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Sunday, 1 May 2022


It took seventy years for me to know about it! I haven't studied in any of the text books either. Probably if the Govt of India had not issued a new currency note with a picture of it two years ago, I might not have come to know about it in my life span either!! 

A new currency note of India's Rs.100 denomination issued in 2018 features Mahatma Gandhi on one side but on the other side an under ground structure- which doesn't look so in the photo- which is a combination of a marvel in Engineering, art and another long lost or neglected episode of  Indian history. 'Rani Ki Vav' means The Queen's stepwell but in essence it is Queen of Stepwells ! When it is learnt that this could be the only well so featured on a currency note in any country of the world, which was built over thousand years back one will have to but admire...UNESCO has declared it as a world heritage site. I find that ancient India has contributed quite a few number of similar stepwells including Chand Baori in Rajasthan which is built in more or less the same era, I will stick here to 'Rani ki Vav'    


 My specific interest in what is featured on currency notes started about 20 years back while in Qatar. The firm 'AL BALAGH'  of which I was the CEO was selected to build a small but an important landmark of the country in connection with a Gulf Cooperation Council GCC  meeting which took place at Doha. It was the Pearl Oyster monument right in the heart of the city on the corniche, overlooking Qatar Central Bank on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other. The structure was a combination of selective art and modern engineering skills to be built within few weeks, I remember. The same scenario was featured on the currency note later as shown below . Qatar was once a pearl diving nation, struggling to exist while the main industry was the same. It was taken over by hydro carbon industry in the later years of 1950s. Thanks to the wise leadership over there, the country has become now the richest in the world on per capita basis!   

                          Pearl Monument as featured on old and new currency notes of Qatar.

What is a stepwell?
A stepwell in Gujarati means a 'vav' or in Hindi 'Baori'.Essentially it is subterranean edifice and water source! Obviously the kings and queens in the old days dug wells in different parts of their states to get over shortage of water.

This stepwell was a part of local folklore for ages and is also narrated in some of the older chronicles like that of Mertunga in 1306. It was built near erstwhile river Saraswati but silted due to floods and people never knew about it for centuries unfortunately. It was rediscovered by two British archaeologists- Henry Cousens and James Burgess- employed with Architectural Survey of India (ASI) as Superintendent civil engineers who were travelling the concerned location in the 19th century. They wondered what could be the sculptured arches they found protruding out of soil! They could not find more.  But it took almost another century till 1980s when Archeological Survey of India (ASI) started excavating the area to unearth this marvelous stepwell to what we see now.

The architectural and structural  background...
These stepwells played much more role than just being a water source. They had social and cultural significances. I think it could be another excellent Indian contribution with unique 'desi' style to the  architectural world. An inverted temple in seven stories underground  with stunning sculptures  with a water storage, the way ancient world has not seen. I can't blame the  so called experts of the west for this short coming either because I myself didn't know about this and I am sure that I am just one among millions of Indians in similar situation! Again I remember the basic fact that we Indians are good in everything except marketing ourselves and our products- past or present! At least so far but might change sooner than later.

The statues - mostly dedicated to Lord Vishnu, together with hundreds of pillars which are built in perfect symmetry and sculptural completeness  in many floors underground about a thousand years back will take a visitor, his or her breath away it is told. The structure has more than 500 principle sculptures and more than 1000 minor ones!

The historical background..
Patan is a town in the Gujarat state about 140 kms north west of the its capital Ahmedabad.

Bhima I was a king of Chalukya(Solanki) dynasty who lived between 1022-1064 CE where as the dynasty existed between 950-1300 CE .After the king died,it is believed that the construction of this stepwell was executed by his queen Udayamati along with her son. In an area of scanty rains and lower water tables, she decided that the best monument for everlasting memory of her late husband and useful for her subjects would be a unique stepwell, highlighting sanctity of water !

