Archive for April 17th, 2012

The Glass Palace and the Trail of the Last King of Burma

April 17, 2012 in Uncategorized | Comments (9)

 

 

Dear Dr. Amitav Ghosh,

I presume you must be getting a lot of fan mail, my mail is no different.

Ever since I got hold of The Hungry Tide (while on a visit to Calcutta), I have been reading your books. I’ve not read all your books but I’m reading them in intervals, else I would have read them all.

I was so enamored and griped while reading The Glass Palace, that I took off , the next weekend to Ratnagiri from Bombay. I had, vaguely known that King Thibaw was exiled to Ratnagiri by one of my friends from Assam, many many years ago. But the catalyst was your wonderful book. I was driven to seek out the story for myself.

I looked up the Kings descendents Chadrakant Pawar (Chandu),

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

chatted with him and his family, to get to know a bit more of this forgotten tale, visited the Palace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and also the royal tombs.

 

 

 

 

 

What a joy to experience all this right from your book.

 

 

 

I thank you for this interesting journey. After my visit, a clearer picture emerged of the story. But I was saddened by the plight of the Kings descendents, there was nothing in it for them, being of blue blood, such is life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have the time, please have a look at some of the photos of my Ratnagiri visit.

I very very eagerly await more and more books from you. 2012 will be dedicated to reading all your books, which now very few remain unread.

 

 

Inscription: Royal Tombs, Ratnagiri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My name is Gauraang and I work for the Economic and Political Weekly in the commercial section. You had published an article in the EPW sometime back.

Best

Gauraang

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear Gaurang

Thanks so much for this generous letter! It’s wonderful to know that the book inspired you to visit Ratnagiri. I really liked the town – did you visit BG Tilak’s birthplace?

 

 

 

It’s a beautiful Konkani house.

I should tell you though (but perhaps you already know this) that the King did not live in the present day ‘Thebaw Palace’ for long. He spent most of his time in Ratnagiri in Outram House, at the other end of town.

You’ll be glad to know that an excellent account of the Burmese royal family’s years in exile is soon to be published. It is by Sudha Shah – I am just reading the proofs. I will soon review it on my blog [posted on April 12].

Speaking of which, would you mind if I posted your letter on my blog? If you send me jpgs of some of your pictures I could post those too.

I am glad to know that you work at the EPW. It is an extraordinary publication – and Ram Reddy is an old friend of mine.

With my best wishes

Amitav

 

 

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Dear Dr. Amitav Ghosh,

What a delight to receive your email. It would be a privilege for me, to have my letter on your blog. I’m sending a few photos along with this mail.

No, I did not get a chance to see Tilak’s house, I will surely do so on my next visit. The time I went, was just with a singular purpose of finding anything about King Thibaw in Ratnagiri.

I did know, that the King did not spend much time in the present Thibaw Palace, but is not the present day Outram House, the residence of the District Collector, just a short distance from the Palace. There is even a “point” opposite the Collectors residence called Thibaw Point.

Thank you for informing me about Sudha Shah’s work on the Burmese royal family’s years in exile, I will be looking forward to that.

Many in India know about Bahadur Shah Zafar, being exiled to Rangoon, but very few know about the Burmese King being exiled to India. You might be surprised, in Assam, my friend tells me, King Thibaw’s exile was a chapter in their history syllabus.

Thank you once again for the wonderful books.

Regards,

Gauraang

 

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