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Out of India
on 30 November 2011
I was disappointed by Michael Foss's autobiography. The first 50 plus pages are about the ship in which he was returning to India sank, and the time he, his mother and brother spent in England before they returned to India at the end of the Second World War. The remainder of the book describes his ineffectual mother and his soldier father, who found it difficult to form a bond with his young sons, and their dull life with many hardships and too few pleasures. Michael Foss writes:"In general, in our family, we went our separate ways. Parents and children lived almost as strangers in the same house, our lives mediated through the care of servants. My brother and I relied on Sami (a servant)for household information.
"No common interests bound us, neither sport, recreation nor hobby."
I pity two small boys who grew up with parental indifference, who suffered emotional and physical cruelty at each school they attended.
However, Michael Foss's comment:"The British lived on but not in India. Our rules for living were not their rules," is pertinent.
It was with relief that I read:"My father was protective towards India and strenuously defended all things Indian against the easy flow of calumny that so often came from the British. He approved of Indian officers and reccommendced them for pomotion. He liked to meet them socially. He wanted to get their take on his beloved Indian Army that was soon to be left in their hands."
Unfortunately,although I peservered I did not warm to the book and skipped through the last third.