Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Wrapping it up, and a big Thank-You

New Years' Day, 2014. It's time to wrap this blog up.

Firstly, here's a final photo, of me, on elephant-back, taken by Michel Hebert, a Canadian academic I met in Kaziranga National Park (thank you Michel):

And here is a list of all the great people I met, who helped me, who drank with me, and generally confirmed my belief in human nature:

In no particular order -

  • M. Michel Hebert, Kaziranga National Park, Assam. Thank-you for sharing a beer and taking the photo here.
  • Mr Jayanta Kumar Das, Kalaigaon [] []. Thank-you for helping me find what I went to India looking for.
  • Mr Habibur Rahman, Officer in Charge, Kalaigaon Police Station, Kalaigaon, Assam. Thank-you for the amazing help in finding what I came to look for.
  • Mr Kabir Borpatra Gohain, Guwahati, Assam. Thanks for sorting out my phone, and the beers in that really cool bar in Guwahati (and the crazy motorbike ride to get there !).
  • Mr A.S.B. Dutt, Tezpur Station Club, Assam. Thank-you for showing me around and looking through the old records.
  • Sonam, Sonam's Kitchen, Darjeeling, West Bengal. Thanks for the great atmosphere and the great food []
  • Mr and Mrs Darshan Singh Lehl, Darjeeling, West Bengal. Thanks for the chat and the evenings drinking in the Hotel Mohit bar. A bar without beer? 
  • Robbie 
  • Oliver, Anna and Henry, Kolkata, Darjeeling and Delhi. We seemed to have organised a parallel trip! Thank-you for sharing it and the advice in Kolkata, and for spending my birthday evening with Jenny and me at Sonam's.
  • Fiona and Tod (The Beard), Darjeeling Railway Station, West Bengal [], []. Friendly faces at a sort of frustrating time, and the book is great !

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Tezpur Station Club, Assam

The letter to my Great Uncle with details of his father's death was sent on headed paper from Tezpur Station Club. I'm delighted to say that this place still exists, as a club, with what looks like a great bar, and some tennis courts still in use. A very kind gentleman who runs the place (and has worked there since 1963, after time in the Air Force), showed me around.

Kaziranga National Park, Assam

Elephants, One-Horned Rhino, and a glimpse of a Tiger !

Three safaris in one day:

5:15am (yes, really), taken to Kaziranga Central Range, for an Elephant-Back safari. This was brilliant, sat on top of an elephant for an hour (with two other people who I believe we're Finnish), we saw Elephant, Rhinos, Deer & Boar in an hour.

Then, back to the resort for breakfast.

7:45am (yes, really), picked up in a Maruti Suzuki Jeep for a 2 hour safari in the Western Range. Elephant, Deer, and a close encounter with a very large Rhino. Also brilliant ! Interestingly, there's also a guard, armed with a rifle...

Then, back to the resort for lunch.

1:45pm, picked up in the same Jeep, this time for what turned out to be well over 3 hours, on the Central Range. Another armed guard. These are there to protect the visitors, hopefully by scaring any animals thinking of attacking a Jeep, rather than killing anything... This time, we obviously saw Rhino, Elephant, Eagles, Pelicans, Turtles, Kingfisher (not the beer, the bird), Boar... But also a Tiger (or at least the glimpse of a tiger) - brilliant !!

Very, very, tired now. An early night, and back to Guwahati in the morning, via Nagaon.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Trip to Kalaigaon, Assam

A potentially successful day trip to Kalaigaon, about 3 hours drive from Guwahati, led me to a potential site for my Great Grandfather's grave.

I arranged to hire a car and a driver for the day (Sunday, 7th April), and we headed for Kalaigaon. When we got there we stopped at the Police Station to get some advice/directions. This led us on a longish route out of Kalaigaon to what was believed to be the nearest British-era cemetery. It turns out that the villages around Kalaigaon are majority Christian, so there are a number of churches around, some dating back to the British era, some much later. However, none of them have cemeteries with them. Another clue led to a burial site on a tea plantation. The graves had been moved from their original site. Though these graves were the right era, none of them had the right name on. Dead end. Back to Kalaigaon.

