Oct 30 1938
From: Charlie Gray
To: Ruth (Barrell) Gray
It is useless to even try to begin to tell you about this place. Since the time I knew
that the ship might go to Calcutta, I had the idea of making the trip up here in the back of
my mind, but didn’t realize that I would actually be here.
This is the grandest, most beautiful place in the world. Never having been at the
Grand Canyon or in the Yosemite Valley, Canadian Rockies, or the Alps, but having seen
plenty of pictures of them, I can say without a doubt that Darjeeling compasses them all.
You must see it for yourself. After being here a place like Shangri La seems as if it were
almost possible to exist.
The panoramic view from Tiger Hill, (altitude 8,500 feet), which I hope to see
tomorrow morning at sunrise includes Mt. Everest, Kauchenjunga and several others of the
highest mountains in the world, as well as the Bengali Plains towards Calcutta. From the
hotel here you can see everything except Everest which is hidden by a nearby “hill.”
Everything grows here. Tonight, with the temperature about 50, banana’s,
tangerines and other tropical fruits are ripening. The season of the most beautiful flowers
is just beginning. There is everything from orchids which grow all over the moss on the
limbs of lime trees and poinsetta trees 25 to 30 feet high covered with huge red blossoms,
to the ordinary everyday cosmos, marigolds and vasturshums which grow all over the
village. The village itself is kept up like a beautiful park with little walks going everywhere.
You’ll have to wait until I get home before I can even start to tell you about it.
We had a very pleasant trip from Basra to Calcutta, with wonderful weather with the
exception of an hour or two the whole way. We left Saturday the fifteenth and arrived in
Calcutta late last Thursday evening. We went around most of the island of Ceylon, as
you’ll see if you look at the map of Asia. It looked like an interesting place to visit.
The ship is scheduled to leave on the 4th of November, next Friday for Boston, New
York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Norfolk, Wilmington, North Carolina and finally
New Orleans. If the trip back is as good as the trip over, I ought to be home
close to Christmas.
It certainly was good to get your three letters and the one from Ruthy
when we arrived in Calcutta. I’ll have to go to bed now and get
some sleep before this hike up the hills on pony back (7 miles) starts at 3 A. M.
Lots of love for my dearest mother and all the folks at home.