distances we covered
final tally was around 30,000 overland and 15,000 by sea, we visited twenty-one
countries, and the whole trip took thirteen months.
it worth it?" That's what everyone asks. "What have you learned? What
have you brought back?"
thing we did not bring back, and this constantly surprises people, is a healthy-
looking sun-tan. Many Bristolians have accumulated a better one. But we answer
their queries, quite truthfully, with the simple fact that when you are working
in hot countries your constant preoccupation is to escape from the sun, not to
bathing was definitely out. Apart from anything else, there was never any time.
We had tasks to complete and most of our energy went this way.
were not attempting "research" in the academic sense, much longer and
more detailed study would be necessary for that, but we did have serious projects
and worked seriously at them.
primary object of the journey was to enable us to spend three months each in India
and Bolivia in order to observe how the changes in agricultural and economic patterns
were affecting the lives of the people in the rural areas.
months is a short enough period, particularly when there are language troubles,
so in India we decided to restrict our observations to one small area. This meant
that we studied a small group of a thousand people out of a population of several
hundred million; the limitations are obvious.
such was the co-operation we received that we were very pleased with the results;
in fact we managed to see more than we had dared to hope. The people of our area,
from Government officials to the poorest peasant, knew of our visit and were waiting
were made on our behalf; itineraries were worked out and visits arranged. They
were proud of the work they were doing and were determined that we should see
it all; and there proved to be a lot to see. A smaller group could not have covered
we visited model farms where new agricultural techniques are being demonstrated
and village co-operatives where the lesson is one of working together. We looked
at things purely rural, and also toured the three large industrial concerns of
the district (pumps, agricultural implements and glassware) and discussed with
the management the effect of such factories on the lives of the villagers.
also saw attempts to start small village industries which could mean an added
source of income for the families on their own doorstep.
made many friends, particularly among the teachers and officials who gave up much
of their time to answer our questions and to act as interpreters.
was all that we had dared to hope - and more. The strangeness is somehow expected
but this expectation cannot spoil the fascination of the climate and the colour,
the problems and the devoted attempts being made towards their solution. Nor the
friendliness of the people.
was determined to make us feel at home - even though they were proud that Indian
was now their home in the complete sense.
mention of the days of the British rule was made with the most remarkable detachment
and absence of acrimony. They have retained those things they considered good
(for example the Judicial System and the Civil Service) and alongside them have
introduced new measures and systems to fight their own particular problems.
two best memories of India are both of group occasions. One is the intent concentration
of the men who crowded a small whitewashed room where were were recording a young
flute-player; outside canned entertainment was being provided by the annual fair
but here were teachers and farmers nodding appreciation and understanding of the
old, classical music being created for them.
other is of a banquet provided for us by the Peasant Co-operative - a thing they
could hardly afford to do.
ankles remember the torture of sitting cross legged on the floor, my stomach the
difficulty of some of the dishes. But more important were the happy innocent smiles
of our hosts which reflected their pride that we had come to their village and
their great delight at being able to entertain us.
Bolivia our work was rather different and not so concentrated. The Andean Mission
of the United Nations is doing work, similar to that in India, on farming methods
and the value of co-operation; and is shewing the peasants how to build better
houses and to take precaution against disease
distribution of population is extremely uneven and unfortunate. The high Altiplano
is densely populated but unproductive (too little rain and too much wind and frost),
yet the potentially rich eastern lowlands have too few people.
Bolivian Government has several colonisation projects, moving the people from
the high lands to the low; there are also several colonies of Japanese and Okinawans.
are the greatest problem. This is true, probably of all South American countries,
but is more serious where the Andes cut off one part of a country from another,
as in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.
are deplorable and it is extremely difficult to transport products from the fertile
regions to the mining areas and cities. Thus much food is imported unnecessarily
and is another drain on an already wilting economy.
visiting these different areas of the country we passed through all the major
cities and were able to learn much more about the overall economic position than
has been possible in India.
of the proposed publications of the Expedition is a small book on contemporary
which is being prepared jointly by our geographer and economist and illustrated
with photographs and maps.
attempts have been made in Bolivia over the past nine years to remedy some of
the injustices of colonial government and rule by local oligarchies which succeeded
government now accepts responsibility for all the citizens instead of ten or fifteen
per cent; land titles have been given to those who actually work it, votes have
been given to all over eighteen irrespective of colour, race or educational level,
and schools have been built where previously the need had not been admitted.
reforms have in turn created their own problems and the position is not so stable
as could be desired. But they have been achieved without recourse to totalitarian
communism, and the study of them shows how similar, and equally necessary, changes
could be promoted in other South American countries.
two study periods account for roughly half our time away, the rest has been spent
travelling. Naturally we have learned much less about the countries that we merely
passed through, although we all have personal memories.
austere strength and remoteness of the mountains of Afghanistan which was reflected
in the calm dignity of the villagers, whose proud aspect belied their courteous
a contrast, extraordinary New York - surely the city of the obvious immediate
comparisons, where wealth and power are literally just across the street or down
the block from poverty and failure, where the vast impersonal creations of man
dwarf their creators, and where the hurrying crowds show far too many drained
and empty faces of people who have lost the battle with their own ambition.
asked which country we would most like to return to, the members of the Expedition
generally say India, perhaps because there is so much of that country we had no
time to see. Almost all the countries produced desires for a more leisurely second
look and we have our notes, films and photographs to remind and tantalise us.
hope that by showing these we can pass on to other people some of the small knowledge
we have been fortunate enough to gain of these countries.
more is our enthusiasm for gaining it, and the belief that any new understanding,
however, slight, must have a great value in the world where, as never before,
man can travel far and see nothing.
cliche "it's a small world" has developed the power of a paradox; for
it is only cities that have been brought closer together, and they were always
vast speed with which we now travel from point to point merely makes the intervening,
untouched areas seem more remote; the traveller can fly thousands of miles in
a day, passing carelessly over millions of people of whose thoughts, feelings,
desires and needs he knows nothing.
is a dangerous ignorance
we hide our heads in the clouds and our ambitions in outer space, while our own
earth is vibrating with old injustices and new hopes. We should do more to understand