To the thousands of Americans settling down amid strange surroundings abroad, the first formidable task is coping with the bewildering mixture of excitement, confusion and homesick regret.
The perplexities of Rufus Hughes on arriving in Cuttack were summed up in the incongruous moment above. His American washing machine was delivered to his new home on an Indian rickshaw and the Indian repairmen who are called “mystery men” were about to have a try at installing it.
Back home, Hughes, a specialist in rural economics, had a comfortable teaching post with the University of Arkansas. But India’s problems in his field were a challenge to him, and he accepted a two-year assignment from the. Ford Foundation to teach at Cuttack’s Utkal University.
The Cuttack to which Hughes brought his wife and four small children in a city of 1,00,000, raddled with dirt, disease and poverty.
Here are some pictures that show what the Hughes family encountered in their early days in Cuttack.
Rufus Hughes, as he started out on his teaching duties at Utkal University, felt that his students were shyly waiting for great words of wisdom from him right from the start. He first wanted to find out how much they already knew.
His two older daughters at Cuttack English language school where they’d been enrolled, had to face the unabashed curiosity of other pupils. They were also mortified to be put back a grade because some standards of their school in Little Rock were lower than the standards prevailing here.
After a week in Cuttack, Hughes said, ”I think we’re getting over the hump.”
When LIFE Magazine checked several weeks after these pictures were taken, ‘He said that “our household is running as well as it ever has in the US.”
Courtesy: LIFE Magazine (Dec 23, 1957) Pics: GettyImages
Note: Initially, Utkal University was operating from Ravenshaw College, before it came to its own campus at Bhubaneswar, called Vani Vihar. In fact, it was Ravenshaw College that gave birth to the new university, nurtured and sustained it. It operated from Ravenshaw College’s present Zoology Department building premises. Visit this Wikipedia page to learn more about the evolution of Utkal University.
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