Oral history interview with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty Manjapra, Kris 2010-08-25

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Interview Participants
GCS
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, interviewee (female)
KM
Kris K. Manjapra, interviewer (male)
KM
This is a Bengali Intellectual Oral History interview on August 25th, 2010 with Professor Gayatri Spivak at Columbia University, and let's begin. Professor Spivak, could you begin just by recording your date of birth and where you were born?
GCS
Ok, but first perhaps that my professional name is of course Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak,
KM
Yes
GCS
not just Gayatri Spivak , and my date of birth is 24th February 1942, and I was born at 6 Ironside Road in Calcutta.
KM
Now could you tell -- tell us a bit about your childhood and the milieu of your childhood. What strikes you as you recall it?
GCS
Well first of all this area of Calcutta was then on the outskirts of Calcutta, right, so it was like I was born in what used to be the garden house of my mother's father and it was during the evacuation of Calcutta for fear of Japanese bombing, but my mother decided that she would remain. She wouldn't go anywhere, so my grandmother also remained and so that's why I was born in Calcutta. For some obscure reason I am happy quite about it, and the thing is I am not a nationalist but I love cities and I consider myself both a New Yorker and a Calcuttan.
GCS
These -- it's easier to say that in terms of identity than, for me, as you just put it Bengali or Indian or, of course I am not American but I have lived here for nearly 50 years so therefore I could even say that I was, but the city somehow for me is a place that identifies me. Perhaps it's because I grew up in Calcutta. So the area that I grew up in is called Ballygunge, and Ballygunge is something that you will find it today online, and I was quite happy to see that my childhood, our childhood, our Ballygungee girls' generalizations about Ballygunge were actually borne out by this online thing that we were considered to be very independent-minded and feisty young women.
GCS
And this was kind of nice, and this was - of course, I was born before the Partition of India and which is more important in some ways to my generation than what is called Independence, especially if you grow up in Bengal or Punjab and so what happened was the face of Calcutta changed when refugees were coming in from what was then East Pakistan in '47 and so my first years are marked by, first of all, this area which was so much an outskirt that you could hear kind of jackals screaming away at certain hours, you know. It was a very strange kind of place, and my father built a little house there because the Rana of Nepal had given him fees in a bag of pure gold coins. I just saw one of those gold coins this afternoon in my bank vault. But the building, my little house where I grew up was built with those gold coins because my father was not a particularly rich man.
GCS
I found this out from my mother much later because I was curious as to how my father had built such a nice little house during the war when everything was very expensive, and my mother said, "You don't know? It was with the gold mohars from Nepal". So anyway then we were very happy in our little house. My father was a diagnostic radiologist, and my mother was an intellectual. She -- when there was independence, she at dawn would kind of buzz off to the stations to receive the refugees, and she was interested in refugee rehabilitation. She was a very serious worker, and she was... she was married when she was fourteen and my brother was born when she was fifteen, but what had happened - what did happen was that my father saw that his bride was an intellectual, not just, you know, that women should be educated. It wasn't like that.
GCS
My mother was in fact more of an intellectual than I am, and this is just a ... this is a kind of judgment that I came to in later life, and I would say to her that if you had had my parents and had been born when I was born, you would have hit the stratosphere. She was a very solid person. So my father made it possible because in those days, you know, in the '20s and '30s, it would not have been possible for her to go through institutional education without my father's support, not in her class, and she finally got an MA in Bengali literature in 1937 when she was 24, and then she would have gone on to do a PhD on Bengali proverbs.
KM
And this was where did she get her --
GCS
University of Calcutta, my university. And so she was -- but she gave up for a reason that is also worth talking about if it's in my childhood we are speaking of. My father was from -- I just gave a lecture in Calcutta, the Dilip Kumar Roy Memorial Lecture, which Sugata [Sugata Bose] I believe gave some...maybe last year, and I actually spoke about constructing a personal past. How does one construct? Because Dilip Kumar Roy, which I don't think my hosts knew, he was my mother's first cousin, and in fact he and my mother were born in the same house. So you know it was hard -- so I did that, and I showed Power Point pictures of my childhood and it was very, very, clear to the audience that if on my mother's side I come from this Calcutta intellectual Bengali family, which is much beloved especially by people who live abroad. I don't have much going for it on my father's side.
