November 17, 2012 | 1 Comment | Betsy Woodman
Our house in New Delhi got flooded, in 1958. It was during the monsoon season, and a drainage ditch near our house overflowed its embankments, leaving a foot or so of water on the ground floor of the houses in our neighborhood. I hate to think of what was floating around in that water, but I ended up wading in it as my dad took pictures. You can see the high water mark on the living room wall.
My dad picked up a case of hookworm, and it took several months to get rid of it. The cure, as he described it, was highly unpleasant—akin to swallowing a bottle of furniture polish remover.
Otherwise, I don’t remember many ill effects. As floods go, it was minor, and we were lucky. Out family of six got split up temporarily and went to three different households in Delhi. My sister Jane and I got lodged with some Danish friends, which left us saying “tak” for “thank you” for a while. The mom had her own ideas about medical treatment. When I caught cold, she dosed me with brandy. I recovered quickly.
We salvaged a surprising number of objects from those muddy waters. The sideboard in the photo dried out and got polished up, and over the next five decades, my parents moved it to at least four other houses. They had it for many years in their rustic mountain cottage in New Hampshire, along with bric-a-brac picked up in their various overseas posts. (My sisters and I called their decorating style “Indo-Parisian brothel.”)
Several albums of photographs got soaked, and we separated and flattened the pages. Later, we stuck the photos in new albums. After my parents died, hundreds of those photos went into the Colby-Sawyer College archives. I’m still sorting through others, and, of course, many go straight into this blog.