My Asian Century

In 1962 I looked at a map and made a choice. The lesson of the map was bleeding obvious even then.


In its own way World War II, during which I was born, spoke the same message: YOU ARE HERE! Get used to it!

So I chose to study Asian History at Sydney University in 1962 with two quite brilliant lecturers, Dr Ian Nish and Marjorie Jacobs. We galloped through China and Japan in two terms (Dr Nish) and India in one (Marjorie Jacobs) and never quite got to South East Asia though I had bought the textbook – D G E Hall in those days. I read it anyway. I wrote essays on Ram Mohun Roy and on the Sian Incident 西安事变. Turned out to be the one and only time I topped a subject at Sydney U!

Then at Cronulla High teaching History, among other things, from 1965 (student teacher) through 1966 to 1969, I always Asianised the curriculum – that is I took time out to make time lines showing, or devote a lesson to, what was happening in India, China, Japan, S-E Asia at the same time as, say, Elizabeth I. Indeed my first history job in 1965 was teaching Indonesian history to a Year 10 class – or 4th Year as we called it then.  And of course in the 1960s Cronulla High was a pioneer Indonesian teaching school – the place where I first heard an anklung orchestra – the school had one – or tasted nasi goreng.

Yes, the 1960s, folks.

And then at TIGS from 1971 to 1974 I taught mainly English, but also for a while I was History coordinator and in addition (under the Social Sciences Department) taught Asian Studies. Yes, Asian Studies, and there were even actual published text books and a syllabus and everything. Even before Gough Whitlam, if only just! in 1970 there was even a NSW  HSC subject called Asian Social Studies with 919 candidates. I remember having my class cooking (allegedly) Japanese food from recipes in an Asian Studies text book. We ate it and also fed it to the staff. First time I had ever used soy sauce or cooked bamboo shoots.

Wollongong High had a thriving Indonesian language group in the 1970s.

And so it goes.

Then of course we had the Keating era where the “Asian century” idea was first floated, though I am not sure the expression was used. We were reminded that we are part of Asia, and the map makes that quite incontrovertible, I would think. We sure as hell are not part of Europe. On the other hand, culturally and institutionally we draw on Britain plus, which also distinguishes us and is in my view something extraordinarily valuable we have to offer the region and something also to be cherished as part of what Australian has come to be. This has never struck me as a terribly difficult balancing act, though we did sadly get plunged into Pauline Hanson going totally batshit about being “swamped by Asians” for a while there and John Howard made sometimes worrying gestures in that direction, knowing where his votes were coming from but also by nature uncomfortable with the Keating era vision and with anything that happened before 1959. On the other hand in the Howard era we (and he) were busily engaged with Asian countries just as much as ever, simply because that is where we are and what is bound to happen. And of course we intervened in East Timor, something I for one supported.

And Sydney High, where I worked most of the time from 1985 to 2005, offered Mandarin as well as Ancient Greek. I even wrote a cross-cultural text, based on some class work at SBHS, called From Yellow Earth to Eucalypt (Longman 1995).


Now here we are again. I haven’t read the White Paper yet, just skimmed. It is fascinating. It is also, as I said yesterday, pretty much what anyone leading Australia now would envisage, but as others have pointed out it is also less substantial than it could be. I guess it gives a bit of a vision which may even lead to outcomes.  I wouldn’t hold my breath about some of it though.

See also Ben Eltham, No Cash For The Asian Century, Richard Tsukamasa Green, Asian languages are essential because they are essential, Bill Mitchell, The Asian Century White Paper – spin over substance. Now that is a pretty diverse bunch with rather similar messages.

And there is the sad story of the decline of past promise, when it comes to Asian languages. I don’t think either Cronulla High or Wollongong High has Indonesian any more, and that is typical. See a report last year in the Herald.

Just 9 per cent of 72,391 [NSW] HSC students studied a language this year. Of the 34 offered, French was the most popular with 1471, followed by Japanese with 1376.

For all the rhetoric on the need to move closer to Asia, Indonesian was studied by only 232, Chinese by 1091 and Hindi, the language of a future powerhouse, by just 42…

Just checked: Cronulla High offers Japanese in the HSC; Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts (as it now is)  offers introductory Korean in Years 7 and 8; Heathcote High in The Shire (where my grandnephews and grandniece went in recent years) has Indonesian in Years 7 and 8 and a 15 year long linkage to schools in the Hitachi-Omiya district in Japan.