GCS
The photograph of my father's father was so unlike the photographs of my grandfather's generation, my great grandfather's generation, in their suits and their moustaches and their nice heavy build and so on. My father's father was lean, bare-bodied, wearing a dhoti, smiling, with a beard, a village man, you know, quite a powerful man, but did not know any English at all, not to read or write or anything. So my father came from that kind of a background and it is a very interesting story, he refused a dowry in 1928 which was a fairly unusual thing. And then he actually studied radiology with Rutherford [Sir Ernest Rutherford] at Cambridge, and then he came back, and he was made the youngest civil surgeon in eastern India by the British Government. And he was asked to give false evidence at a rape trial, and he refused without even thinking for one second, and so therefore he was dismissed and his wonderful career was destroyed at the age of 41. So, this is someone that we are very proud of.
KM
What was his name?
GCS
Pares Chandra Chakravorty, very proud of.
KM
And your mother's name?
GCS
Sivani Chakravorty, but my mother -- but my father, in fact my parents ran a little salon where, before all of this disaster they were the beautiful people.
GCS
They ran a little salon because they -- my father and my mother would go off to play soccer with my brother, you know, the three of them and Rana and so on. I think my father drove a Sunbeam-Talbot or a Peugeot or some such thing, and people really noticed this young couple. They're full of joy, you know. And they had these intellectuals, the famous poet Buddhadeb Bose for example, Pala Sen, Humayun Kabir, Syed Mustafa Ali, all these people, young, they would come to their house and there would be a certain kind of -- and you find acknowledgments in their writings, and then when my father came back to Calcutta he became a kind of saintly person, you know, huge -- and of course he had a diagnostic radiology practice, but he had a huge charitable practice, and he was very active during the Hindu-Muslim riots in kind of protecting Muslims who were in the area from violence. You know they would come into our house and so on.
GCS
He was a -- they both my parents were very plain-living, high-thinking, anti-casteist, anti-sectarian, anti-communal in the Indian sense, you know, no religious anything, and so they were like very unusual people in this sense, and they were proto-feminists. In other words, they brought us up, one boy, and the three girls were brought up the same way, you see. We were not prepared for marriage. We were not -- I didn't know how to cook etc. This was a very strange thing, and so that's my childhood, extremely happy childhood of discipline for sure but also no differentiation between the boy and the girls.
KM
Do you think that there is a background in terms of Brahmo [Brahmo Samaj] background or a secular background or where did your parents get this?
GCS
No, my parents were not Brahmos. My father, I mean, I think the influence on them was of the Ram Krishna Movement. My father was initiated by Ram Krishna's wife and in 1920 and my father was like me, or I am like my father I should say, I now realize. He died in 1955 when I was 13, but I was quite precocious so I had begun to get to know him some. I was in college, I had just entered college, but what happened my father never in his entire life spoke about that experience at all and I myself when I was about that age -- he was 19 when he chose to get initiated by Ram Krishna's wife in Calcutta. At 18, I also -- nobody among my siblings was initiated or anything. My parents were not like that, you know. They didn't ask that this should happen through parental interference, but at 18 I got myself initiated. I took bus number 56 to Belur, I got myself initiated by a wonderful man, Shankarananda, the head of Ram Krishna Mission. Then at 21, I lost my faith completely.
GCS
I am a totally non-religious person, but I certainly look back upon the initiation with joy, and I don't rue anything at all, and I think that my father's experience was of that sort very kind of profoundly...it's a kind of ethico-epistemological experience. It's not the kind of stereotype, you know, semitized Hinduism, etc. That's more Vivekananda, but Ram Krishna was an ecstatic. It's a different kind of a thing and so and you know I think they were also rather than unusual, because my mother's siblings were not like her. You know, they had the general characteristics that stereotypically can be attributed to educated sort of Bengal Renaissance people, but they were certainly not like her in this kind of obsessive attraction to the expanding of the mind.
KM
When did you get the feeling or the sense that you were an intellectual?
GCS
15.
KM
How did that happen?
GCS
I remember running in the dark down the long lane. I was in Presidency College, I was in English honors, saying to myself, "I believe I am an intellectual". You know, it was the most incredible thing. It was silly, but there it was.
KM
Had you read something or had you had a conversation?
GCS
No, it was just one of those Wordsworthian [William Wordsworth] spots of time. Silly. Because I am not really very much of an intellectual in many, many ways I'm not, because I don't have any kind of curiosity, and I'm not very "cultured". I don't have a scholarly kind of disposition. I like to think. This is incontrovertible. I like to think. Sometimes I think well, but I am not an intellectual in the sense that real scholars are. I am not a Ranajit Guha or a Tapan Raychaudhuri, no. Of course they are also historians and that's a different kind of - I mean, the people that you have interviewed almost all have been either historians or politically involved in some way. I am a reader, which is a very different kind of thing.
