Relics of the Raj
Narayanan, P. R. Krishna, Contemporary Review
All Souls Day -- 2nd November 1993
A good plan to learn of the history of an Indian town or city to which you are new is to make a bee-line to its British cemetery. Almost all major towns of India have one or two. You can get a clear idea of the people who lived and worked there in days gone by. What is past is prologue. You could therefore, gain an insight into the sort of men and women who moulded and shaped its civic infrastructure and its educational infrastructure. This approach to history is, apparently, unknown even to many well educated Indians.
No doubt, you ought to read the epitaphs earnestly at leisure for an hour or two: get back home to ponder. Take notes undoubtedly, whilst you move round and through the graves, tombs and obelisks. Read up further in a good library and synthesise your understanding. You would note most of the men and women buried would be in the prime of youth and beauty. Besides the English, there would be some American, Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish and other European graves. But the majority in such churchyards are, predictably, British.
India is profusely dotted by British graves and obelisks from Mussorie to Madurai, Calcutta to Calicut. It might cause lively surprise to readers to learn that there is a lone British grave in Lakshadweep where I live and work: that is in little-known Chetlat Islet, an arid little derelict spot indeed. Here is the grave of a Captain Carpenter Primrose of the Vizier wrecked in Cheriyapaniyam in 1853, who stayed here waiting to be taken off. Unfortunately, after …
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Publication information: Article title: Relics of the Raj. Contributors: Narayanan, P. R. Krishna - Author. Magazine title: Contemporary Review. Volume: 264. Issue: 1540 Publication date: May 1994. Page number: 255+. © 1999 Contemporary Review Company Ltd. COPYRIGHT 1994 Gale Group.
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