How different will things be in ten years time? Honestly, I wouldn’t hold my breath. See also Tim Lindsay Australia’s Asia literacy wipe-out.

Do also visit Dennis Wright and Maximos Russell Darnley – both extraordinary people who know much more than I do.

Meantime, enjoy the sight of an Illawarra Flame Tree in Figtree, just south of West Wollongong. They were taken yesterday.

Continue reading




In 1904, the town and monastery were attacked by British soldiers under the leadership of Francis Younghusband (commanding 1000 troops, 10,000 servants, and 4,000 yaks) and although most of the damage was later restored, bullet holes from this attack remain in the monastery to this day. Following the capture of Gyantse fort, the agreement signed by the Tibetan Regent, resulted in establishment of British Trade Missions at Gyantse and Mt. Kailash in Tibet. In 1906, the British signed an agreement with the Chinese authorities, which established their influence over Tibet and thus "effectively ending both British and Russian influence".

It was partially destroyed in 1959 after a revolt against Chinese rule. It was ransacked again during the Cultural Revolution, but has since been largely restored.[8][9] Prior to the uprising there were 1520 monks but now they number less than 80.


Younghusband’s well-trained troops were armed with rifles and machine guns, confronting disorganized monks wielding hoes, swords, and  flintlocks.  Some accounts estimated that more than five thousand Tibetans were killed during the campaign, while the total number of  British casualties was about five.


In 1901 The Living Races of Mankind was published. The book was compiled from various “eminent” specialists, and it gave illustrated accounts of the “customs, habits, pursuits, feasts & ceremonies of the races of mankind throughout the world.”  Within the book, the section dedicated to Tibet was written by A. H. Savage Landor, an Englishman who had traveled to Tibet in 1897. Landor describes the Tibetans as a deeply religious “race”, hostile towards strangers, very ignorant, immoral, and very dirty. He describes Tibet women as repulsive, unattractive, and having little to be admired. The only praise he has for them is that they are “vastly superiour in many ways to the Tibetan male, as she possesses a better heart, more courage, and a finer character.” This practice of classifying cultures or “races” was a very important tool for Western imperialism. By creating these classifications, imperialist could police discourse, assign positions, regulate groups, and enforce boundaries. It allowed the imperialist to classify the “Other” as barbarian or savage and validate its dehumanization of the “other” and justify the use of violence in order to impose European norms. The debasement of Tibetans by describing them as dirty, the Tibetan women as unattractive and repulsive, and the men as cowards, and immoral was therefore used to enforce colonial oppression and project a sense of inferiority on the Tibetan people. The describing of Tibetans as dirty and immoral was also part of the representational technique used to show the moral strength the British had over the Tibetans. This idea of Tibetans as lacking morals was a common idea among many British observers, like Younghusband and Curzon whose imperialist actions were subsequently seen as justified because of this perceived moral high ground…


And my latest reading:



From it one looks down through the wealth of forest on to the valley below, intersected with streams and water-channels, dotted over with wooded villages, and covered with rice-fields of emerald green; on to the great river winding along the length of the valley to the Wular Lake at its western end; on to the glinting roofs of Srinagar; on to the snowy range on the far side-valley; and, finally, on to Nanga Parbat itself.

And never for two days together is this glorious panorama exactly the same. One day the valley will be filled with a sea of rolling clouds through which gleams of sunshine light up the brilliant green of the rice-fields below. Above the billowy sea of clouds long level lines of mist will float along the opposite mountain-sides. Above these again will rise the great mountains looking inconceivably high. And above all will soar Nanga Parbat, looking at sunset like a pearly island rising from an ocean of ruddy light.

On another day there will be not a cloud in the sky. The whole scene will be bathed in a bluey haze. Through the many vistas cut in the forest the eye will be carried to the foot-hills sloping gradually towards the river, to the little clumps of pine wood, the village clusters of walnut, pear, and mulberry, the fields of rice and maize, to the silvery reaches of the Jhelum, winding from the Wular Lake to Baramula, to the purply blue of the distant mountains, then on to the bluey white of Nanga Parbat, sharply defined, yet in colour nearly merging into the azure of the sky, and showing out in all the greater beauty that we see it framed by the dark and graceful pines in which we stand.

