener quite cheaply for a few hours per week to tidy things up. Shelah’s own little girl is five years old—quite grown up in Nepal. forgetting my limited knowledge of the language. I meant to say: “There is much mud (maato) on the road. but she is learning fast. It all happened so quickly she had no chance to protest. she is very fond of the new Didi (the name given to an older sister or aunt) and Shelah loves her. One often sees children of that age carrying younger ones around on their backs. In September I began lessons with a teenage Chetri girl from the local high school. Shelah spoke no English and communication was often difficult. When we visited Anandaban I met a local lady walking on the muddy mountain approach road. puzzled expression and later realised I had said: “There is much meat (maasu) on the road. Fortunately. Imagine the astonished look on Ruth’s face when Shelah picked her up after lunch one day. Like Kedar. We had also managed to find daily household help before the end of August.

though she still used crutches at times. It means worms! Two other mission wives had started a small playgroup for pre-school children on two mornings a week. I bought the boys a kite each and left them on some nearby waste ground one day while 38 . following David’s prototype. mainly European. which proved popular.Barbara Collier trouble counting in Nepali. The little ones needed a lot of help but enjoyed playing with the finished product. The children were beginning to make local friends. Someone has acquired an old sink so we now have a sand pit of sorts. We collected feathers and they each made an Indian hat with corrugated cardboard. It could be important when shopping. There were about a dozen. “Shelah’s little girl has been unwell for a few days and I have been trying to advise her. She was proudly wearing her new leg. With daily physiotherapy exercises at the hospital she was gradually becoming accustomed to walking. September 15th. September 15th: We made aeroplanes at playgroup this morning. Two Nepali children have started coming regularly and we hope there will be more. I told my mother: Yesterday was my turn to help the children make something. The following week Maya came to tea with a friend who spoke a little English. play and activities. Pooled resources of toys provided trikes and things to share out. but she did not mind. I began to help once a week at the end of August and was even able to send Ruth with another mother occasionally. muddling ‘pachis’ (25) with ‘pochas’ (50). In Ruth’s age group there were mainly boys. I could not find it in the dictionary and had to ask our teacher. Today she kept using a word sounding like ‘juga’. She loved the songs. children at first.

both were good at singing—their Welsh heritage. The comment on David’s P. When Ruth and I returned a few minutes later several children had gathered. There was a school open day before the end of term. Later a little girl followed us home. One had helped David get his kite aloft and was demonstrating how to control it. was: “David finds it hard to stand still long enough to catch a ball. After that we often had several children to play in the garden. perhaps? 39 . The teachers were satisfied with the boys’ progress and they were eager to show me their work. At meal times I clapped my hands to let them know it was time to go home and they usually scrambled over the wall.E.” However.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee I bought bread. She was fascinated by Ruth’s big doll and began carrying it round on her back like a Nepali mother with her baby. Their first report showed the teachers understand them.

saying: “It’s like your 40 . The family approval was unanimous. The UMN mission accountant brought his wife and daughter to lunch one Sunday. I hope to try more chutney if I have time. They gave us a gift of margarine (UMN had an import licence for it. including soya beans and naspatties. so there is not much time to spare. which included the sacrifice of large numbers of animals to Kali. The annual Hindu festival of Dassai arrived and businesses closed down for several days.CHAPTER 8 food and festIvaLs As autumn approached more fruit and vegetables were available in the market. using naspatties and a packet of suet Philip’s mother had sent. especially mustard pickle. deliciously different! Another friend had a herb patch and offered us some roots of parsley and thyme to plant near the mint. Philip’s mother had sent a parcel with dried fruit so I was able to attempt mincemeat with pumpkin. which already grew in abundance. Our mission still awaited one. I told my mother: Marmalade is very expensive so I shall start that as soon as oranges and lemons are ripe enough.) We celebrated with a suet pudding. At present Philip is preparing annual budgets for over twenty hospitals and keeps me regularly supplied with typing. Shelah had three days off to enable her to join in the ‘puja’. She asked if we were going to watch and seemed surprised that we were not keen. a fruit half way between an apple and a pear. the black goddess. so it will be economical to make. Sugar is about the same price as in England. It was time for preserving and I made guava jelly and lemon curd. or worship.

more and more. While waiting to collect our milk I noticed several men carrying carcasses slung on poles. I realized. They gave a delicious flavour. Later in the day we had an English type cooked tea with the children. but with a darker religious significance. giving me plenty of typing. our teacher. We began to have a Nepali meal with her at midday. We hoped none of the hospitals sent their figures parcel post so that they ended up stuck in the Foreign Post Office. I bought some cardamom seeds but did not know how to use them until Shelah said they were best with meat. the two teachers from the school.15am. School started at 9. Young buffaloes had been offered at the temple.” It had the same sort of attraction as bullfights in Spain. finding the sessions stimulating. having regular budget proposals arriving from India. Then I realised they were all headless. but it took Philip five days to post some registered packets and he wished he had a part time postman to help him. We obtained a personal post box number quite cheaply. two each per year. Another concern was the limited quota of parcels allowed to foreign nationals. The priest cuts off the head with one stroke of the kukri and the rest is carried away for a celebration feast. It took Philip nearly two hours to clear a tin of cream sent 41 . instead of 8.45 and finished at 3pm. We decided to be vegetarian for a week or two! As our vocabulary grew we enjoyed conversation with Amrita. came to supper I made a good old buffalo stew (having plucked up courage to buy some meat in the bazaar earlier). Reminders had to be sent out to those who had not yet sent figures for 1972. These had to be prepared and sent to London for finalising. September 27th. adding a sprinkling of the seeds. which she helped me prepare. The boys were soon back at school for the autumn term. When Mollie and Anne. Philip was snowed under with work. nearer the English timetable. Shelah and I still found it difficult to understand each other. however.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee Christmas. but could not decide what animals they were.

2 then led me out of room A. Official No. 1 then re-appeared with a double foolscap size form in triplicate which he handed with the parcel to official No. The letter packet was a large one weighing several pounds. with interleaved carbon.) No. I signed for it. It was a foolscap size form. 2 asked me for the customs declaration form. paid five rupees duty and collected it.30 pm.30 pm I presented the form. An official (official No. then stood waiting while he worked industriously on forms.” 42 . Then came the parcel. With the assistance of the second official I completed the form. room A. As we entered he looked at me and made a remark which seemed to display a masterly ability to grasp essentials and express them concisely: “It is too complicated rules. in triplicate. (I noticed that the parcel was a small one—about 8 ounces. I was in was a spacious hall with a long customs counter down one side and a floor half covered with mail bags. 1) took my form away into another room (B) and I waited for about 10 minutes. Entering the parcels department at about 1. Not possessing one I had to go out to the front office and buy one for half a rupee. carrying the forms but leaving the parcel behind. but only ten minutes to obtain a much larger packet of cake fruit from his mother! He wrote: This morning’s post contained notices that a parcel and a letter packet were waiting to be collected at the overseas Post Office. 2. into a third room (C). Official No. books and papers for nearly half an hour. Eager to find what some unknown benefactor had sent us I cycled into town and presented the forms at the counter. It was 2.Barbara Collier by a well-meaning friend.

1 wrote out another form in duplicate (with carbon this time) and passed it to official 6 for stamping. It is less likely to be clear in the afternoon than in the morning. when I had signed one form and one book. being purely selfish and also bad meteorology. gave me the parcel. There was my parcel waiting on the desk. The prayer was bad theology. Ominously. 2a gave both forms and parcel to a messenger. It was 3.15 pm.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee Then he handed me over. Halfway there I was very wet and feeling a bedraggled. He ushered me into room B where official No. I told 43 . Involuntarily I found myself praying that I would see the snows on my way home. I was advised to sit down. It was raining when he started out a little before 9 and persisted most of the way. October 18th. No. Soon after that Philip decided to walk out to Anandaban on a Saturday when the hospital car was not coming into town. I reached the spot where Everest can sometimes be seen and not even the nearby hills were visible for cloud. 2 (No. who led me to room E where official 7 charged me two rupees duty and. rain and mist. ‘why-on-earth-should-the-one-wet-day-comeon-the-day-I-am-walking-to-Anandaban’ sort of feeling. Then official 4 copied many details from the forms into a book. complete with forms. to officials 3 and 4. With this I returned to official 2a in room A. Official 3 worked industriously on the forms for about ten minutes.50 pm I was sent upstairs to room D where official 5 wrote out another form (in duplicate but without carbon paper) Triumphantly I returned to room A and presented this form to someone who had taken the place at the counter formerly occupied by official No. At 2. 2a).

grapefruit like fruit. Houses were ‘spring’ cleaned and candles decorated the rooftops. on the way back I had the most glorious view yet of the entire snow covered range. The two days of unseasonal rain was bad for the potato and late rice crop.Barbara Collier myself this and forgot it. 44 . We could smell perfumed incense and heard fireworks going off. A friend had some pomelo trees in her garden and brought us some fruit for another preserving session—marmalade this time. Pomelos. a good excuse for the family! I asked Philip’s mother to send us some cloves when I discovered they were sold SINGLY in the bazaar. The neighbours’ children came round ‘carol singing’ and we gave them sweets. until. It also meant we had to wait another month for our roof to be repaired. Diwali was another Hindu festival in October. came on the market. a large. The temperature dropped suddenly and I began to sort out blankets and winter woollies. I had left a jar full behind in England. We were running out of jam jars and had to use things up quickly. bathed in sunlight. It was an altogether happier occasion than the previous festival.

following its course through wide valleys and narrow gorges. The road runs alongside the Sunkosi River most of the way. with streams and waterfalls splashing down from great heights. was staying in the city with a friend. but we stopped for lunch a hundred yards or so before that at a picturesque spot where two rivers meet. At the border post photographs were not allowed. It is damp and cool.30am and the seventy miles took us five hours. Val Bock. including several short stops for photographs. It is thrilling to be able to see distant snow peaks even from the kitchen window. The rains had caused numerous landslides and we passed teams of men and women clearing stones and rubble along the way. The scenery was magnificent. The zip will not move up or down and I shall probably have to cut the tie. I have just spent some time struggling to release David’s tie from the zip of his anorak. cold at first then warming up as the sun clears the mist. She invited me to join them on a tourist trip to the Tibetan border along the road built by the Chinese to within a few miles of Kathmandu. In one place we had to wait while some rock was blasted and on two occasions an earth mover had to clear a path for us where the road was being rerouted following erosion by the river in spate. his best one. too! Today is the first time that anoraks have been needed. sometimes zig zagging high on the hillside. We started at 7. Tourists began to arrive in Kathmandu and we had several guests passing through. From here we had a good view of the bridge that leads to 45 . at other times only a few feet above the water.CHAPTER 9 a taLe of two rIvers October 17th. every bend in the road brought a fresh panorama into view. an Australian nurse who worked in a leprosy hospital in Thailand. The mornings are usually misty.

It can be deep during the monsoon. David made a sand castle while I sat on the concrete path dangling my legs. There was one small spot easy to reach. some for a small sand pit near the garage at Lal Durbar. A crowd of local children soon gathered round us. On the return journey we ran into rain and saw a glorious double rainbow over the river. The sand was dark 46 . the Bagmati. but during the dry season it is reduced to a trickle with large sandy areas on either side. Builders regularly remove loads of sand for their own use. too. Philip wrote: We set off to walk to the river. is wide and shallow. snow-capped peaks in the distance.Barbara Collier Tibet and some cloud covered. I decided to try it out. needed sand. The river roaring over the boulders beneath us reminded us more of the power of the Creator than that of man. As we crossed the bridge we scanned the banks for a ‘beach’. which runs through Kathmandu. eagerly watching every move—the idea of playing with sand seemed new to them. using her small plastic one as a digger. but they soon took to it. Barbara took Jimmy to his party while I took David and Ruth down between some Nepali houses to the patch of sand. the rest for an oven. A red line across the middle of the bridge marked the border. We stopped at a little village for a cup of tea which cost ten paisa (one old penny!) by 6. taking Ruth in her pushchair. We drove on to the check point and stood by the bridge guarded by a silent soldier.30pm we were driving back through Kathmandu in the darkness. Our mission friends who regularly worked in an outlying village area explained how a dekshi could be insulated with hot sand. The boys waited up for me and I had to give them a brief résumé of the day before they went to bed. In contrast to the Sunkosi River. We. Ruth started industriously filling our large zinc bucket. barely six feet square. Jimmy was invited to a birthday party on the Patan side of the river.

Then I ladled some of the hot sand onto the flat lid. Some time later I bought a larger dekshi. dropping it on the scales in front of him.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee grey. October 24th. I heaved the large bucket. windowless shop. for twenty two rupees. Later they enjoyed throwing water over each other with Ruth’s bucket. Meanwhile I walked up to meet Jimmy from his party. Four large buffaloes. I placed a trivet inside and cooked some shortbread and a cake with pleasing results. so I decided to risk buying meat. Pastry and roast potatoes turned out well in this. fourteen inches in diameter and six inches deep. Later: After thorough washing and drying in the sun the sand was ready for use. I was grateful to a friend who offered the use of her electric oven to bake a Christmas cake when the time came. the doorway of which opened directly onto a dusty alleyway. encouraged by their drover’s stick. The butcher sat on the floor at the back. They were not with me when I bought it from a dark. We had liver for lunch today. surrounded by the carcass of a buffalo. As I waited in the alley I noticed him weighing liver for 47 . When Barbara returned we ate our picnic tea watched by the locals. less than a pound sterling. which clung to the children’s legs like sequins. but a sponge cake ended up looking like flap jack! I think more sand is needed to maintain high temperatures. much to the boys’ delight. made their slow. up to the road and into the boot of a taxi taking Barbara and two children home. from which he cheerfully chopped whatever portion was required. The children played with some outside and I heated a deep layer inside a dekshi. full of sand. It was early and there were few flies about. lumbering way down the path then forded the river. containing many silvery flecks of mica.

Another Nepali word was included in a list of potential names the family were eagerly compiling. Othello. I did not know the word in Nepali and. rejoicing in the title Augustus Caesar—Gusty for short. He did not understand so I pointed to the appropriate part of my body. because he produced some heart! Eventually. however. Some examples of names were: Katmandu. pointing into the shadows. or rush outside to explore the undergrowth in the garden like a fluffy black dart. The school’s cat had just produced kittens and we were promised a black tom when he was old enough to leave his mother. One of us had our anatomy wrong. Joshua. Metcalfe (after Grandfather). however.) I came proudly away with a pound of liver wrapped in a leaf (which I quickly popped into a polythene bag) and a new Nepali word to practise. the new addition to the family arrived. Benaiah. Niger. United Nations (UNO for short—he was a cross between Burmese and local Heinz strain). we felt the name suited him! 48 . Argonaut (David had started Greek mythology). Unfortunately. and Niko Parsi (Nicky for short—the Nepali word means two days after tomorrow!) Eventually. asked for ‘that brown stuff ’. There followed a pantomime while I tried to explain that I also wanted some. he got my meaning and.Barbara Collier another customer. Primo (he was the first born). Watching him race all over the house. for the princely sum of just over two rupees (10p.


fIrst CHrIstmas
November and bonfires were synonymous for the boys. They had happy memories of fun and fireworks in previous years.
November 5th to Philip’s mother: The cocoa you sent arrived yesterday, just in time to replenish our empty tin, enabling the children to have a hot drink after our bonfire this evening. It was dark by 6pm but we were warm in sweaters as we burned up piles of garden rubbish in the corner. Unfortunately we were unable to get any fireworks. They were sold out after Diwali—we shall know better next year. Afterwards we munched hot dogs and chocolate bars with our cocoa.

We were hoping that Mr Singh would get on with house repairs since the rains had ended. When we bought a new fibre glass sink he sent men to fit it, using Philip’s tools! Meanwhile I was busy making bakescones and guava jelly for a playgroup fund raising sale. The guava jelly refused to gel, leaving me with five jars of guava syrup. Instead, I made some mustard pickle, which proved popular. The proceeds resulted in a new climbing frame to keep the children active on cold winter mornings. The decorators eventually arrived at the end of November and in five days painted all the inside rooms with a local coloured whitewash. I told my parents:
The main trouble has been stains and water marks left by the various leaks in the roof. These are still faintly apparent in some places, but a blue ceiling in the corridor has effectively concealed some of the larger patches. Philip’s office is now a pleasant primrose yellow instead of the previous rather dull

Barbara Collier

green. It is much more cheerful. We have the same colour in the two bedrooms which were formerly rather a sickly pink. Tomorrow they start on the large front room. It will no doubt need more than one coat of paint. We have a breathing space on Sunday when they have a day off. It has been like a mad hatter’s tea party, moving things from one room to another, but we shall be glad to get it all done in one go.

