January 12, 1956
My dear Leonore:
I was very glad to hear from you. It seems that so many of my best friends
are having trouble. I am limiting myself to helping one person, Mr. E.W.
Hathaway of Santa Barbara, my host here, ye have been on good terms for many
years and I know his family most intimately.
I am trying to clear my folders of excess papers lest I have too many things
on my mind. Washington will no doubt open many doors for me. We went to Dupont
today and Bill saw me in action: “this crackpot!” “but he is boosting
Dupont after all,” “yes, he really has something,” “here’s the
works!” Personally this is much better with a large business or scientific
corporation than with semi-metaphysical groups.
I was only half so successful with the Institute of Pacific Relations and my
interview Monday is with a group I just had to crack down on to get a word in
with. But so much is happening; I don’t get time to write. I have to spend
some time before I leave trying to trace my clothes. Otherwise new wardrobe.
This does not hurt me at the moment and no doubt all will end well, but in the
It seems that the people I wanted to have write to me did not. My friend
Leonard Austin sent me a detailed description of everything I expected to hear
from about three other people, without answering my letter in which I asked how
I could help him. His stuff is in St. Louis. My present itinerary is
Washington, Pittsburgh, Columbus, St. Louis, Dallas, Taos, San Fernando.
At Washington I shall be at the Annapolis Hotel until about the 20th and
then no mailing address until I reach Jos. Garrett, 608 No. Edgefield, Dallas
I am very sorry to hear about Nora. That hurts where it hurts. And alas, at
the moment I have sciatica. “How I came by it, caught it, etc … I am to
learn.” Visited May Gadd’s group and spoke to her by phone but spent some
time with Eugene Tso whose following is much like Carousel. He is a kind of
Chang (Chinese with American wife, etc.) with a disposition something between
that of Gracie and my friend Mickie McGowan!
I have a surplus of unfortunate second cousins around and I took one to the
class the other night. Unfortunately there were not many men around. I went to
the party late Saturday and there were about 200 people and only 3 or 4 women
over. Their temperaments and attitudes are about the same as “ours” so I
have had some very enjoyable hours. No shows excepting on New Year’s (“War
and Peace”) but lots of gourmetting. Tonight also.
I have a long report for Gracie and Ed in re New York which I shall write
when I come to it. Please tell Evelyn I send my love (Note—I don’t give it
to her, and if it is intercepted, then it is intercepted). Wretch!
I have just written to my friends in Chinatown a/o notice in “New’s
Weak.” But gosh, Leonore, with all those whistle stops, when shall I get to
S.F.? It may even be I shall rush up there and then go south again. I have a
lot to do in both Hollywood and Santa Barbara.
“Babylon the Great has fallen,” meaning that my enemies in many place
have been given the boot. I might have been a success in life but for the
deliberate intervention of certain personalities. Well, they made a profession
of it and it seems that we’uns who got kicked somewhere along the line kicked
back, at least some of “us” did, I don’t know who but that is what has
happened. So I expect a “royal” welcome in S.F. But note, or warning, I
have to visit Capezio first because I have been notified at least some of my
things have arrived.
Also we gotta get in some class somewhere if Gracie isn’t teaching. I have
a number of teachers I admire, but this will wait. For the moment I am still
kolo minded-keep your Thursdays therefore. Or give me advice when I return,
which I hope will be before 1960. (Although there may be a legal matter before
Sorry, I am gour-may-ing without you. Mostly with Bill, tonight with a
Pakistani.” (Boy, have I got a charade pun out of that.) That’ll be
P.S. I overlooked mailing this in New York. I am now in Washington with a
slight case of sciatica. I have already phoned the folk dancers and also talked
to on Mrs. Sue Clymer. Sue and I led the grand march at my farewell party to in
Mill Valley. I expect to attend her group Friday night. Then I am going write
to Ed Kremer somewhere along the line.
In fact my first night in Washington I began to run up a hotel-telephone
bill. I start right off here and had better because all rooms are taken this
coming weekend for inauguration week. And I myself don’t want to pay a lot of
useless expenses—very easy here.
May 24, 1956
My dear Leonore:
It will probably be a long time between my departure and your receipt of
this letter. If I do not send it by air-mail, you may have become anxious. But
I must tell you that my mailing expense has been unusually high. Things have
happened and I am not going to tell them in order. I am going to assume that
some members of Carousel and you in particular would be interested in Noh
drama. And the explanation of Noh will explain everything that has happened
better than anything else.
Eugene O’Neill and the Greeks have something not too different from Noh.
Our word “personality” is derived from the Latin per-sona (person) which
means, “through a mask.” The idea is that the real self is either
non-existing or not-manifesting. Circumstances permit or require us to fill
certain roles. Thus I have been a leprechaun and a Dennis-the-Menace, a dolt, a
failure, an intellectual, etc. None of these reflect reality. They are all
roles which we assume for a greater or shorter time.
So far we have seen Noh but not Kabuki because the theatre has been sold out
everything time we came around and we came around a lot. But I am going back to
Tokyo and will be in and out.
Noh consists of three types of shows: the serious or dramatic Noh which is
derived from Zen philosophy and tells a story, usually a myth not too different
from the Medieval “mystery-plays,” a comedy, and a dance. Actually there
were two dances, one in the drama and one given as a dance alone. But there was
also a travesty of the dance in the comedy.
Musicians appear first, a small orchestra of drums and a pipe-flute. This
flute was actually between a whistle and a flute and not musical (in my ears)
like the one we had heard at the Shinto shrine. Then there is a chorus which
chants or sings. But there is also some solo singing too. The actors give their
lines in two voices, too, one of which is rather loud. A modern touch has been
added by the use of a loud-speaking system and an attendant engineer. In fact I
have written Delaplane that I think every Japanese boy and girl wants to become
a “mike-operator” like our youths want to become disk-jockeys.
There are just a few characters as in the Greek plays. The dancing is show
but not ponderous and I rather excited by friend by telling him I would like to
learn it. Actually I would. With robe, kimono or flowing trousers you do not
make rapid movements, but some effects are given by the shoes and different
styles of walking are in it. The robes and especially the sleeves are used with
telling effects. The arms and elbows have to be used a lot. But there is stride
attention to rhythm, and the drum work was to me most interesting.
The comedy was about a master and two drunks, was very funny and needed no
explanation. But the singing was hilarious and there were short pieces of
dance, which would make a Charley Chaplin sit up.
The comedy did not use masques, but clothing, head-dress, etc. The masques
certainly cover the characters and those who take women’s parts do not have
to bother with facial make-ups, etc. We have also seen the masques in the art
galleries. (Time out for breakfast.)
No, they just brought pickled cherries and tea. I am living in a Japanese
inn and last night had my first experience of a Japanese bath. Took to it like
a “wild duck.” Next. Not being sure whether I wanted an American or
Japanese breakfast—I had ordered a Japanese one, and coffee—they brought us
both; Tea and coffee—all this and heaven, too.
Well, I took my mask off soon after I arrived in Japan, or rather, I met
people who saw through it. The results have been astonishing to a degree that
in my wildest dreams I did not guess. I have been accepted and accepted on all
sides. I was met by my friend at the pier; before the day was over we contacted
another friend and I had the pleasure of bribing two former San Francisco
From that point on it was a series of astonishing events. One would have to
know something about Buddhism and many Japanese arts to follow me. I had said
that I doubted whether anybody could follow me. My travelling companions,
Kiichi Okuda, who used to be manager of Daibutsu Art Store in Chinatown is an
exception. But even he has been delighted at the chain of events. I have to put
them in my diary. That book was the best thing I could have had given to me. It
is very busy and I am now typing awaiting support. But after that back to diary
I have been greeted by a great Abbot who came out of retirement; I have been
shown art treasures not exhibited to the public; I have seen a very great and
rare art exhibition; I have discovered people quickly where it would generally
take a day. Before I was here four days I met Mr. James Kinoshito who has the
same aims and objectives in life. Outwardly it is to bring nations together
through tree and seed-exchange. Inwardly it is much more than that.
My contacts with two distinct sects of Buddhists have resulted in all kinds
of introductions and forthcoming introductions, as well as opportunities to
write. The books I have brought to Japan or bought here were of the highest
merit. And on and on.
On top of that, being well versed in the use of the chopsticks, I have taken
to many Japanese foods not served in the U.S. Generally—and I wrote Stanton
Delaplane humorously—prices seem to depend more on your utensils than on the
food you get, viz. cheap chopstick, Chinese spoon, American spoon and
silverware. The spread is great and the quality spread is little. But
strawberries are very cheap and bananas very expensive, and melons—which are
on the market, are way out of range.
It has been raining a good deal of the time but not heavily. Kyoto is
beautiful and I next go to Nara which I understand is more beautiful but will
probably not mail this until I get back to Tokyo.
Many postcards were bought today. My mailing expense is about $1 a day.
Generally we spend the morning on business, the afternoon on visits or journeys
and the evening on food, walks and writing. I have been many times on the Ginza
in Tokyo, which is delightful for window shopping and where, at least they do
not rob Americans. I bought two umbrellas, one for about $6 and one for less
than $1. The former may be used as a gift. Also bought a composition type of
rubbers which are also dress shoes!
Next week we visit Nikko which I understand is the home of the folk dance
but I am not planning to stay there. A little later I shall be in Itako which I
understand is the home of the folk song and I do intend to stay there as it is
the home of my host! My next letter to you or to Carousel will undoubtedly be
from there and also I shall have more time to write.
Please excuse me if I do not send this by air mail. If I air-mailed by
correspondence it would run to $2 daily and while I am not scrimping, I would
prefer not to spend moneys in this is wise. There are many ways in which a
dollar can go a long way, You can buy several good neckties for that amount; I
am not now buying anything or the ladies—other than my good umbrella and will
not until my last few days in Japan. We are going to do a lot of looking around
Regards to Gracie and all the F.D’ers,
Since writing have been greatly honored.
Green Park Hotel
December 13, 1956
Here I am sitting in my hotel room and listening to a program on
international folk dancing given at Neustadt. The British team is the Shore
& Country Dancers, Sussex. The speakers on the air are all for
international f.d. and I am of the opinion I shall be backing one Walter Grothe
up when I return. I think even he will listen.
But look at me—don’t know where I am going, have no ideas of the future.
Dr. Crawford with whom I expected to live, in Oakland, expects to move to Los
Angeles. My uncle is expecting me and he is in San Fernando. And I not only
have to go through customs but have a whole lot of things to do in New York.
Practically none of my mail has gone through; in country after country and
place after place I have learned they did not get my mail or I
theirs—excepting where my hosts disappeared, generally for political
I don’t mean to say everything is wrong. I came to London with a bill I
had to pay and could not find anybody associated with the creditor. Then, last
night I went to a meeting and there she was, Miss Sharples, well into her
70’s. I got up and made my own speech of welcome: “I think I owe you some
money!” The best things of life—are American. Miss Sharples is the last
living associate of Sir Frances Young husband and it was in his house the
meeting took place.
I received an embrace from a woman who told me she was the daughter of the
late Lord Curzon. Some of the best things of life—aren’t American. Anyhow I
have joined two organizations here and bought some books. My hosts were
present. I had tea in the home of Michael Faraday, my favorite scientist; I do
not set the famous places, every place has history.
Spent two whole days at Kew Gardens, where I went into the private sanctorum
of the Asst. Supt., the Chief Herbalist, the Chief Grass Expert and the Chief
Economic botanist. I talked to every gardener I saw—which they liked because
the whole park was rather deserted.
Now I am going to see G. & S. “The Gondoliers.” I saw the D’Oyly
Cate Co. do this in S.F. but it is only play they put on this week.
Tomorrow (Friday) night I go to Sadler’s Wells. In the day I hope to go to
the British Museum. Have been to Downing St. and learned my old friend is alive
but roaming over the earth, even as I and I. (The f.d. music in the background
done get me.) I shall have to learn a lot when I get wherever I am going. Could
live here easily on my income, but gosh!
Have had a Chinese, French and Indian meal out; today had a tea lunch which
cost very little. But now I am hungry, after a lot of walking. No desire—and
you can’t tell the elms easily in winter. If I come this way again I am
divided whether to go to England, then south, or via Azores and Portugal. This
program makes me lean toward England—for one reason for not wanting to come
here is the seeming lack of interest in f.d. On the other hand, now that I am
in the Royal Asiatic Society and some of its offshoots and have already begun
what looks like successful research and all my new Kew contacts, make me want
to come, or rather I think Uncle Sam will tell me.
Listening to a massed band polonaise and have an awful empty feeling,
increased by hunger. Evidently Neustadt will be a permanent affair. Shades of
Walter Grothe, or maybe not. This gives me an idea to work for an American
Anything written here so far is for public or private consumption and the
more consumption the better my ego will feel (although it now sticks out all
Later: “The Gondoliers” was ‘swonderful. Then I received a phone call
from my old pal, separated for many years. So I am writing in a vigorous mood.
Everything OK but no mail! I know the Pakistanis stole my stamps and the
letters never came through.
I am unable to give an itinerary, and so am sending this slow mail. After
January 1 shall be, at some time
c/o Jos. O. Garrett,
608 No. Edgefield,
Dallas 11, Texas.
Your vaga-bond vagabond,
January 29, 1958
My dear Leonore:
I am taking some of my very precious time to write to you. I feel you do not
realize that time is the precious thing in my life but unfortunately I cannot
speak to you. If I could you might really understand.
The Influenza attacks which came to me were probably necessary to cleanse a
lot of poisons out of my system. But while this might be good for the
personality it was hard for the pocket book and the time. I have done
practically none of the writing I expect to do. I have lost opportunity after
opportunity. At the present moment there is not much garden work. I should be
using this time to catch up on literary work and correspondence. Every time I
go to San Francisco this is lost.
Now, my dear, you don’t seem to realize that I am an old hand in these
parts. 90% of my misfortunes have come in if not from San Francisco and 90% of
my fortunes or the good part of life have come away from there. It is not only
the psychological associations but the fact that I have many and excellent
friends whom I seldom see and when I go to the city for any, or no purpose, I
lose out on what would be considered some of the most precious moments—to be
There are two exceptions in San Francisco and they are related in scope but
not in personalities. The one is past and was the Art & Music section of
the International Institute. There I met Leonard Austin and Gracie Perryman,
etc. The other is the Rudolph School of Design on Union St.
The motifs from the past, and the present, combine love, joy and common
ideals, one of which is the brotherhood of people through the arts. I cannot
overemphasize this point and equally I cannot explain why it should be such a
dominant in life. My attitude toward Gracie is not that of man toward a woman,
not of a person toward another person, but life a part of oneself to another.
The same is true concerning Leonard. Sometimes I call this
“fourth-dimensional”-love out sometimes it is also like
no-dimensional-love. It has nothing to do with other kinds of friendships. But
it is contagious, self-explicit and even spontaneous. You are either in or out
and there are no half-way houses.
My trip to the Orient is beginning to affect me psychologically like
Darwin’s “Voyage of the Beagle” affected him. It took years to get it
out. The difference is that he withdrew from society and I have not. But in
going into the dance world there was one motive of changing from an introvert
life to an extrovert. There was another, born of Havelock Ellis which he called
“the dance of the soul” which Leonard and Madelynne understand, and again
you either have it or haven’t it.
Into this complicated life I now have two more “daughters.” The kids
that I have looked after are all safe socially. You might not understand that
while I was ill, one of them who had a tragic marriage and who lived right near
in Mile Valley, was re-married. When I got the news, I jumped up out of bed,
danced around the room and went back to bed. Her parents understood perfectly.
When there is understanding there is real friendship.
I work for Donna and I love Donna. She was divorced last year and now has a
new home free from the unpleasant memories of the past. Donna has many
interests in life and all have been, and some are, my own interests. She has a
fair social group around her, most of whom are better acquainted with me and I
with them. They are her new friends, all roughly speaking around 30. And she
lives over here. In some ways it is a delicate situation, for she needs a man
and while I have been and may continue to be her gardener, it is sometimes
necessary to construct this term very loosely.
Betty is very different. She has had about as hard a life as anybody I know
and was not getting along with anybody. This included her husband. This very
fact made me keep a sort of interest in her. When I returned from the Orient
she had done one thing—either gotten a hearing aid or had her deafness looked
after. In any case she can hear now and this seems to have removed a mountain
She not only did not hear well, she misunderstood and apparently
deliberately and was getting paranoiac in assuming people were talking about
her. This part of her has cleared up. But the social, psychological and
inherent complications still remain. Betty does love the out-of-doors, music
and philosophy but believes she loves love more. I cannot go into that. I have
taken the father-position and she has accepted this.
There is this thing about Betty. We now seem to be very peaceable in each
other’s presences. This is a glorious thing. It is one of the most precious
things in the world. Out “Love-lives” taken in every and all sense, are
quite apart from this. At the moment the relation is very wholesome. Her
husband knows all about it and I am certainly not interfering in that sphere.
But there are two points I have to write, even if there is no impression:
a. This takes time.
b. Betty has done something for herself and is doing more and that is
The problem of hearing is in itself complicated and the problem of time is
also complicated. Today I can have tête-a-têtes with betty which were
impossible before. And fortunately she is understanding enough to leave me full
room for my own affairs.
At the moment every time I come to town is a drain on time, energy and even
money. I want to dance to discipline my body and to let it feel the same sort
of sympathy the heart can feel—for people or other lands. This comes out of
the older International Institute tradition. It is a dominant in my life. I
very happy you liked those pictures in “Time.” I believe the mutual
understanding of the dance is one of the ways to destroy world tensions. But
mere pleasure, Leonore, becomes now a burden—it steals from me what I want
most. I wish you could understand this. I have something I cannot say until I
write it out on paper and in one sense all the above and everything else is a
pain to me, preventing me from accomplish that which is closest to my heart.
April 5, 1958
106 Ethel Ave.,
My dear Leonora:
I have quite definitely failed to communicate to you in some matters which
are very close to my internal self. Why I dance and what I dance can, in a
sense, not be explained at all. If they can be, they would be very definitely
in the terms of Havelock Ellis’ The Dance of Life. I must assume that you
have not read it. I did not get the full import of that work excepting through
experiences, many of them not common; and when experiences have been
“common,” I think I may have a special personal evaluation of them.
Take, for example, my relationship to Leonard Austin. I presume the people
closest to one are those who see either eye-to-eye or heart-to-heart.
Explanations will not explain and reasons do not clarify—certainly not my
relations to Leonard. He showed me many hidden values in dances, and that is
one basic reason why I prefer real folk-dances which have psychic, historical
and spiritual values in them. I cannot exactly explain what I mean either.
These things must be felt and experienced. You may remember what we did when we
went to the Greco recital—something I often do, to feel the performers as my
One of the longest and strangest acquaintanceships I have is that with Ruth
Prager. As this may be a long letter, will skip both reasons and details. When
she showed her folk-costumes and folk-symbols I could sense a deep
communication. I had long been a student of European history and not a
superficial one; in later years I chose to transfer my studies to Asia, but the
basic principles are the same. Every now and then you will see me examine some
woman’s costume with the interest of a connoisseur. Laissez-aller: you know
or you don’t.
I came into F.D. partly from Folk Arts and partly from friends. I am not
going over a long history which I have tried to impress on you and have not. I
don’t blame you for this but I cannot readily change. Dancing is to me both a
form of communion and communication. Recent creations, not born from suffering,
travail, trial and joy have little in them to interest me. There is a far cry
from Oberke and some Kolas to those choreographed Tangos which came from the
lotus-eating mind of some prosperous person in our immediate vicinity. Great
symphonies may have come from great pain, and even a ballet like
“Petroushka” has something behind it. But Rastronjera died a-borning as it
I had most distinct joy in the Kola group of John Skow more than in any
group up to the present on at Madelynne’s. But there socially I was not with
my peers. At Caroussel I have a sense of being with people who were raised in a
similar social and education milieu though our outlooks may be far apart.
I am getting out of earlier difficulties by developing innate faculties in
myself, such as the father-instinct and husband-instinct. These are very
A few months ago Roberta Leavitt was married. You did not know Roberta. She
was the last of my “kids.” You only met one of my “kids” and that was
Jeannine Ramey who is now married and living in South City. Jeannine and
Roberta were classmates and sometimes playmates too. I felt like an orphaned
uncle…. Then I began developing the idea of being a “father” by proxy.
In the mail today I received letters from a man and a woman. Peter is one
with whom I see eye-to-eye; Margaret is one whom I see with heart-to-heart.
Peter is travelling in my footsteps and if he went to Asia this would be
literally so. It is not true of many people; it is true of him. I took him to
hear Radhakrishnan the other day knowing he would receive both a message and a
Peter and Margaret are both resembling me in having two parents who had no
use for each other and no use for their offspring. If you have not gone through
this you may not understand. Peter’s parents were divorced which did not
relieve them from “hating” the fact that he was an offspring of their
“worst enemy” and he got the full brunt of it. As his father and mother
were far apart they both took it out on him.
Peter has the full right to say or do anything about me. I only have the
privilege of loving and guarding (not guiding) him. But if he wants guidance he
will get it immediately and without any price of any kind. This is something I
cannot explain either, for it comes from a part of life which I do not think
you have touched. All I can say is that there are forms of love and friendship
which may seem to us unusual. They are not part of either our local religions
or social mores.
Margaret could be very beautiful and very successful. I have coined the term
“Achilles complex” for her. She has had a very smooth career and took pride
in her success as a dancer when she was involved in an accident and broke her
ankle. Now she cannot dance and is trying to change her career in another field
for which she claims to be adept but has not yet sold herself.
Margaret is close to me in that she has exactly the same home life with all
kinds of conditions and events the same, although they look unbelievable. They
are far more prevalent than we choose to believe which makes it difficult to
deal with them. Neither of her parents manifest love or kindness or even
My contact with Peter and Margaret have promoted my “father-complex.” It
seems to be going ahead great guns. Then you may ask why don’t I bring these
people into F.D. Yes, into F.D., yes. But not into a place where I feel there
is no constructive policy and one has the same type of background as in the
“Fun Club.” I went to the “Fun Club” because Frank Dillard is very
close to me and there are a few people whom I might yet “father.” But
don’t think I go in for fun-fun. As such I get little enjoyment.
I want real F.D. I want Vengerka and Lesginka and Saltarella and the Swedish
Harvest Dance and the Danish and German squares and more Irish and even
English. I have no use for the made up so-called American “rounds” which
are pseudo-Californian, and Tangos which are playboy and playgirl compositions.
I deplore extremely the throwing out of the wonderful research of Lucille
Of course “they” don’t want these dances, but over the years I could
never find out who “they” are. So in the end I may take private lessons
from Madelynne or find some group which will teach real Folk Dances. Certainly
Leonard, if he ever starts.
So this week I go to a group meeting of young people who need love and
guidance and even wisdom. I don’t know if I can give the last, but the others
yes, and God-willing, I shall.
And this brings me down to the last point, the husband-complex. I have been
turned down again and again and again. And never despaired. My life is that of
a Billikin that is always knocked down to bounce back. I took on the whole
University of California recently and won my point. Of course I found plenty of
allies who were in the same boat and needed a champion.
I lived for years under a “Beauty and the Beast” complex. I always felt
intuitively that if any woman anywhere gave me a symbolic or psychic kiss, it
would bring great changes in my character and career and outlook. Well,
Leonore, it has happened.
I have been attracted to certain women here and there, and mostly to my own
trouble later. I have followed the roles of a Lochinvar and other story-book
characters. It did no good. So then I became more like Vanderdecken, the Flying
Dutchman, who only had a chance ever so many years. But when he met his Senta,
it relieved him from the curse. Only with me it was “Beauty and the Beast”
and no curse. And a real beauty has given me the “kiss”—it is true it has
been at long distance, but it is true. And I feel both very sure and reassured
that it is so. Time and tide separate us, but not in the heart.
This bodes quite a change in life. It will not take me out of the dancing
field; it will alter it. All the dreams and schemes I have discussed with
Leonore Austin are on the way to realization. To bring nations of the world
together by eating, praying and dancing is a program. I have other facets to my
program, to help feed—multitudes. I am working all the time at it. It has
placed me under both strain and joy.
I want to dance more than ever, but dances of release, dances of rejoicing
after turmoil, and not mere Pollyannaish, superficial movements, created in
recent times and palmed as “folk dances.” They are not a part of my psyche
or my life. Sometimes I have rejected them, sometimes seem to have accepted
them, but really not. I am at home with Madelynne. I wish I could say the same
about some other places at the present time.
May 18, 1958
Should be back Saturday morning but don’t know until what I have to do is
done. At last moment learned that an old dear friend of mine in L.A. died last
week. Don’t think this will complicate things but don’t know.
My Friday night adventures into god-fathering have been successful. If you
want to call it that. Yes, I have a growing family of sons and daughters. But
they have complete freedom excepting when they are in trouble or difficulty.
There will be one more gardeners meeting on Friday, in June, week after the
party. Then we are supposed to meet on Thursdays, provided the red tape permits
us. Protocol you know.
Did not get much rest this week but that is life. Have to miss lots of
things, and both Russian and Spanish dancers. Still I want my adventure so I
had better accept it.
Received a lot of Gingko nuts from Japan yesterday, just in time. These are
for the so-called Maiden-Hair tree which is found plentifully in Japan,
supposed to have come from China and has no near relatives.
At the last moment a lot of people who have been trying to get me to lecture
on Saturday night all seem to have disappeared. Why they insist upon my having
lectures and do that I don t know. I guess that is life too. That makes me
really feel the fun I miss.
However I shall, I expect, be getting in touch with various Asians and see
what they have to say. I have had something to say about the burning of
U.S.I.S. libraries. Have been howling a lot, and no response and now libraries
are burned. After two or three more maybe a few suggestions will be
The Rhododendrons are in bloom here, wonderful, equal to anything anywhere.
I hope to see the desert flowers in the morning. And you when I return.
Last night dined with a foster cousin whom I had not seen for years. Ouch!
She is a semi-professional ballroom dancer and I see what is coming. My
goddaughter also wants to show me some finesse, which I probably need. Maybe
this old warhorse will become a gazelle yet.
December 11, 1959
My dear Leonora:
Having few days left here I am parceling them out, the best I can, among
friends, near or dear, of whom there are a fairly large number in the general
vicinity but not in any one place. Tonight, for instance, I am going to meet a
group of very good friends, who are good friends and there is every sign that
they will continue to be good friends. Sunday I expect to be in Fairfax and
over till Monday. Next week I have every night taken up until Friday when I
expect to leave.
I have no intention to remain with groups of whatever nature that turn down
suggestions. I have already abandoned or written several strong letters to some
which seem more interested in sharing my funds than brain or heart. Many of
them today are moribund but will not change their policies. There is no use in
remaining a member. I am only not resigning from the professional gardeners
because I am going away. Monday night I may put my cards on the table at a
public meeting, but I do not know whether the panel who will take charge of
that meeting will be sharing views or of not so there is no foretelling what I
may do. Last night I listened to the Indian Consul-General prior to another
meeting there next Wednesday morning. Today I received a long request from the
Consul-General of Pakistan. I am now ready to write a letter to the University
of California, well timed, because so far as the proposals I made to them are
concerned, they will now be compelled to accept them or stand opposed to the
President. And my proposal is very simple: that they give as much publicity to
their accomplishments in the peaceful sciences as in their research in atomic
I ran into the other side of the coin the other day where a certain group
engaged in helping starving people abroad has never canvassed me because they
thought my head was always up in the clouds. They best way to size up somebody
is never to investigate; otherwise you might have to change your views! Of
course I am glad to pocket my own dollars.
I am gradually outlining my own dance future too. But I have no intention of
joining any group where I cannot make at least an occasional suggestion and
have it considered. The F.D. Carousel of other years was a large and thriving
group carrying on with certain methods which have since been abandoned. The
methods, the kind of dances, the system of requests, have all been changed and
there is little one can do about it. Life is too short and they are so many
other ways in which one can enjoy oneself. So when I return—if I do
return—I should prefer to dance in Marin County or with Madelynne.
The red tape I had to go through to get even one suggestion made for my
final appearance in January makes it silly. I do not make many suggestions but
it is interesting that all made at the 10th annual Mill Valley F.D. gathering
were accepted and gladly accepted. There was no veto-passing the buck-gang in
control. Let them have the control. Let them run the club and do not wonder why
many people rave giving up F.D. The reason is so obvious. I do not know another
club which ran through 50 or more candidates and did not retain them.
Besides it is very probable that my social, financial and general position
will be quite different. Nor shall I intrude anywhere where my own ideas are
unwelcome. Let that be, there will be no imposition.
There was a time when I had at least 10-12 friends in Carousel. I don’t
mean people with whom I danced, but real friends. Time has changed that. The
people have withdrawn from dancing or gone elsewhere.
Then my own interests in life are coming to the fore and I am finding such
congenial company in so many other groups that I can naturally enjoy myself
more and mutual harmonies tend to keep me in such groups. Thus last Sunday at
the Rudolph Schaeffer reception. And on and on.
I have enjoyed meeting you and I consider Wesley very close. But if I were
now to give a farewell dinner for 50 people I am not sure whether there would
be a single other person there whom I meet on Friday night; or if so, they
would be persons I met other nights also.
My very close friends at Hollywood and Santa Barbara require final visit and
others may have to be reached through mail. I shall be seeing you once, I am
sure, before going south.
March 22, 1960
My dear Leonora:
This morning I learned a new dance, called Sugarfoot. Any resemblance
isn’t and it was quite unintentional. You see I was warned not to come in
February; it would be cold, March would be better. So in February it hovered
around the 40’s and 50’s and got tired and dropped from exhaustion. We are
having snowstorms. Last night I experienced warm snow; it was flaky. I went to
bed optimistic. When I got up it was white as far as the eye could see and not
I have had several headaches. Aspirin does not help; walking in the open
always clears them up so I am sure the cause is the steam-heated room and
nothing else. Anyhow I have returned from breakfast, and “Sugarfooting”
about which there was no choice.
One pays $3.00 for a weekly pass here and then rides all over. So I get a
pass and walk—for exercise. Sometimes I walk 20-30 blocks and ride 4. Now
I’ll go back, and answer your letter, reminding you that this borrowed
machine is not in too good a condition and my new one has of yet arrived.
I am very glad to know you will have Magaña dance for you. I visited the
City Hall and learned that the Ethnic Groups are still Ethnic and Groups and do
not associate. If you are born on the wrong side of the Danube or Drav or
Moldau or Dneiste, sorry, no associate. Yes there are find F.D. programs on the
air, mostly ethnic and either with a good dosage of square dance music or one
finds that some square dance tune is nothing but an ethnic tune without words
adopted. In between you get Coplan.
The library clipping would interest me more if you were in. The White
Memorial Library here is magnificent but I find all sorts of errors in
classification and can’t say anything. Then you find a lot of nice books
which assume the reader has knowledge but is no place to get that knowledge.
Last night I attended a forum on India which is the opened for an Institute
this weekend. At the end of the question period I asked the chief speaker, a
citizen of India: “Did you come from Iraq?” “Yes, Why?” “I have met
you cousin.” He smiled all over “But he is in jail now.” “Yes, I
know.” But we are going to be friends, I teenk.
Of course the new S.F. Magazine is going to limp. It has prefabricated
writers. If Mrs. Jane Broadway has a thousand dollars to give on condition an
article by her nice be published, it is no soap—the editor has some prices
and would like to publish their articles. So Mrs. Broadway withholds and the
editor’s nieces can’t write anyhow. They charm unkie-wunkie, but not the
Next Monday to Ann Arbor. I want to wait for warmer weather before going to
Columbus, then back just to wind up and “On to Washington.
Had a Cantonese meal last night, very good, filling and not expensive. There
is just one “Chinatown” block here. But there are so called “Chop Suey”
joints all over, high prices for single dishes; and, I understand, not very
good. I have not yet eaten Hungarian, Slovakian or Slovenian food here,
‘sterrible, but I guess they are on the West Side. I am on the East Side. You
don’t cross over much.
Will be busy most of the week and just have a short while in the a.m. in
which to write.
Tell Wesley that there is strong hostility here to segregation and the
papers are roused by the shooting in South Africa. That is one part of the
world I do not intend to visit.
Yesterday I also had some luck. Ran into an ex-Cal. man who had just come
back from Libya as an Agricultural Adviser. I expect to see him at the
Institute. He has given me some good ideas.
Now as to my hand writing. I guess I’m one of those guys who has to have
handcuffs or shackles on—meaning machines. And I deplore the machine age, sez
April 5th, 1960
Your Illustrious Excellency and Supreme Envoy Plenipotentiary, Ruth of
Today The “Pukhtunistan-Times” is not only amalgamated with the
“Ruthenian Truthenian” but positively smothered to the point of dissolution
as an independent entity. And top of that, the stomach is filled with Chicken
Paprika. This requires neither aspiring nor aspirin and one feels terribly
Last night we were welcomed by Emperor Theodore Andrica of Dacia of
Cleveland Press of Ethnic Folk Arts Movement in Cleveland. That is, he is
trying to restore the ancient Roman satrapy of the Danube and it required all
my diplomatic ingenuity. On top of that, perceiving my credentials he
practically threw the conclave over to me.
It started out fine. I found myself sitting next to the Estonian
representative who recognizes your good father and recognizes you merely as the
son. Nevertheless [?] the problem of Greater Ruthenia arose she was strongly
Then Theodore pronounces it “Oo-cry-eeee-nyah” and that positively
disarmed me. I have lived with cranes and all this nonsense of
“U-crane-knee-hu” positively gets me and in the wrong place.
There were about 30 delegates present and one can understand why this is
Cleveland, which is Cleave-land:
Here’s to good “ol Cleveland,
Land of Herzogovenians and Croats,
When the Serbs will not speak to the Slovenes,
And the Dalmatians get every one’s goats.
There was one Estonian, 1 Irishman, 1 Scotch, (or Scottish), 1 Austrian (who
came in late), 1 Hungarian-Magyar, 1 Bielo-Hruska, and may be ten altogether.
