India & Beyond Newsletter — NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010
AJNI RAILWAY COLONY
By: RAVINDRA BHALERAO
Last month I had been on a ramble through the Ajni colony here in Nagpur doing a bit of research, and I am sure you will like to read about how it is like . Did you say you had visited Ajni back when you were a girl—or was it someone else? I tend to get a bit forgetful these days. The old landmarks are still there, but oh, what a crowd ! Hateful crowds on that road overbridge that spans the railway tracks below. Bikes and mobikes and scooters and autorickshaws, youngsters zooming past treacherously, everyone seems to be a mad rush from morning to night. You cross the overbridge and begin to descend to find that a row of shops have sprung up, mostly cheap restaurants, photocopy, phone booths, and paan and cycle repairs of course. But it is still calm and quiet within the colony. You will still find those brick-red bungalows nestling among a jungle of trees and families seated on chairs drawn up in the frontyard chatting away or plainly savouring the calm and solitude of the greenery around. Then there’s that cheerful little church, St Anthony’s RC Church, where on Sunday mornings you can hear the congregation singing hymns of praise. The melody floats out, soft and sweet, mingling with the breeze and the gentle rustle of the trees, so quiet and restful.
Ajni is a good 3 kms south of the main railway station. Why have a railway colony so far-removed from the station? As far as I know, there is no rule that says a colony has got to be next to the station. The easiest way to see why a colony came up here is to take a peek at the goods yard from atop the road overbridge. The Ajni goods yard was a wagon interchange point and was built nearly a century ago, a vast establishment complete with all the necessary accompaniments of signal cabins, Yardmaster’s office, carriage and wagon repair shop, transshipment platform, loco shed and turntable. While railway officers stayed in bungalows specially built for them in the Civil Lines area, Ajni became home to a large number of operating staff. Drivers, guards, stationmasters, signalmen, traffic superintendents, loco foremen, shunters, and pointsmen all lived in Ajni. While some of these men served in the goods yard close by, others worked in shifts at the main railway station. Remember that tiny 4-carriage train chugging between Ajni and Nagpur stations? I wonder when this train was begun. I love to call it the ‘Ajni School Bus’ for it was just that : it carried workers staying in Ajni to the main railway station and back. There were 4 services each day, and in between runs the train was stabled in the Ajni steam loco shed.
Over the past few decades a good many things have changed, some have even disappeared. The Ajni humpyard is a quiet place today, there is very little shunting, 4-wheeler wagons have passed into history and you won’t find a steam loco anywhere. Horrors ! As for the quaint little passenger train, alas, it was shunted out of use years ago. A tell-tale sign remains though: to the east of the goods yard you will find remnants of a deserted platform where the local train halted, barely recognizable today with overgrown shrubs and railway offices coming up along its length.
I hate to see bungalows with sloping tin roofs, but this is how the bungalows in Ajni are. They were probably built with tiles to begin with, and later replaced with corrugated tin. Even the Institute has been subjected to this disfigurement and retains only a part of its splendid tiled roof.
Ah, the Ajni European Institute …. What colourful images it brings to mind !! Margaret Deefholts tells me that no true-blue Anglo-Indian get together at a railway Institute would be worth the name without everyone getting up on the floor and dancing. “Jiving was an Anglo-Indian speciality,” she tells me, “and New Year’s Eve saw the dance floor absolutely thronged with people—competitions, novelty dances, exhibition dances, you name it ….”
I stepped into the Ajni Institute where a cheerful looking keeper seemed to be eager to show me around. Through a door in the reading room I was led into a large hall with a floor made of wooden planks. This hall, equipped with a wooden stage at one end, also doubles up as an indoor badminton court. Later as he took me around the building, my companion showed me what appeared to be tiny ‘ventilators’ in the walls close to the ground. These air vents let in air below the wooden floor with the object perhaps of keeping the planks free from rot, although the exact purpose served by this arrangement still remains unclear.
From the main hall I was led into a smaller hall having a decorative tiled floor. This was the dance hall I was told. My gaze swept across the room in wonderment; the tiles, hexagonal in shape, were dull red in colour spaced at equal intervals with cream coloured ones, and covered every inch of the floor from wall to wall. High up above me was the somber ceiling, its dark wooden beams set in a V-shaped pattern. The place is damp and cold, the floor hasn’t been scrubbed for ages. A sudden gust of wind set the wooden framework high above creaking and groaning, a door banged shut with a crash, followed by an eerie silence again. Then as if out of nowhere came the sound of laughter and murmur of voices, a jazzy tune playing from a hand-cranked gramophone and a jolly group of men and women are seen waltzing all over the floor. The lights are bright, the floor sparkling, the revelers are in high spirits. They pause momentarily. They have seen me, and now they throng around me asking me to join the dance. How very grand !!
I wake up with a start to find my companion tapping me on my shoulder. The lights are gone and I can smell the damp and cold again. Bhonsle the keeper shows me a window through which drinks were served from the bar. I tried to open it but the shutter was set fast. This place is full of memories. It takes you back in time when Anglo-Indians were at their peak and proudly ran the railways of India. The Institute was really built for them.
Later I walked around the Institute in solitude. The decorative wooden beams and pillars on the outside have begun to chip away. At the backside which faces west, high up above on the masonry the year ‘1916’ can be seen marked in large sized raised letters. Today, more that nine decades later, the Institute is only a hazy reflection of what it once used to be. Before I left, the keeper showed me a tiny library room where stored away in a cupboard were two large boxes. One was an old radio set, perhaps a Murphy, working on valves and now out of use. Remember the tiny red glow seen through the back cover slowly appearing after the set was switched on? Next to the radio was an antique 16mm cinematograph used to project films in the main hall. Both these antiques are out of order, and sadly no one at the Institute could tell me the make. The projector I guess might be a Bell & Howell as this was a big name in portable film projectors in those days.
Let me sign off now. Shall tell you more about the Ajni railway colony later.
Ravindra, Nagpur, INDIA
Mrs. Kamla Bhalerao, is the revered Mother of Ravindra Bhalerao, a dear friend whom I have come to know through e-mails and his lovely website. I am honoured to be considered a part of his family. I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did. What cherished memories lie within us to recall and relive.
Thank you Aunty Kamla ………Your friend, Lynne
NAGPUR (INDIA), 21 July 2010
I am unable to make it to the computer café (we don’t have a computer at home at the moment) as I am getting on in years, but Ravindra is there, and he speaks in glowing terms of the very interesting articles to be found on your website, WWW.ANGLO-INDIANS.COM. And at times he even prepares printouts of the INDIA AND BEYOND NEWSLETTER to bring home to show us. This is perhaps the best Anglo-Indian Website there is on the internet, as the contents clearly seem to show.
Here is short piece by me called THE MYSTERIOUS STATION MASTER and I feel it will make a nice addition to the INDIA & BEYOND NEWSLETTER. Do put it up on the Newsletter, if it pleases you.
With loving good wishes,
THE MYSTERIOUS STATION MASTER By: Kamla Bhalerao
I have been asked to pen a few lines telling about the railways of India back when I was a child. Sadly I never paid close attention to what I saw around me while at a station or riding a train then. Had I known that seventy years hence I would be required to record my travels for someone keenly devoted to steam engines and trains, I would have been more observant, maybe I would even have kept a diary.