I am loading up more photos possible here to showcase the beauty of this art centric engineered marvel of India, which is much more effective than description of the same in words. As it is designed and built about thousand years back, I wonder how they could reach this perfection in stone without modern scientific instruments. Probably they might have had their own instruments but was not clever enough to  'patent' them! I am sure the world will  talk and write more about this marvel as years go by as it is only 7 years since UNESCO had declared it as a world heritage site, while only twenty-five years since it has been unearthed.


My specific interest in bisecting what is featured on currency notes  came after one of the structurers which the firm did in Qatar while I was the CEO was featured on the currency note oyster monument was built right in the heart of the city in the corniche, within few weeks by us in connection of a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting(GCC) at Doha. Perhaps only few in the new generation knows that Qatar was once a pearl diving society which was the nation's main industry before it was replaced by hydrocarbon industry. Qatar is now one of the richest countries in the world per capita wise.

Friday, 1 April 2022


My interest in business trade marks might have started while I was doing my 12th grade in high school(Pre Degree). Although mostly limited to Indian trade marks, I used to derive some sort of fun or enthusiasm in bisecting the trade marks to find out what is hidden in them. As years passed it increased but limited to Indian scenario since the country was not opened up. With my arrival in Qatar in mid 1984 where almost everything was imported from the rest of the world, it was a feast for my interest in trade marks hunger! I still remember the great fun I used to have in this field in quizzing with my good friends D Souza, Jomy and late Prakash. Thank God my interest in trade marks and captions and slogans in business still continues unbated at my 72 !

A trade mark is essentially a recognizable sign, design or expression. It is a type of intellectual property which defines a product or service of a particular source of business organization. If you think that this subject is a drab or lifeless topic you are far from it. I am not going to explain here how we can have registered trade marks for our products legally but how we have reached to the level of identifying a product for its popularity or quality seeing a trade mark! How it evolved to what it is today from Mesopotamian days in 3500 BC.

What ancient history says...

First traces of trade marking in history was in Mesopotamia followed by Egypt and China. While bricks and roof tiles had specific markings in Mesopotamia around 3500-3200BC,Egyptians and Chinese used personal markings to claim ownership of livestock. However Romans were the first in the world to leave distinctive on many products they produced such as decorative vases, grave stones, roof tiles, tableware etc to stamp as a measure of quality , other than identification.

Although it may not be a trade mark in the business sense of it, it could be interesting to note that early Christians in the first and second century who were facing persecution under Roman empire used to identify between the Christians secretly by a mark of Ichthys's  fish as below! It was so derived from the Koine Greek pronunciation of 'fish' which actually meant Jesus Christ, son of God, the Savior, if translated to English. The Cross which is international representation of Christianity was recognized few centuries later only after Rome declared Christianity as state religion.

First trade mark law emerges...in England, France and US
In 1200 in Britain, massive frauds on quality of bread baked was rampant. In order to stop or at least control such frauds, in 1266 King Hay III of England passed a trade law which is considered to be the first of its kind in the world. The law insisted that all bread makers to place a mark on the bread they produced and sold so that on quality issues they can be traced and punished! In 1363 silversmiths were required to mark their wares. Soon after in 1400 every printer of books had to put their markings. In 1862 England passed 'the Merchandise Marks Act' to be followed with  comprehensive laws on the subject in 1905.

The French came out with 'Manufacture and Goods Mark Act' in 1857 but by 1751 in Paris furniture makers were asked to put their marks on the finished products.

In US trade mark law had to meet a series of changes from 1870 to 1946 with the Lanham Act spelled out to be comprehensive federal trade mark protection rules and statue that governs the trade marks.

Signs of trade marks..and the oldest!
I am sure that most of us know  the following marks which we notice in every day life on almost everything we use.
TM- unregistered trade mark
SM- unregistered service mark
C within a circle denotes Copy Right and
R within a circle denotes Registered

It would be interesting to know the history of some of the oldest registered trade marks in the modern commercial world.