And this forest has no mean attractions of its own, of which to my little girl the chief were the white columbines. Here also are found purple columbines, delphiniums, what are known as white slipper orchids, yellow violets, balsams, mauve and yellow primulas, potentillas, anemones, Jacob’s ladder, monkshood, salvias, many graceful ferns, and numerous other flowers of which I do not pretend to know the name.

What a paradox. There is a book I must try to get from the Library:

Patrick French’s biography of Francis Younghusband – `the last great imperial adventurer’ – is beautifully written, insightful and above all humane. I say humane because at first glance Younghusband could easily be ridiculed – in his youth for a reckless jingoism that cost lives and embarrassed the British government, and in his later years for a brand of religious mysticism that was, well, bordering on insane. It is a tribute to French’s understanding of his subject that he digs beneath these criticisms to bring us a deeply satisfying portrait of a surprisingly complex man.

Frank Younghusband’s most pressing claim on history was that he led the British expedition into Tibet in 1904 – even at the time seen as being based on a flimsy pretext of stopping Russia from gaining control of central Asia. Some 2000 Tibetans were killed as the British force made its way into Lhasa. Younghusband forced a treaty on the 13th Dalai Lama pledging loyalty to the British empire. The Government in London found this deeply embarrassing and almost immediately repudiated the treaty. Younghusband himself was convinced of the threat Russia presented to British interests in India and central Asia.

But while the expedition created popularity and profile in England, it finished any chances of a senior career with the civil service. Younghusband served in India in a number of middle-ranking posts and wrote books about Tibet and his earlier exploits as an explorer in central Asia. In 1906 he played a bit part in the Jamison raid in South Africa – in the pay of The Times. Most importantly Younghusband thought about spirituality. Literally following a mountain top revelation in Tibet, he increasingly devoted his life to promoting a form of all-embracing spirituality which led in its silliest form to speculations about aliens living on a planet called Altair. His later years were devoted to boosting this form of spirituality by establishing popular movements in England, lecturing widely including in the US, running the Royal Geographic Society and supporting Indian independence.

All of which one could easily ridicule. But French brings life to his subject and a subtlety of understanding which makes the book absolutely engrossing. One reason is that Younghusband was a prolific letter writer – the India Office Library contains 600 "bulging" boxes containing his papers. Through these we see into the private mental world of Francis – his arid and rather sad marriage to Helen, and the relationship in his very last years with Madeline Lees – truly the love of his life. These insights allow French to paint a much deeper and satisfying portrayal of a complex man – a person of his time and place but also a complete iconoclast, some one who pushed against the establishment for most of his life. Remarkably, this is Patrick French’s first book, written in his mid-twenties. He is a natural, a gifted writer with a fine sense of judgement. No sentence rings out of tune in the whole book. In short Younghusband is worth every one of its five stars. If the publishers have any sense they will issue a reprint soon. If not, readers should do everything they can to somehow find a copy of this wonderful biography.


The Kashmir of 1911 straddled much of north-west India and Pakistan. M was in the region – especially the Pakistani side – in 1999-2000. This is one of his photos from that time.


Orientalism? Maybe, but so what? A good read still…

I really did enjoy something unexpected from Gutenberg in the past few days, a novel by this person:



An Eastern Romance.

Dr. P. A. S. van Limburg-Brouwer.
Translated from the Dutch by
M. M.
With notes and an introductory life of the Emperor Akbar,
Clements R. Markham. C.B., F.R.S.

