british rule, Calcutta, General ramblings, History, Independence, India, Life, Thoughts

The Pre-Independence Calcutta

I was lucky enough to stumble upon these pictures while roaming around the internet. This collection is a rare gem for people who’ve ever lived in Calcutta. Nothing seems to have changed, except for the model of the cars and the crowd on the streets. And the color and quality of the pictures. I wish I could go back in time and live in that era. Everything becomes history, even before we realize it.

These photos were taken by Frank Short, an American serviceman, while in Calcutta and Madras in 1944. He was on duty in the Burma theatre during World War II.

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Anne Frank, Cartoons, Entertainment, General ramblings, History, Life, Thoughts

Update of Sorts

I have been busy with some stuff before I graduate- watching movies, reading books (non-business types)- no seriously!

I didn’t want to watch Babel because of the hype surrounding it, but it was actually a very good movie. Brad Pitt looks convincing as an American tourist caught in Morocco. Cate Blanchett looks average…well…only if she were more beautiful. After the Wedding won lots of nominations (including Academy Awards Best Foreign Film of the Year, 2007) and awards. By the way, there are some great movies that win the Oscar (like Chariots of Fire) and there are some really BAD ones (for example- Crash). Fans of the latter movie- please don’t start abusing me. I have seen better stuff- at least that’s what I think. For the life of me, I can’t explain why a movie such as Little Miss Sunshine would be nominated in the Best Film Category. Thank God it didn’t win. Anyway, what I wanted to say is that I really don’t care about the Academy Awards.

Let me jump to another topic now because I like being random in life. I have been reading a graphic novel called Maus. It’s written by Art Speigelman and is a true story, based on his father’s life during the Holocaust. Vladek is the main protagonist, who loses everyone except his wife. Later in life, he turns very miserly and keeps the stove on all the time because the electricity is included in the rental bill. Besides, it helps him save match sticks (the wooden kinds)! What sets this apart from many other Holocaust stories is the fact that humans have been portrayed as rats and Nazis as cats, which reminds me of The Animal Farm written by George Orwell, which was a satire on the Soviet Union. The name of the characters are also non-fictitious. America has a special fascination for World War II. It seems to have rubbed off on me too. I love watching all kinds of Holocaust movies and reading many Holocaust books.

Here is a scene from the novel, in case you’re interested:

General ramblings, History, Indian Politics, YouTube

Growth of the Mughal Empire

I found a video on Youtube that shows the gradual change in the span of the Mughal Empire from 1500 A.D till 1900 A.D.

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General ramblings, History, Indian Politics

Video of Indian Independence in 1947

I got this video while rummaging through youtube as usual. I found it quite interesting. While the video does speak about the Indian Independence, it still leaves many a truth unsaid. Please take a look before reading my comments:

While it is surprising that India had a population of 400 million even in 1947 (US has a population of about 380 million NOW), what is even more surprising for me is that the journalist mentions some key points which tell the true only partially.

……British gave india law and order, they built the railways, they irrigated the lands….

I feel that this sentence is pretty biased against the country. The Moghul Empire did have weaknesses of its own. The British were smart enough to exploit those and enter into a good deal. What is not acceptable to me is the statement “They built the railways, they irrigated the lands”…Yes, the British did built the railways, but the railways also helped Britain economically. The higher posts in the Railways were open only to the Britishers. Indians were given all kinds of odd jobs. Besides, taxes were increased, lots of land was also also taken away from poor farmers. They were to be given away to the State “voluntarily”.

Who do you think irrigated the lands? And who do you think paid the zamindari taxes? Whose land was taken away in case the taxes were not paid?

You must have seen the part where they talk about the wide spread famine in India. As many as 7 million lives were claimed each year. It’s ironical that India was a British Colony for about 200 years, yet little was done to improve this situation. But as soon as the country gets independence, everybody starts talking about the lives of the poor farmers and their poverty and how the political leaders need to “rapidly improve rapidly the general standard of living”.

There is another statement in the video:

…To people like these, the word freedom is empty; democracy is just a word unheard by the majority…

Do you think this is justified? I don’t think that the word “deomocracy” was unheard by anybody, least of all by people who have lived under colonialism for 200 years.

…Britain has fulfilled her mission. It is for India to make her destiny…

What mission are they talking about here? I didn’t really get it.

I haven’t detailed my views here to hurt anybody’s sentiments. I feel that this is a sensitive issue and I have a right to comment and express my viewpoint.

Any thoughts? Do you feel that this video captures the real essence?

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Books, General ramblings, History

Memories of Anne Frank

Anne Frank probably doesn’t even need an introduction. I, for sure, won’t be able to write one. When I was in about 7th grade in school, I read her Diary for the first time. It didnt affect me too much then. Having grown since then, I understand things better and appreciate the lessons taught to mankind by history. It certainly makes me feel lucky for taking birth in a country, where there were no more wars going on. I feel special for living all these years without knowing the misery of staying locked up in a small annex for 25 months, with minimal noise. I can never imagine what life would be if I were sent to a concentration camp, knowing too well that death is not far, and each day should be cherished. Who knows which might be the last?

In my previous post, I mentioned that according to The Guiness Book of World Records, her Diary is the most read in the entire world.

The Official Anne Frank Website takes you on a painful trip to the life and times of Second World War, as seen from the innocent eyes of Anne Frank.

There is too much to write and I couldnt possibly do justice to it in a blog post. Here are some pictures that I liked:

The Hiding Place

The Attic of the Secret Annex

The Attic of the Secret Annex

Anne's Room in the Annex

Anne’s Room in the Annex

The Movable Book Case that covered the Secret Annex

The Movable Book Case that covered the Secret Annex

Jews, who are summoned, receive this document from the Central Office of Jewish Emigration: an exact list of what they are allowed to bring with them. It also indicates when they must depart.

Anne Frank's House in Amsterdam

This hiding place is in a crawl space under the floor.

The Frank Family

The Frank Family

Prisoners working at  Neuengamme concentration camp.

Prisoners working at Neuengamme concentration camp

Prisoners at Bergen-Belson: This is where Anne Frank was sent with her sister Margo

Prisoners at Bergen-Belson: This is where Anne Frank was sent with her sister Margo.

The Nazi’s doctors determine which prisoners will be killed immediately.

“First, Margot had fallen out of bed onto the stone floor. She couldn’t get up anymore. Anne died a day later.”

Janny Brilleslijper provided an eyewitness account of the deaths of Margot and Anne Frank in Bergen-Belsen.

You can also check out the only Moving Image of Anne Frank here

Lastly, the Film Footage of the Chestnut Tree, which was visible from the annex.

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