Next I began work on the new lounge curtains and discovered the pattern had been printed slightly askew, causing complications with cutting out and seaming. Ruth stood nearby wanting snippets of material for her dolly and the boys needed costumes for their Christmas puppet show, keeping me busy. We had been invited to Anandaban for Christmas and planned to help with extra shopping for the patients. I scoured the bazaar for presents for the children and bought some strong canvas satchels for the boys. Jimmy needed a tool set and I found a small hammer and several other items, which we packed in a metal box. After trying nearly every shoe shop in the bazaar I spotted some little red lace-up boots for Ruth. The box they came in was covered in pretty pictures and she later used it to keep her treasures safe. To encourage David in his painting we hoped to obtain some sort of easel. Later we were able to arrange for the Anandaban carpenter to make one for him. Living near the palace meant we were able to view processions on the Durbar Marg, the equivalent to the Mall in London. In November Philip took the boys to watch the king, returning from a trip to England. He wrote: “Soldiers lined the road and the royal car was sandwiched between two troops of cavalry.”
December 2nd. There was a big procession in honour of the baby prince’s weaning ceremony. (The first rice feed is a significant occasion.) We stood on a wall beside the road

A Rabbit For Half a Rupee

as troops of soldiers paraded past, followed by the royal coach, accompanied by cavalry officers and three elephants in gorgeous trappings.

The next day the boys ran in from school with news of a petrol shortage. That evening we heard confirmation that India and Pakistan were at war. Over the weekend there were radio broadcasts from India, telling of air and sea involvement. Civil flights were cancelled from Kathmandu, but otherwise life went on as normal.
I told my parents: “Please do not be concerned about us. There is no shortage of food or general commodities here. Prices may rise and we shall have to do without Indian luxury items for Christmas, but there are plenty of good local substitutes. There can be no comparison between our condition and the awful plight of refugees and war casualties in East and West. We need to pray for those who try to bring relief and comfort to those who suffer.”

Local papers gave only secondary importance to the war. Tourists, however, began to ‘suffer’. Many who arrived intending to ‘do’ Kathmandu in 3 or 4 days found themselves stranded, unable to fly out. We heard that those who did not enjoy walking or cycling were becoming bored. Gusty the kitten arrived. He was all black, half Burmese, with dark blue eyes and a very loud mew. In a day or two he settled down and soon showed a preference for sitting on laps. I was busy knitting mittens for the boys and sewing dolls’ clothes for Ruth, which displeased him. Several times he nearly had his nose stitched! The children were very fond of him. Jimmy enjoyed stroking him and talking to him. The cat devoured large quantities of cheese rind, eggs and meat scraps, but turned his nose up at some dried fish I bought in the market. I soaked and cooked it, but he would not touch it. (Maybe

Barbara Collier

it was the pungent smell that pervaded the house). Shelah declared the fish was tasty eaten with potatoes and tomatoes, so I gladly donated the remainder to her. She went home highly delighted. David was making good progress playing the recorder. When the school produced their Christmas programme he played Jingle Bells with another boy. In a toyshop scene Jimmy acted a clockwork mouse. The week before Christmas I went out to Anandaban overnight to plan the Christmas weekend with Elsie. I told my parents:
“I came in the lorry last night, perched in the back amidst tins and sacks of provisions, with a pile of luggage belonging to Christmas visitors. Rattling along with the stars overhead and the wind whistling round my ears was a bit like being at sea. This morning we leave at 10 in the Land Rover for the usual shopping trip, extended for Christmas shopping. When the family comes out on Christmas Eve we shall bring quite a lot of food with us. I brought one or two things to save carrying them next week.”

We enjoyed Christmas carols at both the British and American Embassies on Sundays in December. The path leading to the American Residence was lined with locally made open work terracotta pots in which candles flickered, a beautiful effect. The bicycle was a help to Christmas shopping, as I reported:
“I cycled past the British Embassy with its neat lawns, down a winding lane between Nepali houses to a well-known plant nursery, where I hoped to obtain some pot plants for Elsie and Jennifer. Only one pot would fit in the cycle basket at front, so I had to suspend the other one on wire from the handlebars. Once back on the Embassy road I managed to cycle, guiding the bike with one hand and supporting the

A Rabbit For Half a Rupee

plant with the other. The addition of a pint of milk at the dairy made it quite a balancing feat. When I stopped at the baker’s shop to put a loaf in the basket beside the milk and the flower pot I thought it was time to walk the rest of the way home!”

It was a relief to hear that fighting in the South had stopped before Christmas. Several mission hospitals were in or near areas of conflict and we awaited news of conditions there. Christmas Eve: The local children came in for cellophane bags of sweets, nuts and marbles and we tried to explain the meaning of Christmas. Shelah had a meal with us, (she usually preferred to eat in the kitchen). There was a spicy pudding with paisa pieces in it and I managed to ensure that Shelah and our three all had one. She thought it was great fun and after we handed out presents and read part of the Christmas story in Nepali she exclaimed: “Kasto ramro din!” (What a lovely day!) We reached Anandaban about 5pm, in time to join the staff carol singing around the hospital. Carrying paraffin lamps we filed along the mountain paths, up and down the steps between the wards, singing as we went, the procession winding like a long ribbon of light around the hillside. “Rajah Jesu ayo, Hallelujah, ayo!” King Jesus has come. Hallelujah! He has come! On Christmas morning presents were distributed to the patients and more carols were sung on the hospital roof, where we later helped to serve a traditional feast. Philip wrote:
The patients sat with their back to the parapet as we walked around serving mountains of rice, curried goat meat, vegetables and lentils. Barbara held a baby, giving the mother

Barbara Collier

a chance to eat her own meal. Then came dessert—kir—a rich, creamy rice pudding with pieces of coconut in it. Afterwards we had our own dinner, a picnic on the back shelf of the house now occupied by the Simrose family. They had turfed this to make a pleasant lawn.

I had made a jellied Christmas pudding instead of the traditional type. It only had about six ounces of dried fruit in it, but plenty of nuts and chocolate powder. We took a pint of cream from the Swiss dairy with us and it was enjoyed by all. Boxing Day was spent quietly, but pleasantly. We all sang carols with the Harris family in the evening. David stayed up late for that and afterwards Philip played chess with fourteen year old David Harris. The evenings were cold but we enjoyed sitting by the blazing log fire in the wide fireplace. Earlier in December Philip had completed a report on the first stage of a comparative study of twenty three leprosy centres and was now in need of a longer rest. Returning to Kathmandu the following day we began to prepare for a holiday at the Shining Hospital in Pokhara. The hospital was so named by the local people because of its aluminium roof that gleams from afar when caught in the sun’s rays. Joyce Deaville, a friend from England, managed the guest house there and had booked our stay.


30. Meals are 55 . The free breakfast we were served while we waited was a welcome compensation. Baggage is weighed on an old fashioned scales in the open air and the customs is a small prefabricated shed. the famous Fishtail mountain. December. We had to wait until early Saturday morning before we really saw Machapuchari. Camping in January! Apart from cold mornings (we put our clothes ready the night before in order to reduce shivers) and chilly evenings. though we had seen glimpses of them from the air. is very careful for the comfort of all and has provided us with plenty of blankets. We were met by a nurse from the Shining Hospital who hired a jeep to take us and our luggage to the compound. so the boys were able to look in during the flight. which eventually happened at 10. Royal Nepal Airlines use small twin Otter light aircraft. Joyce. I wrote: “The landing strip at Pokhara is a gravel and grass affair. The snows were not visible that first day.CHAPTER 11 PokHara We left Kathmandu on 30th. reaching the airport at 7. about two miles away. seating up to twenty people. straw mats and a wardrobe in each of our two tents and a brick built toilet a few yards away.30.30 for an expected take off at 8. We have camp beds. I can lie on the bed with the tent flap open and see the snow ridges clearly as they turn from grey to gold and gold to white in a few minutes. it is glorious. who runs the kitchen and guest house. but adequate for the small planes that land there. the nearest spectacular peak. It is wonderful with the sun rising on it. They have wide windows and an open pilot’s cabin.

’ They smile. We are resting under a banyan tree with Fishtail mountain visible in the distance. January 3rd. Needless to say. They had to perform an emergency operation to save her life and several of the staff only got to bed in the early hours. watched by a crowd of local children. They all enjoyed sharing some chocolate Tiffins. I could not resist going around the hospital on the second day here. As I write this we are sitting by the sparkling waters of the lake at Pokhara in warm sunshine. Ruth has just come up to me carrying a big stone with her red hairband down over her 56 . an extra hazard of living in the mountains.) The boys are playing ‘ducks and drakes’ with Philip. which is used to ferry people across the lake. spinning flat stones across the calm water. I usually hand out sweets all round then say politely: ‘Now. Patients are carried long distances over the hills and are often in poor shape when they arrive. There are two people in for treatment of bear mauls. The children are watching a little boy preparing a flat bottomed canoe. a Christmas present.Barbara Collier eaten in the guest house dining room nearby and there we meet the rest of the hospital staff. say ‘yes’ and stay! At this moment they are fascinated by the movements of my pen on the paper (I suppose English script is sufficiently different to be of interest. It was just beginning when the doctor was called out to a lady with obstetric complications. (Later) We are settled in a quiet spot and the children have been paddling. Philip has gone to find the best sandy spot for us to picnic. please go.” On New Year’s Eve the anaesthetist and his wife arranged a party at their house. We slept through it all and only heard of it when we saw several with bleary eyes in the morning.

not far from the airfield. including several of the boys’ school chums are arriving later. The real treat was cocoa made with condensed milk and heated in a huge dekshi. January 5th. apart from the staff ones already here. Today we visited the local leprosy hospital. at last 57 . so it should be lively for the next week or so. We stopped at a little island with a temple on it. but await a doctor to run it. She is wearing a blue jump suit and her new red boots and looks like something out of the 1920s! After our lunch we hired a boy to take us across the lake in a canoe hollowed out of a tree trunk. Some friends from Kathmandu. but a special pump is on its way from Europe. with doves cooing in the carved eaves of the small. Supper began with soup. Like Anandaban they have problems with their water supply. It has quite a lot of support from the New Zealand Leprosy Mission. as they occasionally send patients to Anandaban for surgery. Often we could not see what we were eating in the darkness. square building. but the blood stained paving stones told of the frequent animal sacrifices that are made there. Ruth.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee forehead. which added to the fun. There will be nine children altogether. then sausage rolls. It seemed a peaceful spot. Green Pastures. How the boys eyes sparkled in the firelight as we joined in singing afterwards. We saw one or two familiar faces. Then we were served various cookies and Nepali sweets. They have recently completed a smart new building including an operating theatre. Later we made our way down to the lake to join the other families here for a camp fire. who had not slept all day. sandwiches and the local equivalent of Cornish pasties.

Some mules are grazing nearby. Philip bought a ‘husing’. Philip and Jimmy have just gone to look for fishes in the river. She hardly woke as I undressed her and tucked her up in bed. a musical instrument something between a drum and a violin with horsehair strings. The boys were due back at school the following week and I had a formidable pile of washing to tackle. We returned home the next day. I am sitting at the water’s edge. carrying heavy packs and driven by a stocky Tibetan man. 58 . January 12th. Nodding plumes and the soft jingling of bells announce their coming and the children love to watch them going up the track. while Philip was preparing for his next trip to India. Ruth today asked for a pin to fix a cloth around her middle. We were all benefiting from plenty of fresh air and good food and Philip sampled quite a lot of the books in the guest house library. not unlike the old Welsh way. The animals have little bells around their necks and many have red plumes in their head harness. One of the ladies who work here carries her baby like that. Another day we took a picnic lunch and climbed a nearby ridge which gave us a panoramic view of the valley on one side and the foothills of the snows on the other. listening to the river rushing and gurgling over the stones.Barbara Collier dosed off as we rattled back in the Land Rover. so that she can carry her dolly on her back. feeling better for the break but looking forward to getting back to work. One picturesque local feature is the passing of regular mule trains on the road to the Tibetan camp. One day we walked to a Tibetan camp a few miles up the valley.

my language teacher. had taken the throne. A public holiday was declared for the following day. Amrita. shaving their heads. It was a strange sensation to know something serious was happening without understanding what it was about. Birendra. Later I went looking for a taxi to take me across town. . was in the midst of final examinations. I was eager to continue my lessons which were on the subject of household cleaning and contained vocabulary I had been wanting for months! 59 . which were delayed. King Mahendra had died in the night. not least that of the many expatriates. . Richard II. (See Epilogue.) Philip was due to leave for India on January 31st but nearly did not get away. en route to Muzzafapur.CHAPTER 12 deatH of a kIng “Tell sad stories of the death of kings .” Shakespeare. The streets were thronged with people and a big crowd stood listening to a radio in a nearby café. Lorries full of soldiers passed by and on the parade ground troops were being lined up for inspection. During the twelve days of national mourning Nepali schools were closed and men wore white. I saw him off at noon on a plane to Simra near the border. Mahendra had given real leadership to the nation and we wondered how his death would affect the future. In fact his journey had not been delayed and he heard the news of the king’s death at the border check point. but the official announcement was not made until after his son. Eventually I discovered the reason for all the activity. Schools and colleges stopped in the middle of examinations and people were sent home from work. I wondered whether Philip had been able to obtain transport from Simra airport to the border at Raxaul.

together with an education programme.70 rupees for a ticket to Muzaffapur (about 20p for a hundred mile journey. where I stayed with three European staff members. This seems to really convince people. An advantage is that Muzaffapur is a major town. Station food vendors have brick built units like a solid table with a fire inside providing heat through one or two holes on top.) The 3. Their book-keeper has recently left and has not yet been replaced.30 and later I had to change trains with another hour’s wait. The sleeping bag I required for my overnight train journey was in the case. It is a fine hospital. Philip wrote: “At Raxaul station I paid 3.Barbara Collier Meanwhile. Then I asked if they could help me. modern. with a relatively small number of in-patients and a great emphasis on outpatient work. Soon I was whisked through the streets to a spot where an artisan in keys sat on the pavement. Hot. I locked my suitcase at Muzaffapur and thought I had lost the key.” In Delhi Philip had an interesting experience which he described to his parents: February 3rd. While there I made myself useful by balancing their books and doing their quarterly accounts. A rickshaw took me to the hospital. especially the young and educated.30 train left at 4. I bought a hot snack on the platform. took barely ten seconds to select a key and with nothing but a file 60 . At the Delhi travel agents I got my ticket and sleeper reservation. clean and efficient. The heat dispels flies. or left it behind. sweet tea is sold nearby. He looked at the case lock. The second train reached Muzaffapur at 10pm after a long journey across the plain. Many varieties of spicy rissoles are fried in hot fat.

A Brahmin priest lived there. Finally.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee fashioned a workable key in barely a minute! Only later did I discover that the original key had found its way into the bottom of a file in my briefcase. a serious complication in leprosy. had the Yul Brunner look. electric fan and western type bath. etc. Not all the men shaved their heads. Travelling from Delhi to Maharashtra by train. where nerve damage causes insensitivity leading to injury. Dr Gude specialised in treating ulcers. One little room has a comfortable bed. he was laden with gifts. Dr Gude said: “Praise the Lord for every day that room is empty!” It is reserved for the rare cases of ‘Lazarine leprosy’. We saw one man who had been like that when admitted. Philip was then driven South over the hills to Kothara and the 350 bed hospital there. as he had been having heart treatment for years. It was empty. riding through the town on an elephant with great ceremony—a sort of human scapegoat. 61 . where a person is covered with horrible ulcers. Gude. Such cases have top treatment with twice daily brine baths. but a large proportion of business men. a mosquito net. (including Mr Singh. His foot was too near the hot exhaust pipe and was badly damaged by the end of the journey. who worked in a government office) and all police and soldiers. special drugs. including some of the king’s former possessions and driven into exile. Back in Kathmandu I heard that the king could have died at any time. sleeping in the king’s bed and eating the king’s food. He wrote: February 6th. During the official days of mourning a strange custom took place in the palace. We heard of a patient who was discharged from hospital and given a lift home on the back of a motor bike. whose hobbies included growing roses and breeding pedigree dogs. It was run by Dr. Philip accompanied Dr Gude on his ulcer round.

so that kept her occupied. At the end I was only charged for the flex and discovered when I reached home that the shopkeeper had even put the old flex back into the box. Unfortunately the heater only worked for about half an hour at tea time before fusing again! I am not sure whether it is the heater or the wiring that is wrong. Fortunately extra heat was only needed first thing in the morning. on Friday evening. We were invited to spend a weekend at Anandaban with the two nurses. Jennifer and Adina. but I suspect the latter. as the house stayed warm in the evening after a day of sunshine. The eldest daughter and I had snatches of conversation and the usual complimentary comments were made about Ruth—fair haired girls are so rare here. I kept craning my neck backwards to view the snows.: February 14th. usually between six and seven in the evening. because of damp from the roof. so we may have to move before the rains begin. Yesterday our heater fused for the umpteenth time and after fiddling with it for some time I took it to the bazaar. During power cuts the children thought it was great fun to have their bedtime story by candlelight. There was also a little boy popping in and out. Our landlord is still evasive about having it repaired. glowing rosy pink in the sunset 62 . We were watched by his six smiling daughters. The street is very narrow and there was quite a traffic jam with plenty of accompanying noise. It kept fusing. On the way there.Barbara Collier Apart from the occasional power cut. ranging in age from about eighteen downwards. we were having trouble with a cheap heater we had bought for the winter. Ruth kept running to the shuttered window to watch the traffic down below. Ruth and I waited for 45 minutes in a little low ceilinged upstairs shop while the electrician patiently changed the flex and sorted out connections.

saying the boys had pushed her in. The children kept sniffing it and getting impatient to start it. which kept me busy. I still have a hangover! It is incredibly clear and fresh here and the sun is quite hot. I described our visit to the grandparents: February 26th. Jim proudly sleeping in a sleeping bag on the coconut mat. 63 . announcing his homecoming within a week. a reminder of almost a year ago when we arrived in Nepal. this morning he woke up fit as a fiddle and insisted he felt well enough to go and play with the Simrose children. We returned on Sunday afternoon. so we let the matter drop! It was good to see some of the long term patients again and I had a ‘sing’ with a few of them on the ladies ward later while John and Elsie took Ruth to gather pine cones. Ruth and Jimmy went out like lights as soon as they were settled. Needless to say. I planned to spring clean the office before his return. His mother had sent some dried fruit so I was able to borrow an oven and bake a fruit cake to welcome him. Their story was that she had jumped in of her own accord. The following day I received a letter from Philip. Ruth appeared dripping wet later. The Simrose family have made a duck pond on the ‘back shelf ’ and this proved a magnetic spot for our three. The fields of newly planted wheat are showing green on the slopes. dirty and dishevelled. However. After changing her clothes I walked down to investigate and found the boys innocently making paper boats to sail on the water.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee at first. then pale and luminous as the light faded. David was restless and later had a nasty bout of vomiting which lasted on and off all night. but much refreshed.