My memories of those days are as vague as the view across a valley on a foggy day. We were three sisters staying in a house tucked away in a tiny sub-district of Maharashtra. Of all the places why this tiny hamlet no one has ever heard of? Had he wanted, dad could easily have secured an appointment in a bustling hospital in Bombay, or some other big place. Many of his friends had set up flourishing practices in big towns and earned handsome fees, but dad was a man of ideals. After completing his LCPS in 1924 he had set up his medical practice in this small town with a population of a few thousand. He was here to serve the poor at a time when a villager would have to travel several miles in a bullock cart along dusty roads in the wilderness in search of medical help. The tiny clinic father had set up in the town of Karmala saw an interesting assortment of cases from tapeworm and rabies to scorpion bites and cases where a villager was brought in a cart from afar with his intestines gouged out by the horns of a bullock running amok.
In 1936, five years before she died, mamma had joined the medical centre in Miraj for pursuing an LCPS in medicine. This ushered in a new phase in our lives for we would shuttle between our home and Miraj two or three times a year. One thing which strikes me about rail travel in those days was the absence of bustling, sweating crowds in a train. Kurduwadi, being the nearest rail terminal for us, we would ride in a bus to this place to take the tiny train, the Barsi Light Railway, a night’s run bringing us to Miraj without hassles of any kind. The little steam engine did its work faithfully, chugging along forests and valleys carrying along a line of red carriages. For those interested in details, the seats were of wood running lengthways, two along the carriage sides where you would sit with your back to the window, and two in the centre laid back to back.
Kurduwadi was an interesting location, being a big junction at the intersection of the Barsi Light Railway and the Bombay-Madras main line, and our trips to Miraj and other places often found us at this station. During war days the electric lights in the tiny train looked incredibly feeble with their glass covers smeared with red paint, and if I remember correctly, even the engine headlight was half painted in red. When we asked dad the reason for this, he explained that the lights had been dimmed down to make it difficult for enemy planes to detect a train during night hours.
Barsi Light Railway ran on narrow gauge, 2 feet 6 inches I understand, but the route from Miraj to Kolhapur was served by a wider track, meter gauge, as I now know. It is one thing to see an animal in a zoo, how many of you can boast seeing a tiger from the window of a running train? It did happen with us. Miraj is about an hour’s run from Kolhapur and we were seated once in a third class carriage. As the train chugged along my mother suddenly raised a cry and pointed out. We all gathered around the window, and there in the light of the setting sun was a full grown tiger with blazing yellow stripes at the edge of the jungle about fifty yards away. I was greatly distressed and frantically urged mum and dad to shut the windows. Hearing the rumble of the train, the tiger had emerged from the forest and stood silently, regarding the train with a quizzical look. “What’s going on here? Clear out fast and leave me alone,” he seemed to be saying. I am glad the train did not halt here in the middle of nowhere. Trains often halt for no obvious reason, and had this happened the tiger would have been tempted to regard us with more interest than mere curiosity!
Those were the days when Anglo-Indians could be found everywhere on the railways. As a young girl I greatly admired these folks. Anglo-Indian Station Masters were dressed in impeccable uniforms, they carried themselves with great dignity and spoke flawless English, and their womenfolk in their gorgeous dresses were a always a pleasure to watch. Once on a trip to Poona, our train had halted at a small station, maybe Dhond or some such place. Across the tracks I spotted a lovely bungalow with a sloping roof. The garden was all a riot of colour. All of a sudden a European looking man in Station Master’s uniform emerged followed by a group of ladies dressed in colourful flowing dresses, all laughing and pointing at something. As my eyes wandered over the garden I saw something that almost made me cry out with delight—the lawn seemed to come alive like paradise with turkeys of the most attractive plumage moving around unhindered, pecking at what came their way. It was a sight I never forgot.
All throughout the 1930s and 40s we had a mysterious Anglo-Indian visitor who would drop in, even staying overnight with us at times. Mr. Williams was Station Master of Kurduwadi Junction, tall, and very fair in complexion. He spoke Marathi with the same ease as he spoke English. Somehow none of us could get up enough courage to ask dad the reason why Mr. Williams came, and sadly this has remained a mystery till this day. I suppose he was afflicted with an ailment of some kind and not being able to find a good enough practitioner in Kurduwadi he would ride the bus to Karmala to have himself examined by dad. But at best this is only a conjecture.
We shared a close and friendly rapport with Mr. Williams although we never had an occasion to meet his family. I still remember that evening at Kurduwadi station while we were on our way to Bombay. Mum, dad and I were seated in the waiting room awaiting our train when daddy spotted the tall figure of Mr. Williams as it passed across the doorway. I was immediately dispatched to fetch the gentleman. “Uncle! Uncle!” I cried as I stumbled behind the man striding along the platform. Finally he turned round and as his glance rested on me his face broke into a smile. Mum and dad were pleased to see Mr. Williams and they chatted briefly. He was on duty at the time and so could not linger much longer. Before he left he had given instructions to a bearer to bring us a meal consisting of excellent mutton curry, rice and parathas from the station refreshment room nearby.
In 1941 mamma passed away and a new mum stepped in shortly and took over affairs at home. The years rolled on and in time we married and moved on in life. Many years later, I received news that our second mum had passed on, so in the summer of 1970 I found myself back again in my ancestral home after an absence of many years. Dad looked much the same as before, although a bit pulled down in health. Before we left the place, I asked dad about the good Station Master whom we had known years ago. Mr. Williams had died several years ago, my father said wistfully. Strangely, it never occurred to me to enquire about the precise reason for his visits to our home. The truth of the matter will probably never be known. And now it is too late to ask. All that remains with me is a fading vision of an impeccably dressed gentleman, station master of a great junction, who shared with us a friendship and camaraderie ages ago while we stayed in that tiny hamlet in the western part of Maharashtra.
Published by: Lynette M. Rebeiro
Phone: (905) 676 – 1086
I sincerely hope you and your families are enjoying the beginning of the beautiful summer season. Here in Canada we have been having a lot of rain, but mixed with the sunshine hot humid days it is divine.
My strawberries are just coming out in abundance and we are also enjoying the fruits of everyone’s labour here at work. I love taking home small bags of cherries, plums, zucchini and cucumbers, best of all are the plump hand grown tomatos. Nothing beats garden fresh produce – everything is fresh and devoid of pesticides and chemicals. I hope you enjoy this issue, and please do write and let me know what else you would like included in this newsletter. I try to vary the stories and articles – your feedback is greatly appreciated. And on that note…..Best wishes to You and Yours, from Me and Mine! Enjoy dear readers.
CONTENTS … … …
- Publishers Letters
- March of the white brigade
- THE MURDER OF MEREDITH KERCHER
- This Date In History: FDR signs G.I. Bill .. Jun 22, 1944
- The temple of Munroe
- BOOK REVIEW ….. AN EQUAL MUSIC: A NOVEL – Vikram Seth
- THE BURRA SAHIB OF CHAI
- THE COIMBATORE BOOK CLUB REVIEW – TEA & ME
Letters To The Publisher
Very wonderful and thoroughly enjoyable. Thank you Lynne.
