Tag Archives: constantinople

FACTS & FIGURES: A SIGNIFICANT VOYAGE

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    So much has been written about the voyages that the Europeans undertook, in the sixteenth century especially towards Asia with India and China in mind. In this context let me describe one such voyage to you. European affinity for India had grown from the medieval times and for compelling reasons—trade links. But it was only around 1600, when the East India Company was formed in London that concept of organised trade voyages to the Indian Ocean started gaining grounds.

       In 1583, a group of Englishmen sailed from Falmouth a town and port on the River Fal on the south coast of Cornwall, England, United Kingdom, on a ship named ‘Tyger’ that was bound for West Asia. This group included local businessmen John Newberry, John Eldred and Ralph Fitch. It also carried a jeweller by the name of William Leedes, and a painter James Story—whose job was to draw sketches of, merchandise and sites, as cameras were not invented then.

    Newberry was a merchant-explorer who had two years of experience before undertaking a daring overland trip to Hormuz in the Persian Gulf and back, picking up Arabic on the way. Fitch was a leather merchant, and perhaps the most senior member in terms of age in the group. Eldred was a thirty-one-year old trader in Levantine silks which was from East Mediterranean. The trio Newberry, Fitch and Eldred had been close to two shareholders of the English Levant Company. These shareholders partly sponsored the expedition. The Company had been doing business in Constantinople also known as Istambul, for some years now, and even brought back samples of cotton cloth from India, silks from China, and spices of the Indonesian archipelago. The goal of the expedition was to explore a way to reach the original source of these goods.

    The party reached Tripoli in Syria, crossed the Lebanese mountains to reach Aleppo, (in present day Syria) and from there they sailed along the Euphrates, a river in South-West Asia, rising in Eastern Turkey and flowing south across Syria and Iraq to join the Greek river Tigris, and then to Al-Fallujah—Al Fallujah is a city in the Iraqi province of Al Anbar, located roughly 69 kilometer west of Baghdad on the Euphrates. At this point Eldred stayed on to trade in spices, and the rest of the group journeyed on to reach Hormuz. Hormuz belonged to the Persian Empire, but in practice, the Portuguese ruled this port, so vital, to their policy of blocking the Indian Ocean routes to all but friendly ships. Their friends, the Venetian merchants, did not want English merchants in West Asia.

    So, it was not surprising, they were promptly arrested at Hormuz. The Portuguese chief justice gave a judgement that they were spies, ignoring the letters of introduction that they were carrying from Queen Elizabeth-1, addressed to the emperors of India and China.

    The party was sent on a Portuguese galleon—a sailing ship in use especially by Spain from the 15th to the 18th centuries, originally as a warship, later for trade, to Goa to be interrogated by the viceroy Don Francisco de Mascarenhas. There they were sent to captivity and were released after thirteen days. Once freed, the party lost no time setting up business in Goa. However, the Jesuits kept the pressure on them to convert to Catholicism, and allegedly hatched a plot to get them rearrested. Fearing further trouble the party escaped Goa late in 1584.

     The group then travelled to Belgaum overland. From there they went to Bijapur, Burhanpur, Mandu and Ujjain. A few miles before Ujjain, the group came across a colourful procession of Emperor Akbar. Early the following year, the group reached Agra. Although, the party appeared to have been well received at Akbar’s court, it is not known if any of these men actually met the emperor to deliver the letter of the Queen to him. The group now divided itself. Fitch was to travel to Bengal. Newberry was to go to England by the land route, and return with a ship to Bengal and meet Flitch there. Newberry did set out on the journey, but was not heard of again. Leedes took up service with the Mughal court and never ever returned to England. The others moved on to ‘Bengala’, the legendary land that supplied so many finely woven cloths to the markets of East and West Asia.

    From Agra Fitch went to Benares, the Bengal port of Saptagram (colloquially called Satgaon), and navigated through the treacherous waters of the Sunderbans to reach Bakla. Since he does not mention about a land journey or about changing a ship, it’ll be safe to assume that the town and kingdom of Bakla were located somewhere on the lower Meghna River or one of its tributaries, possibly the Tentulia, which is not very clear. The Ain-i-Akbari of Abul Fazl, the Mughal court officer and chronicler, mentioned some years after Fitch visited the place, that the town was destroyed by a giant tidal wave from the sea, taking two hundred thousand lives with it. Bakla reappeared as a Mughal zamindari—an estate run by a tax-collecting landlord or zamindar, but on a different and safer location. From old Bakla, Fitch travelled to Sripur and Sonargaon, two midsize kingdoms of the lower Bengal delta. He carefully noted all tradable goods to be found in India, from the pepper of Cochin, cloves of the Moluccas, (a group of islands in eastern Indonesia between Celebes and New Guinea; settled by the Portuguese but taken over by the Dutch who made them the center for spice monopoly, and at that time they were known as Spice Islands). Fitch also discovered the diamonds of Golconda, rubies of Pegu (Myanmar), to the ‘great store of Cotton cloth (from Bengal), and Rice, from where they served all India, Ceylon, Pegu, Malacca, Sumatra, and many other places.’ From Pegu, Fitch sailed for England, where he reached in April 1591.

    Master Ralph Fitch, one of the minor members of the party, became the most famous among them when the records of the travel appeared in print. This was the first travelogue of India by an Englishman. Fitch became a hero. The expedition had not achieved anything to serve the trade directly. But it sowed the seeds for the concept that a trade treaty between two kingdoms, Mughal India and Tudor England, is possible. This objective was better served some decades later by means of an organised body of merchants, and a united Company.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

MIRAGE

(Published in February 2020. The book is a collection of eight short stories. It is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Notion Press)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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BOOK CORNER: THE SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO by Ernest Hemingway

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Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

 

The Snows of Kilimanjaro

Ernest Hemingway

(1899-1961)

    ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’ is regarded as one of Hemingway’s greatest works, alongside, ‘The Sun Also Rises’ and ‘A Farewell to Arms.’ The short story was published in August 1936 in Esquire magazine. Ernest Hemingway is an American Novelist. In the ‘Snows of Kilimanjaro’ the theme is of regret, conflict, redemption, acceptance, introspection and finally death.

