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The angel saw a sign at a prison. This is a series of interviews with experts on Asian affairs designed to strengthen our understanding of Asian people and ideas. Your most on this transcribed series is the noted author and award winning broadcaster Lee Graham. Here now is Mrs. Graham. I believe that the small and exotic country of say Kim and I think you know see Kim misspelled S I K K I am was unknown to most of us until an American girl named Hope cook married the king of seeking him and became the queen of the country. For that reason see Kim came into the news and it belongs in the news because in many ways it has an important strategical position to play guest on this program is. First of all I think she is a very good writer. This is the first book she has written and it is called Diary and I
hope she writes many more. She is Charlotte soul who is in private life Mrs Harrison Solsbury as you know you've heard Mr. Bray on this program a number of times he's the noted correspondent of The New York Times and at present is an assisting managing editor of the newspaper. In 1966. Mr. and Mrs. we took a trip through the Far East and the account of that is in her book which is a diary of what happened. The book in my opinion is written with great not only with great joy but with insight and perhaps I'm being chauvinist. It takes a woman to see certain things about other countries that a man may not have the time to see. So I do congratulate you on the book and him or I congratulate you on the stamina involved in making this trip. Which countries did you cover. Well we it was very strenuous. We started in Hong Kong where we stayed for about 10 days and then we went to Cambodia where we stayed for about
two weeks. Then to Thailand then to Burma. Then to India then to sick then too. Then around through Moscow to go to Mongolia and Siberia and then out through an on the wall and we sailed from the haka to Yokohama Japan and then home. It was a very strenuous. I was only a woman married to a house in Salzburg would be making a trip like that. Well I think that's probably true and that fast too yeah. And so the way was clear in many places and you had good service and good entry. Oh yes we had wonderful treatment too. Unknown everyone was very polite and nice and kind and made everything easy for us to go wherever we needed to. Did you make any special preparation for the trip. Well I can't say that I didn't make any special preparation because it was
more or less are known to me when we started off exactly what I would be doing or really almost where we would be going. We had a rough idea but we weren't sure I wasn't at that point I still thought that he might get in. I mean thought he might get into North Vietnam. He remembers he went yes most of that year after this trip. But he didn't. We didn't come through when we were on this trip. So I didn't really know where we were going. I took too many clouds and had to send half of them home when we were in Hong Kong. But I read what I could but really it was hard to prepare for it. I know many people say that you should prepare for a trip by reading a lot about each country and me. They're really involved. Don't you think sometimes it gives you a strong impression which may be false of the country. Well you are more like a blank film on a camera and let the things register upon us. Well I think that I probably did was more like a blank film when I had been there and certainly everything made a tremendous impression and I haven't known I've known people naturally
who lived and who were in China in the war and in Burma. But it wasn't personal nothing meant anything. Until really it happened to me. Well Mr. Wright could you say that there's one impression one general impression you receive from the countries you visited or is each country so different that it's hard to say that they are all different. I was especially struck by how really beautiful the Southeast Asian people are perfectly lovely. The Cambodians and the Thai people and especially the Emmys. If you haven't been there. No I haven't been to the countries you mention they're just so good just they're not very big and they're very prettily made. And and a healthy and small and. Really just beautiful. I look like the statues that came out of Angola and one of the things you mention is the fact that they seem to eat quite well in those countries where there is enough food. They never seem to be fat. Now there's very few. We saw very few fat people until we got to Siberia.
Can you describe some of the picnics you were when you were on say Kim. I don't have a I don't know how to eat all the time. I don't know. And in Cambodia where they're really small and delicate they eat most marvelous food and quantities of it. That picnic that I described I think we had. Well I think we had at least 19 or 10 different sort of courses made up of several dishes and most wonderful French bread just as good as you'd find in Paris. What language were you able to get along and were there enough you can get along in French in all those countries and English French and English and after the others you got along all right really. And of course housing speaks Russian which is a lie that is spoken in Mongolia. He was busy a good deal of the time with political people or interviewing officials and so forth. Did you spend some of the time alone in that you were free to go off on expeditions that you might enjoy adventures of that saw.