Jennifer Braun, President´s Office, Edgewood College
Madison, WI 53711
March of the white brigade
The concept of the ‘battle of the sexes´ is a phrase much used — or rather, abused. To reiterate that it is association rather than war that will help the cause of gender equality, the Forum of Anglo-Indian Women launched the White Ribbon Campaign in India, with the inauguration in Chennai. It was a campaign that began halfway around the world, in a Canada that was still reeling from the shock of the Montreal Massacre; 14 women were killed by a 25-year-old man claiming he was “fighting feminism.” Two years later, in 1989, men there launched a campaign to speak out against and end violence against women, and wore a white ribbon as a symbol of this commitment. Beatrix D´Souza, founder of the Forum and former MLA and MP, spoke of the experiences that she confronted in dealing with women´s issues. “Women are penned in; there´s trafficking, rape, foeticide, infanticide, harassment and dowry. We are saying that men need to make their voices heard in this struggle.” The Forum had chosen seven prominent men from the city as ambassadors, to take the pledge against violence against women and make a change in their respective fields — including former bureaucrat Moosa Raza, Commissioner of Police T. Rajendran, writer Timeri Murari and Ranvir Shah of the Prakriti Foundation.
“The police still largely lack the psychological and emotional training to deal sensitively with gender issues,” said Rajendran. “We could do with counsellors and therapists to help.” Dr. Sajan Hegde, orthopaedic surgeon at the Apollo Hospitals was also an ambassador. “Unfortunately, the medical profession comes into the picture after the damage is done — they come to us with black eyes, bruises, dislocations and more.” Timeri Murari pointed in jest to the “two brave men” who sat with the women in the audience, while the others gathered on the other side; saying that even at occasions such as these, the camaraderie that should come naturally to us was still largely absent. Theatre person Tehzeeb Katari read poetry at the event — “I got flowers today” — about women who put up with abuse and domestic violence for years, hoping things will change. “We plan to take this movement to the colleges, office spaces and the streets,” said D´Souza. “This is only a beginning.”
THE MURDER OF MEREDITH KERCHER
The murder of Meredith Kercher (an Anglo-Indian exchange student) took place in Perugia, Italy, on 1 November 2007. Police discovered the body of the 21-year-old British student, who was part of a university exchange programme, on 2 November 2007, at the house that she shared with other students. Kercher was found lying partially clothed under a duvet in her locked bedroom, her windpipe crushed and her throat partially slashed.
The event initially appeared to be a routine one-man rape-murder (with the man admitting he saw her die). However, it became highly notable in world media when prosecutors treated the event as a sexual torture killing, allegedly pre-planned by 3 people aged 20-23 who had known each other less than 3 weeks. On 6 November 2007, police arrested 3 of 4 suspects: Patrick Diya Lumumba, Congolese owner of a local bar; Amanda Knox, an American student; and Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian student (and 2-week boyfriend of Knox). Lumumba was later released and exonerated. An arrest warrant was issued against Rudy Hermann Guédé, an Ivorian long-term resident of Perugia, based on DNA and fingerprint evidence found on the victim´s body. On 20 November 2007 he was arrested in Germany, and on 6 December extradited to Italy. The three suspects were held in custody in Perugia and were charged with murder, sexual assault and theft.
Guédé, who had elected for a fast-track trial, admitted in November 2007 to being with Kercher when she died, claiming that an intruder stabbed her, but was convicted on 28 October 2008 of conspiracy to murder Kercher and sentenced to thirty years in prison. The trial of the two remaining suspects, Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, began on 16 January 2009. On 4 December 2009, both were found guilty of murder, sexual violence, and other charges. Amanda Knox, 22, was sentenced to 26 years in prison, while Raffaele Sollecito, 25, received 25 years. Prosecutors had sought life terms for Knox and Sollecito, but, after 14 hours of deliberation, a jury handed them lesser sentences because they were young and had no criminal records. The case received heavy media interest in Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.
W O R D S
A husband read an article to his wife about how many words women use a day… 30,000 to a man´s 15,000.
The wife replied, “The reason has to be because we have to repeat everything to men…
The husband then turned to his wife and asked, “What?”
THIS DATE IN HISTORY …. …. …. FDR signs G.I. Bill Jun 22, 1944:
On this day in 1944, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the G.I. Bill, an unprecedented act of legislation designed to compensate returning members of the armed services–known as G.I.s–for their efforts in World War II. As the last of its sweeping New Deal reforms, Roosevelt´s administration created the G.I. Bill–officially the Servicemen´s Readjustment Act of 1944–hoping to avoid a relapse into the Great Depression after the war ended. FDR particularly wanted to prevent a repeat of the Bonus March of 1932, when 20,000 unemployed veterans and their families flocked in protest to Washington. The American Legion, a veteran´s organization, successfully fought for many of the provisions included in the bill, which gave returning servicemen access to unemployment compensation, low-interest home and business loans, and–most importantly–funding for education.
By giving veterans money for tuition, living expenses, books, supplies and equipment, the G.I. Bill effectively transformed higher education in America. Before the war, college had been an option for only 10-15 percent of young Americans, and university campuses had become known as a haven for the most privileged classes. By 1947, in contrast, vets made up half of the nation´s college enrollment; three years later, nearly 500,000 Americans graduated from college, compared with 160,000 in 1939. As educational institutions opened their doors to this diverse new group of students, overcrowded classrooms and residences prompted widespread improvement and expansion of university facilities and teaching staffs. An array of new vocational courses were developed across the country, including advanced training in education, agriculture, commerce, mining and fishing–skills that had previously been taught only informally. The G.I. Bill became one of the major forces that drove an economic expansion in America that lasted 30 years after World War II. Only 20 percent of the money set aside for unemployment compensation under the bill was given out, as most veterans found jobs or pursued higher education. Low interest home loans enabled millions of American families to move out of urban centers and buy or build homes outside the city, changing the face of the suburbs. Over 50 years, the impact of the G.I. Bill was enormous, with 20 million veterans and dependents using the education benefits and 14 million home loans guaranteed, for a total federal investment of $67 billion. Among the millions of Americans who have taken advantage of the bill are former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford, former Vice President Al Gore and entertainers Johnny Cash, Ed McMahon, Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood.
The temple of Munroe
RUKMINI BANERJI The story of how a picture of Thomas Munroe came to adorn the walls of a Hanuman temple near Cuddappah.
It was dark. Cuddapah was still quite far away. The gently sloping road ahead seemed to go on and on. “There is a temple on the way,” said one of our companions. “We must stop there. It is a small temple but a temple with an interesting story.” The legend was that as Ram and Sita made their way back from Lanka to Ayodhya, Hanuman went ahead. He would search for a good place for the royal couple to stop and rest on their journey home. Not far from where we were was one such place. Hanuman had chosen a cave by the side of a river. To mark the spot, Hanuman hung a golden rope across two hill tops. So that from a distance the rope could be seen. The story continues. Ram and Sita did indeed stop at the cave. Grateful for Hanuman’s efforts, Ram etched a picture of Hanuman on the stone walls of the cave.