The other twenty were divided 20 which ways: Pro- and anti-Tito, Roman
Catholics, Uniate Catholics, orthodox Catholics and everybody who lived on
either side of the Save and Drave was not speaking to anybody else. They even
let Theodore, who is Rumanian boss them—otherwise unthinkable. And he
did—which is not unthinkable.
The question was the folk-dance festival and he told them that they could
not have more than 8 minutes each. This was tough on the various and varying
Yugoslavians who will not dance each other’s kolos if they dance kolos at all
because to put them each and all one the program would take 4 hours and the
entire program is 2-1/2, i.e. 150 minutes. The only thing they seemed to agree
on was that the Italians should not have Trieste and the Italians have
therefore withdrawn. Which did not prevent the Japanese from doubling up, first
Japan and second for Hawaii.
This restoration of Dacia was something because of plans for Greater
Ruthenia. Already the Yiddish people came and said “we accept if you make
Kishinev the capital.” Now Pukhtus love countries and independence but not
governments, so this was a problem and the reason we love f.d. is that it
teaches us to side-step without hurting anybody’s feelings.
After I explained Ruthenia to Emperor Theodore, he said, “I like it in the
main but we must have the Carpathians.” I said: “I wish I could agree with
you, But St. Anatole has already surveyed the Carpathians which extend from the
mouth of the Vistula to the mouth of the Danube to his own mouth which is
pretty big. If you do that we shall have war.
“Yes, but I have inherited my throne and dances and Anatole makes up his
own. Besides Anatole is a French name of Greek extraction and I don’t believe
he has any Greek or French blood in his veins, or feet (which is more
So, your Excellency, I was compelled to make a decision and, having the
floor, spoke as follows:
“My friends, I have come to bring peace and not a sword, seeing that there
are no dancers from the Caucasus here. I think we can safely divide all
South-East Europe into two divisions: Greater Ruthenia and Koloistan. Now this
is my plan:
You have Russians of all descriptions: the be-Red Russians, the be-White
Russians and the be-Yellow Russians—all of them fit into my greater Ruthenia.
You don’t need just “lefts” and “rights,” you need both, especially
in dancing. You need people of all complexions and complexities (especially the
latter). Now when “A Life for a Czar” was performed, all of them came
together, and that is what we want. All the trans-Carpathians in one country
and all the cis-Carpathians in another. (Of course nobody knew what I mean by
“trans-Carpathian” and “cis-Carpathian” and Anatole is far away.)”
This brought the be-white Russians, the be-Red Russians and the Bielo (be
Yellow) Russians all together and they embraced. Thank God they did not embrace
Theodore or me but that was good enough.
“Now for the rest of you ,”looking at that scowling mob who were
scowling at each other and not at me—I propose: Kol-Koloistan!” Boy that
brought down the house! Whoever heard of the Serbs and Croats uniting. And the
Rumanian Theodore even offered to invite a Bulgarian if he could find one. The
Slovenians thought I had pkped the Slovenians and the Dalmatians said that was
their idea all the time but they had not come to thinking about it. They forgot
their religious differences, their geography, their politics. They would even
let Theodore lead them because that would be neutral and Theodore is very
modest, he is willing to lead anybody and everybody. Huzzah and Ilyon.
What shall I do next? I await instruction.
June 15, 1960
This is what comes of having nothing but green thumbs. They are not good for
hitch-hiking. I am supposed to be Egypt and I am in the “land of the
forefathers” including my own, alas and oh joy. Everywhere I go it is not
“Kilroy was here” but Longfellow, Lowell, Emerson, Holmes Sr., Holmes Jr.,
James Sr., James Jr. was here. It is different from the South where it was
“George Washington was here. The difference is because all the present day
Washington in the South are colored and all the progeny of Longfellow, Bryant,
Adams, Lowells, etc., etc. and etc. are lily white, and generally Republicans.
They are a lone lot because there are more Murphy’s than Jones and Smith in
the telephone book.
There was a strike on the New York waterfront. There always is. So my ship
did not sail and it got delayed and delayed. The rich, returning from wherever
they have gone, including Bermuda, had to carry their own luggage off. No
telephone, no servants, and no stewards (on strike). So I thought I would come
to Boston and Harvard and all that wonderfulness. I telephoned my cousin Adolph
and he said, “I am coming right over.” Like General Sheridan he was forty
miles away, but he came right over.
“Adolph,” I owe you an apology. I did not bring a present, I brought my
work clothes” “Samuel, you are my dearest cousin, my favorite cousin, my
most considerate relative.” Boy, I soon found out. Adolph runs a
Chrysanthemum Nursery and can’t get help. And here am I with all green
thumbs, thumbing my way along and liking it. So I have learned also what “Is
so rare as a day in June.” The weather is almost perfect.
You see I came here first in a shower of rain. Am I different from Dr.
Foster? Not even with my green thumbs! There are also occasional showers of
rain today and I have been working steadily since, with flats and pots and
labels and weeding and all those things for which I nearly got a PhD. No
dancing, although there is a square dance on Saturday night, nine miles away
and even then one is 40 miles from Boston.
You have to be careful here. I remember once at Novato there was a
Cumberland Square on and a couple were strutting their stuff. They went right
out the front door. Some wag closed the door on them and locked it and they had
to go way around the building. You can do that there. Take 40 “giant steps”
and you are in New Hampshire or Rhode likes Island or Connecticut.
News TV with a Boston accent!
September 9, 1960
A holiday—for you
Well here I am in Cairo having gotten through customs as a V.I.P. whatever
that means. I arrived on Sunday which meant I went to work on Monday. Ha! Ha!
It was Labor Day and the Embassy was closed and the University gave me the
brush off. So I taxied to Al Azhar which made the taxi owner happy because I
became a holy man also. Then I went to work on Tuesday.
When I was in Japan I wrote that the reason the football attendance was so
bad was because so many of the U.C. Alumni were in Japan. Oh, I forgot, you
were with Stanford. But we’ll let it pass. Anyhow hard, work, energy, a clear
outlook on life, perseverance, honesty, a strong-will in the face of obstacles
and the right University help, especially the latter. For as Lewises rush in
where fools and angels both fear to tread, what does he find? Some UC graduate
sitting behind a desk! You see what character training accomplishes? It was two
whole weeks before the City of Tokyo took me around in a Cadillac and it will
have been only six days before the U.A.R. Government is going to take me
around, but I don’t know what kind of car.
I went to the Embassy and they shunted me off to one Paul Heim, Calif.
‘23. “Samuel, you got the wrong name.” “Moi, je suis Ahmed Murad.”
“Oh!” When I was in Beirut the ship was invaded by barbers and they run
hither and thither, went into every meeting, woke up all the sleeping staff and
made themselves nuisances. Finally one asked me why I would not get a hair-cut,
“I have important business.” “What kind of business?” “I am Ahmed
Murad, darveeeeeeeshsh.” He dropped his jaws, he dropped his tools, his knees
sagged.” “I am Ahmed Murad, darveeeesshsh. Come, I give you free
The folks came back at night. “Oh, you got a haircut, now much?”
“Nada, zero and five ciphers.” Nobody would talk to me. Stony silence. Then
the chief engineer came in. “You got a haircut, how much?” “Nothing.”
Then his assistant came in, “Oh, you have a haircut. How much?”
“Nothing,” Samuel Lewis became a hero in 5 seconds flat and everybody
wanted to say good-bye to me the next day. As I said, Lewises rush in where
fools and angels fear to tread.
I made friends all over Beirut by asking them questions about the
Phoenicians. There is nothing they like better than to be called Phoenicians.
Tony Austin taught me that. I used it, but never did I believe it was possible
to beat a Syrian or Lebanese. I have accomplished the impossible.
Here I was embraced and being stuffed with tea and fruit in a shop. No, I am
darveesh, I buy nothing. Liar. All Americans buy. Besides they have folk shoes.
No hurry but some day.
I nearly forgot to answer your letter. Oh, I’ll go over it some time and
add a lot more. The Embassy approves of what I am trying to do, all over and I
have gone to a different department each day, finishing today. This is a good
start. But I have to get my music via the transistor and don’t like the stuff
they play here (as danced music).
Of course this letter is personal, private and for anybody who can
look over your shoulder or grab it from you.
I am hoping to have a collections of saris, and sari, but one may be pour
vous, for you, or what you have; but first I want to know how many my friend is
sending. Cannot promise any to anything else because I don’t know. I want at
least two for the Baptiste dancers. Then, if there are others over they might
go to Madelynne to whom this letter is written.
I am also sending Audley copy of my technical letters. Opportunities are all
around and I have a hard time keeping up with them. Besides, it is darned hot
during the day. Now I’ll listen to some fine radio music and read that
devil-awful magazine, “True.”
Don’t know from nothing about California politics but am asking a friend
to send the Chronicle after election day. Everything is going along wonderful,
so wonderful I am becoming very carefully indeed—but my other self, Puck, is
keeping right up with me.
Captain Vonderdecken was only allowed to see a woman once every seven years.
Women like to see a man; Captain liked to man a sea! Anyhow I send this
stuff to Leonard Austin. Gotta stop, besides wanting to read, there is some
folk music on.
Saturday A.M. If I tell I brag, if I don’t tell it’s not my memoires.
Well bless your soul, or bless my soul, anyhow familiarity brings or it breeds
contempt, but I was sent for by two U.S. Ag. experts yesterday and I put my
foot in my mouth again.
I met first Dr. Ayres. “I always carry my Bible with me.” “And what is
“Desert Agriculture” published by the University of California.”
“Did you ever look at its
“No. Why should I look at its author?”
“If you do, you’ll find it is my brother.”
You see, darling and darlings, I always break all the rules of diplomacy or
as I call it, lip-domacy, and it gets me in and in and in. Now these big
shots—they proved they were big shots by giving me big shots—are carrying
my name and infamy abroad. Anyhow we had a good two hour top level serious
conference. It begins to look now that when I re-return to the Berkeley Campus
my name will appear in Neon Lights.
Later. To be successful here one must have wisdom, knowledge and madness. I
don’t know the exact ingredients, but whatever the formula, it seems to work.
I had a long period of anxiety in that my mail never arrived from either San
Francisco or New York. Then one day, like the rains, it came and since then it
seems that something like a dam burst and everything that I am trying or have
tried burst like flowers suddenly into full blossom. It is a long story, it is
a success story, it is a complicated story. It touches realms where others have
not gone and realms where “better men” have failed.
Fortunately from the beginning I have had the full cooperation of the U.S.
Embassy which is close by and the very fortunate experience of having every
project mentioned by me or to me during conferences has turned out
successfully. Some of these involved highly technical matters.
At the moment I am the guest of the National Research Centre comprised of
the highest scientists in the area; of the Vegetable Experimental Station; of
the Bureau of Information. I am getting passes, permits, invitations and on top
of that a coming social life. There, my first play, of representing myself as a
roving alumnus of the University of California has helped as much if not more
than anything else.
I visited the Milk Research Lab. this week and the director comes from the
Berkeley Campus. So I have written my friend, Stanley Diamond, of the
California Ag. Department in the Ferry Building. I am sending a copy to Audley
Nichols in San Rafael and also copy of some materials coming up. Friday is the
Islamic Sabbath, but I spend most of the morning around the Embassy.
I shall not visit Luxor or the big ruins until the weather cools down,
though I am liable to be off on side trips almost anywhere from this day on.
And I have the Pan-Arab League coming up. I hold off because of fear of
political involvements but this organization concentrates on cultural and
literary pursuits, thank God and praise Allah.
I live in a pension which is very reasonable, for an American. We have
several Americans, Japanese and Hindus here so I get along swell. I don’t
promise letters to anybody, but am just letting you know I am keeping up in
If you ever see Ruth Prager, please remember me to her. Tell her that I am
hoping to collect shoes and costumes; will probably pick up something here
before I leave. I was at the bazaar last week near the celebrated Al Azhar
University. Fortunately I was warned. You can get absolutely genuine gold
ornaments, 14K, 18K, 24K, absolutely pure gold. But try to get it through out
customs. And you can get pure silver ornaments here, too, but try to get it
through the U.A.R. customs! So you get genuine-genuine silver well plated!
Anyhow, I spotted a lot of things for my friend, Rudolph Schaeffer, which will
be packaged before I leave and I may be here a long time yet, darlings.
Sorry to miss the show. I have antennas and a transmitter, but no spectacles
that can see around the earth.
Samuel L. Lewis
Tse Tother Syed.
The original is for Mad Ellen, the Green. Of the following
October 14, 1960
Well my arms are tired for the first time since I left home. Why? work? Are
you kidding! Well, I did help push a car this morning but that was for five
minutes. No, this is an honest tiredness, really, real. My transistor has a new
battery (and not for today’s game either). And I have been regaled with
Malagueñas, Flamencos, Jotas and what not and I carried a couple of pieces
with wood with me. You know. And I have been practicing but today it was and
how, and I am resting my arms a moment—my tongue can carry on.
Well you may have read, “The Best Year of Our Lives” or “Life Begins
At Forty” but sometimes I think “Back to Methuselah” might suit me, and I
have a birthday coming this week. My absence will gave you a lot of candles, a
real lot of them.
It has been too hot to dance here if I were interested in it. Maybe later
but having a forty-ring circus is some job. And lately every day seems to
indicate that I have reached a summit and still I get by until I am nearly
dizzy. If I tell I am bragging, if I don’t tell what I am doing will be
ineffective. Anyhow, an adventure a day keeps the doldrums away.
For instance take poetry. I am having three different projects. One, I came
here to present an epic poem to none other than Gamel Abdul the First Second
and Only. Now my Indian epics are being read by the Cultural Attaché of that
Nation. And thirdly when it was suggested that I read some American poetry at
my forthcoming lectures on American Philosophy, I doed-ed just that and I am
copying some bright things starting with William Cullen Bryant. I haven’t
Eric with me so I guess I’ll have to stick to the books, or that mass of
clippings I have covering a multitude of years and sins.
Then, sticking to India—although it is far away, I received two lovely
jolts. Firstly, the coming Ambassador is a dear old friend of mine. Some people
will deny I can get along with Ambassadors, but I gave one Porkie as jolt just
before I left S.F. and let him get a teeny peak into my projects. Well I
thought I would arrange a big party for Ambassador Hussein and as I stand
pretty well at the American Embassy which is close buy, they were in favor.
Then I got notice that a friend of mine has a consignment of saris which
belong to me, to me, Sam Lewis. What’ll I do with saris? Don’t ask! Anyhow
now I have asked for two of them to be shipped to me here which might help in
the forthcoming tamasha-shindig—tamasha being Hindustani for shindig, or
vice-versa. We are working on that.
So I wrote to one Magaña asking if she would be the recipient of the
package, whatever it be, at least for the time being and this might interest
you. At the present I have no plans, knowing nothing of the size of the
allotment or material or whether they will get through customs with case or
Oct. 22, 1960
Many, many thanks for the finger symbols. The elastic has been fitted into
them and is awaiting its sewing. I gave the second box to Wesley without
looking at them and lo, your Casita Monco had omitted the elastic, so don’t
trust that store for long distance delivery, hm? But the idea is fine and I do
appreciate such a nice present.
Am rereading your letter from Cairo, dated Sept., 9th and getting a kick out
of it, especially the many sardonic references to U.S. And I literally rolled
with laughter over the haircut story. But I don’t like to receive an unsigned
letter—you’re not that V.I. And you did not answer my letter. It isn’t
like you to be a tit-for-tat writer, so I am disappointed not to have had a
follow-up-account of what you are doing in Cairo after that beginning series of
interviews and contacts. It seemed ironic that the Nasser you would like to
meet was in N.Y. for U.N. sessions. How do you like life at the Pension and
what are you eating for local food? Oh, what a kick I got out of the bazaars of
Cairo. Routine tourist stunt was to go to a night club featuring a “belly
dancer,” but she bored me and there was so much more to observe in the
audience. Principal place for the latter was the Shepherd Hotel terrace for tea
and whatever. It afterward burned. Have they rebuilt it? Same location? Is the
city still veddy British? Don’t miss a funeral procession with someone to
interpret it for you. I walked alongside one and got pictures. But I couldn’t
get to see the Red Light district!
Wish you could have read the account of Red Skeleton entertaining at a
private session the delegates to the U.N. The theme of his U.N. tribute was
“Laughter—the universal language.” He dodged the language barrier by not
saying a word in most of his routines!
Except in Paris, I read newspapers from England and was it hard to find much
news from USA. How much did you get on the Francis Powers case? Here is an
inside angle that there may be a direct link between his case and the defection
of the 2 National security Agency employees. His plane carried electromagnetic
devices to seek out missile sites, as well as photographic gear. So did the
B-47 later shot down near the Arctic. The 2 NSA employees would be able to show
the Russians how to jam the effectiveness of equipment such as that seized when
Powers’ U-2 crashed.
Sammy, I miss you very much. Your photo adorns the top of one bookcase.
Things keep reminding me of you. For example, at the Folk Dance regional
Festival held kitty corner from the Collingwood Hall where Carrousel used to
be, Madelynne Greens put on the intermission dance. It was a Sailor’s
Hornpipe Dance with 3 girls & 3 very young men, but I thought of
you. I really longed for you to be accompanying me when one Sunday I
finally got to the Treasures of Japan Exhibit at the De Young Museum, “the
largest Japanese show seen here” and shown in connection with the Pacific
Festival. At the latter I also saw Magaña Baptiste perform some of her East
Indian and Indonesian dances. By the way, she is quite hurt that she has never
heard from you on this trip, so do drop them a line. Ruth Doyle asks me for the
latest news of you. I could write reams about the Jap Art Exhibit, even the
Pacific Festival for its evening activities. Evelyn Engle and I saw the Danish
Ballet in a group of dances that contained a surprising amount of folk lore. I
stood for 2 operas new to me: La Sonnambula has not been given for 30 years and
Simon Boccanegra introduced many new stars.
But Mostly I have been preoccupied with the major operation of my
20-years-a-friend Doug and his very difficult convalescence. All this has
prevented my writing you as often as I would have liked. Larry Browne is in and
out of hospital for ulcer on his heel, very bad for a diabetic. Dory Normeyer
has been forced into retirement. Erma Frye & her bridegroom are in town.
Ralph and Norma have a perfectly adorable baby. Caller Jim Wright predicts she
has the makings of becoming a good caller for square dances. Gracie had a
birthday Sept. 25th & we staged a surprise party which she failed to
attend! If I have missed any items of news you should have, it is because you
failed to comment on my letter and I don’t know where I left off. This time I
am keeping a carbon copy.
When will it be “On to Pakistan?”
Very best wishes from
October 28, 1960
My dear Leonora:
I am taking what appears at the moment to be a whole hour to answer your
letter of the 22nd. Yours is the first letter I have had for some time giving
me any news. I have received absolutely nothing by sea-mail and not all my bank
returns by air-mail. What has concerned me is the failure to get any response
from my travel agent, Rudy Olsen, 166 Geary St. He wanted two months notice to
get space on a ship. I have the money but now two months notice may delay my
departure from here until the end of the year, at least. So I am asking in each
letter that to whomsoever I write, please try to reach him by phone. The
awkward thing is that I owe the bank money and am holding a very large amount
on my checking account to cover passage, etc. and can’t release anything
until this is cleared. If he is ill, etc. I may have to order through another
agent. I have been advised strongly against booking locally, and I don’t want
So many things have happened and are happening that I shall probably make a
long recording again. It throws one out of focus and makes the ordinary
chit-chat difficult; I am now compelled to strike back at a lot of people who
closed their doors in my face, especially those I call “phantasians.” Even
locally the stuff that passes for Near Eastern Culture is terrible. Somebody
studies this subject in the US, mostly under instructors who came from Europe,
they get their degrees and come to teach and what they offer is so out of line
with what you would learn on the same subject if you took it here; or even
bothered to look up a few first sources, it is terrible.
Some time ago I met Dr. Creswell who is considered locally to be the
world’s greatest authority on Islamic Art. Most of his work is polemics,
attacking his “authoritative” predecessors and rivals who never took the
trouble of walking around and looking closely at the places they described. The
result is that often as not they are wrong. Creswell at least took the trouble
to look at historical monuments before he wrote about them.
There are millions, many millions of people in the Afro-Asian countries
about whom the people in the U.S. known little and often as not it is wrong.
Those Europeans, with whom I tried to study in and around S.F. generally turned
me down a priori without even looking at my stuff. They gave out whatever they
wished to teach and there was no appeal. Of course Asians are offended.
Everybody here feels that you can get your case in court in the U.S. and there
is a lot of unnecessary anti-American stuff in the press and one does not blame
them. I am now going around visiting the Dervishes and what I know through
experiences is so out of line with what is taught that it may be supreme
I won’t write you about the religion and metaphysics of the Dervishes,
about whom there is just one decent book by an American, and that by as
American in foreign service and it is close to being 100% right and I do not
know a single European teacher in Near East Culture who uses it or even permits
you to refer to it. The direct experiences of Ambassador and Mrs. Grady,
contrary also to the “teachings” cannot be used in “American”
What would interest you more are the art-forms. I have seen nothing in
books. I did hear music in Ajmir for which I wanted a tape-recorder. There have
been compulsory changes in my plans, so I did not buy one; then my best friend
in India wanted one (the one who should be sending the saris) so this may
enable me to use it in India. But here I have heard types of music I never knew
The orthodox Muslims do not look kindly on music. But the Sufis have chants,
litanies, hymns, psalms and body-movements which I can described better in
person than by writing, and the back-grounding of rhythmical singing against
melodic singing, which is something different from anything I have ever
noticed. Although they do not dance, they do move the body in rhythms which
could become the alphabet of dance forms and may be the alphabet. It is too new
On the theoretic side I find I am pretty high up in these matters and in the
U.S. excepting at Harvard, I got so many turns down it is a huge joke. We turn
down peoples and their cultures and then wonder why they vote to admit Red
China into the U.N. Of Course Red China is coming into the U.N. You can’t win
a battle by throwing darts at the spectators, which is what we are doing.
I have been successful locally in showing that we have put impediments in
the way of presenting American culture by this methods. But what does a
European or Canadian professor care whether American culture reaches the
Orient! And just after I wrote the letter to U.S. Intelligence—it has been
passed by the local Embassy—when I received a letter from a top
Oriental—not Orientalist, but Oriental, who is a veddy, veddy, and also an
enemy of those who have blocked my reports. So the ways stand clear.
Actually I doing what I have dreamed of doing for years. I have sent Audley
a few instances of what goes on, but most reports goes to Harry Nelson a City
College. I am now actively engaged in writing or contacting persons who have
answers to a tremendous numbers of UAR agricultural and horticultural problems.
I am working, so to speak, on all fours. I am respected here and maybe age does
provoke a degree of wisdom. Even this week’s “Time” with the plan for the
eradication of the Gypsy Moth is going to give me a grand opportunity.
This morning I was able to contract the people who are my real allies, the
American Friends of the Middle East. I have sent in reports to both San
Francisco and Washington. Either they, or the World Affairs Council may now
take heed of what I am trying and doing and even accomplishing.
Twice weekly I have been going to the Vegetable Experimental Station but now
I have to write letters for them and also contract the American Chemical firms
who dispense agricultural chemicals—this is highly technical. And so long as
you mention Dory, please tell him and Margaret that I am functions, completely
functioning where I had hoped to go. I have not, however, seen the Agricultural
Museum nor the Mr. Big in the Department of Agricultural who is now supposed to
the my host.
Tomorrow I am going to try to arrange my future program with the University
of Cairo. This is pretty big. The door has been opened by the information
Bureau for me and if it goes through I am going to be busier than ever. But I
am not going to send any more mail to people who either do not get it, or do
not occasionally acknowledge it. My functional growth at this writing is beyond
my most optimistic hopes.
Some of it is like luck. Dr. Hasan Bagdadi, Minister of Agricultural Reform,
long studied on California Campuses. Our interview was interesting and
fruitful, but he knew nothing about the efforts to extract fresh water from the
ocean—and this has opened another door for me.
Next I’ll answer you letter, after taking a pause, but no Coca Cola. The
pause broke. They did not put on the news which may still be coming but did
play the Fandango and out came my castanets and after that I resumed.
This pension is to the rear of Semiramis which touches it on two sides.
Shepherd’s is across the street from Semiramis. Nile-Hilton is across the
square, all facing the river. I have not gone to Shepherd’s at night chiefly
because there has been nobody to go with. The older people are mostly tourists
here and the younger ones either teachers or students and they do not have the
same free time. I may, however, stick my nose in Shepherd’s some night. One
of my Muslim friends has offered to make me to belly dancing but it is not easy
to get together.
Your report on finger cymbals explains my slowness in purchasing anything
here. I shall try to get everything put in a few packages and have them
properly insured. I am also restraining purchases until I get the best advice
from the best persons and I have not been able to visit all the best
I am glad to have the Skelton report. I have told people that if you could
not speak their language, at least learn to laugh and to learn the local
methods of greeting. Now time out. The news broadcast has moved up 15
The big news here is the anniversary of the Suez Episode a few years back.
It may be incomprehensible here, but I was in “Pukhtunistan” at that time
and you got as much news as they publish here about the doings at the South
Pole. There were a lot of emotions, and a lot of noise and a Prime Minister who
was neutral and on both sides almost at the same time—in Pakistan. He is gone
now, but what a comic operation he put on! Prime Minister Nasser was bold
enough to call him to his face when other Nations would not.
Being a Pukhtu, even in jest, has its moments. I should have been at Cairo
U. today but they asked me if I would delay to make room for King Zahir Shah of
Afghanistan. Boy, did I step aside gracefully but not for the reasons they may
suppose. Now Prime Minister Ayub Khan is coming and this keeps the Puck things
going at rapid pace!
There is not much news about the Powers’ case. I think there is a feeling
here about what I call “Tilsit”—the possibilities of the Great Powers
suddenly making some agreement. Didn’t Nixon go to Russia after all?
Everybody is against “imperialism.” It is just like “sin.” What does it
Next, Magaña. I have written her twice, may be three times. I have
complained what I don’t think mail goes through. This is very awkward because
I am trying to arrange for saris to be sent to here from India. Yes, I recall.
First I sent her a Nefertiti poet card. Then I wrote twice, at least about the
saris and the coming of the Indian Ambassador. I have had nothing but good
fortunate in regard Indian matters. I may go to the Vonsulate after this is
completed, and leave a note there. After the first I should get a report on my
last Indian epochs and then take one of them to the Cultural Mission of U.S.A.
It is one which, despit its title, “The Rejected Avatar” is really
dedicated to Magaña and I left a copy with her permitting her to use is to
create a dance.
Incidentally I am reading a book on Stravinsky and I may enclose Puck on
that subject. This because of Stravinsky’s close connection with the ballet.
This letter, of course, maybe shown to Ruth Doyle and anybody.
Poor Larry, he is always in again, out again. Which brings me to the subject
of the day, yesterday. Praise Allah from whom all blessings flow and for his
Grace, by which I mean Grace Perryman Nicholes. Think about “The Bold
Merchant” and the dances which use such patterns. Did I do creeping and
crawling and did I love it. And did I out-distance guides and the sweet young
things who ought to have verve and nerve, and did, but could not stoop to
conquer even when it spent bumping the cranium otherwise. Come out, get off
Well, breath, well! I took day off yesterday. I got the bus at the corner,
no. 8 and it ends in front of two huge pseudo-mountains of well-known
geometrical shapes and proportions which the books say are at Giza but which
are at Mina which are beyond. I have a special permit from the U.A.R.
government and looked around. I did not climb, but am making arrangements with
some of the young people here to go together.
I was more interested in the Sphinx; also saw where they cut out the boat
which is now in a museum. Excavations are still going on. My friend, Marjory
Hansen, who is now back in Berkeley, came here with the idea that there are
many buildings still to be excavated. I did not see any sign to the contrary.
Nowhere have they reached “rock bottom” here.
We then took a taxi to Memphis and saw Ramesis the Twict and I bought
postcards. Then to Sakkara. That was a revelation. My experiences at Lahore and
reading Creswell makes me anti-authoritarian. Books used to say that the big
pyramid at Giza was the only one with rooms inside. Well I was in one at
Sakkara and I am told there is another one. This one had beautiful art
inscriptions and hieroglyphics in it. The details were so entrancing the guide
had to yell “come on” and the next result is that I want to visit the place
again with my young Hungarian friend. I saw all kinds of pyramids, could not
count. I understand now that 53 have been discovered. And there are lots of
things yet in ᾀ?them thar hills,” King Tut or no King Tut.
The only painting was in black and red. The carvings come in between
sculpting and painting. I am still too astonished and also too interested in
other matters to write much. But I enjoyed crawling around and like Sakkara.
In the p.m. went inside the Big Top, and crawled and crawled. And my
braggard guide got tired and all the young people got tired, but Ze Bold
Merchant, She no get tired. Ze legs—praise Allah and His Grace and Gracies,
and you can tell her. So I saw the King’s chamber and the Queen’s Den, all
with Neon light and a lot of vent shafts open. The guide, incidentally, knew
Paul Brunton and Marjory and $peak$ a lot of languages—dohlar, franc,
skillings, piasters and wampum.
There are Yugo-Slav movies coming but I am glad I did not bring my
record-player here. It would not have been easy to start anything, especially
while I am so busy in other things.
I sometimes wonder what I shall do when I return. If I live in Southern Cal.
I shall probably be on the land but if around S.F. noisying around campuses
unless a job lands me. I am not seeking one but what with the conferences so
far and the letters I am writing anything happen.
Don Smith of the U.S.I.A came from Karachi and knew all about my work in
Pakistan. He is all planned and ready to give me all the introductions
necessary including the Fullbright people. If I can keep a steady head,
progress is sure. I am hitting so many bull’s eyes, I almost feel that the
targets are airing for me—mostly technical stuff, beyond the call of duty. So
I have no room for nostalgia and am not happy about it either. But after every
single dream has been smashed in S.F. by all kinds of people at all connected
with each other and everyone is accepted here, it is hard to get to an
I thoroughly enjoyed your letter. I am not always feeling too well
physically—this because the warm water and my activity do not harmonize well.
But usually my emotions and nearly always my mind is in fine fettle. I have a
bunch of names here, being called Ahmed Murad, Mr. Ahmad, Mr. Murad, Mr.
Samuel, Dr. Lewis, etc. etc. And then I made a bright Puckish discovery: Murad
is an anagram of U.R. Mad—isn’t it wonderful!
Cairo, October 1960
Lives of Great Men by P. Puck
Stravinsky, the Eager
Puck is one of the most sincere, objective, honesty, fair-minded, just and
liberal men in the world, who does not accept infallibility of Popes. Newspaper
editors, commentators or beatniks, and anything Igor the Eager says about music
is absolutely true. Period. Supreme Court Decision.
With this noble outlook in view, it is almost with humble head that one
pounds the typewriter. Shaw had his Wagner—oh, boy, did he have him. Brooks
his conductors and the New York Times, but I was born in California, to which
Igor the Eager with a banjo on his knees, also a cymbalom, a balalaika, and a
host of percussion instruments.
Igor the Eager has not yes, so far as I know, added the Atomic computer to
the Orchestra. But the Atomic computer may be needed to analyze some of his
works. Anyhow I did not come to bury Caesar, but toe praise him.
Every man has his gods. When Puck was young he did not like art, pointing,
the stage, dancing and was sincere, objective, honest, fair-minded just and
liberal and did not accept infallibility and anything that a guy named Bakst
did was absolutely true, beautiful, soul stirring. What made Puck pray before
the name of Bakst is very clear—to elves, leprechauns, and logical
positivists, but to nobody else, not even Puck.
Then Puck had to go to Sunday school. There is no God but the Boig and Peter
Ill-y-itch is his prophet. This made Puck a Protestant and he began to flirt
with the Five Pillars of Russian Wisdom, which is to say music. And these
Pillars led to the temple of Igor the Eager where Puck now says: “There is no
God but la-la-la and Igor is his prophet.”
Of course Puck had to go through hell first but when he had to listen to
Madame Butterfly and The Girl of the Golden West and Turandot, all cribbed from
La Bohème, that was enough. He threw out the whole bunch of Italians and
Germans, simply by labeling them “fascists”—the easiest way and found the
true God, who never praises himself.
Puck watches all the music news. He labels them, studies them, comes to
irrevocable conclusions, which are generally in harmony with Igor the Eager,
but when he is wrong he admits it freely and absolutely. (Being “wrong”
means differing from Igor the Eager.) It is not done. Period. End of
It is understandable why they don’t play “The Rites of Spring” in
Russia. To begin with Igor is Polish, Not Russian. This is not known because
the Igorins were closely tied up with the Rimsky-Korsakovs, etc. In the next
place Igor preferred trees to factories, rivers to sewers, clouds to slum-dust
and that is unforgiveable, praise to Allah.
Later. This is a sort of unfinished symphony. Now you can turn the page,
In retrospect, which means, you read also on the back side. I read
“Time” and the N.Y. papers occasionally and the candidates are supposed to
be running neck and neck, with Jack the Ripper slightly in the lead at the
moment, and Dickie the Lamb Hearted trying to become a tame wolf. Most of the
Americans abroad are voting.
One hears that there is a recession and the dollar is going to be devaluated
and a lot of other things. The papers here are clamoring at King Hussein. It
will be easier for everybody if there were no Jordan, a purely artificial
country. At times I sound like a Pan-Arab and on the whole I support this point
of view. There is far less difference between the Zab and Tripoli than between
Kashmir and Bombay, and from there south in India, much greater difference
still but we recognize one Nation. What is a Nation? Maybe a notion.
I just read the latest Tourist Magazine here. To an outsider it looks
exaggerated, but I don’t think so. I think a lot of people here are
bewildered at the rate of progress, but it is very real and very
October 31, 1960
It is incident like the one presented on reverse which keeps me from getting
nostalgia. Indeed the way things are going even my rejected plan for Palestine
may be revived. This had a tragic history. It had been accepted by British,
Jews and Arabs, then my principal died and my only confidante betrayed the
whole scheme and attacked me personally; and being a V.I.P. there was nothing I
could do. Israel was formed and a thorn was put in the flesh of the Arabs. It
was funny but at that time I met some of the most ardent Zionists and beat them
in debate—that is, they conceded that I had some unanswerable questions that
they had not thought out. Too bad that the Arabs had not thought up such
Today I had my seat changed at table and there was no czardas to it. I sit
at one end of the table, the seat opposite me is vacant, and the next two seats
are occupied only at lunch time by two young people who come to lunch to
discuss their private affairs and nothing else.
