Uit: Two Lives
„When I was seventeen I went to live with my great-uncle and great-aunt in England. He was Indian by origin, she German. They were both sixty. I hardly knew them at the time. It was August 1969 – the monsoon season in Calcutta. A few days before I left, Mama had taken me to a temple to be blessed, which was most unlike her. She and Papa came to see me off at Dumdum Airport. I arrived at Heathrow in the afternoon. My great-uncle and great-aunt were still away on their annual holiday in Switzerland and, as I recall, I was met at the terminal by someone in the firm for which my father worked. My first impression was of the width of the road that led (under grey skies) to London. I was housed for a night in a drab hotel somewhere near Green Park.
That evening Shanti Uncle and Aunty Henny returned from Switzerland, and the following day I and my luggage arrived at their door.
I looked at the house that was to be my home for the next few years. There was a red pillar-box not far from the gate of 18 Queens Road, Hendon; this was to be my beacon whenever I trudged up from the tube station. In front of the house was a small, low-walled, immaculately maintained garden with a few rosebushes in full bloom. A path led to the door. To the right of the path, slanted on a stand, was a burnished brass plaque that read:
S. B. Seth
L.D.S., R.C.S. (Edin.), B.Sc., D.M.D. (Berlin)
I set down my luggage on the front step. The thought of meeting people whom I had not seen for years and did not really know, and whose home I would be sharing, made me nervous. I was, in any case, fearfully shy. After a minute I rang the bell.“
Vikram Seth (Kolkata, 20 juni 1952)