All posts filed under: India

Here Come the Europeans

Chapter 5, Part 4 Long after being considered merely as medicine, in the 15th century the Europeans’ perception toward spices began to shift as they were used more in local cuisines. Spices added an exotic taste to the continent’s traditional dishes, and demand from royal […]

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Influences from Bharat

Chapter 5, Part 3 At a heritage house in Kumarakom on the bank of Vembanad Lake, a part of Kerala’s iconic backwaters, I discovered one of the biggest surprises during the Spice Odyssey. On the day James and I arrived, we were served several dishes […]

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Kolkata and the British Raj

Chapter 4, Part 25 “As soon as I stepped out of the hotel, beggars swarmed around me,” my aunt recalled. “You think the buses in Indonesia are full, you should see the ones in Kolkata!” my cousin added. They were in India’s third largest city […]

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Thanjavur and the Doctrine of Lapse

Chapter 4, Part 16 Once South and Southeast Asia were lands where Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms and empires, and later Islamic sultanates, conquered one another not only to exert their dominance, but also to control the lucrative spice trade in the region. Then the Europeans […]

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Pondicherry: Vestiges of French India

Chapter 4, Part 15 In 2006 I was in my second year learning French, and like many others who learned the language, I became a Francophile. I spent a considerable amount of time turning the pages of various French magazines and tuning into TV5Monde whenever possible, […]

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Chennai: An Enduring Charm

Chapter 4, Part 14 A string of light emerged on the horizon – scattered yellow speckles suggestive of an incoherent network of offices, houses, temples and roads – forming a boundary against the darkness beyond. The plane made a turn, and more were presented to […]

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Goa and Catholicism in India

Chapter 4, Part 1 For more than a millennium the area known today as Goa had been ruled by different clans, dynasties, kingdoms and sultanates before Vijayanagara took control of it in the 14th century. The once mighty southern Indian empire eventually relented control of […]

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Perceiving Kerala

Chapter 3, Part 3 “If you go to India you have to visit Kerala!” “Why?” “Because it’s God’s Own Country.” Back in 2011 a business consultant from Kochi who worked in Jakarta said that to me over lunch with an evident sense of pride. She […]

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Kochi: From Spices to Kathakali

Chapter 3, Part 2 On the Malabar Coast in the southwestern corner of the Indian subcontinent lie old trading ports which served as the main gateways for ancient traders and explorers, from China to Persia, from Arabia to Europe. Calicut, Quilon and Cochin – modern-day […]

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Vijayanagara: the Legacy

Chapter 2, Part 3 “In this city you will find men belonging to every nation and people, because of the great trade which it has, and the many precious stones there … the streets and markets are full of laden oxen without count, … and […]

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Vijayanagara: the Golden Period

Chapter 2, Part 2 In the 14th century Harihara I established Vijayanagara, a Hindu kingdom which would later become the most powerful empire in the history of South India, and Harihara II – the third king – conquered the Madurai Sultanate and vast swathes of […]

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