At the other end of the table is Jesse, a Hungarian refugee. We get along
fine. Next to him is Theodore with whom I also get along fine. Jesse is here to
study Arabic. Theodore already speaks and reads Arabic and is here to study
Near East Culture. He is a Czech. What a combination.
Theodore is a sort of protégé. He came here and I gave him some advice,
which proved to be sound though I did not know it at the time. He has changed
his plans and rather looks up to me. He is also a great lover of poetry. One
night they asked me to sit next to them and we discussed heal-clicking, how,
and why and what. (You know I am a big heel, but that is between us.) Anyhow it
reminds me of a story called “Sanctus Spirit & Co.” by a man named
Steiner which I urge you to read. We get along fine together and so I got my
seat finally changed. The fourth seat has been occupied either by Mr. Saliba
referred to on the opposite page, or by an American tourist on the way to
This afternoon I took my walk to Ormond Gardens, a big botanical park. I had
been there once as a guest of the Floriculturist of Cairo U. but was rather
dazed by so many plants. So I sectioned it off and began systematic
observation, which will be reported to my friend Harry Nelson and my former
If I can meet François Saliba I may also consult him about folk-dancing.
And this reminds me of my earlier diaries—I had forgotten all about them. I
used to called them, “The Diary of Peppery Samuel.”
[included in letter above]
October 31, 1960
American Cultural Mission,
My dear Claude:
The following incident happened here today which may interest you.
One François Saliba of Voice of America has been visiting this pension. He
comes from Beirut where he is permanently stations at the Embassy. He is of
mixed Greek and Lebanese extraction and knows a good deal about the Near
At the present time he is also engaged in a Khalil Gibran project, but over
the air. I told him about what you are doing but he had to leave today and so
it has been impossible for him to visit you hear. But it may be that you two
should contact each other. In any event there is a grand Gibran revival going
on and he came to collect materials to enlarge his program using both
contemporary Arab and Near East poets, to prove that we Americans are very
receptive to local culture.
I then told him of my “Cedars of Lebanon” plan. Ohio State University
has discovered a new method for rooting cutting of conifers. The idea was to
get some cuttings of Cedars beginning with their use for experimental purpose
and then plant one with some ceremony at Lebanon, Ohio. The idea caught on
there and also at the Lebanese Consulate in New York. But I spoke about it in
New England they suggested also Lebanon, New Hampshire.
Mr. Saliba went further and thought this would be a grand gesture for all
the towns named “Lebanon” in the U.S. They would then cement friendship
with Lebanon and this could be integrated into my “Friends of the World
Project” and the “League of Cities” which has its head-quarters in New
York and which has also gone on favor therefore.
I am going to try to book space for Damascus about November 15 and then
would visit Beirut therefrom.
Samuel L. Lewis
Nov. 19, 1960
Your undated letter in response to mine took 2 nights to decipher because
there was no ink on the ribbon. So-o-o just as I get ready to suggest a new
one, here comes your Oct. 22d letter with fresh ribbon very apparent! But I
still have a beef. The return address on the envelope is never legible, as Post
Office cancellation stamps obliterate it. So kindly give complete address at
beginning of letter inside. Thank you, the lecture is over.
Very glad to get so many details and actual answers to my questions. By now
you have heard from your agent Rudy Olson that I phoned him your plea the
morning after I received your letter of Oct. 28th. He stated that he had
received a letter from you by the same mail as mine and had already wired his
New York connection to get space for you. He was awaiting that answer before
writing you airmail. I repeated your message about the financial importance,
but he thought the greater urgency stemmed from the fact that your visitor’s
vise was expiring early in December. I gasped that you had not mentioned that,
to which he answered that you were handling, not he. Did you get an extension?
I donᾀ?t see how you accomplish all the missions you listed without staying
considerably longer? I think it is fine that you have so much to offer along
the agricultural line (which you had not discussed much with me), as well as
bring back for us more facts about the cultural and religious life where ever
you go. Did you know that the American Friends are no longer at the cute little
house on Sutter St.? When they moved out the Jap. YWCA took over with amazing
list of activities. I have been chinning with the Secretary of the YMC in
Buchanan St. He tells me that the architects for the new Jap. Trade Center have
taken space in his lobby, which is a sign that work will actually begin in
I can’t contribute any info about Ruth Prager.
The new S.F.P. Lib. chief replacing Larry Clark is 43-year-old Wm. R.
Holmes, of San Antonio, Tex. He advocates a thorogh architectural survey of the
43-yr-old library. “The entrance now gives you the impression of a heavy,
depressing cloud.” He thinks he has a new idea for interior, departmental
organization that we had in Seattle in the 1920’s.
The Steinhart Aquarium is undergoing a much needed overhauling that will
necessitate its being closed for 9 mos. Before Feb. 1962, when it will reopen
in new glory, the most modern aquarium in all of the U.S. New methods of
display will include “disappearing tank walls, set at a 45-degree angles,
making them virtually invisible to the viewer. The tank walls will be black and
unlighted. The viewer will have the illusion of having donned diving gear and
is gazing at the fish from underwater.”
San Francisco is fairly crawling with movie companies on location. S.F.
stands a good chance of being the most photographed city in the world if things
keep up the way they’re going now. Our salubrious climate has been agreeing
with Fred Astaire, Debbie Reynolds and Charles Ruggles. Warner Bros. top brass
will be swarming over the Amer. President Lines Pier 50—Brian Ahern, Dorothy
McGuire, Lloyd Nolan—everybody is swooning! While in N.Y.C. the Henry Miller
Theatre is about to open a new comedy about life and love atop our Telegraph
Hill. The female lead is played by a S.F. gal, Sandra Church.
The doctors, lawyers, merchants and housewives who have been building the
Buddha’s Universal Church at Washington and Kearny for 8 yrs. are one big
step nearer dedication day. A painting of Buddha, a gift of the people of
Formosa, will be unveiled.
“Mrs. Masudah Bano Jawad of Pakistan, club lecturer and leader from
Karachi is visiting here on a State Dept. sponsored tour. She is convinced that
not enough information on history, culture and art is being made available
between East and West. During her 3 month visit in the U.S. she has encountered
an enthusiastic interest in Asia, an awareness in people, trying to know people
of other lands. She will return to the Central Government College in Pakistan,
where she is a senior lecturer in the Persian language.
Cyclones and tidal waves were survived by a colony of Amer. & Bay Area
engineers in the Chittagong region of E. Pakistan
The Doug. I mentioned recently is getting worse with a fast growing tumor,
so I am still busy doing things for him, getting sick with sympathy.
Hence it is now Nov. 21st getting this letter finished at 2 A.M.
November 28, 1960
My dear Leonora:
Ye above is dated and ye ribbon is comparatively new but I do have some
trouble with ‘em, and never know exactly how to replace them. You see I have
found, with an all- black ribbon, and the two changes, only half the ribbon is
used; then when I reverse to use the other half, sometimes I am successful and
sometimes I am not and I have not solved ye mystery. But I did find, to my
surprise, I had more ribbons available than I had counted on. On the other
hand, although English is a good bakshish language when I have gone into
typewriter stores so far, ici on ne parler. So I am betwixt hunting for English
speaking shops or trying to hold out until I get to Pak. But Pak. is even
further away so I guess I’ll keep trying.
I am wondering whether I shall mail this letter, too, or wait a few days. I
have been took. I mean, my picture, she are took. I was seen walking along
minding my own business (when I should not have been) in the Thebes which is
full of old ruins and monuments and what not. It was also filled with
Californians while I was there. In fact I was surrounded by a host of wild
Indians while going through the ruins at Karnack—Stanford Indians, everyone
of them, and me a loan Oski-bear-wee. I told them the score and they apologized
and one of my mother’s best friends was among them. All from California down
Anyhow a camera man used snap-judgment which maybe all right for him and
“post card only 10 piasters.” So my vanity got the better of my frugality
and I am having reprints made of footprints.
Please tell Audley you are superior. The other night when I was writing to
her suddenly a folk-dance program came on, in the middle of the letter. But
tonight I broke in on grand opera. I think it is Rossini but am trying to
concentrate a little on the writing before I retire and read and listen. So you
I think I wrote about the reception for the Indian Ambassador. He and I are
rather thick. Same as all other receptions. A flock of other Ambassadors with
wives and mistresses and their retinue of assistants and attachés with their
femmes, rush in, and divide into the gin, rum-whiskey and beer set and do not
meet any more. The Muslims invariably give better drinks than the Christians
because it is verboten and there is nothing like a good verboten cocktail. Then
there is one lone man in the corner. His compatriots are afraid to address him
because he is too mighty and the other people don’t know him. Usually I go up
and speak and that is how I meet Ambassadors and Prime Ministers. This time the
Ambassador knew me and his jaw dropped. But I had to speak to him several times
to drive the loneliness away. I was introduced by the host as an American
Dervish and soon all the nearly beautiful Hindu and Javanese women surrounded
me, in their wonderful costumes. No European women came near, so I can thank
God for blessings. Anyhow I have a nice invite for the Indonesian Amby. And as
the Afro-Asian bloc meets here soon I hope to get ready, pronto.
At Luxor I was greeted by the dervishes all over the place as a brother,
and, I want to go back. I also visited the library of the American Oriental
Institute connected with Chicago U. and that is another place to visit. They
have stacks of books I should like to read, or rather copy certain things in
I sweated for days for mail and what a flock, today. Anyhow I have sent for
money and I have enough. Also I have paid for my ticket to Karachi, but date
I shall be very interested in the Japanese Trade Center. I have gotten Soy
Bean and Garlic seeds from that country for tests here.
Yes, S.F. Library needs a change. I was in L.A. when they changed the
Later. I here decided to mail this and take the consequences and include
“Pukhtunistan Times” which is an excuse for not writing more and which
gives the news better than I can express it, maybe.
Love, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Fond Greetings and please have some
good news or yourself.
Feb. 1, 1961
Thanks for the photo of you. Quite a surprise to have it delivered at
Carrousel. Received your account of where it was taken much later. May I give
you a tip—don’t waste e picture, letter or any kindness on Harlan Beard, as
he is no friend of yours.
I appear to be hearing from you often, but contents of letters turn out to
be carbons of your Puckish compositions. These are arousing but not a good
substitute for answering questions about your whereabouts: at the time of the
Ruben communication, you were in a rush to get out of the country, so that I
did not know where to write you “Best wishes for a weird and different
Christmas.” A carbon from Claude-letter had you trying to book for Damascus
and Beirut. Your latest letter, Nov. 28th which took until January to reach me,
has ticket for Karachi but no date set.
Ye gods, where can you be now, going-on-3-months later? No new address has
come through. Your paragraph about Ambassadorial receptions is a Gem! But why
Karachi, with no stopover in your beloved Pakistan? Or is my geography not
keeping in progress?
It is taking me ages to write this, as I keep rereading your communications.
I seem to get more out of the Puckisms on a second reading; most of all I
enjoy descriptions of your “tourism” when I have covered or visited the
same territory. I even slept on the desert within a short distance from the
Sphinx. I, too, marveled over the inscriptions. One amazement you did not
mention was the great number of stone carved “caskets” for bulls! I
surely hope you did not have the trouble with sand fleas that I did—this a
propos your closing paragraph of not feeling too well. Fleas poisoned me.
I do want to hear where you were and what you did on Xmas and New. Years.
My Xmas was ruined by the death of Doug, my closest friend for 20 yrs. But
for hew Year’s Max (he took up folk dancing just to be near me) drove us on a
bitterly cold night (very foggy return at 2 a.m.) to San Rafael. The Marin
Dance Council, Inc. put on a wonderful Karlstad Ball. To my surprise everyone,
but everyone, was attired in his or her most lavish costume. In S.F.
announcements will request “please wear a costume” and be quite ignored.
Over there, nothing is said and presto out came the costumes, even on S.F.
visitors: decorations were simple but effective. No exhibition dances, but
constant dancing of advanced works. Some midnight balloon busting, then
elaborate refreshments, followed by more dancing. I thought of you so often, it
seemed so queer not to have you there. Grace, hick, Ralph and his newly
pregnant Korma, Jim Knudsen, not a costume among them, were only persons I knew
We also attended a party Gary K. staged at the Jewish Center. The dancing
was the worst I have ever seen, even for beginners.
Changes locally: Portsmouth square all torn up for building of 3-story
underground garage (Stevenson monument & plaques stored in G.G. Park), sod
& trek removed, not stored. Completion not until 1962. Sinaloa was
terrifically damage by fire & water, especially the floor housing
entertainers plus storage for costumes. Sigmund Stern Grove’s historic
Trocadero Inn was severely imaged by fire. Once a notorious roadhouse, it is
now “used” as a meeting house for cultural organizations.”S.F. State
College is going to establish an overseas campus for summer
archeological-anthropological studies. President Kennedy appointed a Marin
woman as Treasurer of the U.S. She is Mrs. Elizabeth (Libby) Smith, residing at
21 Ranchers Rd. Kentfield. Did you know her? At that address, she ought to be a
Mayor Christopher had his picture taken showing S.F. sights to 2 young
people from India. This was to illustrate a most informative article about our
International Hospitality Center of the Bay Area, whose slogan is “They are
neighbors, make them friends.” The 8-year-old Center has 700 volunteer
members, mostly business and professional people. They effectively interpret
the U.S. to visitors. The latter are not tourists, but are professional or
political leaders or exchange students. An average of 3,000 foreign visitors a
year come to the Center, referred by government and private agencies, members
of the S.F. Consular Corps, and universities. I hope you let people learn of
this cultural activity in S.F.
Lotsa thoughts from
February 11, 1961
My dear Leonora:
You will excuse me if I answer this by sea-mail. My postage is costing me $2
a day. I shall soon have a reprieve because I leave Cairo on the 16th and will
sail a few days after that from Port Said, with a possible stop at Aden. This
give me a chance to see some of the Red Sea (I hope). But the moon will be new
so will not shine late at night.
I’ll start with the negative news and then give you the history of my
life—and free, too. I sent a picture to Harlan because I am not dip in
deeplomacy. I do things to lead, mislead or what have you. He once tried to
promote international good-will and did not succeed. Inasmuch as I am, I stick
to the idea of international good-will. What do you suppose and whom do you
suppose kept me out of certain circles and led me to want to stick to
Madelynne? I’ll let him or anybody else be as small as he or they wish and I
am going to try to be as big as I can.
I came here for two months and five have past. Circumstances beyond my
control, including my own plans, became so big that I had to hang on to them or
else. I have not seen President Nasser, I did not get Cedars of Lebanon and I
did not see everything or everybody I wished to see, but!
I had a letter from Audley the other day but what I wrote her was half
Costumes. I have sent some shoes to Peggy and one robe to Magaña Baptists.
I may try and get one Arab garment for myself, but if we stop at Aden I’ll
look into the subject again. It depends even more on my space in the luggage
than on money. I have given away one pair of trousers, one pair of shoes—no,
two pair, and sundries. But I have not given away too much literature and have
collected some so when I pack I do not know how much better off I shall be.
Gifts. This is very complicated because shipping is not easy and I have paid
for some things and find two weeks later they are still here. I have a few
small items with me but some of these are fore Pakistan. I met one Claude
Dahlenberg of 2273 California St., wandering around Cairo and I wanted him to
take some things back for me, but momentarily he too, is overloaded. And I
don’t expect to be back until well into 1962.
Art. I have been purchasing slides, pictures, gifts for both Pakistan and
California. This has proven to be very complicated from every point of view.
However I am planning to give some lectures, here and there.
U.A.R. Ministry of Agriculture. I have said good-bye to them and had a long
session at the Vegetable Experimental Station across the way. Now it is going
to take some time to write all my notes.
National Research Centre. This was even a longer good-bye because I had to
call on one leading Chemist, several Physicists, several Biologists and the two
top men in the documentary section. Boy, wouldn’t you fit in there. The girls
know how to catalogue but nobody knows how to look up materials like I do so I
have proposed a lecture or two when I return; and the actual digging up stuff
for the actual scientists of this region. It is approved.
Not so pleasant is the counter-activity. We have, of course, loads of lurid
magazines on the market. We also have several organizations collecting
magazines to “purify” the atmosphere. Well, those magazines are not here
nor have I seen them anywhere and they are probably cast-offs. Then we have
others who just collect funds. It is a great game. You get income tax exemption
for the contributors and “So long, it’s nice to have known you.” And here
they are begging for stuff. So I have some campaigns before me and I am just
the boy to do it.
And if any small boys named Harlan or anybody get in my way, look out. I am
not the same creature as left S.F. I stick my head into places and instead of
it getting knocked off, the crowd follows and I am more popular than ever. And
still I have no formula.
The Friends of the World. This is the Japanese organization that hopes to
build up international good-will through seed-exchange and city-alliances. I
have given them four memberships—two Universities, the Ministry and the Soy
Bean Exchange. Those people are now behind me and for me. I hope to continue
both Soy Bean and Tomato research and exchange and even work with them in some
places. This has been highly commended. From the first the Agricultural Experts
have been with and for me. I have had the most friendly farewells at the
Japanese Embassy and the Agricultural Section of our Embassy.
Foreign Service! Here we go, and keep out of my way small boys and Harlan. I
was requested to submit in full documentary report of my past as well as my
present experiences, contacts, suggestions and everything. The State Department
has some new policies. They are to listen to American “bums” who travel
abroad. No more “Marco Polo” complex wherein the big man who was not there
knew far more than the little man who was. I have been ramming the Laotian
situation down everybody’s throats: “What can you expect when an American
citizen goes abroad, lives in a country, finds out what is going on and then is
branded as a trouble maker!” I think this has been found out. Now even the
smallest secretary may drop things into the suggestion box without being called
on to the carpet.
Anyhow as soon as I had done that I met surprisingly the husband of the
woman who was responsible for my downfall a number of years ago—a woman who
betrayed all my international plans, blocked all the doors, crossed the
continent to attack me publicly and had me thrown out of my home—an easy
matter then for I had no money and few friends.
Last week I learned that practically all my experiences were accepted as
valid and my major suggestions accepted which may become very important. If
they ever work into becoming the law of nations I shall let you know. I was
strongly cross-questioned on communism and they had to take my answers and I
promised I would be even more observant next. For the communist method is very
simple—they open up bookshops and sell lurid American literature which they
buy back and re-sell at half-price and buy back and sell until the magazines
are worn or there can be no smaller financial transaction. The reader
invariably becomes anti-American, regarding us as a nation of sex perverts,
promiscuous nymphos and satyrs and gun-crazy. What is to prove otherwise?
Certainly not the movies.
The State Department has now moved from realism (?) to reality-ism, praise
to Allah. The press not yet, commanded as it is by the half-gods and
encyclopedic advisers. I also told them that Stevenson was the most popular man
in Asia. This did not sit too well with the Stevenson people who wanted him for
President and the anti-Stevenson people who did not want him at all. “Vas you
dere, Sharlie?” No, they were not and even this went through—they have to
accept the fact anyhow.
Anyhow the whole Embassy is with no and I have final are-wells coming up and
introductions for Pakistan.
Personality Achievement. Well I have met thousands of people. I do the
craziest things or else they happen to me. The partings are the most
warm-hearted in my life and by far the most numerous. I took Claude into
strange alleys and bazaars the other day and he got an eyeful. I would like to
have had Harlan along. People rushing up to shake hands and even kissing my
thumb (this is the signal of one school of Dervishes). I have been saying
good-bye to as many people as possible, and not always in the most modest way.
You know me, Al. No comment necessary. Excepting time out for lunch then will
Adventures. I have not climbed the Pyramids at night. The evening when I
went the moon was covered with clouds. However I met a Dervish Sheikh and rode
around them. A couple of days later we went out into the desert. So a dream
came true. Years ago I took up horseback riding because I said some day I shall
be in Arabia and have to ride to the desert. Well, this is also Arabia now and
I have ridden and you can pin a medal on me for that.
Also I climbed to the top of the minaret of Sultan Barquq’s tomb. I am 64,
my guide 28. He could not follow me; both his legs and lungs gave way. I got to
the top and Dennis the Menace urged me to call “Allaho Akbar” but I did not
want to start World War III; enough want to do that anyhow.
Californians Here. The most important is Paul Keim. He is in charge of a
38,000 acre project near Alexandria, reclaimed lands where peasants get home
with running water, barn, animals, tools and plots of land. Everything for
nothing—the catch is that they have to work. In China they have to work and
don’t get anything in return. That’s the way the world is.
I think I told you there are lots of Berkeleyites here and I have to say
good-bye yet to El-Shems and Cairo universities.
Other Thing of Unimportance. Tomorrow I am to get my Yellow Fever Shot and
may try to say good-bye to the Indian and Indonesian Embassies. I have not
called at the Saudian because it is in a district I seldom visit.
Plans for Future. I expect to come back some day and work at the National
Research Center, in part as I think I told you above.
I have been writing heavily about Prof. Von Plotz, a compilation of European
professors of Orientalists who would not even give me interviews. I have in
turn strongly advocated getting rid of them. They are not wanted by Asians. Why
we do this it is hard to fathom.
Pakistan. I expect to arrive March 3 or before and want to go into the Sind
before it gets too hot, both on account of the soil problems and dervishes
these. But I have business in Karachi. Some friends have just moved to Multan
and want me to stay there and, of course, I have plenty of things to do at
Pukhtunistan Here I Come! My home is in Abbottabad, not too far from Kashmir
and from Swat on the other side. I was invited to Swat before and am again.
Also to a place called Mardan, and, of course Peshawar. I want to ride through
the Khyber Pass and so to Kabul. Whether I process further depends on unknown
factors. Besides I do not know where or when I shall have lecture dates. Anyhow
my mind has been pretty active.
San Francisco: All those changes make me wonder, but then I don’t know
where I am going to stay or what I am going to do on return. Three
possibilities are before me and I was told by a clairvoyant that all three
would be accomplished.
Pretty Girls: I met some in the National Research Center and at the American
Library. But the prettiest was at the Tourist Bureau in Alexandria. Boy what a
bunch of men kept coming in all day—and they were not interested in tourism.
That made it possible for me to meet a lot of persons without getting off my
chair. Most of my time in Alex. was spent socially but it included a visit to
the studio of an excellent artist named Wanli, who paints now in the
contemporary styles. They say he has won many awards.
Getting back to the girls. Nadya was the beautiful one, but when I arrived
next morning her cousin was there and she had more intelligence. Not a bad
moment with either. But they don’t dance! … yet.
Dancing. Folk- and square-dancing are taught on a modest scale by Katie, the
bee-oo-tiful secretary of Paul Keim above. But she leaves in June and then what
will happen to those feet?
I am buying some finger-cymbals here to accompany me.
When I do get home I get I’ll go back to the beginners. If I am free and
single I’ll go after the richest I can find, but otherwise no plans. Maybe
I’ll learn the dances of Pukhtunistan—where they use 8 yards of material
National Inhospitality Centre. Oh, excuse me, I guess I am getting tired. I
get more invitations to people’s homes. Being an American dervish opens a lot
of doors for me, all over, all the time. Maybe I have been in the wrong
Shed-Jewel. English pronunciation. I am supposed to reach Karachi March 1-3
and including Sind hope to leave the 15th, address
c/o American Consulate, U.S.A.
Then I do not know how long I shall stay at Multan or Lahore, but I’ll
have all the extra luggage to pack around until I reach Abbottabad, and
that’s a nuisance even with a companion. So after March 15 I am giving as my
c/o Abdul Rahman
K-182 Old Kunj St.,
Abbottabad, Hazara Dist. West Pakistan
Pukhtunistan here we come.
Out of thoughts and ideas, but not out of love,
My dear Leonora:
I am in the city of Rawalpindi which is going to become famous again because
the capitol of Pakistan is going to be located in Islamabad which is near here.
So a lot of government offices are here—if you can find them. It is a big
city without an English newspaper and I have not found any newsvendors of any
kind anyhow. I am enclosing copy of a letter written to the librarian of the
World Affairs Council. We used to bathe in the same acid or put vinegar in our
soup so you can understand the letter, I hope.
I feel like a man who is going around challenging theologians. As long as
they are theologians I challenge them. Or rather I insult them and they
challenge me and I have choice of the weapon—which is darts. So when they aim
their dart at me I dart behind them and say that it is fair because I said
“darts” and nothing about dart-throwing.
This, of course, is against protocol which is never to discuss religion with
natives and I find that the more you discuss religion with natives the more
popular you are. It does not matter which side of which religion you take
because they admire you for accepting them as equals and so I have not lost any
friends and I have won a lot of arguments.
Today the doctor wanted to discuss Islam with me. In U.A.R. I was for Islam
against the Christians and here I told the doctor that Islam would never win in
the U.S, on account of the birkas. Frankly I don’t care if the women go
around clothed, or unclothed or wear Punjabi pajamas or Indian saris or western
dress, But I said that Islam enslaved women because they put them in birkas.
And he said they did not but he gave the show away by his defending birkas for
his wife—not for his daughter, of course, Everybody wants his wife to wear a
birka and his daughter not to and boy, does this give me fun. By the time I was
through he wanted to attack the United States and I said that we were not
trying to convert him, why should he try to convert us? But then, that was a
poor argument. Look at all the laundry business you would get if we put our
women in birkas!
I had to go to the Police Station. This is done for several reasons, the
first being it does not make sense and when abroad this is always the first
reason for anything. Then I like the desk-cops and they have a good time
telling me that I have done wrong. Of course I could not get an exist permit
from Lahore because there was a three-day holiday and it would not been
unpatriotic if not traitorous to compel a policeman or anybody to work. At the
same time my train ticket said I had to get out and I did, and I did wrong by
getting out without the police permit, but I could not get any other train
because the reservation insisted on my leaving. Pardon me if this makes sense.
So I am in ‘pindi and I wrote a note saying that somebody was wrong and
anyhow I was in Rawalpindi and wanted to get to Abbottabad where I am supposed
to be anyhow, I don’t know what this proves.
I have to buy another ticket and want to go to the bank in the morning to
get some money. I don’t know exactly what form because my friends in ‘pindi
owe me money. I bought cameras and in each case got a big reduction because I
impressed the gullible Egyptians and Arabs that I was some kind of holy man so
they gave me huge discounts. I guess the discounts prove I am a holy man. And I
have to try to figure out how to translate Egyptian pounds and South African
shillings into Pakistani rupees.
When I get to Abbottabad I expect a flock of mail and also same appointments
and your guess is as good as any.
I think I have spilled enough beans in the other letter not to add to your
misery. Yes, I need a new typewriter ribbon and soon will change this one and
pray for another one after that. But I want to go over all my luggage and mail
I spoke to a small audience yesterday and got a big dinner. I like the
audiences and would like the dinners but to please me they go out and buy
European pastries which look nice and please the children present. Then I go
and please them more by eating the not spiced foods instead so everybody is
happy and my stomach is saved. I have a few “spiritual brothers” which
means international tromps like myself. They have good heads (always) and good
hearts (sometimes) but good stomachs—I ought to be expelled, I live,
allamdulillah. Anyhow the last I have heard is that they are all alive despite
When I get into the Pathan country I shall look up folk-dancing whatever
that means. I am going into lands of intrigue whose the Pakistanis insist that
the Kashmiris be allowed to vote and the Pathans not and the Afghans insist
that the Pathans be allowed to vote and the Kashmiris not and the Pathans and
Kashmiris don’t even know what a vote is. This proves something also but I
don’t know what.
It is spring time for Henry and everybody else. Maybe that accounts for my
moods. I have had two very big disappointments, if you want to call them that;
and four big successes, if you want to call them that. In any case the assets
are away over the liabilities and that will keep me busy.
I still don’t know Pakistani geography and the maps were incomplete for as
soon as I studied one map, my appointments in the cities thereof were cancelled
and appointments in other cities substituted so I am in for adventure. I once
promised Evelyn I would write her from the Hindu Kush Mountains and at the
moment the chances of reaching the Hindu Kush are great and of writing Evelyn
are small. Is an Afghan a dog? a rug? a person? or an accident?
This is written without any idea as to whether mail will be waiting for me
at my next stop.
[Ed—first 2 pages missing; March 1961
I have been planning to write articles on Tourism for the USA but here the
Tourist bureau insisted on it. They did that in Japan and took all my ideas and
they are already in practice. I even ran into a clairvoyant in Lahore who
called out my two names from a distance and said he knew I was coming and to
prove that he told me the story of my life for good old Rs. And I was glad to
give some to him.
Then it is Eid Festival. This is a good word for it is a half-way house
between Id and Eat. For at Eid you let down your inhibitions and fill your
stomach. The trouble is that Eid is chiefly for men. Women don’t count.
In Karachi I called at the Ismailia Headquarters. This is a very suspect
sect of Islam which believes in Aga Khan and the equality of women. Either of
these two would make them suspect and the combination more so. On top of that
their leaders must be educated and also shave and wash. This makes them still
more suspect. I insinuated that it would be a good idea to start a Mosque in
Hollywood where Aga Khan’s name would attract and I even hinted I would not
mind being on the receiving list and becoming suspect myself. And they rather
liked the idea so I shall report to them later, hypocrite.
At Lahore all the Muslim missionaries wanted to greet and feed me and now
they are. Well at Multan I went to the shrine of a saint, and Von Plotz not
being there, gave them a talk on Islamic philosophy—not the European
invention but the real thing. They were bowled over. Just before leaving I went
and had my picture with the guardian saint and expect to get it and have copies
made, but when you see us together you won’t know who is the real guardian
saint, or am I too immodest? Why not. This raised my standard in Lahore where
it is higher than anywhere else in the world anyhow.
At Lahore I met one Abdul Rahman Barker who also graduated from the
University of California and knows all about Urdu and Islam and Von Plotz and
we became so thick in five minutes that you could hardly separate us. We
thought the same, have the same friends and have been blacklisted by the same
schlemiels. He is a big shot here but not in Berkeley, oh no! You see in
Asiatics there is no right side of the railroad tracks, you mustn’t have been
born near any railroad tracks, but somewhere in Europe to get on the payroll.
Excepting at Harvard and Princeton and M.I.T. where you get educations, and
then, instead of being sent to Asia or teach Asiatics, you find yourself in a
top job in Washington at too good a salary to complain.
All the flowers were in bloom in Lahore, that is, everything excepting
Jonquils and Daffodils, but all the rest down to Cosmos and Dahlias and late
fall bloom, all at once and I never saw so much color in my life but no time to
see my friend, Dr. A.A. Shah the top banana in Gardens. Anyhow, I think I told
my story in the other letter going to the front office.
Rawalpindi is a sort of junction where you can get plane, train, or bus to
almost everywhere. In these parts the trains were arranged to connect military
camps and not towns so they take strange routes. The buses go the quickest way.
A foreigner is not supposed to use busses. He either takes a tonga or a taxi.
The taxis have two prices and the tongas three not counting bakshish, which is
already in their two prices before-hand. You are not supposed to walk and maps
are a rarity. If you can get a motor riksha you save time and money so you
don’t have them in ‘pindi yet.
I spoke yesterday on my experiences. If you don’t speak, you get tea and
sweets and if you do speak you get a dinner. I have concluded that Islam is a
good religion for the head and heart but an awful one for the stomach. Yes, I
got cramps last night but my heart is happy. You can understand that I often
change my religion at the insistence of my stomach. But what am I going to do
if I visit Indonesia which has Islam as the last of the religions, accepts all
of them as underpinnings and offers you rijsttafel?
This is not far from Taxila. The Lahore Ahmadiyyas teach that the Lost
Tribes of Israel became the Pathans. And when I was at Taxila, the center of
“Buddhist” learning, I ran into all kinds of synagogues and saw Aramaic
writing and even sent a coin to a friend to prove it. So when I was at Harvard,
I came upon an establishment for Semitic Archaeology and I asked them if they
were interested in investigating. The head is Dr. Cross who gave us the Dead
Sea Scrolls. At Harvard they are very funny, they said “Yes.” They said
“Yes to everything.” That reminds me of a poem:
Owed to Gromyko
Yeti, yeti, yeti, yeti, the Abominable Snow-man;
Nyeti! nyeti! nyeti! nyeti!! The abominable No! man.
But at Harvard they said “Yes” and sooner or later I shall go there to
lecture on many things which is verboten in California a/c the various
Professors Von Plotz who control the Near East Studies. Fortunately I have the
South East boys on my side. This also involves some pleasant stories about the
Jilani family which I won’t relate here but I was given a lift by a Jilani in
Lahore to find he was the brother of the Jilani I met in Cleveland and I have
met many people of this family upon which I shall have to discourse at length,
although it will upset every Prof. Von Plotz in the whole U.S. and I am not
But next I must write to the Tourist Bureau because they are offering
rebates to people from afar. And after all I have no foundation behind me.
In Lahore there are both the AFME and Asia Foundation. I am a little
unsettled lest there be competition. I know Americans say competition does not
hurt, but it does. I have found that this has resulted sometimes in removal of
certain American organizations and this has happened on a large scale in
Indonesia. We have remarked in the past about competition between our
missionaries but we do the same in other fields where there should be more
united fronts and less duplication of expenses.
Incidentally, in Lahore I found the Salvation Army, the Seventh Day
Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses, all seeing to it that too many people are
not converted to one of the others. What saves them is that the Muslims are
worse. They would prefer you remain a Christian than belong to the “wrong”
missionary group, and they have them. I won plaudits yesterday by saying that
God was more interested in the state of your heart than in the state of your
beard. So I am out with certain Muslims, and this is not nonsense! Some
Orthodox Muslims seem more anti-barber and anti-women than pro-God.
Ayub Khan has done wonders. The difference between UAR and here is that I
have seen the conditions here before and after cleaning. They are going in for
education and research at a great rate. The Russians are looking for oil and
the Americans are looking for trade and the Chinese are looking for trouble.
Fortunately they can’t climb the high mountains and are trying to snipe the
Hindus who are bad fighters but good snipers.