Centuries later …………………..Hundreds of years later, in British times, Thomas Munroe was the Collector of Cuddapah. Travelling through the hills, late one night, he saw a gleaming rope of gold stretched from one hill top to another. “What is that” he asked his companions. “Why is there a golden rope hanging from one hill top to another?” There was a long silence. No one among Munro’s companions spoke. No one could see the rope that Munroe was referring to. No one had the courage to speak. Finally, an elderly man spoke up. “He who can see the golden rope is blessed. But he will die in a few months.” Thomas Munroe looked at his companions in disbelief and put the story aside as superstition. But it must have stayed with him. It is said that he even wrote about this incident in his diary. In a few months time, Munroe was dead. We stayed silent. We could not see any golden rope over the river. The dark hills passed us by. Our thoughts going back and forth: the mythical story of Hanuman and the unlikely fate of Munroe. In some time we came to the temple. A small glow of light in the darkening night. There were hardly any people in the temple. A few priests were conducting the evening aarti. It was easy to walk right into the inner sanctum of the temple. There was a carving of Hanuman on the stone walls. Parts of the carving had been covered in silver. Till today, Hanuman’s service to Ram was being acknowledged, celebrated and worshipped.
Taking his place ……………………..Out in the main hall, a few people sat on the floor listening to the aarti. High above on the walls were framed pictures. Most were of gods and goddesses. In the centre, prominently displayed was one of Ram and Sita. The glass framing the picture had been smeared with holy ash, haldi and kumkum. There was a garland of fresh flowers encircling the frame. Right next to Ram and Sita was a framed picture of Thomas Munroe. Like the gods and goddesses around him, he too was covered in haldi-kumkum and crowned with flowers.
BOOK REVIEW ….. AN EQUAL MUSIC: A NOVEL
By: Vikram Seth
From Publishers Weekly Seth finds his true voice in this lyrical, ravishing tale of star-crossed lovers/ An English violinist and the pianist he desperately pursues. Unlike his previous work, A Suitable Boy (a 1349-page family melodrama set in 1950s India and self-consciously modeled on the social novels of Dickens, Trollope and Eliot), this novel is tightly controlled, original in design, awash in the music — and spirit of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Haydn, Brahms and Bach. Even readers not familiar with specific pieces of Western classical music will be caught up in the contemporary love story, set mainly in London and Vienna with excursions to Venice and northern England. Michael Holme, brooding member of an English string quartet, endlessly adrift a decade after breaking up with pianist Julia McNicholl, suddenly bumps into her again in London. They resume their affair – with guilty reluctance on her part, as she´s married to an American banker and has a son, but with reckless abandon by Michael, who betrays and then ditches his girlfriend, a needy French violin student 15 years his junior.
Beyond mere erotic duplicities, a far more tragic obstacle emerges — Julia is rapidly going deaf. Music, her lifeblood, is slipping away from her, a secret she keeps from her fellow musicians until Michael clumsily reveals it. Around this simple plot, Seth weaves an exploration of the creative process as he delves into the quartet members´ quirks and neuroses, their romances, states of exaltation, their synchronous vision. All the rehearsals, shoptalk, fiddling and ruminations blunt the impact of Julia´s tragedy and the love story´s momentum, but Seth´s musical, quicksilver prose keeps the narrative aloft. It´s a classy novel, told with keen intelligence and sensitivity, embodying a brave attempt to fathom the world of deafness as well as the high-strung milieu of performing artists.
How do you decide who to marry?
-You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.
— Alan, age 10
-No person really decides before they grow up who they´re going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you´re stuck with.
— Kristen, age 10
THE BURRA SAHIB OF CHAI…………
Cups of Cheer
The start of the journey from Calcutta had gone well so far for the travellers without any major drama . But this did not last when suddenly the serenity in the carriage was shattered by a piercing yell . It was a Chai Wallah making his rounds with his repetitious cries of ” Chai , Chai . Gurum Chai . ” The intrepid Chai seller had entered the carriage as soon as the train had stopped at Burdwan station. Ram Ram , as was his moniker , had sorely tested the passengers´ ire at being aroused from their slumber at dawn. However , as the saying goes , ” Who dares , wins ” , and but for a few disgruntled passengers , customers for the ” Cups of Cheer ” were not lacking. Some people were heard to remark that it was a very enjoyable experience for them to be served morning tea in bed . Thus , it was on this day , that the phrase , ” Home was never like this ” , first became to be used .
As the train enters South Indian territory from East India , the cries of ” Chai ´ are replaced by those of ” Coffee , Coffee ” , by the sellers of that beverage on the station platforms . The weary sleepy- eyed traveller will heave a sign of relief when assured that there are not many Ram Rams in this part of the woods .
As history has revealed , the Battles of Waterloo , and Plassey were lost by the French because of the lack of Puchka and Chaat Wallahs ; and so it is , that most people in Kolkata need the humble Chai to power them through the day . Thus , it is not surprising , that the City Of Joy to cater to the needs of its people , has encouraged a proliferation of Chai Vendors , who if they had to go on strike , would mean that the city would shut down . Surely then can Chai be called the Burrah Sahib of the beverages , with its homes chiefly in the beautiful gardens of the hill stations of Darjeeling , Assam and Cooty.
Nowhere in the world , but in Kolkata , would you be able to buy such good quality Chai at such ridiculously low prices . Just ignore the fact that some Char Wallahs use the same tea leaves several times . The price of a cup of Chai depends on such things as location ( restaurant or roadside shop ) ,and the container ( porcelain or earthen ware ) in which it is sold . Char sold in a small cup costs between Rs. 2.5 and Rs. 4 . Have you ever wondered why there are so many more people in Kolkata walking about in the day than in the night ? It is because the pavements are usually used at night for sleeping by homeless people , which people have to walk the streets in the day, as they have no home to go to . Unfortunately ,some of the Chai vendors , who get a pittance for their tea , join the crowd of homeless at night on the footpaths.
THE COIMBATORE BOOK CLUB REVIEW – TEA & ME
By Brian McDonald
COIMBATORE: November 24, 2008 – Before the exodus of Europeans from India post-Independence, the city of Coimbatore entertained well-known visitors such as, Robert Stanes, Pierce Leslie and Brooke Bond. It also sheltered rulers’ horses, housed British administrators and planters and played host to national leaders. Nanies clad in white pushed around prams the melody of the church organ echoed in the neighbourhood and the city of Coimbatore was also home to birds, butterflies and dragonflies.
Where the new grows around the old, the evening of Sunday, November 23, 2008 and all roads in the city of Coimbatore, ceded to the British in 1799, its first District Collector in 1803 H.S.Greame, sporting a walrus moustache and a city that once helped transport the produce from tea plantations to the plains on a nine-and-a-half mile ropeway, led to Mani’s High School where members of The Coimbatore Book Club gathered together to review TEA & ME that brings to life the romance of tea, in the presence of its author Eddy Davidar. Unmindful of the morning sunshine giving way to thick formation of clouds, but as if on call, the rain held back and the city, now famous for its frequent interruptions in power supply, thanks to some awfully poor planning on the part of the Electricity Department, the evening began with a rumble as the gathering’s collective cheer reaching its highest decibel level, the club President addressed the gathering in a shrill voice that could hardly be heard.
Man-of-the-Evening Pierce Nigli and I do not know what the fella had for lunch, but it would have certainly contained an excessive amount of chilli and a pinch of dynamite. Making up for the shrill voice of the President, in an exhibition of kinetic energy, he reviewed the book TEA & ME in a baritone from specially selected passages in the presence of its author and a truly lovely audience, exchanging pleasantries and wearing smiles as long as the river Thames. At his best reminding one, that the best teachers are those who get their children to think after a lesson has been taken and the retired State Bank of India General Manager, deserves an extra round of applause. And some passages on being read by him brought the audience to the edge of their seats, as if watching that cliff hanger of a last ball finish in that Famous 1960 Brisbane Cricket Tie between Australia led by Richie Benaud and the West Indies by the late Sir Frank Worrell who once donated blood to save the life of the Indian cricket captain Nari Contractor. And the narration might well have had the inevitability of The Coimbatore Book Club members and the author himself along with his daughter and a charming young lady Divya Sridharan, who interviewed the Octogenarian prior to the Review representing The Hindu newspaper, tucking into chocolates later that evening.