KM
So what kinds of conversations or books or people were you engaging with, say in this period in the early Presidency College time when you went to college or whenever these conversations and these discussions of ideas became important to you? Can you maybe open up some of that?
GCS
Reading, I mean conversations I think, intellectual conversations, I think I mean, see, you will find that Bengalis insist that they had intellectual conversations, especially those who went to Presidency College or the Coffee House [College Street Coffee House] or anything. I will say that having been part of that crowd, I don't know that it was really like -- I mean the intellectual content of the discussions were not, like, tremendously impressive.
GCS
Certainly one had some discussions here and there with perhaps -- but I think I began to have "intellectual discussions" later in life, that during the Presidency College days it was more like doing well in -- I mean we -- I am sorry if I sound unlike the other Presidency College people, but it really was a fact that there was a great deal of emphasis on the appearance of intellectual brilliance, and so that was -- I don't think that was a good influence. I think what was good was that because there wasn't, certainly in English, a lot of books available -- I mean for us Pater's [Walter Pater] Renaissance [The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry] was a secondary text on the Renaissance, you know, that kind of stuff -- we learned to think on our feet well. Yeah, that's lasted me and from the point of view of education I had very solid teachers, yes, but the one who has really -- and I don't mean to be disrespectful of my other teachers. They were good, strong, wonderful teachers,
GCS
but the one who really taught me how to play reading, you know, like how to play a game, was Tarak Nath Sen. He was a person who had taught me something that has lasted to this day, and it's very, very, difficult, that is to say, to be absolutely literal. It was not, to be absolutely literal, it was not really much of like intellectual discussions about anything. That's the real skill. You know what I mean? So no I wasn't, I mean -- you know, one was having I suppose - I mean if you push me I can start to think, ok, Rudraprasad Sengupta perhaps one talked a little bit about. I mean, there were of course political discussions because you know people were, young people were more politicized, right. I mean, so, electoral education, going into the villages, marching in the streets, you know, yes, those kinds of things, but what one would call intellectual discussions, I had later in life. I am obliged to say that.
KM
And where did you stay when you were going to college?
GCS
At home.
KM
At home. I am just curious how you would come to college. What was the actual route that you --
GCS
Bus.
KM
would take. Every day you would just catch the bus and go back?
GCS
Yeah.
KM
And the --
GCS
Tram to Brabourne College. The first two years I went to Lady Brabourne College because Presidency didn't take young women until the third year, so then it was bus or tram. One could even walk to Lady Brabourne.
KM
What was your experience of being a woman at Presidency in this period?
GCS
I didn't think of it.
KM
You didn't?
GCS
No. I mean now I find that anybody who writes about me, you know, these -- my contemporary intellectuals have written about me like Sunil Gangopadhyay and this guy Tushar Kanti something or the other, they all comment on the fact that I was incredibly good-looking and that I was -- and they use this silly phrase "femme fatale" etc. etc., but I was completely innocent. I did not think of myself specifically as a woman, no. It was... I was very, very, young. I mean, I entered third year in Presidency at 15 and I left the country at 19. So it was, it wasn't like I was a grown up person, and so I didn't feel that I was any different because I was female. Slowly of course I began like most young women to become sexually aware, but that's really... I mean is that to feel different because one is a woman? I suppose it is, but how would I describe, how would you describe the sort of slow growth into the awareness of one's sexuality the way that anybody would be, so that's what it was.
KM
Did you feel that the intellectual world up to this point was very Anglo-centric or did you feel that there were windows that were open to explore beyond, say, the British access or is that something that would happen later on in terms of your reading or in terms of what you were thinking about the culture?
GCS
At home the centre was very Bengali. I mean, I read -- I just sawas I was going through my brother's collection of books the old Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay collected works that were my father's, out of which I actually read those novels, the actual books and I was -- my niece and nephew who are -- one of them is 54 and the other 47, they are not exactly children -- they were quite bemused by the fact that I wanted to get to Durgesh Nandini because I remember reading that first page.