I have a report to the Intelligence. The library at the new hotel I stayed
at in Lahore was full of old books. One new one: Lenin on Marx. You might have
expected that. I read it. Boy, what they are doing in China exactly the
opposite. But we do not have the savvy to expose. Everybody sits back and gets
“shocked.” Lenin was against forcing people into communes, he wanted to
teach them the advantages of communes so that they could get rid of the
government. But imagining any commissars even dreaming of such a thing. Oh
Here going to American movies is quite the thing and you pay much less. I
would like to write more but only have one small envelop and I am hoping Minto
shows up so we can visit the Police and then the governmental offices.
I should have a pile of mail waiting for me at Abbottabad. Faithfully,
March 23, 1961
This here communication was supposed to be waiting for you in Karachi with a
big Welcome! but lo and behold, according to my carbon of the Festival
workshop letter you wrote, after the 15th of March, comes W. Pakistan—I can
see it coming—gobs more of that Puckishani humor!
I wish your planning had landed you in Peshawar, Feb. 7th, in time for a
folk dance display at Government House in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s visit.
She was escorted by the Governor of W. Pakistan and oh men, you coulda learned
how to wax your mustachio!
Sam, I am so happy for you that now at last your projects work will be
recognized and the U.S. will undoubtedly want you as a trainer for the young
people rapidly signing up for the Peace Corps. There seems to be a special need
for agriculturists, right where you shine. When you have a yen to come home
again, there will be a big place for you here, too. Pres. Kennedy on the air
with Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt said that he hopes to have 500 to 1000 young people
in service here, as well as round the world where needed. One of the most
interesting articles was an interview with a team of workers from the American
Friends Service. One man is 43 years old, the women is married, but a dedicated
worker. In their zeal to adapt themselves to the customs of the countries where
serving, they ate only native foods—and eventually got very ill. There are
parasites in native food. You with your touchy stomach should remember this.
They found some of the housing just too primitive. A knowledge of the language
of the country there assigned is recommended. You always stress U of C. people
met. Stanfordites are concentrating on Africa jobs, primarily on Nigeria and
Don’t forget that San Francisco has always had some worthwhile projects.
The five millionth meal has been served for free at the St. Anthony Dining room
of St. Boniface Church. Everything from food to serving is volunteered.
Speaking of San Francisco the Holiday issue just out has some marvelous
coverage of our fair city.
I suppose you know this man who was featured in a March 14th write-up: Brian
Fewer planted 5000 trees in S.F. last year. 10,000 will sprout up this year. He
took 5 years of night courses in horticulture on top of green thumb working all
day. We are going to have a Green Belt across the city. He has found that
sturdy trees should include the laurel fig, the Brazilian Pepper and the
There is a play in New York it would be fun to see: Once There was a
Russian. The lines that got the best reaction from the first nighters: “You
need aid. I shall give you aid whether you need it or not. I am an
When are you going to write a book on Zen Buddhism? The latest is that old
motion picture actor, Sessue Hayakawa. I simply shouted at the review: a sample
“his beginning has validity and beauty but what follows is pure Coca
Carrousel is hunting a new home. The rent has been raised too high.
Did you get my letter about Xmas and New Year’s here? Because you have not
answered my question about your Xmas and New Year’s. Come through.
March 28, 1961
This is March 28th 1961 and I am staying in because I have to give a lecture
at the college here tonight on Islamic Art in U.A.R. I was collecting odd-odds
and end-ends to send to one Leonora Martin, a mirror image or something when I
received yours marked March 23. This is curious because I have not had my bank
mail and don’t know where I stand. Anyhow much of the news and more of the
nonsense will go sea mail.
I am taking up you letter seriously and will write to senator Engle about
what I am doing. I also have to write to the San Rafael Journal-Independent. I
have coddles of lectures all lined up for me here, Lahore and Rawalpindi where
the Director of radio is a friend. I shall look into F.D. and folk music with
him but perhaps more in Peshawar or even on my next venture.
There is a Californian here. Did I see red! Why, of course, it was the
courteous thing to do; he is from Stanford. He looks as if he has gone
beatnik or Muslim because he has a beard and no intercourse with the American
Christians who have I Qs. About 70 and his is about 170. Dr. Barker at Lahore,
however, is form Cal. He had a tough time after graduating, all the European
“experts” ganging up against him—as they did me before.
I am glad to hear of S.F. tree planting. I am ready to do some here, too.
I am sure I did not get your letter on Christmas & New Year. Besides,
there has been a censorship in U.A.R and I am not sure of anything. Also, the
mail I have been receiving so far is not of the kind “forwarded.”
Boys have two forms of recreation here: Bagging and cricket. There are
multitude of schools and playfields are also begging because the boys are
elsewhere begging. And it is not like U.A.R. There is a plethora (lovely word)
of balls and bats here.
Please don’t say anything detrimental to me for I may plan to return as
Puck of Pukhtunistan with moustache and bearded and turban and baggy pants. I
am so conspiring but it will take a long time. Note: I just said “to
me”—what people say about me is no concern.
People here are wondering if they are Muslims because they don’t speak
Arabic. I must tell you about Islam: In the beginning was the word and the word
was God and the Word was the Arabic Language. It had 500,000 words and 499,999
were intelligible. The other word was not and it was used only in singing:
Allah. So having no meaning it was deified and that is how man created God.
So this mystery is solved and nobody has to bring it up again.
I have had my future told twice; I have had the most wonderful greeting at
Lahore and slowly people are “mouse-trapping” to my door. I call this a
scene of Plymouthive civilization—all the cars are American but—and you
won’t believe this darling—no Coca-cola. The only reason I can find is
this. At the time of my landing, the Rupee, worth 21c was divided into 16 anna
and the anna into 12 pice. Not only that the annas were square and could not be
used in machines. Then they changed that abolishing the anna and pice and
divided the Rupee into 100 paisas. The tongawallahs charge you in Annas, the
taxes are in Paises and the Post Office uses both systems at once, so I have a
lot of small coins that are worth more to a money collector that on the market.
Bananas cost 4 annas each which is almost 5 cents each; yet my hair-cut, with
tip was only about 30c. Without any bank returns I don’t know whether I am
ahead or behind or what.
It is very beautiful here, much like Marin County excepting the Himalayas in
the distant background. Lots of evergreen trees, the same flowers as in S.F.,
exactly the same, the parks look the same. The Eucalyptus was introduced and
flourishes, but has more branding here; so do the Pines. The Chenab is the most
wonderful free and I found it is the Oriental Plane—at now is coming into
foliage. There are lot of poplars, still bare. Everything is green; the fruit
trees are all in blossom.
I visited Mrs. Selim Khan, widow of the first Consul-General of S.F. here
and had a fine tea. Her garden is just like those of California and she meant
it to be. The present Consul-General, Abdul Sattar, is supposed to be on his
way here and I have approached by his relatives with offers of trips.
This is a fine place for writing. I am doing this for two Pakistani papers,
the San Rafael Journal-Independent (See Audley) and the Greenwich Village sheet
Now I will get this off and come back and finish the nonsense letter and
others. I also received two letters from Marin County, same mail. There are no
American papers here excepting time and life and one or two dell publications.
All the smut that used to crowd the markets is gone and I suspect the
communists are gone too—they used to peddle it, profit and at the same time
The American USIA staff in Lahore wants me to instruct them on Oriental
philosophy. I expect strong protests from our European “experts” in the
S.F. Bay region. This must not be—but with Kennedy selecting an American
professor who knows something of the Orient as Ambassador to Japan the old
“protocol” is dead and so will nonsense be soon. Vale,
April 23, 1961
I am very tired and it is yet early evening, a calm spring evening, not
quite so cold as it has been. The day is often quite warm but dry. We have had
a surplus of rains.
During the day I have been typing jewelry lists. My friend, B.D. Qureshi,
claims he has inherited much Moghul wealth. He has a half-deal in Southern
California and we are trying to make a consolidation to work through the Bank
of America, consigning his things. If no sale takes place before I return, or
if I can a buyer or buyers, I may act as has agent but I am not asked to put up
any money and I am not going out of my way.
Mr. Qureshi has me excited about natural resources here. When I looked at
the hills I felt there was hidden wealth. This is not California, otherwise you
would see many men prospecting. There has been no geological survey and they do
not know how to prospect, or don’t care. Excepting the college boys no one
goes hill, or mountain climbing.
At Rawalpindi I saw many interesting Folk arts—things in leather, and salt
and gypsum carving. At times I am tempted to buy you a Punjabi costume but I am
holding back against any extra spending now. While I still have the income tax
hurdle—I have until June, and that is covered, I don’t want to go
overboard. Besides it may be that I can wangle some things free in exchange for
I attended the college graduation and this ended with a request for more
lectures. I think I wrote from ‘pindi that even President Ayub approves of
what I am doing but another request has been asked. I want to say here that I
have had many grievous disappointments here and on this trip but they have been
absolutely overwhelmed by “bigger and better things.” Mr. Abdul Sattar,
long-time Consul-General in S.F. will arrive on May 12th. I may be away then
but I want to take up with him the question of Pakistani culture in the US. If
there is a a job-opening there I may rush it. This and the above are the first
things which problem me funds.
I have the strangest good-luck. I went out walking in Lahore and met the
Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture. I went to find the Mines Department in
Rawalpindi and landed in the middle of the Agricultural Experimental Station,
to find the Mines Dept. had moved. Now I have an appointment coming up with the
chief forest botanist of Pakistani and where do you suppose he got his
education? Berkeley, all this works well.
The other night I went to a variety show put on by the college boys. There
are some good dancers and actors among them and they play the musical
instruments and sing fairly well. But they still do not have proper outlets. I
am going into the folk-dance situation when I get to Lahore. ANTA was organized
to exchange art-forms but in practice the money goes to big people who don’t
need it and they go out and entertain the Americans and foreign colony and
never reach the masses. The whole thing is ridiculous. Pakistani culture is
represented in America by persons, usually neither Americans nor Pakistanis,
and this is naturally resented. The Russians have enough savvy to ask for the
cultural mission. I want to talk about Pakistan when I return and I want to see
a few folk and square-dance teachers and more baseball here.
I am writing in protest against the president’s so-called “Peace
Corps.” We have thousands of Americans all over the world building up
good-will but who listens to their reports? And don’t you think these 40 year
olders are not going to resent “kids” coming out to “teach” the
indigents? It is based on a “superiority complex” and not friendship
approach. People are willing to learn but they want friendship. As the
newspaper men kept pushing at me: “What is the difference whether you or the
Russians compel us to trousers, tractors, irreligion and materialism? We are
stuck either way.” My old prophecy, let the Russians come and we will get rid
of the Flies is a standard attitude and I wish I were not so right.
Today I found this all-black ribbon which is supposed to be a good-grade
Underwood. I shall know later how it lasts. I have been using red-black since I
left UAR and neither part was very good.
I ran back and forth between elation and psychic tiredness. Sometimes I have
too much to do and know I cannot rest long for a whole year at least. It
becomes harder when things go so well I can’t let go. Well, I asked for it.
But I am asking now for some recognition and am out in the open against former
professional road-blockers. Fortunately I know too many people who were stymied
by the same persons. And we do not become popular abroad by publishing
editorial praising ourselves. We need communist Cuba to show us how the Asians
feel about Israel. We stuck into foreign territory, so they want to stick into
us. The danger of Cuba is recognized but they see a graver danger in the
“foreign invasion” elements established in Palestine. W cannot carry Israel
and Formosa and win the gratitude of Asia. They realize the Russian danger but
do not see it as the only one.
It is not eight o’clock and I am tired and don’t want to write to
anybody else. ‘s awful. I won’t close until after I make the botanical
Next day: My visit to the Forestry College was very successful. I have now
several projects on which to work—and the world is beating a pathway to my
door. As Puck I said I put up assign:
In Large Letters: MONEY GIVEN AWAY
in very small letter: For those who will work for me
That did it. Puck is left alone but not S.L.
April 27, 1961
Thank heaps for you wonderfully long and descriptive letter written from
Cairo, I judge, but giving new address in E, Pakistan. I especially liked the
subject breakdown, all references to places I have been (natch) and the more
detailed account of just what you have accomplished, instead of a lotta words
about you and V.I.P. I am very proud of your successes and would like to knight
you—only that is Not Asiatic enuf for you and your devilish Dervishness! I
have been missing you for a very long time and so these references to returning
in 1962 only give me a pain in the neck!
From Rosenbaum’s column: “Being grandson of a former President is a
handicap for Chester A. Arthur III,” he says. The local astrologer (and
one-time 4th and Market newsboy) says nobody will give him an executive
position because he’s not qualified, and “with a name like mine they’re
ashamed to offer me a modest job.”
Your beloved Buddhist Temple has just had an anniversary. LIFE magazine sent
photographers who took 500 pix of the Fair (too bad not during the time you are
helping build it). The movie people have been here “on location” again.
Automation is here with a bang and I found myself utterly fascinated at the
Open House held by the Bank of America, South Van Nes, for ERMA, which stands
for Electronic Recording Method of Accounting. She occupies most of the 4th
floor which is brilliantly illuminated, nicely ventilated and equipped with
piped in music. Despite the vast amount of automation, people are still
necessary and it was interesting to note that they were all young and many were
of the Negro race and Oriental, plus my guide who was Greek. The first machine
was a Sorter- Recorder and made 750 operations with magnetic tape per second. I
couldn’t even follow its speed. The next apparatus completed 30,000
computations per second. The final, largest machine with a magnificent control
board could add 6-digit numbers 15,600 times in one second! “In operation
since 1959, ERMA is capable of handling all the bookkeeping for thousands of
accounts in a matter of minutes!”
Anent the Peace Corps, about which I wrote in my March 23rd letter, now we
read of Carl. V. May, who founded the Quaker-sponsored Youth for Service
organization. He brought peace to rival teen-age groups on the streets of San
Francisco. After some time at an Eastern Retreat, he is going to tackle a
“Lobby for Peace.” Headquarters at 345 Franklin. Object: searching for
politically realistic ways to disarm. Too much amplification to repeat here.
Besides I recall that you said you were not interested in the politics of each
A woman visitor from Pakistan is urging “more cultural exchange.” She
thinks that “not enough information on history, culture and art is being made
And now I come to some bad news. When you receive this letter, please write
to Wesley Miller, Southern Pacific Railroad Hospital, not just a cheery letter
by air mail, but some philosophical approach that will help him. For the past 2
months he had complained of no appetite and had cut down on food until he lost
a lot of weight. He had been going to a doc. To no avail, so finally was
ordered to have massive check-up. As a result of this he was operated on April
20th. He seemed to make a quick recovery, he still had no appetite. But the 2nd
time after the operation that I went to see him, he suddenly asked “What did
your Doug have?” When I answered Cancer of the Rectum, he said “Thatᾀ?s
what I have.” And he knows that is what Doug died of. He gripes because the
doctors did not tell him that the first operation was merely an exploratory
one. The axe of the second and major operation is hanging over his head. I
phone when I can’t get out there and he still does not know. I am pleased he
has had a lot of visitors and cards. But I am sure he would like to hear from
Take care of yourself!
May 9, 1961
My dear Leonora:
I have your air-mail letter of April 27th which followed me here. I am
writing under unusual circumstances to which I could hardly have adjusted if I
had not had a very strong intuitive faculty, the existence of which is
generally spurned in our part of the world. For it was like the presentation of
a drama for which I had long rehearsed, a drama which is going on, so to speak,
without a hitch, but which has such a different rhythm and such different
aspects that it hardly fits in with my earlier life externally. Even at this
writing I am almost out of paper and carbons and I can only follow with a
letter to Wesley when I get them. This is not easy.
I am living in the home of one Major Muhammad Sadiq, a person who was
already become rather legendary but Lahore is the center of much which will
remain legendary until people back into this world as it is even though some
events and personalities do not fit into our norms or preconceptions.
Although the Major is a rather important army official, he also has a
healing gift and is very famous for that gift. It is the most scientific form
of what has been known as “spiritual healing” for it conforms to and with
certain aspects or physical-therapy and some facets of it look like new avenues
of physical therapy. He can and does heal with the touch, he can and does
magnetize water, and there is a constant stream of visitors every afternoon
The news about Wesley is anti-climatic. The Major had a cancer patient whom
he had not cured. This was rather a boner for he has on his list people who
have gone to Lourdes without effect. On top of that the cancer patient is a
personal friend and brother of a physician who is the top official of a large
hospital. I told the Major that the patient was hiding something—a fear,
obsession, hidden enemy of something which preyed, probably uselessly on his
“conscience.” Two visits after that failed to evoke anything but the
patient was suffering more and more from pain. Finally it “outed” and since
then I have been told that there has been considerable recovery.
Last night I visited a homeopathic physician and was excited because he
makes tinctures from a lot of my favorite plants. He seems to have a vast
knowledge in this field. There are four schools of medicine here and between
and among them they utilize almost everything in the vegetable world not used
elsewhere. So I asked him about cancer and he agreed to have a visit with me on
that subject. Then your letter arrives with the Wesley-complex. I immediately
took it up with the Major. He says he has all kinds of magnetized waters. These
waters are magnetized in different colored bottles, the colors relating to the
disease, and the length of time of magnetization evidently is related to the
depth of malignancy. Somehow or other they act as condensers picking up types
of vibrations which we have not recognized yet. We may call them “biotic”
and they are connected with what the Hindus called akasha and what the
alchemists referred to as “quintessence.” Here one uses the words
“physically,” “spiritual,” “alchemical” rather loosely, because the
vibrations have not yet been investigated and not because they are supernatural
So while I shall be sending this sea-mail I will write an air-mail letter to
Wesley on the above subject—with considerably more detail and also send him
some new. The news is all on the plus side but it has caused me to act as if I
were high-hat. Why should I go back to San Francisco and be ignored and find a
lot of ignoramuses as “authorities” on subjects, especially Asian subjects
when they themselves have not had training in them and are not recognized by
Asians-Asians. Why, even the so-called “Encyclopedia of Islam” is full of
I am in the city of Lahore. Suppose I were to write a history of Lahore and
rushed off to the British Museum, looked through all the books there and also
received all the French and German works on the subject. Oh yes, one could
write even a best seller and this is done. The work of one Bernard Lewis is on
the blacklist as a history of the Arabs and it is just as much a history as you
would except from any high-school boy.
Even here I rather surprised some of the experts by telling of contacts at
Fatehpur Sikri near Agra where a pile of historical data has been preserved by
the guardian family and nobody has ever bothered to look it up. True there are
piles of good and bad books on the Moghuls but source materials remain
Usually this is a part of scientific honesty to see you have access to all
facts but I have used the same all aspects of my work and it is being
recognized. It is being recognized on a grand scale here. I spoke to an immense
throng last Friday, to large audiences Sunday, morning and evening, I am always
receiving tea invitations and tonight I go out to dinner and all I know is that
it is uppety. I give my first University talk Saturday morning but there are
loads of things in the offing.
But the biggest of all has been an invitation just received to go to Malaya
where my dear friend is a friend of the present Prime Minister, the doors are
all open wide and if I can keep on an even keel and continue the program
started here I shall be both successful and famous—and even benefit
financially although that is a long and complicated subject.
I went to the Tourists Bureau this morning and laid down the law to them. I
had two interviews with them, wrote out three papers and then sent them two
inquiries. No reply and, nothing published, I said: “I am now going to give
you my references.” Well I named two men of top rank and a third who is very
well known. A young man there jumped out of his seat. “Why that is my
maternal uncle.” You never saw such a change. I got cooperation. I did not
get favors, I received answers. This is the way I am working and am going to
work. And I am now doing the same side, and there is opposition in other
quarters—my bête noire, the EPOOP, or European Professor of Oriental
Yesterday I placed a large order for books, not to be shipped until I add
some other books bought elsewhere or given as gifts. These will go to S.F. The
contents of many of these works are so totally out of line with what is offered
in the newspapers and in some schools that there is little in common but the
title. When they arrived and are used I think I shall have with me the American
Friends of the Middle East and perhaps a good portion of Federal
A man is a “fanatic.” That does not tell anything about him or what he
believes, but the group whom he belongs to is known practically everywhere as
being composed entirely of “fanatics.” In his country the “fanatics”
hold either the majority of votes or the balance of power. He comes to the U.S.
How is he to behave? So Mr. Sukarno comes and purposely puts on a Hollywood
performance because we do not and almost will not investigate his ideas on
subjects which he takes seriously. Seeing we do not understand what he
considers serious, he assumes a role and gets away with it. That is exactly
what I am going too.
My “Puck of Pukhtunistan” stunt has worked out miraculously for me.
Nearly all the jests have come true. I used to write “I ain’t a saint.”
So I recently wrote: “Puck speaks in public. Name not mentioned. Instead a
sign: “Ah Yaint, a saint.” Or when the people came to this house and said I
must be a Malik (king of prince) in disguise. I denied it. Then they said,
“When you are an Ameer…. Why we can see it in your eyes, you are an
Ameer.” “Yes,” I said hanging my head, “Ameer Ican.” These written as
bits of humor long since have occurred objectively and this is only the shadow
of what is going on.
There is no man who has stood by me through thick and thin more than Abdul
Sattar, long time Consul-General in S.F. He is moving to Abbottabad soon and I
have already been a guest of his relations. They are wealthy and powerful and
later on have promised a tour which will include Harappa, site of ancient Indus
Valley civilization. We are going to consider both Tourist and Pakistani
Culture in the U.S. This is a long and complex subject. I have, fortunately,
the most complete allies in the American Friends of the Middle East. Their
library in Karachi is a dream come true. Books by Americans well known in Asia
adorn the shelves; books by well known Europeans regarded in Europe and the
U.S. as “experts” on Asia absent. It is the U.S. and the Middle East
meeting. There are few or no books abhorrent to Pakistanis on the shelves, And
every now and then I come out with the statement of that well known Epoop who
at an Iqbal celebration said: “I am most happy to address you on the occasion
of the birthday of the greatest of Asian poets, Rabindranath Tagore.” Boy,
isn’t Samson rather wrathful of the Philistines! And don’t worry, darling,
I am prepared to go to court, too.
Now we come to that grand event—loud applause, please—the Peace Corps.
Nice gentle “Children’s Crusade” and they will go to Tanganyika or is it
West Senegal or Kohistan and meet several Tanganyikas or Senegalese or
Kohistanase trained in Russia in the same professions with signs “Yankee go
home” or “Down with Western Imperialism.” Pakistan is all ready for them.
Jane Van Morhouse PhD. Smith College and Percy from Exodus are coming here to
teach husbandry and animal husbandry and there all be a delegation which will
greet them and fete them and give them lots of comforts and have them listen to
a series of lectures on Islam. This Islam will not resemble anything they have
learned in school or college and before they receive any clients to learn about
husbandry (women want kids) or animal husbandry (cows want calves) they will be
indoctrinated and if they don’t respond to the indoctrination Jane Van
Morhouse will be told she is working against family planning a national policy
and no foreigners can teach husbandry here, etc. Then these peace-corps infants
will find that Kohistan is more than a point on the map and there is nothing in
the Book of Genesis or Declaration of Independence which affirms that some
people must be potters and others must be clay and the Kohistanese may wish to
be potters of American and Russian clays and turn them into Muslims. This is
not, of course, in the Peace Plan and when it turns out that the Kohinstanese
are not Laotians or Annamese and they will stand no such nonsense, the home
press will be “shocked.” Or, if we continue one-way street indoctrination,
another USIS library will be moved.
I am hoping, when I return, to get an introduction to the editor of L.A.
Times. Mayor Poulson is a good friend of mine and he is the one who started me
on this crazy business. Anyhow his chief opponent is Sam Yotty who Ripley was a
pal of mine. My formula, succeed, select as friends men who will succeed is now
pushing me forward. And as I said above, my chief friend is palsy-walsy with
the Prime Minister of Malaya. Don’t we have fun!
My scientific interviews are very successful, very cordial and very time
consuming but I know of no better way to consume time. The main difficulties
are that at the moment the government is decentralized geographically, having
moved in large part from Karachi without yet settling at the new capital
Islamabad. I am thankful they are leaving Karachi and so is everybody else. It
is one spot in Pakistan that even the natives would be glad to “return it to
the Indians” if they only had another seaport. Today it was mostly water
problems, largely technical.
I got an introduction from Prof. Abdul Hamid Khan, U.C. grad to Dr. Zaidi,
and when I got to the office there were two Drs. Zaidi and they both wanted to
see me. But I gave my literature over to the first one. I gave them what they
wanted and asked for. I am accomplishing what others are planning. I learned,
too, that the U.C. experts will be here this winter after I leave. Then last
night at dinner I met the Prof. of Botany who “accidentally” was my host on
my former visit. We monopolized a talk which should have been general and he
gave me the name of the top banana in agriculture here who is another U.C.
graduate and whose office I located today but had a full program and could not
visit. So I am going to place before the University of California first the
idea of “California in Asia” to be patterned after “Princeton in Asia.”
We do not need any “Peace Corps.” We have oodles of graduates from American
universities all the way from Kohistan to Tanganyika who are already
accomplishing anything and everything the Children’s Crusade is dreaming
about. Only newspaper men and until recently the O.I.C. did not recognize they
were even alive. The number of our university graduates abroad who would like
to brief us is an army, immense, and what they know and would help us with
would turn the course of history and without any cost to our taxpayers. And
then Jamey and Joey and Algernon would not go abroad and have to meet the
expert propagandists of Islam or Hinduism or Buddhism or Voodooism who would
greet them when they visited some “backward country.” Boy, am I having
After I go back to Abbottabad my next trip will take me to Jamshyd Khan, a
rich farmer at Mardan. He will supply my friend and moi with a car and
chauffeur and all we have to do is pay for oil and gas. We may ultimately go to
Swat about which I think I have told you. Anyhow the Swatis I have since met
confirm that their dances are Greek and some day too, our archeologists will
get into the act. Yes, I have written Madelynne on this and I will keep jawing
about at Ed and John until we get some Federal funds behind them instead of the
This, darling, has already been taken up with the Commercial Attaché here.
You see this speaking, villainous, Mephistophelean, bombastic schizophrenic did
not talk about F.D. He just reported that one could sell a thousand records
overnight even in a village—which is probably true. And if I don’t get in
one door there are two others. We can’t sell these people Cadillac’s (They
prefer the “Fox-wagon”) but we can sell them rock-and-roll…. Incidentally
the original Rock-and-Roll comes from Pukhtunistan. There they rolled rocks
down the mountains side at caravans. Boy, am I having fun! Well the Commercial
Attaché has been converted, proving, as I have aid, that this Potter-Clay
business might work both ways and we Pukhtus may convert a few Americans too.
Especially on F.D. which I know you favor.
Another factor in the lengths of this letter is that while it has been
around a round—yes around a round 100°, I may be crazy with the heat but am
Lahore is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, full of parks,
gardens, landscaping but the heat discourages journeys on foot. I shall have to
return here several times and my lecture schedule will no doubt be enhanced
even before I mail this. However once sealed I shall not add but put the
post-script in the letter to Wesley. The post-script, in the Pushkian world
will come first, by air-mail and this by sea.
When I am in Swati I shall probably write to my friends of the Buddhist
Church. I sent them my usual contribution this year. My lecture Saturday will
get me back in touch with the Museum here which has a lot of Gandhara Art. And
this reminds me, I have an entirely different type of report to send to my
friend, Mrs. Leonard, on Sutter St., growing out of the book purchase, and my
I have not heard from Gavin Arthur. My intuition tells me that I shall be
having a car when I return and a driver. It will probably be John Betts, my
roommate on Clementina St. This is, of course a dream. I have had my
“fortune” told several times now. It is more in the way of investigating
the prognosticators than it trying to look ahead. But they only bear out my
intuitions which are invariably good, though they make me cautious.
The hardest thing to face here is the undercurrent of caste. No matter what
is said, there is caste. And when you are mobbed, there is a tendency to get or
let the big people meet you. I always go after the kids or rather let them me
I am also reminded of “two miracles” which took place today but I
think—I shall include them in the letter to Wesley because they are very much
on the side; There is now a large gathering in the front garden, people coming
to be healed by the Major or have his magnetize the water. The crowd is larger
than usual. Actually I am unable to give any emotional cheery letter because at
this moment the cheerfulness is real, positive and topside all the way. Despite
the heat I feel very wonderful and if there are any clouds on the horizon it is
because today the horizons is very great, extended.
I cannot help feel a little sorry for you on the dancing side. I am very
much mixed in my action and attitude. The more I dream of travel the more I
dream of having to learn Latin-American and even “kid-stuff” dances for the
edification of those whom I shall contact. Outside of the kolo-work there are
too many loose ends and if I come back, I am faced with these situations:
1. I was offered a home in Southern California with friends who have large
properties and which I had accepted conditionally. This will be very necessary
if I am engaged in writing and do not get a job with any organization.
2. While I am not looking for such a job, a half-time one with the American
Friends of the Middle East, or a Pakistan Travel Bureau or Cultural Mission
would change my geography and I should like to return at least part time to the
3. My research work just may be in demand and this will in turn effect my
geography. My present wish would be to have a sort of vacation-in-reverse
either in S.F. or Marin country, which I can’t explain—too many
On top of this is a commission to help sell some of the great Moghul jewels
in California. This is an enterprise in itself.
When I go to Mardan I shall not be far from Peshawar. I must go to that city
sooner or later. Not only has there been a standing invitation from the
university but I wish to go to the bazaars. I have the foot-lines of certain
ladies for whom I am presumed to get shoes and I wish to get shoes and I hope I
get shoes and I feel fairly sure that I shall be getting shoes. As everybody
says that is the best place and there are the cheapest and best wares there
sooner or later I must go.
It is now 7:45. I have a supper engagement and was supposed to be ready some
time ago. But time means nothing and while the host is fretting and fuming the
Pakistani gentlemen are outside doing nothing and letting the time pass. This
makes it very, very hard for and on me. I simply got up and came into type.
I am concerned rather than worried about Wesley. This concern is increased
by the successful healings which have taken place here in the last two hours.
The Major is anxious to come to California. I do not see my way clear and I see
my way clear—a contradiction, but I hate wasting time. The Zen Buddhists say:
“You have all eternity; haven’t you finished that job yet!” They would
not understand this here.
I feel all wound up and my mind is clicking, I hope, on big things. I shall
have to adjust and also some things and people shall have to adjust to me But I
cannot see details, where or how I am to live etc. Only at this moment
everything seems bright, cheerful and favorably ominous.
Hope you have read this with interest. Cannot be assured of continuum and
now I wish to write Wesley.
Cheerio and as-salaam aleikhum,
May 31, 1961
My Dear Leonora:
Summer ain’t a cumin’—it’s already here. It’s not so hot in
Abbottabad, yet, but it’s warm enough and it’s swarm enough (flies). My own
domicile is cool. Anyhow, I am now a friend of the Superintendent of Police and
he can put me in the cooler any time. That’s a joke. They do have a jail.
They have jails all over. The British (the damn imperialists) built such lovely
jails that the officials have taken them over for their regular offices. I
don’t know where they put the criminals, but they must have some somewhere,
as the papers mention it.
At this moment I have a audience. Just like modest me. Three small boys are
watching this fly, and I am typing fast. To get back to the Supt. who is
palsy-walsy with me and that is why I am writing. But to catch the reader’s
interest I took my castanets to his house last. I found he had a plethora of
daughters and just one son. I had met the two older girls but when I (modest
me) got out the castanets, two more came in. So I did cachuca and fandango and
one jota and Tarantella Siciliana which can be demonstrated after which I
became warm and tired—your summer ain’t a cumin’—it’s here. But by
that time, the girls liked it enough and we managed to get in some talk.
You see, I am also “Ah Yaint, a saint.” This is the children’s view.
Believe it or not, I don’t have to tell tall stories. I began showing the
boys a game called “piggy ball” or “pinky ball.” You can’t call it
“piggy ball” here because the term swine is forty-seven degrees lower than
prostitute so I stuck to “pinky” which is its real name anyhow. I know we
used the term in jacks when I played jacks five incarnations ago.
Well I had a little trouble getting started but who comes to my aid? A local
saint with beard and trimmings and all. Saints are half mad and are allowed to
do anything. Religious people are sane and respectable and allowed to do
nothing but have long faces and find fault with everybody else. Saints smile
and have no time to find fault. So the saint goes after the ball and has a
lovely time. After that the boys and the youths caught on quickly. Me, with my
creaky old bones, good for nothing but mountain climbing and typing, but I
tried it and now being a saint I’ll have to try it again, darn it. It’s
awful when you have a reputation to hold, or rather a reputation holds you.
To get back to the Supt. You see, darling, in the colleges around S.F. they
teach there are no Sufis, no living Sufis and they never hold any jobs or
responsibilities and I got kicked out for protesting and none of them have even
granted me an interview either. So the law of compensation works here (also the
boys who ought to be playing ball are signing up more, to watch me). The Supt.
is a Sufi. He is also a friend of President Ayub who is another. So I have to
face the same rounds of being invited to tea and dinner—protocol you know and
last night I just succeeded by white and gray lies from having to take more
dinners and for the first time I went to bed on a so-called empty stomach but I
do not feel the pangs of hunger or many pangs. But I don’t know what to do if
the professors keep on saying there are no Sufis and the top brass have no use
for those professors and keep on inviting me to dinner. This was once the
privilege of certain brand names or maybe I am obsessed by the spirit of the
last Alexander the Great (the Great, not the Greek, meaning Wollcott). This is
not publicity either, I wish it were anything. And I sometimes forget I have
bicarb and vitamins and such things here with me so I guess it is my fault.
Besides these Sufis have a constant habit of giving me just the parts of lamb
which I like or if it is not lamb just the kind of foods I like even when I am
not hungry and this makes it doubly difficult—I insult my host if I don’t
eat and I cater to my lower nature if I do. And Sufis are supposed to fight
their lower natures and when I concede my lower nature gets bigger than my
This also causes an international problem. If you stick your shirt inside
your belt you are an imperialist and if it is outside you are not. Well, the
front part of the shirt stays in and the back part gets out. I have tried
changing pants and belts, and it is no use. The front part gets tucked in and
the back part flies out and therefore I am a spy, working for the U.S.
