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45. LORD CURZON'S DARBAR :

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AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY:
THE STORY OF MY EXPERIMENTS WITH TRUTH
by Mohandas K. Gandhi

 Part-2.


The Congress was over, but as I had to meet the Chamber of Commerce and various people in connection with work in South Africa, I stayed in Calcutta for a month. Rather than stay this time in a hotel, I arranged to get the required introduction for a room in the India Club. Among its members were some prominent Indians, and I looked forward to getting into touch with them and interesting them in the work in South Africa. Gokhale frequently went to this Club to play billiards, and when he knew that I was to stay in Calcutta for some time, he invited me to stay with him, I thankfully accepted the invitation, but did not think it proper to go there by myself. He waited for a day or two and then took me personally. He discovered my reserve and said: 'Gandhi, you have to stay in the country, and this sort of reserve will not do. You must get into touch with as many people as possible. I want you to do C…

44. IN THE CONGRESS :

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AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY:
THE STORY OF MY EXPERIMENTS WITH TRUTH
by Mohandas K. Gandhi

 Part-2.


In the Congress at last. The immense pavilion and the volunteers in stately array, as also the elders seated on the dais, overwhelmed me. I wondered where I should be in that vast assemblage.
The presidential address was a book by itself. To read it from cover to cover was out of the question. Only a few passages were therefore read.


After this came the election of the Subjects Committee. Gokhale took me to the Committee meetings.
Sir Pherozeshah had of course agreed to admit my resolution, but I was wondering who would put it before the Subjects Committee, and when. For there were lengthy speeches to every resolution, all in English to boot, and every resolution had some well-known leader to back it. Mine was but a feeble pipe amongst those veteran drums, and as the night was closing in, my heart beat fast. The resolutions coming at the fag- end were, so far as I can recollect, rushed through at lighting…

43. CLERK AND BEARER :

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AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY:
THE STORY OF MY EXPERIMENTS WITH TRUTH
by Mohandas K. Gandhi

 Part-2.



There were yet two days for the Congress session to begin. I had made up my mind to offer my services to the Congress office in order to gain some experience. So as soon as I had finished the daily ablutions on arrival at Calcutta, I proceeded to the Congress office.


Babu Bhupendranath Basu and Sjt. Ghosal were the secretaries. I went to Bhupenbabu and offered my services. He looked at me, and said: 'I have no work, but possibly Ghosalbabu might have something to give you. Please go to him.'


So I went to him. He scanned me and said with a smile: 'I can give you only clerical work. Will you do it?'


'Certainly,' said I. ' I am here to do anything that is not beyond my capacity.'


'That is the right spirit, young man,' he said. Addressing the volunteers who surrounded him, he added, 'Do you hear what this young man says?'


Then turning to me he proceeded: 'Well…

42.IN INDIA AGAIN

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AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY:
THE STORY OF MY EXPERIMENTS WITH TRUTH
by Mohandas K. Gandhi

 Part-2.


So I sailed for home. Mauritius was one of the ports of call, and as the boat made a long halt there, I went ashore and acquainted myself fairly well with the local conditions. For one night I was the guest of Sir Charles Bruce, the Governor of the Colony.



After reaching India I spent some time in going about the country. It was the year 1901 when the Congress met at Calcutta under the presidentship of Mr. (later Sir) Dinshaw Wacha. And I of course attended it. It was my first experience of the Congress. From Bombay I travelled in the same train as Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, as I had to speak to him about conditions in South Africa. I knew the kingly style in which he lived. He had engaged a special saloon for himself, and I had orders to take my opportunity of speaking to him by travelling in his saloon for one stage. I, therefore, went to the saloon and reported myself at the appointed station. 




With him w…

41. RETURN TO INDIA :

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AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY:
THE STORY OF MY EXPERIMENTS WITH TRUTH
by Mohandas K. Gandhi

 Part-2.


On my relief from war-duty I felt that my work was no longer in South Africa but in India. Not that there was nothing to be done in South Africa, but I was afraid that my main business might become merely money-making. Friends at home were also pressing me to return, and I felt that I should be be of more service in India. And for the work in South Africa, there were, of course, Messrs Khan and Mansukhlal Naazar. So I requested my coworkers to relieve me. After very great difficulty my request was conditionally accepted, the condition being that I should be ready to go back to South Africa if, within a year, the community should need me. I thought it was a difficult condition but the love that bound me to the community made me accept it. 'The Lord has bound me With the cotton-thread of love, I am His bondslave,' sang Mirabai. And for me, too, the cotton-thread of love that bound me to the commu…

40. SANITARY REFORM AND FAMINE RELIEF :

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AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY:
THE STORY OF MY EXPERIMENTS WITH TRUTH
by Mohandas K. Gandhi

 Part-2.


It has always been impossible for me to reconcile myself to any one member of the bady politic remaining out of use. I have always been loath to hide or connive at the. weak points of the community or to press for its rights without having purged it of its blemishes. Therefore, ever since my settlement in Natal, I had been endeavouring to clear the community of a charge that had been levelled against it, not without a certain amount of truth. The charge had often been made that the Indian was slovenly in his habits and did not keep his house and surroundings clean. The principal men of the community had, therefore, already begun to put their houses in order, but house-to-house inspection was undertaken only when plague was reported to be imminent in Durban. This was done after consulting, and gaining the approval of, the city fathers, who had desired our co-operation. Our co-operation made work easier …

39. THE BOER WAR :

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AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY:
THE STORY OF MY EXPERIMENTS WITH TRUTH
by Mohandas K. Gandhi

 Part-2.


I must skip many other experiences of the period between 1897 and 1899 and come straight to the Boer War.
When the war was declared, my personal sympathies were all with the Boers, but I believed then that I had yet no right, in such cases, to enforce my individual convictions. I have minutely dealt with the inner struggle regarding this in my history of the Satyagraha in South Africa, and I must not repeat the argument here. I invite the curious to turn to those pages. Suffice it to say that my loyalty to the British rule drove me to participation with the British in that war. I felt that, if I demanded rights as a British citizen, it was also my duty, as such, to participate in the defence of the British Empire. I held then that India could achieve her complete emancipation only within and through the British Empire. So I collected to gather as many comrades as possible, and with very great difficulty…

38. SIMPLE LIFE :

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I had started on a life of ease and comfort, but the experiment was short-lived. Although I had furnished the house with care, yet it failed to have any hold on me. So no sooner had I launched forth on that life, than I began to cut down expenses. The washerman's bill was heavy, and as he was besides by no means noted for his punctuality, even two or three dozen shirts and collars proved insufficient for me. Collars had to be changed daily and shirts, if not daily, at least every alternate day. This meant a double expense, which appeared to me unnecessary. So I equipped myself with a washing outfit to save it. I bought a book on washing, studied the art and taught it also to my wife. This no doubt added to my work, but its novelty made it a pleasure.




I shall never forget the first collar that I washed myself. I had used more starch than necessary, the iron had not been made hot enough, and for fear of burning the collar I had not pressed it sufficiently. The result was that, though…