She had met Philip’s father who suggested she contact us while visiting Kathmandu. Barely twenty four hours later two visitors arrived from Pokhara.Barbara Collier There was a great celebration when he arrived on March 6th. a girl from our home town phoned. We had a chicken feast followed by the long awaited cake. Phew! 64 . When he picked Ruth up she just kept giggling. The boys arrived home from school and David’s face broke into a big smile while Jimmy just whooped and rushed indoors. while they were packing to leave. a doctor and nurse on their way home to England. The next day I showed her around some of the town before dashing off to the school sports day. They stayed two days and.

Anandaban valley and rapids .

View from Anandaban house. .

.Philip outside hospital.

and Mrs Harris. .Dr.

Maya with her new leg. .

Road to Tibet .

Roy and Alma Hagan. .

Kathmandu bungalow with grass cutters. .

Farewell to Anandaban (Ruth holding her blue bunny!) .

the local mission hospital. The doctor diagnosed tropical sprue and prescribed a course of folic acid. The doctor commented how I came up smiling! I left the children’s breakfast ready this morning and was back before tea time. later revealed a mild inflammation of the liver. My main job then was to feed him up with as much nourishing food as possible. which Ruth called ‘holly bollys’. in addition to an antibiotic. so they hardly missed me. an inflatable rubber ball with ears.CHAPTER 13 sICkness In tHe famILy/1 For our first year in Nepal we had kept in reasonable health as a family. apart from perennial coughs and colds. but he gradually regained his strength. but a check-up at Shanta Bhawan. The children and their guests enjoyed bouncing on it once Philip had blown it firm enough. however. Gusty was feeling mischievous and jumped onto the heavy wooden clothes horse. In March I had a small gynaecological operation as a day patient: March 29th. In January. The medicine he was given had unpleasant side effects. bringing it down on top of him. Philip’s mother sent a space hopper. Philip carried him to the government veterinary college 74 . He seemed better on his return from India. having rested all day. His brother sent some haliborange tablets. for Ruth’s third birthday. after our holiday in Pokhara. Ruth kept slipping off at first. A few days later it was Jimmy’s sixth birthday. Philip was still feeling tired and had lost some weight. I was not unconscious for long and felt amazingly good when I came round. apart from sleepiness. but soon got the idea. He staggered about and we soon realised he had been blinded.

doing a good job chasing the flies (when they are not being hunted by Gusty. A young Nepali examined him.) Work has started on the roof. which are normally a rare luxury! It is very hot. David said the temperature registered 105 at noon today. Jimmy has been very good about it and is not really ill now that he is resting and on a careful diet. He will have to stay in bed for some time and I am barrier nursing him at present in the hope of reducing the risk of the others catching it. if a little more docile. At night fireflies dance in the garden and indoors the lizards are with us again. Several lorry loads of broken bricks were delivered and dumped in the garden.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee in a holdall. Two other children at the school had it: May 1st. Having two bathrooms helps. When his sight returned the children were thrilled. Presumably the finished product will be spread on the roof like crumble 75 . After two days back at school Jimmy still seemed off colour. prescribed some medicine and said: ‘Wait and see’. As a treat he enjoys bottles of Fanta orange. at least preparations. slowly beginning to eat and move about. For the past few days an army of women have been employed to break them up into small stones with hand mallets. which is endemic in Nepal. The flowering cactus in the garden appeared to have caused the problem. to the ruination of the flower bed. We all have to have Gamma globulin shots as an added protection. but the doctor thought it was more likely an allergy. We suspected German measles. Soon afterwards the children developed rashes. The children prayed fervently for him that evening and he gradually improved. thinking he would have to be destroyed. A blood test confirmed infective hepatitis. now his usual active self.

Barbara Collier

and covered with a layer of cement—all for a few cracks in the surface! One of the workers brings her babies with her (one a year or so old, the other a toddler) and feeds them in the shade from time to time. An older child watches them and the women take it in turns to comfort them when they are fretful. Another teenage girl with thyrotoxic eyes enjoys staring through the windows to see how the strange foreign people live. I keep them all supplied with tea and water (imagine working in this heat!) and the occasional sweet for the children. 7th. May. Workmen and women are still swarming around outside and working on the roof like bees. Jimmy is making a rapid recovery and we just have to watch his diet for a week or two.

Unfortunately, that was not the end of the Collier troubles. The next day I wrote to Philip’s mother:
May 8th. Philip is fine now, boasting he has put on three pounds this week (thanks to extra eggs and vitamins.) Jimmy is almost over the hepatitis and has got away with a very mild attack with no noticeable jaundice. The worst part for him is the fat free diet. On Friday I had a severe headache and low fever. We had friends coming to dinner and I prayed for strength to keep going. While they were with us I felt better, but later the symptoms returned and I had to accept I was ill. I did not take too kindly to the idea of being sick, having nursed everyone else. I have felt rather grim since Saturday whenever I have tried to get out of bed. At first meningitis was suspected, then a type of typhoid. Now it seems it is

A Rabbit For Half a Rupee

hepatitis after all. The doctor thinks the gamma globulin jab I had last week will help me overcome this more quickly. I certainly hope so!

Philip took over the household management. In addition to Shelah he also had Sita, our original helper, coming in each evening to wash and tidy up. She was currently out of work and glad of some extra cash. In fact things were much better than they would be in England, where basic chores would pile up while Mum was out of action.
“Today I read a well-known comment of Amy Carmichael’s on ‘peace in your borders’ (Psalm 147.14). She spoke of things that hem us in from what we should like to do or feel we ought to do and having peace right there.”

That sentiment was tested many times over the next few weeks. David had been impatiently awaiting his eighth birthday on May 12th. As I was still in bed he could not have a party, but Philip bought a small cake and carried into the bedroom with candles alight, so we could all share it. He wrote:
“Jimmy is nearly well again, although not yet back at school. He has to rest after each meal and is supposed to avoid all fat—less strict now than at first—so he ate some birthday cake. I have invented a kind of cake using curds instead of fat. May 13th. Today Dr. Gould and I decided between us that it would be best for Barbara to be admitted to Shanta Bhawan, where she can get the complete bed rest and nursing care she needs.”

Work was still going on to repair the roof and I was not sorry to get away from the shuddering bangs and thumps that echoed down through the ceiling. Philip described it:

Barbara Collier

To mend a leaking roof you need: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Several lorry loads of broken bricks. One lorry load of cement Lots of water (more than we can obtain in two days.) Five women with hammers and, in some cases, babies. Three foremen, one of whom works and directs others. The others strut around, lie on the grass, or take bets, etc. 6. A dozen or so workmen. 7. An assortment of buckets, baskets, biscuit tins, bits of rope, wooden beams, metal oil drums and a tree branch (cut from the garden.) Procedure: Dump the bricks in untidy heaps all over the garden. Sit the women in the garage to break up bricks for ten days. Use ropes to haul the pile of broken bricks up to the roof in baskets, (some crushed to powder, some merely to small pieces). Start digging a hole in the middle of the vegetable patch. When householder objects, dig it in a corner—very conveniently, (the householder has wanted another rubbish pit.) Find that the hole will not hold water and abandon it. Ask for more water when no more available. Cut down the branch of a tree, tie biscuit tins to each end and detail one man to fetch water from the nearest pond. Haul water up to the roof in buckets and mix cement there. Spread concrete about three inches thick and bang down with beams. An optional extra—perhaps tomorrow—clear away the remaining loads of bricks, rubble, etc. which adorn the garden. When the monsoon comes we shall let you know whether this method of mending leaks works.



sICkness In tHe famILy/2
Shanta Bhawan hospital was opened by pioneer missionary, Dr. Bethel Fleming, who was allowed into Nepal to commence medical work in 1954 with her husband, Dr. Bob Fleming, an ornithologist. (See “The Fabulous Flemings of Kathmandu” by Grace N. Fletcher—Hodder and Stoughton, 1965). It was based in a former Rana palace with long corridors and winding stairs. Now the United Mission to Nepal (UMN) is responsible for running it and it is staffed by an international team from several mission organisations. The Leprosy Mission holds its weekly outpatient clinic there. The hospital accepts both Asians and Europeans for treatment. Among the Europeans at that time were embassy staff, foreign aid workers, tourists, missionaries and a number of ‘world travellers’ who reached Kathmandu on the hippy trail. I had met Dr Beth at one of the ladies’ coffee mornings held in her house. On that occasion I took along a few cheese straws, cooked in my makeshift oven. She received them kindly, putting them in a special small dish and thanking me warmly. Like many others before me I felt welcomed and valued by the veteran missionary. Now here I was, an in-patient in a pleasant second floor room opening onto a balcony, with a commanding view of fields and houses stretching away to the distant hills, misty in the heat haze. The strange thing was, despite the level of bile in my blood being a great deal lower than Jimmy’s had been, I felt much worse. Hepatitis seems to affect adults that way. Everyone was very kind. Claire, my playgroup colleague, helped by looking after Ruth (who did not appear upset by my absence.) Margaret


Barbara Collier

Gould brought in flasks of iced water to drink, much more palatable than lukewarm boiled water. I told my mother: “All being well, I hope to return home at the weekend. Then it will be a case of slowly building up energy. This sort of thing knocks the stuffing out of you!” My hopes were premature, as I explained to Philip’s parents on May 21st:
My temperature has settled down now, leaving me with a pale lemon complexion, eyes to match and the recent addition of itches, which go with the jaundice. The doctor assures me I need another week in hospital, followed by a time of convalescence, which would be all very well if Philip had not succumbed, too. Believe it or not, we are now in a double room, side by side. He was admitted on Friday and is thus behind me in symptoms. In fact, Dr. Dickinson thinks it may be a recurrence of his former liver trouble, whatever that was. We have written out a large notice, decorated by David with his spirograph. It reads ‘Join the happy Hepies’ and goes on to list qualifications needed. Friends have rallied round to help in a wonderful way. The boys are currently staying with Mr and Mrs Newton, house parents at the school hostel, designed to accommodate children who live too far out of the city to travel in daily. Several of their friends are there and, by all accounts, they are settling in well. Jimmy starts back to school tomorrow. Claire Spivey had already offered to have Ruth when I was admitted, so Ruth is staying there with three year old Philip and his little sister, Anna. Shelah is going round to help Claire with the extra work involved. I have not seen Ruth for several days and was anxious to get home to care for her, but was told it is not time yet.


A Rabbit For Half a Rupee

Philip described the day he was admitted:
“The boys cooked their own porridge for breakfast; David cut his own peanut butter sandwiches for school; Jimmy packed bags with clothes, etc.—remarkably little was forgotten. A taxi later took us all to our varied destinations; David to school, Jim to the school hostel, Ruth to Claire Spivey’s home and finally, myself to Shanta Bhawan hospital. There I was subjected to a long list of tests culminating in a chest X-ray. By this time I was so weak that I could not stand and had to be X-rayed lying on my back. It was a relief to eventually be settled in a bed alongside Barbara’s.” I added: “We are being well cared for here. There is a diet kitchen which produces varied meals. Philip is able to enjoy them more than me at present. From our room we can see the hospital garden with a jacaranda tree covered in fragrant blue blossoms. Distant fields stretch to the hills at the South of the valley. The effect of sunshine and shadow on the steeply contoured slopes is quite beautiful to watch.”

Another week passed before I was discharged and only then because I was able to stay at the Spivey home for a few days. Ruth had been very well behaved for two weeks, but wanted my exclusive attention once I was there—only natural, but exhausting. Later I was invited to Anandaban to convalesce and benefited from the cooler mountain air. Elsie and I were able to discuss ways to obtain more knitting wool for the patients and I visited the long term patients on the women’s ward. Mariamme sat on the end of her bed, dangling her one leg (she only wears her artificial limb when she walks on the hill.) We read and sang together. It was not easy for her to turn the pages of her Nepali book with her permanently crippled fingers, but her face was a picture of joy. She was grateful for the visit and so concerned to hear Philip was

) The next day I collected the boys from the hostel and hoped Philip would be able to join us for the weekend. 82 . However. It was the middle of June before we were reunited as a family. respected older sister—a compliment. “How thin you have become!” Philip and I were slowly putting on weight. but the dahlias and zinnias were a welcome sign. On my first visit to a shop in the bazaar the shopkeeper said. I suddenly realised she was saying. It could be very serious for the farmers as it was rice planting time. As I chatted to some Christian neighbours on the doorstep I saw that Ruth was surrounded by four or five of her little Nepali friends. several of them were sitting on the shed roof when I emptied the teapot outside. we had to part with Shelah. They called out: “Goodnight. When I left a group of women stood on the verandah to wave goodbye. but our clothes were still baggy. sadly. in Nepali. Didisahib!” (Literally. Meanwhile. Returning to Lal Durbar I found the garden a wilderness. Philip and I both found we tired easily and it was good to have some regular help. knowing that many of the patients can never be certain of long periods without pain or weakness. the rains arrived just in time to save the corn harvest and everyone was cheerful. They all wanted to know where we had been and it took some time to explain. The rains were late and already there was a water shortage.Barbara Collier in hospital. but was told he needed another week in hospital. Sita was still available and came back to work for us full time. Later. who had hopped over the wall to see her. Meanwhile. I felt so thankful for my own renewed health. “You have come after many days!”—rather more picturesque than “Long time no see!” Another Nepali neighbour asked if I had been ill and made a remark I did not at first understand.

We have had to move our bed to a different position because we woke up with water dripping on our heads.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee June 24th to my parents: Guess what? Our roof is leaking again. All that banging must have spread the cracks wider! Later: Mr Singh called this morning and promised to send someone to see about the roof—no comment! 83 . only worse than last year.

Both boys had crew cuts at the weekend and now look like little Americans. . meant for a gatekeeper. They say they feel cooler with their hair short. When the boys returned to school we wrote: July 16th. We can understand the Nepali pattern of eating. shady from the heat and a shelter when it was raining. eaten morning and evening. Apart from that we did not mind the grass cutters. . We drink loads of tea and boiled water. Philip and I were signed off by the doctor in early July but both felt tired in the heat and high humidity (sometimes 96 %. when it is cooler. The boys eat very little at midday and often bring sandwiches home. cutting fodder for their animals. It was a small brick built place with a roof. so we have a good meal together in the evening.” stated the notice outside the chowkidar’s hut near the gate. We did not have that privilege and often returned home to find the gate open and cows grazing in the garden. 84 .) We managed to take the children swimming at a hotel swimming pool. They were a group of women who toured the district with hand scythes. . which was refreshing and a visit to the local zoo was a thrill for Ruth. We did not have a lawn mower and felt they provided a service—except when they left the gate open . which is two cooked meals per day. . as you may imagine and the boys take a water bottle each to school . .CHAPTER 15 grazIng ground “No admishun withawt promithon. The boys had claimed the hut for their den and summer headquarters. Wealthy home owners employed a gate keeper as a sort of security guard to deter unwelcome visitors. Ruth has her hair in bunches and manages to stay cool.

a senior surgeon at Shanta Bhawan. He wrote: July 22nd.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee Recently Philip and Anna Spivey came to play and we had the paddling pool outside. had succumbed to hepatitis early in June. As soon as he recovered he was sent to Bangla Desh to help a surgical team. Margaret. The terraced rice fields are lush green and the only sound the rushing of water in the valley below. got lost on the way down and had to climb up again to find the way back. was still in Kathmandu with their four children. much refreshed after the break. as Philip’s office is leaking badly. It was cooler there and he was still convalescent. who had been such a friend to us when we were in hospital. His wife. The rains have been heavier this week and the only rooms which are not damp are the children’s bedroom and the pantry. He returned on Sunday. holding books in front of them!” Philip decided to follow my example and take a few days rest at Anandaban. Bill Gould. 85 . We are seriously thinking about moving. July 27th. That week we were concerned to hear that he had been taken seriously ill with kidney disease in Bangla Desh and sent back to England for treatment. Yesterday I climbed to the top of the hill. After a while Ruth and Anna (2) were stretched out on towels ‘sunbathing’—typical females! Later they played church in the lounge and sang lusty made up hymns. It was the first energetic thing I have done for months. It is as beautiful as ever here and coming back after about six months everything seems fresh.