Intelligence or something. There are two ways out—one is to cut my shirts
which means they could not flare; the other is to get a Pashtu shirt which is
so big it hangs way out and is much harder to keep clean. The trouble is that I
don’t know which side the public is on but I do know when I return those big
shirts could act as good F.D. costumes, et al.
This reminds me of a digression, rather difficult because the footing
section keeps increasing. My friend Abdul Rahman and I went to one of the parks
the other day. A man came up and told us he was Supt. of Parks (not police for
once). Now I am very much interested in Supt. of Parks and Gardens and flowers
and trees and all that. But what do you think he asked—there is, of course,
no telepathy and no Sufis and all that rot—but anyhow he asked: “Would you
gentlemen like to go to a folk dance festival with me?” Right out of nowhere,
just like that. I am therefore on pins and needles waiting for Thursday night
when he is to pick us up and deliver us somewhere.
I am a little queezy about this. In my Puck scrap book I wrote an item
“The Pun’s Revenge.” I met a man who I called Abdu Ktub—which means
servant of holy men—which he is. The next day Abdu Ktub took me out and what
do you think he did? What do you think a man named Abdu Ktub would do? Right! I
got it and found myself in a beautiful garden miles from everywhere and
nowhere. Very safe they thought and nobody paid any attention. But I did
something nobody does here, it’s against protocol, I talked to the gardeners
and common working men and got away. This was a cruel double play against
protocol, talking to the hoi polloi and escaping. But that name, Abdu Ktub!
Well, let’s back to the Super. He is always introducing me to holy men and
Sufis and now I met a Khalandar, right out of the Arabian Nights and
“Scheherazade Suite.” This also is impossible because there are no
Khalandars excepting in books and very old ones at that. Of course my stomach
tells me different. Khalandars don’t cook but to serve a Khalandar is also
protocol, so I eats. Whether I wish to or not, I eats. The food is not bad, but
I eats.) The landlord has just come and cleared the deck and let daylight
Of course they are critical about the U.S. knowing as much about the U.S. as
we know about them. If Johnson said, “I liked New Delhi” that was proof
that the American people and government were in an international conspiracy
with Nehru who is in an international conspiracy with K. who is in an
international conspiracy against the U.S. Also, I found that the Hindus would
be glad to turn over Kashmir to Pakistan and everybody, Hindu and Muslim in
Kashmir wants this but the Jews won’t let it happen. You see you do not get
the real news. As I am a scientist, I can understand space travel and hormones
and ultra-ultra radiations, but this Kashmir question is too much, like the
older Polish question???
I’m still a little queasy about the folk dance festival. Invitations yes,
programs, no! The rain has a sudden habit of wanting to review these things
too, and generally gets there first. So I am holding breath and promising
somebody a letter if the thing really does occur and this is not another
Abduct-Tub. So maybe I’ll see the Supt. first and meanwhile I am taking time
out. The mail will come soon, if at all and after that I am supposed to have a
date with a Khalandar, and that’s no joke.
Then there are problems. I am very fond of Okra which is called Lady’s
Fingers’ here so I went to the market today. I am well known at the Fruit and
Veg. Market but I have not inquired when I am Puck (Sahib, Sob and S.O.B) or
“Ah Yaint, a saint.” Anyhow bargains. Well I think Okra costs about $.30 a
lb. in S.F. As Bananas are about $.05 each here and Oranges accordingly and
even Mangos are top, I put down One Rupee for these Lady Fingers and I
staggered under the weight as I went away. So I shoved a lot to my favorite
restaurant and a lotter lot to the hostel here for manana and I ought to get my
fill. I ought to be eating here but despite the Lord’s Prayer, “Lead us not
into temptation” my favorite restaurant is now serving that insidious
imperialistic dish, Ice Cream. And since I ordered my plate yesterday, it was
just like this typing at the beginning, the whole public comes in only they
don’t watch me, they do it themselves and my friends are having a thriving
business with this insidious imperialistic food. You don’t even put cayenne
in it. Maybe this was Johnson’s fault, too.
We had a feast day and I ordered a lot of food for my friends. It was almost
given to me. Then I found I had to buy butter and oil at prices which would
make Goldberg McLean shudder and pay the cooks’ wages because on the feast
day the ladies of the house must not work. So Puck wrote a long report to his
Burma friend, U Can, Twin, of Mandalay. Indeed there are a lot of reports going
to U Can, Twin.
Now time for recess and tea after which we wait for the postman who does not
ring at all.
It is a beautiful night, very balmy after a warm day (so am I, balmy) and I
had tea with the Khalandar and two police officials. Then I went for a long
walk, had dinner—Okra and Rice, or rather Lady’s Fingers and I overate, so
I paid visits on foot and walked a lot and now am back. It is more fit to be a
romantic evening but I have to observe protocol which is very difficult when
you do not even know what protocol is. Some cadets offered to take me to a
wine-bibbing session which is against protocol excepting that Khalandars do
everything against protocol and it is a little confusing when you do not know
which side of protocol you are supposed to be lined up with.
Up to now the main diversions have been football, volley ball and Iqbal. I
am adding softball and handball. I get surprised when I remember several games
I used to play when young—I was young once you know, or twice or thrice or
always—anyhow I am gradually introducing them. I am not abducting or
deducting or seducting but verily seducing boys with another imperialistic
habit—ice cream. One gets very fine Ice Cream in Rawalpindi but now one is
fortunate enough to get it at all here.
I escaped being blamed for the American Policy on Kashmir. It is partly due
to my ignorance and partly due to everybody’s ignorance which I successfully
proved. But then some questions are supposed to remain questions and if you
settle them you cause trouble.
Outside of being suspected, and probably enjoying it, I am being invited
more and more by more and more and not only the dervishes, Sufis, and
Khalandars, or even the bigwigs. I am resigned, and if I have to attend picnics
and banquets, you can record my great sorrow. Anyhow I am learning enough to be
a connoisseur on Pakistan. I can’t be an expert because I did not graduate
from Oxford or Heidelberg but I can be a connoisseur and besides, that entitles
you to eat and drink more. It also makes you respected here. In America they
respect the “experts” and in Pakistan they hate them, chiefly because they
have some fool ideas that Pakistanis are better equipped to lecture about
Pakistan than Germans, Hindus or Englishmen. So I am going to be a connoisseur.
Of course I’ll have to collect some autographs from M. Ayub and maybe if he
invites me to tea 40-11 times some newsman will at least give me equal space to
a commentator who has never been here but has written 5 columns about the
place—accepted, of course.
The big thing, pardon me while I adjust my cloak-and-dagger, is the fun
everybody is making of the “Peace Corps.” Amateurs to do what professionals
have already done but nobody listens to the professionals. What newspaper would
dare put out an article on the good works done by Americans here and ask them a
few questions. European professors, yes, newsmen, yes. But actual American
specialists who have spent years of their lives in Asia, goodness no. What is
the world coming to? Honesty and truth? It is, at least, conceivable. The gent
for Asia Foundation who thinks he is doing a good job and probably is doing a
good job was asked what he thought about the Peace Corps. But he was not asked
what he thought about Pakistan and what should be done here, Das ist verboten
and you should see the laughs I get about the visiting American who offers you
everything and anything excepting what you really would like to have. He never
asks you that; that also ist verboten. Now it is after 10 and I think my
thinking cap has gone awry or astray or something or maybe it is just the
Morning. I am fed up. I keep on getting visitors in regard to the strange
relations between our countries. The V.P. comes to a land full of villages and
farms, visits a few cities and decides to give a lot of help to the cities
where the lands are eroded, the salt infiltration is increasing, the minerals
are being discovered but not exploited and the Russians are taking full
advantage. The Russians are not wanted but will do what the people need and we
are wanted and will do what we say the people need. Then, on top of that,
Johnson is said to have favored Nehru and to mention Nehru is like presenting a
Red Shirt to a synagogue. But in the midst of hip, hip hurrah, voices are not
heard. We want to teach, we don’t wish to learn and the one-way traffic we
have in cultural relations is getting worse and worse. I am very serious in
saying that evidently I shall have to get a petition signed by the President,
the cabinet and a lot of worthies and countersigned in Malaya and Indonesia to
awaken us to the factual-facts of life. Might do, too.
June 8, 1961
My dear Leonora:
There is a blind spot and a terrific blind spot which makes the work of a
professional “prophet” exceedingly easy. In San Francisco I once had a
reputation of being a sort of occult seer because certain influential people
who had no business being influential insisted I did not know anybody and was
indeed exaggerating when I said I sometimes associated with big shots.
Thirty miles away there is Murree, the Simla of India, the Summer capitol.
When I was there five years ago I foretold correctly to a T what the U.A.R.
government was going to do about Pakistan. It came out exactly exact. The
reason was so simple—I got it right out of U.A.R. Embassies. But that just
cannot be accepted. In this country, of course, it is preferable to regard
anybody as a saint or master rather than look at facts as facts.
Before he went away my fellow San Francisco, Felix Knauth offered to bet me
ten to one that the Chronicle would not accept his contribution. No takers.
Felix is now famous in Pakistan. He may sometime be before the Explorers Club
or the Academy of Sciences in G.G. Park. Scientists are those queer fellows who
have the habit of accepting facts as facts. Others look at the implications and
if they don’t like the implications it jest ain’t so.
I am having a terrific time, so much so I often fall asleep dead tired.
First there are the group including Sufis, dervishes and what not whom it is
insisted do not exist; or if so, they are persons of no importance. My stomach
told me so in Lahore, what with a feast every night. Here I do not have tea or
dinner every night because I cannot have tea with everybody every night. There
is only a partial telephone system and there is no organized communication by
tonga or bus. Now I have a date with a Khalandar. It is not everybody who has a
date with a Khalandar. He wants to come to California. He is certainly going to
be a curiosity being a non-existent person according to our universities. He is
quite willing to appear before them knowing beforehand he will be called a
fraud. He will tell them that they know nothing of Islam—which is probably
true. This is one type of visitor.
Then the next type do not ascribe occult powers to me. Quite the contrary,
they insist I am an intelligent official and get mail from all over the world.
The fact is that in the last 10 days I have had exactly one letter and the only
other communications have come from the USIS office in Lahore and from the
banks. So they come down and want to know why VP Johnson did or didn’t
certain things. I must be pro-Indian because I am an American. This is the kind
of stuff the commies peddled before and they can do it again.
I have, of course, a weapon which is not recognized. I challenge them
according to Qur’an and Hadith. Then I add a few facts they don’t know. I
could add a few lies, too; they would not know the difference for the basis of
anti-Americanism is nothing but misinformation and lies, cum 90% downright
ignorance. The people are religious without knowing anything of their religion.
At times it becomes a grim joke. My methods, though entirely successful, are
not recognized and wait till those kid “Peace Corps” folks come; boy, are
they going to get it.
Then there are the educated. They are very different. They are most friendly
and cordial, especially the college students and teachers. But I am just one
person—or am I? Of course I am Puck of Pukhtunistan and Chisti Sahib and Ah
Yaint, a saint and Maman, meaning material uncle. On top of that I have done
something terrible, awful: I have added to the national amusements of Football,
Volley Ball and Ikba: Soft ball and hand-ball. I have shown three games of soft
ball and am preparing to show games of handball. I even am looking for old
rings of any kind to give the boys hoops. This makes me popular but this kind
of anticommunist propaganda is so unfair to protocol and the enemy that it is
entirely out of place.
It is hours later. A continuous letter, unless it is written very early in
the morning, is utterly impossible. With visitors of all these types—and the
visitors are naturally many more than the types, I am constantly compelled to
change the subject-matter, etc. I have kept my date with the Khalandar across
the way. It is, of course, amusing to talk about a date with a Khalandar, out
of Scheherazade Suit or the Arabian Nights, but this man has clairvoyant
faculties and he has proven them to me. He not only told me a lot about my
history but this evening he said: “I shall hold a press conference in New
York and begin, ‘Mr. Reston, you don’t believe me but you just had a
quarrel with your wife this morning’” and he said he will tell them about
their intimate lives until they recognize he has some powers. This is likely to
He claims he has spiritual powers and healing powers. I have been much
concerned with Wesley and also one or two others. But I am more concerned here
with barren lands that have not been planted, with eroded soils, with the other
problems plus a strange national laziness—outside the army and police, and,
of course, the peasants who do not count in this land of Islamic
The Khalandar made it difficult for me to go to the festival with the folk
dancing. My friend, Abdul Rahman of S.F. went and the dancing was called off
and the rest of the program he said was no good. Tonight we did go to “The
Avenger” which must have been pictured in Yugoslavia. It had folk dances,
Russian style, and wonderful choral singing. The photography and costumes were
excellent. I have not gone to Urdu pictures but want to see “Shirin and
Farhad” which is undoubtedly a sort of “Romeo & Juliet” of this part
of the world. The previews are very fine.
I have also become very friendly with the Commissioner of Food, chiefly
through his son. I doubt if our meetings have hardly begun. I have become
familiar and friendly with all branches of the police, and I mean just that.
Some day some psychologists will try to explain away how “Puck of
Pukhtunistan” was over welcomed by the Pathans (i.e. Pushtus or Pakhtus) It
will be very interesting indeed but not so interesting as my social life.
Fortunately I escaped dinner tonight although I half fear somebody coming to
know on my door and bring me an unwanted meal. As one man said rather
sarcastically but true: “There is always food for the filled traveler and
none for the unfilled peasant.”
The present reports of the “welcome” Johnson got in the U.S and the fact
that he has caused dismay here may not be communicated, so I am going to read
the news from the USIS bureau at Lahore and then will continue tonight or
tomorrow morning, inshallah, praying I won’t be over-interrupted.
It is morning. It is six o’clock and already the college boys are engaged
in a hockey game. I wish I could watch them. But I have now a long letter to
write to Prof. P. Sorokin. I must say that the few professors with whom I am in
contact outside of the pure sciences have been among my best allies. In general
the non-scientists look to degrees, to prestige, etc. and not to knowledge or
wisdom. Even here I should imagine I would be getting lots of rebuffs but there
are two outstanding facts: the majority of people are Muslims; the majority of
people are suffering from malnutrition.
After writing Prof. Sorokin and other things I shall probably continue this
letter. For after the Khalandar projects I shall no doubt write to Stanford
Research Institute. I am no longer concerned with rejections and if there are
any more a priori rejections, wow-wie. I never got them from the Graduate
Institute, only from the “Normal” staff. Insecurity is the worst reason for
a professor not answering. I think when I return I shall test all the profs.
whose names I have and see what they really want to do regarding the Orient and
report in detail both to the OSS and to the governments of Asian countries.
That will waken some of them up—like Minnesota, which has become quite
I am being promised a wonderful welcome in India. This just because I have
said that the Indians were at least as well equipped as Englishmen and Germans
to teach Indian philosophy. Of course this is not done. Prof. Northrup of Yale
is the top authority in America on Indian philosophy; in fact he is so
wonderful that it almost seems that he discovered Indian philosophy himself
because you won’t find anything like that in India. Besides “everybody”
knows India is made up of mahatmas and coolies.
Be that as it may I never said I was not a hypocrite and I am going to
accept free dinners and welcomes and make speeches at universities in India on
“Oriental Philosophies and Modern Science” and if I can get in enough
speeches before the Russians start, maybe, just maybe, some Americans in
authority will recognize. I wrote Chest Bowles and his secretary answered me. I
wrote the secretary and his secretary answered me. Now I do not know what the
chain-line of secretary’s secretaries is but will go to India and do instead
of writing. Everybody has formulas, nobody does, although I should say this is
restricted to commentaries, diplomats and Pakistanis—they all know but nobody
I hope to be back in America come next May. I have a long Indian tour and
then Malaya—combination of high society, lectures and food—and boy won’t
I be glad to get to Malaya!
I am not coming up with any answers on Kashmir and I have my ideas only
about salt-infiltrated soils, floods, deserts, eroded lands and Islamic
culture, plus a side glance at the locusts and flies. My tourism has been
partly thwarted by my financial mix-ups and partly by the Tourist Bureau who
are as informative as in jack Benny’s shows. Fortunately the Government
Transport Bureau has helped me out. Now the rains are in.
I keep two diaries, neither up to date. No doubt I shall become an
“authority” and if I can get 15 prime ministers and 75 professors to sign a
petition maybe some newspaper editor will give me an interview—I don’t know
but I’ll keep plugging. Anyhow, I am not worried about private organizations.
I stick to the view that all Americans other than diplomats and commentators
are intelligent and even if not exactly true it is not a bad gag.
Saw a wonderful Indian movie (this is for Henk). Mixture of Indian dancing
with Spanish and Mexican and Austrian—big circus shows with American music
and wonderful pageants. The period costumes were all correct, no phony stuff,
all historical and much wonderful research. And the dream of my life—a ballet
in which the performers danced on huge drums! The singing was excellent and I
guess about every kind of instrument in existence was used somewhere although I
am not sure of the ocarina!
Please excuse this hodge-podge, and if I don’t write again I hope to see
that the foot-gear etc. is properly shipped from Peshawar.
June 12, 1961, night
My dear Leonora:
So much has happened since I tried to write. The procession of people who
call, the events that take place, the problems placed around me.
Folk-dancing seems far away. I could not go to the celebration and the
dancing was called off anyhow. I am still spending much time with the
Khalandar. It is going to be a shock to the Muslims of San Francisco. They
never would let me speak. Now so much money has passed me by that I could have
collected for them. The rich here are not naive. They are educated. They know
what they want and they are not going to dish out moneys to persons unknown to
them for purposes over which they have no control. There is no question but
that some people or many people will be coming to California this coming
The Khalandar is collecting funds here. He will not charge for his lectures
or services. This may be unusual. I am preparing to help him to go Hollywood.
Of course they will welcome a character out of Scheherazade Suite or the
Arabian Nights, it is not like that. The other day a man approached me and
asked if I were British. He came from Bournemouth near Southampton. I took him
to the Khalandar and he said he found what he had been looking for all over.
It has been very hot. When I go out people offer me tea, often with sugar
and milk. They have been coming here and insisting I take more tea with sugar
and sometimes with milk. I had to put a stop to it. I told than in my rooms I
was host, not guest. In 100° weather you cannot be stuffing your stomach.
On the other hand. I have been teaching boys soft-ball, handball,
pinkey-on-the bounce and other games. Between this and dancing I am very
popular with the small fry. I also have another nickname—the tots call out
“Tam bleaze” and I am supposed to chase them. In the heat this is not a
very enjoyable game. I also dance balancing a brick or load on my head. I have
become the most unusual person (You know me ‘Al) . The only thing I can’t
live up is all my nick-names; each one has a function.
The news here is opera comique or opera bouffe but serious. Every week there
is a threatened invasion of Kashmir which is always called off because the
Afghans cross on the other side. Everybody is for “peace” but nobody knows
what once is any more than they know what submission is or an election or
plebiscite is. Now they want a referendum.
Johnson came home and said he met no opposition. In an agricultural land he
visited cities. He asked people “Do you approve of me and my plans?” They
said “Yes.” Everybody approved of him and nobody knew what his plans were.
Now that they have found out—skip it. We need a few more Laotian situations.
Zanzibar has gone the way of a lot of flesh. The only time the people here know
of Khrushchev is when we advertise and we advertise him an awful lot and that
raises his stock in trade.
I have written to Sam Yorty, the new Mayor of L.A., also another old pal. He
loves to gripe and when he gets the real news which never appears in the papers
he is liable to hit the ceiling; or ask me for more should he run for U.S.
Senate. It is ridiculous that I shall have to visit a lot of Prime Ministers
just to get one newspaper interview at home. This country is full of friends of
the U.S.—either American people who have worked and are working here or
Pakistanis who went to American universities but nobody calls on them for
advice or information. Nothing doing, because Allah is great but protocol is
I wish I could write a continuous letter. I am only free before 7 in the
morning and after 10 at night plus an hour or so in the p.m. when I fall
asleep. But the prognostications—wotta word—are fine. I have all the
fortune-tellers with me and a few others. I have just written to Walt Baptiste
about the Khalandar and some time ago to my “god-son,” Norman McGhee. Well,
Phant-asia marches on but I stick to the real Asia.
June 20, 1961, almost my birthday
You are wonderful to write so often and long. I received your Apr. 23rd.
account on June 11th. There was an unusual outpouring it March and the latest I
have now is Apr. 23. So I have a long way to go to catch up with your present
whereabouts. At the present moment I am not going to comment on these
communications as I have so much personal news to relate. But I will send,
shortly, a copy of my letter about Xmas you say you never received, as it
contains some info on Max that will help you to understand events I am about to
relate. My carbons show I have faithfully written once a month, but there is no
carbon for May, which may mean because it was hectically full, or that I wrote
in longhand. The Xmas letter told you of the death of
mygood-friend-for-20-years Doug. Kline.
Doug, a born bachelor in his seventies, with no relatives, had named me in
wills written since 1952. The last one, voiding others, gave me all his
possessions, money in bank, etc. But because he failed to use the words
appointing me executrices, the Public Administrator moved in, took away the
bank book, closed his Curio Shop and prepared to sell Doug’s wonderful
collections along many lines. I got a lawyer and fought back. Oh how often I
thought of you and your experiences with your father’s will. In the long run
you became wealthy and I shall not. But I learned the true character of Max and
together we disposed of the collections in the basements of Doug’s friends.
The odds and ends, or “junk” at the front of the store I had to buy (yes,
though willed to me!), then turn around and sell to a junkie, in order to get
possession of the valued items. The rent on the store was to go up $15, so I
decided to get out by a certain date—which meant Max and I worked until 4
A.M. loading the last truck load, driving through the city too tired to
appreciate its weirdness. I got up at 6:30 a.m. & was at work on time.
Subsequently I have corresponded with Drs. Neil and Miller out at CS Park,
with various officials at PG&E, here in L.A. and still I can’t even
donate collections that are highly appreciated, but nobody has room for them.
When I have to demonstrate these items Max is always there. Together we put on
the most unusual Carrousel Party of the year, from Doug’s collection of
“Boots & Shoes” (theme of the Party). I wished for you & your
I have known Max, first as a customer in 1958, then as mechanic for my shop
and he was forever proposing marriage. Finally he said he couldn’t stand not
having me any longer & would move away. Went around 2 days in a haze trying
to imagine what life would be without Max. Then I finally made up my mind to
marry him, the resultant action seemed to be in a hurry. But it was because I
wanted to honor my parents by having the wedding on the anniversary of their
always happy marriage.
Maximilian Figuerora Ponti and I were married in Carmel, June 4th, before a
women judge. I took one week free from my closed launderette, so we had time to
drive down the beautiful coastal Sur route, stopping overnight at a ritzy Motel
in Ventura (my first experience). We were sightseeing in L.A. the balance of
the third day and renewed acquaintance with Pig ‘nd Whistle for a late
dinner. The morning of the 4th day of our vacation we were packing his car to
spend 2 days with my chum in Claremont. Presumably parking lots are flat, but
this one had a hole I stepped into and was thrown flat! I suffered bruises in 6
spots a broken right ankle bone. I had to be hospitalized and plastered with a
cast from toes to knee cap. I had to cancel some wonderful dates with friends
and could not get to Disneyland. Trip home hot, painful.
Then came a terrific shock I must pass on to you. Our Wesley died of cancer
Jane 4, and was buried 2 days later in a little Berkeley church. He was
supposed to be getting better when we visited him just before leaving S.F.
Such bad news about Larry Brown I thought I should visit him, pains be
hanged. He had been losing his fight with diabetes, but now he’s had a stroke
and also gone blind. Otherwise I am mad at Carrousel for ignoring our wedding
& my accident. Not even a card!
Other disappointments are trying to pull me down, such as no promised
vacancy here for larger apartment. We shall continue to live here. At the shop
a vigorous young man wanted to buy, but only on condition that he could put in
an ironer. He had already solicited restaurant flatwork & would have made
my place pay, so I could sell out. But City Mall refuses a permit for the
ironer (due to pressure from the Steam Laundry Assn.) Tears of rage!
And no folk dancing for 6 to 8 weeks.
Yours in pain,
Leonora Martin Ponti
August 17, 1961
My dear Leonora :
This is the news. It is August 17, 1961 evening and Feliz Knauth of S.F. and
me also of S.F. have been to Maxilla to look over the ruins. They have been
cleaned up in spots. The Museum is in order and all objects d’art which did
not find acceptance by the curator have been removed. Grecian, Persian and
presumably Jewish things out. And the Greeks are shown to have become
Buddhists. It is a pity that the Curator of Peshawar has conflicting views, or
it is not a pity. I shall have to do some boning up before I leave Pakistan to
say which one I accept, for they involve a lot of other stuff.
I wrote you the other day and then had my picture taken. Inasmuch as I shall
have to mail you a picture, I answer your letter—piker! This saves on postage
but not dignity. It is the picture of Puck of Pukhtunistan as he will appear on
certain Midsummer Night’s Eves.
I have just returned from a film, “Night in Europe” or something which
shows night clubs and dancing. I still like the Spanish best, by far. Way
behind the Russian. I don’t like the French night clubs at all. Sometimes I
dream of further traveling. I have two trips in mind—one to England and
Sweden; another through the Mediterranean to U.A.R. But I won’t go alone any
more if I can help it. I get tired of this single traveling and attention to so
I may go into India overland from Hyderabad, Sind because few Americans have
gone that way. I also hear that few Americans go to Waziristan.
Felix and I have not too much warmth toward the “Peace Corps.” Why do we
ignore the veterans who have accomplished things? There are lots of them even
though they do not always write books like Dr. Seagraves. And our position is
hopeless. Nicol Smith of The Burma Road fame wrote a book on Tibet and made
some prophecies; Lowell Thomas, ditto. “Everybody” read Lowell Thomas and
you would get an idea from his writings that everything is safe and sound. But
Lowell is the man whom the State Department and the press and the radio accepts
and he has misled the American public no end. But he is he, like “This is the
news” Marrow who writes glowing speeches that he welcomes criticisms and
suggestions. Sez you. In fact so many of my criticisms and suggestions have
been accepted that I am planning to write to president Kennedy.
I just sent a report to secretary Shahab criticizing one of our
“experts” on the Orient and perhaps one of the men who briefed Lyndon
Johnson. I think Johnson did some right things here but I have not found
anybody who could point them out; he welcome s criticisms and suggestions and
the whole Orient is furious with the U.S, with its maudling sermons and
self-righteousness. Well, I got another letter today from a friend of another
Prime Minister: La même chose. W sit around the table and prove our position
in Laos is logical, rightists, noble and of universal benefit. The Chinese just
infiltrate. After Laos Cambodia. I would like to see some top-notch commentator
or anybody who can tell what language is spoken in Cambodia, what race the
people are, etc., etc.
Your letter indicates your life is a hodge-podge and I shall be glad when it
is not a hodge-podge and you can sit back in an easy chair and say “Ah!”
Why should the public library keep open. We don’t need no book learning no
more. We can sit back and have the commentators tell us or just put the
question to univac. In Russia—and why should we follow Russian—they keep
the libraries open to 10 P.M. all the time.
Well I don’t practice any Yoga regularly now; only irregularly. Everything
is lovely and snafu and why not?
Ruark is probably right. People stay 5-10 years or more in a foreign land
and what they accomplish is not a matter of record. Prof. Schnitzel may spend
15 years in Waziristan and Commentator Walter Blah-blah may spend three days
and who does the State Department listen to? This is diplomacy. I am for the
veterans and I am for trusting all Americans broad, excepting professional
newsmen. They guild lilies and whitewash snow and yet have the public ear.
I am hoping to send news from Waziristan and find out what the people want.
I spoke to a big crowd at the college this week. I expect to s peak to many
more people and it is very likely I have spoken to more Pakistanis than any
other American has.
I wrote to Stanford about the Sufis to a prof. who is translating Sufi
manuscripts, I said it was too bad we are treated as none-existent and that we
have to go around and collect money to present Sufism to the American people
because our universities insist we are non-existent. I told him—and it is
true—that one leading “Orientalist” prof., while still holding we were
non-existent, was quite willing to accept an endowment from us. Now we have to
endow ourselves which is against our policy but it seems that dollars speak
louder than words.
I have now stacks of introductions and I am told some of the people are
overladen with cumshaw. Will accept. Will even try to get endowments. But none
to the Muslims who would not let me speak for them and none to any university
which denies our existence. This is very awkward.
There are now three distinct movements among the Sufis to counteract the
Russians and I don’t mean with lips and sermon and self-righteousness; I
still have three or four months without spilling to Prof. Burdick and I have
not given up hope that some Ambassador or Under Secretary will answer one of my
letters. But I think I may write Kennedy. Bowles is too busy contradicting
Rountree to answer me and Rountree is too busy contradicting Bowles and the
Asian-Asians have given us up as hopeless but are quite willing to accept our
f$o$r$e$i$g$n $aid$. And they are right. After all we have plenty of money to
endow trumpet players to perform before audiences of Greeks, French, Germans
and Swedes all over the world. If the Armenians in Baluchistan are lonely we
will send over a fan-dancer and if the English stranded in Bhutan need
entertainment we will send over some strip-tease girls. This is foreign aid.
I am still in a quandary over my own future in dancing. So many of my old
friends have withdrawn and the so many changes and introductions of made-up
dances without social or historical background have loosened my interest. I
feel very close to both Madelyn and Magaña Baptiste for reasons I would be
glad to disclose in person but not in writing. The present control of F.D. by a
small group which organize all the clubs and direct everything and get the
offices etc., puts the whole thing far away from folks. On the contrary, I am
more interested to visit certain lands where f.d. is continued.
I received a lot of information about the basis of the American Peace Corps.
It is very different sending people to lands which have no grand cultural
traditions and history or even religion than to impose, as I call it, the
trouser-tractor-gadget-Potter-clay arrangements with a choice between the
blonde Americans and blonde Russians. Every day the problems of this land seem
greater, the solutions are quite evident, but just as sure neither we nor the
Russians are going to do any experting without a big hullabaloo about our
particular social ways and no attention at all to the local ethos. This is more
complex when it comes to mineral wealth which they do have here and how and
maybe will do something. But now my attention is to packing, moving and
visiting strange parts.
October 13, 1961
My dear Audley:
I wrote a letter to you five days ago and there was a little lie in it and
there is a whole history in these five days which changes the complexion of
that lie and everything else so I am rewriting and making carbon copies. There
is one pun in that letter which still holds: I prefer bulletin-boards to
bullets. Anyhow I am vain enough to write on one side only just in case this is
Disappointment No. 1. Romance. Originally I left home for this
purpose. My whole story was to detail a duplication of Mr. Isaacs of
Marion Crawford. I re-read that book in Cairo and found it was a tragedy, not a
comedy. Irony marches on.
Disappointment No 2. My best friend has turned commy. There is a
whole story here I don’t wish to tell. Anyhow the movie people got hold of
him and turned his head. Then he got in a car accident and they looked after
him. Believe me, they looked after him. The story of these people is almost
identical with that of Hollywood some years ago, plus intrigue.
Reversal of Disappointment. Fame. I don’t know what papers have
copied. I am sending news to John Rockwell as quick as I can but I am
over-burdened in every direction. I went to see my friend and was immediately
attacked by the commies. I returned a few days later, they repeated and he
I do not wish to go here into the theory and practices of Sufism which is
long and complex. But these people have mind-readers and what not. There was a
Sufi teacher present who could not understand English but reads minds like a
book. Two days later he gave me a wonderful reception. The next day we had a
joint reception. The attacks continued despite their insistence that they never
discussed me. And a mass meeting with Sam Lewis, the unugly American speaking
to 20,000 people!
And the whole darned kit and crew of Americans is now for me and with me. I
am only hoping that somebody in Washington will wake up.
I wrote to my god-son dedicating my memoirs just in case and added,
“Don’t write my biography, just go and buy E. Phillips Oppenheim, you will
find the whole thing there.” After being rebuffed by the cultural attaché in
Karachi—no time for sergeants or bums, I became the guest of the top
intellectual of the country, Sect. Shahab and got the blessing of Ayub. I
can’t say that Ayub and I are thick but he put into practice my suggestion
when he visited the States. It worked and I got a letter of thanks.
I am living in the home of Major Sadiq who is a friend of Ayub, a spiritual
healer, a landowner and very wealthy. When I was here before, he introduced me
to the cream of the cream. I meet everybody here, especially those whom others
say I can’t meet and whom generally those don’t succeed in meeting. I have
twice been the guest of the same people as Mr. Sulzberger of the NY Times and
have written him (if any answer it is in Delhi).
One of these hosts was the Supt. of Police where I lived. I have made
friends with the police all over. Well, some of his colleagues came and spilled
the whole communist story, their intrigue to upset the Peace Corps. This is a
cinch. This country calls itself an “Islamic” Nation and the definition is
to be found in Lewis Carroll—”why a word means whatever I want it to
mean.” Our teachers in Islam are a fine group of Englishmen, Canadians,
Zionists and Europeans who take us into never-never land and miss all the fine
points, noble points, offal, dung and spirituality that somehow or other gets
mixed up with this word “Islam.” The only man who wrote the truth was
Westermarck in his “Marriage and Morals in Morocco.” They have a science of
filth-terms there that would make our Millerites look like kindergarten
amateurs. They have a spiritual philosophy of which we have no inkling. All
Now, since I have been exposed, I find the universal admittance by Americans
that they do not know Pakistani Islam; who does? The Russians! I crisscrossed
them at the most renown “Yoga” center in India. This could not be, so my
reports were slanted. I turned a mob on the hecklers somewhere also. If I had
been mobbed, I would probably have a big job with the State Department. I did
the trick—when man bites dog in Asia, it is not news—and this is fact,
truth, absolutely so and not sarcasm. So I am now asked to answer “The Lotus
and the Robot” of Koestler and “Asia is My Beat.” Why, Audley, I have
seen more history made than any present day American writer on this continent.
Sooner or later it will out. I have just written to my friend, Dr.
Radhakrishnan who, despite Koestler, is the next most important man in India to
Nehru. And it is about Nehru and Tara Singh. I was the only outsider when they
swore “eternal fealty”—until excuse do us part.
