Memories of the British Raj Shared By Elizabeth Barrie

Elizabeth Barrie

"Living in Calcutta during the holidays with my parents showed another side to the 'Raj'.

"We seemed to have innumerable servants who had their own strict hierarchy: cook, kitmagar, bearer, ayah, masaalchi and the sweeper. The sweepers' duties always included looking after the family dogs! Father was driven to the office every morning, his driver, 'a Pathan', incredibly smart in white drills and a magnificent dark blue 'pugri'.

"The cook was a 'Mugh' from what is now Pakistan – he produced food that could rival many a French chef which he prepared in the most primitive conditions.

"I can remember my father's shout of 'Koi Hai' which brought the bearer running to take off his shoes to replace them with slippers when he got back from the office; or alternatively, a request for a 'chotta-peg' (not something perhaps to be proud of – but that is how it was!). I don't think there was any lasting ill will and we all wept when we left.

"The European society had its own very strict social hierarchy – led by the I.C.S. – you knew your place and you kept it.

"India has ways of binding you to it and I am happy to say my husband feels the same – we will continue to return while we can."

Elizabeth Barrie (Née Ordesh)