Aug 31, 2010

"He’s so HHHOT..!!"

This whole thing is turning into a mission now. My second visit to the Dutch national archives happened today. I got to meet an in-house VOC researcher at the archives who is an indologist. It was so exciting to discuss about Dutch East India company history and Tuticorin history with him. (Wait! this doesn't have anything to do with the title)

I had requested for some more maps, and was puzzled to see thin but super-long cartons being brought to me later. Each of these maps were vast, being almost 4x3 feet in size! What an experience it was, to feel the antique maps in their original form and texture! I also saw one of those maps in microfiche (micro-reproduction technique of preservation). Just to keep you all intrigued, here’s a section of a map showing Rama's bridge connecting India and Srilanka.

 My passion for the old, started with an interesting incident in childhood. One of my earliest hobbies was coin-collection. I had always been collecting new coins which got released in the year. I was the first one to hold such coins amongst all in my circle. But only later did I realize that my new coin loses its charm the next year, when it’s nothing but a lame coin. It struck to me that the charm and the value of an ancient coin goes higher and higher every day, every year, unlike my today's new coin!

I’ve had several such fads before. Some recent ones were Sithar, Naadi astrology, and Dracula. But these fads never missed to leave a big deal of knowledge-legacy to me. (I’m yet to write about some of these, which I will, soon).

Well, what’s with the title of this post?! Yesterday, I was talking about all this stuff to one of my friends. At one point, I understood that he came to a conclusion that I was a nerd! But he’s mistaken. You know what, the world’s changing. The cute girls of the generation Z would look at such a person and mumble, “Woowww, he’s so HHHOT..!!”.

Aug 29, 2010

I learnt Indian history from the Dutch today!

Dutch East India Company. As this bug bites me more and more every day, I finally ended up travelling to The Hague where the Dutch National Archives is located, which is the treasure house of all the antique VOC records! 

As I entered the building, I felt like setting foot on a venture of a lifetime (like boarding the Titanic! :). I got the 3 historical documents that I had requested for. These were HUGE books, with sizes of around 1 feet x 1.5 feet,and weighing almost 4 KGs each! These were the travel journals prepared by Dutch east India company in circa 1672 (yes, almost 340 year-old books!!). Such a journal was published almost each time when a VOC ship sailed back to Holland. The books I read, had precise details on Dutch occupation in India, with detailed maps of the cities and towns, the culture of the inhabitants, their food habits, the vegetation, etc. etc. It was just mind blowing to see several maps of my birthplace, the port town of Tuticorin (had been spelt as Tute Coryn). [image credits: Nationaal ArchiefOne of the maps shows intricate details of pearl fishermen (Paravas community) displaying oysters in the market, fished from the sea, while some Dutch men stand by. It also shows a VOC ship supervising the fishing activities. Sea farers diving into the sea for pearl fishing can also be seen- and much more intricate details that today’s Tuticoriners would not even know that these existed here! 

Well, Tuticorin is just one place where the VOC had a trading post. I also saw several maps, and records of Masulipatnam (Machilipatnam), Pulicat (Pazhaverkadu), Negapatnam (Nagapattinam), Cotchin (Cochin), Covelang (Kovalam), and many more places. And remember, today’s India was not the only country under the VOC. Cities like New Amsterdam (New York city), Cape of Good Hope (Cape Town), Batavia (Jakarta, Indonesia) were too!

Here’s a VOC map of port town Tutecoryn (1672) and a Google map of today’s Tuticorin city (2010). I still like the VOC map of Tutecoryn much more, with its beautifully illustrative and intricate details! 

View Larger Map

Well, we must not forget the most important thing here- 400 years ago, our place’s map had been drawn by a European company, and today, our place’s map is being created by an American company. 
What are WE doing????? It’s heart-breaking indeed.

Aug 26, 2010

Dead Dutch men and My VOC coins?

As I just wake up from a long slumber of 3 years, there are many intriguing events happening in my life these days, motivating me to write more. During the day when I purchased VOC coins from the old coins shop, I wondered about the source of those coins. When I asked the staff, he said, those coins were from Indonesia (former Dutch East Indies). He added, “These coins had been kept on the eyes of the dead Dutchmen when they were buried in the graveyard. Now that renovations are happening in modern day Indonesia, these graveyards are being dug out and demolished, and that's how we get these coins”. This was certainly exciting to listen, but was a little creepy too..

More research on this makes things even more interesting. In pre-Christian times, coins were used to be placed with the dead, as payment for Charon, the boatman of the Underworld, who ferried souls across the river Styx to the land of the dead.  And those who could not pay the fee had to wander the shores for a hundred years. So, this should have been practiced by the Dutch too. But, wait, why do Indians follow this tradition?! (I refrain myself from posting an Indian corpse with a coin on the forehead for obvious reasons. It’s very creepy already!) Did European colonialists bring this tradition to India? Or do Greek and Indian mythologies share ideas?

Well, other things apart, the most touching event is that after telling all this story to my dad, he was concerned about the origin of the coin, and advised me to smear some holy ash on it (to ward off any evil!). A doctor of his calibre cannot be superstitious. But his advice was on concern and care for his beloved son! 

Aug 24, 2010

1730 AD Dutch East India coins in Netherlands!

It feels as if it’s been a million years since I blogged. What’s the reason for me to blog again, after 3 long years? Because this day seemed to be a revamp of my coin-collection hobby as a kid!
Though my plan was to buy something else in the market, I inadvertently ran into an old coins shop at Rotterdam (Netherlands). I’ve always loved unearthing an old artifact - painting it in color - trying to bring it into real - and running it vividly in my multi-dimensional exotic mind of imaginative, simulated environment (yeah, it’s a sentence full of metaphors). As I was peeking at the window of this shop- the antique coins yanked me into the shop. I knew definitely that nothing would be affordable inside, but still the pull force was heavy and I yielded to it. I enquired if they have any Dutch East India Company (VOC) coins. (For people for whom Dutch East Indies doesn’t paint a colorful picture on your mind once you hear it, and for the people who think- WTH is that, click over the link). I was brought 5 beautiful teeny VOC coins each minted in circa 1730. I was beaming (automatically). I enquired the price (just for formality, and to cover up the blatant fact that I was just window-shopping). He said it was €350 each. It was expected. But I just enquired if there was any VOC artifact that is of a later period, with a lesser price tag. But there was nothing. I just tried confirming the price again- then I got to understand that it was actually €3 and 50 cents each!!! I was filled with shock and ecstasy. It’s the feeling one may get when he sees his love-proposal get a positive nod, back from his girl! Filled with joy, I picked ‘em all with my two hands and said “You are mine!”. Bought them, and came back home. 

            Well, how did I happen to get them for so less, though being real ones? Is it because I bought them in Netherlands? Or is that because MY OWN legacy is coming back to me?! (Well, enough of imagination, Mr. Hemanth van Tutecorijn!) But of course, this is an awesome start to my research on Dutch East Indies’ occupation in Tuticorin (my birth place) from 1658 to 1825!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...