Mr Fielding's House

Mr Fielding is the schoolmaster at Government College, Chandrapore. He is the only European in the film/book who has any empathy with Indians, so when Adela Quested expresses a desire to meet some, he invites Miss Quested and Mrs Moore to his house to meet Professor Godbole, an Indian mystic who also works at the College. Miss Quested mentions that Mrs Moore has talked about the 'charming Dr Aziz'. Fielding has heard of him, and promises to invite him along as well.

Dr Aziz enters Mr Fielding's house - Click to show full-size image in new browser
Dr Aziz enters Mr Fielding's house

Mr Fielding's house, with its covered terrace and pool is a wonderful setting, and it seems amazing that a school teacher could live in such surroundings, even in India. David Lean found this perfect location at the West End Hotel, now part of the Taj group, on Race Course Road in Bangalore, near the railway. Kevin Brownlow, in his wonderful book 'David Lean - a Biography', quotes Lean in a letter to producers Brabourne and Goodwin, 6th Feb 1983: 'The main feature is a lovely group of ten very old trees with wonderfully shaped trunks and branches reaching up to a leafy covering some forty feet above. It would require only a few clever touches to give the place the air of an ancient Moghul garden - and very beautiful too. And in the hotel grounds if you please!'

Dr Aziz waits for Mr Fielding to finish his shower - Click to show full-size image in new browser
Dr Aziz waits for Mr Fielding to finish his shower.

Dr Aziz arrives for Mr Fielding's 'At Home' a little early, and waits whilst Fielding finishes his shower and gets dressed. Dr Aziz looks at some of the interesting knick-knacks that Fielding has around the room, and chats with Fielding through the shower door.

Professor Godbole in the pool - Click to show full-size image in new browser
Professor Godbole, in the pool

In the meantime, Professor Godbole arrives un-announced, and whilst waiting, dangles his feet in the pool. Sadly, this pool is no longer there at the West End Hotel - it has been filled in.

Mrs Moore and Dr Aziz at the Pool - Click to show full-size image in new browser
Mrs Moore and Dr Aziz at the Pool

Tiffin is served by the pool - Click to show full-size image in new browser
Tiffin is served by the pool

Mrs Moore prefers to eat outside, so the food is served in a shady location next to the pool. Professor Godbole, a high-caste Hindu, and vegetarian, sits to one side. His caste-rules would forbid him to eat at the same table as Europeans or a Muslim.

Professor Godbole tries an Indian sweet - Click to show full-size image in new browser
Professor Godbole tries an Indian sweet

Aziz, Godbole, and Adela at the pool - Click to show full-size image in new browser
Aziz, Godbole, and Adela at the pool

Mrs Moore gets Mr Fielding to show her around Government College, and leaves Adela to chat with Dr Aziz and Professor Godbole. They share a basket of water-chestnuts.

An Indian friend of mine, Mohan Bhuyan, has picked up on an anomaly that might not be spotted by the casual western observer. He writes: 'One thing that struck me as odd about Lean's characterisation of Godbole is that he has an orthodox Brahmin who is forbidden from eating food not prepared in his own home merrily dipping his feet in an Englishman's pool, that too in company with a Mem-sahib! I am not well versed in Hindu rituals and taboos (though I am one) but I do know that even today there are pockets in India where the Harijans still can't drink out of the village well. I think that for an obsessive Brahmin like Godbole to dip even a single toe into a pool patronised by casteless Englishmen or worse (when Dr Aziz enters Fielding's house there is a servant wading in the pool, obviously cleaning it)....it just couldn't have happened!'

Aziz, Godbole, and Adela at the pool - Click to show full-size image in new browser
Aziz, Godbole, and Adela at the pool

Ronny Heaslop arrives, and is horrified to see Adela mixing with Indians.

Professor Godbole leaves Mr Fielding's house - Click to show full-size image in new browser
Professor Godbole leaves Mr Fielding's house

Our last view of Mr Fielding's house on this page comes later in the film, when Fielding and Godbole miss the departure of the expedition to the Marabar Caves, and return to Fielding's house to telephone for a lift - no cellphones in those days, and very few public telephones either! Professor Godbole feels that the expedition is most inauspicious, and whilst Fielding is on the telephone, takes the opportunity to slip away, un-noticed.

 

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