The other host was the largest successful farmer in Pakistan using modern
means. I got wholesale insights into the Sugar industry, fertilizing, spraying,
etc. the details of which—along with other things—I hope to discuss with
your colleagues when I return. Anyhow I wrote to Saltzburger.
I also wrote to the Alsops and Satevepost. You see, darling, I call my
closest associates, “Four, Just Men” You never heard of us, excepting me in
the S.R. Journal-Independent, but there is not a big shot from one end of Asia
to the other excepting Iran, whom one or us has not met—and we never got
editorial or State Department interviews.
Well, I wrote Satevepost and Alsop with my tongue in my cheek. But, Ripley,
News Week accepted my report just in the middle of my present drama a la drama.
20,000 people just to hear me. The whole public square was miked. I am about a
quarter of a mile away and I can hear everything from there. And tonight repeat
performance. My audiences had grown about 15,000 all told when I arrived in
Lahore. I am just trying to bring Pakistanis and Americans together by bringing
Third Disappointment. Folk Dancing. Missed it everywhere. They have
either stopped or it rained. And my friend in the Radio Pakistan has moved to
Karachi and I called off my visit there. Now the reversal of the reversal.
The commie attack cancels my visit to East Pakistan and my news associations
favor my return to the U.S. via Karachi and New York unless there is a new
departure and radical change (which is always happening faster than I can
write). If I go to Karachi, I shall meet the very tops in the radio and
The last day in Japan I learned, too late, that my hostess had been an FD
teacher. Now there is a group of schools across the street from here. I heard a
band playing. It was little boys and girls and I saw a bunch of older
girls—folk dancing. It is new. It is on the ground. It slightly resembles the
Israeli dancing in representing a new spirit. But the forms are basically a
mixture of squares and Lathrop formations. That is, in groups of 8 or 12, but
generally 8, they go into geometric formations and laces and graces.
The supt. of the grounds is a friend of my host, the Major, and if I get
stuck here—and I am stuck here, I may learn more. The reason for my being
stuck is that the Indians have not issued my visa after one month. I offered
references almost everybody but Nehru himself and that did no good so I
air-mailed two letters to India. Even a long-distance call—put through by the
American Friends of the Middle East—did no good.
The longer I remain here the more my program goes awry, the more my money
piles up (no hotel bill), the more it is in the wrong places and the more I
have to trust in Allah or something.
Meanwhile the Major has built himself a fame by his healing. Unlike the
“spiritual” and hand-healers in America, he seems to do his best work in
the presence of physicians! I have seen miracles, but only with a doctor in
attendance which makes it all the more wonderful or strange.
President Ayub knows him well and there is a movement on to send him to the
Meanwhile he introduced me to another general. This one is head of the new
Agricultural Development Corporation. Major Sadiq may be headed for that too. I
went to one of his places. He even owns a palace with a long history. He asked
me for advice: I told him (a. cotton and tobacco; (b. start a medicinal herb
garden for the benefit of his friends the doctors. I found he is growing cotton
and it looks fine. I did not see his tobacco—the place was too large. I spoke
against Sugar Cane and he is losing money on it. And against Rice and most
vegetables he is also growing oil seed plants and along with the cotton-seeds I
think this is important. But I want to send him Avocados. With this new Agr.
Dev. Corporation we should be able to pass quarantine.
In the meanwhile the whole legation has become serious about me. They
realize the Peace Corps won’t know much about Pakistan and Pakistanis. They
realize the seriousness of the agricultural problems. I spent over an hour on
my plan to train apprentices in the food-processing industries, a matter I
should also like to lay before you colleagues. Notes were taken and it is a
50-50 chancee the plan, in outline, will be laid before Secretary Freeman who
Then I had to get some cash and got a letter to the American Express Co.
While I was there I laid before them my plan for tourism which was spurned by
the Pakistani bureaucrats. Did they accept it? They wish I go to the best
office in S.F. and go into details which I shall.
Then I want to the USIA publicity department and spent more then and hour
extra.~The same with the political attachés. These boys know the difference
between reality and “realism.”
But the best is about Mr. Kibbee, who, while in charge of USI, has been
promoted to the rank of Consul-General. One can hardly believe it. A Cultural
attaché with sense! Instead of having pianists come and play Bach, Beethoven,
Brahms and Tchaikovsky (true, not sarcasm) these wonderful “American”
geniuses, he has been putting and American folk songs and folk ballad nights.
Page Charlie Bassett and Grace and Grace and Grace. What’s the world coming
to? And these crazy Pakistanis—they paid no attention to the planet playing
these wonderful ?American? geniuses Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and Tchaikovsky and
took to the American folk-songs and folk-dancing and square dancing. What’s
this guy being paid for? I could hardly believe it. It is bad enough to be a
victim of persecution instead of wars, but using American funds to bring
American culture as it is to people who want to hear it and join us. ‘S
unbelievable but it can happen her. And do they take to it?
You know I have a pack of nicknames such as SAM (meaning Sufi Ahmad Murad)
and Puck of Pukhtunistan and Ah Yaint, A saint, but the kids call me
“Ee-eye-ee-eye-oh!” Such insidious counter-propaganda, totally against
protocol. And it word, it works!
I was not very successful in convincing anybody before but now everybody is
listening to me. I am crazy enough to believe the people here will take to Burl
Ives faster than to Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, knitting, tatting, weaving and
sermoning. Of course this is unfair to the Russians to come down to earth and
mingle with ye people. But this man has done it.
I am not so sure of Washington. I don’t unit with baited breath. My mail
is in India but if not answered, watch for my throwing some hand grenades which
will be bombs. Remember, Lewises rush in where angels and devils alike fear to
tread. I am doing that myself tonight. But that’s another story.
October 15, 1961
You will find enclosed copy of letter to Audley, in part professional, in
part social. Well, the resolution has came and my cloak-and-dagger outfit is.
It is getting to be more like a story that resembles a story instead of real
Friday night I spoke to 10,000 people—the orthodox this time, not the
liberal Sufis. Yesterday morning to top graduates and professors only, a closed
group at Punjabi University. And today I received a delegation of people who,
at the last moment decided not to go to my former teacher, now turned communist
and came to me for help. It was all right to make fun of “Ah Yaint, a
saint” but it was useless. Many people think I am.
Evidently whatever I did must have turned out right for this evening I met a
most beautiful young women teacher who has invited me to speak this week to
graduate students at the College for Home Economics, where again my audience
will be fair young maidens. This as I am supposed to be leaving and still no
visa from the Hindus. I am pulling strings like mad.
The longer I stay the more money I save, the more my prestige goes up and
the further I am from my goals, or is it gaols? Anyhow tomorrow morning I must
report to the USIA on my speeches and see the Consul about my passport and also
try to find how to get some Indian rupees—at any cost.
With the Americans accepting my food processing idea and perhaps passing it
on Secretary Freedom; with the American Express accepting my tourism plan I am
much encouraged and getting more jolts—upward. Surprisingly Newsweek accepted
my report; and today, although Sunday and my mail it presumably going to India,
I received another surprise—a response from Satevepost. I have written the
Embassy in India to please send any mail on hand to me here, but not to my
host, mail addressed to his address being kept for me.
I am beginning to feel more confident and meanwhile also things are coming
fine for my post and friend, Major Sadiq. I am paying he come to the U.S. with
me. I hate to say more or holdover for every day brings something. It fact it
brings everything but me closer to my physical destination. What a change from
my talks which so few attended.
My dear Mrs. Ponti:
I gotta repeat this so it gets into the cortex or cerebellum or something. I
am enclosing copy of letter to relatives with the grand local phraseology
concerning and anent why I have not shipped shoes. For where is never a dull
moment here although sometimes it is a toss-up between snafu and tarfu or I
write letters to my imaginary Burmese friend U Can, Twin.
The moment is snafu but I may mail this in Rawalpindi where I am taking a
day off to spend some money but for kids. For adults I am reserving Peshawar
and may send for more rupees, God bless them, so that I shall have no excuse
for not getting things off. Otherwise there will be no alternative but to
unload in Karachi. I still have your foot-measurement which does not mean that
the foot will fit the shoe exactly. But I’ll do my best and am
determined—though I have not consulted Allah—to send all and sundry
foot-gear to S.F. and a for other things.
My Burmese resolution or revolution had another effect—I have been invited
to Pegu. I don’t want to go to Pegu, I don’t even know where Pegu is and I
was about to shut the door tight when my host, whose first name is Allen, told
me his father operated a hardwood forest plantation and if there is anything I
want to see more than a hardwood plantation it is another hardwood forest
plantation. So the best unlaid plans of mice and men don’t get anywhere.
However I cannot plan until I get to Penang and at the moment my Malayan plans
are best half-way between snafu and tarfu and me hungry for rijsttafel!
The last part of the letter concerns my young cousin Henry and may interest
you. I have some qualms now about F.D. I would like to work with Magaña
Baptiste and also with kolos and maybe Near East dancing, but these plans are
overcomplicated by snafu programs of various Pakistanis for me in the U.S.
which would bring money and not solace. They want me to travel and I don’t
want me to travel, but c’est la guerre ver’ cold, ‘tis true, and the need
of bringing Orient and Occident together.
The Russians did a terrible thing in space-flight. They pushed Kashmir off
page 1. Kashmir belongs to page 1. East Pakistan has had another worst flood;
it makes our hurricanes look like amateurs but that does not push Kashmir off
page 1. There are increased problems on water-logging, saline soils, locusts,
dry areas but that does nothing. People are so concerned with Kashmir that the
rivers here, like neglected children, remind them by going in spate and then
overflowing. This is awkward because there are not enough hand-workers in this
empire of democracy to look after sand-bags and take care of the levels.
You can’t go anywhere without having the Kashmir problem brought up and
this is worse because the Kashmiris say they are people and not
problems—although I can’t quite agree. Did you ever meet any Kashmiris?
There is one great thing about an Islamic or religious country—you don’t
have to believe God. The atheistic are concerned with God. The religions people
with themselves. And the attempts to invade Kashmir are always being thwarted
by the Afghans invading from the other side. “You dast me and I dast you”
but there are more Afghans named Dast and let it go at that.
So-ol’-dear, I shall do me best to get something at Peshawar where I am
shed-jeweled to be on September 7 or so. Then I don’t know what—only travel
and travel until I get to Delhi about a month later.
Anyhow I have enough congressman and even State Dept. officials recognizing
that come Americans have votes if not information, and it might be good to
listen to them.
[with ink blot—Ed]
Oct. 26, 1961
Thanks for the generously long letter and carbons. Within a week afterward
the Pakistani shoes arrived! Thank goodness you, or the storekeeper, but that
heavy bag with its durable string and wax dollops around it, for the box was
smashed almost unrecognizably, likewise the paper bags. I wanted to pass on the
latter for “local color,” especially the wondrous spelling of
“sandles”! Even the newspaper stuffing interested me.
The slippers are very rich looking, the different appointments providing
elegant atmosphere. That was smart of you to get several different sizes. I
fell for the heavily beaded slippers with the red lining and its one blue
flower. Alas these were far too large for me. The plain gold I liked the least
were also too large. The gold embroidered velvet and the gold sequined trim on
black velvet I am crazy about and will keep whichever pair best adapts
to my feet. Will have to use gold ribbon to hold on the heel pert. Hope you had
as good a time selecting these as I had unwrapping. Even showed them off to
some retired ladies here in the apartment house, who got a great kick out of
them. Miss Murphy even wants to buy a pair to send her niece, please state
price. However, I told her you probably wanted them distributed to relatives or
girl friends. If I did not hear in a week or so, as to their disposal, I would
write and ask—which I am now doing, since I have conned your letters for such
info in vain. You just indicated that shoes had to be shipped several
In addition to the allocation of 3 pr. of slippers, as above I want you to
tell me one name of the East Indian loving picture that so intrigued you? If it
was a prize winner, it will come to USA for participation in a Film Festival
along international lines. I might thus have the opportunity to see it and I
very much desire that.
It is now Oct. 31st
Next I would like you to identify your costume in the photo you sent and
give the name of city or place where taken. Please do this on future photo of
you send and date taken.
Something you have never mentioned is the use of interpreters. How do you
make out in these lectures you give? Is English compulsory in the schools?
I had fun with your signature in the form of an Ink Blot. Remember when we
students in psychology used to analyze them?
My teeth are still giving me the devil of a time, so I do not get as much
gone as I could like. However, I managed to stand for one opera during the now
defunct season. I like to keep up with the new operas, stars, music, etc. This
was Blood Moon, action laid in New Orleans just prior to the Civil War. This
had too much recitative type of singing, but Mary Costa was very enjoyable.
Some time ago I read an article on “The American Family is headed for Ash
Heap of History” but it doesn’t seem worth commenting on any more, in the
face of the Russian Megaton. The whole idea is hideous. A constant topic now is
Wish you could see the clever article on Festival of Food. Oven Olympics Won
by San Francisco Cooks. I’m saying it so you can become a gourmet.
Many thanks and thoughts
Lahore, November 15, 1961
Anything resembling sanity or sense here is quite coincidental. Too many
cloaks, toe many daggers. Since stepping in the communist cell her there has
been surveillance and whether causal or not, I have had a tough time getting
mail, a tougher time tracing my money and no success whatever as to my
Passport. I think know where the money is but as it is Indian rupees, it would
not do no good, no how. Not a word from the Indians excepting one letter
wrongly addressed and that was very courteous. Absolute evidence of mail
tampering in two places shown to the Consul, but, of course, what I do not get,
I do not know.
I was writing my diary report to one Audley Nichols, mostly technical, when
the P.M. arrived with a flock and among them letters from her—which has been
answered. Then a mail notice which required not only signing papers but a
separate letter with a hope and prayer one of them gets through—mailed at
The other day I cashed some money—my mail bill is enormous, my other
expenses almost negligible. Then visited the Cooperative Art Goods store. Now
my intentions are to buy there only for Rudolph Schaeffer Co. and to wait until
I reach India for saris, one for you. Even this is modified—it is presumed
here that the P.O. notice from U.S. was for books for me, but it, also might be
saris. If it appears that I cannot get to India then you should receive saris
either from here or Ceylon. Any possible purchases in Malaya come under
However, be may as that is (Gracie Allan English) I had already intended to
buy shoes for the Rudolph Schaeffer School because the eye is fancier than the
hand and now with your letter must submit an amendment to the institution so
tomorrow or manañã—which means any tomorrow, I shall take a small flock of
rupees and can safely buy three pairs of shoes. So far I have consigned shoes
only to Peg Allmond and your feet. Any shoes which do not fit you may either go
to Peg, or you may sell or give to Audley, but I am not looking.
I forget the name of the movie which intrigued me—I remember the story,
and I think the world “Bara” was part of it, but with all the gyrations and
drama going on, Abbottabad is far, far away.
The major with whom I stay is involved in a law suit and a tremendous
promotion possibility with the Agricultural Development corporation of all
things. My whole scientific program has been successful and I have been in
conference with the OIC who have the last word and I am definitely getting into
higher echelons. Then I am in close touch with the Mayor of this section who is
a large manufacturer and a Sufi and want to come to the U.S., etc.
You have sympathy with the teeth—moi aussi and I am afraid of the dentists
here. I have been mugged but the palmist has only given me promises. His
temporary predictions were only partly right but a Sufi who was present made
predictions which have some 100% right. Oh, I got a nice letter from Prof.
Rhine of Duke but that must wait.
The Russians want us to build shelters and more and more while they
infiltrate. The story of Sam Lewis of 1961 is exactly the same as that of the
American Consulate of 1961, but so long as we are under Dullespionage we are
going to lose. The Chinese are getting Bhutan and the Russians Afghanistan and
Allsop is preparing more articles to explain.
Everything is compulsory here and you had better figure that out. The first
and last word they learn in English is “must” and somewhere along the line
“ought” and “should.” All other words are related to these two. But
gymnastics and military science as well as basic sciences are all in English.
And the little boys who want to be big are demanding Urdu and Arabic which puts
the poor kids—who want to speak Punjabi—in dithers.
M.T. Kirby warned me about Hawaii. R.C. about Vietnam and later about Laos.
Nicol Smith and Talbot Mundy about Tibet. Sam Lewis about Egypt. Then Lowell
Thomas and Cecil Brown did some unwarning and Allsop writes articles explaining
away. We are living in a dream world and the reds are taking every advantage.
They are infiltrating all over. We don’t want to be warned, we want to be
I am yet to get one reply properly directed since my run-in with the
communists. Either my mail has been intercepted or we are worse fools than
I thought. This is my fourth come-uppance and I am tried.
Add to this the newspapers asking for my autobiography, then for an article
on “Agriculture in Pakistan”—with some chances for national distribution,
etc. All Americans here admit I am doing what they wish they could do and
can’t. Will the Peace Corps do any better? I don’t know of a single person,
American or Pakistani, who is optimistic. I should be leaving with knowledge of
all missions well done, home papers please don’t copy—or if they have, I
haven’t hard. Nothing, nothing since my run-in and under constant
surveillance until my bossy strong armed somebody the other day. Too many
cloaks, too many dangers, or dangers (in Greek these words are spelled the
same). Now I am going out and play with the kids.
November 16, 1961
My dear Leonora:
I can kiss you for bailing me out for it proves, or rather adds another step
to proof of interception of mail. I can’t absolutely sustain this but I
showed the Consul two proofs and as some of my mail arrived with scotch tape
and other mail otherwise, there was no way of knowing who put the tape on. I
have had the awkward situation of complaining about a branch of the government
to another branch only to find the mail was intercepted. This is awkward. I
have hardly had any answers from anybody in Pakistan excepting the Embassy. I
think I may have written that one friend had to write to somebody also to find
out about me. I am even taking this to the main P.O. but I can’t afford to
spend more money on air-mailing. It is too much and the better my social
position the more correspondence.
Nor have I heard from Rudy Olsen despite air-mail letters. Nor from anybody
whatever to whom I gave reports on communists excepting one very cryptic letter
from “Newsweek” which was written as if they expected it to be opened or
censored. You will therefore do me the favor of telephoning: a. Rudy Olsen; b.
Congressman Shelley, and find out if they have had letters from me. This will
go by sea-mail.
You can guess how emotionally tired I am. Most of my papers have arrived,
and some, under stress misplaced and I don’t know what to do except accept
some loses. But all efforts to get my passport back have failed and not letters
from the Indian High Commissioner nor from friends in or out of office in
India. This makes me skate on thin ice because a misunderstanding might easily
set up an explosion in either Congress or the Indian Lok Sahba, where one of
the chiefs of the opposition is an old palsy-walsy of mine.
I have written Audley for professional and other reasons and just did again.
I must see her associates and certain people in San Rafael. Am constantly
getting in deeper and am wanted to come back. But the books I have been taking
from the USIA library give me wonderful tips.
Today I almost fell over. There is a fine man in charge of the Cultural Work
here and he gets along well with Pakistanis. I asked his Pakistani assistant
about his meeting nationals. “He has met more nationals than any other
American here.” “How many?” “Seventy.” Not another word—we
understood one another. So a successful American meets 70 people and this bum
unrecognized has met, perhaps 70,000 (seventy thousand).
Yes, when I come back if I don’t see Mrs. Grady I shall put it to Jack
Smeller and also to the Foreign Relations Committee about a Senior Peace Corps.
We don’t know what these people think about us but I know what they think
about me. I am on the verge of sanding more letters to the S.F. Bay region. I
have always held out for veterans and know a lot, but you can’t break
protocol. There was no serious consideration of the Peace Corps and within two
weeks I am going to set off a blast against Ed Murrow and once I pass that
I would not mind working for or with the International Institute. If you can
telephone Evelyn Hersey please tell her that I, the wandering marinated
Marinite, was a long time friend of Ann Cloe Watson.
Poor Larry has always been sick. Am sorry about Daudee and Dick. The Major
is away and everybody is predicting he will come to America with me. He has
this natural healing gift and I would circulate around, but gosh, where oh
where has my passport gone?
I do not mind if Congressman Shelley or anybody does not answer; that is not
my worry. My worry is about mails getting through. Even my money was
misdirected. I suppose I have your August letter in file but so much, oh so
much has happened the last two months. I have had one good night’s sleep in a
month. My best friend, outside the Major, is ill and I have to watch over him.
He is a big shot who has to watch over a large industry. He is also Mayor of
the cantonment. He is also head of a well-to-do family with a lot of servants
all of whom depend upon him and among other things do not want to see him
married to the wrong person—that is to any, any woman who is not their
Morning. I have another brain wave but it is not a comforting one. At least
I overslept which is something not done for a long time and I had dreams which
must have some significance—all excepting the last one. Three women met me in
S.F. They towed me around, etc. There was a struggle between a German band and
a new type of music which I had not heard.
The German music finally was winning and I thought I should dance. I knew
one of the ladies does not dance so I beckoned to the younger of the others. It
was worse than a flop—she could hardly walk to the music. Anyhow she was a
stranger to me and not an F.D. either so I can’t interpret.
The director of the library is a psychoanalyst, very frustrated because he
can’t practice—and if any country needed psychoanalysts—wow. I hope to
see him when I return some books and ascertain about mail. Now the Embassy is
blaming me and natch, I have poured in on them for nonsense and they are going
to take it more, but it is no business of their what I do or don’t or say or
don’t—it is their business to get me my passport.
Here the saying is: Weep and the whole world weeps with you, laugh and you
laugh alone. No kidding. But don’t tell the Peace Corps; don’t tell anybody
anything. Intelligence would be unfair against an ignorant enemy.
December 4, 1961
My dear Leonora :
I am not specially sending out Christmas greetings until and unless I can
mail either regarding proceeding to India or coming back to the U.S. I have at
long last gotten the sympathy of the Embassy, who realize that this is not a
stunt but there are some very dangerous facts and factors at work. And what has
happened to this American (maybe he deserved it) might happen to others. We
don’t want to start a “War of Jenkins’ Ear” (don’t I know my
history), indeed we don’t want to start a war. In the meanwhile I am starting
traffic blockades. This makes me a holy man. You see only cows have been
causing traffic blockades and that is easy because they are holy. Ergo,
anything that causes a traffic blockade is holy.
Today, tired of having to listen for hours to men discussing in Urdu, I
slipped out, danced in the street, sang “Old MacDonald had a Farm,” proved
I was a Sufi and perhaps a mad “Mast Khalandar” and won the plaudits of
everybody. I told my friend the Malik it was not a stunt. You see he has agreed
to finance a home for me there so I wish to be a mayor and am already
Yes, at the moment it looks as if I may have two homes, inshallah. I should
like one in Marin and one near here. The Marin story is one of vindication as
well as love for that country. I don’t want to live in S.F. and I don’t
want to be far from it, far from it. But I have certain psychological bugs to
clear up. Besides, if the return of mail proves anything, I have lost several
old friends by death.
There is one exception. I would take a part-time job in S.F. and arrange my
residence accordingly. But it is too far ahead.
Yesterday I went to Sheikhapura to see a saint or wali, as he is called. We
have a mutual admiration society and most people are in awe of us. I was
roundly challenged and this proved I was a saint because the man who challenged
me is regarded as a sort of devil. Anyhow the wali and his little boy came to
Lahore and today we went to the farm of my host, Major Sadiq, to pick out a
place for a landscaped garden where I shall live and a “Garden of Allah”
which will be one for perfumes, medicines and herbs. Not only is the name
appropriate but we shall try to have plants not grown commercially here yet.
My ideas are taking on well. You know Puck, the answer man. Well, on a hunch
I went to the Agricultural Office and the head man was not there. No. 2 man
was. His name is Dr. Abdul Aziz. Puck said: “I have all the answers.” Abdul
Aziz said, “I have all the questions.” “Shoot!” He gave me four
questions, all technical and the answers came up so fast. The final one was on
pecans. “My dear Prof. Abdul Aziz, Texas A. & M. is already on my
schedule. I am taking a trip from San Francisco to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the
last place to get information on Sugar Problems, and I intend very definitely
to go to College Station Texas to get the very Pecans or cuttings you want.
That was settled long ago. This is my career. I am not asking you for anything.
I am a dervish.” That went over big and we agreed—he is to get the honor
and glory, and why not.
Not so good was the General. He made such a fine general he was removed and
put in charge of the new Agricultural Development Corporation. My host, Major
Sadiq, was called for final examination. The Civil Service Board passed him as
No. 1. The general asked questions and the Major gave the answer and the
general was a good (or bad) general. He was floored and flawed. This is a
technical matter into which I would be glad to go later when I get home. But
the general was not sure—you see I am not an orthodox Muslim. I may know all
about seeds, trees, soils and food but I had no training in Sharia. Of course
every man has his own Sharia and this means that there is never any
unemployment about lawyers, attorneys, solicitors, barristers and pleaders. You
have four codes to begin with, and five languages and it is all so simple!
On the other hand my palsy-walsies are all close to General Ayub. So I am
hoping to escape to India and then come back with official recognition before I
gets to the U.S.
In the meanwhile my complicated stories, never having reached the U.S. are
liable to cause a stir. I have concluded not to touch Burdick or Congressman
Walter Judd. And I won’t join General Walker. I meet the real thing, not
ghosts. I have just written my friend Elsa Gidlow. She wrote for a magazine
that had one communist editor and she was hailed for an investigation. The room
was full of reds and one even testified for the investigators. So poor Elsa was
guilty—I think she was guilty of writing poetry, but you never can tell.
My tenseness has caused me to start writing funny stories. Actually they are
not so funny. If I gave you a description of how we got to the farm. The Malik
and the wali asked that the Major be ready at sun-up. So I slept until
7:30—the sun-up is before 6:30, although sun-down is early. At 9:30 I told
the Major we were to leave here bright and early, so he went and called for the
Malik & wali. At 10:30 they came and called on Major Akram and we all found
mutual friends there and everybody visited everybody. We arrived at the farm
after 12 but could not see much because it was not yet lunch time and we had to
get to the palace—a real palace—for lunch. But as we were supposed to have
come at 10, the latest and there was no sign of us, the Madame and cooks do not
like to work for ghosts so we ate late.
There is also my next article which I write here: How a cue cues.
You see signs all over, especially in front of the P.O., “Cue up.” I
must explain—a straight line may be the shortest distance but a cue must be
shaped like a Q; if it is not like a Q it is not a cue. We have games, “Last
one in is the nigger baby.” We used to modify them as “First one is a
nigger baby.” In “Pukhtunistan” the first one in is the nigger baby.
Then we have the modified version, last bite goes to the old maid, so no one
wants the last bite. Here it is The last shall be first and the first shall be
last.” This is good scripture but it is taken very literally. You can pass
the Post Office any time and often see no line at all. Don’t be fooled. Just
try and buy stamps. Puck wrote this up while in Abbottabad, but has failed to
see any difference anywhere. As soon as you come to the window, nobody is going
to be an old maid. They are safe and they come in droves. The time of day does
not matter; we have tried all hours from 9 to 4, it does not make any
The next thing they have is “togetherness.” You don’t find much
“togetherness” in this country but before post offices and cinema windows,
you have it and how. Every cue is shaped like a Q. This is even more true at
Lloyd shrines. As soon as one man touches the shrine everybody wants to come
next and especially those in the road because “the last shall be first.”
Fortunately I am a saint here so don’t have to stand in line and what I see I
see. Any resemblance to anything but a Q in a cue simply is not.
Therefore I have long concluded: Islam is the most perfect religion in the
world, far better than other faiths in all respects—until you want to board a
bus. Five years propaganda will be countermanded in five seconds.
There are only two places to stand in a bus: one is to hang on the rear, and
the other is to block the entrance. This brings us back to “togetherness.”
It is rather awkward because there is absolute segregation here, like in the
south, exactly, with women to the front and an imaginary line of demarcation.
But togetherness wins over segregation, desegregration and everything. You can
get off an empty bus, until you come to the landing where you descend and try
to get out!
Then in the lines, people to whom the touch is unholy, suddenly learn the
brotherhood of man. They put hands over your shoulders, under your arms, over
your head, anywhere, anyhow and yell. Fortunately the postal clerks do not have
to run for office and so they do not have to respond to the most vociferous.
They even wait on each person in turn.
Where the teller’s windows are small I block the window good and am rude
enough to shove aside those who manhandle, and everyone, manhandles everyone
else. I am going to re-check in India to see how Brahmins and outcastes mix. In
most places in this casteless land there are three or four windows for cinema
tickets, different classes, and this saves the Brahmins. But the way I know
Hindus, the Brahmins would prefer the cheapest and some of the upstart
outcastes would buy the choice seats. This shows how evil democracy is.
I am reminded of the line in the “Mikado,” a twisted cue. Darling, they
haven’t anything here but twisted cues and a cue that is not a Q is not a cue
because it simply ain’t.
In my last I think—no it was to friends in Marin, with copy to Audley, I
plan to introduce folk-dancing by a most sininister method. Keep that
misspelling; it is better than the original. I have a plan for a new school of
Sufis, for the young. We are going to do something no self-respecting Muslim
would ever do—work. The kind of work I shall explain when I return. Anyhow I
saw I should have an assistant, a beautiful school teacher and I proposed to
her the propositions today and to my delight she took them all up:
No segregation between boys and girls. They would have the same training and
disciplines and study and music together. On our missions we might separate to
please Madame Grundy. We shall get rid of all traditions not in the Scriptures.
Mohammad, whom I consider a prophet of God, even “the Prophet” said:
“There are three things that I like: women, perfumes, and prayer.” Now no
“self-respecting” Muslim will accept that here. But neither will he work
like Mohammed did or anything. He did not have segregation between the sexes.
That was borrowed from Persia and only became “the holy law” about 300
years later. But who cares for history—not with all the lawyers, advocates,
barristers, pleaders, attorneys, imams, khatibs, mullahs, maulvis and ulema.
Gosh, if anybody got out the original sources they would faint or start riots.
So I accept the challenge. I am going to free these kids if it takes the rest
of my life. And this is going to open the way for kolos and how.
The home I shall have, inshallah, will have gardens planted by boys and girl
working together and they will work. No doubt the girls will like the idea of
perfume gardens, etc. Girls have far more ideas and logic than boys here. Boys,
of course, will sooner or later have manual training—making rocking-chairs
and I bet they sell like anything here. This would put the “Peace Corps”
out of existence. What a racket I could have raising funds for rocking-chairs.
But what I want is brooms, brushes, detergents and small stoves. The Malik will
give the last so we can have hot water and we’ll put the rest of the country
I still have the complex of a lot of Indian rupees and I need winter
clothes. Fortunately I took my gymnasium trousers and my tights with me and
they come in handy.
All of this makes it complex about returning to college so I can’t plan.
But I know I am going to write books and articles and start one man parades
before editors who won’t see me. They can throw me out—I don’t mind that,
but I am going to demand interviews. We simply I can’t intermingle with
I am concerned with General Walker and all these movements in the U.S. They
are looking for reds where there are only whites and blues and when we find
reds nobody believes us. So these people are helping the very ones they acclaim
against and it’s a cinch for a commie agent—just join the extreme rightists
and yell with them. You can have a lot of fun getting rid of your enemies and
be safe at the same time.
Tomorrow morning I am to see Dr. Whitman the OIC agricultural adviser and
this means the end of a cycle. A new one may begin soon after. We shall see.
I have four disciples—dogs. This was clever because as soon as the crows
saw me treat the dogs nicely they joined. Then the smaller birds, everything
but the chipmunks. I had hoped to feed the chipmunks and I found dogs like
pine-nuts, peanuts and walnuts, so why fight fate? I licked ‘em by joining
‘em. It makes me look like a hypocritical Saint Francis. But as I have
written, feed the birds and you get the Franciscans against you; mingle with
humanity and you get the Whitmanians against you; be kind to strangers and that
will make you a suspect to the praisers of Dale Carnegie.
To counteract saintliness I have taken a dip into gourmet-ism. The trouble
is that it has been both quite expensive and quite successful and even more
successful than expensive.
I had to write a stirring letter to England—but then I am always writing,
stirring lessons. Somebody wrote a magnificent article on “The Saint” and
ended by saying, “the world of the saint, the sage and the scientist are
quite different.” This is beautiful—poetry. I wrote back “Go to Peshawar
and inquire for the greatest saint. Inquire for the greatest sage. Inquire for
the greatest scientist.” You will meet one man. It is true and I have met him
many times. The baloney that is put out as wisdom, is terrific. Everybody but
scientists talk about “the scientist.” The scientific knowledge of my host,
the Major, who is something of a saint too, floored the authorities here.
What I want when I get back home. I am hoping to have a place with a TV and
records and not go out too much for a while. But I shall have to confer with my
friend, Harry Nelson, and also—very serious, too, with Audley’s confreres.
Then with certain organizations and those who will not see me are going to be
blacklisted. If they throw me out that is all right, but against as above, if
they refuse to see me they are going to learn the hard way. I can tell you that
I have accomplished what huge money-raising groups have not done and this fact
is beginning to penetrate the different American groups here. I made it my
business to study Asia and not Europe or Africa.
My main difficulty is an emotional strain. Indeed I half write to blow off
steam. And the more you are accepted, the more time you must wait in social
calls, complicated by a lot of anti-British custom. Madame and Monsieur never
refuse and if your visit is interrupted steen times by useless hangers on, this
must be the will of Allah. Some of my friends are getting wise to this. I
walked out the other day from one meeting after it was insisted I arrive at 4
and the car came and picked me up early and at 5 after 5 I walked away, saying
I needed that time—and I do. Only it is night now and I can’t think
excepting to record the events, of the last two days—not diary. The diary
will be tomorrow when I write Harry Nelson after seeing Dr. Whiteman.
The latest grapevine—it is changing—is that I come home via Japan. This
will depend on the Major. My other potential companion, the Khalandar, wants to
take me in the opposite direction. The Malik may be ready and will have funds
but I am inclined to think he will prefer California also. My god-son in New
York also wishes to “return home.” I stop here and will close in the
It is morning and I feel fine. But when I look at the pile of unsettled
matters—papers not complete, letters not answered and the terrific impact of
not having heard from India, Ceylon, my travel agent, the State Department and
press, I cannot proceed. And when I look at the people here who fill me with
delightful social engagements or just steal my time I am stumped. I have heard
so many say everything will clear up; they say it and their insistence that
everything will clear up when things do not clear up makes it far, far worse.
