Sunday, 25 May 2008


It is now some weeks since I started posting a weekly extract from the book that appears as if it may change my life, 1111 Letters for All Occasions. I am becoming very grateful indeed that I have found it.

As an insight into the lives, loves, morality, interactions and struggles of 1970s India, 1111 Letters is a rare document of no small historical importance. Thanks to New Light Publishers of New Delhi, we are able to delve into the lives of everyday Indians in a very special and insightful way. Many readers of this blog have been delighted by the colourful and charming vignettes unveiled by this most special of books, to the point where I have been asked to present a lecture at the University of Michigan on the contemporary culture of 1970s India as seen through 1111 Letters for a not inconsiderable emolument. This is expected to be the start of an extensive lecture tour and I have, as a consequence, retained an American Agent to look after my interests.

Needless to say, I retained his services through a letter I wrote him that closely followed the template given in 1111 Letters.

However, I promised I would share an extract each week with you and, regardless of my other obligations, I shall be true to my word. Today, we investigate the section titled ‘Club Correspondence’ – a scathing attack on inequality in every way and a quite riveting correspondence. I apologise for the extract being a little long and complicated, but club membership was obviously not easy in days of yore.

I confess that the last letter in this series made me cry.

Club Correspondence

To join a social club you need some social correspondence with the Secretary of the Club before you are admitted and become a member. Some such letters are given below.


The Secretary
Chelmsford Club
New Delhi

Can I join your club? What are the qualifications necessary for becoming a member of the Chelmsford Club?

Yours faithfully

Reply to Above

Dear Sir
A brochure is enclosed herewith giving all the necessary information for the new members.
Yours faithfully


Dear Sir
I am quite new to New Delhi and I think I know no member of the Chelmsford Club. Then, how can I be introduced?

Yours faithfully

Reply to above

Dear Sir
Please attend our Club dinner tomorrow night and bring the papers along duly completed.

I will have you introduced.

Yours faithfully

Reply to Reply

Dear Sir
I regret that I shall not be able to meet members of the Chelmsford Club tomorrow as I am flying to Bombay tonight.

Please make it later.

Yours faithfully

Open Offer

Dear Sir
Come to our club any evening at your convenience with the completed form.
Please ring me for an appointment.

Yours faithfully

Sending a form

Dear Sir
Kindly find enclosed herewith the Application Form of the Chelmsford Club duly completed and introduced.

Please enrol me as a member.

Yours faithfully

Negative Reply

Dear Sir
I am placing the form before the Governing Body of the Club in their next meeting.

I will inform you of the result some time next week.

Yours faithfully


Please intimate me the decision of the Governing Body about my enrolment as a member.


Positive Reply

I am glad to inform you that you have been duly enrolled as a full member of the Chelmsford Club.

Negative Reply

I regret to inform you that the Governing Body has not been able to accord you membership of the Club. Your cheque for payment is returned herewith.

Reply to Reply

I fear the Chelmsford Club continues to be a Whitemen’s club with Whitemen’s mentality as in the days of the Whitemen’s burden.

The black must bear the burden of the White.

Next week: Letters to the Editor


Anonymous said...

Poor chap. To be honest, I don't know if he'd actually have wanted to be a member of the Chelmsford Club anyway. Rather like all those ladies wanting to join chaps-only Golf clubs, eh? Why butt in where you're not wanted, especially when you can join the Broomfield Club just up the road and be amongst your own kind?

the real nick said...

Notwithstanding occasional snobbery and racism towards Indians, the most snobbish and racist people in India are...the Indians themselves.

i*maginate said...

As MJ said...

"It don't matter if you're black or white"

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