GCS
So there was a great deal of reading in Bengali so it wasn't -- I would say that it was very Bangla-centric rather than Anglo-centric. We did not have much contact with British anything until I entered college and then it became -- and it may be that there were people around me who were more British-centric, but in my case it was focused on what we were studying, you know, Shakespeare [William Shakespeare], T. S. Eliot, Lamb [Charles Lamb] stuff like that. Amal Bhattacharjee [Amal Bhattacharya] was very aware of the new critiques. Remember this was '57 to '59 and then '59 to '61, I was doing my MA. So through him we heard about the new critiques and so that part, that little bit was American, but from my family background since there was so much Bengali at home, I did not live an Anglo-centric life at all, no. I went to a Bengali medium school until class 7. In the same school, after class 7, it became English medium.
KM
What school was that?
GCS
St. John's Diocesan Girls High School and it was, I saw for the first time our parish church last December. I didn't know -- it was not at all a religious -- it was not a convent, no white teachers. Generally speaking there is a great difference between missionary schools and convents. Convents like Loreto, La Martinere, those schools were -- they anglicized you, but I still feel -- maybe I am wrong -- that the child loses contact with the life of Calcutta if they go to that sort of a school, whereas in our school or Gokhale [Gokhale Memorial Girls High School] or Beltala [Beltala Girls High School] or United Methodist [United Methodist Girls High School], you know, those schools we were solidly in the life of the city.
GCS
Now, so it wasn't at all religious, so therefore we didn't even know that we had a parish church, but Rudrangshu Mukherjee took a whole group that I took to Calcutta of preservationists. I asked Rudrangshu to take us for a little tour of Calcutta, and the first place he went to -- my sister was with me and she also went to Diocesan. We all went there. And we realized that this 18th century church, St. John's Parish Church, that it was our church, you know. It was a fantastic feeling, and I say that it was a very intellectual school because the teachers were converted aboriginals and so-called low castes, and so therefore they were completely, like, inspired with the love of education, and they felt that it was a fantastic thing that they were educating, basically. We didn't really understand that then, but as I grew older I realized that they were extremely excited that they were actually educating upper-caste caste Hindu children and Muslim children and so on and so forth. It was a very, very wonderful atmosphere.
GCS
I learned all my Sanskrit from one of these Bengali Christian teachers who absolutely adored Sanskrit. So it was, school experience was 100 per cent. I am so happy that my parents sent me to that school, I cannot tell you. So that was my school. In fact the Principal Ms. Das, Ms. Charubala Das, she becomes my role model more and more as I go through life.
KM
In what way?
GCS
Because she was interested in an ethical education without any kind of religious cant or cant of spirituality or anything, and of course she was also a single woman who had, like, you know a great deal of dignity in a man's world.
GCS
So you know I find her -- the more I think about her, the more I feel drawn to her example.
KM
Do you think that in the 1950s when you were receiving your education in Calcutta that it was a special time in the sense that this is -- there was an efluoresence of kind of a new Bengali literature, the young writers Buddhadeb Basu you mentioned, the new Comparative Literature Department, the great poets like Jibanananda Das who had I suppose just passed away recently, but I know that that from what I have understood that was quite a climate in the 1950's. Did you feel that and were you tapped into these, say, Little Magazine [Little Magazine Movement] context?
GCS
I was both a little too young and a little too old. See, because what you will get from Ranajit-da or Tapan-da or from Amartya [Amartya Sen], I am much younger than they are, and so I didn't have the sense of the, you know, Jibanananda and Buddhadeb. Remember Buddhadeb was in my parents salon before I was born, right, and Buddhadeb's daughters went to school with us, so we thought of them as -- of course we knew that he was a great poet etc., etc. So I -- no, I don't believe -- you see, since I left at 19 the time for thinking that, you know, there was this kind of atmosphere growing, I was not old enough yet, and so the -- I didn't feel therefore -- and Bengali, what efluorescence would I feel? My mother was a Bengali specialist, right, and so I was within that -- I thought that all children knew as many proverbs as I did. So the fact that these people were, I mean, Kazi Nazrul Islam was a friend of Dilip Roy's and therefore my mother's kajida and so on and so forth.