W. H. Allen & Co., 13 Waterloo Place.
Publishers to the India Office.

Markham is indeed also an interesting forgotten figure:

Sir Clements Robert Markham KCB FRS (20 July 1830 – 30 January 1916) [below] was an English geographer, explorer, and writer. He was secretary of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) between 1863 and 1888, and later served as the Society’s president for a further 12 years. In the latter capacity he was mainly responsible for organising the National Antarctic Expedition of 1901–04, and for launching the polar career of Robert Falcon Scott


Of course in these PoCo days post-Said we not only do not know who any of these people are but are convinced we are so much wiser and more virtuous than they ever were because they are all damned Orientalists, you know, and slavering racists and grinders-down of The Other with not a thing to say to us any more…  Well, yes, Akbar has its moments – like anything written before around 1970 – where one cringes at some naive bit of “race” theory. They were all into it back then, though it wasn’t always malicious or even maleficent! But it now seems as ugly as a really bad tic.

However, does that holier-than-thou pose we now so unreflectively adopt – thanks to Said and others – cut us off from what often is really there and indeed was in its day well in advance, even progressive and not to be despised by 21st century upstarts like us? I’d say “pygmies” like us, but that no doubt offends some residents of regions around the Congo….

Now this novel is a romance – and not always in the best sense, as it has its melodramatic very stagey side of course. But hey, the 1870s?

Petrus Abraham Samuel van Limburg Brouwer was born in Liège on 15 November 1829. His father, Petrus van Limburg Brouwer (1795-1847), was the first to use the full surname Van Limburg Brouwer. Initially, Petrus senior studied medicine, taking his doctor’s degree in 1816 and thereafter setting himself up in practice. However, he had already been fascinated by the classics during his student days and in 1820 he took a second doctor’s degree, this time in classical literature. He continued studying the classics and was appointed associate professor in the faculty of arts at Liège in 1825, a chair he lost, as a Northern Netherlander, as a result of the Belgian Revolution in 1830. In 1831 he was appointed professor at Groningen, where he taught general and Roman history and was also made librarian of the university. He published on classical literature and history, as well as on Dutch literature. He also wrote some belletristic work, of which Het leesgezelschap van Diepenbeek (1847) in particular was widely read…

Before he was twenty-one he had taken his doctor’s degree in law, cum laude, at Groningen. He departed for Amsterdam where he joined the editorial board of De gids in 1854, a position he retained until 1865. In 1855 he declined a professorship at Groningen. From 1856 onwards he worked at the General State Archives in The Hague, in which city he also took up residence. He accomplished important work at the General State Archives, by arranging various archives and publishing several text editions, especially in connection with collections relating to the Dutch East Indies. He was a regular contributor to the liberal cultural periodical De Nederlandsche spectator from its very first issue in 1860. He was a member of parliament from 1864 to 1868; a freethinker when it came to religion and philosophy, in politics associated with the liberalism of Thorbecke. He published on a wide variety of subjects. His first article about the Dutch East Indies appeared in 1860. In the course of time this was to prove his major subject; he became increasingly interested in the language, literature, philosophy, art and society of the Hindus, especially in relation to the history of the Indies. Van Limburg Brouwer was a member of the board of the Royal Institute of Linguistics, Geography and Ethnography of the Dutch East Indies. His scholarly studies of the East inspired him to write his only novel, Akbar (1872), which turned out to be quite popular because Van Limburg Brouwer had the knack of blending academic knowledge with the products of his own imagination. The book gives an impression of life in the Indies at the time of Emperor Akbar (1542-1605), the third and most important Mogul emperor of India who brought his empire to great prosperity. He proclaimed his own religion, in which he wanted to unite the essence of all religions. Van Limburg Brouwer’s novel gives an idealised picture of Akbar’s life…

Here is a sample:

“So you are going to leave us again, worthy Father?” said Akbar, as the Jesuit was ushered into his presence.

“I must do so, Sire,” answered Aquaviva; “our Provincial summons me back to Goa. But I cannot depart without expressing to your Majesty my heartiest thanks for the honour and favours that have here been shown us, though I hesitated to ask an audience after your serious and bitter loss. A worthy man, a true friend, and a faithful servant was Abú-l Fazl, and the memory of such a man is certainly a comfort in the midst of the sorrow that his loss causes. But,” added he, after a moment’s pause, “this would not be to me a sufficient consolation.”

“Not enough!” repeated Akbar in surprise. “What more would you demand?”

“I should wish for the certainty that he died with a purer soul, and with happier expectations than was possible.”

“Abú-l Fazl,” answered the Emperor, in an earnest but calm voice,—“Abú-l Fazl was as pure of soul as any of yours can be, without saying more, and he died as I would wish to die.”