Each sees his own problem. I think I am going to tell these people henceforth,
“God will take care of you, stop bothering me.” I have never done it but
may try it—for effect.
S’long it’s good to have known you,
December 13, 1961
My dear Leonora:
Some time ago I did an unpardonable act—I wrote an envelope with your name
on it. I never pardoned myself for that.
God, Khuda and Allah, with some help no doubt from Iblis, the Devil and
Satan, are keeping me in Pakistan. I have no answers to requests with one
possible exception which was a grandiose equivocation. So it became necessary
in the course of human events to get some winter clothes, and in pursuance
thereof I had to cash some money and apparently my checks have no rubber so I
cashed more and already have a new coat and an overcoat to come.
As my duty was to cash and not to cache I went over to the Government
Folk-Art Bureau where I had bored the people to death with questions and no
purchases and today it was almost purchases with no questions which they liked
a lot better. Anyhow Rs. Rupees bit the dust or something.
“Is this a dagger that I see before me?” No and you are not lady
MacBeth, at least I hope not. Anyhow they did not have descent or decent shoes
so I nosied me around and bought some things for Rudolph Schaeffer, Then I saw
a bee-ooo-ti-ful wood carving with two deadly weapons in it and it turned out
to be a carving set—not husbands for wives and wives for husbands but both on
the roast beef.
Anyhow whether you like roast beef or not I have set the walnut engraving
with the metallic enclosures and this satisfies my atonement for the sin in the
My troubles are increasing and my blessings are increasing and fortunately
at a rate higher than my troubles. The Major may (or may not) be back before
the conclusion of this letter, or this evening and may help clear up, if he
does not add to the “years of indecision.”
Mr. Dibble is the Political Attaché at the Consulate and he has my
secret—that I am crazy, so he wanted me to meet an American who is also
crazy, and her name is Julie and she works for newspapers, which is about the
last profession I am interested in. But Allah is great and Julie has the same
mutual enemies and mutual friends all over the globe, earth, orbs and UN. This
was a fine start and all I can give you is the start. Anyhow I have left some
manuscripts with her and my prayers because she is up for a most important job
or position or situation in the international field. And there will probably be
more to be continued.
I have told both Señor Dibble and ze Senorita that no doubt I am crazy, but
I have the same madness from day to day and they are some one way yesterday,
another today and another tomorrow and goodness knows what kind of sanity they
will have next week. It must have been good for I converted them—I don’t
know whether it was to my insanity or knowledge or personality or views, but
everything in these directions is getting along lovely.
I told time at the Folk-Art Bureau that my future purchases would depend to
some extent on the room on my bags. I get them cleaned out and then up,
especially with this winter clothing. I may give away some of the summer
clothes which would be of little use in America, all expect enough of Puck’s
stuff just in case.
I sent Rudolph a camel-skin lamp shade, another carving set inferior to the
one for you (there were only two on display) and a wooden dish. They are for
his East-West collection ultimately. Yours are for your food, but I am not
asking you to go into the kitchen or “come out of the kitchen.”
I received two letters today from people who wondered why I have not written
and in these cases the letters came back like rubber checks. This is awful in
days when you don’t get answers to your regular or irregular mail. That is
why I wanted to get into India because I am sure my letters could reach
Another thing is sari cloth which I do not want to purchase here, If I get
to India—and I certainly have the rupees therefore, I would buy; or else if I
return via ye Pacific, at Hong Kong. But there are such uncertainties.
Although winter is a-comin’ my health is good, my legs are vibrant, I am
overflowing and dance and play with children to everybody’s delight. At the
same time I am a half-saint and have a celebration this week. Everybody stops
to greet me, and the beggars don’t get a chance. All except a mast who
is a crazy-sane man, and that will keep for some story.
I have found a very good restaurant here which specializes on Prawns. I was
there the other night with Julie as above and came alone at lunch and they
said: “No meat.” I replied: “But I don’t want meet.” “What do you
want?” “Prawns!” The waiter called the captain who called the managers
and they all congratulated me: “That’s all what we ain’t got nothing else
but.” They are specializing and I get I can let my Rupees go there. Indeed
the dish I had the other night belongs in the top rank but today I took a
salad. They also give good coffee. The soups are stylized in these restaurants
here, excepting the Chinese one. There they give you the big bowl as in Hong
Kong which is enough for as many as four persons. I am not tired of Pakistani
food in general but sometimes—especially when the Major is away, it gets
I just went out and bought a kind of Orange we do not have. It is the
Mandarin type but much larger and I enjoy them. The Major owns a plot of land
near the border. He does not have to pay wages. Indeed everybody wants to work
On the Indian side you get 4 oranges for 1 rupee and 1 dozen bananas
On the Pak side you get 16 oranges for 1 rupee and 4 dozen bananas
A fair exchange is a fair exchange and they don’t smuggle, but they do
something which sounds like smuggling and don’t put it in their income tax
reports. Boy, prosperity is around every corner and on the main streets too.
Now while the K.K.K. is controlling the warlike imperialist powers, the
peace-loving nations are ready to get at each others’ throats.
K.K.K.—Kennedy, King and Khrushchev. Pakistan has only two neighbors and so
only two potential wars. India has three neighbors on this side and so three
potential wars. Everybody is in arms and as soon as war starts there will be
the biggest parade cheering the army and if it loses they will stone the army.
They don’t want to fight over Kashmir—it is too cold. The Chinese are
claiming more and more of it, mostly to protect it from the warlike
Probably Tito will be “liberating” Albania soon, or something. But I
have to wait until Fridays for Time and Newsweek, or else go to the American
Library for ye goods olds N.Y. “Times.” This week I played a trick on them.
They want to know about great American authorities on Islam, so I took one of
them into the library and showed him three source books, all articles by
non-American, non-Muslims and all violently differently from each other. Well,
an “expert” is an “expert.” Knowledge is another matter.
The USIA library has 12 books or more on Eleanor Roosevelt, about the same
on Lincoln, more still on Roosevelt & Roosevelt and plenty on politicians,
actors and such, but nothing on Edison, Westinghouse, Tesla, McCormick, John
Deere, any Harriman. Books in at least three sections on Thoreau. Nothing on
Einstein or any Nobel Prize winner or on the Berkeley scientists or any
excepting one rich one. Did Cohen and Shine do this or was it worse before?
Fortunately I find enough stuff to read. And these crazy people—ten read
books on Agriculture to one on the life of Rosemary Cluny or Eddy Cantor; no
wonder the Orient is not progressing.
Happy New Year whenever this reaches thee and thou,
Off and on in January ‘62
Your sea mail cloak and dagger story has me genuinely alarmed and I had
promised myself to write you at once, reassuringly, but with no mention of
forbidden subjects. Then came your air mail with request for info:
Yes, your mail is coming through all right and not tempered with.
The secretary for Congressman Jack Shelley is Sam Kane, whom I met and liked
when I was working with Doug on a bit of research. We had a nice little talk,
then he asked what would have been the subject matter of your latest letter,
since it must have gone to Washington., D.C. I mentioned some of your interests
and the little matter of your missing passport. He exclaimed, “Of course one
writes one’s Congressman in such an emergency. I’ll send a teletype to
Washington. Will you please call me back in 24 hrs?”
Rudy Olsen and I are now phone chums, all on account of you. He told me the
contents of your sea mail letters in October-November and I was able to clear
up his confusion about the carbon copy letter you enclosed. Then he gave
instructions I should write you on what to do over there in applying for a new
passport. He could do nothing without your birth certificate.
Then I phoned Julius and asked him to put me in touch with Audely.
Lo and behold, the next day Rudy called me back (he’d kept my phone number
from previous talks) and announced airmail from Sam said you were in India and
had your visa o.k. So I called Mr. Kane and he commented you had to have a
passport in order to get a visa, so everything must be o.k. We are all so
relieved and happy for you, Sam dear.
Now I must report further about the Pakistani shoes other than the pair I
kept and sent my thanks. Had a long talk with Peg A. and she explained that she
doesn’t want to handle your shoe sales or gifts. They never fit anyone nor
herself. You delegated where some of your shipment should go but she didn’t
have the time nor the convenience of an auto to make deliveries. Those shoes
are wrapped up awaiting your return. The Pakistani brown shoes like yours that
I keep seeing more people wearing can be purchased in Fresno for $5.
We made a New Year’s Day call on Gracie and Nick and I took along the
original Pakistani package. My favorite shoes (red and blue beaded) fitted
Gracie and I hope you are as happy as we are about it. During the following
week Audley was in town for the week end and I asked her to come over and see
the shoes. She brought Julius and they stayed all the evening for drinks and
chit chat with Max. She was keen about the all-gold (no velvet) shoes to wear.
Both girls took your new address and will write thank-yous. Originally a lady
upstairs saw the whole collection and wanted to buy a pair to send her niece
(those Audley preferred). She is away now, but I hope to persuade her the
remaining pair look handsomer. Will keep the money for your return, as it
should defray the cost of sending the shoes. It is interesting to note in the
newspaper ads that the City of Paris offered Christmas slippers that were
Americanized versions of your import and also of Bangkok.
Right after that evening I received your carbon of your letter to Audley.
Max and I have joined, in fact, become Charter Members of a new Folk Dance
Club, the Sunsetters. Party night is the first Saturday of each month and
dancing is in Jack McKay’s hall on Travel St. at 25th.
For Xmas, Max and I entertained a widowed father and his divorced daughter.
(Sounds like our good Scout deeds, hm?) hope your Christmas was as unusual as
possible. Please report.
I still miss Doug, Lesley and Sam. When are you coming back?
Bestest wished for another successful New Year from
January 23, 1962
My dear LeonaraH!
Sh! sh! The door is closed and the curtains are down. Have to be careful.
The Polyankas have arrived. A whole busload and I am a lone wolf or lamb or
tiger or skunk. What to do. Sh! No, they are too busy with themselves. I feel
like przatskas in the cold and this might be a welcome. But they might take me
for a spy. Me, the innocent, childlike—well, I can’t keep any secrets from
you so I’ll answer your letter.
Have not located any post office yet excepting some small ones that have not
many stamps and no aerogrammes.
After what I have been through. Boy, you would not know me now. Look at the
story I wrote on Krishna Menon. Everybody gathered and attacked him. Then one
scrawny man appeared:
“You don’t like Krishna Menon. You don’t like to see him, hear him or
anything. I could not agree with you more. I can’t bear the sight of his
face. And look, every time I want to shave I have to stare at that ugly mutt.
His mother may have lured it, but ugh! Sometimes I don’t even believe in God.
Think of me, every time I want to shave I have to look at that face, that awful
face. Let’s get rid of it.”
Then the crowd saw who it was. Krishna Menon Ki Jai. The opposition
faded and he said? “I nearly made an ad for “Mennon’s shaving soap” but
the name is spelt different.”
Everybody is opposed to Krishna Menon, everybody but Peer Gynt and he has
whispered to Puck and is converting him. Why not return to the U.S. and give a
lecture on the three K’s who rule and ruin the world: Kennedy, Khrushchev and
Krishna Menon. But take the minority side; it will get you either popularity or
notoriety and you will be the better off. I guess Peer Gynt was right. Anyhow
we telephoned (sh! gotta be careful), to S. K. Banerji, Chief of Protocol.
“Is that you, Puck? I have cancelled all engagements for tomorrow morning.
See you pronto.”
Then we got more confident and telephoned Dr. Radhakrishnan and got a
prompt: “Don’t hang up, the Vice-President who is going to be President
wants to see you.” So that is 5:30 Thursday. No wonder the Polyankas are on
my trail. They know what’s what.
What a time I had getting here. It was on again, off again. But Ah Yaint, a
Saint came through and we hid in his cloak of invisibility. What a send-off!
Wotta welcome! It will go down in the annals of mystery, that this vague
vagabond gets in where fools and angels alike fear to tread. So we started off
by calling on the saints. This caused a commotion: Half the attendants put
their hands out for baksheesh and the other half for baraka (which means
blessings). You can bet with this skinflint who won out. Only when baraka
rather than baksheesh was forthcoming our standing as a saint rose and rose.
And I have told some of this to Rudy, but people of common sense won’t
believe it, so I’ll keep this secret.
In re : Peg Allmond. That is all right. I had to do the best I could and you
can pick them up and bring them to Carrousel if you want and if you don’t
want never mind. Or you can share them with those whom you like. Otherwise I
would take them to Pakistan House for display.
Sh! No, you are wrong. This sh! is for sh-i-ver and should be br! But I have
to be careful. The Peace Corps is doing a wonderful job. I don’t know what
they are doing but it must be wonderful (protocol). Visited the Embassy twice
today. It is a very beautiful modern building with built-in and I saw the
political and agricultural attachés. The brain boys are over in the old
Embassy which is now run by the USIA.
I am happy about Grace’s shoes. I am happy about shoes. I am happy. After
a lot of ill-wind everything has been turning out right. All missions to
Pakistan were accomplished but the poetry is going up. I also took some of my
poetry to Swami Maharaj Ranganathananda. I am not bragging, just trying to see
if I can type his name fast. He is the Vedantist. My host, one Mithal, took me
to several places and then went off to see my fellow Californian, Krishnamurti.
The first letter is correct for he is another of the would-be world
And speaking of world-saviours there is Meher Baba. He has a
disciple—correct name again, Krishnaji, who is going to save the world. He is
also going to be silent. He is going to save the world by being silent. He is
preparing for it by telling his troubles to everybody. He can stand trouble
just about like you can stand a fly. He magnifies and magnifies his troubles
and this brings money, followers and more troubles. However he is ready to be
silent and save the world. On his side are:
1. Rich father who can’t support him.
2. Beautiful, rich lady economist who is supporting him.
3. Followers who want to support him.
4. Publicity agent who will tell everybody because this K. is going to be
I can tell you he is not a Muslim. Because the Muslim Mullahs are saving the
world by buying microphones and shouting their sermons into them so that the
sinners can hear them. Islam being an absolute brotherhood, these brothers all
mount their microphones and shout at the same time. This makes for world peace,
which extends as far as the middle of the block.
I have an envelope for Audley I teenk and this means I shall be writing her
but more professionally. This country and other countries need ag. experts and
My Christmas consisted of taking Julie Medlock to a folk-sing and service by
Americans and to dinner at Galaxy, my favorite restaurant in Lahore. Otherwise
it was as usual—saints, Sufis and sinners visiting Sam. Or Sam visiting
saints, Sufis and sinners.
The predictions are that I go back to Pakistan between March 15 and 25, tour
the country, arrive at Karachi and fly home. Not only have the seers and saints
predicted it but the girl in charge of international travel for Americas
Express. Inasmuch as she has made three outstanding predictions, and her
colleagues did not agree—and was right down to the smallest dot, I am
beginning to believe her myself. She is either a saint or in cahoots with them.
They all say the right or the same things, and they must be right for they are
in my favor.
I am for the new dance club. I dream of returning and being snatched by a
rich widow, comely in the feet, and wanting to dance or to learn. And so I
would look in a new direction. But this depends. I have four places in
California where I might land and it has been urged I do not study Urdu in
school. If I go to college that will take me away from S.F. unless City College
has a four year course, because S.F., S.F. State, etc, do not have higher
courses in Botany and related sciences.
On the other hand if I get a part time job which enhances my social
prestige, then I might stay in S.F. and do research with Harry Nelson and
forget the rest.
New Years’ started off with a bang with everything happening right. But
the stories of my meeting Sufis and saints are so fantastic, I wonder if and
how they can be written. Nor the respect and honor shown me; it is not out of
line with former things, so much as being in the opposite directions. My trip
to Karachi was totally successful at every level. Wrote to Ed Kremer and
Reindollar about it. When I return there Pakistan Radio will honor me, perhaps
in two ways—one for my poetry and the other for my accomplishments. After
speaking to 70,000 people I gave up count. Punjabi U. has me down with two big
meetings and I only called on two professors. Government Art College I can have
One of the most important events was Khawar Khan whom I shall be calling
Sadiya. She is a beautiful teacher at the College of Domestic Art and Science.
This collaborated on a paper to be presented at an international gathering of
philosophers (I don’t have “credentials” sez who). It won first prize!
She was acclaimed, the paper was sent to Ayub and is being published.
Then I am going to dedicate a Garden of Allah for the growing of medicinal
and scented herbs. This may be started in the winter 64-65 if my program works
out right. I am getting to be known all over Pakistan, and even Americans are
finding out. So I shall return and start another war, now that the former wars
are all won:
a. Against A. Koestler and his The Lotus and the Robot in which I
shall insist that Dr. Radhakrishnan is a real person, etc.
b. Against Captain Lederer on how to beatify ugly Americans. As I told the
foreign service, if you write fiction everybody will read, but if you bring
facts, nobody cares. This creates—no wonder I may take up arms for Krishna
When I came here to get money I found that it may be possible to purchase
Bank of America Travelers’ Cheques. “What yo” all got?” “American
dollars. Bank of America.” That floored ‘em, they never heard of that
before, but I shall use Indian rupees until they run out, then come back to
Delhi and friends are going to look after me anyhow. If they do I may use my
filthy shekels for art goods or gifts.
Now I had better put on my Puck costume and go to ea. Polyankas, here I
Gott in Himmel, Leonora, Samuel is-among the prophets. Wowie and Zowie,
They Are Polyankas! A troupe of Russian Folk Dancers came here to take
part in Independence Day Festival, this Friday. What to do? Shall I take out my
castanets—maybe, yes, no! Shall I hum, maybe, yes, no! I asked for balalaikas
and there is a whole trunk full of them. I would talk. I opened my foot and put
my mouth in it. What to do! What not to do! I am too excited and exited and
exhilarated and ecstasied and just to say anything more here. So we shall wait
and see and see and wait. I hope they will sing a little before the week is
They went to bed but I let the staff in on a secret. You see my nickname
(one of the 57 varieties) is Naj-karo-i, which means, “Mr. Dancer.” So
tomorrow I may take out my castanets and put on my gall and karoji, and maybe
the Polyankas will unfold. “Aren’t we devils!” Now I leave off to answer
some most trivial important letters.
Thursday. Well, the Polyankas did not unfold—to the Indian Staff. Instead
they had a Vodka-drinking contest and this just about did it. So this damn fool
danced for the staff and won their affections and my private war against
protocol goes on. Anyhow (sh! very sh!) I have seen my friend Bannerji who is
“Chief of Protocol” and may see him again when I return to New Delhi and
after this next hiatus I go to see Dr. Radhakrishnan—and you can tell your
“friend” Porkie this. Between times I have had a most wonderful meeting
with the TCM, which is the American Technical Commission—and you’ll, or
maybe you won’t, if I write about this to Audley—I shall have to tell her
anyhow when I return.
Well this bum Polyanka’d and won the smiles of, which also isn’t done
excepting by us guys, and now I may unbend further. Only they may not like my
Fascist propaganda (castanets to you). Aren’t I devils! Tomorrow is National
Independence Day with everything going on but I shall be visiting or be
kidnapped by friends and then on to Bombay and Poona but a fortune teller
told me my misadventures would change to Miss-Adventures, and he has a white
list and a black list. I know so far there are two letters on the white list
and one on the black list and if I go further…. Besides you know a lot of
persons on the white list, and me, I am an un-innocent by-stander. Everybody
wants to tell my fortune and everybody seems to have bigger and better
predictions. But again, I refuse to be protocol’d and the latest protocol
here is the stars. The planets are all huddling and this is a sign of,
but I am a Uranium which includes me out, although I don’t know exactly what
a Uranium is. I am also a Mercurian and this means I can’t stay put—or
shall we dance?
My job with Dr. Radhakrishnan is to bring the Integralists of the East and
West together. Now I find I have six more letters to write and if I add can’t
air-mail, so will close, wishing you happy dancing and dancing happiness,
S.A.M. (my protocolian name)
February 21, 1962
My dear Lee-o-nor-A:
You will remember that when you gave me a copy of the World Almanac I said
that was a second copy and you wanted it back and I said, No, the other is my
address book. You can bet on that. It is getting fuller and fullerer. Indeed I
stopped having my mail forwarded and am becoming less concerned with the
arrival of mail. Of course I like to get my bank notices to find out where I
am, so I do not over-draw on credit. But fortunately here I was able to change
dollars for rupees.
I am not going to tell you the steeory of my life, sweet of not. I am
preparing to write on “How California Can Help Asia” for the University of
California and our Senators—just a brief (50,000 words or so!)—the real
story coming later. I even get acknowledgements from magazine editors now. All
excepting newspaper editors and commentators. They know everything anyhow so it
is no use informing them.
As per usual, you run down a religious fracas and it always happened
somewhere else. And you see riots and never a word in the press. I am adhering
now to more sea-mail letters, the budget that I balance may be my own. I leave
here on the 26th for Bangalore and then to Adoni (wherever that is) and then
Hyderabad. When that is over I can sigh, and slowly plow my way homeward, but
do not know the model of the plow.
It is warm but not hot and went mountain climbing yesterday—a breeze. I
wrote Evelyn on my previous visit about this. But in 1956 it took two hours for
what I accomplished in one this time. In fact I seem to be doing more planning
for the future, and I know where to take people.
There is an Englishman here who has lived 12 years in India and he say he
can have no profession. I said: “Brother, you would be a wonderful tourist
guide.” “But I know nothing about guiding tourists.” “That will make
you an excellent guide because you have seen monuments and temples and
buildings and interesting places; know where to stay at low cost and know what
to avoid. You are a man, not a guide book and that is what is so wonderful
about you.” Alas, poor Baeddecker, I did not know him at all.
I suppose when I return I’ll plan a long rest—with a trip to the
Caribbean but actually I would like a home; only it is still 50-50 between
No’then and Sothn Calif. That’s my ancestry—papa’s people from Boston,
Momma’s from Charleston, Searolina.
I forget you owe me a meal. I am checking now on those who do. I can be a
scamp or is it scrounge? This is the end of the line and I am now moving
towards “home” at least. Despite Grace’s letter I am now little
Carousselian-minded. Most of my real friends have gone from there.
March 21, 1962
Typewriter in the hospital and ink supply low.
I am now a saint. Of course you have known all along but now it is official.
Things got mightily dull after Jacqueline left. All over you see, “Jacqueline
was here.” This meant all prices are up. They used to gouge the tourists; now
prices are so high nobody can pay. They used to charge Rs 10 for articles worth
Rs 1. When they asked Jackie Rs 100 she paid. It is always the woman who pays
and pays, especially Mrs. K. Before I was always running into the ghost of Earl
Warren and now I run into the shadow of Mrs. K. “Ladies first” seems to be
my present travelogue. Only I can’t get art.
It is Holi week which is the Indian Holy Week and Carnival and Halloween
together. The roads are blocked and everybody is baptizing everybody with
colored holi-water. So I won’t leave until tomorrow and miss [?] which must
be reserved for another tour. Indeed had a long and profitable session with the
Tourist Bureau yesterday.
“I know Sher Singh” (685 Market) Chorus, “You know Sher Singh,
welcome, welcome.” She shows my infamous methods.
I was I Delhi. “We Russians are the best chess players but Korea check,
Viet Minh check, Sorretnam check, Berlin check, Geneva check, UN check,
disarmament check, Berlin check, again check. Then you move your queen (Jackie)
instead of your king (Jack) and we are mated. I surrender dear.” (No
Teddy—this is Puck’s report of an actual talk by an actual Russian diplomat
to actual me.)
Well, Ah Yaint a Saint went to Fatehpur Sikri. Rushed to the tomb of St.
Selim Chisti and did the usual everything including baksheesh. Then I had the
guard take me to the local saint. No Americans call on local saints, but Ah
Yaint A saint did. We greeted and embraced and I gained in holiness. Boy, when
we returned to the shrine my friends came. The Sufi Kawwalis sang and I danced
and danced—real Dervish stuff. A crowd gathered and when I got tired I sang
and the Kawwalis answered. Then I sat down and sang with them, loud of course,
but as I sometimes gave the calls instead of just responding this proved it.
The leader got up and asked the crowd for baksheesh to watch the American
When I later made a courtesy visit to Hotel Imperial where I had been before
I was recognized: “Oh, the saint.” So now you are not the only one who
knows. Please interpret! If the Russians ever have a saint, all our papers will
report it but any American who does this and goes native is a Squaw man.
After that I met nothing but Englishmen and Englishwomen. They go for
adventure, yogi, native places, wild places. They outnumber the “tourists”
10-1 but nobody pays any intention to them. Especially in these days of social
“democracy.” They are more like me and I love them and we feel mutual
admiration. They are all over the place seeing Taj by dawn, Taj by day, Taj by
dusk, Taj by moonlight.
Meanwhile our top authority on Islam who, of course, is neither a
Muslim nor an Asian and of course not an American is very sorry he has hurt my
feelings by insisting there are no Sufis. And there is going to be a big Sufi
gathering in Delhi with this yarn-banker (?) the guest of honor.
There will be a lot of famous Sufis there but not if you want your degree in
Islamics! Honesty is not a policy at all. Well, did I not hear one Swami speak
to 12,000 and denounce our German professor of Indian philosophy! Oh well, but
I return fighting.
Had two interviews with old friend Suri. She left SF because people then
only accepted newspaper men and European profs as authorities on Asia. She gave
up the fight. Lots of people are anti American because we accept either the
commentators or European profs or “Miss Cloudnine.” More and more of us
mingle and I am going to champion them.
Here they are all against our nuclear stuff and space travel. they want us
to help man on earth. So I become popular and more so and I think people will
listen when I return. On the whole I have been quite successful; almost too
much. The question is to communicate the unusual.
My scientific work has been very successful and very saddening. Governments,
foundations, organizations, get top heavy and nobody gets down to the human
peasants and farmers. Rusia is predicting a 100% increase in output in ten
years. It is accepted. Why? Because the governments wish to predict
great gain. Future statistics replace past facts and everybody is in the game.
Puck calls this Hindsight. Hind stands for after-sight, Indian (Hind)
sight and one reverts to Lewis Carol: “A word is whatever I wish it to
Well, I am already to write against The Lotus and the Robot. I think
I have a message. But there are other books in me and lectures. I have an idea
on tourism “Not so innocent abroad.” This may start with articles. Am
learning lots of things the hard way. Today everybody is a specialist but
me. I am all for them as they leave me plenty of room.
My Diners Club Card has been most valuable for going into gourmet
restaurants and buying art goods. I’ll probably get hell when I return for
what I did not do but being a lone person with limited means there are
difficulties. The mental ones are harder than the physical: who to remember and
how to remember. What is worse I have sent saris to Magaña Baptiste and some
The seers still predict overcoming enemies, financial security and a strange
sudden romance. There is supposed to be some woman waiting for me whom I
don’t suspect! I guess I am open-minded about “fair, fat and
$50,000”—meaning she does not have to be fair or fat. But I would like to
bring a dancer, a sound equipment engineer and a good photographer with me. The
only thing I must say about the predictions is their universal agreement but my
good luck always seems to be for after my return and I am not sure how I shall
return. I am not McArthur.
Have written to Leonard Austin. I often wonder whether he will open his own
dancing classes. I am ashamed to say I have the best time with Magaña
Baptiste! F.D has become so “political” and personal but if there is a [?]
woman there is not much [?].
(It is Holi Day still not holy night and the crowds are noisy as they should
March 24, 1962
I recently received a letter from one of our authorities on Islam—a
non-American, non-Muslim, of course, in which he is very sorry to have hurt my
feelings because he refuses to agree. I accept his opinions but do not like his
abolishing facts. Abolishing facts is the great game of the “authorities”
on Asia, i.e. American press and European profs. My real objection is that he
abolished some of my friends, i.e. Sufis.
When I returned to Delhi I was to be a guest of honor at a great gathering
of Sufis. Evidently “the ghost goes East” or something.
Yesterday I got my ins with the Tourists Bureau and while there began
thinking of various Indian intellectual attachés I have met. After I left the
thought became stronger and stronger. Indeed I began imagining seeing one Mr.
Punjabi who was long on Montgomery St. in S.F. The ghost got more and more real
and we shook hands. Point no. 1.
Why is he here? To attend the gathering of Sufis tonight where I shall be a
guest of honor. A little while later I met him again. He was host to a group of
Persians. What are they doing here? They are sent specially to attend that
gathering of Sufis tonight. Think nothing of it. I received another letter from
another non-American, non-Muslim authority on Islam—this man is Scottish
where the bane of contention is over the existence of Sufis. Ils croit que
Then I called on the American cultural attachés. They are debating whether
to attend the meeting of the Sufis. Will they come? Will they admit there are
Sufis? Or shall we continue to listen to humbugs telling us people are not?
Jacqueline has done a good job. Koestler has not—in his The Lotus and the
Robot he abolished an awful lot of people including some good and prominent
ones—including those he interviewed. If they did not fit his conclusions, he
concluded them out. This is “science.”
Don’t I have fun? Well soon to Lahore and then????
Lahore? Jacqueline was here. Now my “bed tea” and then up and to
breakfast. I have dreams of returning to S.F. The dreams all put me in that
region but the discussions last evening may land me elsewhere. It is a long,
pleasant and complex story which I don’t relate here.
Your errant, erring, erranding friend,
April 11, 1962
My dear Leonora:
Perfidious Puck rides again but soon he may be walking. In the next few days
or even hours we shall be concentrating on a final effort which will either end
in a whoopla or an humble return, though it does not matter. Indeed the chief
difference will be whether we are to make money or make history and the ides,
nones and kalends seem inclined to the former without negating the latter. No,
we may not make it in the first part although a practicing schizophrenic having
a multitude of personalities may be compelled or impelled to have an income for
each. Puck is not so much interested in money as in
income—anything—honours, honors, food, clothing, shelter. The Saint is only
interested in honors and honours which may, however, take the forms of largesse
and largesse, being indifferent.
Sam saw the Consul-General for the first time: “Why did you not call her
before?” Or Puck saw the Consul-General: “Welcome and congrats.” But our
next steps are mysterious, secret, hidden, mum’s-the-word and cloak without
dagger. The dagger is exhausted, being overused as a stage-prop in the
“Dagger-stall” dances of last night.
Those Georgians are not only ambivalent, they are ambidex and is this bunch
of daggers I see before me? Yea, Lazy Macbeth. Them were not only
steel-meets-steel but steal-meets-steal and plenty of each. Not the Birch
Boys will go after the State Department. And the Georgians who are crackerjacks
but not crackers will go on to Karachi and perform before the Ambassadors,
perhaps all excepting the Germans and Ecuadorians.
If I don’t get the pictures today, the mail will be help up. Seeing may
not be believing but it helps. Maybe on second thought I might even send you
two pictures, one to keep in your album and the other to show. But if you give
it to a femme it must be only Grace Doyle or Audley because each, in a way, may
be concerned with my future careers. This will not be a dance-costume.
Yesterday I bought in another pair of shoes which are not like any other
shoes I have bought. My chaplis are worn out and so some other types. I am
going to wear them this morning. Last night I wore my “officials,” i.e.
patent leather pumps—c’est l’opera you know.
It was balmy last night but today shows signs of warmth. Presumably we shall
be away 16-28 to Rawalpindi and Abbottabad for “last look.” If we don’t
get by the end of the month what we pray for, I shall make every effort to
return anyhow, but the feelings are fine and there is no bad news.
The Pakistani-American League in Karachi has now a folk-dance class on
Fridays and I hope to visit them before I leave. Boy, are there things to do.
And you can’t do them. Go out: “Where are you going?” “Why” and
between Puck, Sam Lewis and Ah Yaint-a Saint, everybody stops one for any or no
reason. It will be good to get home and be anonymous, or will it and do I want
it? “You don’t know Nellie as I do—said the naughty little bird on
P.S. They gave me passport sized pictures which I distinctly did not want.
Wanted post-card size. So I am dumping three herewith.
Puck Accused of Treason. Don’t you unbelieve it! Puck was seen sneaking
about an around the open air theater today, April 10, where the Georgian
dancers are putting on their performance. Puck was on his toes. What was bad
enough. Then Puck went to the box office and ballyhooed. A long line appeared
to purchase tickets. Boy, was Puck in society. All the top Americans, Yankees,
U.S.A. nationals showed up, got in line and demonstrated something never before
seen: a real cue straight line, in order. It was marvelous. It brought a still
bigger crowd of curiosity seekers who formed a Q. A cue may be a straight line
but a Q is the shortest distance to the Box Office—just try it.
The result was that the ticket-wallahs were overworked. No time for tea, no
time for gossip, no time for anything but selling tickets. It was horrible.
True the rupees came coming and coming and there was no time to count them.
Seats were sold out. They were not oversold because this is not Lebanon. All
the Americans were there—the Birch gum-chewers; the sight seers of the Far
Right; the Conservatives of the Forest, etc., every American in Lahore showed
up and Puck shook hands with them all.
This was too much for the Pakistani Artists Association. They never had so
much work and so much money. They are artists not bankers and they don’t like
the Americans either. So they accused Puck of subversion. But Puck, insisted.
“Freedom or Treason.”
“What is your name?”
“Tell me or I’ll throw you in jail for contempt.”
“Well, Ah Yaint a saint.”
“You blazed fools” (turning to the accusers), do you know who this man
is? I give you five minutes to pay the fine or get out. Now git or give.”
Puck never said he wasn’t a hypocrite. So Puck is going to see some other
people on their toes.
Puck is planning a book on pathan meals. Very original title: The
Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
College boy studying Cicero while in a Japanese restaurant: O Tempura! O
Morays! Now Puck must write his reports, which follow:
April 11, 1962
Perfidious Puck to R. Ruth sends greetings and won’t wipe off his
Gurgistan Zindabad. Daggerstan Ki Jai
Puck started right off instructing the police: “Say, if you don’t clap,
we’ll clap you in jail.” It was not necessary. The audience was full of
Americans. “On your toes everybody!”
