Captain H. Morton Jack invited the Mahatma to the SS Rajputana's bridge, genially asking him if he would like to take the wheel for a few minutes. Instead of holding the ship to its course, Gandhi suddenly spun the wheel sharply to port. "Oh," he cackled, "I hope I don't capsize the boat and drown everybody!"
A big welcome awaited Gandhi and his party as they went ashore at Aden. There was wild cheering by local Indian merchants who afforded him an address of welcome and presented him with an offering of $1,625. Blinking through his glasses Gandhi replied both in Gujarati and English that he expected much more. In his first public speech outside the Indian subcontinent since 1914 he declared that India did not stand for isolated independence. "One-fifth of the human race, becoming free through non-violence and truth can be a great force of service to the whole of mankind. ."
As always, Gandhiji wished to lead a simple life. He had given orders that he and his party were to travel by the lowest class, as deck passengers. When he discovered how much luggage his companions had brought with them, he insisted on seven trunks and suitcases being sent back from Aden, the first halt after Bombay.
The simple way of life that he extolled was associated, he claimed, with the Caliphs. He told the Arabs to help solve the Hindu-Muslim problem.
When Antonin Besse heard the news of Gandhi's assassination he wrote, on 30th January 1948, to his loyal Indian staff, whom he held in high regard:
"Dear Patel & Staff
No word can qualify such a crime. Though you and I follow different routes I wish you all to know that I sympathise from the depth of my heart and associate myself with your grief. Not India alone, but the whole thinking world have lost a Saint. Selfless, his entire life devoted to lighten suffering, to right wrongs, completely detached he stood as a great and radiating light to guide us all. Should you agree with me I would like you to inform all the staff that tomorrow our office will be closed as a day of mourning during which, I am sure, you will all like to unite and pray. A. Besse"
Gandhi in Aden alongside Chief Inspector Ernest Rayney
On the deck of P&O S.S. Rajputana, September 1931
P&O S.S. Rajputana
A limited edition of 100 75th Anniversary covers was issued commemorating Gandhi's visit to Aden.