Dear Pepper, Herb, and the same goes for Spice,
Thanks a million for your air letter of April 1, 1943 from all three of you. Now we can get down to business. I'm not a shrimp anymore, you lug, just a mere grease spot in a frying pan. Honestly, it's so hot here that even the sunflowers are planted in the shade. The monsoons are due pretty soon which means sporadic rainfall for two months. After that we have no clouds for ten whole months. F you wear a raincoat you get boiled by the heat. If you don't you just cook.
I met Paul last December, in England. He's looking fine. But so far have seen nothing of Willie nor his wife. Of course you now all about "me and me brudder." We really celebrated my birthday. More of them I say.
I won't tell you about South Africa except that it's one, just one large Dead End. India is the same except there are more racketeers here. Life is just one big haggle. I was in [censored] for a couple of months. Midway is more appropriate. Shopping there is the same as elbowing your way through a crowded streetcar. Then, of course, you never pay the price they ask, give about ½ and they still gyp you. The streets are packed with fortune tellers, cord cutters, Berbers, dentists, manicurists, porters (bearers), peddlers of all sorts selling fruits, nuts, ice cream, clothes, jewellery, etc. No kidding Pepper, you can live comfortably without even having to get out of bed. For thirty cents a week I had a bearer that shined my shoes, buttons, cleaned my room, made my bed, carried my bags and ran all my messages for me. He even did some shopping for me. He struck better bargains. Of course we have theatres, dances and restaurants as in Canada, but not as good. Here's an idea of what you would see from my favourite restaurant as you are having your lunch: On the road there are oxen pulling carts, and thousands of kids, motor cars and buses everlastingly honking their cursed horns. On the edge of the curbs are squatting peddlers, sleeping beggars, small time showmen or women pulling cobras out of baskets and dancing monkeys. Then closer still is a woman with a tiny naked baby, both filthy, forever begging and teaching the baby how it should be done. Begging is a profession handed down. Then right on your lap or peering over your shoulder is a sacred cow or a pack of goats. No one seems to care where they go or what they do. I'm not quite used to their company yet.
I'm in the hills at present, writing this letter by my oil lamp. We call our cluster of small cabins "Ghost Town." I had to stop writing this letter twice to stop wandering donkeys away from our cabin. The beast roam around our billets every night in the pitch blackness and scare the wits out of us with their braying. It's terrifying to say the least. By way of variety a herd of cattle or pack of goats also make this site their meeting place. Personally I don't mind them in the daytime but at night it's eerie.
I've got one scorpion and two centipedes to my credit. One chap got a donkey but we don't know for sure who got it in the dark.
Tell Ann and my mother that I got the watch and it's running OK. I've also received some cigarettes here in India from Mike Tassiello, the Furiano's and Aunty Amato. The donkeys are braying again, and near my door.
Good luck, Herby, they'll make a gunner out of you yet.
Love to your mom and dad and Nellie and all the rest.
Frank P.S. For Margaret Rose x