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'A daughter of the Empire': Beryl White In India 1901-03

The White family in Sikkim

Visit of KumarVisit of KumarIn a letter to his mother Lt.-Col. F. M. Bailey, another visitor, gives the following account of the Whites' hospitality and of life at the Residency:

‘Yesterday afternoon we called and had tea at the Whites and dinner there. A big dinner party with only four ladies.

The Raja’s son was there. He is not the eldest son, who is in Tibet. But he was told in 1895 that if he didn’t return by a certain date he would not be raja when his father died and as he didn’t turn up his younger brother is the heir and is called the kumar.

He wore lovely silk clothes with gold braid and a sort of yellow opening at the neck and white turnbacks to his sleeves and funny Chinese shoes. He is quite young and very nice...The Whites have a lovely garden and beautiful servants with...peacock feathers in their hats. And dressed in gorgeous Thibetan clothes.

Family group on Verandah, OtturFamily group on Verandah, OtturAnd they have got six Thibetan dogs. Something like Peking spaniels but thinner, but they all yap and every one comes in and are rather a nuisance.

This is a terrible place for leeches but I haven’t had any yet. But at tea at the Whites yesterday one was found on a dog and one crawling across the carpet and the men who are sleeping in the ground are covered with them.’

The Residency stood out in the local context. According to John Claude White, it arose much interest in the local population, many of whom had never seen European furniture and were keen to see how Europeans lived.

‘Almost every market day little bands of women dressed in their best clothes would arrive with a few eggs or a pat of butter to make their salaams to my wife and a request that they might be allowed to go over the house, and their progress was marked with exclamations and gurgles of laughter at the strange ways of the Sahib-log.’

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