Monday, 3 November 2014

Book Review of "Raj days to downunder"


Raj days downunder: voices from Anglo India to New Zealand.  Dorothy McMenamin. Stories derived from oral history interviews by the author.


 
Foreword by Megan Hutching, past president of, National Oral History Association of New Zealand. “The stories in this book together make a mosaic illustrating the experiences of New Zealanders from Anglo India”.

The first story is by and about Wilfred Ainslie {Bill} Barlow from Calcutta.


“Both sets of grandparents were Anglo Indians and both his parents were born in Calcutta. Both parents died young in their 50s. He was an only child brought up by an Ayah and went to boarding school in Kurseong, Darjeeling 6000 ft. up in the Himalayas; a government run fee paying school. For 9 months of the year he was at school and on holidays he spent all is time with the neighbour who he called “Aunty” and her 3 kids who were also Anglo Indian.

Later he trained as an engineer apprentice in Calcutta, a course called BOAT (Board of Apprentices Training).   After passing this course he went and worked for Kharagpur Railways, it was while he was there that Pre-Partition or Indian Independence occurred across India. The first he knew about it was when he and three mates got a few days off they hopped a train to Calcutta getting off at Howrah Station, a normally busy, busy station… but when they arrived it was deserted and on walking back towards home they discovered there was no traffic on the roads either, a truly frightening experience for them.

He then went to England to do his Engineering ticket, he found he fitted in well as he had been brought up the British way. On returning to India he ended up working for a steam-shipping company and this was his introduction to other steam-ship companies from around the world. He saw an advert for a job in NZ for the Union Steamship Co. applied and was accepted. He and his wife arrived in NZ in 1971 and have lived here ever since.

You can read this and other interesting stories of some 27 other Anglo Indians from all regions of India in this book, borrowable from New Zealand Collection on the 2nd Floor or Rotorua District Library. At 993.004914z RAJ