Modern India eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 495 pages of information about Modern India.

When Mark Twain was in Bombay, a few years ago, he met with an unusual experience for a mortal.  He was a guest of the late Mr. Tata, a famous Parsee merchant, and received a great deal of attention.  All the foreigners in the city knew him, and had read his books, and there are in Bombay hundreds of highly cultivated and educated natives.  He hired a servant, as every stranger does, and was delighted when he discovered a native by the name of Satan among the numerous applicants.  He engaged him instantly on his name; no other recommendation was necessary.  To have a servant by the name of Satan was a privilege no humorist had ever before enjoyed, and the possibilities to his imagination were without limit.  And it so happened that on the very day Satan was employed, Prince Aga Khan, the head of a Persian sect of Mohammedans, who is supposed to have a divine origin and will be worshiped as a god when he dies, came to call on Mr. Clemens.  Satan was in attendance, and when he appeared with the card upon a tray, Mr. Clemens asked if he knew anything about the caller; if he could give him some idea who he was, because, when a prince calls in person upon an American tourist, it is considered a distinguished honor.  Aga Khan is well known to everybody in Bombay, and one of the most conspicuous men in the city.  He is a great favorite in the foreign colony, and is as able a scholar as he is a charming gentleman.  Satan, with all the reverence of his race, appreciated the religious aspect of the visitor more highly than any other, and in reply to the question of his new master explained that Aga Khan was a god.

It was a very gratifying meeting for both gentlemen, who found each other entirely congenial.  Aga Khan has a keen sense of humor and had read everything Mark Twain had written, while, on the other hand, the latter was distinctly impressed with the personality of his caller.  That evening, when he came down to dinner, his host asked how he had passed the day: 

“I have had the time of my life,” was the prompt reply, “and the greatest honor I have ever experienced.  I have hired Satan for a servant, and a God called to tell me how much he liked Huck Finn.”

III

SERVANTS, HOTELS AND CAVE TEMPLES

Everybody who comes to India must have a personal servant, a native who performs the duty of valet, waiter and errand boy and does other things that he is told.  It is said to be impossible to do without one and I am inclined to think that is true, for it is a fixed custom of the country, and when a stranger attempts to resist, or avoid or reform the customs of a country his trouble begins.  Many of the Indian hotels expect guests to bring their own servants—­to furnish their own chambermaids and waiters—­hence are short-handed, and the traveler who hasn’t provided himself with that indispensable piece of baggage has to look after himself.  On the railways

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Project Gutenberg
Modern India from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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