Srinivas Ram Wagel Monday, Dec 23 2013 


Srinivas Ram Wagel,a Tamilian from India was the editor (financial department) for North China Daily News in Old Shanghai. Author of several finance books (including one on China) and journal articles, he migrated to USA , probably around WW1. He contributed many finance related articles for The New York Times. In the Hindu-German conspiracy trial, he was accused of taking money for Hindu uprisings. He denied the charges and was later exonerated. He died in 1940.

Now, if only there was more information available on his Old Shanghai sojourn!!

Desmond Power and the Tianjin gurdwara Tuesday, Aug 20 2013 

Recently, I posted on the Tientsin gurdwara, established for the Sikh policemen in the former British concession. The gurdwara that really no one knows about or has escaped notice like so many histories in Old China. Based on archival notes, I was aware that there was a Sikh temple in Tientsin. Maps, J J Singh of Kapurthala’s book provide sufficient evidence of a gurdwara’s existence in Tientsin, today’s Tianjin.

By sheer stroke of luck, my post on Parsees in Old China helped me connect with Angela Elliot. She knew the DhunjiShah family from Tientsin. She also knew Desmond Power. Long story short, Desmond Power actually knew of the Tientsin Sikh temple and had mentioned it in passing in his book, Little Foreign Devil. He didn’t know much about the temple, except that it had a Sikh guard at the entrance. In one of the photographs (from his own collection)  there is the fuzzy yet undeniable evidence of the Sikh emblem flag post.  In a generous gesture, for which I am deeply grateful, Desmond Power furnished a sketch of the Sikh Temple’s whereabouts (See map below).

Tracing the gurdwara is a herculean task in itself, especially given the fact that old buildings in China have been demolished in the name of modernization,   but I am optimistic more information is available somewhere. Similarly for the Hankow Sikh temple. As long as we have an inkling we can rebuild the Sikh and Indian history in Old China.

Map drawn by Desmond Power

Map drawn by Desmond Power

Hong Kong Constabulary Friday, Apr 19 2013 

Hong Kong Constabulary

In front of Central Police station. source: internet.

Boxer Rebellion, China Tuesday, Apr 2 2013 

Boxer Rebellion, China

                                                                                  A Bengal Lancer and a captive Boxer

Lascars or Seamen and Anglo-Indian English word – ‘Hobson-Jobson’ Wednesday, Mar 6 2013 

Lascars or Seamen

Lascars were maritime laborer primarily from British India employed in British, Australian and other steamers, in the engine room under inhuman conditions. c.1931 pic rehearsing for a festival curiously named ‘Hobson-Jobson’.

In Anglo-Indian English, ‘Hobson-Jobson refers to festival or entertainment.  British Indian Muslim soldiers mourning during Moharram procession , beating their chests would cry out ‘Ya Hussain.’  The clueless British folks corrupted the term to Hosseen Gosseen, Hossy Gossy, Hossein Jossen, and ultimately Hobson-Jobson.

I remember during my school days in Dehradun, India where ‘Darwaza bund karo’ – in Hindi meaning ‘close the door’  was converted to ”There was a brown crow’ by Anglo-Indians in the neighborhood. And, ‘darwaza khol do, i.e. ‘open the door’  was ‘There was a cold day’ – nothing to do with grammar but few instances of Anglo-Indian colloquialism.

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