They came as masters—at least, the men. Some came in their official capacity as civil servants, architects, engineers, soldiers and as journalists for the good newspapers—The Statesman, The Times of India, the Illustrated Weekly and the BBC. Taya Zinkin, a Frenchwoman married to an ICS officer-turned-boxwallah, Maurice, wrote for the Manchester Guardian, as it was then called. Most came when young, looking for a better prospect than was on offer in Blighty.
They are all terribly nice and charming, even though there was a lot of racism during the Raj. Those who came into the civil service found their contacts with Indians restricted to professionals. The journalists had much greater freedom to sample the real India. Even so, there is a sense of the exotic or the forbidden, when they recall the names of their Indian friends. It all sounds slightly unreal from today’s perspective when sahibs and memsahibs come and go and no one kowtows to them.