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Chulia Kampong, Singapore

Looking at Chulia Street off Raffles Place and Boat Quay now, no one would know what it was like before. Chulia Kampong, unlike Kampong Glam, has vanished from the map of Singapore. So I was intrigued by the description given by the Indian writer Amitav Ghosh in his novel, River […]

World War II in books and films

Here's September 1 one day late: September 1, 1939, written by WH Auden in New York when Germany invaded Poland, starting the Second World War. The war produced epic novels and movies. Casablanca was made in 1942, the year America joined the war after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. […]

Sea of Poppies: Riveting history

Englishwomen in the early 19th century bathed only twice or thrice a week in India – and mocked the Indians for bathing every day. The memsahibs – Englishwomen – were bathed in their bathtubs by their maids who soaped and scrubbed them, asking what to them sounded like “Cushy?” “Cushy?” […]

The Fortune of War and The Glass Palace

The Fortune of War was a great read — typical Patrick O’Brian. There are setpiece naval battles, intrigue, romance, all that is a typical of an adventure involving Royal Navy Captain Jack Aubrey and his friend — surgeon and British secret agent Stephen Maturin. They are caught up in the […]