This would be too expensive for the missionary families. some of them in very frail houses. He looked very smart in long trousers. each of us 86 . even if it does leak. Kedar walked in from Anandaban to see us. When we thought of the local people. I wrote to Philip’s mother: August 4th. The boys took him out to help them fly their first kite of the season after lunch. Changes were afoot in the playgroup. Margaret Gould was waiting to hear news of her husband’s progress in a London hospital. We have considered making a private arrangement. Yesterday we had a surprise. Once again the weather was delaying post. we had planned a rice meal. We had been offering our services free since starting the group and keeping charges modest. with a bright topee on his head. Today we heard of houses flooded and one house collapsing in the bazaar. new shoes and a nylon shirt. we were thankful for the roof over our heads. Fortunately. as doctors thought Bill would need at least six months away from the field. His initial letter was dictated to a nurse when he was too weak to write. She was busy packing to take her family home to England. Since we left he has been working for Elsie and is apparently getting on well.Barbara Collier Last night there was a terrific storm and water came in all over the place. Some visiting friends could not leave until Philip paddled down to the high road and brought back a taxi to take them home. Some American mothers wanted to make the group more ‘professional’ and pay teachers to run it. July 31st. All the missionary mothers rallied round to help with the children. whereby our children play together on three or four mornings per week in a different house. so he stayed to eat with us. The ditches were overflowing and there was flooding in several parts of the town. It was his day off.

The mission agreed for us to seek alternative accommodation. She could not sit down and. All the children play well together. Before he left Nepal he had made preparations for an artificial limb workshop in Shanta Bhawan.6) to have 87 . All I managed to do was to unintentionally relieve her of one of the offending insects. Yesterday Ruth called me to see Durga’s ‘cuts’. enjoying different toys in different homes and it means we can each be sure of some free time for language study or other work. when she lifted her dress I could see some in awkward places. The yard outside her tumbledown house is filthy and she would be dirty again in five minutes. but the rent was exorbitant and the house itself inconvenient. I had the Gould toddlers. If you cannot beat them join them! The Gould family left Kathmandu on 14th. August 5th. but we discovered rents had risen since more Europeans were moving into Kathmandu. though we shall miss the opportunity of contact with the American children. I was having the usual battle with biting insects. Her skin was so dirty she needed a good wash in hot water.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee hosting one morning. What to do? Antiseptic cream is ineffective on dirty skin. It looks as though we shall continue like this. He was back to working normal hours again and beginning to deal with a new batch of budget figures from hospitals in India. I am trying not to scratch a new batch of bites. This would enable people like Maya (ch. Philip viewed one house. Meanwhile. the Spivey children and Jamie Dickinson for good measure while Claire helped Margaret pack. The little girl from next door had lots of raw spots on her legs where she had scratched and one or two were infected. August and we heard Bill had been discharged from hospital soon afterwards. This morning. for example. but she said her mother would not do it. sure enough.

zinnias. dahlias. She announced that she was flying out to see us later in September. in fact anything she can reach on the end of her rope. or move before she arrived? 88 . The limbs each cost two hundred rupees (£8) and twelve Nepali business men each agreed to sponsor one. The family nicknamed her Tinkerbell.Barbara Collier limb fittings on the spot instead of travelling long distances. September 2nd. Tinkerbell has been with us nearly a fortnight and so far has shown a decided preference for privet. Would we manage to dry out the house. Ready minted lamb—that should increase her selling price when she is at last destined for the table! A surprise letter came from my sister in Devon. He was taken to a rotary club meeting by another European. We had not seen the grass cutters lately and we wanted to improve the lawn before Philip’s parents came to visit in the autumn. Until recently I was under the illusion that sheep eat mainly grass. Philip was asked to be treasurer and help with fund raising. The other evening she discovered the mint patch and was highly delighted. Some friends lent us their sheep to crop the grass.

two chairs and a barely disguised oil drum in the corner. misty morning to great excitement. Ruth walked around clutching her new bride doll. the landlord. I got busy preparing my sister’s room and told my parents: September 8th. with only a bed. we decided to move the office into the dining room to make a spare bedroom available. To our amusement. Rita arrived on a wet. Now we are hoping it will not rain too heavily lest Rita has an unexpected shower bath from the ceiling! A friend has offered to take me to the airport to meet her and I have found out about cheap local excursions so that we can do some sightseeing together. He agreed to lower the rent because of the leaks and damp patches.” For the time being we were not moving house! However. The large table was installed in the sitting room and became popular for table tennis. I have bought a cheap bedside rug and made some chintzy covers for things. the boys and Philip 89 . She brought piles of presents (including some Christmas gifts from my parents which were quickly hidden away). but I don’t suppose she will mind. We put one of Ruth’s gaudy paintings on the wall to cover a damp patch. With his mind full of comparative figures Philip wrote: “Whenever we look at the marks on the wall we can think they are effectively paying for the upkeep of one in-patient. It looks rather bare. small table. which she named Jemima and the boys tucked into quantities of packet sweets.CHAPTER 16 famILy and otHer vIsIts In September Philip was busy dealing with accounts and budgets from India when we had a rare visit from Mr Singh.

son of a colleague of Philip’s father. There was a flying tragedy in the valley that week. He was on his way home after doing VSO work in Bombay and had written to us with the wrong box number. Philip and Mike slept in the upstairs flat. who had been in Nepal for nearly eighteen years. We hoped for a view of the mountains that evening.Barbara Collier were each given a pair of purple pants. Ruth and I slept in Elsie’s guest room. where we also ate. The boys begged to wear theirs to school the next day! I was excited to receive some new dresses. was tremendous. Rita. On the way there on Friday evening the snows appeared for a short while and nearly all the range was visible—a glorious sight. missions and others in opening up airstrips and teaching pilots to use them in the trickiest conditions. Both he and Rita were impressed by Anandaban and warmed to the Simrose family. The women patients were thrilled to meet my ‘Didi’ (older sister) and we took lots of photographs. He ended up putting his sleeping bag on the mat in the office for a week. an Anglo Indian pilot who pioneered flying in Nepal. an added incentive to put back some of the weight recently lost. His service to government. Mike wanted to do some exploring so. A military plane hit a power cable and 31 people were killed. asking to stay for a few days. a young man from Cambridge. Herman 90 . including Captain King. The next surprise was the unexpected arrival of Mike. but the drizzle persisted—just like England! Fortunately the weather improved the next day and became as hot as usual. on Sunday morning we made up a packed lunch for him and he set off to walk in the hills. We all went out to Anandaban for the weekend. The boys slept in the Simrose house. September 19th.

Rita and I had a few more days together before she. However. the traditional Asian farewell. While we were looking at photographs in a gallery Ruth and Anna sat in the corner singing ‘Miss Polly had a dolly’ with all the actions! On her last day Rita took us out to eat at a local Chinese restaurant. We had a lot of fun in the kitchen and Rita enjoyed all the Nepali food dished up. where we were able to have a wonderful view of the snows. Much later we heard that King Birendra had travelled on the same plane. much better than when I was in the same place the previous year. The day she left started dull and wet just like the day of her arrival. I also had a big batch of mission typing to complete. There had been times when Captain King picked him up from outlying places. much cheaper than in town. drove us out to Dhulikel on the Chinese road. We took a picnic 91 . so we had a busy time catching up at home. too. as well as some of our favourite pumpkin recipes. September 25th A man appeared from somewhere. behind a curtain separating first class accommodation. in the afternoon it cleared up and it was warm and sunny when she flew off to Delhi in Nepal’s new 727 jet. At the end of the week Mike left to continue his journey overland to England. selling bananas and we bought two hands (twelve on each) for a rupee each.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee Simrose knew him quite well. Sita insisted on coming with us to the airport and made Rita a lovely flower garland from the garden. He ordered special food for all the passengers. Claire. had to leave. including caviar! Philip was due to start his next trip to India a week later. When the day of his departure came I made the mistake of taking the children to see him off at the airport. who now had the use of the Gould’s car.

Gradually we reached the clouds and it grew dark. “You will have to see the Postmaster. with vast gorges dropping away below us. The drive was up fifty miles of steep. through the yard. It was the first time they had seen Daddy go and it upset them. winding mountain road. He described the taxi journey from Bagodogra: October 10th. frequently crossing the road.” said a young man. He and his wife Jane were awaiting the imminent arrival of their first baby. in the other door and up another flight of stairs we went. but our box was inside the building. trains. arriving at what looked like a private flat.Barbara Collier tea to eat on the downs and watched the take-off from the boundary fence. Stone cottages. Tibetan or European. trucks and smoke all clung to the steep slope and we glimpsed glorious mountain scenery beyond. He pointed to another door leading from the courtyard. The people are Nepali. Philip planned to do the hospital audit while there. A teenage boy answered my knock with: “He’s gone 92 . except for the sheer height and distance. The narrow gauge railway followed the same route. hoping to find an official kind enough to let me use my key once inside. The outside post boxes were still available. the trees appear English. There was a smell of coal gas and smoke in the air and an impression of Welsh mining villages. who had visited us at Anandaban the previous year. John Gaeter. Seeing someone walking through an open door in the yard I followed. Down the stairs. I rebelled. a mere hundred yards from the runway. A few days later I went to the post office hoping for some mail and found it closed—another unannounced public holiday. The whole area does not seem to belong to India. the mountains Welsh. At Darjeeling Philip was to meet Dr. Ruth and I trailed up a dirty stone staircase to the sorting rooms and I tried to explain the position. A trio of tearful children trailed home with me and I had to keep reminding them it was ‘only three weeks this time’.

which was challenging.” they repeated.” The ornamental statues. S. “The outside boxes may be opened. the inside ones should be also. Instead I found myself with a mixed class of ten primary children.” Once more I tried to explain in Nepali.) A Vacation Bible school (V. Before the festival began the streets were full of sacrificial goats.30am to midday. compared it with our Christmas and.) I gave up. The Rising Nepal newspaper made a poetic comment: “With each stroke of the kukri the bleating of the goats is silenced for ever. I returned to the first room. some of them driven from Tibet for the occasion. (Ke garne is a favourite Nepali expression. The boys’ school holiday coincided with Philip’s absence. It was also the annual Dassai festival. until I noticed the padlock on the door. “We have not the key. “Is there another way through to the boxes?” “Yes. “It’s a holiday.” I said. The school ran for eight days from 9. I returned to the first room once more. from the aspect of feasting and family reunion. go through there. (Goats were sacrificed for the smaller Twin Otters.” he said.B.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee out. this time speaking to another official. “We don’t have the key. guarding the temples. “What to do?” they echoed.” was the reply. including Jimmy. like most Nepalis. were smeared with blood and at the airport several bullocks were sacrificed and their blood sprinkled around each large plane. expecting to be serving refreshments or something. After half an hour’s enthusiastic singing in English and Nepali there was a flannel 93 . he’s gone to the cinema. “What to do?” I asked. Once again the post office was closed for several days. it is similar. Sita.) was organised for European and Asian children and I offered to help.” I followed a labyrinth of passages. descended another flight of stairs and found myself in the familiar hall leading to the room with the post boxes. They were getting fed up with me by now. Hope rose. like heraldic figures.

’ I wish I could record it! In class we have games. The teacher’s handbook has been a great help and is very well produced. I wrote to Philip’s parents: October 18th. colouring. A backlog of work awaited him. which he hoped to clear before his parents were due to arrive in November. 94 . stories. etc. It is all great fun. You should see and hear the local version of ‘The wise man built his house on the rock. then the children divided into classes.Barbara Collier graph story. but exhausting and needing quite a degree of ingenuity and organisation. I rather wish I had more time to think and be original. memory verses. The day after the VBS ended Philip arrived home from India. tidying up sessions. Having had little time to prepare I find myself relying on it a great deal.

The car is a bit temperamental and we do not want to damage it while we have it. when they go to Anandaban. but Mother was not very mobile due to arthritis. and were willing to lend it to us. the black Ford car Philip had before we were married (so called because it was ‘full of good works’—when it started!) An Australian couple. We needed transport. October 16th. I told my parents: November 1st. 95 . This means Mother will be able to see things relatively comfortably. The Bakers will be with us until Friday afternoon. It reminded us of Dorcas. an ancient red Ford. were on their way back to Australia after working in the Mission’s London office. Our American mission friends Roy and Alma Hagan were selling a car. They had also been warned of the children’s high spirits. corn plasters and clothes pegs. Then we have less than 24 hours before the Colliers arrive. A friend has lent us a car to use for Mother and Father’s visit. as it is for sale. The fast part of the Moonlight Sonata is playing on tape and David is whizzing about with a sweater over his pyjamas ‘skiing in the winter Olympics’. do you think? Metcalfe and Grace were seasoned travellers. the Bakers. She was currently waiting for a hip replacement.CHAPTER 17 more vIsItors We had known of Philip’s parents planned visit for several months and in our letters had asked for such basics as ‘boilable elastic’. Will you be able to stand the pace. Philip met them from the airport and drove them around to see some of the city landmarks.

” Her infinitives were quickly put into action! Mother was renowned for the phrase: “Is there anything I can do?” When we reminded her she was on holiday. Despite mechanical efforts at the road side it would not restart and had to be towed back to the garage. She had only travelled thousands of miles to see us! The weather was perfect for the next week. Ruth had been praying for Nana regularly in her rambling prayer times. I told my parents: “Father jealously tends the log fire morning and evening.Barbara Collier On Saturday afternoon Philip’s parents were relaxing in the garden while the dinner cooked. They are thrilled to see something of life here. We slept in the house formerly occupied by the Paterson family and Philip’s parents were in the Harris flat. warm during the day. she protested: “But I haven’t done anything today!” and wondered why we all laughed. We had all talked non-stop since meeting them.” 96 . it was just as well we were not totally dependent on the little red car . when it came to rest in the middle of the road. 11th. Both parents sat on camping chairs enjoying the view in warm sunshine. Fortunately. . It has been glorious today and we took a picnic a short way down the hill where the road overlooks the river gorge. The children were especially delighted to have Grandpa and Nana back with them. though the weather is milder than expected. saying such things as: “Thank You for to bring Nana here and thank You for me to give her a big kiss. Tomorrow they will see something of the hospital and Mother is looking forward to visiting the women patients with me. Mother’s hip seemed to benefit from the dry atmosphere. opposite a junction controlled by a policeman. weekly letters being no substitute for face to face conversation. . November: The car we borrowed went well until yesterday. However. . but with colder nights. we were taken out to Anandaban for the weekend.

They were due to leave for furlough in England quite soon and we knew Ruth would miss her playmates. Meanwhile. To the Colliers back in England: We took the hopper to the garage. They took loads of pictures to share with friends at home in England. We hoped the children did not find them too soon. one in the back and one in the right eye. Presents from the family were already hidden in the oil drum in the spare room and on top of our wardrobe. A few local children watched. The weather became colder. I made a cake in a friend’s oven and some candied peel. The road was clearer than it had been the previous year when I went. while it was repaired and reinflated. which delights all three children. 97 . Philip took his father on the trip to the Chinese border. so I turned my attention to other cooking. A few days later Father left to visit friends in India. It was rice harvest time and we saw people threshing by the road side. Unfortunately she was unwell with a fluey cold for a few days and spent some time in bed.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee On the way back to town they were fascinated by the trip along the mountain road and through the three villages. fascinated. especially when they discovered the bunny hopper was flat. Mother was to join him ten days later in Delhi. There were long sessions with a fine toothed comb. she had caught nits from her local friends. and we began to make Christmas preparations. Her fine long hair was difficult to treat even with paraffin and medicated shampoo. It was also good to introduce them to some of our friends. Bunny now has a patch on one eye and a black spot for a tail. My mother had sent us a Christmas pudding. where they discovered two minute punctures. even then. Philip and Anna. The children were a bit unsettled after the grandparents left. Mother left on December 1st. which left a citrus aroma wafting through the house. but heating was not needed all day. The Spivey family came to tea one day. December 4th.

Barbara Collier

We have moved David into what was your room for the time being, so that he can spread himself. He enjoyed filling all the drawers of his toy chest and got Philip to punch labels for them. Yesterday, when he was at a loose end, I suggested he made an advent calendar. It kept him busy most of the afternoon, cutting out tiny pictures and sticking them on a base. We had a frost this morning and all three children wrapped up warm and went out before breakfast. They were dancing about in the garden ‘climbing Everest’. By 7.30am the sun was out and when the boys left for school few traces of frost remained. Lovely weather!

