Maharajahii Indiei / The Maharajahs of India (III).

Maharajahii Indiei / The Maharajahs of India (III).

(Ann Morrow, „Highness. The Maharajahs of India”, „Introduction”)

They were autocratic; Lewis Caroll’ s ‘No, no. Sentence first, verdict afterwards’ could have been written with them in mind. In their libraries, Twinkle Toes sat beside Tod’ s scholarly Annals of Rajasthan.

They aped the West with cocktail bars, and their radiograms had tiger’ s-paw feet. They had a dedication to self-indulgence: palaces were modelled on Versailles and on gloomy Scottish baronial castles. They took dancing lessons to perform a quadrille at a Simla Viceregal Ball and later the foxtrot as their own eight-piece bands played ‘Happy Days Are Here Again’.

They went to English public schools-one boy brought his panther-and as grown men kept in touch with their headmasters, writing ‘Dear Daddy’. Like true aristocrats, they were completely lacking in snobbery. They spoke beautiful English, were invited to Balmoral and ate omelette Arnold Bennett. Every telegram sent by the Nizam of Hyderabad ended with ‘Rule Britannia’.

Never raising their voices, they were languid, but people who displeased would simply disappear. They cared deeply about their religion and their ancestors, talking about fifteenth-century Mogul warriors as if they were cousins.

-to be continued-

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