Well I didn't really go on many expeditions any real expeditions I went with him and. I walked around the streets and I went to the museums and I was taken quite often to places like you know places to see like an exposition or a museum or an important house. And sometimes we were taken together. Was the treatment that you received one of deference because you were the wife of a noted newspaper man. Or were you treated in a kind of second rate way because you are a woman. I mean courtesy but not taken too seriously is that the way the Arab was treated terribly well and I think just as a human being I never had any feeling that it was because housing was important or that or that I was a woman or anything for instance and women you know when I was some of those countries have to have a. In a way. Kind of.
I don't know quite how to put this inequality isn't the word but they have maybe a better even standard than we have for instance in Cambodia. There's a very beautiful woman who's who's the deputy governor of a district down there south of Pan. I think it is what East and of the government it was a military man and he was this very pretty woman who was the deputy governor. That in many South East Asian countries that let's see other Burma among them so many women the lawyers for instance and Thailand I think you know I don't I didn't see as much of Thailand as the others we only stayed in Bangkok there. I think about Japan we've not heard that women still do take around the second right position. Well they may and I don't know about that. I don't really know that. Yes well that probably sounds slanderous and maybe it's not really I think that I was really treated
as a human being and everywhere I went especially as a woman or as a wife of a correspondent. Yes invited. Certainly yes. About seek him. You have a certain connection with it in a way because I think it's your daughter who went Yes I was on one of my children went to Sarah Lawrence with hope. And so when we were going to make this trip. And sic him is in such a strategic little spot now we wrote to hope and asked if we could come and then she has to get permission from the Indian government and then we went and it was fascinating. Yes and could you just briefly describe what you are seeking amazing what it's like. It's a tiny country in the Himalayas it's in between China. That which Tibet now which is of course taken over by China and India in the south and Nepal and Bhutan both independent little
kingdoms and it's really tiny It's 40 miles wide about and about 80 miles long and that's all it is. And it's and it goes from. It's in the same latitude as Florida. And it goes from sub tropical to the temperate zone up to really sort of Alpine region where there's always snow. And the second highest mountain in the world is they're captioned younger. Twenty eight thousand one hundred sixty two feet. When I refer to your stamina I was thank you very much you see Kim getting around in that country is a problem and yes it is and we but we we went in jeeps mostly there and it wouldn't have been so so difficult all hot for us in that except that they are so strong they do so much. You know we'd go out and spend a day with them. The child y'all and the gal know which is their title for the king and queen and they would visit different villages and we never stopped we'd go from
I mean we never there was never a let up you began at about 9 o'clock in the morning and go from one village to the other visiting schools hospitals all kinds of things and rushing up and down hills and. And having to having things to eat I never stopped and got home about 8 is the particular beneficial I mean still that it is stimulating as I don't know but some places it's not because they are down in the valleys it's only a thousand feet I think and of course it goes up I believe. I don't know quite how hard it is. Well after reading about just one day's activities that you engage in I mean you can understand these large picnics I think than I am and you can realize why people don't get fat too. They really move around a lot. What is India's role in it would you say that seek Him is protected when it is literally a protectorate of India. I think that they would they have to be protected. Really.
And of course India wants to protect our border and it's sick and it's right in between my mother and China who are they being protected against I believe the communist China. That's where they have the border incidents and I'm not too good at all this. Now I imagine of that but you know sometimes we take it for granted I don't know. Did there seem to be an uneasiness about mainland China now there wasn't any uneasiness at all there was just a feeling that that was too bad that they had to have so much money in their country which is perfectly natural they have to have it to be protected but it's too bad that they have their own they have a small army of their own but I think it's only something like 300 soldiers how many Indians and on nothing and see Kim a problem I'm not quite sure. I don't think I've got a say and I'm the one not quite sure how many other has it in his book but I don't remember. They're mostly mostly army and except for some of the some of the government people in Sikkim India and they have to be by by law I believe. We met the prime minister who was just terribly nice. His sister went to Colombia.
