A 1900’s Escapade: The Indiaman
Travel today is laced with luxuries such as air transportation, limited (to nonexistent) stops, undeniable convenience, and even the ease to calmly align various budgets with accessibility to myriad services. Yet, approximately 60 years ago, a bus tour in the year 1957 can very well put the blessed occupants of today’s opulence at shame, particularly given the abundance of restrictions due to the coronavirus. It seems rather ironic that we would reminisce about the beauty of travel through ‘The Indiaman’: a journey that seems as unrealistic as it is enticing.
The famed bus tour was organised by Mr. Oswald Jospeh Garrow Fisher- the sole owner of the ‘The Indiaman’. Fisher set forth with twenty other members aboard his bus on the 15th of April, 1957; he found it befitting to charge the members a hefty 85 pounds, an amount which was exceedingly unfavourable to many given the timeframe. To those who chose for it to be so, their journey was, in fact, a roundtrip, with an additional (although lesser) amount of 65 pounds being charged for the same. However, as thrill chasers of the modern-day, we would undoubtedly regard these as small prices to pay for over a month of globetrotting.
A global escapade, The Indiaman ventured across several European and Asian countries before eventually reaching its prized destination- Calcutta, India. Amongst these destinations were the countries France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, and lastly Pakistan, prior to the vehicle’s arrival in Calcutta. The day was marked as June 5th. Labelling the journey an ‘adventure’ would be an understatement of sorts; the travellers dined in exotic locations, slept in the comfort of hotel beds, and when there were none available, they camped under the gaze of the stars whilst the night sky blanketed their inhibitions. An opportunity to explore countries with as rich a culture as these leaves us envious of the travelers, and lusting to experience the classic traditions of these diverse places.
°Insights & Interiors
The bus in itself was a posh residence; fan heaters, artistic interiors, sleeping bunks for each individual, and a reading room, coupled with a dining room, were at their leisure. Travelling with unrestricted ease, the Indiaman was deemed a ‘friendly ambassador’ by and with regard to the countries it visited; the passengers surpassed over 150 border crossings but were never once accused of unlawful conduct, and the vehicle itself was celebrated as adequate throughout.
Totalling the miles completed, the passengers who decided to venture back to London embarked on a dignifying journey of 20,300 miles. The Indiaman arrived in London on the 2nd of August (within the same year) to complete the roundtrip, with precisely seven passengers (two women and five men) out of twenty who had initially endeavoured forth on this journey. It was additionally stated that the bus had failed to meet its former arrival date by at least 16 days, however, this was of no consequence.
Quite remarkably, Fisher was noted as voicing that it was amongst if not, the easiest journey he had ever embarked upon. The journey in itself received widespread attention, with this particular comment of Fisher’s being cited within Calcutta’s ‘The Statesman’: a popular newspaper within the city at the time. Moreover, the ‘New York Times’ responsibly highlighted the latter half of the round trip within their own edition. Here, Fisher was quoted as being unafraid of the mountainous, uneven terrains of Turkey, but being left quite alarmed at the ‘narrow roads with soft shoulders and wandering cyclists in India’.
The Indiaman is inevitably making waves across the modern media. Amongst the many sources, they have drawn upon is a book titled as a namesake of the vehicle itself. It was penned by one of its passengers, ‘Peter Moss’, who excavated further into Malaya by sea rather than returning to London. His work is littered with pictures and sketches through which he has depicted his time aboard the ‘The Indiaman’.
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