Czech beer trade mark registered in 1859!   Pilsen is a city now in Czech Republic where this type of beer is born.                                                                                               
 In Britain the first trade mark registered in 1876.Bass & Co  Pale Ale!           Once the Bass was the highest selling beer in UK and its red     triangle was the first registered trade mark there which was in 1877.                                                                  

In US the first registered trade mark belonged to Averill Chemical Paint Company with an eagle holding a paint can in its beak! That was in 1870.

The oldest 10 logos registered include those of Shell, Stella Artois ,Levi Strauss, Heinz, Peugeot and Coco Cola.

The top among the most valuable brands in the world as on today include Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Visa ,Ali Baba and Tencent.

And the weird stories...
The weird stories related to trade mark rights never ends.

The famous DJ Paris Hilton had made a massive impression with her catch phrase "That's hot"! And she trade marked it!! She had a long stint in the court with the famous firm Hallmark over that. In 2007 she won the case with an out of court settlement with her opponent .

Tiffany &  Co, the giant among jewellery merchants had trade marked their shade of blue. So also  the yellow colour of 'Post it' which we use every day is trade marked by 3M! 

The ringing of opening and closing bells of New York Stock Exchange NYST also is trade marked, if you don't know. Another sound  which is trade marked is 'Tarzan's yell', by Edgar Rice Burroughs the author of ' Tarzan of the apes'. Have you ever heard the sound of a cigarette lighter when opened? The famous brand Zippo had  trademarked theirs. But the most famous sound which is popular and trademarked is-yes, you guessed it right- the roar of the MGM lion!

Cadbury, the famous confectionary maker in the world could trade mark its famous purple colour till 2013.But thereafter it couldn't because their rival Nestle objected. You will remember Usain Bolt , the famous runner who beat a lot of records. He had trademarked his signature lightning bolt victory gesture as above!!

Tail piece...
I was curious to find out the first trade mark registered in India. It was Buchanan & co Ltd , a British firm for their Scotch whisky brand of Black & White done in 1942!That's a good start I would say...... 


Tuesday, 1 March 2022


If you think that the well known phrase given in the title has originated in ancient Hebrew scriptures or any other religious texts - whether Abrahamic or Dharmic- as I used to , you are wrong. It is a paraphrase of a law as given by Hammurabi, creator of one of the earliest codes of law ever made on earth, in 1750 BC! Roman and Greek philosophies on codes of law flowered  later. Indian came out much later. And if you haven't heard about this Hammurabi, I will not find anything wrong with you either since I too didn't until very recently.  But once I started reading about it I was amazed which I want to share with you.

The Americans  have identified this Hammurabi pretty long back. His head is figured over the gallery doors of home chamber in the US Capitol building, Washington DC as one of the historical few who have influenced in forming the American law! So also a replica of stele -or stone pillar in simpler term-  of Hammurabi is placed in the HQ building of the United Nations and the original stele which is  at the world famous 'The Louvre' at Paris. I didn't notice that when I visited them. Justinian the great of Byzantine and Napoleon Bonaparte of France along few others have been identified as heavily influenced by the legal codes of Hammurabi! Almost all the countries of the world have referred to this code of law before they could finalize their own even in the modern world! I am sure that he must be a topic to be studied in law schools.

Paul is my schoolmate but a dropout. He couldn't continue studies for some unknown reasons. He is native of my own city but lives in a suburb. The poor fellow had to struggle a lot in life to make both ends meet. Still he does. He is two years older to me. I got into regular contact with him over telephone, once I came back from Doha. I have found out that his level of knowledge on history and geography of the world is outstanding which we used to share and enjoy. He says that he picked up the habit of reading soon after he had dropped out of the school, taking books from local library and purchasing a few on his own if possible, while doing sorts of errand jobs for a living. Finally he  had a good collection of such books but none of his immediate family members were interested. Finally he donated them to the library from where he used to take books!! Paul is  materially a poor man but good hearted and has a covetable wealth of knowledge which he failed to make use in this world. It was this Paul who tipped me on Hammurabi albeit it was a just a tip of an iceberg. Strange are the ways of this world! This article  is dedicated to my friend Paul.... 