Yeah they were. And then there were the head of the engineers and several important people like that were Indian. Is there any feeling of resentment towards the Indians. Well I don't know that I'm equipped to answer that. I think that what they really feel probably the strongest is not resentment but a hope that they won't be swallowed up by Indeed I anything by liking anybody and this feeling is not just true of Sikkim it's true of all of the countries I think they don't want to be swallowed up by us by Russia by China by India. The small countries in Asia they'd like to be able to maintain themselves you know their own integrity. Yes it's a pity that I can't on their own but they I know you have help from someone. Well they do have to have help naturally if you're only 40 miles wide and long and have 160000 people. Would you have to protect yourself. Yes would you say Mrs. Salisbury that that might be true of all the Asian
countries you visited that each country has a pride in its culture and its ways and doesn't want to be us. And is that a strong feeling. I think it's a very strong feeling and I think that I think that. They all feel it terribly not Burma for instances. That's why they've closed themselves off so they don't they. When we were there we went out of Rangoon on a on an airplane that had nothing but Indian refugees and Indians and the Chinese had run their businesses and everything for us there and the bin and me Savva we want to have this country for ourselves. So they they made everybody leave and they took over the the the businesses and things in the interim the Chinese have been running. I don't think they've done very well with them yet but they will probably and I think emotionally they ass is so important to do it this way. Well it is you can see most of those countries always happen on the somebody. You know they've been under the British under someone else as they've never been their own masters you know
centuries. I know what someone has always been rushing in and saying we can do this better than you can. Yes and of course sometimes they can do something better like protect him from being taken over from by another country. But there is such a such a perfectly lovely country and so beautiful and I hope that it's going to be able to stay. It's difficult to get to see Kim because I think the plane take she was FAR AS WELL I DON'T KNOW HE WAS far as back Dogra and that's about him. Then you have to. That's in the valley. That's up in a still and then you have to get into jeeps and go. You can fly in by helicopter but there is no flat place bigger than a room enough for a football field. So there's no room for an air port. And the naturally out new trains and I think you have to go by Jeep during these recent floods I believe that the road that we had went on has been entirely washed away and they've had to build a whole new one. Now the Indian army is doing that so that's you see
that's a great help. That's wonderful. My only connection to see Kim aside from having read your delightful book Diary is the fact that my dentist is the same dentist that hope cook uses when she calls him guided States. Oh I've heard about her. Yes well of course you have from him. Yeah and he according to him she is highly intelligent. She's a very intelligent very dedicated to helping her country and very lovely physically well she's really quite extraordinary to a lot. I put in my book that she really seems to blend right into the background and as if she was always been there. She seems to be half Eastern and half Western and she speaks in a very low voice which is very attractive. And especially there because everyone talks in a very low voice there and they sort of bow and. Have those kind of Buddhist manners and she is just perfectly lovely there. I think that people are very fond of her and very proud of her.
Yes and she has brought a knowledge to the country without making anyone feel inferior about I know it. That's what I actually has and she's worked as hard as she can to get people to know about seeking him. And I meant to bring I have a beautiful bracelet and a beautiful bow wrap that came from there and I meant to bring them to show them to you. They're so lovely I wanted to mention him again and showed me a beautiful pair of gold candelabra. Yeah she brought him from again Yass and they some had some rugs all day which is you know logs they are this old and and Lord and Taylor Yeah I think there are still some there and they're going to sell the jewelry and vandals. Is that what I need badly. Some export they need us they need export and they they need money terribly. For instance during this flood when when people's houses were just you know went right down the mountain slide. And I think that if somebody had sent 50 dollars it would
probably supply several houses. It's incredible for us we don't see that you know their economy is so poor compared to us and yet they're very well fed I mean on the whole I think they can they produce their own food almost the imports so I think they produce a great deal but I think they must have to it can be they must have to import quite a bit too. But they every inch is used the way in Japan it is. It's on these very high mountains every inch is terraced and they grow cool on Andor. Corn and rice and I have beautiful oranges. Now if this friend of mine who just came back from Sikkim said that there was a great deal of American wheat and that not of I don't know how much but some had been imported and she saw it and that was wonderful. So they have a you have the diagonals going to have to have some. But they are how do they live all their homes comfortable or do you get the impression of a lot of poverty. Well it isn't exactly a song much real poverty as it's just
on a much more simple scale in most of the things that most of the way people here live. But I think people can live simply without being deprived Yes they CAN I don't think they are deprived of they. They seem to have enough to eat. They have perfectly comfortable homes they're not like office naturally and they are heated by fire so by Cata seen they wear clothes that are like the Indian clothes or like the Hope for instance which is a back who which is that is there. Sleeveless thing you step into it's long and you wear it over blouse and you pull it around to the back and fasten it with a belt just tied around your waist. And some women wear those and some women wear the sort of Nepal clothes that really look it's impossible to describe and it has a ring all wrapped around all day. Yes. And you often see these very pretty women sitting in the road with a big hammer
hammering up the big rocks to make pasta stones to mend roads with quite a few women. We're going to run. And it doesn't seem as if they can prop but looking as I know you like it as I know it's amazing the way the Cambodian women used to look working in the rice fields they look to feel lovely That is if I'm going to you know that of they were going out to dinner. Well maybe that's where the saying originates about not underestimating the strength and power of a woman. Maybe why is seeking of strategic importance because it is a buffer in a way between China and I think that must be at last what I would think of why I use the word I think because it's right in the middle and that's where they have had border incidences. Is it said much though. Are people aware of it or. Well the royal family certainly is aware of it and of. We didn't go up into the north there and I think everyone is aware of it yes because they are aware of the Indian army and they are aware of why they are there.
