Sikhs in Shanghai Flickr Photostream Monday, Apr 21 2014 

On my Facebook page, Twitter and now Flickr, the Sikhs in Shanghai visual history (and some other odds & ends, too) continues.


Please check at

Sikhs in Shanghai on Scroll Tuesday, Apr 15 2014 

My piece on Sikhs in Shanghai was published on Scroll website. Here’s the link to the article:



Wait for me! At the Shanghai racecourse – 1940s Monday, Mar 11 2013 

Wait for me! At the Shanghai racecourse - 1940s

Shanghai racecourse – 1940s

Shanghai Municipal Archives Friday, Mar 1 2013 

During my 2 year stay in Shanghai, the highlight definitely was discovering the obscure story of the Sikhs in Old Shanghai. With much trepidation, I navigated my way to Shanghai Municipal Archives (SMA)- this was my first attempt at researching untold histories. But, the smattering of Mandarin & pinyin I’d picked up during my stay came in handy –  the staff was all businesslike,complying to this laowai’s incessant requests in a polite fashion. My time in SMA was now spent wheeling through the microfilms and figuring out how to unroll the reel from the spool and position it in the right fashion on the viewer machine, so that the content was not upside down. Clearly, I was source of endless mirth to one SMA security guard. My weak attempts though laid the foundation for a peculiar researcher-overseer friendship. Initially, he would lecture me, guide and demonstrate the correct technique. But, soon as familiarity grew, I was given the royal treatment. As soon a I sat with the U1 discs, preparing myself to jot down or print the contents, this gentleman would appear automatically by my side and take over. At first it was a tad bit aggravating but then I realized it was working to my advantage. The SMA printer breaks down every hour and on the hour – and minute I showed my frustration, the good ol’ security guard was back, instructing the front desk staff to notify the printing company technician. And, sure enough by afternoon the technician would unplug the overworked printer, lift the lid, inspect the ink ribbon and get to work. It would be fixed for that day and my printing would proceed at a comfortable pace. Not smoothly but it was better than writing or typing gazillions of data. It was a time saver.

Navigating the archives for images is a different story. Most images are  categorized according to some logic – hard for me to say what that is. Meaning, searches based on a simple and straightforward database query will yield incomplete results. Sorry my database programming slip is showing – but eventually I had to resort to wildcard %like% characters or parsed data subsets.  I don’t have a basis for comparison though.- I haven’t sifted through reams of information elsewhere like  say the UK National archives. It would make for an interesting study – a laywoman’s perspective.

Sikh Police race Tuesday, Feb 26 2013 

Sikh Police Race

Sikh Police Race

c.1897 Queen’s diamond jubilee celebration in Shanghai.

Captain E.I.M. Barrett, Shanghai Municipal Police(S.M.P.) Sunday, Feb 10 2013 

Cricketer magazine

1940s Cricketer magazine featuring an article by Barrett

One key figure in Sikhs in Shanghai saga was Captain E.I.M.Barrett, a prolific English sportsman – cricketer, golfer, rugby player.In charge of the Sikh contingent(1908-1925)  he was later promoted to Commissioner of S.M.P. But his S.M.P.commissioner tenure(1925-1929) in Shanghai came to an abrupt end as he was forced to resign. More research needs to be done on the reasons for it – one being an investigative report submitted by his successor on police methods. But here’s a little known fact – Barrett authored a book titled ‘Drums of Asia’ under the pseudonym Charles Trevor. A fictional account of the WWI in Mesopotamia. The book seems to be a rare item and available only in university libraries.

More information on the book soon. It may not be about Shanghai but leads to the question – Did he write any book on Shanghai? Time and research will tell.

Read the updated blog post by clicking this link.

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