The Jesuit waited, expecting Akbar would add something more, but he was silent; and the tone of his reply clearly showed that to ask for further explanation would be imprudent.

“Do you expect to return soon?” asked Akbar, after a few minutes silence.

“That will depend on the orders I receive,” answered Aquaviva. “So far as I am myself concerned, with sorrow I am compelled to confess that my mission here has been a failure.”

“How a failure? Have you not received here the fullest protection, and been shown all respect and fitting honour? and have you not enjoyed the most complete liberty to preach what you will, and to convert whom you can? Do you reckon that as nothing? Here, where a few years ago, under my predecessors, any preaching of your doctrines would have met with the punishment of death.”

“Sire,” answered the Padre, “we should indeed be ungrateful did we reckon such important privileges as nothing. Yet I must repeat that our mission is a failure as respects its principal object. You know well with what glorious hopes we came to Agra; the reverent interest you took in our holy writings, and in the ceremonials of our Church, had filled us with hope that in the end the light of truth would sink into your noble heart and deep-thinking mind; we had hoped, and almost expected with certainty, that the Church of Christ would greet in Shah Akbar one of, if not the most famous of her sons. These hopes and expectations we cannot now flatter ourselves were anything but idle; so, cannot we say with truth that our mission has failed in its highest aim? Still, it may be that here and there in our teaching there are difficulties which your philosophers cannot now solve, which closer study and research will throw light upon. I think of the great benefits that the Church has showered upon the West, and which would not here be wanting did she possess like power.”

“With reason,” said Akbar, “you now leave on one side the real dogmatical questions, for about them we shall never agree, and for the moment I feel no inclination for their discussion. You speak of benefits; I believe, willingly and with reason, that your Christian doctrines have done much for the world—more, perhaps, than any other religion—in the application of the principles of universal love of our fellow-men, and self-sacrifice; however, as we have already shown you, this is not exclusively taught by your doctrines, which, if they have done much good, have also done much that is evil. Have you not introduced the greatest intolerance that the world has ever known? Have not you, you priests, in the West exalted yourselves to tyrannize over the consciences of your fellow-men? Have you not doomed hundreds and thousands to the stake because they differed from you on some point of faith? And you call these benefits! Then, indeed, you have strange ideas of doing good; and your love for your fellow-men is of a strange kind. Tell me,” he continued, turning a penetrating look on Aquaviva, “tell me, how would you treat me, Akbar, whom you now honour so highly, were I a Christian subject of one of the princes who obey your commands? Would you not thrust me into a dungeon, and, if I remained hardened in my unbelief, deliver me to a judge to be condemned to the fire and stake?”

Perplexed, the Jesuit drew back. Such a question he had not expected; and what could he reply? Certainly it could not be denied that in all probability Akbar would be so treated were he in the situation he imagined.

“Sire,” at last he stammered, “that is not the case; and how can Akbar, the mighty Emperor of Hindustan, think of himself as the subject of one of our princes?”

“Certainly it is not so, fortunately for me! but your answer shows that my hypothesis was well grounded. Now another question: what would you do with me, Emperor of Hindustan, as I am? You wish me to be as one of your princes, who are submissive to your orders, and to use me as a tool for the maintenance of your clerical tyranny. Naturally you are very anxious for my conversion. Well, I tell you, once for all, you will never see it; not even if I entirely accepted your Evangelists, and were really publicly or privately to embrace them. I could have nothing to do with your present Church, well knowing what fatal consequences to a State would follow on its monarch taking such a step.”

“Then,” said Aquaviva, “nothing remains to us but to pray to our Lord that He by a miracle will bring about that which our zealous and feeble efforts have been unable to accomplish. And this prayer, I feel certain, will not remain unanswered. Reflect, O powerful ruler, that against Him the great of the earth are as nothing, and that He can punish those who withstand Him. He, and He alone, will triumph, and the gates of hell will avail nothing against the rock of Peter, while Christ and His Church will endure until the end of the world.”

