George Town’s Light and Shadow

Chapter 4, Part 17 The 19th century in South Asia. It was a period of time in history when the British consolidated their colonial possessions in the Indian subcontinent. What started out as mere trade missions in the early 17th century, became a vast colonial […]

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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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Medan: From Deli to Tjong A Fie

Chapter 4, Part 13 In politics there are no permanent friends or enemies, only interests. This has been repeatedly proven in the history of relations among nations where two unlikely partners often formed alliances to defeat their common rival. The Dutch East India Company (VOC) […]

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The Faces of Banda

Chapter 4, Part 10 Blessed with fertile soils and pristine waters, which at one point in history turned out to be a curse, the Banda Islands today is a place where avid divers go for its world-class reefs (the islands lie at the heart of […]

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The Banda Islands: Land and Sea

Chapter 4, Part 9 We were in the middle of the Banda Sea, the deepest body of water in Indonesia with some parts going as deep as 7,000 m. The violent waves reared up the small boat, filled with Fiona from the Netherlands, Torben from Germany, […]

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Run for Manhattan

Chapter 4, Part 8 Among the remote islands of the Bandas, Run (Rhun) is situated at the westernmost corner of the chain, some two hours away by a small boat from Banda Neira – the most populated of the Banda Islands. Like its sisters to […]

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Islands that Changed the World: the Bandas

Chapter 4, Part 7 In the 16th century, upon the discovery of direct sea routes from Europe to the Spice Islands, Portugal and Spain asserted their dominance in the world’s spice trade which for centuries were traditionally controlled by the Javanese, Indian, Arab, Persian and […]

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Ambon: Colonialism, Peace and Music

Chapter 4, Part 6 In 1512 the Portuguese successfully reached the fabled Spice Islands after decades of sea explorations and conquests in the Indian Ocean. Ambon (Amboina), Ternate, as well as the Banda Islands were the main ports of call for the Portuguese in the […]

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