                            Hammurabi as exhibited at the Capitol

Oldest Civilizations...And Hammurabi emerges...

Earliest civilization of the world is Sumer followed by ancient Egypt, ancient India(Indus Valley),Minoan (Island of Crete, Greece), ancient China and ancient Peru. Sumerian civilization existed in the  Mesopotamian region named Babylon which was between rivers Euphrates and Tigris around 4500BC.In the current world this part is located not far from south of Baghdad in Iraq. Most of the ancient civilizations existed on the banks of perennial rivers and Sumerian civilization is not an exception.

After the end of Sumerian power, as the sixth king of Babylon Dynasty comes reign of Hammurabi between 1792-1750BC.He successfully conquered the adjoining kingdoms to his domain. Under Hammurabi the city of Babylon became the most powerful city in the world. Along with  notable infrastructure projects the city was known to have flourished with Science, Art, Music, Mathematics, Astronomy and literature. As he conquered more and more land and his empire grew to be the biggest in the region, he also saw the need to have  uniform civil laws to unify the various groups he conquered. He sent legal experts and collected existing laws and compiled and modified them to have his 282 laws to be implemented under his empire.

Stele of Hammurabi codes...
Louvre Palace or simply known as The Louvre is the most visited art museum in the world. It is located at Paris on the right banks of Seine with  magnificent palace buildings of 12th century. It also has a modern glass pyramid which has become iconic with the museum designed by I.M.Pei who has also designed the Islamic Museum at Doha in Qatar.

                                                          The Louvre,  Paris
Monolisa, the most popular painting of Learnado da Vinci is the star attraction in this museum but it is to be noted that Stele of Hammurabi is considered to be one of the most precious possessions of The Louvre!

It was a French explorer named De Morgan in 1902 who discovered the stele which was found in three huge pieces in the ruins of Susa, presently in Iran which finally landed in this museum. The top of the  stele figures an image in relief of Hammurabi with Shamas, the Babylonian Sun God and God of Justice. Hammurabi claimed to have these laws given by Sun God. The codes were written in Cuneiform script, old Babylonian dialect of Akkadian on a basalt slab The stele is 8 feet high.

282 laws of Hammurabi...
His code consisted of 282 laws which I have read myself. May be the fact that  it is around 4000 years since these are made, some looked very blunt to me while some are progressive. But he has covered very large areas such as civil behaviour, penalties for stealing, rules for adoption of children, marriage and even divorce !It also covers wages, trade norms, rental and definitely slaves. Hammurabi states that he wants "to make justice visible in the land, to destroy the wicked person and the strong might not injure the weak"!! I am sure that all these phrases are read many times over in your life time without knowing the originator!

An eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth refer to the logic that people should be punished according to the way in which they were offended. If they hurt some one they should be hurt equally bad in return. When you come across this phrase next time..think of Hammurabi, the Babylonian king !!


Tuesday, 1 February 2022


Not far from Paris is the region of Champagne in France. As we all know that  the wine where it is grown, fermented and bottled within 100 miles of this region is exclusively known as Champagne. The wine made out of this region but in France is known as cremant, if you don't know. It was a French monk in the 17th century named Dom Pierre Perigton who is accidently credited with the creation of Champagne but has gone through a lot of improvements to have reached the current status which also includes that the cork while opening could attain a speed of 64 km/hr !

Here I am not trying to market Champagne or comparing it to its German version known as Sekt or Porsecco the Italian or Cava the Spanish. Nor why this bubbly beverage I like the most in its class,  but to write about Lady Veuve Clicquot, the first international business woman who made her name out to this world as creator of best known Champagne. And how she became  known as 'Grande dame of Champagne' from just a veuve (widow in French) in an era where the women were largely ignored in all fields including business!