“That may be your affair,” cried Akbar, losing a little of his usual patience; “mine is to watch over the liberty and rights of my people, and to defend them against you, as against the mullahs or priests of any other creeds. Remain here, or go, as it best pleases you; preach as seems good to you, and build churches. You shall enjoy the same privileges as Muhammadans in their mosques and Hindus in their temples. There is, however, one warning which I must give you: the moment I find you attempt to introduce any persecution amongst your converts or others, as already has been the case on the coast of Malabar, that moment shall you be banished from my kingdom, never to set your foot within it again.”

I honestly believe this book assumes a new relevance in our post-9/11 world.



The tomb of Akbar

From PBS:

During Akbar’s reign, the Mughal empire tripled in size and wealth. Akbar had created a powerful army and instituted effective political and social reforms. By abolishing the sectarian tax on Hindus and appointing them to high civil and military posts, he was the first Muslim ruler to win the trust and loyalty of his Hindu subjects. He had Hindu literature translated, participated in Hindu festivals, and realizing that a stable empire depended on strong alliances with the Rajputs, fierce Hindu warriors, he married a Rajput princess.

Akbar was truly an enlightened ruler, a philosopher-king who had a genuine interest in all creeds and doctrines at a time when religious persecution was prevalent throughout Europe and Asia. Understanding that cooperation among all his subjects – Muslims, Hindus, Persians, Central Asians and indigenous Indians – would be in his best interest, he even tried to establish a new religion that encouraged universal tolerance.

Akbar was strong-willed, fearless and often cruel, but he was also just and compassionate and had an inquiring mind. He invited holy men, poets, architects and artisans to his court from all over the Islamic world for study and discussion,and he created an astounding library of over 24,000 volumes written in Hindi, Persian, Greek, Latin, Arabic and Kashmiri, staffed by scholars, translators, artists, calligraphers, scribes, bookbinders and readers.

Manifesting the ancestral love of the arts on a monumental scale, Akbar filled the landscape with walled cities of royal pleasure and comfort, designed to dazzle the native rajas and advertise the glory of his reign. In the lovely capital city of Agra, Akbar built his remarkable Red Fort beside the Jamuna River. Part fortress, part palace, its construction proceeded at a hectic pace, and in eight years of frenzied building, more than five hundred graceful pavilions and sumptuous residences – adorned with exquisite carvings, lattice and pierced-stone screens,wall paintings, canopied roofs, carved brackets and pilasters – were created within the massive red sandstone walls to accommodate his considerable court. And Agra became the repository for all the wealth and talent of one of the most extensive empires in the medieval world.

This video is eccentric in some of its choices of image, but does provide a pretty good overview of Akbar – who was, remember, a contemporary of Elizabeth I – and beside him the Virgin Queen pales somewhat.

This document (PDF) has some interesting cultural information about The Netherlands in the 19th century.

Around 1900, Buddhism enjoyed a hitherto unknown popularity in Western culture. The ‘light of Asia’ cast its rays over Europe and North-America, where many came under  the  spell  of  the  person  and  teaching  of  Buddha.  Buddhism  proved  a  great source  of  inspiration  for  artists,  men  of  letters,  liberal  Christians  and  freethinkers. Knowledge  of  Buddhism  increased  considerably  in  the  Western  world  during  the 19th century, partly through translations of its key texts. German philosophers such as  Schopenhauer  and  Von  Hartmann  also  contributed  to  the  spread  of  Buddhist ideas,  in  keeping  with  their  message  of  pessimism.  Hence  it  was  with  some justification that the century was labeled ‘the century of Buddhism’ (Ernest Renan).

The  interest  in  Buddhism  may  be  placed  within  the  broader  context  of  the academic interest in non-Christian religions, in the same way as on the more popular level  we  note  that  interest  in  other  religions  and  world  views  is  accompanied  by enthusiasm for the so-called ‘new mysticism’ and things exotic. In those circles people liked to think of Buddhism as the ‘religion of the future’. 
In the Netherlands, too, Buddhism attracted attention. An early 19 th -century representative  of  the  interest  in  Buddhism  is  the  well-known  learned  Mennonite preacher  Joost  Hiddes  Halbertsma,  whose  treatise  Het  Buddhisme  en  zijn  stichter (Buddhism  and  its  founder)  appeared  in  1843.  Although  subsequent  endeavours  by P.A.S. van Limburg Brouwer to bring Buddhism to the attention of the Dutch public only met with a lukewarm reception, this changed around 1880, partly also because of  the  propagandist  efforts  by  the  liberal  Samuel  van  Houten  and  the  modern theologian Hayo Uden Meyboom. In the early 20th century the ‘hype’ surrounding Buddhism reached its climax. Information on this Eastern religion was diffused not only  via  academic  treatises,  but  also  via  public  lectures  and  cheap,  popular  tracts. The influence of Buddhism was also reflected in the arts and in literature…

