Even a schoolboy knows that Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo by the Duke of Wellington. But how many of us know that Wellington spent his youth at Fort St. George, Madras (modern Chennai)? Continue reading The Sepoy General who defeated Napoleon
Between the 16th and 18th centuries many Europeans arrived in India to do business and set up colonies. But most never learnt any Indian languages. How did they get along? Continue reading The Dobash who deposed the French Governor
This abandoned building partially hidden away by trees, sits quietly forgotten in a corner in the Fort area of Mumbai. Right opposite The Cathedral & John Connon School, the building with a fading sign-board tells you that this is the Parsi Lying-in hospital. What is its story? Continue reading Bombay in the making: Parsi Lying-in hospital
The year was 1616. The Dutch and the English were bringing home shiploads of goods from the mystical lands of the east. News of India’s riches had spread like wildfire in Europe and everyone wanted to get on the next ship to this golden land. So, by order of the King of Denmark and Norway, admiral Ove Gjedde did just that. The journey however, turned … Continue reading Against all odds: The Danes in Tranquebar
The French have been credited with inventing the most marvellous things including Asprin and Hot Air Balloons. But when it comes to French Toast the credit appears to lie somewhere else entirely. Where exactly? Your guess is as good as mine. Or it could be Ancient Rome, anywhere between the 1st and the 8th centuries. Somewhere within these 800 years, a compilation of Roman recipes … Continue reading Not so French Toast
The best way to reach Sadras, is to get lost on your way from Chennai to Mahabalipuram or Pondicherry. I, on the other hand, have lived near Sadras Fort all my life. For years, I passed by its walls on my way to and from school. The 17th century fort, was just part of the background. Visiting it never struck me as something to do. … Continue reading Sadras Fort – Losing the battle to obscurity
Temple gopurams and church spires dot Chennai’s skyline, side by side, bearing witness to the centuries old coexistence of Hinduism and Christianity. Christianity reached India over 2000 years ago. But how did something that started somewhere around modern day Palestine, gain such a strong foothold in ancient India? The long saga of Christianity in India, according to Christian tradition, began with St. Thomas, one of … Continue reading Chennai’s 2000 year old Christian legacy
The sun may rise in Chennai, when it will, but morning only arrives with the first whiff of coffee. Chennai’s affair with filter coffee or Kaapi is old news. Tamilians met coffee somewhere around the 19th century, fell head over heels and have stayed very much in love since. The mighty bean, despite what some coffee lovers will tell you, is not indigenous to India. … Continue reading Chennai’s Kaapiright? – The true origins of coffee
Many years ago, on this day, a city was born. A city called by various names, that grew voraciously and, we believe, well. A city that houses the intelligentsia of the country and one that drives the race for many an invention and innovation. A city that has its roots in strong classical tradition, and yet pushes full steam ahead towards a new tomorrow. A … Continue reading What do you make of Chennai?
‘Chennai is a grand city where tradition and modernity co-exist. Well, that’s what everyone says, the guides… the books… the articles… generally every Chennai-vaasi. And that probably is also the impression that most visitors carry back with them today. But what about those who visited many eons ago? Many have come to these shores across centuries, some to visit, some to stay on. How might … Continue reading What did they see in Chennai?