In spite of the fact that she could create history with a best known brand in wine industry, she is largely ignored by the mainstream of history. I think it is more because it was men who wrote history in Europe in 1800s than the fact that she was much ahead of her time.

 All Champagne is sparkling- but not all sparkling wine is Champagne!

How Barbe-Nicole became Madame Cliquot...
Her name was Barbe-Nicole. She was born and brought up in a rich French business family. At her age of 21 in 1798 she was married to Francois Cliquot by arranged marriage. Interestingly her marriage took place in a wine cellar owned by her husband. Family of Francois was in textile industry albeit they had few interests in wine business. Unfortunately Fracois died of Typhoid in 1805 making her a widow at age of 27 with a three year old daughter! Definitely that was a time a woman could not even hold a bank account, forget about running a business!!But Barbe Nocole decided to take the rein of her husband's wine company against all such odds while her father in law thought of selling off the company.

A series of innovations and inventions...
That's what Madame Cliquot did. Her continuous pursuit to improve the quality of her products and her innovative mind to achieve the best in any circumstances is remarkable. Her motto was "Only one quality, the finest!". This is something which is palpable for me. Quality of the projects/products of the company where I was a CEO for 21 years was of prime concern from inception. But when we reached a position where an official motto was required in 1993 to grow bigger, what we selected from a lot of proposals was "Quality and Professionalism" in which I firmly believed.

A vintage champagne is when  all the grapes come from one particular vintage(year). But then it is kept for a minimum period of three years to a maximum of ten years to the best of my understanding. In 1810 Veuve Cliqout came out with the first vintage champagne which was noticed by the consumers. One day in 1816  she ran to her cellar storage and asked to take her kitchen table and make holes to fit  wine bottles to the utter surprise of her staff. She then placed the wine bottles upside down in an angle. She rotated the bottles each day and the sediment collected in the neck of the bottle was much easier to be removed than the bottom. Her method of ridding table process was a success. The crystal clear champagne of her brand was a hit in the market!! She came out again as a first to make Rose champagne which is a blend of red wine with white in 1818.

A great comet appeared in 1811 over Champagne province and nearby areas in France. Wine makers believed that this type of astronomical event had an effect on weather conditions to make the grapes the best suitable for wines. I think this has no base on science. But that year onwards many wine makers produce comet wines! It was Tsar Alexander of Russia  who declared that his brand of champagne would be Veuve Cliquot Cuvee de le Comete. Thereafter by 1831 the fame of her champagne spread from New York to Saint Petersburg...from Paris to London with iconic yellow label without perhaps who was behind it !!

                                                  Veuve Cliquot vine yards and cellars

Act with audacity...
In 2010 a group Finnish divers found out few bottles of Champagne including those of Veuve Cliquot beneath the Baltic Sea. It was from a Canadian ship which wrecked in 1913.The bottles were tested and found out to be still drinkable. It was sold in an auction. A bottle of Veuve Cliquot got a price - a  whopping  30,000 British pounds, the highest ever in the world for a champagne bottle!!From 1987 Lois Vuitton Moet Hennessey group has acquired the ownership of Veuve Cliquot.

From 1972 onwards an award named 'The Veuve Cliquot Business Woman' is being presented to the best successful women entrepreneurs. What she wrote in 1860 to one of her great grand daughters is what she was essentially in business. Quote. "The world is in perpetual motion and we must invent the things of tomorrow. One must go before others determined and let your intelligence direct your life. Act with audacity" Unquote.


Saturday, 1 January 2022


I have used the word 'unbeknownst' in the title intentionally meaning 'without someone's knowledge' which is more apt than just 'unknown'!! Hardly publicized  episodes of the erstwhile  ' Portuguese India' which is being continued as part II!