Men superbly dressed in freshly laundered shirts and the ladies, sporting different hairstyles were on display on a wintry evening chilly and cold. And this Journalist by nil training, Brian McDonald invited to the Review as a guest of the Herbert family Prince and Sharmila, a future read from the palm of his hand sporting an outdated hippy hairstyle, an increasingly fading Mexican moustache and the grandson of an ancient coffee planter, believes that the hair dressing bills of some, might well have exceed that of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s wife who recently paid out $7000 in a month and says, it’s the gospel truth indeed. All good things must come to an end and so did an exciting evening in the company of Eddie Davidar and his daughter Ruth and but for Ruth, chanting – “come on Dad, come on Daddy write, write, write at least a page a day ”, TEA & ME could never have been a book to read.
And therefore, thanks to Ruth, now like the Beatles and Elvis Presley giving us some of the best pages of pop music, Eddy Davidar has certainly given us some of the best pages of life on tea plantations with a notably great writing brain. And with the Octogenarian still looking as good as ever for another innings, may just be the biggest ever comeback of his roller coaster days planting tea in the company of those European planters with whom he enjoyed a rapport and imbuing his proleges with a sense of what it means to wear shorts, like what it means to Mercy Oommen, Valsa Fenn, Prince Herbert and Pierce Nigli to wear the Stanes school tie.
That’s all for this issue Folks. Till we speak again through the words of this newsletter take care and Enjoy! ——————————————————————————-
Published by: Lynette M. Rebeiro
Phone: (905) 676 – 1086
For those of my readers who do not live through snow-bound winters – well let me tell you we have seen so little snow this year here in Canada, that several of us believe we can take this kind of winter always. While others bemoan to loss of winter sports, i.e. skiing, snowboarding, etc., the only loss I feel is failing to see little “snow angels” stamped all around the garden where inevitably our grandchildren have frolicked and played in the “white fluffy stuff”. It has been wonderful however to drive home from work on fairly clear and dry roads.
Our Canadian winters run something like this ………………
March 21st, the first day of spring, and most of Canada remains buried under 20 – 30 centimetres of snow. Canadians venture outdoors, coffee in hand, shivering despite their warm coats and winter boots, to search for signs of spring to come. Some lucky people, who live near the east or west coasts, spot robins or the shoots of early spring flowers struggling to push their way up through the still cold soil. Many Canadians, however, find only snow, ice, and chill wind. They heave a sigh and trudge over to dig out their cars so they can gather together, at work or the coffee shop, to complain about the weather.
Canadians love to talk about the weather. And they have a lot to talk about. Winter in Canada, like a bad party guest, arrives early and stays late. Snow can start in October and stay as late as April or May. Canadian comic, Rick Mercer once ranted about the Canadian winter, “This is the true north strong and free, and cold, and wet, and icy, and dark. Sometimes all at once.” And he´s right. Winter in Canada, though, is not just about huddling over a steaming mug of coffee and indulging in a little good natured complaining. In Canada, winter also means outdoor fun. Many of Canada´s favourite pastimes are winter weather related. Hockey, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, sledding, snowmobiling, skating, ice fishing, and dog sledding all require ice and snow. Many Canadian communities also have annual winter festivals, the best-known of which is Winter Carnival, held in Quebec city in January or February. Winter Carnival boasts all of the popular outdoor winter activities, along with snow sculpture contests, dancing, food, and a fabulous ice palace.
Canada is a big country and the climate varies from coast to coast to coast. Winter weather can be a very different experience for people living in Halifax – on the east coast, Ottawa – in central Canada, Churchill – in northern Manitoba on Hudson bay, and Vancouver – on the west coast.
…..Best wishes to You and Yours, from Me and Mine! Enjoy dear readers. Lynne
CONTENTS … … …
- Publishers Letters
- The Murder of Meredith Kercher
- The town of Thomas
- This Date In History: Jackie Robinson breaks color barrier
- The spirit of sport
- BOOK REVIEW …The Raven Queen, By Pauline Frances
- Russell Peters Teaches How To Master Accents
- MAHARAJAH’S TREASURES COME TO TORONTO
Lou Welsh, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
Good job as always Lynne.
For what its worth, the address below gets me to a blank page however, I can access the NL by going into Anglo-Indians.com Loved the lipstick on the mirror joke!! Keep up the good work.
The Murder of Meredith Kercher ….
The murder of Meredith Kercher (an Anglo-Indian exchange student) took place in Perugia, Italy, on 1 November 2007. Police discovered the body of the 21-year-old British student, who was part of a university exchange programme, on 2 November 2007, at the house that she shared with other students. Kercher was found lying partially clothed under a duvet in her locked bedroom, her windpipe crushed and her throat partially slashed. The event initially appeared to be a routine one-man rape-murder (with the man admitting he saw her die). However, it became highly notable in world media when prosecutors treated the event as a sexual torture killing, allegedly pre-planned by 3 people aged 20-23 who had known each other less than 3 weeks. On 6 November 2007, police arrested 3 of 4 suspects: Patrick Diya Lumumba, Congolese owner of a local bar; Amanda Knox, an American student; and Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian student (and 2-week boyfriend of Knox). Lumumba was later released and exonerated. An arrest warrant was issued against Rudy Hermann Guédé, an Ivorian long-term resident of Perugia, based on DNA and fingerprint evidence found on the victim´s body. On 20 November 2007 he was arrested in Germany, and on 6 December extradited to Italy. The three suspects were held in custody in Perugia and were charged with murder, sexual assault and theft. Guédé, who had elected for a fast-track trial, admitted in November 2007 to being with Kercher when she died, claiming that an intruder stabbed her, but was convicted on 28 October 2008 of conspiracy to murder Kercher and sentenced to thirty years in prison. The trial of the two remaining suspects, Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, began on 16 January 2009. On 4 December 2009, both were found guilty of murder, sexual violence, and other charges. Amanda Knox, 22, was sentenced to 26 years in prison, while Raffaele Sollecito, 25, received 25 years. Prosecutors had sought life terms for Knox and Sollecito, but, after 14 hours of deliberation, a jury handed them lesser sentences because they were young and had no criminal records. The case received heavy media interest in Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.
A man and a woman who have never met before find themselves in the same sleeping carriage of a train. After the initial embarrassment, they both manage to get to sleep; the woman on the top bunk, the man on the lower.
In the middle of the night the woman leans over and says, “I´m sorry to bother you, but I´m awfully cold and I was wondering if you could possibly pass me another blanket.”
The man leans out and with a glint in his eye said “I´ve got a better idea … let´s pretend we´re married.” “Why not,” giggles the woman. “Good,” he replies. “Get your own blanket.”
The town of Thomas
How many of us know that there was a fort, nearly twice the size of Fort St.George at the Southern end of what is today called Kamarajar Salai? And that it was called Fort San Thome?