This time, at the Police Station, instead of the guys in the "General Room", we were led to the office of the Office in Charge. Now things started to look up. Mr Habibur Rahman sat us down, game us tea, and parathas, and made some calls...

One man who turned up, Mr Jayanta Das, is a journalist who lives in Kalaigaon, who, by an amazing coincidence, had recently begun to search for British-era graves. He had found a site with 4 or 5 plots. They had been buried by mud from the Brahmaputra river flooding as recently as the early 2000's. Previously they'd had a small boundary wall which had fallen into neglect in the 1960's. it sounded promising. After some more journalists turned up and "the letter" had been read out, pictures taken, etc (all in the police station), off we all went. In my car I had the police chief, the journalist, and another very helpful man who's name I never found out.

We came to a tea estate in the town itself, and, after the police chief pulling rank to enter the tea gardens, and all of us climbing over a barbed-wire fence, we walked across a field to the likely burial site. Pictures below.

There were a few people around, who were old enough to remember the cemetery and lived practically next door, or who had worked on the tea estate for a long time. They confirmed the layout of the plot, the existence of 5 graves and the boundary wall, and the timing of the floorings which eventually buried the plots.

So, the likely location of Hamilton Charles Gordon's burial site is: 26° 34.121 N, 091° 58.777 E.

I was then asked to give an interview for the local media, and to pose for photos. I was presented with a traditional Assamese scarf, and a VERY large packet of tea, by the Tea Estate people (very very welcome, thankyou).

Then, we dropped off the police chief, and went to Jayanta's house in the town, for a drink, some food, some pictures, and some Wi-Fi (again, all very welcome, thankyou!) which enabled us to exchange emails, Facebook IDs, Blog URLs etc. and finally, back to Kalaigaon.

I discovered that I'd made it to a local newspaper. I'll post up either a URL or a picture of the article.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Guwahati, Assam

I said goodbye to Jenny at Delhi Airport, she flew home and I flew to Guwahati, the capital of the state of Assam, in North Eastern India. This is where I hope to find my Great Grandfather's grave (see earlier posts), in a village called Kalaigaon, about 3 hours' drive from here.

Because of the militants active in this area (at least, according to a guy from the local AirTel office) mobile phone roaming doesn't work here, so I'm offline except for sporadic Wi-Fi, until or unless the local SIM I've bought gets activated. This is an odd situation for me, as I've not been without a working mobile phone since about 1990! To be honest, I don't like it one bit... I wish I could have brought my satphone, but they're banned in India.

I'm writing this post from the local branch of Café Coffee Day, a little haven of peace we found everywhere we've been so far. The photo is the view from the veranda at the front of the café, over an artificial lake here in Guwahati.

Tomorrow I'm going to Kalaigaon for the day.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Visit to the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort

Yesterday was our last full day in Delhi, and Jenny's last full day in India, we booked an organised trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. The trip also included a guide (who was excellent) and a visit to the Red Fort in Agra, which predates the Taj Mahal and the almost identical Red Fort in Delhi.

Wikipedia entry on Taj Mahal

Here are a few of the far too many pictures I took at the Taj Mahal itself.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

A recursive post - how I'm updating this blog...

I thought I'd note down the tools of the trade for keeping this blog updated.


* iPad (happens to be a 64GB iPad 3 with 3G, not that the 3G is set up but it means the GPS works)
* Canon D600 SLR
* Apple iPad camera kit (basically an SD card reader for iPad)
* the Google Blogger app (I could just use the website but this way I can write posts offline)
* the Apple iPhoto app
* iPad charger and travel adapters
* hotel or café Wi-Fi


1/ Open the Photos app, plug the camera's SD card into the camera kit card reader and plug it into the iPad's dock socket. Pick the photos to download & download them.

2/ create an album for the new photos (makes them easier to find)

3/ open iPhoto and touch up photos as required

4/ save edited photos to the "camera roll"

5/ open the Blogger app

6/ create a new post, write some stuff, add the location (if you're online). Tap the photo button (rather than the camera button), and add some photos from the camera roll, or an album.

7/ Save, then, when happy, Publish

8/ View blog

9/ Hit the Twitter link to share to twitter. The Blogger app itself only supports sharing to Google+.

10/ Bask in the glory, or, at least, order another Kingfisher from the barman (as I'm about to do now)...