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Showing posts from November, 2015

The Cochin Jews in Israel

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At the turn of the twentieth century, the Pardesi and the Malabari Jews around Cochin were a reasonably content lot. But as days went by and as the only country which never persecuted the Jews, became independent from the British, the entire Jewish community of the region started to leave on their Aliyah or calling. Today there is less than a handful left. Books have been written about them, anthropologist studies have been completed and films have been made. People who arrived in Israel wrote books of their past in Kerala and their present, while others wrote about them and a few still trickle back to see their old homes in India and satisfy their last longings before they move on to the next world. Why did this all happen? Whatever happened to the people who left? We track regularly the stories of Indians who moved to USA, Europe and the Middle East Arab countries, but there are so few references about these Malayalees in Israel. Are we upset with them, perhaps the Malayali ego is …

Because what you read matters…

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Allen Lane, Pelican, Penguin and Krishna Menon
Was Allen Lane responsible for the animosity Krishna Menon had against Britain and for that matter against other Western countries?  What exactly was their relationship and for that matter the exact involvement of Menon with the paperback empire of Allen Lane? This had intrigued me for some time, so I got to work unearthing the details. It was an interesting journey, to say the least.
The story actually starts in Britain, during the second decade of the 20th century, with two high school going brothers Richard and Allen Williams, the latter being the older one by 3 years. The elder who had some aversion to sports, got involved in various kinds of mischief as the younger took to cricket. They were nephews of John Lane Senior who owned a reputed book firm named Bodley Head (named after Sir Thomas Bodley), which had been publishing among others, Oscar Wilde since 1887.
John Lane had a falling out with his partner Elkin Mathew and after the …

The East India Traders of Old Salem

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And the first Indian in Salem…..
Most people have concentrated on the connections India had with Britain in the centuries and decades leading eventually to Indian Independence. However, for a brief period of time, there existed a robust amount of trade between the American state of Massachusetts and India. Bombay, Calcutta and Madras were the destinations of choice to some of the early merchant sailors of the cities of Salem and Boston. While they traded in traditional items such as textiles, spices and so on, these ships even went on to carry exotic items like ice from the Walden pond across the wide oceans, a topic I had written about earlier. The time period between 1780 and 1850 was a time when the sea routes to India were shared by the Americans. And that was also the time when the first Indians visited America.
The British East India Company started trading with Indian merchants at the start of the 17th century and were in joint control of the sea coasts of India, though sharing…