Saturday, October 8, 2016

Anglo-Indian "At Home" Etiquette

The strictly fashionable calling time is between 12:00 and 2:00 every day except Sunday—a relic, it is said, of the past when our grandmothers and grandfathers considered four o’clock the State dinner hour.

Society in Muree is like Indian society in general, in all save the three principal cities. The military element very largely predominates, and in custom much of the etiquette of the first Anglo-Indian communities is retained. Still, English people in India have not yet introduced weekly "at home" days, as in the plains, the strictly fashionable calling time is between 12:00 and 2:00 every day except Sunday—a relic, it is said, of the past when our grandmothers and grandfathers considered four o’clock the State dinner hour. 

At 12:00 punctually therefore, each day the firing of the gun which sets the true time for the station reminds people that they must either be to pay calls or preparing to receive them. Duly at that time, ladies sally forth on their formal duties, regardless of the power of a full tropical sun and the probable chances, even in the hills, of an attack of sunstroke. Those who are of homely dispositions will ask their friends to come and see them in the afternoon, but that has its drawbacks, as tennis parties and other gayeties cause almost the whole station to be “not at home" after 4:30 or 6 o’clock.

The calling hours are, however, not the only alteration in home customs which a new-comer has to observe if she would escape social ostracism, for English etiquette is in some respects, entirely reversed. The last arrival, for instance, has to call upon all the other visitors in the station, unless she happens to be a bride, and in that case she calls nowhere until others have honored her. Other customs, again, of very recent introduction, such as the practice of every lady coming to a hotel making a formal call upon every other lady in the same hotel, are noteworthy, not only for their local peculiarity, but as typifying the extreme of Anglo-Indian society. —London Queen, 1888

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