DRIVE BY Fort St.George and you see its walls and moats, but you never really get a feel of how large it really is. Visit Fort Museum and there´s a scale model of the Fort that gives you a much better impression of its expanse. But I wonder how many realise there was a fort, indeed an older one, nearly twice the size of Fort St.George at the southern end of what is today called Kamarajar Salai. And that was Fort San Thome (Thome as in `Thomay´ and not as in `home´). Fort San Thome, in its final shape, extended north south from where Kamarajar Salai narrows to become San Thome High Road up to what is now South Bank Road and Foreshore Estate, and east west from the beach to just west of Mylapore Bazaar Road. The main north and south gates were a little to the West of San Thome High Road and the west gate was probably where Kutchery Road and Arundale Road meet. The east gate faced the sea, close to where the Basilica now is.
The fort in San Thome grew out of the first European settlement on India´s east coast, the Portuguese arriving and putting down roots on the Coromandel Coast a century before the British. By the time they arrived, ancient Mylapore was in decline. That great port of the Pallavas (7th-9th Century) from whence the culture of India went to the islands of the East and the lands of the Menam and the Mekong should have given its name to Madras if change there had to be; a name out of Vijayanagar´s waning past should not have been the choice. But that´s another story. Today´s is of what the Arabs in the 9th and 10th Century knew as `Betumah´, the `Town of Thomas´ and it is of the tomb of Thomas, by a Nestorial Chapel there, that Marco Polo wrote of in the 13th Century.
The story of Thomas, `Doubting´ Thomas Dydimus, the Apostle of India from 1972, is an article of faith on the Malabar and Coromandel Coasts. I know of a European who has become a Hindu ascetic and who, despite having taken the Lord´s name, spews venom on all those who retail the Thomas legend, which speaks of the apostle spending 12 years in Malabar and 8 years in Mylapore, before being martyred on St.Thomas´s Mount. Whether the legend is true or not is immaterial; what is material is that the Portuguese, having heard the stories told by the Arabs and Marco Polo and crossed (s) words with the Thomas Christians of Kerala, who go back a thousand years and more, came in search of the tomb of Thomas in 1509. And what Diogo and Bastiao Fernandes found was enough to keep the Portuguese in Goa returning to the coast of Coromandel, eventually establishing around 1522 a Portuguese settlement that over the next hundred years pushed the towers of `Meliapor´ far from shore. Work on a fort to protect the Portuguese settlement of San Thome appears to have started some time between 1567 and 1582, but was completed only in 1635, by when its extent was about 800 yards by 400 yards. Attacks by Golconda and the Dutch led to the southern fortifications being pushed 600 yards further south and built along the river bank for 400 yards east-west, before turning north and meeting the north wall of the old fort.
All these fortifications did not stop Golconda, the Dutch and the French who took turns occupying Fort San Thome and also dismantling its fortifications. By 1697, the last of the fortifications was demolished, but a vibrant town with a population born of a mixed gene rose from several nations and other parts of India was allowed to thrive. When the French returned Fort St.George to the British in 1749, the agreement also gave the British San Thome, Mylapore and its suburb Triplicane. In Portuguese times, there were five Roman Catholic churches, including what is the Cathedral-Basilica today, in the town within their fort and four without. Those outside the Fort included Luz Church, dating to 1516 at least, and believed to be the oldest church on the east coast of India. The Madre de Deus Church on Matha Church Road, sadly pulled down overnight a couple of years ago despite protests from the parishioners and conservationists, dated back to 1575 and its name, as much as the name of those who first built it, the Madeiros (or Madra) family, is held by some schools of thought to account for the city´s name, Madras, Other Churches in this area associated with the Madeiros family, the richest Portuguese on India´s east coast, are the Descancao Church on St.Mary´s Road and St.Lazarus Church on Lazarus Church Road.
But is the Cathedral that is the pride of San Thome. When the Diocese of San Thome was created in 1606, with Dom Sebastiao de San Pedro arriving in 1608 to serve as the first Bishop, the Nestorian and Portuguese shrines by the tomb on the beach were pulled down and the remains of Thomas were moved inland to a church the Portuguese built as much to hold the relics as to serve the new diocese as its cathedral. This cathedral, embellished over the years, was pulled down in 1894 and the present church consecrated in 1896 by Bishop Dom Henriques Joseph Reed da Silva. The building was designed and its construction supervised as a labour of love by Capt. J.A.Power, who had retired from the Royal Engineers and was a parishioner. The stained glass window panels, telling the story of Thomas´s doubts, were made by Mayer and Co., Munich. And in the Basilica is the tomb of Fr.Gaspar Coelho, beneath a 3-foot statue of Our Lady of Mylapore, believed to have been brought by him from Portugal in 1543 when he came to serve in the shrine on the beach. If the dating is correct, this could well be the oldest bit of Western sculpture on India´s east coast. The Diocese of San Thome became, as it spread, the Diocese of Mylapore. Meanwhile, when St.Mary´s in George Town grew from its 1658 Capuchin beginnings in Armenian Street into a Cathedral in 1886, the Archdiocese of Madras was created to serve Fort St.George and North Madras. On December 12, 1952 the two dioceses were combined as the Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore, with the Rev. Dr.Louis Mathias as Archbishop. Archbishop Dr.Aruldas James and his team plan to celebrate the golden Jubilee of the Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore this December. They will also host a Synod — the first since 1953 — when the religious and the laity will discuss issues of faith and community. Both take place at a time when a new archdiocese, Chingleput, has just been created, reducing the extent of the ancient Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore.
THIS DATE IN HISTORY: Apr 15, 1947: Jackie Robinson breaks color barrier
On this day in 1947, Jackie Robinson, age 28, becomes the first African-American player in Major League Baseball when he steps onto Ebbets Field in Brooklyn to compete for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson broke the color barrier in a sport that had been segregated for more than 50 years. Exactly 50 years later, on April 15, 1997, Robinson´s groundbreaking career was honored and his uniform number, 42, was retired from Major League Baseball by Commissioner Bud Selig in a ceremony attended by over 50,000 fans at New York City´s Shea Stadium. Robinson´s was the first-ever number retired by all teams in the league.
Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born January 31, 1919, in Cairo, Georgia, to a family of sharecroppers. Growing up, he excelled at sports and attended the University of California at Los Angeles, where he was the first athlete to letter in four varsity sports: baseball, basketball, football and track. After financial difficulties forced Robinson to drop out of UCLA, he joined the army in 1942 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. After protesting instances of racial discrimination during his military service, Robinson was court-martialed in 1944. Ultimately, though, he was honorably discharged. After the army, Robinson played for a season in the Negro American League. In 1945, Branch Rickey, general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, recruited Robinson, who was known for his integrity and intelligence as well as his talent, to join one of the club´s farm teams. In 1947, Robinson was called up to the Majors and soon became a star infielder and outfielder for the Dodgers, as well as the National League´s Rookie of the Year. In 1949, the right-hander was named the National League´s Most Valuable Player and league batting champ. Robinson played on the National League All-Star team from 1949 through 1954 and led the Dodgers to six National League pennants and one World Series, in 1955. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, his first year of eligibility.
Despite his talent and success as a player, Robinson faced tremendous racial discrimination throughout his career, from baseball fans and some fellow players. Additionally, Jim Crow laws prevented Robinson from using the same hotels and restaurants as his teammates while playing in the South. After retiring from baseball in 1957, Robinson became a businessman and civil rights activist. He died October 24, 1972, at age 53, in Stamford, Connecticut.