When you speak of the border incidents I'm not very informed about those parts the audience isn't. Was that some threat on the part of China. Yes I think it was I think there was some firing back and forth and I'm not very informed about it either the I think there was some several years ago and it was a little more recently but it seems to have been quieted down now. To go back to a point you mentioned about having a low voice. And I've been told this by several occasions that one of the things which is considered quite unattractive about many Americans is if they speak too nobly you have to forcefully Yeah you heard that as I've heard it and I must say I often think it here too don't you when you hear of what you know is pretty deafening sometimes. I know it. But if you speak too softly then in this country people feel that you don't have the Spirit. Well I think there's something wrong with you. You know there was shouting but it's very attractive over the other way hope
speaks and she's she really does wonderful job I think. I don't like to be negative but was there anything else about us as Americans which you found people resenting. Well I think that they were terribly upset about the Vietnam War all of them where every person that I talked to was and wished that it would be over because it threatened everybody and it threatens Cambodia and that was two years ago and there have been many more border troubles than you know because it's right along the border of South Vietnam. But we hear of our own popularity. Yeah yeah. Is it true or is this and I don't enjoy it I don't want it. And now I think that while they wouldn't they would like us as individuals I think on the whole they're afraid of us. I think that's what it is more than being unpopular. They're afraid of us because we're so big and so powerful and we can just walk into a country and make do what we want that isn't to you know do they have no
understanding of our motivation do they think we are necessarily they had a ha moment because some people do have I mean the Thailand's out-I after all Thailand is our ally. So they it's mixed up different. Yes. But we may seem ferocious in one way but I think we've gotten our message across that I think as I put it. And also everything is so different over there. You know you can't go about things the way we do. Well Mrs. Osprey I found this so fascinating. And if I could just state department if more women like you would visit ages then I'm sure they'd have a better America. Thank you very much. Not to say that I feel the same way about your husband. Our guest on this program has been sauce Bray who's author of Asian diary I think will give you a look at Asia in a manner which you might not get from many other books. And Mrs. Bray is in private life the wife of Harrison's Solsbury who was an assistant managing editor of The New York Times and this is
Lee Graham with a reminder that although East is East and West is West we do think the time has come for the twain to meet. That concludes tonight's edition of the Asia Society presents with Lee Graham. Listener ease comes to you through the cooperation of the Asia Society. If you would like to comment on tonight's program or would like further information about the society and how you can participate in its many interesting activities please write to Mrs. Graham at WNYC New York City 100 0 7. I make a note to join us again next week at this time for another edition of the Asia Society presents.
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Asia Society presents
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Asia Society presents is a series of programs from WNYC and The Asia Society. Through interviews with experts on Asian affairs, the series attempts to strengthen listeners understanding of Asian people and ideas. Episodes focus on specific countries and political, cultural, and historical topics.
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Global Affairs
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Host: Graham, Leigh
Producing Organization: WNYC
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-6-13 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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Duration: 00:25:23
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Chicago: “Asia Society presents; 13,” 1969-03-07, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 3, 2023,
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