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The Cow Dust Hour: A Boy’s Growing Up in British India

John Simmance

Pages: 284
ISBN: 978-145752-602-2
List Price: 19.95
Category: Autobiography & Biography
Available: August 2014
Edition: Perfectbound

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This is a book about British India during the 1930’s and 40’s. It is seen through my eyes as a boy, from as young as I can remember, up to the age of sixteen. It covers British Indian life, their customs, idiosyncrasies and superstitions, and Indian superstitions, the Hindu churel being one, the poltergeist another. It talks of Indian traditions and games adopted by British children: goli dunda, Diwali with its fireworks and kite flying, “fighting kites” with patang, choorkee and “Lucknow Nuck” manja – the tissue and bamboo kite, line reel, and crushed glass covered thread to cut opponent’s lines! And your own fingers! It includes some of India’s wild life, from black leopards through red monkeys to green Alexandra parakeets. It is a book about the India I loved, an India now much changed but nevertheless still loved. It is about the Indian Army, the largest all volunteer army the world has ever known, an army that served in two world wars, from Flanders to Mesopotamia to El Alamein. An army that enlisted Hindu, Moslem, Jew, Parsee and Gurkha alike, where Hindu, Sikh, and Moslem soldiers proudly served side by side. So proud and keen were Gurkhas to serve in the British Indian Army that today the British Army boasts Gurkha battalions.

Born in Kasauli, India, 26th July 1928. Educated both in England (Prep school, Tormore, Deal, Kent, 1938-1940 and Bristol Aeroplane Co. Ltd., Bristol, England, Engineering Apprenticeship, 1945-1949) and in India (St. Edward’s High School, Simla, India, 1940-1944). Served in the British Army, Royal Signals, 1951-1953, Second Lieutenant, England and Egypt. Three children: Danielle, 1955, Peter, 1957 and Giselle, 1961. At 85 years old, missing Colette after 56 years of a happy marriage, still in comparative good health and looking forward to next adventure.