Philip was to commence a tour of the Far East in January and was expecting to be away for three months, visiting Thailand, Hong Kong, Korea and Indonesia. We were due for holiday and the mission director agreed we should all go as far as Thailand at the end of December, spending several days with friends working in two hospitals there. The plan was for me to bring the children back in time for the new school term, while Philip continued his tour. That meant we had to obtain travel visas, in addition to all the expected Christmas and holiday preparations. I told my parents:
December 9th. We are in the midst of filling in visa applications for our trip. For at least ten minutes we hunted everywhere for the forms, together with a certificate, stating we have just had our cholera jabs (much to Ruth’s disgust). Philip asserted I must have put them somewhere, but they turned up in his briefcase! December 10th There is a strong smell of candle grease in the air as I write. Today I bought some more cheap coloured candles in the bazaar and we tried them out this evening. When David’s friends, the Oranya boys, heard about us

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singing carols after supper, they said they would like to join us. We decided to burn up some garden rubbish, so we had a small bonfire after dark and several boys came along.

Another French boy, who had been playing cricket with the boys this afternoon, was driven up by his father, dressed in his best, thinking it was a party! Anyway, while Philip was outside with the children, setting off a few fireworks, I prepared cocoa and gilebis. We all had a good sing and the plate of gilebis disappeared in no time. It was a relief to hear that Metcalfe and Grace had arrived safely back in England. They had been thrilled to see the Taj Mahal on their way home. The Christmas postal rush in Europe meant post was now reaching us surprisingly quickly, sometimes in three or four days.



CHrIstmas and a merry BIrtHday
Every year the British Embassy in Kathmandu holds a service of Nine lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve. Someone persuaded me to join the choir that year. The boys were more interested in the community carols to be held in various embassies each Sunday evening. Philip promised to take them. School ended on December 15th. with a concert at the Residence. I wrote:
“The concert included carols, country dancing and a nativity tableau. It was all very well done and Ruth enjoyed it, especially the tea afterwards. The children were allowed first innings on the food and a magnificent spread disappeared with amazing rapidity! David has already started asking what we are doing in the holidays. I have just got the recipe for some Bournvita fudge, so I hope that will keep the boys busy tomorrow. This week has been rather hectic for ‘our man in Kathmandu’. Philip has been busy writing letters for tour arrangements in between trips to the travel agents, Thai embassy and Singha Durbar. He was asked to meet Mr Hough, the mission’s Scottish representative, returning from Pokhara, so that we could accommodate him overnight before he continued his trip to India. Another New Zealand couple were due to arrive from Thailand yesterday, also en route to Pokhara. Their onward flight was cancelled after much delay, so we fed them and Alma Hagan gave them bed and breakfast. Philip saw Mr Hough off at 7.30 this morning and I saw

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Mr and Mrs Parsons off this afternoon. In between all the comings and goings two unexpected visitors dropped in. Business as usual!”

We were expecting to stay in the city for Christmas and received an invitation to a double wedding on December 23rd. The planned extra cooking for expected guests on Christmas Eve had to be prepared in advance. I was warbling around the house, practising choir pieces for the concert, despite having a head cold. Ruth heard me singing “In the bleak mid-winter” and asked what ‘poor as I am’ meant. I tried to explain. Later I heard her singing in the bathroom:
“What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb; If I were a wise man I would bring a present; If I were Father Christmas I would give a chocolate bar . . . .”

Chocolate was high on the children’s gift list! When we left England a church friend gave us some Mowbray Bible pictures, including some of the Nativity. We were not sure what we should do with them. However, we noticed that many shops in the bazaar had brightly coloured pictures, depicting Hindu deities. We managed to make a Nativity frieze to go on the wall in the lounge, covering some of the damp patches, hoping it would answer some of the questions we were asked about what we celebrate. The children had a little pine branch in a pot in their room, a mini Christmas tree, and were busy making decorations for it. We explained to Sita that this was a children’s custom, not a puja, object of worship, as she might think. Outside the front door was a large, bright poinsettia to welcome our visitors.
Saturday, 23rd, was a glorious day for the wedding, with the snow peaks clearly visible above the nearby hills. One couple were Finnish, the others a German and an American,

Barbara Collier

a truly international affair The service was in Nepali and English and the Bible was read in four languages; English, German, Finnish and Nepali. Afterwards there was an open air reception at the University, where the couples were linguists. On Christmas Eve we had three guests. I told my parents: My sand oven supported a six pound shoulder of pork. We also managed stuffing and roast potatoes, the latter finished off in a covered frying pan. I had boiled a knuckle of ham in advance. The pressure cooker took care of the Christmas pudding you sent. It was delicious and we finished up with mince pies and candied peel. Our friend, Doreen, brought round her house helper to give Sita a hand with the washing up. The two ladies boiled some rice and added spices to their share of the meat, which they ate outside, picnic style. Later we all went to the Embassy carol service and the choir pieces were well received, especially the Shepherd’s Pipe carol, a lively modern one. The conductor let himself go, waving his arms energetically, much to the amusement of the children in the audience. After all the excitement the family settled early, but hearing noises at 2am, we found David and Jimmy with the light on, opening their stockings. Jimmy returned to bed happily enough, proudly announcing, with a toothless grin, that he had a new ruler, but David was highly indignant at being expected to go back to sleep! The next thing we knew it was 5.40am and in trooped the trio to watch Ruth opening her stocking. We had a brief nap while the kettle boiled for tea, then dressed and went out in the mist to sing to our Nepali neighbours—(they sang to us at Diwali, so we returned the compliment.)

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Later, there was great excitement indoors when we handed round the pile of presents from England. During the morning the Land Rover arrived to take us to Anandaban in time to help serve the patients’ lunch and join the staff picnic, eaten Indian style with the fingers and served on banana leaves—a saving on washing up! John and Elsie drove us back with their children and stayed to supper and ‘carols by candlelight’. It was good to have them with us because we found a window smashed and some gifts taken, including David’s stamp album. It was the first time we had experienced a break-in. Philip wrote:
“After the initial shock David took it very well. I bought him a new, better stamp album and Alma Hagan presented him with a fine set of Bhutanese stamps, so that his new collection is already worth more than the old one. I shall try to get a painting by numbers set in Hong Kong. David’s presents had been on the window sill. Jimmy gladly shared his presents with his brother and David discovered that all the family and other friends were supportive, which helped.”

On a lighter note, I tried on a pair of thick tights sent by Philip’s brother and was mystified when they would not go above the knee. Then I read the label. They were marked ‘age 4’! Ruth was delighted to receive a dolls’ tea set and had her first tea party with the boys the next day. She sat outside afterwards with a dekshi of water, washing up. Her bs and vs were proving difficult. Having expected a friend to come she said, ruefully: “I wanted Georgina to come ‘cos I ‘bited (invited) her.”
A few days later it was my birthday. I wrote home; It was a beautiful warm day and we ate in the garden. After lunch we went out for an ice cream (family choice!) then I put a candle on the Christmas cake at tea time. Jimmy said: ‘Let’s sing ‘Happy birthday to you’; ‘We wish you a Merry

You may imagine how excited the children are. 1973. but we should soon know.Barbara Collier birthday’ (instead of Christmas!) and ‘We plough the fields and scatter’—not sure why he wanted the last one! January 1st. I am in the throes of packing and have just sat down to sew on some buttons. Philip is waiting to sort out passports and papers with me. wearing the flower garlands Sita had given us on departure. As we are going in different directions after Bangkok. The next morning we were sitting waiting for the Burma Airlines plane. quite how much of an adventure we had not yet discovered. 104 . we have to pack everything separately. The New Year was beginning with an adventure. We shall be having even warmer weather in Thailand. They are running around outside in the sun at the moment.

The children found several new playmates in the three days we were there and I enjoyed sitting by the beautiful water lily pond in the grounds while Philip was shown something of the leprosy work. We were met by Alan Davis. You may imagine the children’s excitement and delight at not only going by train. the mission’s representative at Manorom. Her car had broken down and she stayed with us until we stopped. The return flight I was booked to take with the children was non-existent and we should have to travel three days later with an overnight stop in Rangoon. On Friday we continued north to Chiang Mai. I described it to the grandparents: January 5th. It had been a cool morning when we left Kathmandu and we had dressed accordingly. Pat. picking up a wealthy looking Chinese lady on the way. fish and omelette. but slept well until 5am. an OMF hospital. He drove us there via a long. Now we felt cluttered with extra clothing. Len MacBeath and his wife. They were not settled until past 10pm. Unfortunately. when the boys were 105 . but sleeping on it. we soon discovered the airline administration was not so efficient. The in-flight service was excellent and we had enjoyed a roast chicken meal en route. at an open fronted restaurant for an evening meal of rice. a South African I had met when we were both student nurses in London.CHAPTER 19 furtHer east Stepping off the plane at Bangkok airport was like walking into an oven. We travelled by sleeper train. When Alan went to pay he discovered the lady had settled our bill with her own before she left. including our friends Dr. There was a large European staff at Manorom. an hour or so later. an example of quiet Eastern generosity. wide flat road.

leaving plenty of fruit—bananas. We had a picnic lunch at a lotus lake not far away and enjoyed the sunshine on the grass. The guest house. so they will be useful on the return journey. We had brought sandwiches for breakfast and had hot mugs of Ovaltine to wake us up.) Philip said Thai second class sleepers are much better than Indian First class. Heather had stocked the fridge for us. We did not need any of the games or books we had brought.Barbara Collier bouncing on their top bunk and could not understand why they should not get up! Jimmy went back to sleep and David read for a bit. There was a service in the island church on Sunday morning. an adjoining bedroom and a bathroom. Everything was NEW. The Mckean Leprosy Centre is about four miles from the centre of Chiang Mai on a good road. pineapples and water melon. It had a large living room with a kitchen at one end. For the next two and a half hours the children were absorbed in walking up and down the car. which fascinated them (and us. the doctor. a local equivalent of Kew gardens and watched a display of Thai dancing. overshadowed 106 . complete with refrigerator and gas stove. Thai is a tonal language and the early Thai Christians had attempted to translate English hymns with interesting results! I told the grandparents: January 7th. raised on ten foot concrete posts to withstand floods in the monsoon rains. then came the business of folding up the seats. On arrival we were given a whistle-stop tour of the hospital buildings by Mrs Heather Smith. where we stayed was a Thai style teak building. wife of Trevor. We fixed our own breakfasts. made sandwich lunches and had evening meals in the administration block a hundred yards away. That afternoon we visited Laddaland. which was a great asset. watching the view through the window. It is built on an island formed by the dividing of the river that runs through Chiang Mai.

laden with food for the overnight journey. Both boys had top bunks. In addition to intricate wood carving. The most beautiful designs are painted on by hand. It was good to see something of the occupational training carried out at the centre. The bunks are quite comfortable with a clean pillow and blanket provided. The boys were very interested. where the boys enjoyed bottles of cola. The whole process can be supervised by disabled people. In the afternoon Philip left by train en route for Hong Kong. I shared a lower berth with Ruth. Note: I still have the sunshade I bought that day forty years ago. Several crafts are taught and practised at McKean. All three children were soon asleep and I settled fairly early after writing some letters. On Sunday afternoon we were seen off at Chiengmai station. On the way we stopped at a village where silk and paper umbrellas are made. We had tea in the adjacent dining car. 107 .A Rabbit For Half a Rupee by tall palm trees. We had a few more days holiday before we were due to leave. The first couple of hours were in daylight and the children were fully occupied looking out of the window. the Australian nurse who visited us in Kathmandu (see Ch. giving patients the opportunity to become self-supporting despite social ostracism. We visited the silk worm shed where raw silk is produced very simply. the next stop on his tour. Two days later Val Bock.9). The sleeping car attendant put our beds down first so that I could settle Ruth. delicate lacquer work is produced and sold. They were presented with several cocoons from which the silk is spun and also took some pictures of the process to show at their school. January 14th. Thai silk is famous and it is not difficult to find a market. After seeing him off I collected Burmese visas for the rest of us. arrived back from furlough.

round faced customs officer.’ Memories of the YWCA in London. which I had visited. one for Ruth and me with the big case. Unfortunately.Barbara Collier We halted at Bangkok Airport just before 8 the next morning. These had a sidecar to sit in and we hired two. the other for the boys. I sent up a brief prayer for guidance and 108 . who was searching my case at the time. it was full. We followed several other passengers from our plane to the YMCA where we had been advised to stay. A short. Compared to the suave tourists milling around we looked an untidy crowd. having slept in my clothes. filling in endless forms and being passed from desk to desk before we were cleared. At one point I was very aware of them in the background while I sought to answer questions. At that time there was no station building and the four of us were helped down off the train with our luggage. The others were about to try another hotel when my driver said: ‘Memsahib. there is YWCA just around corner. then had to pick our way across the tracks and walk two hundred yards or so across a concrete yard to the airport’s rear entrance. But. We had a two hour wait for our plane to Rangoon and despite a wash and brush up I felt decidedly dishevelled. could I trust this man? ‘Just around the corner’ could mean the other side of town and a hefty fare. asked. It felt like entering by the tradesman’s door! January 15th. running about. It was just as well because we had a long delay in a huge customs and immigration hall. The children had been mostly in a confined space for nearly 24hours and were noisily letting off steam. While awaiting our journey I had felt apprehensive about ‘going it alone’ but before landing in Rangoon I had a real assurance that everything would work out and I felt quite peaceful. came to mind. with a kindly expression: ‘Are you all alone?’ Once out of the airport we joined the queue for rickshaws.

’ When I joined in I realised everyone else was singing in Burmese. but we were directed to a Chinese restaurant nearby where we had a good meal at 3pm. in fact a working girls hostel. It was good to be home after our forty four hour adventure. The night porter called rickshaws and we were pedalled swiftly through the dark streets.45 the next morning so I settled the children early and all three were asleep soon after 7pm. but it did not seem to matter! January 16th. conscious that our Heavenly Father had cared for us all the way. I had earlier seen a room with an open Bible and was told there was a meeting that evening. The air was pleasantly cool and in places small groups warmed themselves by wayside fires. a few blocks away was a rather dusty old building. Meals were not available. This kept us going until we were served a large breakfast on the plane. We had to report to the airline office at 5. bringing up hot water for us to wash. In the morning the children got up at 5. 109 .15 without any fuss. Someone handed me an English hymn book and they began to sing ‘What a Friend we have in Jesus. We were kindly received and they provided us with two double rooms and mosquito nets.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee decided to risk it. which delayed take-off for over an hour. Fortunately I still had some nuts and fruit for the children to nibble and we had a warm drink at the restaurant. On the way to the airport in the bus we ran into early morning mist. We touched down at Kathmandu just before 11am. passing a few stall holders sleepily starting the day. Sure enough. Hearing singing down the corridor I slipped into the room full of young and older ladies.

humid tropics. He wrote: “Hong Kong is a beautiful city. lying between steep. first in Hong Kong. Our hospital is one wing of a University hospital. Philip’s name caused amusement. green hills and the sea. All the houses had heated floors and Philip suffered more from being too hot inside. sitting on cushions on the heated floor round a low table with a gas ring in the middle. The skyscraper blocks in which so many millions of former refugees now live are clean and well planned. (Kimchee is a national dish. Indonesia. It was cold with a thin layer of snow on the ground. where our leprosy hospital is.CHAPTER 20 at Home and away While we were having our adventurous journey home. where it was similar to the Cantonese word for curry. While there I watched Grace Warren operate on disabled hands and feet. then in Korea where ‘l’ is pronounced ‘r’. I stayed three nights in the city and three nights on the small island of Hay Ling Chau. rather than too cold outside! January 18th.) We ate from little bowls with short pointed chopsticks—much harder to use than the long Chinese kind.” Next stop was Korea. Philip was discovering Hong Kong. and the hot. prepared every autumn and stored in high stone jars through the winter. 110 . although crowded. One day we were invited out to a feast. He became Mr Korea! After a brief stop in Singapore he reached Medan. Chopped meat and vegetables were cooked in front of us and there were little dishes of a kind of pickled cabbage. under the control of the professor of dermatology.

Maya brought some of her friends from the boarding school to visit us one afternoon. Now he is back in South India. power was restored at dusk. It will take him two months to visit all the centres he has in mind. I was glad to use up a supply of old candles. Meanwhile. His final visit in East Asia was to Jakarta in Java. dull days. I am wearing a thick Tibetan dress with several layers underneath and feel like an old lady sewn up for the winter! The latest news from Philip arrived from Indonesia. but I encouraged them to sing. so that I could record some local songs. Fresh snow has fallen on Pulchock. the highest hill on the edge of the valley. Often it is warmer outside than in. we were noticing the cold more than usual after our holiday and coping with regular electricity cuts. cold. a city of six million people. one bar electric heater on our present wiring system. The January rains. though light. I told my parents: January 29th. We can only use a small. Most of the time we wear extra clothes indoors. Pray that he will keep well this time. From there he flew back to Madras in India on 27th January. but one evening we needed candles until 9pm. working his way home.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee January 23rd. because a group of ex leprosy patients had just begun to produce candles for a living and I was able to buy some. have brought several. Tall coconut palms grow quite close together with short banana palms filling up all the ground space between them. Usually. 111 . My Nepali was not good enough for prolonged conversation. It will be a strenuous tour.