Four people are in an airplane, the pilot, the smartest man in the world, the richest man in the world, and a punk teenager. The airplane experiences some difficulties, and the pilot informs the three passengers that the plane is going to crash, and there are only three parachutes on the plane. The richest man in the world takes one, because he says that his lawyers will sue everyone else on the plane if he doesn´t survive. The smartest man in the world takes a parachute, because he thinks that the world would be a worse place without him. The pilot says to the punk “There´s only one parachute left, I´ll fight you for it.” “That won´t be necessary,” said the punk, “The smartest man in the world took my backpack.”
The spirit of sport
The bonhomie and sporting tradition created by the club culture of a bygone era linger on. PREMA SRINIVASAN traces the history of two of the oldest sport clubs in the city – the Madras Gymkhana and the Madras Cricket Club. THE COLONISING British found it necessary to create a little bit of England in India where they could unwind after a strenuous day of work in the sweltering heat. There is a saying that when two Englishmen meet, they form a club, if there are three they will form a colony and, if four, an empire. To be sure wherever a British community existed there would most certainly be a club. The club, then, was the focal point of the life of the expatriate community which was hierarchical in nature, the tone being set by the members themselves.
An old-timer, who was an avid club enthusiast, reminisces: “What havens they (clubs) were in those days… Even if a club consisted of only one room, it was a place that oozed friendliness and sympathy.” As we know, British association with Madras dates back to approximately 1632. The clubs instituted by them in the years that followed changed from exclusive colonial institutions into open, friendly establishments where people of different professions and calling met and interacted in keeping with the spirit of a changing environment in Independent India. Accordingly, the history of the clubs is also the history of our society and nation as it has evolved over the past 100 years.
A quick look at the chronological table thoughtfully provided by S. Muthiah in his book, The Spirit of Chepauk, informs us that the Bengal Club and The Madras Club were founded in 1792 and 1832, respectively. The Madras Cricket Club (MCC), the first sports club in Madras, was founded by Alexander Arbuthnot in 1846. The MCC has been “responsible for not only the organised introduction of cricket, tennis, squash and hockey… but also for organising the first competitions in the South in these sports.”
The Madras Gymkhana Club came into being in April, 1884. In the visitor´s room of the Madras Club, Brigadier General Johnson formulated the rules and objectives of the club and called it The Gymkhana Club, for the promotion of sports. It is interesting to note that the subscription in the early years was a mere Rs. three. The membership in those times comprised mainly garrison members and executives from British firms. Apparently, there was a strict adherence to a rigid hierarchy in the British community. The social classes obviously did not mix and European taboos about the inclusion of Indian members persisted till Independence. The facilities provided by these clubs included a spacious verandah, a bar where gentlemen could gather for a drink, a sitting room for the memsahibs to chat while the gentlemen smoked their cigars, a library, a dining room, a ladies room and changing rooms. Over the years, these facilities expanded keeping pace with the changes brought about by political and social happenings.
During the centenary celebrations of the Gymkhana Club, members look nostalgically back to the times when polo and pig sticking were played with a tent put up on the open ground. Later, when the tent became overcrowded, the Raja of Venkatagiri donated a Grand Stand to the club. The early years of the 20th Century witnessed further changes. During the War, the Germans were expelled from the club, two guns captured in Mesopotamia were donated to the club, besides a life-size portrait of the Raja of Venkatagiri. The band played every Friday afternoon and the men´s bar became a mixed bar allowing women access. With the coming of the electronic age and the advent of rock ´n´ roll, there was no looking back. Women began to take part in games such as tennis and golf and the first Tom Thumb Golf Course was opened. When the billiards room was thrown open to women in the 1970s, it was considered an echo of the women´s liberation movement which was gathering momentum the world over.
Christmas time has always been a period of mirth and jollity at the Gymkhana. Some of the senior members may recall anecdotes about the dramatic entry of Robbie Morren and his version of Santa Claus, while many others remember Dr. Vaz during the Yuletide festivities. No longer do we see the guns of Mesopotamia nor does the Raja of Venkatagiri´s portrait adorn the hall. Instead, we have a graceful portrait of the club with the cattle wading across the Cooum in bovine friendliness. Today, members and their offspring enjoy the Republic Eve dance, the Telugu and Tamil New Year´s eve dinners and the entertainment. The Derby night, Independence Day eve, as well as Deepavali and Christmas eve are celebrated with appropriate elan. The swimming pool affords a welcome relief after a day´s grind and most members declare that they would rather sit in the well-manicured lawns of the Gym on summer evenings, sipping fresh lime soda than gad about in the crowded restaurants of the city. The well-kept library is a popular spot where young people as well as senior citizens linger and watch out with pleasurable anticipation for new arrivals. The women members are a fortunate lot as every month there is a lecture on current issues and sometimes practical demonstrations of their favourite hobbies. The sprawling lawns, with their flowery borders in front of the main clubhouse, still remain a major attraction as members sit around, chat, share a drink or merely soak in the decades of camaraderie and fellowship which have endured as the essence of club life. The membership today has crossed an impressive figure of 3,000 despite the hefty hike in the entry fee.
About the Madras Cricket Club, Mr. Muthiah says: “The early ethos of the Madras CC left little room for anything but sport and that too in a mainly masculine atmosphere.” Non-sport entertainment in the 19th and 20th centuries was mainly music by a military band or a concert by the members themselves. Over the decades, a permanent dance floor in the open, a library and swimming pool have become major attractions for the members. Nevertheless, some of the senior members look back with nostalgia at the lost old- world ambience. Today, the tombola evenings, children´s evening and cocktail nights indicate that the emphasis is no longer on sport. Both the Madras Gymkhana and the MCC have firmly established sporting tradition in the city. True to the spirit of the age, they have also acquired diverse dimensions to cater for the changing needs of a growing membership. Today, in both these clubs, new members drift in and out while the older ones trickle in to savour the warmth of a bygone era – when it was important to “belong” and adhere to standards in order to maintain a code of excellence.
BOOK REVIEW: The Raven Queen
te-Up This is a powerful historical novel that brings to life an unforgettable story of love, hope and royal duty, from a hugely talented new author. The life of Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Day Queen, is all too often remembered as just a line in a history book, but this stunning debut novel reveals the full fascinating and tragic story – a tale of treachery, power struggles, and religious turmoil in the Tudor court. Intricately woven and passionately written, The Raven Queen is also a sensitive story of love against all odds that will enchant readers.
“I have lived the life of a princess since the day I was born. But it did not bring me what I wanted. I am still trapped.” “My beloved Ned speaks of love, freedom, a future. To walk with him in the forest, our raven soaring above us, is my only joy. But my father plans that I shall be betrothed to the King and I am afraid. Queens of England have a habit of dying. I have no desire to take the throne, no wish to find myself in the Tower of London.” “Wife, Queen – I fear it will bring me to my knees.”
PERSONAL REVIEW BY JESSICA: Having always been interested in Lady Jane Grey, perhaps better known in history as the Nine Day Queen, Pauline Francis decided to write a book about this young lady to try and get to know her better. Here she has produced The Raven Queen, a romantic historical story about the early years of Lady Jane, her life and also her sweetheart Ned. Feeling trapped by her family and the upper-class society in which she’s born into, Jane lusts after freedom. Ned provides this escape for the young princess but causes many conflicts and disagreements throughout the families. Is there any way Jane can rid herself of her duties as a princess?
