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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"

CHAPTER ELEVEN

On Philosophy and Fun—Reflections on Mr. Charles Chaplin—His Silent

Art and Genius—The Necessity of Modernising Yoga—The Iwdmsability

of Asceticism—Some Truths aboui Sex and Toga.

IF one of my more serious friends were to intrude during this period
of my Himalayan hermitage and enter my room, he might lift more
than one eyebrow in surprise at a certain object which hangs upon
the buff-distempered wall above the mantelshelf. He might take the
thing as an outward and visible sign, not of grace, oh no! but of the
inevitable degeneration which sets in when people live without
healthy active contact with society. He might even suggest that I am
prematurely entering into an early dotage. And he might turn his
highbrow head aside with a pronounced sniff of contempt.

The object which would cause such superciiious.conduct is, I am
almost ashamed to confess, a portrait of a certain film comedian, one
Charlie Chaplin, and nothing more. The picture is no full-length
artistic figure painted in fresh-looking oil-colours and framed in
richly scrolled gilt wood. No, it is just a common print, a line drawing
impressed in cheap ink on ordinary grey newsprint paper. It is, in
fact, I am again almost ashamed to confess, merely a scrap torn the
other week from an advertisement of a cinema theatre.

Not that there are any cinema theatres built on the steep slopes
of my Himalayan domain (I wish there were!) In the whole of
Tehri-Garhwal State, as in the tiny European countries of Lichten-
stein and San Marino, no pictorial shadows flicker out the tragedies
and passions and comedies of human existence upon white screens;
no audience gathers in the twentieth-century temple of worship to
do reverence to blonde Hollywood heroines and their romantic self-
assured heroes; and no mountain goatherd pays his hard-earned
annas to hear that incredible magic of the West, the talkies.

But a friend who labours editorially on a certain newspaper takes
pity on my fancied loneliness and sends me a supply of his journals
through the post. Although always a little out of date with their news,
through the exigencies of a postal service that must climb up and
down the narrow mountain trails of Himalaya, these reminders of
the existence of an outside world are always welcome. And it is to
one of these papers that I am deeply indebted for this frarneless
portrait of the unique, the inimitable, the naively charming yet
ever-pathetic figure of Charlie.