My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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HONG KONG, Aug. 31—On Monday afternoon, a Dr. Wan, whom I originally met in Paris some years ago and who was very kind to me when I came here on the way back from Japan two years ago, came to the hotel and took us to the Chinese districts in Kowloon. There we saw the market, a rather shabby-looking temple, and great crowds of people.

While Dr. Gurewitsch was changing a film in his camera, we found ourselves standing by a fortune teller's booth and I amused myself by sitting down on his little wooden bench and asking him to tell my fortune for the large sum of one Chinese dollar. Dr. Wan had to translate, of course.

The fortune teller looked at my face very carefully and then at my hands. Like all other palmists, he remarked on what he called the dragon line. I think Dr. Wan probably told him my name because he proceeded to tell me that I had many friends and they liked me, and that I had had much power, but that was past. This amused me because of course, whatever power there was belonged to my husband and never was mine. So, if this seer was aware of my name, the things he said were not in the least astonishing.

By the time I was through, Dr. Gurewitsch decided to take his turn, and he was much more optimistically told that in the next three years he would achieve his main desires and ambitions and have great success. Mine was all in the past, but his was in the future, as it should be.

Dr. Wan then took us to see some housing that had been built for refugees from China who come to Hong Kong. When I was last here such refugees were living in huts clinging to the hillside. Some welfare organizations built several little rows of stucco houses and the government built some tenement houses that are six or seven stories high. Some of the little houses here have shops in the front and behind a dividing partition in the rear is only a raised floor which in turn is divided into two little cubby holes without windows and which must be stiflingly hot and airless. In one of these behind a store we found six people living on one side and four on the other.

Water is available to those who carry it in big drums on the street, and we saw some youngsters ladling water out and pouring it over themselves to get cool. In spite of conditions that seemed far more crowded than in New York's Harlem and Puerto Rican areas, for instance, I thought the children looked remarkably healthy. There is free clinic service available to the people and it is evident that they have food, at least as far as the children are concerned.

We dined last night, after a delightful reception, with Mr. and Mrs. Aylward. They had many of their friends come in before dinner and so many interesting things were suggested as possibilities for the next day or two that I wished we were staying longer.

The hurricanes at home seem to have done considerable damage, according to accounts in the papers here. It seems to be that with each succeeding year the paths of hurricanes are moving closer to New York. At least, we seem to have more of them.

Here everyone talks of typhoons and waits for them with a feeling that they will appear almost certainly at the predicted times. Warnings are given far enough ahead of time, however, for the Chinese junks to come in and gain shelter.

Our pilot told us that the airlines try to skirt the typhoons, but sometimes they fly right through them. Flying through one must be a bumpy performance and I hope we do not find ourselves having the experience.

E.R.
PNews, NSJ, 1 September 1955