Tranquebar is a small town in India. More specifically, it’s a small town in Tamil Nadu. In and of itself it isn’t all that remarkable. There are a lot of towns in India, many smaller than Tranquebar, many more towns vastly larger. What makes Tranquebar interesting is that it was once a Danish trading outpost. Denmark had great ambitions, but little ability to really force their will on anyone. Denmark’s colonial holdings were, thus, modest. Denmark was among the first countries with overseas colonies to divest itself of them. It sold Tranquebar to the British East India Company in 1845. It sold the Danish West Indies to the United States in 1917 when they became the United States Virgin Islands.

Places like Tranquebar interest me. The tiny former Danish outpost is overshadowed by the far greater, more profoundly impactful British legacy. It is even overshadowed by near-by Pondicherry and its French legacy. Portuguese outposts are also far better known. But it exists. There is something distinct about places like that. Whether it’s the Japanese influence on Taiwan, still visible in much of the island’s greatest architectural treasures, its languages and culture or Armenian churches in Singapore, there are less well-known parts of history that are still worth learning about.

I reckon it’s inevitable that I’ve started thinking about things such as this again. It is already March, time has gone by so quickly, it’s going by so quickly. Before I know it, I will once again be facing the Pacific, be looking out over that seemingly endless water. The wide ocean in front of me, the high Sierras behind me, I know I will always look over the water.

Author: Christopher-Dorset

A Bloody Kangaroo

5 thoughts on “Tranquebar”

  1. Good Luck Christopher on your travels… you are far braver than I am!

    I’ve just cancelled my trip to Europe and the UK in May. I do not intend to set foot outside Oz until a great deal more is known about the latest plague to beset humanity.

    There is no way I want to fall ill in Roumania or Croatia – or, even for that matter, the UK. I’ve seen enough of the NHS emergency services – and it was sufficient to make me quit smoking instantly – something I never thought I could do.

    Keep us informed of where you are and how you fare.

  2. Speaking of colonial legacies, I was told that the reason that Indian people speaking English with a Welsh accent, and to my mind they most certainly do, look you, is that there were so many Welshmen involved in building that countries railways. I have no idea if that is true but it sounds plausible and is a story I shall continue to propagate.

    Boadicea, I am going to England in April for two months. I shall let you know if I do not survive.

  3. Boadicea: How as your holiday in India? I’m eager to hear your take. In May, all things being equal, I will fly first to Denmark for a few days to visit an old mate and from there fly to California. Those plans were set last year. At this point, there is little choice but to follow through with them, come what may. I hope to holiday in Africa and Asia next year, but I need to focus on settling down in California this year. I also have little faith in the NHS. Last year I had a very, very minor skin ailment. It was nothing new for me. In the past, I would see my GP and get a prescription for a medical cream and it would be sorted out within days. It took so long to see a GP in the UK that I now have permanent scarring.

    Sipu: That’s a famous old story and an interesting one. I’ve heard it myself. Indians have a variety of accents — Punjabis sound different than Hindi-speakers who sound different than Tamil speakers. Indian languages, Indo-Iranian and Dravidian tend to have a sing-songy rhythm.

  4. Sipu – I can’t say I’ve heard the story about Indians speaking English with a Welsh accent and I certainly did not notice that while I was there – but I suspect that they learnt about cricket from the Raj just as the South Americans learnt about football from the British railway workers there.

    I would prefer to know that you have survived rather than not – I really do not need any more ‘ghosty’ tales to tell.

    Oh dear Christopher! I did say I would write about my India trip – and I will settle down tomorrow to do so…

    … after I have chased down 30 packs of toilet rolls, 20 hand sanitisers, two dozen bars of soap, a full trolley load of Veuve Cliquot and/or red wine, 10 kilos of pasta (despite the fact that I hate the stuff), and I really must outdo the guy who’s bought 192 tins of spam. He doesn’t even like it.

    The panic-buying here has gone crazy. A country that over the so many months has stoically faced some of the worst bush-fires in its recorded history, danced with delight as the rains followed even though that rain has caused massive flooding, has left me totally bemused. I thought Oz was pretty down-to-earth. Clearly I am mistaken.

    My plans to go to Europe were also set last year – but I was rather loathe to sit in a flying tin-can for nigh on 24 hours, spend 10 days on a floating tin-can with the promise that, should I have a high temperature on entering or exiting the said can, I would be locked in my cabin for the duration. Even worse was that I would probably not see all the places that I wanted to see.

    But if I read you right, you are leaving the UK and returning to California. Good Luck!

  5. Boadicea: I’m looking forward to reading what you write.

    It isn’t only Australia! One of my mates live in Fukuoka. My Japanese teacher lives in Chiba Prefecture. My teacher had to drive to 4 shops in order to buy dunny roll. They were sold out at the first three shops. My mate in Fukuoka said much the same. The Japanese are generally calm and collected, but collective panic has struck Japan, too.
    I wasn’t originally intending to move to California. For a time, it felt surreal even thinking about it. But, over the past few months, I’ve come to accept it and almost look forward to it. This winter has been grim and depressing. Last year, I could look forward to going to Singapore and Australia. The year before, I could look forward to flying to California. This year, I was originally planning to fly to Africa but the terrible economy has prevented me from doing that. I had a part-time job locally but left it due to a change in management and the inevitable fact that I was part of the old order and could not fit into the new management’s master plan. I put in over 70 applications but wasn’t even offered an interview. Between the financial pressures, the rising cost of living, the poor weather and the inability to do anything with myself my current situation proved to be completely untenable. Who knows what will come in California. I certainly don’t, but it’s a risk that needs to be taken. Naturally, I’ve made contingency plans to have a place to return to should things not turn out in California.

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