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Behind the Bungalow   By: (1851-1909)

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Behind the Bungalow by Edward Hamilton Aitken is a captivating and eye-opening account of British India during the early 20th century. The author, a former British civil servant, gives an unfiltered glimpse into the complexities and contradictions of colonial society.

Aitken's writing style is both eloquent and vivid, effectively transporting readers to the bustling streets, opulent bungalows, and dusty villages of India. Through his personal anecdotes and observations, he reveals the stark disparities between the British rulers and the Indian citizens they governed.

One of the book's strengths lies in its exploration of the various characters that populate this world. From the eccentric British officials to the humble Indian laborers, Aitken expertly depicts the clash of cultures and the power dynamics at play. His descriptions of the lives and struggles of the local Indian population are particularly moving, offering a perspective rarely seen in literature of that time.

What sets Behind the Bungalow apart is its nuanced examination of the bond between the British and Indian communities. Aitken meticulously portrays the relationships, often shaped by dependency, between white rulers and their Indian servants. He delves into the complexities of these connections, highlighting both the kindness and exploitation that existed within them.

Moreover, Aitken does not shy away from criticizing the British colonial system. He provides sharp critique of the subtle forms of racism and prejudice that permeated British society in India. His analysis of the inequalities between the ruling class and the Indian workforce sheds light on the injustices that were often overlooked or dismissed.

Despite its deep exploration of the social dynamics of British India, Behind the Bungalow is not solely focused on the political or historical aspects. Aitken seamlessly weaves in personal anecdotes and lighter moments, showcasing the vibrant cultural fabric of the country. His descriptions of local festivals, culinary traditions, and daily life add depth and richness to the narrative, creating a well-rounded portrayal of the era.

While the book can be quite dense at times, it is ultimately a rewarding read for those interested in colonial history or exploring the social complexities of a bygone era. Aitken's ability to balance personal anecdotes with a broader examination of British India makes Behind the Bungalow an engrossing and thought-provoking book. It is a valuable addition to the existing literature on the subject and offers readers a unique perspective on a pivotal period in history.

First Page:

Transcribed by David Price, email


Contents: Preface Engaging a Boy The Boy at Home The Dog boy The Ghorawalla, or Syce Bootlair Saheb Anglice, the Butler Domingo, the Cook The Mussaul, or Man of Lamps The Hamal The Body guards That Dhobie! The Ayah


These papers appeared in the Times of India, and were written, of course, for the Bombay Presidency; but the Indian Nowker exhibits very much the same traits wherever he is found and under whatsoever name.


Extended, six feet of me, over an ample easy chair, in absolute repose of mind and body, soothed with a cup of tea which Canjee had ministered to me, comforted by the slippers which he had put on my feet in place of a heavy pair of boots which he had unlaced and taken away, feeling in charity with all mankind from this standpoint I began to contemplate "The Boy."

What a wonderful provision of nature he is in this half hatched civilization of ours, which merely distracts our energies by multiplying our needs and leaves us no better off than we were before we discovered them! He seems to have a natural aptitude for discerning, or even inventing, your wants and supplies them before you yourself are aware of them... Continue reading book >>

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