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Tag Archives | World War II

Indian History Carnival–77: Cultural Treasures, Maratha and Deccani Paintings, Ehrenfels, Margaret Lee Weil

  1. As the new government has taken over, Vijay makes an important point that it should pay attention to safeguarding India’s national treasures and in recovering it from around the world.
  2. The Asian and African studies blog has Part 2 of the Maratha and Decaani paintings.

    The remaining five paintings in the album are all from a large Hyderabad-type series of the Rasikapriya, the classic text by Keshavdas on Hindi poetics that the author wrote at Orccha in 1594 for Kunwar Indrajit Singh, the brother of the ruler Raja Ram Shah of Orccha (1592-1605). Although a literary work, it was written in the context of the Vaishnava revival in northern and western India in the 16th century. Keshavdas took the love of Krishna and Radha out of the pastoral settings of the Gita Govinda and placed it in a courtly ambience. He used their relationship to explore all the different kinds of literary heroes and heroines and the erotic sentiment (sringara rasa) in all its variety

  3. The 1980 Gregory Peck movie, The Sea Wolves, was based on an attack on a German ship which had been trasmitting information to U-boats from Goa. Maddy goes behind that story and writes about the The Story of Ehrenfels at Goa

    The story of these four ships and their crew is what this is all about and one which was kept secret by the British and Indian governments until 1978. Interesting, right? Well, that it certainly was and as we unfold events around this story, we will travel down from Assam to Calcutta, then to Cochin and finally north to Goa. We will meet many nationalities, Indians, Germans, Brits and what not. As events turned out, the previously introduced motely group called the Calcutta Light horse were to get connected to this somewhat important operation of the SOE in India.

  4. In 1952, Margaret Lee Weil reached India to write about and photograph a man she admired – Jawaharlal Nehru. India Ink blog has an entry on her trip following Nehru and Indira on their vacation in the valley of Kashmir.

    Ms. Weil asked Mr. Nehru if she could take pictures of him for Collier’s, an American magazine. “I don’t care who takes my pictures as long as they don’t get in my way,” he snapped, according to one entry. A 34-year-old Indira Gandhi, according to Ms. Weil, had “long dark hair and a narrow sensitive face – a double of her father’s.” Mr. Nehru, in Ms. Weil’s words, appeared “every inch the statesman,” and “amazingly youthful for a man in his sixties.”

That’s it for this month. The next carnival will be up on July 15th. Please send your nominations to varnam.blog @gmail

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How Curious George escaped Hitler

Curious George is a popular story book for children written by  Hans Augusto Rey and Margret Rey. George is a monkey and lives with “The Man with The Yellow Hat” in a big city. In the first book, published in 1939, he was not called George, but Fifi. In 1940 Nazi Germany occupied three fifths of France and the authors of George being Jews had to think of their survival.

The Reys took the manuscript and cycled from Paris for three days. Eventually they reached Orleans and by taking a few trains they went across Spain and Portugal. From Lisbon they took a ship to South America and reached Rio de Janeiro. Two months later they boarded a ship for United States and reached New York City.

George found fame in America and later he became an animated series on PBS.  Without the help of Curious George in keeping few enquiring monkeys busy,  the posting frequency on this blog would have been much less.

(Pictures from a Curious George exhibit)

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Briefly Noted: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

He competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and had his picture taken with Hitler. In the war that followed, he was shot down over the Pacific and he spent 47 days on a raft drifting aimlessly, surviving Japanese planes and sharks. For the next two years he was tortured by a sadist Japanese prison guard. Any normal person would have died, but Louis Zamperini survived all that to tell his tale. Unfortunately he became an evangelical, but somehow that saved him, his marriage and sanity.

The author does not simply follow Zamperini’s life, but also keeps track of the torturer Mutsuhiro Watanabe who survived the war and the hunt for war criminals. He was alive till 2005 and there was a possibility of both of them meeting again in Japan. But that never happened as Watanabe backed out.

This book is an example of what a great non-fiction writer can do; the research just blends into the story telling. Within the structure of a biography, Laura Hillenbrand introduces suspense and lots of history. This is one of the most powerful books I have read recently.

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