February 9th: I am awaiting news from Philip. but I know Elsie would like someone to help with the occupational therapy (mainly knitting) while she is away. This morning I went to the Brethren Assembly. At present Dr Yo is coming into Kathmandu for full time language study. There was another suggestion: January 30th. plus a local village language. Philip reached Belgaum in Mysore at the beginning of February. He will be meeting Eddie Askew next week and will have time to discuss our future in detail.) This afternoon I spoke at the 112 . Philip would be able to give moral support to Dr Yoasa in his early days of administration. a small but quite lively church where they have to cope with four languages (mainly Marathi. Telegu and English. if it does come up. We shall decide finally soon after Philip’s return. but I think the boys will like the idea of the hostel. He wrote: February 4th. He and John will have a brief overlap before John leaves. They settled well last year in difficult circumstances and most of their current school friends are there. John and Elsie said they would like us to return to Anandaban for the rest of our term. Yo Yoasa had arrived to work at Anandaban and take over when Dr Harris went on furlough in July. I may be wrong. to give us more time with the family. It would mean weekly boarding in the hostel for the boys. I have just about enough Nepali for that.Barbara Collier A Japanese doctor. No doubt it will depend when we are to return to London. I should encourage visitors to come to Anandaban during the week rather than at weekends. I arrived after a 36 hour train journey from Karigiri.

Their faces shone with joy as they thanked me for coming and sent greetings to their fellow Christians in England. The hot. There were a couple of old men at the hospital who had been there for years and were too disabled to be discharged. but has improved since Miss Baker came. My interpreter was a local teacher. but also with a good team. Maharashtra is in trouble from drought. The overworked staff are under pressure. They still need more staff. ready and waiting to launch out with an outreach programme. The cobbler here is the life and soul (sole?) of the place. is an engineer working on the maintenance of drilling rigs. a vital task when bore wells have to be deepened. He leads these activities as well as spiritual ones and does all the odd jobs. Philip’s tour continued through Mysore to Maharashtra and he noted the contrast in four widely differing centres: February 17th. It is cooler at night here than in the South—I can actually turn the fan off—but it is still quite hot during the day. dry and dusty Indian summer begins in February. Miss Baker’s German fiancé. working almost to capacity and well equipped for surgery. Josef. Nasik was small and struggling in the past. Poladpur gives red carpet treatment for guests. especially rehabilitation. Miraj is larger. or others drilled. Belgaum is small and efficient with a good team spirit. Last night the patients presented a ‘programme’. with quite good work. but is isolated and lonely.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee hospital chapel which incorporates a village congregation. a variety performance with dances and little acts. 113 .

not quite two. I told my parents: February 19th. while the rest of us went to church. back from furlough. Their driver drove off with a rubber mattress they had on top of the truck. is not too sure of us yet. They had been reassigned to Pokhara. but it took them thirteen hours to reach Pokhara. too late. We later heard they left at 7 on Sunday morning. but the sun was warm during the day. Jennifer invited us to lunch today. Ruth is delighted to have Robbie to play with again. We discovered. Mary also made a super cake with angel frosting. the children made birthday cards with Mary Simrose. that yesterday was her birthday. arriving well after dark. doing our mending. We gathered flowers and leaves from the hillside this morning and.Barbara Collier At home with us cold nights persisted. They hope to drive to Pokhara at the weekend in a hired truck. At Anandaban we stayed in what had once been their house and I was delighted to watch John Harris operate on Saturday. We had several visitors including a teacher from Darjeeling and the Paterson family. 114 . leaving the Paterson family packing up at Lal Durbar. Tomorrow John and Margaret will go to Anandaban to sort all their stuff. I took the children to Anandaban for the weekend. John has already mended our water pipe which has been giving trouble. It was so warm this afternoon that we had the paddling pool outside for the first time this year. It is good having a man about the house. but needed to collect their belongings from Anandaban. Margaret and I sat out with the children. On Sunday I wrote: February 25th. Stevie.

She was awaiting the results of her examinations which would enable 115 . which they delighted in waving in front of the girls. riding in a ‘put-put’ three wheeled taxi. We took a picnic basket and ate lunch by the lake. however. as I had a much valued extra day there and needed every minute of the time.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee They killed rabbits yesterday and Ruth ate some today without compunction.” There were still four weeks left of his schedule and we were missing him. On the way home we had the company of a tall Tibetan and a young Nepali. What should have taken 36 hours took sixty. Philip had expected to meet Eddie Askew in Madras. the rearrangement proved worthwhile. He wrote: “I carried on to Vadathorasalur to meet Eddie. I wrote: March 3rd. 38 in trains and 22 in station waiting rooms. On the way we shared with one man. carrying an English library book about Russia. plus two large baskets of vegetables. I took the children to the zoo one day. Amrita and I continued to meet occasionally to read Nepali together. which I discovered cost half the price of an ordinary one. It worked out better. Buses usually have slogans like ‘Good Luck’ or ‘Have Faith in God’. the latter being very appropriate for the dilapidated state of some buses! Put-puts carry up to six passengers for the equivalent of 50p each from one side of town to the other—not much more expensive than a bus and (a little) more comfortable. but a hold up due to rioting delayed his journey from Bombay. One such cab had ‘God help me’ painted on the front. That cost us 2 rupees (and a few flea bites!) The cost of entering the zoo for all four of us was 50p. despite visitors and plenty to do. Such is travel in the East! As often happens. The boys had been running around with gruesome looking rabbit tails.

close to her parents’ larger. Later we met the boys 116 . table top one. where we sat under the blackened beams of the roof. Ruth and I took it in turns to hug him while the astonished taxi driver looked on. I had spent half the morning cutting out new cushion covers and tacking them. Smoke from cooking downstairs rises up through the hole in the floor and ‘seasons’ the wood. While I was preparing lunch with Sita in the kitchen I heard a shout at the front door and ran to see Philip climbing out of a taxi. so the living room floor was littered with pieces of nasturtium coloured cloth. March 13th At last the rainy weather seems to have ended and we are having the usual bright. Veteran missionaries Dr and Mrs Pedley came to lunch during the week. A new house is being built nearby and after having tea and chatting to her old mother we were taken to see where her father and brothers were working on the building. Some of their supply of unbaked bricks had been ruined in the recent heavy unseasonal rain. We dropped everything and went out to lunch to celebrate. It makes me feel like spring cleaning and I have made a long list of things-to-do-before-Philip’s-return! Yesterday I bought some bright tan coloured material to make new cushion covers. Dr Das has to be away from Delhi next week. We had to climb a ladder to the upper storey. Apparently. a small house right in the middle of a wide expanse of vegetable fields. That Thursday I had a surprise: March 15th. Her few belongings were gathered around. In March she invited us to visit her home.Barbara Collier her to get a good job. Amrita’s bed was a mattress on the floor. with no shelf or cupboard in which to store them. warm days for this time of year. As Philip will see him at the end of the month he decided to come home early. They had worked in Tansen for many years and were supported by a church in our home town.

117 . David could not stop talking and regaled Philip with an incoherent account of the film all the way along the road! Ruth had eaten ice cream at lunch so Philip bore the boys off to the new ice cream parlour for their treat while I took Ruth home to bake a cake.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee at the library where they had gone to see a film with the school.

although I know the rest of the year is going to be busy for us. Philip as treasurer and I as acting secretary. but in the evening realised it was the unpleasant gastric ‘flu which had affected others recently. Now that things are settled I feel a sense of relief. A week later I wrote to my parents. 1974 is the centenary year of the Mission and a lot of visitors will come to India at the beginning of the year. He spent two days at Anandaban and attended UMN meetings as well as having discussions with Philip. so I must fit them 118 .CHAPTER 21 anotHer move Philip arrived home just in time. While Philip was away I had been asked to act as temporary secretary and had visited the premises. Das arrived. March 29th. when the prosthetics committee met we were both there. Therefore. Meanwhile we shall move to Anandaban at the end of May. With Dr Gould in England UMN had found it hard to oversee the planned prosthetic centre. currently run by a local technician. The promised German technician had not yet arrived to manage the workshop and there were people waiting for artificial limbs. Philip has a number of reports and budgets to deal with. The boys will spend some time in the school hostel. When I began to feel nauseated later I put it down to sheer excitement. I spent the next two days in bed with a fever. How would you like us home for Christmas? We were discussing dates with Dr. Das and he would prefer to have Philip in Delhi in November. We expect to leave Nepal early in November. rather than January. It took us a week or so to sort out the office and get back to normal before Dr.

David had two milk shakes to celebrate winning an end of term progress prize! The next celebration was Ruth’s birthday. April 6th. Das took us all out to the Park restaurant for coffee and milk shakes before he left for Calcutta at the end of the month. much to the boys’ delight. April 8th. Dr. so we hope to be rid of them soon. The children trouped in before 6am this morning and Ruth proudly announced: ‘I am four now!’ We found a small tambourine in a toy shop. noisy woodpeckers contrasting with soothing doves. I have a long list of work for the dressmaker while we are still in town. With the addition of some ribbons from the bazaar it looks quite good. It was a pleasant spot with plenty of trees. We both have heavy colds.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee out with clothes. with David conducting—plenty of noise. Four mana (pints) of buffalo milk arrives each morning and we skim off a bowl of thick cream from it. but flatter than Anandaban. just above the wheat fields stretching in wide terraces down to the road. There is a small fridge (electricity reached the area last year) and we make real ice cream with eggs and sugar. Forget-me-nots grew in the grass and birdsong surrounded us. An Australian couple from Bhaktapur hospital were going to Pokhara during the holidays and offered us the use of their house. The children made a band. but sometimes brings his desk outside. Philip has brought his adding machine and quarterly returns to work on. but the air is clearer here than in town. 119 . The hospital was built on the lower slopes of a hill.

Her thick woollen socks and sandals revealed she was an ex leprosy patient. Amrita and her mother sleep there while her father and older brother sleep inside the new house to guard it. hovered between rapt attention and allowing her eyes to wander to the window. A little girl. with poor marriage prospects. which they plucked at occasionally. was living in Kathmandu. seated on the floor. A girl with a sulky face. whose main work was the rehabilitating of leprosy patients. She had no work because of a foot ulcer. Gyani. who are seen as a burden to their family. Later I discovered she had a two to three hour walk from her village to attend and was late because she had not left home until 7am. Two Tamang women wore bright skirts and hooped brass earrings. They also had small rings in their noses. 18th. All the tiles have been removed for the new roof and only the ground floor is habitable. beautifully transformed when she smiled. wandered in late. It will be more spacious with a large roof area to store grain in addition to ground and first floor rooms. It is often harder for women. a lady I met at Anandaban. April: I saw Amrita’s new house. On the table we had decorative candles made at the factory. The upper storey has no floor yet and is reached by a very wobbly bamboo ladder. now almost completed. I wonder how many people in England would walk that far to attend a Christian meeting? We returned from Bhaktapur in time for Easter and found that a cow had eaten all the vegetables in the garden! Eileen Lodge.Barbara Collier Yesterday we sat in an upper room of a house in the bazaar listening to the story of Job energetically retold. But at least they have a new roof over their heads before the rains 120 . We discussed the difficulty ex leprosy patients have in finding work. The old house is a mere shell. Below us the streets were crowded with people—children shouting and men and women stopping by the open fronted shops. brought the manager of the candle factory to dinner one evening.

Swatting them around the bedroom 121 . It did not spoil his enjoyment of his birthday on 12th May. She and John brought two New Zealand council members to lunch unexpectedly on Good Friday. They were on their way to meetings in London and had their hotel booking cancelled at the last minute. When I suggested David took a share he replied: “But a foreman doesn’t do anything. the others were likely to be infected during the move. After that. you shouldn’t!”. very tasty. in contrast to the red bottle brush flowers. literally translated: “Why do you trouble yourself?” With plenty of visitors still coming I wondered when I should have time to begin packing up the house. but as the heat and humidity increased so did the mosquitoes. so stayed the night with us. Elsie Harris was facing the bigger task of packing up for their furlough. This morning I (unwisely) left David in charge of some clearing up in the children’s room while I got breakfast ready. It sounded like mumps. Back at the old house Amrita’s mother welcomed us warmly and served us dishes of porridge made from churra (flattened rice). We took a gift of candles made at the new factory and some chocolate pops made with rice crispies. May 25th.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee begin. He spent the rest of the week in bed. but his glands subsided after 48 hours and he was able to return to school the following week. Soon after that Philip sent off visa applications for us to visit the hospital at Gida Kom in Bhutan during the summer A few days after starting back to school David came home with swollen neck glands and a high temperature. which later rose to 103F. Pandemonium broke out and I returned to find the other two complaining about being told what to do. If so. the whole family was involved with packing. He just sits and tells the others!” So much for absorbing Eastern customs! The jacaranda trees were covered with delicate mauve blossom again. She said the equivalent of : “O.

When the rains get going it is likely to be blocked. I realised she needed shorter hair at Anandaban. When we had managed to fill our drums. I arrived about 8pm after a bumpy ride in the dusk.)” “Forget what?” “When I get to heaven I might boget!” About that time she got hold of some scissors and ended up with a rather ragged fringe. They bother me in the night!” “Yes. which would later be shipped home to England. Alma had offered 122 .Barbara Collier became a nightly routine. I neatened it off a bit and it looked quite attractive. We shall have to build up supplies of stores.” I replied. A week before the move I took some things to Anandaban in the lorry one evening and stayed the night with Jenny to measure up for curtains. “But I might boget (forget. May 27th. It looks as though my first job will be to get the patients knitting bandages. “When I get to heaven I’m going to ask Him. They are in desperately short supply. ‘cos I don’t like them. we left them at the Hagan house. you do that. to lessen the likelihood of infestation. Talking with Jenny makes me look forward to settling in. The mountain road has several small landslides beginning. why did Jesus make mosquitoes?” then added. One night at bedtime Ruth asked: “Mummy. However. when she got nits again. but they often buzzed us awake in the night.

Durga remained while daylight lasted. etc. June 1st. The boys moved into the hostel after school on the last day of May and hardly noticed when I called in with their clothes. 123 . moving day.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee a job to Sita. I tried to explain that a doctor should see it but doubted whether she would go. to Philip’s parents: The lorry was late in arriving so we had plenty of time to finish last minute packing. watching us pack and diving for empty bottles and tins. which was a relief. with me sitting behind holding onto several fragile boxes. I wish I could transport the little sitting room with its beamed ceiling and open fireplace to England. The kitchen is rather tiny. neither of us went over the edge! It is great to be here. All that day we had a row of little faces at the window. but she soon got it dirty again. as you may imagine! Philip drove us in the new Land Rover. On the mountain road we met a wild buffalo being led along the narrowest part and had to back to let it past. Fortunately. For months Durga had a sore toe and I had bathed and dressed it from time to time. which were put outside the door for disposal. which shifted at each bump. She had brought Radika to say goodbye the previous day and I felt sad at not being able to say more to them in their own language. Breakables had to be packed carefully for the journey. but we shall get used to it. too excited at the prospect of going swimming.

Philip will walk in alone. not the best thing to have four weeks before their departure. Elsie returned from India on Sunday and went straight to bed. some chives and a poinsettia brought with us. reminiscent of Lal Durbar. We have potted it on the kitchen windowsill. We are hoping she will be well enough to go into town on Saturday for the school open day. She appears to have mumps. 124 . and there is a small hydrangea plant which I carefully water when it does not rain.CHAPTER 22 notes from anandaBan June 7th: We have been back here a week tomorrow. but she is remarkably cheerful. but had carried on. five weeks after David. pink and red. John is due to fly to Jumla on Monday for his last visit. On the balcony leading from our bedroom are several potted geraniums. So far I have no house help so I am enjoying housekeeping (to get in practise for our return to England. I am glad we are here to lend a hand. Now it looks like hepatitis. In the flower border directly under the house are two dahlia plants. One side of her face is quite swollen and the other side came up yesterday.) Our garden has a small front shelf (like the larger back shelf at the Simrose house) with a flower border all around. Ruth dug a little patch and planted radish and mustard while I was in Kathmandu yesterday. If not. Someone left a beautiful orchid hanging on one of the trees as a welcome present. Three little fir trees have been planted. She goes to see the doctor at Shanta Bhawan tomorrow and may be kept in. She had been ill before she started the four day journey.

