May 26th 1920

The most recent issue of ‘The Draconian’ contains no fewer than 26 pages of letters from the Carline brothers, recording their time as war artists gathering material on their grand tour of 1919.  It is now six months since the Imperial War Museum packed them off on this mission and from Mesopotamia, where Sydney Carline‘s last letter was posted, they have moved on to Persia, which they reached at the end of July 1919.

“Kuretu (Persia) July 31st 1919.

If you look on the map you will see that on the borders of Persia and Mespot there are endless successions of mountain ranges. My sketch shows the craggy peaks of the first series as seen from the camp in which we are quartered till tomorrow, when we continue by car to Kirmanshah, Hamadan and Kazvin

We are blessed with a servant in the form of a little Arab boy about 13 to 14. He puts our beds out, fetches water, polishes our boots and so forth. It is very nice to have someone to attend to us on a journey of this sort, as there are no conveniences anywhere, no hot and cold water laid on etc. But already we are faced with a counterbalance of extra worry about what he is to eat, where it is to be got from, where to sleep and so forth…

Though he made my dressing easy by having everything ready, in return it took me most of the morning to arrange for his boiling of his mid-day rice. You see everything has its proper place; one caste of Indians use this fire, another that, and so on, and to find the one where our boy is to boil his is quite a job…

To understand the country one must understand the heat, as it produces problems that are exactly opposite to all the conditions that one is accustomed to and looks upon as proper…

After I have washed in our one and only basin, should Dick want to do so also, what does he do to get rid of my dirty water? Does he call a servant, have it tipped in a bucket and carried in search of a drain down which to pour it..? Oh, dear no. He may chuck it out the window, in which case it may allay the dust on the lane for a brief moment. But water is precious, evaporating water produces a coolness in the air, our room is hot, the brick floor is hot to touch and dusty; taking the basin Dick therefore pours the contents on our bedroom floor. The bricks are porous, they drink up the water; there is a dark patch for a few moments, the room is perhaps slightly cooler, and, as Dick finishes his wash, all is as it was before.”

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