Curios from Project Gutenberg


An Australian book and artist from 1905 – and I had heard of neither:


That’s linked to the book. On Violet Teague see ADB.

While she exhibited infrequently in the 1920s and 1930s, she turned to making altarpieces. For the Kinglake (War) Memorial Church, Victoria, she made one in which the adoring shepherds were replaced by portraits of Australian light-horsemen; when commissioned in 1938 to execute the altarpiece of the Arctic Cathedral at Alkavic, Canada, she again chose a contemporary and regional setting, dressing the madonna and child in furs. She made other panels and, at the Church of St James the Less, Mt Eliza, collaborated with her friend Jessie Traill.

Less than five feet (152 cm) tall, with grey-blue eyes and masses of light brown hair, Teague was described in 1949 as being: ‘a small frail person … quiet of manner, yet with a surprising vitality and a more surprising sense of whimsy … she comes out direct in a mannered way and her eyes twinkle humorously’. She ‘can talk on any subject from racehorses to the decline of Western Culture exactly and wittily’. Teague died on 30 September 1951 at Mt Eliza, Victoria, and was cremated. A member of several leading Australian art societies, she is represented in the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, and the National Gallery of Victoria.


See also A Polar Bear’s Tale.

The other curio relates to a song we had on 78 when I was a kid: Richard Tauber singing “The Kashmiri Love Song”.  I do recall us making fun of this, I have to say…

Adela_florence_nicholsonThe poems from which the song is taken were once very popular: INDIA’S LOVE LYRICS by Laurence Hope, et al.

Editorial note: Laurence Hope was the pen name of Adela Florence Cory Nicolson. Born in 1865, she was educated in England. At age 16 she joined her father in India, where she spent most of her adult life. In 1889 she married Col. Malcolm H. Nicolson, a man twice her age. She committed suicide two months after his death in 1904.

Wikipedia has more detail.

It is tempting to read much of her own life into her poems, but one must be careful in doing this, yet her dedication to her husband in this verse:

I, who of lighter love wrote many a verse,
Made public never words inspired by thee,
Lest strangers’ lips should carelessly rehearse
Things that were sacred and too dear to me. Thy soul was noble; through these fifteen years
Mine eyes familiar, found no fleck nor flaw,
Stern to thyself, thy comrades’ faults and fears
Proved generosity thine only law. Small joy was I to thee; before we met
Sorrow had left thee all too sad to save.
Useless my love—-as vain as this regret
That pours my hopeless life across thy grave.

Written shortly before her suicide makes it hard for people to avoid this.

Will this be one of the greatest test matches ever?

My Indian friends would possibly enjoy The Sydney Morning Herald today. See, thank God, what rates full front page treatment.


That’s linked, so read the story there.

It also happens to be the 100th Test match at the Sydney Cricket Ground! Spooky, eh!

Test cricket is the only kind, you know. The others are facsimiles increasing in distance and quality from the original and best in proportion to how recently some moneybags, gambling mogul or media outlet has come up with them. The latest is a farcical and totally meaningless exercise in content stuffing by Fox Sport. Perhaps you have seen it. I hope you haven’t.

Pune And After


My thoughts go out to all caught up in India’s latest terrorist attack. Naturally I think of Ramana in Pune, who posted his account yesterday: Bomb Blast In Pune.

Last evening at around seven pm while I was at the computer, I heard a big bang and assumed that it was some wedding party letting off some fire works and crackers.