GCS
These things didn't mean anything because they were all part of the, sort of, family atmosphere, right. So no, I don't believe I thought and also if you really think about childhood experiences, what were my experiences? Famine [Bengal Famine of 1943] and riot. Those were the two that really made a mark. I mean, I went to school in 1946, entered kindergarten. In October, school was closed, and this Ballygunge where I was born, that's exactly where Syed Ameer Ali Avenue ends, so on the cusp of the Hindu and the Muslim sections. So you know, I would hear at night you know " Jai Kali Kalkatte wali! "Bolo Hori, Hori Bol!" " Allah ho Akbar!" and each war cry meant someone knifed someone because that one was fought with machetes and knives, right, no guns [Calcutta Killings of 1946]. And there was strictly speaking blood on the street, so who would think about literature? And then famine. Technically speaking that man-made famine, technically it was no longer a famine by '43, I think.
GCS
But that's when the technical definition ended. As far as the experience of the famine, you know, like skeletons crawling almost naked to the back door asking for starch. "mar dao ma, phan dao ma". This is my childhood experience and these people -- in fact, a track doctor, sports doctor in California once when I had a stress fracture because I had been running on concrete, he asked me where I was born and when. I said what we already knew experientially not by reading books that even there was so much malnutrition that even the middle class like ourselves who had meals, three meals a day for sure, even we were malnourished and of course the others, I mean the famine victims, were there for the childhood. So frankly speaking, I was not thinking about the -- I mean we sang the IPTA [Indian People's Theatre Association] songs, but really without the sense that this was a cultural good. You know, it was they were actually politically...political instruments, the " aad de bana de bana" those kind of songs.
GCS
So no, I think if one wanted to ask me what my real impression was, the impression was riots and famine. That's - they marked and Independence compared to that was like, you know very nice, you know, wearing white and blue and kind of singing the inevitable Tagore [Rabindranath Tagore] songs etc. I am not a great Tagore fancier either. We're not Santiniketan people at all, so therefore there wasn't that either. No, I would say that in the general life of the Bengali child in Calcutta, it was not a sense of literary awakening or anything. I mean there were great poets, don't get me wrong. I mean, there was, we were surrounded by these wonderful poets. We all knew Annada Shankar Ray and Bishnu Dey and so on and so forth. But the sense, you know, that's not my...my life. I mean Nabaneeta [Nabaneeta Dev Sen] after all is from a literary family, right, so Nabaneeta's sense of things is different because her parents were part of that scene, but my parents after all were not poets.
GCS
My father was a doctor and my mother was a social worker, which was a very different thing.
KM
So not to go on much longer in our interview, but maybe we can conclude by crossing to the next phase just to provide a bookend. These experiences that you have spoken about, particularly famine and then partition, you left at 19 which is also quite an impressionable age, so when you went to the other side, can you give some sense of what that was like and maybe also if there was a moment that you realized what your vocation would be or if that would come much later?
GCS
What vocation?
KM
As a, say, as a writer or a teacher or, I mean, the kind of intellectual that you were then to be if that.
GCS
I don't think I ever had a real sense of it. It more -- it happened to me rather than anything, and that is true even now. I am always a little surprised by what happens, by what I find myself doing, so that's why I said again and again it was silly, that evening when I ran down Ballygunge Park Road saying to myself, "I believe I am an intellectual," because that stuff -- I never have a sense of real vocation. That is not completely correct, having said that sentence. I think in the last 25 years what I call supplementing vanguardism, that has become a bit of an obsession rather than a vocation. That's a different thing. That came in the last 25 years. That's just yesterday.
GCS
And so when I first came to the United States, I felt of course that I knew everything, you know because smart Calcutta girl and -- but it was of course a very wonderful time. I mean, I went to Cornell, and I heard Malcolm X speak with James Brown and Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert and I sang on the harmonium with Allen Ginsberg and LeRoi Jones, that's what he was then, and I was in this honors society, and the young men went down to Phila - Schwerner [Michael Schwerner] -- They went down to Philadelphia, Mississippi and got killed. It was just a -- and the Beatles' second album [With The Beatles], '62. So, you know, all of that... I was very much a part of it rather than -- a young part of it -- rather than any kind of Bengali anything. I have never in my life tried to remain a Bengali. Whatever has remained, it has remained because it's a cultural -- I mean I have not tried not to be a Bengali either. No resistance and no - so, this business of PhD and college teacher etc., that was like falling off a log.
GCS
Nobody ever expected that I would do anything, so -- anything other than that, so it was like completely rote. It was not anything else, and especially going into literature. It was just like water flowing, but the '60s in the United States were and especially at Cornell at that time -- I mean, when I think that I heard Malcolm X, I still can't get over it.
KM
What was that like? I'm curious.
GCS
It was very rousing, and I could feel that everything - I mean, it could speak to a Bengali person, because it was really -- it was the same kind of wavelength, the way Malcolm spoke.
