Exposition (page 7-8)
The whole story is based on the letters between the sisters Olivia and Marcia in the 1920s. Olivia leaves England to live with her husband Douglas in India. But there she elopes with the Nawab who is an Indian prince. Douglas gets married to Tessie and they become the grandparents of the first-person narrator in the story. Olivia always is aforbidden topic for Tessie and her sister Beth but after Douglas’ death an old friend from India named Harry appears and leaves them the letters written by Olivia to her sister Marcia. The narrator wants to tell Olivias story and so she leaves for India. The book is divided in the parts of the narrator’s journal and Olivias life in 1923.
Journal 2 February (page 8-11)
The narrator just arrives inBombay which is completely different to her expectations. She got a picture from India by the letters and now everything changed. Her first night she spends in a room in the women’s dormitory of the Society of Missionaries hostel with six other women. A woman who is also awake shares her experiences with the narrator because she already spent 30 years in India. Among typical tips like “use boiledwater only” she speaks about the bad changes of the last 30 years and directs the narrator to the dormitory’s window to strenghten her observations of Indias downfall. The narrator looks down at a bright street in which some people are sleeping, buying or looking for food. She also catches sight of some crippled children. By changing the window she gets sight of A’s hotel which mainly is visitedby bedraggled Europeans. The woman announces that she may say that she has seen everything you can see on the earth like a young European being deloused by his monkey. She gives the narrator the advice to trust on Christ Jesus because otherwise there would be no survival because nothing human means anything in India. By the look at the poor figures outside the narrator also thinks like that.Journal 16 February (page 11- 13)
The narrator finds a room in Satipur which is sub-let to her by a government officer called Inder Lal. She likes the view at the bazaar and her room because of the space and privacy. Although her landlord is displeased, her room is empty apart from a tiny desk to lay out her papers. She already visited Olivia’s house because now it is office area. Olivia’s house nowembodys the Water Board, the Health Department and a sub-post office.
Journal 20 February (page 13- 15)
The narrator gets to know Inder Lal’s mother and his wife Ritu. She wonders about the untidy house and and by trying her Hindi she recognizes that the mother is constantly checking her for being a possible wife for her son like she did it with Ritu. Although she is dressed like an Indian womenand eats Indian food (which she consideres as strange behaviour to the Indians after the Raj) she is still runned after by children and called “hijra”. Because of Olivia’s letters and because she has seen them she knows that the hijras are eunuchs- built like men but dressed like women.
Journal 24 February (page 15-18)
Inder Lal offers the narrator to show her the Nawab’s palace in Khatm.Although she wonders about his offer to go with her instead of staying with his family on a Sunday they travel by bus to the spacious palace. While Inder Lal is interested in talking about his troubles in his office the narrator wants to find out more about the Nawab. Let in by a watchman both inspect the interior of the palace which is not that impressive. Since the Nawabs death in 1953 the palace isuninhabited because his nephew wants to sell it to the Government. They see the marble halls and the main drawing room and although the narrator also is interested in the Nawab’s privat mosque they leave for seeing the garden. The men decide to visit the watchman’s Hindu shrine. She is anxious to get out because of the crowd and missing ventilation but gave five rupees donation. The watchman lay...