The Anglo-Indians are a small but vibrant community, born out of India’s colonial past. They have been portrayed in various ways in the country’s cultural history, in its books, movie and social and political accounts. Yet, not too many comprehensive narratives have emerged from within the community about how it was shaped, about its people’s ambitions, aspirations and motivations, their successes and achievements.
The Anglo-Indian Way attempts to fill that gap by telling the story of the Anglo-Indian through those of some of the community’s most interesting and extraordinary men and women. In a series of essays written by a host of writers, the lives of theses personalities are described lucidly, and with warmth and honesty. Each of these people stayed and worked in India, and with their determinations, enthusiasm and joie de vivre, they have all been active participants in the progress of the country in countless ways. From Henry Derozio and Frank Anthony to Ruskin Bond and Diana Hayden, this book is about people who have excelled in all walks of life- as leaders, politicians, police officers, actors, teachers, jockeys, sportsmen, engine drivers, writers, quizmasters and many more.
As a chronicle of a community, The Anglo-Indian Way is necessary; as a record of life stories, it is inspiring; and as a glimpse of history as it was being lived, it is invaluable.
Errol O’Brien grew up in Kolkata. He worked in the tea industry and retired as chief tea taster and buyer of the Tea Trading Corporation of India. He has been an active quizzer and quizmaster. He has also coached students in public speaking. His articles on tea have been published in the Statesman and he wrote a column for the Telegraph, Kolkata. He has written two books: The Tree of Knowledge and Amar Calcutta, My Kolkata.
What does ‘The Anglo-Indian Way’ mean? The title of this book borrows from the inspirational and recently released anthem of the Anglo-Indian community in India, the lyrics of which are included in the following pages.
‘The Anglo-Indian Way’ is a way of life- an outlook that is about being proud of one’s roots and heritage while not being afraid of integrating with the larger society. I have chosen to show this through chronicles of men and women and entire families who have lived their lives in this way. Theirs are accomplished lives, and they have become symbols of pride and models of virtue and skill for both their community and their country. By no means are they the only Anglo-Indians worth celebrating; there are so many men and women of the community whose heroic lives have gone unsung and unrecorded, that it will take several volumes to do justice to them. My selection is inherently incomplete; it was constrained by time and space.
I am deeply grateful to my fellow contributors-Derek O’Brien, Andy O’Brien, Ashok Malik, Andrew Scolt and Peter Moore- for writing about personalities who they have either known or whose lives they have seen at close quarters. Their contributions bring added depth and warmth to this anthology. Other writers such as Ruskin Biond, Soutik Biswas and Ronald Forbes have kindly consented to having their previously published articles reproduced here, for which I am grateful.
I have arranged these narratives chronologically, in order to give the reader a sense of how time, and the changing challenges and opportunities it brings, has impacted the Anglo-Indian community.
Excluded from The Anglo-Indian Way are profiles of illustrious members of the Anglo-Indian diaspora, now spread across continents and deserving of a book in themselves. My purpose was to pay tribute to those Anglo-Indians who have stayed on the country of their birth and origin and made their mark here. This is their story.
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