My feet are a bit sore today. When I gave her the coin she ran back along the mountain path and returned with her prize. blue stuffed rabbit! June 13th. Working up in the hospital office is wonderfully peaceful and I have got through an enormous amount of work. arriving just after 6pm. The women patients are all busy knitting sweaters for the winter. Philip. weather permitting. We sang ‘count your blessings’ and Elsie said she could hear it in her room. On Wednesday Barbara went into Kathmandu to shop and see the boys. whilst forgetting their own misfortunes. With Herman and Betty Simrose due to leave next week. John is due back from a clinic trip to West Nepal today. Marianne is very bright. Yesterday I did the same—walking. Ruth ran up to me today and asked for fifty paisa (half a rupee) to buy a ‘lamb’ from the Simrose sale. My reports have just reached their most interesting stage—all the donkey work done—and I am continually discovering new things as I interpret the figures. June 10th. 125 . being most concerned about Elsie. we are having a farewell feast on Saturday. Betty Simrose is also not well and has little more than a week left in which to get everything packed. It was the school open day and I saw some of the boys’ handiwork. Leaving at 6. They are so cheerful and hardworking. Elsie says she feels much better and is trying to prepare for packing. a fluffy.30am I walked it in three hours before the day became too hot. Coming back I took a put-put taxi for the first two or three miles then walked the rest.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee The women have been busy knitting and I collected eighteen pullovers to store away for the winter today.

having never been to school. I hope to teach her basic housecraft. although the pilot nearly turned back half way. the last day for flights from Jumla. How would you like to try rolling an empty oil drum one hundred yards along a narrow. Elsie was thrilled to have John back. It is too wet to be held outside. it got going right on time. the plane got through. Today there is a feast in honour of the Simrose and Harris families. The monsoon officially started yesterday and. However. She cannot read.30am with some patients. Miraculously. I was glad to see Kedar outside 126 . John and Dr Yuasa had been expecting to return from Jumla on Wednesday. daughter of the hospital milkman. The roar of the rapids directly below the house is like the sound of the sea. who were to return home on the plane. muddy torrent. but the patients had to be brought back. she is much better. June 16th. which is a real answer to prayer. so it will be in one of the hospital buildings in two sittings.Barbara Collier A young village girl has started coming in to help me during the morning this week. It is good that he is here to keep an eye on her. muddy mountain path with a steep drop at the side as I did the other day? It was quite a performance trying to stop it (or myself ) rolling off the edge. Philip had left for the airport at 6. but is quick and intelligent. She cannot speak a word of English but she is very willing. June 20th. We awoke to heavy rain and for the first time Bagwati had to hang the washing in the loft. on Thursday. true to form. The rain continued intermittently all day and throughout the night and this morning the river is a rushing. Philip has to make a speech and a presentation will take place. because I think she has been attempting too much this week. but weather conditions were too bad for the plane to take off. Bagwati is a local teenager. winding.

A Rabbit For Half a Rupee Elsie’s house when I arrived at the top of the steps leading down to her front door. We all pray she will be strong enough. June 22nd. He manoeuvred the last tricky bit. Soon after 5pm Philip came out of his office and obligingly stood on three drums. She has been ill for weeks and has to travel this weekend. BUT—I have bought Betty’s spin drier. His usual patients are cows and sheep!) 127 . to help us seal them. where it was stored away in drums and plastic bags for later use. Barbara. The rains have been torrential this week and it has been difficult to get washing dry. so I shall be able to spin things at night when the generator is working. three drums full!” Apart from that. yes sir. have you any wool? Yes sir. She looked much better. While he forked out the necessary I said goodbye to Betty. chanting: “Barbara. I have been calling on the Simroses while they have been packing and giving Betty some injections prescribed to cure undulant fever. which has just been diagnosed. it was not a game of ‘roll out the barrel’! A huge consignment of knitting wool has arrived from Scandinavia for the patients and the hospital has bought some spare drums from Herman Simrose in which to store it. who has to give them. We stopped long enough to collect the boys’ case and buy a tin box at the Simrose children’s sale. but has to travel on three injections a day. No. Today I had a coolie working all afternoon carrying bales of wool up to the hospital store. which will be tough on her (and Herman. The boys are home! After a rush to get their room ready this morning and bake a welcome home cake we drove in to town to collect them. The Simrose family were at the hostel in the final stages of packing before leaving tomorrow. The boys assured us it would be ‘a useful tin to put things in’ (at 3 rupees Philip did not complain).

Darkness falls suddenly about 7pm. side with bales of knitting wool waiting to be used. The children are playing outside. revelling in the mountain air. It is nearly 6pm. I have left the tea-time washing up. and I am sitting on our front ‘shelf ’ enjoying the last of the sunshine through the pines. so they should not get bored. All the plants we brought from town are flourishing and we have a border of flowers by the wall of the house.T. My faith in my gardening abilities is growing. Jimmy is ‘glad to be home’ (I had a sad little letter from him at the weekend when he had toothache. Philip has gone into Kathmandu today. There is plenty to do on the O. Dragonflies are darting around like miniature helicopters and a row of them are resting on the overhead electricity wires. 128 . They ate an enormous meal then stayed up a bit after I settled Ruth.) David seems much brighter and settled down happily to a crossword puzzle book which had been left behind in the Simrose house. but I have only managed to visit the hospital once or twice a week so far. June 26th. then the boys explored all over while I prepared tea. We have been given lots of books and puzzles to occupy them during rainy days. but it can wait until the lights come on. Since being back here I have felt very under par physically and it has been an effort to get moving on things. He has a lot of business to attend to and a school committee meeting this evening so will return in the morning. We had heavy rain at lunch time but it is glorious again now.Barbara Collier We had a lively trip back. Everything grows fast and we shall soon have to do some weeding.

I took some wool and needles to the hospital yesterday after making a six inch blanket square. having just moved into the house vacated by the Simroses. One told me he has had the disease for nearly twenty years. One man was enthusiastically doing a second and helping another man with his. I call 129 .A Rabbit For Half a Rupee This is ‘learn to knit week’. Eight of the men are now producing six inch squares for blankets. With all the family here I have started making my own bread. I left the square as a sample and today they had completed two. I made two loaves and four small rolls for lunch. It turned out a bit like Hovis. We cannot always get it from town and Betty left me some good yeast. The children have strict instructions to come home as soon as the generator motor starts up and the electricity comes on. It is quite an achievement for those with weak or deformed hands. so I must go in. Dr Yo thought it would be a good opportunity to have an informal staff evening at his home. The sun has slipped behind the hill and it is getting cooler. Seeing these men’s hands makes me realise what an achievement that is. teach us too!” last night I started with David and this morning I began teaching Jim. The boys had spent the weekend exploring the shallow places of the river for fish and toads. Out of four men I started teaching. but his hands are damaged beyond repair. so this morning we had a kneading session. July 1st. By yesterday they were ready for something new and pleaded: “Mummy. We took the children to see a slide show of the work at Hong Kong. two did very well. Dr Grace Warren and a nurse are passing through on their way to the International Leprosy Conference. He has just had an operation on his foot. Ruth was jumping up and down waiting for her turn. but moister.

They were decked with flower garlands made by the patients. A few minutes later they went back to their knitting. Chutneys and fried poppadum will complete the first course and a tin of pineapple will go with custard afterwards. Jennifer has asked me to help with classes with the women on Sundays. making thirteen to lunch. cheese. Fortunately. so there was enough and to spare for everyone—seven nationalities in all—American. Swedish. Australian. cheese and pickles. I told them: “We shall have to learn together. Today we said farewell to John and Elsie. We all sat outside in hot sunshine and scattered to the shade after eating. Philip is showing some films to cheer everyone up tonight. Not three. This is quite a challenge with my poor knowledge of Nepali. South American and English. so I sat with them for a few minutes. who have not seen them for six years and they began to brighten up. Alma brought potato salad. Nepali. Eileen brought beetroot and some fresh fruit. but five visitors arrived from town. What to do with four eggs. They were all having a little weep. nuts and cucumber. Japanese. 130 . a piece of cheese and a cabbage? I found a recipe for coleslaw using two egg yolks and some milk and am preparing a cold rice salad with chopped eggs. July 3rd.Barbara Collier in for half an hour each day on the men’s ward and the brighter ones continue to help the slower ones. After the car had gone I went up to the women’s ward. Philip and the boys went to the airport to see them off. (Later) Like most things it did not work out as expected and was a bit like feeding the five thousand. Then we talked about the doctor’s family. We hire them free from the British Council Library.” There are six people coming to lunch today and no meat in the house.

In the upstairs ward I said firmly: “We shall only sing one song today. Today Flossie. Going around with the wool took longer than expected. formerly Elsie’s dog. They will soon have a complete blanket and I shall have the fun of sewing it up! July 5th.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee The men I taught to knit last week have already produced thirty squares between them. followed me down to the ward for the usual Thursday visit. One evening I picked some salmon pink ones and arranged them in a vase with pale green ferns. but sat looking sorrowful. It is not difficult to display the beauty all around us. wondering why Elsie was not there.” so they chose one with eleven verses and a chorus! There is a row of red and pink gladioli opening in the garden this week. 131 .

so I am having some tests done. Apart from cooking and writing I am not doing much. who was awaiting admission to hospital for a hip replacement: July 10th. Bagwati is proving quite a help in the mornings. rinsing the dishes in boiled water afterwards. Like you. A three week course of antibiotics was prescribed. We began to make arrangements to ship our drums home. There were several cases in Kathmandu and a blood test confirmed it. It seems my liver is a bit tired.” Thomas A Kempis From being ‘under par’ in June. I wrote to Philip’s mother. but it is a good opportunity to get the boys’ clothes marked and mended ready for school next week. I trust her to do the washing up now. I am finding I need to sit more lately. by the second week in July I was feeling definitely unwell. hoping to travel 132 . a disease caught from infected dairy products. At first I was confident it would soon be thrown off and submitted to extra rest in between toiling up the steps to the hospital for daily injections and taking the opportunity to look in on the patients and encourage their Occupational Therapy two or three times a week. Later that week the doctor diagnosed undulant fever (brucellosis). It is a beautiful morning and the myrtle tree on the edge of the slope is breaking into pink blossom.CHAPTER 23 man’s PLans? “Man proposes but God disposes. I am sitting outside surrounded by the children who are painting and drawing.

but it was a case of ‘kanako ruche chaina’. ‘Why don’t you just rest?’ I did and felt better for it! 133 . Meanwhile. a beautifully descriptive Nepali phrase meaning ‘I have no pleasure in food. I told his parents: July 21st. I am not a very good patient. but he was managing an average of seven hours daily in the office as well as giving me extra support at home. landing in a rice field. I soon found the treatment very tiring and needed to rest more and more. I was concerned lest his work should suffer.’ Intermittent nausea was a nuisance. Just as well! July 16th.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee with them to Raxaul in August on the way to visit our hospital in Bhutan. The other day I was in bed trying to gather my thoughts and felt God say. On the way the car went off the road. The bedroom is littered with books. sewing and knitting. He kept trying to tempt my appetite with nourishing food. For that reason I did not travel into town when Philip took the boys back to the hostel that Sunday. He had managed to send two reports back to England and was now working on his final major report. What a day! Philip had a heavy programme of work to finish before leaving for India in early November. Poor Ruth had an argument with a swing in the hostel garden while they were there and ended up with two stitches in her forehead. on none of which I can concentrate for long. No-one was hurt but there was plenty of muddy water about—(I had persuaded Philip to change into his best trousers before leaving as his every day ones were already mud spattered!) The lorry took a load of coolies in to pull the car out of the mud and they did not return until nearly 8pm. we awaited our travel visas for the trip.

One of my convalescent jobs will be to sew up one or two blankets when the squares are sorted into sizes (their tension varies considerably!) Philip knew I needed to make a swift recovery in order to cope with the long journey overland to Bhutan in a few weeks’ time. the pine trees outside are almost motionless and the sky is leaden with more rain. As I write this. pink geraniums opening on the balcony outside the bedroom and the myrtle tree in full bloom. it is a case of clearing out the debris from the infection. Books look mildew and food deteriorates quickly. The river is a roaring cataract in the rapids below. which is sapping my energy and making me feel ghastly! A blood test is due next week then we hope to begin planning travel. the cat is keeping me company on the bed. She is currently in UK having medical checks after severe amoeba. “It is a lovely morning. but it is more likely to be the 15th. with the sun tinting the tops of the hills. 134 . It is a grey day today. Yo says we should not leave before the 9th.Barbara Collier Fortunately the patients have plenty of wool to get on with. We are at the height of the monsoon with periods of heavy rain daily.’ In other words. but expects to be back at Gida Kom about the time we are due to arrive. At times I was cheerful and optimistic: July 23rd. At least it is good to have an adequate roof! The air is very humid and we tend to have a musty smell in dim corners. The men have produced loads of squares. Mollie Clarke says the roads are better later. In 4 days’ time I shall complete my course of antibiotics which has produced what Dr Yo describes as ‘a toxic condition of dead organisms waiting to be excreted.” At other times I was less sanguine: July 28th.

which proved inconclusive. Meanwhile. who plaits her hair nicely. A few days later some friends called to see us. Philip still hoped to be able to make a shorter trip as he had arranged to meet Dr Samuels in Siliguri. I saw Dr. the physiotherapist’s children and gets on well with Bagwati. Unpleasant symptoms meant I spent a good deal of time staggering to and from that little room. It depends what treatment I am on and how active I am. Ruth plays a lot with Prabha and Bijay. An additional infection was suspected and X-rays were taken. I told his parents: August 8th. Mrs Newton brought the boys in to visit and we had a precious time together. Mary Eldridge that week as planned and she promptly admitted me to Shanta Bhawan for more tests. She also brought some beautiful pink and red rosebuds which look lovely. a hole in the floor surrounded by paved tiles. We planned to have the boys at home for the weekend of the 12th before leaving. She gently confirmed what I realised. strongly urging us not to make the journey. 135 . I do not relish another prolonged course of treatment. even in a mayonnaise jar. The room was in the original part of the building and had an adjoining Asian toilet. that the trip to Bhutan was not advisable for me. Someone entered my room while I was thus occupied and as I crawled back into bed I saw a card pinned to the wall opposite. Jenny offered to keep an eye on Ruth and me while he was away. Both boys seemed bright and eager to tell of their swimming progress. (Next day) After heavy rain in the night it is a bright morning. My room overlooks the hospital garden with its familiar jacaranda trees.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee On August 2nd our visas arrived. I was busy typing out lists of drum contents for Customs.

Now he needed to concentrate his energies on the important financial aspect of his findings.Barbara Collier It had the words: ‘I am come that they may have life and have it to the full. so my room looks quite festive. in which case Dr. just right for sitting in the shade somewhere. as I settled myself back on the pillows I thanked God for my life. No doubt Ruth was rather bored! August 14th. Yesterday two girls working here brought me some dahlias. Following the recent heavy rain we should not be surprised to hear that the road is closed. Philip thought I should have a few days rest before returning to Anandaban and fixed for me to stay with Alma Hagan. In the distance the hills are shimmering under a blue heat haze. This did not seem like a full life. however limited. (See end of chapter. Samuels will not get through. 136 . but a raised temperature kept me where I was. He was very tired. After five weeks of bed rest I was as weak as a kitten. It is a beautiful day. I am in a chair by the French windows of my first floor room overlooking the garden. Later I was able to express some of my thoughts in a poem. The next day my doctor told me that tests on my gall bladder were clear and I could be discharged. It was a very wet weekend and he spent most of Saturday reading Biggles to the children.) I had hoped to return to Anandaban that weekend when Philip collected the boys.’ I smiled ruefully. but despite everything had nearly finished the main section of his report. But. They all came in on Sunday afternoon and we had some time together. Watching the waving blue branches of the jacaranda tree I felt some of the recent disappointment slowly dissolving. He will send a message to Dr Samuels with someone going to Siliguri. The gardens are a riot of colour. Today he has decided to postpone the Bhutan trip. softening the dark contours of the slopes.

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Ruth had coped very well with my absence but needed her Daddy more than usual. When they came in at the weekend to take me to Anandaban it was obvious that I was not well enough to travel. Alma insisted I stay on and shifted the house around to make room for Philip and Ruth. Philip planned to remain until Thursday, as I was due to see the doctor on Wednesday. To my disappointment, I was then readmitted to Shanta Bhawan with a relapse. Back in England Philip’s mother went into hospital for her hip replacement. The Hagans were planning to travel to Pokhara the following weekend and offered to take Ruth with them. She had often asked, “When shall we go to Pokhara again?” Her friends the Paterson boys were there and she was delighted to be able to visit them. Philip returned to Anandaban alone. I found myself in a four bedded room, as the single rooms were full of sick Westerners and rich Nepalis. Opposite me was a Nepali matriarch recovering from an abdominal operation. I was told she had borne eleven children of whom eight were still living—quite a record in Nepal. In the diagonal corner was a young educated Nepali with a breast abscess. Her sister stayed with her at all times, even sleeping in the bed with her at night. There was no space for sati cots in the room. (These are friends’ beds provided for those who support the patient, sometimes acting as interpreter for those with tribal accents.) Next to me was a Tibetan lady about my age, who ran a boutique near the British Council. She had been educated at the Graham Homes in Kalimpong. I wrote to Philip’s mother in hospital:
August 25th. As I was rueing the permanent plastic cover on the mattress this evening I thought of you, remembering you have to put up with the same thing. Is it hot with you? Here temperatures are in the nineties with humidity to match and the perspiration drips off us during the long, sultry afternoons.


Barbara Collier

This is an extension of the main private wing, with a corrugated iron roof, which acts as a heat trap. The other night we had a thunderstorm and the lightning was bouncing off the roof—quite dramatic!