(Of course, what else can you say watching Georgian dancers). They acted
like claques of claques. The only thing which finally stopped the performance
was that the dancers were tired and hungry and you can’t get Smirnoff
The open air theatre was packed. These Russians are also on their toes. They
keep a record of the personnel of Americans going out on foreign aid and
foreign missions. When the number gets very great, out come the Russian dancers
and in come the rupees, piasters, baht or whatever kind of small or big change
is used. The Ford and Rockefeller people never look at each other otherwise;
the TCM will have nothing to do with the Fulbright boys. But send out a Russian
troupe and they troop and forget all about their iniquities and enmities. Cold
war? Yes, but against whom? Maybe everybody else will unite against the Chinese
as they once did against the Germans.
Incidentally, Puck did not notice any Germans in the audience. Most of the
blondes were Americans but there were a few Poles, Czechs and French, and even
some English. Not a bit of schmalz, but who cares. Or maybe the Russians and
Americans want to rejoin and stop the Fritzies. This was no Berlin
Puck took Parviz who had never seen such things. “There are just two sane
kinds of insanity—what I have and what they have and sometimes I think what
they have is a saner kind than what I have but I don’t want to influence
you.” So Parviz saw the Americans go gaga and saw performers go gaga and
never did he hear such drummer boys, nor such a wrestling match—which is
always top billing. Of course Puck, used to his insidiousness, said: “Parviz,
I don’t want to influence you (Oh yeah?) but I understand the piano-accordion
is your favorite instrument, n’est-ce pas?” “Uh-huh.” “Well these
people won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Lenin Peace Prize and the Pease Porridge
Hot prize for their accordion playing.” “When do we go?” So by
persuasion, logic, argument, and a free ticket Puck finally convinced Parviz to
come with him. Puck’s perfidy has no bounds and you could see him bounding up
The open-air theatre is like many in the U.S. and it was warm but not hot
and the moon was out, could not have been better.
Puck, of course, met the Consul-General from the U.S., the Consul, the
Vice-Consul, the secretaries, the clerks, the aides, the attachés, all sitting
separately and pretending not to notice the other Americans. It was tough with
all the Americans there and tomorrow is another night and so on. Fortunately
there are plenty of Americans in the Lahore region. The Georgians need not
worry, the performances are all sold out. “We did it before and we can do it
again.” Say, whose cold war is this anyhow?
May 1, 1962
Good morning Lenora.
Happy International Day or something. I have more leeway in my life. In a
few hours will know about meeting Ayub’s Cloak & Daggers. At least it
comes out in Puck’s confessions:
“I sent a group of innocent Shinevaris, Makmouds, Wagners, & Afredos
to Hollywood. They were to observe the Oscar contest to get some ideas. They
set up a war cry, (no other intent)
Ponti Ponti Lindabad Ponti Ponti Ki Jai
Ponti Ponti Lindabad Ponti Ponti Ki Jai
The judges took one look at them, shivered, gave all the awards to cousin
Sophia and joined in. So Puck Ponti-ficates. He is about to become a
Ponti-FF if Ayub puts him in charge of the Indus and its bridges. Puck
never crosses his bridges if he can help it. Anyhow, Ponti Ponti Lindabad
Ponti Ponti Ki Jai.
Nothing but an endless series of fictional wants on the bad side have been
robbed, also lost money. The robber is known but if I report or persecute I
lose face. It is actually a rollicking horrible mess of folk-lore some of which
passes as religion.
But the most serious part of my life is S.A.M., Sufi Ahmed Murad. I am
meeting all kinds of strange and mysterious personages and they are unanimously
for me. It is much more than Marion Crawford’s “Mr. Isaacs.” It is simply
That very series of events kept me away from Yogi Nehru and seems drawing me
to Ayub. At the moment it looks as if I were near my heart’s desire and
greatest hopes. If successful, I may be too busy to write again. I can see it
coming—all my efforts synthesized and categorized and put out in practice
form. I have more good contacts with more Americans too.
My host, Major Sadiq, took me to his property and we planned a home and
garden. But I am hoping he gets both an appointment and permission to come to
the U.S. and soon. Moi aussi. I was never more tired and yet more alert and
both at the same time. No news here. The papers are empty and I have to wait
for Newsweek. In Lahore he has access to the NY Times and Herald Tribune But if
I get interviewed, “Newsweek” gets it and then Chet Huntley. Next San
My relations with Audley will be more involved because if my plans go
through, her office may become my rendezvous—Dairy and Horticultural Mission
and more. But if I am humbled, it may be otherwise. I feel very good and almost
optimistic at the moment because of yesterday’s events. They are so
“unbelievable”—I must withhold until I return.
Success means planning receptions in San Rafael, S.F., (at least 3) and
Berkeley and then “down the line” to Hollywood unless we are compelled to
land in New York. There can be no great failure because a lot of smaller
successes have been attained.
After seeing notables and following dates, I go to Abbottabad for farewells
and also to pick up pictures. But as things look here, I shall be needing more
and more and more of them. I am satisfied that I took this trip, but I hope my
next one will be of shorter duration as so much depends on the next hours or
days. I do not wish to speculate. I am compelled to keep in constant touch with
my attorney John Rockwell of San Rafael; with my friends Rudy Olsen, 166 Geary,
Norman McShea, 4120 Geary and with the World Affairs Council, etc. in
expectation of an important return with either merits or humility.
The more successes the more receptions too. It looks good-bye to FD for new
ways of life. I am in big problems with big political solutions and still
So I close:
Ponti Ponti Lindabad
Ponti Ponti Ki Jai
Maybe something bigger than an Oscar.
May 19, 1962
One of your missions abroad was to promote folk dancing as a means of
bringing peoples of the world together for mutual understanding and fun. But
who are we to preach abroad when it isn’t working here? List ye to what
happened at a recent Festival in Sacramento. First I digress for a bit of
explanation. The Sunsetters Club, of which Max and I are charter members, has 3
young men with eager feet and smiling faces and all are Government workers (a
Probation Officer for San Mateo County is not to be sniffed at). All are as
black as the Africans now moving into high places in the United Nations. We are
especially proud of Milt, who started from scratch and is now the Club’s
official photographer. He is a self-taught Caller whom we enjoy immensely.
Alton is slender and looks quite nifty in black pants, open neck white shirt
and red cummerbund. In dancing he sticks with members of The Sunsetters Club.
But after all, there are mixers for all that are most enjoyable. Unthinkingly,
he entered one. A woman from Sacramento complained at having to be with him and
the edict went out that colored people should not enter mixers. Gary Kirschner,
chairman of the April Federation Festival to be held in Daly City, said that
wouldn’t apply to his program for dances. John Mooney, overall Chairman,
decreed that mixers should be omitted, given up.
Gary went over his head to Bob Chevalier, Pres. of the Northern Section of
the Federation of Folk Dancers of Calif. He not only refused to support his
Vice-Pres. (a much hurt Gary) but washed his hands of the affair. We seethed,
we burned. I haven’t been so upset over racial discrimination since I visited
Memphis, New Orleans et al. Gary called a meeting of our Club to authorize
sending letters to all delegates and officers of the Bay Area Council of F.D.
clubs for a protest meeting. Neither John nor Bob came nor any of their
so-called supporters! John said our meeting was illegal, though the Federation
Constitution fully provides for such action just so a dictator cannot rule.
Many of us were inspired to write letters to these non-leaders and get others
to do so. Reps. of Chang’s 200 members said that Chang would withdraw from
the Federation. The President of our Sunsetters is an attorney in his fifties,
quite fiery, declared that discrimination could spread to Jews, to Mexicans or
anybody with a brown skin.
To make a long story short, we won with lots of mixers at the Daly City
program and our 3 young men seemed to be having a gay time. John returned from
Hawaii and Bob made a syrupy speech—about our magazine (!) But we rejoice
that our future Pres. is young, aggressive yet charming, and oh so active with
forming new dance groups, teaching 4 nights a week, etc. Some of us who have
known and liked John a long time are troubled, as we had never seen this side
of John. Gracie thinks he was influenced by the ultraconservative members of
the Marin dance group to which he belongs.
For a complete change of subject, I now take you to Chinatown, where I
attended a lecture in the newly opened “Chinese Library of America,” 109
Waverly Place. Prof. K. Y. Hsu, Univ. of Calif., reviewed Chinese poetic
imagery. What a marvelous personality he projected. One definition of poetry
was “New images for old objects. The Chinese language has been assimilating
images for 3000 years. This makes it eminently fit for expression of poetry.”
Then he analyzed certain words, such as Nature. It is “self-so.” Not
influenced by outside things. nature is a general term for all things. Nature
is a source of man’s esthetic side of life. The Chinese people are more
wrapped up in the mystic power of nature than we are. Afterward he was served
hot tea, the audience got Chinese candy. next to me sat a man who made hen
track rapidly on paper and then read his translation of the Prof’s speech. I
examined the shelves of books on China in English, finding one written during
the period of Japanese “incidents” (leading to war) when I was there. I
became so engrossed they had to blink the lights to get me out of there! Sam, I
think they would be very grateful if you could contribute some books.
Another evening you would have enjoyed with me (next to Max, who prefers
baseball broadcasts) was at the Jewish Community Center. The art critic for the
Chronicle lectured on Folk Music—old and new. The most enjoyable part was
hearing the illustrative recordings he brought with him.
Did you receive my letter of March 7? Kindly answer the questions in par 2.
Latest letter from you is undated but handwritten and very difficult to read. I
suppose such teeny weeny script is from your many years of note taking. I’m
as confused as you are about your future address!
June 2, 1962
My dear Leonora:
The other day I wrote to my friend, Norman McGhee, and asked him to call on
you. When I was in Cleveland I constantly ran into the people of his milieu who
are excellently educated people of Mulatto blend. I had another reason for
associating with them as I then wrote—you had to chose between Negroes and
Mulattos who spoke American English or else God knows what.
One part of me is very apathetic. I don’t like to see this kind of
question at all, not because I wish to avoid it but because it is to me utterly
stupid. To take part on the side or against the side of communism or
neutralism; for or against nuclear weapons, etc. has a logical basis of some
source. But this is utterly emotional and what is worse, stupid, nonsensical
and part of my more or less serious campaign of “reality” versus
My friend Julie Medlock is now in Ghana. I did not tell her and now I tell
you for the first time about some of my poetry not public. I have been working
on epic poems. My one for Egypt was highly praised, and, of course, rejected.
But it may not be rejected here. I am working for another one on Pakistan and
at the moment, though it may take years, I am sure it will be punished.
Next when I return I shall resurrect my “What Christ, What Peace” which
proved to be highly prophetic. Written in 1941 it says:
“Marx and Mammon and Minerva will interdict,
Marx and Mammon and Minerva will then conflict
In the name of Christ, when Hitler is gone,
What price glory? What price peace?”
Now I later started another epic may of short pieces, all in rhythm and
rhyme strictly simple and only making an epic by being compiled. The name is
“The Black Christ.” At first Mulattos—and to a letter extent pure “Dark
Negroes” thought I was pulling something. This is not so. I can sense the
feelings of whole people, whole races perhaps as easy or easier than I can
The “What Christ? What Peace” there is a thesis of the relation of human
ills to world peace and my own teacher taught this. Now I have been told that I
have healing power. I don’t like to rely on such a thing. First I was
successful in putting two crying infants to sleep, then I healed in turn, three
small boys and the father of another. I don’t like to put stock in it and I
am hoping to bring Major Sadiq, who is a real healer to America, but I am
afraid that this will be broadcast and it will be most unfortunate. For not
only have I been overworked but subject to a series of pilferings.
The social system here exempted certain persons but the pilferings grew so
large in amount I was in consternation for two days and I directly accused the
young men of the family smashing one with my fists, something I have never
done. Major Sadiq who is in another ways a saint, is utterly blind to his son
and nephews. When you have your doors locked excepting one door and that door
is constantly guarded and the pilferings go on, the simplest person would
conclude that the guards themselves were the thieves. This has placed me in a
most awkward position. And I can’t very well leave until I get some private
matters settled. Fortunately my own financial affairs in USA have been on the
up, which will help me when I return without depending on others.
I have heard nothing from people in Pakistan who promised help and I may
make one more call to get my poetry back and then to Karachi where I can
arrange with the bank of America for my return. If there is anything in
seership—and lately my faith has weakened, I should be returning in July.
My friends, Jack Betts at Clementina St., and Steadman Thompson, moving to
150 Delta St. will cooperate. But If I have a companion there could be an
entirely different plans. Meanwhile my connection with Islamabad University has
gone over my head—so far everything has been successful, but I can’t handle
it. Fortunately here both the USIA and American Friends of the Middle East will
cooperate. I see nothing but possible success when I return and with this awful
social impasse here I am far from happy. Even if there is final success in my
largest project—and I have become indifferent to it—it may not add to
happiness. I called an editor a liar to his face yesterday when I was trying to
help him with a problem. I held on tight and he had to relax. I could name
persons and events in the US so fast he could not keep up with me and I knew he
could not and I compelled him to retract. I hate this. I don’t want
retractions, I want people to face facts.
I look for no bettering of world conditions, everybody wants to face
policies and persons, not facts.
And then there some were dreams. Sam (or is it Puck) naughty, naughty. But I
want them to keep until I return. Now Max will have to suffer some day by
listening to my poetry—what a man to treat friends!
I have decided to use “The Mikado” justice letting the punishment fit
the crime and make each prisoner pent a source of harmless merriment, but this
will be mailed beforehand.
June 15, 1962
My dear Leonora:
Puck’s life must be patterned on “Willie the Shakes” and the best way
to describe what is going on is “A Comedy of Terrors.” Please understand
the word “comedy” first.
Mail. I write letters and fail to post them. I write and they are
misdirected. There have been mistakes by mail clerks and people at forwarding
addresses send letters where they think they should go or return to sender.
Detailed written instructions do no good. All I know is that if you have any
idea of a continuum of my affairs and experiences I am surprised and some of
your letters show that you have not.
The affairs of my host, the Major, are so complex that anything I write will
be simplicity itself compared thereto. He has two addresses and he is at
neither. That is only the beginning. Nothing has come out as either planned or
predicted and I would be totally disillusioned except that some things have
been coming out for me. I’ll tell most of the bad things first.
I have submitted to a series of pilferings and every time this happened
pleas to keep my outer door locked. When I said it was locked they sent a
servant in, then another. Then members of the family and generally be the time
the fifth person tried the door it was well unlocked, the pilfering would take
place and another plea for me to keep the door locked.
Then they increased the guard over the inner door and the more the guard the
greater the pilferings. Not Sherlock, deductions were not permitted. It was
only when I started to beat up physically one of the members of the family that
the truth came out. You are not supposed to question your hosts’ families and
the parents believe their offspring.
As I am packing now to go to Rawalpindi and Murree I have been shocked at
the loss of clothing and gifts to me, some most precious. I cannot keep
everything under lock and key. It is hard for me to carry on my own affairs and
every such thing shows me down.
The big thing in my favor at the moment is that I have been sent for. At the
very least “Puck” will return as an official and not just for my imaginary
Pukhtunistan either. Skepticism is useless because I have, to begin with,
developed an insulation to the heat. I hate it and yet I don’t notice it
particularly especially when I am out. Next you add that I do not seem to be
aging. And then, after four predictions that I have a healing faculty I have
used this successfully.
I am not proud of it and am even a little abashed. My own passed experiences
with metaphysicians have been nasty to the extreme, and my own more recent
experiences with scientists have been favorable to the extreme. So I wish to
submit to tests, etc. I will say that Major Sadiq who seems to have miraculous
healing powers, invariably works with accredited physicians and there are
neither emotions nor hysteria connected with anything I have seen in this
I have had another terror, too. My friend, Dr. Malalasekera is up for
President of the UN. Against him is Zafrullah Khan of Pakistan and it is
presumed that the anti-Red nations will line up for him. Yet there has been
nothing but double-crossing going on and we are caught in a web which can only
lead to further “shocks.” It is disgusting. Commentators tell people things
which come out of their minds. How do they know what people are thinking and
doing on this vast continent?
Fortunately the Political Adviser here has long, long been suspicious and he
has been to Karachi and spoken his piece. So far as I am concerned, it is my
piece, too. We agree that subalterns and civilians cannot and do not influence
CIA. I have given him a good briefing on Dr. M. and the earlier histories of
common friends. It is a huge and tragic joke. We do not learn from Cuba and
Laos, unless something new has been added. The idea of policy makers operating
like our jury system and listening to facts and stop weighing personalities and
personalizes seems elementary and for that very reason seems difficult.
The Sufi leaders are well aware of all these things but I have given notice
that this will be my last effort:
1. To get official recognition for the existence of Sufis. This has nothing
to do with admiring them. Some Americans love the Pope and some fear him and
some are indifferent but they all admit he lives.
2. To try to find those groups which are anti-communist and/or pro-
3. Ditto for modern culture and education.
But the first principle seems to be to find out how anti-communist somebody
is. At home you have to smear the Birch barkers and here you have to behave
like one. No wonder there is confusion.
I have long passed the point where I can carry on any more projects and I
have reached the point where I have a clear idea of what I can do and what I
can write. I believe there are enough organization and persons who will at
least give me a hearing. The whole world is out of kilter and there is little
chance that it will be on even steering until and unless we become universally
objective. Dr. Malalasekera has beaten Adlai in every debate because he knows
Adlai’s weakness. Well I know Dr. M’s.
I leave this machine to be repaired and go to Rawalpindi and then to Murree,
the summer capital. That is located on a spur of the Himalayas and will be out
of the area of heat. It will be a relief. The grapevine says I leave her toward
the end of July and should be in SF the first week of August. The only thing
that will change this is a clearance of Major’s Sadiq” s affair.
The rub here is that while his life is not coming along according to
predictions, mine is. I have four men at different places who are fore-telling
for me and all say the same. I have had far more join in this chorus and there
is agreement. The man who has been most efficient and correct, has not visited
the house where I now live, and he only made a single mistake and that was at
the time he was worried over his son. I was able to predict correctly on
I am not a Macbeth leaning on even good witches or wizards but there may (or
may not) be something in soothsaying (as Puck says, especially when it
soothes). The details of agreement with the Sikh in New Delhi, the Munshi here,
the afore referred to Shah Sahib, the Sufis and the spiritualists is so
remarkable—why do they say exactly the same? I have between now and October
to determine once and for all the truth. If it comes out that way, I am going
to have an excellent connection with Duke U. (Prof. Rhine).
Fortunately despite the heavy pilferings, I pay no rent and my income is up.
I don’t know what the Stock Market means, I had written to the Trust Company
praising their sales of certain stocks and their purchase of others. The stocks
they had previously sold were among those most hit; the stocks they purchased
and purchased heavily are International Harvester which means, or may mean,
that I can throw a lot of information and advice in that direction.
I have not heard anything about my family and only that one Aunt has
recovered from a severe illness. My return may or may not be important in this
direction. If the Major does not come with me I shall limit myself to Berkeley,
SF or Marin, to be determined by actual events. But if he does come there will
be little choice but Hollywood—and the purchase of a car so we can
“commute” and how.
I am in a very poor home from which we hope to move, perhaps while I am at
Murree or anywhere “in Pukhtunistan.” But it saves me from people coming
for help, advice and “healing.” I leave this open because I cannot mail
this for at least two days—today is a holiday and tomorrow I am on a trip.
Friday. I am about to leave for Rawalpindi. The last day and a half have
been most favorable. There is not only a strong grapevine working for me but
more and more people are learning about my efforts. The seers are very strong
in saying I shall be well received when I return. I am hoping to clear up once
and for all matters in the capital cities and then return and work in the
Punjab until I can leave. Hundreds of people beg me to remain not seeing I
accomplish nothing but give them a kind of satisfaction, but it is a good
July 8, 1962
Dear Leonora Signora,
Puck is still in to “Comedy of Terrors.” Have not seen or received any
word from my protective host Major Sadiq—for weeks—I am not even sure of
his whereabouts. He and his wife were in one motor car accident and she alone
in another and all plays went! I am at Rawalpindi for the while but don’t
know how long I shall stay. The man I expected to assist in Peshawar is in the
U.S. Rain is coming—maybe the beginning of the monsoon. I have had enough
I am also writing for a very Puckian reason—went to the movies and the
whole caste was Italian with one exception. I looked over the list carefully,
not a Ponti, Oscar or no—not a Ponti in the caste or associates, not
even a third assistant flower girl or makeup jerk but—there in the
middle of the signoras, signoritas, signores and bachos, a single exception
40,000-1 shot. The exception: Martin! Instead of Martin becoming Ponti, Ponti
becomes Martin—and let the pun stand! I could not miss the opportunity. (More
Shakespeare Macbeth.) I think it will rain. “Let it come down.” It is.
Jamshed Jewel. I should return to Lahore between the 15th and 20th
and leave for Karachi between the 25th and 27th and leave Karachi August 2-4.
It is not money but red tape, countless frustrations and uncertainties that
hold me up. But I am (or Puck is) agog. What is agog! Change record please to
“Stormy Weather” and “Let George Do It”. Now the emphasis is to shower
in the rain or reign in the shower! I also may meet the Khalandar and C’wary
and meet some more big-wigs. But I am heading for SF with side trips to Marin
(legal) and Hollywood. The last becomes more and more important—my closest
friends are involved.
Now darlings, as everybody foretells romance for me, I am also sitting on
the “side-lines” for final settlement of residence. I shall not go to
university, yet I must spend some time at the Academy of Sciences G.G. Park,
Berkeley—Puck, interrupted—all the neighbors left their kids here in the
rain and I have to baby-sit!! Actually I may now impose on you my two secret
tragedies, which will clear up some odd things about which I had to be
I will also have a letter about Wesley. No bath as today is ironing.
I know big things are happening which causes made him a martyr. Complicating
when there were broken romances. She was nearly if not completely innocent but
kept her mouth shut. People will be slow in understanding the deep love and
reverence I had for him. If it came out it would have been misunderstood. Even
Leonard Aniston and other men whom I love (without necessarily admiring) were
not of that class.
There is one dramatic comedy to my Lahore ventures too long to write which
may turn out most pleasant and which will be detailed on return. Will believe
the Martins & Pontis. I guess I had better go to the cinema again when the
rain stops. You can bet I’ll be seeing one or the other, and maybe later in
I hasten darlings,
July 23, 1962
Dear Saint madam,
We have an assortment of Pakistani cloaks (we take care of our daggers) that
need attention. They are all Afghan bordered and have Pashtimi trimmings. We
keep them in India rubber and to keep the Indians from robbery. Please give
them careful attention.
Now comes the real question: Will I beat this or at bed time. This beats me.
The race is to the surf and to the jet. I don’t know who is meeting me or
where I shall go but my “son” Norman says he will take care of that. I am
glad he called on you and he was anxious to help as I am to help him.
My ticket ends in San Diego. I can fly there cheap buying it here, they have
special rates. My aunt has been ill a long time and I don not even know if my
mother is alive. Lots of things have gone wrong. “Comedy of Terrors” but
the last days very auspicious. Everybody is for my “How California Can help
Asia.” Have meeting with Tony Atkinson when I return and many more
introductions all over the State. So I am calling my friend Marry nelson first.
Then to Marion and then it depends on a lot of things. Then jump south, then
going back and see what has transpired.
My lips are slightly worn. I have touched no woman excepting Julie Medlock
and damsels from S.F. Julie is not here’ I don’t know where she is. Figure
that one out!
I write on a first class air-conditioned train supposed to arrive I Karachi
late in the morning. Then to Hotel, PAA, Embassy, etc. and a veddy busybody
week. No wonder the cloaks get [?]. We land at Calcutta, Bangkok, Hong Kong,
Tokyo and Honolulu. According to the schedule I don’t change planes but you
never can tell—the train is moving! 1 1/2 years—the rest of my life. There
may be mail in Karachi but this will be posted because I am not sure whether
even air-mail letters will beat me. I’ll be glad to get back. After
80˚-105˚ weather and sometimes hotter—unusually warm; the monsoons are
late. But making more and more and more acquaintances and my writings in
July 25, 1962
Recently I have had 3 customers by the name of Sam Lewis, one of them a
business associate of my husband. Fie on you and your fancy names. I have
Mohammed himself, no other name. And what a shock of curly hair, but Jewish
nose and the smiling affability of a salesman. But instead he is a crackerjack
waiter. Speaking of names, Chester A. Arthur III was mentioned in the newspaper
News CB in June. It seems the grandson of the 21st president was quipping:
“I’m going in circles.” The erstwhile Fourth and Market newsboy turned
author has already written Circle of Sex, Circle of Faces and is
finishing the MSS for Circle of History. You, old dear, do not have to
“go Asiatic” on us when you can get right here in S.F. “The Color, Sound
of Zen” which headed a description of the ancient rites and ceremony at the
Sokiji Zen Temple in honor, the Rev. Shunryu Suzuki becoming Master of the
Temple. You can learn the Arabic language in a course offered at the Arab
Information Center in the Ferry Bldg. Waitress Yasmine at The Taj proved her
versatility by serving a formal dinner to the Indian Consul, then changed her
sari to a harem costume and entertained another group with a belly dance. Right
here, you can join thousands of Californians, including the blind, in donating
old or discarded glasses for sending to the needy of Pakistan.
People you knew? Mrs. Mary Stubbs Gibson, 86, one of the fabulous great
ladies of S.F. history; authority on the history of costume, discoverer of new
species of Sierran fungi, ornithologist, creative weaver, is dead. Also Anita
Blake dead at 90, who gave her home site to U. of C. for a research center for
The Main Library is being renovated. You won’t recognize the Fiction Room.
It’s given up a lot of space to 9000 books on religion and 1700 on
philosophy. There are pleasant oases of comfortable chairs, round tables,
plants just for reading and relaxing. Big things are planned for other
You certainly have been wonderful, lately, in writing 4 letters to me, yet
receiving nothing, nought, zero from me. Two of them had Clementina address for
your return, so why write, if you were that near. Airmail does not get
forwarded, I’ve been told, because of the extra expense. Then there was such
a lull, I was on the point of calling Rudy for info, when presto, Indian mail
ceased and 2 letters came from Pakistan. You certainly have my sympathy for all
that looting and for having to be up in the air so much about plans.
I liked the passage about the international listing of a cast that contained
a Martin but no Ponti. But Sam, I nearly go nuts trying to read your
handwriting. Please get the typewriter repaired or start printing!
Your friend called on me at The Launderese and he was quite a charmer. Later
I was notified he had sent my name, as a librarian prospect to The Peace Corps
and they sent me a lot of propaganda, forms to fill out, etc. that I haven’t
had time to read.
There is so much to tell you of my recent ups and downs, I am saving it to
relate when you return, providing it is more less soon? Just call my number
first UN 3-2999, as we will be out of town Aug. 4th to—unknown time.
Hope you are on your way soon. VP or not, you gotta spend some time with Max
At a recent Fun Club shindig I had a long talk with Charlie Bassett. He said
on your first trip to the Orient he heard from you often, but nary a thing this
time. My Sunsetters group had Stan Valentine for caller recently and I had a
swell time talking to him all through refreshment time. Made me understand him
better and increased my love and admiration for him.
I understand Madelynne recently put on a brand new kind of a shindig that
went over big for an international week end, by invitation. Pay plenty.
Her largest class, lately, has been for instruction in Japanese and Hindu
dances!! Since these won’t be given at festivals, I’m sticking to Walter
January 21, 1969
My dear Leonora:
It is not too pleasant to report that one is succeeding in obtaining his
dearest wishes at a time when one’s friends are having troubles. It has been
necessary or advisable at times to turn one’s back on everything, if not on
everybody and this determination to move in new directions has been in a sense
The very fact that older people did not accept Sam Lewis seriously has added
to his luster, and so one has a following or entourage of about 60, two in
their forties, a few in their thirties, and nearly all the rest in their
twenties. And as this year dawned one also had the satisfaction of being lifted
out of financial uncertainties, at least for the while an the young, who in
many respects seemed to have leaned on this person, have also responded to
please and lifted one entirely but of debts.
The obtaining of a home in Novato without any particular financial burden
has, however, given one a sort of fatherly responsibility and everyone in the
house excepting one’s secretary has been ill and the secretary has visited
Southern California and his mission has been a success.
The first glimmerings of success after long efforts have manifested in the
publication of one of my poems—which have always been rejected; and the
republication of parts of “Glory Roads” written years ago by Lutheran
Whitman and myself. One of my friends, who is a university professor
(transferred to Pennsylvanian) told that there is an underground acceptance of
this person and this gradually coming out.
Three times in life I have had to suffer from direct persecution involving,
among other things, the seizure of all my manuscripts and the public use of
them by “famous” persons who have social backing. By chance a single carbon
came into my hands recently which integrates the various functions and missions
I have had and won the exceeding good-will of several of my young friends.
Another aspect of life is the heritage from Ruth St. Denis. This has now
been called to the attention of her literary heir. I combine dances with
lectures on Sunday and Monday nights, open to the public. But I also have a
dancing class on Saturday afternoons, not open to the public but which one can
come to by invitation. It is based on a number of facets of life not germane to
our culture at all but apparently very successful in operation.
Now one of my disciple has approached Ann Halprin—with whom there has
always been some understanding—and it is possible that there will be
communication and even an alliance.
It is even possible that some Friday night I may descend upon a folk dance
group with an entourage. But I do not have much free time at night and am
extremely in empathy with John Skow. With two homes and a filled program it is
very difficult to find time to go outside to help others. I have to visit
Berkeley today on a number of missions—including fabrics for clothing,
This house is always open on Sunday and Monday nights but few mature persons
have accepted any invitation. And it is certain that there is close harmony
between most of my disciples. In San Francisco usually the number of men far
outweighs the number of women and this restricts my dance teachings to the
Dervish type but this is going ahead and the response is excellent.
It will also be necessary for me to have classes in Marin County on Tuesday,
Wednesday and Thursday nights and here on Sunday and Monday nights, with also
day classes to be organized soon. This besides the courses being taken at UC
and the need to visit the campus from time to time.
Each person who comes has a problem—sex, drugs, home conditions, etc.
There are ways of approaching these people which are often successful but so
far as mature people are concerned I have given us trying to reach them with
I now have, in a sense, three ersatz families and so function as parent and
grandparent besides, in a sense being a sage. I have utmost trust in Daniel
whom I have sent to you and I can send others to you if necessary but I feel
like a doctor who will not make home visits excepting to those who have come to
his office. This is not any sign of coldness—I am drawn to many and many are
drawn to me today because of mutual love, empathy and understanding. I must ask
you to try to come to one of my meetings before I can possibly go and visit
American Association of University Women
San Francisco, California, Branch, Inc.
January 15, 1970
Have just finished reading your letter to Leonora Ponti (all her mail comes
to me now as she no longer reads or seems interested in correspondence
I guess Ali Cogsley has told you I’ve been taking care of Leonora for some
time now, her business problems, household, etc. but I guess he didn’t tell
you where she is or you probably wouldn’t have addressed your letter to her
there, at the O’Farrell St. place.
I’m quite surprised Sam, that you write your time today does not permit
you to keep up with old friends, however close they may have been…. Leonora
has always spoken so highly of you and the friendship you and she have had over
the years … and if you only realized this is what keeps her going really …
visits, even just short ones, from those she has known so well in the
I’m enclosing a copy of the letter I sent out at Christmas time to all
those friends who sent cards to Lee … it gives a little of the background
since Max’s death which was when I met you.
Please give this visit thought a little more concentration…. It would mean
a great deal I know and she isn’t going to be around as long as those young
people you mention are in your life.
January 17, 1970
Mrs. Doris Hosea,
5218 Camden St.,
Oakland, Calif. 94619
My dear Doris:
I remember once during the early part of the war I said to the other
office-workers, “I had a day off—once!” They all laughed. Some of them
were lucky enough to get a single day off every other month! People who do not
know the problems and quandaries of others often presume and assume that the
others are living in beds or roses.
It is several months since I had a sort of vacation hoping that I could
arrange thereafter to have a day off a week. It was an idle dream. It is not
that life was negative—even the positive elements took away time. My best
friend from France showed up without notice and expected me to make some
arrangements for him. This was also necessary because he is trying to sell
“Dances of Universal Peace” to a large corporation. Why, my best friends
are not concerned with this person choreographing dances and much lass with the
social and financial possibilities. Neither can one force others to look into
one’s life nor compel them to share the benefits.
There was once a huge humorous story in vaudeville: “The dog died.” And
when it was all over it seems that the butler was telling the master that his
house had burned down and wife ran away with the chauffeur and much, much more.
But my life is not a vaudeville story. Yes Ali gave me news but no information
and it is so long now since I have shad anything like a day off-which one
cannot compete others to understand and now I am going to tell you some things
1. We have been in danger of floods in Novato and I had to go and dig some
emergency drainage ditches. The other man are often away at work.
2. The house across the road, occupied by one of us, was in a worse fix.
3. My brother, recognized after years of enmity, is in a hospital awaiting a
4. A man whom I have been waiting for for some time with the hopes of
working out a real peace program for the real Israelis, the real Arabs and the
real Palestinians—not the figments of the press, commentators and Vice-
President, is here and expects me to see his early and often.
5. My god-daughter has planned to desert her husband and infant daughter and
the phone is constantly ringing—what must I, or they do.
6. Several universities have sent for me, there being at least two special
delivery letters in the mail and I am actually afraid to look further into the
I teach classes five nights a week, and have oodles of correspondence and
writings at all times and have just one voluntary secretary. Excepting for the
Indonesian dances here recently I have not been able to go to any sort of
theatre or show for months—and it is not money that is lacking.
Today after years of effort many universities and professors are now
acknowledging prowess and saying “Yes” whereas previously all said
“no.” I do not wish to go on.
One is being sought out continuously for advice or for what they call
“enlightenment” into which I will not go. One is Emerson’s mousetrap
inventor. One cannot force this on others. I do not know at this writing
whether I can have even a free hour the next week. One is sorry to write in
this way. I know many people—and unfortunately last night I met more—who
are in positions comparable to Lee’s and one is clamped with time. I do not
own a car and never know when I can get one.
If my secretary wrote he would probably have been curt and direct, but he
does not know everything going on—he sees the part of life not mentioned
here. I am sorry but an over-burdened man is not likely to respond when he is
taken to task.
I have great love, reverence and feeling for Leonora, but no time at this
Samuel L. Lewis