North Indian temples in Kolkata and Singapore

A temple in Kolkata

I loved this temple in Kolkata. Quiet, well-maintained, it’s a welcome refuge from the world outside. Located on busy Diamond Harbour Road in Kidderpore, it’s an island of tranquillity. There is complete peace as you walk up the long flight of steps from the gate to the interior of the temple.

I was reminded of the Shree Lakshminarayan Temple at Chander Road in Singapore. It is bigger than the Lakshminarayan Temple and the architecture is different too. While the Lakshminarayan Temple is an ordinary-looking house standing on a quiet lane, this temple with its long flight of steps and high dome is clearly a Hindu religious building.

So why did it remind me of the Singapore temple? [Read more...]

The oldest school in Kolkata

St Thomas' School at Kidderpore in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta)

St Thomas’ School is the oldest in Kolkata, says the school website. The school was founded in 1789, just three decades after the British East India Company conquered Muslim-ruled Bengal. The British built the city of Calcutta (now called Kolkata), made it their capital, and extended their rule all across India. It was from Calcutta that Sir Stamford Raffles sailed to Singapore, reaching the island on January 29, 1819. The ship was an East Indiaman named Indiana. [Read more...]

New Year greetings from Kolkata

A lane in Kolkata

Here’s wishing everyone a happy New Year from Kolkata (formerly called Calcutta). Kolkata is a world removed from Singapore though only four and a half hours away by plane. There are still plenty of old buildings in the lanes and streets of Kolkata. Public buses and trains are overcrowded. So people want their own cars. And that adds to the congestion. Home to nearly five million people, Kolkata is almost as populous as Singapore, but with very little greenery, narrow, congested roads, it seems even more overcrowded. [Read more...]

BBC reports what I wrote on my blog

I just heard a BBC correspondent report what I wrote on my blog. Reporting from New Delhi, the BBC correspondent said some analysts and commentators have compared the protests following the death of a Delhi gang-rape victim to the stir over the death of a Tunisian hawker that led to the Arab Spring. I compared the protests in India to what happened in Tunisia.

I wrote that while the 23-year-old medical student gang-raped on a public bus in Delhi was undergoing treatment in a Singapore hospital. I did not know then news analysts and other commentators were also saying the same thing.

In fact, I was so scared after publishing that post that I removed it yesterday.  This is not a political blog. I don’t want to get into hot water. But the protests following the horrific rape, reported across the world, reminded me how the Arab Spring started. And so I wrote it. Now that the BBC has reported others have also drawn the same comparison, I have restored the post. The BBC correspondent must have read others who made that comparison; my blog could not have popped up on the BBC radar.

I have great respect for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the ruling Congress party leader, Sonia Gandhi. But people are naturally appalled by the brutal rape. The Indian armed forces, to their credit, have cancelled New Year’s Eve parties and others in India are also doing the same as a mark of respect to the young woman.