At eight pm, my brother in law rang me up from Chennai to ask what the blast was all about that all the news channels on the TV were showing. I did not have a clue but on switching on the TV found that there was indeed a big blast just across the river from us about a kilometer and a half as the crow flies, in Koregaon Park, a posh locality of Pune where the Osho Ashram is located. The German Bakery is a cafe frequented by visiting foreigners who can get Western style snacks, pastry, pies etc there. The blast was there and initially it was suspected that a cylinder of cooking gas had accidentally exploded. This morning however, it has been confirmed that there was indeed a bomb that was set off by terrorists. Full details are yet to be received but, at current tally nine people have been killed and forty-five injured, some in critical condition…

All my readers know what I think of terrorists and their senseless actions and I do not intend reiterating those anger fed rants. Suffice it to say that I am livid. India after our 26/11 Mumbai attacks, following repeated requests and nudges from Pakistan and the West respectively agreed to formal talks with Pakistan finally and a Secretary level meeting is scheduled to take place on the 25th inst. I for one am now more than certain that no useful purpose will be served by such talks till Pakistan stops extending sanctuary to the terrorists in their territory, not withstanding the fact that the terrorists now kill more people in Pakistan than in India. It may also be a deliberate ploy to prevent talks from taking place engineered by the Taliban/Al Queida, but whatever it is, the Pakistani establishment which still maintains that its stragegic focus is on containing India, cannot hunt with the hounds and run with the hares.

We live in a world also occupied by lunatics and quite how many more incidents like these have to be experienced before the ‘liberals’ wake up is a question that needs to be answered some time soon to take decisive action to prevent such lunacy in the future.

Very vexed issue of course, but I can’t help thinking that "I for one am now more than certain that no useful purpose will be served by such talks till Pakistan stops extending sanctuary to the terrorists in their territory, not withstanding the fact that the terrorists now kill more people in Pakistan than in India” is just what the terrorists were hoping to achieve.

For more analysis see Pune And After in Outlook India.

The India thing again – never jump to conclusions

While I lambasted the Sydney Morning Herald in Anatomy of hate as magazine unleashes anti-Australian rage – or does it? the other day – rightly so I think – I had another post last month on the racism or not issue: The danger of jumping to conclusions? That post referred to “Two men believed to be employed by an Indian-born contract worker found stabbed and burnt in rural NSW have had their passports seized at Sydney Airport, Fairfax reports. Ranjodh Singh’s partially burnt body was found beside Wilga Road, Willbriggie, in the Riverina area of south-west NSW on December 29.”

See my earlier entry Nothing much to add to last year’s posts on Indian students and Australia. This is not to deny that the perpetrators of quite a number of the inner-city bashings and murders are quite probably racist individuals. My point, again, is to assert that Australians on the whole are no more racist than anyone else, and possibly less so than quite a few places.

Now we learn of the possible truth about another “racist attack” inspired perhaps by that story.

An Indian man who told police he was set on fire by a group of men in Essendon, in Melbourne’s north-west, has faced an out-of-sessions court hearing charged with making a false report to police.

Jaspreet Singh told police he was approached by four men and set on fire as he moved his car in Slater Street on January 8.

Police claim the 29-year-old accidentally set himself on fire while trying to set his car on fire.

Singh was treated for burns to 15 per cent of his body.

He will return to court in March to face charges of making a false report to police and criminal damage with a view to gain financial advantage.

The fire occurred a week after 21-year-old Indian man Nitin Garg was stabbed to death on his way to work in West Footscray.

The incidents have sparked outrage in India and among Indians in Melbourne, who say racist attacks are on the rise.

My point is not to deny there are ugly racists out there, just as there are still gay-bashers, but to remind us that the police and other authorities rightly avoid jumping to conclusions about such things in their public statements about matters under investigation or before the courts.

See also Adrian Neylan’s account of a recent incident. Adrian is a Sydney cab driver.

It seems that every other day we hear reports of violence against Indians living in Australia. Whilst the majority of attacks occur in Victoria, with a few in Queensland, Sydney has also seen attacks on Indians.

Now the censored police and media reports of the Victorian assaults has led to Australian cricketers in India being threatened by local terrorists. This is lamentable because many of the attacks there are being committed by ethnic groups other than cricket-loving whites.

Around midnight on Monday night I came across the aftermath of an assault on a cabbie outside a Sri Lankan diner in Surry Hills…