More human drama was to follow. On Sunday afternoon, soon after Philip arrived from Anandaban, Mrs Newton came in, looking pale and shocked. When I saw her blood-stained blouse I feared the worst as she broke the news to us. David had slipped off the diving board and hit his mouth on the edge of the swimming pool, knocking out his two front teeth. He was rushed to Shanta Bhawan and they managed to get hold of two hospital dentists, both off duty. Later It took them over an hour to fix the teeth back in. David remained conscious throughout. Afterwards, he was put in a room near me, so I was able to go and see him. Philip slept on a sati bed beside him all night. It was fortunate that Ruth was with Alma and Philip did not have to worry about her. The next day David and I were moved upstairs to share the room Philip and I had occupied the previous year. Maybe it should be renamed the Collier room! I now weighed less than eight stone and blood results indicated further treatment was necessary. Sulphur drugs were prescribed, along with vitamins and iron to build me up. When Mary Eldridge told me this I turned to a little book of Bible verses and read, “I will bless the Lord at all times” (Psalm 34.1) followed by “giving thanks always” (Ephesians 5.20). As I did so I somehow felt God’s peace, despite everything.


A Rabbit For Half a Rupee

This is Your Life
Lord, thank you for your life That pushes the green shoots through the ground As soon as the earth is warm; That brings to birth every living creature by your breath; That raised up Jesus from the dead To demonstrate your Victory over the grave. Thank you, Lord, that I have your life Dwelling in me, Not in measure but in fullness. This life is more than existence, More than mere fleshly energy; Steady and slow, yet warm and dynamic; Quiet and calm, yet bursting with exuberance And joy! Full of strength, This life is indestructible, eternal. Thank you, Lord. And what of my life? To strive, to clutch at things and people, To want them for myself. What waste of energy! No, Lord, I have no life apart from You. All else is counterfeit However real it may appear to my eyes. It is a shadow on the wall, Shown up by the light of your Glory. You said that I am dead, And that my life is hidden with Christ in God. What wonder then, this life of mine. This is Your Life!



David was kept in for four days and it was good for us to be together. At first he was rather shaken and subdued. Wearing a mouth splint to protect his teeth he was only able to take liquid food. But he soon reverted to his normal nine year old self. One afternoon the nursing superintendent caught him up a ladder and later up a tree in the garden. After that, hoping to keep him out of mischief, the dentist suggested he might like to watch him work. David spent quite a few hours observing what went on in the dentist’s surgery and was soon fired with a new ambition to enter that branch of medicine! I wrote to Philip’s mother, recovering from her hip operation:
September 2nd. The rains are coming to an end here, but we still have occasional heavy storms. From my window I have a beautiful view of the ripening rice fields stretching across the valley to the wooded slopes of the hills above Kirtipur. The road to Chobar (where we drove for a picnic in the little red car) cuts around the base of the hill and I can see one or two cars moving along it like toys in the distance.

The following Sunday the American pastor and his wife joined Philip and I for a communion service in my room. It was late afternoon and we realised that, across the world in England, friends at our church would also be meeting at that time. To my mother:
September 9th. David has been back at school this week enjoying considerable fame as a result of his operation. In two weeks’ time we shall know whether it has been a success. He and Jim finish school on the 28th so we hope to be back

A Rabbit For Half a Rupee

at Anandaban by then. In the meantime Philip has a great deal of work to do and expects to take our luggage down to Raxaul next week.

Although I was longing to get out of hospital my doctor insisted I stay until the treatment was completed. It was hard for Philip to make final travel arrangements while he was uncertain about my condition. The Hagan family remained true friends, allowing Philip to stay there with Ruth, so that they could visit regularly. Letters arrived telling us of Mother’s progress since her operation. She was spending her convalescence in Kent. I wrote on September 11th.
“I am glad you did not hear of our added troubles until you were feeling better yourself. David is fine. Far from being teased about his mouth splint he enjoys leering at the younger boys, frightening some of them, according to one of the teachers. He and Jimmy came to see me yesterday and we had a lively game of I Spy out of the window. My doctor refuses to discharge me until the blood tests show some improvement. This is obviously a sensible step and in my weaker moments I have to agree with her. Yesterday I was jubilant about a weight gain—today I have a fever again.”

Philip’s father wrote him an encouraging letter at that time, prompting him to consider various options for our homecoming, including sending me back earlier with the children. Meanwhile, he went back to Anandaban for a few days to catch up on work. It was a relief to be discharged from hospital when my blood test showed the brucellosis under control. There were still abdominal symptoms to contend with and a low white blood count caused facial boils to

Barbara Collier

develop, but I was gradually gaining weight, a good sign. Meanwhile, Ruth was getting so tall she had outgrown all her dresses. Philip gave them to me one at a time to let down the hems. He reported that there were toadstools growing on the kitchen wall at Anandaban.
September 20th. Philip left at 6.30am to drive to Raxaul with Prem, taking our drums for shipment. Ruth was with me at Alma’s. We had heard sad news from the Simrose family in America. Betty was in the late stages of cancer. Their youngest son, Philip, was only a little older than David. September 20th, to my mother : I am once more on Alma’s back porch where I was over a month ago. The boils which troubled me last week have subsided, so I can sit and soak up the sunshine to regain strength. Our plans for return to England are still tentative. Philip had originally planned to leave for his last trip to India about November 7th, leaving me to complete packing at Anandaban and join him with the children towards the end of the month. He has now decided that we shall all leave Kathmandu together and he may send me ahead with all three children. I am wondering if you would be able to put Ruth and me up until Philip’s return? I know the boys would be happy with his mother as long as she is well enough to have them. Nothing is final yet, of course. So much depends on medical progress.

Then to his parents :
September 24th. It is just a week since I came out of hospital and I am beginning to be on my feet, although energy comes in short bursts and quickly evaporates.


With this latest development we do not know when we shall be able to return to Anandaban.” So we are setting up a sick ward in the Hagan house. Koplik’s spots have appeared in the mouth.) She is very miserable and has not slept much for the past three nights.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee Later: Alma and I have just returned from taking Ruth to Shanta Bhawan. the monsoon which seemed to be abating last week. She had a high temperature over the weekend. Jimmy has gone down with tonsillitis. We brought not one. but we still await the rash. Her spasms of coughing are almost continuous. “Tonsilitis. It is rather damp out there and Philip has been lighting wood fires to dry out the house. The hostel car had dropped the boys at the clinic so that David could have his dental check-up. Philip stayed last night. 143 . Unfortunately. With only a few days of school left we thought it was unfair to leave him at the hostel. I had heard a rumour of measles among staff children at Anandaban so I kept her quiet and watched for spots. He and David had vaccination in 1969 so should not get measles. As her temperature continued to rise we decided to have her checked today. He looked after Jimmy while I nursed Ruth. This morning he bought a sedative cough linctus to enable her to rest. After a long wait the doctor confirmed my first thought and prescribed penicillin to help the acute phase. It was over 102F! The doctor took one look at his throat and said. but two sick children back with us. To my parents: “Ruth is at the height of a hefty dose of measles. September 26th. has returned during the last few days. Jimmy complained of a headache and I took his temperature while Ruth was waiting to be seen. (The Asian kind is often stronger than the European type.

but her temperature is settling and she is beginning to eat again. which shows my white cells must be back in action. warm and sunny after the recent late monsoon showers. We are thrilled to hear of mother’s good progress. To Philip’s parents: It is a glorious day. While I am here I hope to get a few things ready to bring home. I should have about three weeks at Anandaban. Today I am hoping to take a short walk for the first time in six weeks. The wife of the Peace Corps director has opened a new shop near the bakery selling local handicrafts. I have had a sore throat. also. practising the guitar. time to do our final sort/throw out at a leisurely pace. Ruth still has an all-over rash. She has agreed to sell goods made by our ex patients. Jimmy very quickly recovered and is his usual cheery self. This week has confirmed to us that I should travel earlier with the children.Barbara Collier David has had his teeth splint removed and looks really good. so he is very pleased with himself. but it did not develop. He has been shown off at several local hospitals this week as a medical marvel. News from our sickroom is good. David finishes school today and he will sleep camp style in one of Alma’s spare rooms. It sounds as though she will not need sticks for long. We are very grateful for your willingness to have the boys for a few weeks. For the last few minutes Ruth has been resting beside me in Alma’s reclining chair on the back porch. 144 . The dentist has achieved more for him in one month than in all the years of orthodontic treatment I had. The whole thing cost about £15! September 28th. I can hear him upstairs.

) Alma has roped all the household. It tripped him up whenever he tried to move until he hitched it up with a belt—a hilarious demonstration of the belt of Truth and a vivid reminder of how lies and deception cause the downfall of many. Mary Eldridge was very pleased at my progress. colouring and stencilling materials for the project—great fun! The boys enjoyed making a felt soldier for a flannnelgraph the other day. She is enjoying the annual Vacation Bible School this week so we do not expect to return home until the end of it (about next Wednesday. The boys were champing at the bit to get home. Ruth’s cough is much improved after two sunny days. an American Peace Corps volunteer. He is hoping to dry out the house with daily wood fires and do something about the toadstools growing on the kitchen wall. pasting. today’s visual aid. crying out. 145 . into cutting. “My name!” It was TRUTH. The rains are easing off at last and it is amazing how quickly things improve with a little sunshine. To Philip’s parents: Philip took the boys back to Anandaban yesterday. so it is relatively quiet here. stumbled into the packed hall wearing an over long robe.CHAPTER 25 fInaL days October 5th. Later: “I went for my follow-up at the hospital today and Dr. although it is rather damp out there. My weight is improving (118 pounds) and energy increases daily. including me. so Philip thought it best to go on ahead. Fred. Ruth was looking at some tags for the soldier’s armour and suddenly pointed. We decided to leave further tests until I reach England.

When I got back I was glad of an hour’s rest before lunch—what a lazy life! Can you imagine the newspaper report: ‘Lady Collier visited the annual VBS today and graciously judged the students’ flower arrangements’—Ugh! Tuesday. We knew that much needed to be done in less than three weeks. it was so good to get home to our little hillside house at Anandaban. every day makes a difference. A day in the life of a Packer! It began with two boys bringing us a tray of tea in bed (the second time since I came home—wonderful!) and the three children bouncing on the bed until we got up. However. After breakfast all three went outside to play while I hung things up to air in the sun. I rather think Alma will breathe a sigh of relief tomorrow night when VBS is over and all Colliers are departed! I am so very much better. etc.) I spent part of the morning at the VBS today. Afterwards we all return to Anandaban. I guess they will survive. I had bought the favourite mix to build the children up before travelling home and it is expensive stuff. which smashed on the stone floor. donated by the children this week. (I left there for ‘two days’ nine weeks ago. Despite the damp. There was a minor catastrophe before breakfast when Jimmy knocked down a big jar of iron and malt mixture. toys. (Relaxing on the porch in the sun.) We shall take with us a pile of gift clothing. The floor was easily washed. but it was great to be together as a family once more. October 9th. for the patients. acting as judge for the best classroom decorations. October 15th. Everything smells musty inside 146 .Barbara Collier Saturday. The VBS finishes tomorrow and Philip is bringing the boys for the final programme in which Ruth will take part. Monday. October 6th. but I did not see the bright side of it at the time.

These kept all three children happy until lunch time. As Philip was leaving for work I spotted a touch of colour on the mud embankment behind the house and we both admired two beautiful orchids that had begun to flower there. While Bagwati began the washing I took the opportunity to continue sorting out the children’s room in their absence and was soon surrounded by papers. Bagwati appeared.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee and even clean clothes need airing before packing.) That is one job I am unlikely to have to do in England! During the sorting I found some books which I had put aside for the school holidays. By the time Philip arrived for his coffee break my morning’s store of energy was fast evaporating. (They tend to get infected easily and need cleaning up with antiseptic. She ran out of space to hang up the wet washing and began to drape it on the clothes horse beside the dry things put there to air! Fortunately I managed to rescue most of the dry stuff before it got wet. The heavy rain last week slowed up the process. We stopped to pray before he returned to the office and remembered Jenny and the paramedicals on their way to Jumla today. 147 . passed on by the Simrose family. having become damp. so she had to carry water up from lower down the hill. to announce the water in the tank had run out. The rest of the morning passed peacefully and I was conscious of an inflow of second energy which enabled me to stop in the middle of sorting clothes and medicines to soak Jimmy’s feet. where he had a few leech bites. when we sat outside for a quick lunch of soup and banana custard. books and jigsaw puzzles with pieces missing.

I came away feeling really encouraged by them. so it will be a good opportunity for a clear out.30pm. which was on the edge of the terrace. give or throw away. It is now 7. All the plants we brought from Kathmandu have taken root in the garden. I 148 . They all said how much they have been praying for us these past months. He says his inspiration has returned now I am here! I think it helps him to know I am plodding on slowly. We watched a salmon coloured sunset with clouds like candyfloss scattered across the sky and I picked some mint for a sauce for the meat. His report is also progressing. At least we shall leave something useful for our successors. Later: Philip sent me to the Bible study instead and even did some of the ironing—more than I should have managed.Barbara Collier Philip is getting on very well with the budgets. fresh mutton today. There was a cake to make and meat to cook when I got back. The UMN ladies are coming for their coffee morning on Wednesday. Philip is due at the staff Bible study and I expect to be asleep before he gets back. While the seed cake was cooking (with caraway seeds sent from England some months ago) I began looking at shelves downstairs for things to sell. the boys have had a story with Philip and I am sitting on the bed trying to summon up enough energy to tackle some ironing before giving up for the day. except the parsley. Ruth has sung herself to sleep with ‘Jesus loves me’. even if not at full speed. After a rest I went for the long walk to the stores and called in the women’s ward while I was that side of the hill. It either got dug up or washed away in the rain.

We landed at Heathrow at 4pm on a predictably damp afternoon and were met by all four grandparents. where Jimmy’s friend Paul lived. A few days in Delhi included an amazing drive to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. Jimmy declared tearfully. far below. Philip’s father had hired a minibus to take us and 149 . As the plane soared above the Kathmandu valley we had a view of Bhaktapur. “I don’t want to leave Nepal!”. we got down to serious sorting and packing. Our last night in Nepal was spent at the Hagan house. The boys were more excited by the snake charmer we stopped to watch beside the road on the way! All too soon Philip was waving us through the barrier at Delhi airport for the long flight home. a beautiful embroidered leather cushion cover. Save me some housework for when I get home! There was little time for letter writing in the last fortnight. keeping a close eye on the boys sitting across the aisle from Ruth and me. laden with flower garlands. Ruth’s belongings included the battered.A Rabbit For Half a Rupee am getting spoilt. The Anandaban workmen had tolerated our children’s questions and interruptions many times over the past months. blue stuffed rabbit she had bought at the Simrose sale months earlier. along with several items surplus to our needs. At the staff farewell feast I was moved to hear from Jennifer that they had all insisted on contributing to our leaving gift. Suddenly. There we had a meal with some friends. The BOAC stewardesses were friendly and attentive. now her favourite toy. we all clambered into the Land Rover for the last ride into Kathmandu. After the farewell meeting with the UMN ladies and their departure. The next day. including the Hagans. In the morning I climbed up to their flat roof for a final glimpse of the high Himalayas before the drive to the airport.

blue bunny and put it in her washing machine. but paler and thinner and remained Ruth’s much loved companion. 150 .Barbara Collier our luggage home to Enfield. It emerged clean. but at least a bed awaited each of us at the end! My mother took a long look at Ruth’s grubby. a reminder of her many friends left behind in the hills. The drive through the subdued Sunday streets of the capital was dreamlike.

Jim. The country became a Federal Democratic Republic in 2008 and since then has been moving towards a new constitution. Our sons David and Jim have continued to enjoy travelling. Philip and I are retired and living in Cumbria. was held responsible for the massacre. sadly. having shot himself. where they had previously worked when it was the Congo. has never seen Anandaban. our forest of joy.vox. At one time a Hindu kingdom. Dr John Harris and Elsie completed their missionary service in Zaire. born in 1974 after our return to England. remains as joyful as ever. an area of wooded hills and valleys with placid lakes and fast flowing rivers. nobody could have predicted the tragic assassination of King Birendra in 2001. Roy and Alma Hagan eventually returned to the United States where Roy died in 2008. loves the countryside and open air life. 151 . Ruth is a journalist. Following years of political unrest and civil war. after some years in the British Army. now works as a security trainer and consultant in Germany. it was against the law to change one’s religion and foreign missionaries needed discretion. Alma. Prince Dipendra. He is a tree surgeon and. Our youngest son. Richard. now 87. reminiscent of Nepal. He died three days later in hospital. (the baby born during our time in Kathmandu). She lives in Ireland and is editor of Vox magazine (www. John died following a Land Rover accident in 1995 and Elsie now lives near her family in Nottingham. David lives and works in South Africa as a bakery management consultant. which we hope will include religious freedom.ie).ePILogue In the 40 years since the events of this book there have been many dramatic changes in Nepal. along with several members of the royal family.

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