    This story opens with a few lines about Mount Kilimanjaro. That happens to be the highest mountain of Africa … around 4900 meters. It is also referred as the ‘House of God.’ There also lies a frozen carcass of a leopard near the summit. But no one knows why it is there at such an altitude.   

    There we come across Helen and Harry. Harry is a writer dying of gangrene. Helen is accompanying him in this safari in Africa. They both are stranded in the camp, because a bearing of their truck’s engine has seized. Harry’s condition makes him extremely irritable. He starts mumbling about his impending death in an unemotional manner but in a sarcastic tone that upsets Helen. He quarrels with her over trivial things like. Whether he should have a whiskey with soda, to whether she should read to him. Helen of course is concerned about his welfare. But the growing frustration of Harry makes him talk to her in an irksome manner.

    Harry starts to ruminate about his vast and varied, life’s experiences. He in fact feels he was unable to climax his potential as a writer because he chose to make a living by marrying a wealthy woman. In the story there are certain italicized portions in the form of text that are scattered all throughout the story. Where, Hemmingway narrates certain experiences of Harry in a stream-of-conscious style. Harry’s initial memories consist of travelling around Europe following a battle, hiding a deserter in a cottage, hunting and skiing in the mountains, playing cards during a blizzard, and even hearing about a bombing-run on a train packed with Austrian officers.

    In spite of deep agony, Harry falls asleep and wakes up in the evening when he finds Helen returning from a shooting expedition. He ponders, on how she is considerate and good to him. And that she should not be blamed for the degradation of his talent as a writer. Helen, he recollects is a rich widow who lost her husband and a child. Thereafter, she was bored by a series of lovers. So, she finally acquired Harry because she wanted someone whom she could respect along with her own self. She loves Harry quite dearly as a writer, as a man, as a companion and as a proud possession. On the contrary Harry makes it clear that he does not love her. He then recalls how he contracted gangrene two weeks ago. They had been trying to take a picture of a waterbuck when Harry scratched his right knee on a thorn. He did not apply iodine right away so the wound got infected. And because all other antiseptics ran out. He used a weak carbolic solution that paralysed the minute blood vessels, because of which the leg developed gangrene.

    Helen returns to drink cocktails with Harry. They make up their quarrel. Thereafter Harry’s second memory sequence begins. He recollects how he once patronized prostitutes in Constantinople … to kill his loneliness. Pining for the very first woman he fell in love with. With whom he quarrelled in Paris and broke up. Harry also had a fight with a British soldier over an Armenian prostitute and he left Constantinople for Anatolia. Where, after escaping from a group of Turkish soldiers he had seen things that he could never have dreamt of and later he saw much worse. Then Harry recalls upon his return to Paris. Where, his then-wife enquires about a letter that was actually from Harry’s first love. A reply to the letter he had written to the woman sometime back that was mailed to New York, asking to write to his office in Paris while he was in Constantinople.

    Helen and Harry eat dinner and then Harry has another reminiscence. This time how his grandfather’s log house burned down one day. He then relates how he fished in the Black Forest. And how he lived in a menial quarter in Paris and felt a kind of kinship with his poor neighbours. Thereafter, he goes on to remember a ranch boy whom he turned into sheriff after the boy protected Harry’s horse feed by shooting and killing a thief.

    Harry ponders: ‘That was one story he could have written. He knew some twenty good stories from there. But he had never written one. But then, ‘why?’ He questioned himself. Then he once again felt he’d prefer to be in a different company rather than with Helen … as rich were dull. Next his thought drifted to beating the fear of death and the limits of being able to bear the pain. He recollects an officer named Williamson who was hit by a bomb and to whom Harry subsequently fed his morphine tablets. Harry considers he needn’t worry about his pain in his current condition.

    As Harry lies in his cot thinking about the happenings. He feels an overwhelming presence of death. And he associates it with the hyena that has been spotted running around the periphery of the campsite. He is unable to speak. Helen, thinking that Harry has fallen asleep has him placed inside the tent for the night. Harry dreams that it is morning and that a man called Compton has come with a plane to rescue him. He is put in the plane that has space only for him and the pilot. He watched the landscape go by, beneath him. Suddenly, he sees the snow covered top of Mount Kilimanjaro. He gets a feeling that is where he is bound for. Helen wakes up in the middle of the night to a strange cry of a hyena and finds Harry unresponsive on his cot. He had actually died.

    COMMENTS

    What is interesting about the story is its tone. Initially it starts with a regretful timbre, but in the final passage when he is flying over Kilimanjaro, Harry appears somewhat hopeful and calm.

    Hemmingway uses animals in the story as foreshadowing devices to highlight to the reader about Harry’s impending death. You can find this in the frozen carcass of the leopard, the vultures flying over the campsite sensing death and finally the sighting of the hyena.

    It is while Harry is waiting to die. Hemmingway, through flashbacks, gives readers some insight into Harry’s life. The flashback also highlights how Harry wasted his life by not writing about incidents that occurred in his own life.

    Each flashback has a theme such as … loss, loneliness and escapism, destruction and happiness, misguided loyalty and finally—there is as assumption that he is flying to heaven when the plane comes to pick him up.

   I would give the story nine out of ten.

      ***

Synopsis by Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****