This is a book that captures the essence of that period offering a poetic atmosphere with believable characters. We see how love develops between Jane and Ned and are captivated by the tale with its poignant, dramatic ending. This tale is quite good if you are interested in historical tales. I found that it doesn’t matter how old you are to read this tale both old and young will enjoy it. However, I do feel perhaps it is more the older generation that will fully appreciate this love story because older readers tend to remember earlier Queens and Princesses more then younger people perhaps? Quite a good read on the whole.
Once upon a time Dracula decided to carry some sort of a competition to see which is the finest bat to stand on his side. So all the bats were honored to take part. The rules were simple. Whichever bat drinks more blood, will be the winner?
So the first bat goes and comes back after 10 minutes. Her mouth was full of blood. Dracula says: “Congratulations, how did you do that?” The bat said: “Do you see that tower? Behind it there is a house. I went in and sucked the blood of all the family”. “Very good” said Dracula.
The second bat goes and comes back after 5 minutes all her face covered in blood. Dracula astonished says, “How did you do that?” The bat replies ” Do you see that tower? Behind it there is a school. I went in and drunk the blood of all the children”. “Impressive” said Dracula.
Now the third bat goes and comes back after three minutes literally covered in blood from top to toe. Dracula is stunned. “How on earth did you do that????” he asked. And the bat replies. “Do you see this tower?” Dracula replies with a yes. And the bat says “Well, I didn´t”.
Russell Peters Teaches How To Master Accents
A superstar in his own right, Russell Peters is to comedy lovers what Robert Pattinson is to pre-pubescent girls. The Canadian humorist born to Anglo-Indian parents became the first comedian to sell out the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, and is one in a handful of comedians to perform at the Madison Square Garden to a sold out audience. Peters’ new tour celebrating his 20th anniversary kicks off this January. Anyone who’s seen him perform knows that one of the many things that distinguishes Peters from other acts is his dead-on accuracy when it comes to accents. What’s his secret?
“I listen,” he tells andPOP. “You’ve got to listen to get the inflections and the intent of what people are saying. That means listening to people when they’re happy, sad, angry. That’s how you learn how they speak. I still can’t do a Scottish accent though – doesn’t matter how much I listen and try it… those tricky Scots!” Fans can hear him and his array of accents when Peters hits the road with “The Green Card Tour” in celebration of his 20th anniversary. But rest assured the jokes will focus on a variety of cultures as usual, not only on Americans. “The reason it’s called The Green Card Tour, is because I’ll be getting my Green Card in 2010,” he explains.
His latesest DVD, “Red, White and Brown,” was a huge success but Peters is still not sure when he’ll release new material. “I’m trying to figure that out. We taped a lot of the shows across Canada this past summer, but I’m still not sure what we’re going to do for the next DVD,” he says. “I want to make sure that I’m giving the fans the best possible show that I can when I release my next DVD.” Aside from the tour – that stops in the U.S. and Australia in 2010 — Peters reveals to andPOP some exciting news. “I’ve got a few things on the go right now. We’re back into developing a sitcom and there are a number of different opportunities being presented to me these days,” he shares. “We haven’t cracked series television yet, but that’s okay because some of the stuff that’s come my way hasn’t necessarily been that good, so I’d rather wait until it’s right. It’s not a race.” He’s also working on a few other things for Showtime and a book for Canada. “Canada is all about a variety of cultures – it’s one of the things that makes us great,” says Peters. “I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am if I’d have grown up in any other country, including the States.”
For Peters, the best and only way to celebrate his anniversary is to be out on the road doing what he does best: making people laugh. “Just doing what I’ve been doing for the past 20 years, getting on-stage and performing,” he says of how he’s celebrating. “Only now it’s arenas instead of biker bars for 50 bucks in London, Ontario.”
MAHARAJAH’S TREASURES COME TO TORONTO …..
By Martin Knelman THE STAR
Rudyard Kipling put it this way: “God created the maharajas so that mankind could have the spectacle of jewels and marble palaces.”
A dazzling collection of those fabled treasuresis coming to Toronto, the Star has learned. “Maharaja: The Splendour of India´s Royal Courts” – a blockbuster exhibition that has recently been drawing 10,000 visitors a day in London – will open at the Art Gallery of Ontario on Nov. 20 for a three-month stay, occupying the same exhibition space as the current King Tut show. That means Canadians don´t have to go to India to see the sumptuous paintings, jewellery and furniture of court life, where the decadent ruling class had an appetite for extravagance that knew no bounds.
They won´t even have to go to London, where this blockbuster exhibition closed last month after an extended run at the very high-toned Victoria & Albert Museum, or Munich, where the show transferred last week. The word “maharaja” conjures an image of turbaned, bejewelled rulers enjoying fairy-tale wealth and power, smoking their hookahs while inhabiting a dreamlike land of endless luxury and indulgence, where the daily parade included coloured silk and opulent jewels. “We are extremely excited to be bringing this sumptuous exhibition to Toronto,” says Susan Bloch-Nevitte, executive director of public affairs for the AGO. “We will be providing more details about it in the near future.”
Of course, many people regard the maharajas as spoiled playboys who were more interested in surrounding themselves with priceless objects symbolizing their status than they were in developing their constituencies or improving the lives of their subjects. And as their powers waned, they were scorned by both the Victorian rulers who gradually reduced their powers and by the nationalists who persuaded Britain to give up what had long been regarded as the jewel in the imperial crown. For the maharajas, the end came with the creation of modern India and Pakistan after Britain granted independence in 1947. Rather than limit itself to seducing museum visitors with fabulous treasures, the exhibition places these objects in context while offering a history lesson, charting the rise and fall of the maharajas between the early 18th century and the mid-20th century.
The story begins with the fall of the Mughal empire, circa 1707, which led to a deteriorating central government and the rise of many local kings presiding over small states. It goes on to examine the gradually shifting relationship between the British and these local rulers, who were slowly reduced from kings to privileged puppets during the Victorian age. Theoretically, the British ruled only three-fifths of India. But as the balance of power shifted, the princes who presided over the rest of the country, collecting taxes and clinging to their privileges, had to depend on the willingness of the British to let them carry on. As the years went on, the British interfered more in the daily affairs of states belonging to the princes, imposing western taste on them and deposing rulers they considered unsuitable. Here´s a telling status symbol. Queen Victoria was accorded a salute of 101 guns and other members of the royal family 31 guns. But the princes rated only nine to 21 guns, depending on how they were ranked. But as this exhibition demonstrates, there is no denying the maharajas left behind an array of beautiful objects to keep the world swooning long after their glory days ended, even if their legacy of spectacular treasures became fodder for group tours and palaces converted into hotels.
Three men were discussing at a bar about coincidences. The first man said, ” my wife was reading a “tale of two cities” and she gave birth to twins”. “That’s funny”, the second man remarked, “my wife was reading ´the three musketeers´ and she gave birth to triplets” The third man shouted, “Good God, I have to rush home!”. When asked what the problem was, he exclaimed, ” When I left the house, my wife was reading Ali baba and the forty Thieves”!!!
AND ON THAT HUMOUROUS NOTE DEAR READERS, ENJOY THIS EDITION. TILL WE MEET AGAIN, HAVE LOVELY DAYS!…………..Lynne