GCS
James Brown was much more careful and rational and good, but that was not what we were, right, because I did know some American students before etc., and they seemed to me, I remember the '50s, they seemed to me to be too sort of drip-dry, and pastel shades, etc., but Malcolm was not like that. Malcolm was like us and so I remember that as a young person I was much -- I was able -- I thought I was able to move with him. You know what I mean? So it's a -- there weren't -- I mean, at a certain point Romila Thapar, my friend, said to me that going to Britain for students from Calcutta and Delhi is like going to a somewhat cleaner version of India. Certainly in 1961 before Lyndon Johnson raised the quota system by the Alien Registration Act -- that was '65, remember -- there was not much of a Bengali community or anything at Cornell and anyway I don't think I would have chosen, sought out Bengalis. I was too much like [unclear] Arab; I didn't need camels. You know what I mean? I was fine.
GCS
So therefore, yeah, it was just -- I felt -- I did not feel that I was culturally somewhere else.
KM
How did you end up at Cornell?
GCS
Well that is a very well-known story to all my friends. Because I was told that I would not get a first class in my MA because I had been very critical of the university and I -- you know, at that time especially since my father was dead, and you know I certainly couldn't -- I did not think that I was going to get a scholarship anywhere, and I have never have had a very strong self-concept or sense of being a, like I said, of being an intellectual.
GCS
I can't think of myself as an intellectual, so I thought I should leave. And so, I was young, I was 18, and I was such a fool that I didn't realize that I knew people at the American -- at USIS [United States Information Service] for example. I knew I would go to United States but that I was not going to go to Britain because I thought in Britain that they were all Anglo-maniacs at home, right. I thought there was no way I was going to get in. So I was going to go to the United States. I knew people after all at the USIS because I was a debater, but it never occurred to me that that's where I should go to get advice. So I thought to myself that -- I hadn't told anyone that I was going to go -- so I thought to myself, Harvard and Yale are too good for me, so what was I thinking? You were asking myself whether I had a sense of being a women.
GCS
That certainly I did feel see because everybody said at Presidency --not my parents, not my home upbringing -- but everybody said that, you know, Gayatri does so well in her exams because she is such a good-looking young thing. She's flashy, but the real brains are, like, Surajit Sen, and so on and so forth, but at any rate, so I thought I wouldn't get in. And so Harvard and Yale, too good, so I chose Cornell for that reason. And then I sent them, I remember, from Ballygunge Post Office, a telegram saying I was a very good student, which indeed I was. I had come first class first in my BA in English honors, but I didn't need financial assistance, because I thought I wouldn't get a scholarship. So then unbeknownst to everyone I borrowed money on a life mortgage. I don't believe there was such a thing as life mortgage in those days. So I think the guy who actually made me sign that thing, whom I didn't know, D.N. Banerjee, who was the Managing Director of Metropolitan Insurance Company or something , I remember his office.
GCS
I heard his name in some conversations of philanthropists, so I went to his office day after day after day asking for an appointment, so he called me in and then finally agreed to lend me the money on a life mortgage. And - this sounds silly -- he said then that he would only give me the money for a one way ticket and then he would give me money for every month only if I could show a letter signed by a teacher. Imagine, I really fell on a good person. Later this guy went to jail for embezzlement, but anyways, so I would only get - Professor De Man [Paul De Man] would sign a letter every month and so I would get 582 dollars for both my dorm and my fees or whatever. I don't know remember what exactly that 582 represented, and then second year -- you know, you were talking about Comp Lit. There was no Comp Lit at that point.
GCS
So I actually learned French at the Alliance Francaise in Calcutta in 1961 for a semester, and my German was from for 3 months with Mrs. Bhaduri, Irmgard Bhaduri, who was the widow of a Bengali freedom fighter. You may be able to research his name. I didn't know who that was. She was a widow. And so, since I was not a native speaker, I couldn't get a fellowship in English second year, and so De Man offered me a fellowship in Comp Lit but said that, you know, you can't take a language course, and so my French and German are not very good, you know. I mean, I am good with the languages, so I mean I can lecture in French, but I never took a grammar course after that, so people mock me a little, but that's fine. I can live with that one, but so that's how it was coming -- so that's why I came to Cornell, and that's how the beginning of my time in United States was.
KM
Thank you. Well maybe we'll end there.
GCS
Why not.
KM
Thank you very much for this interview.
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