When I read and reread about the atrocities committed by the Portuguese on Hindus, Jews, Muslims etc and their beliefs and cultures during Inquisition of Goa from 1570 in the name of Christianity, I felt sad for my fellow countrymen and felt self defeated being a Christian. I made a number of checks on the truthfulness  of the same to find some escapism on that for no reason but found absolutely correct. Finally in 1800 equality was restored and same status was given to all the citizens there. When I read that, I felt relieved for the same reason. Is it for the love for fellow country men? Or is it love for Christianity? Could be both.

"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" is what Jesus Christ is believed to have prayed  while on cross. I think this is applicable to Portuguese or anyone for that  matter who is indulging in injustice in the name of Jesus Christ and Christianity!

Cochin becomes Administrative capital of 'Estado Portugues da India' and then shifted to Goa...

When da Gama left Cochin in his second trip to India he left Diogo Fernandes Correa to look after Portuguese trade and other interests including propagation of Christianity in the region. Their first fort which they named as Manuel fort after their king was built in the same year in the vicinity. The very name of Fort Cochin which is being used to this day is derived from this fort. Portuguese could take control of Cochin as its colony in 1503 albeit skirmishes with Zamorin of Calicut continued where the Portuguese had the final victory. In 1505 king Manuel I appointed Francisco d'Almeida as the first Viceroy of India with Cochin as administrative capital, which remained so until they shifted to Goa in  1510.But the Portuguese could continue to keep Cochin as its colony till 1663 when it was taken over by the Dutch. As per records it is estimated that there were 5000 Portuguese living at Fort Kochi in 1520.

In 1509 Alfonso de Albuquerque was appointed as the Viceroy. Finding Goa more strategically located to be the headquarters of Portuguese operations in India, China(Macua) and Timur (Malay archipelago)he captured Goa in 1510 from Sultan of Bijapur with the help of Timoji who was with erstwhile Vijayanagar empire. Unlike the Dutch or British who ruled India later, one of his immediate action  was encouraging Portuguese  to marry indigenous women and to settle in Goa as farmers, traders or artisans. Once in power the Portuguese started actions against local Hindus, Muslims and Jews. The official archdiocese of the Estado da India was created by a Papal bull in 1533 headed by an archbishop at Goa and later at Cochin. Interestingly at Cochin the Portuguese were against even the original Christians in Kerala who are believed to be converted by Saint Thomas, disciple of Jesus Christ in 52 AD known as Syrian Christians .They are so known because their prayer and church liturgy is based on Syriac language. The Portuguese couldn't digest the facts that they followed Eastern Christianity beliefs, held Hindu way of life, church rites in old Syriac language which was very close to the Aramaic language that Jesus Christ spoke and never recognized the supremacy of pope! The Portuguese could split the Syrian Christian church but many sections hold such beliefs dear to them to this day!

Bombay (Mumbai) was given as a dowry by the Portuguese!

It is unbelievably true how India was treated by the western colonists on many occasions. King John IV of Portugal had a daughter who was known as Catherine of Braganza. She became the Queen of England between 1665-1685 as wife of King Charles II. The present day Mumbai( Bombay) which is constituted by seven islands were in control of Maratha rulers but had to be ceded to the Portuguese empire .The same Mumbai was given by the Portuguese King to that of England as a dowry of Queen Catherine at the time of her marriage in 1661!

Portuguese Inquisition in Goa..

Jesus Christ was a man of peace in all respects but Christianity or I would say many churches were or are practicing quite far from His teachings. Catholic church under Portugal rule in India seems gone very far from His noble teachings! 

Inquisition is a tribunal founded by Pope Innocent in the 12th century to be practiced in few Catholic countries. The very objective was examination and punishment of heretics-what is believed against the church dogma, simply to put it but in practice it is much complex than it looks. Having successfully executed in Italy and Spain , the official Inquisition was established in Portugal in 1536 at the request of its King John III. The main target of Inquisition were those who were newly converted then from Judaism to Christianity but silently practiced Judaism, who  mostly migrated from Spain. 

The Portuguese Inquisition expanded its scope to colonies such as Brazil and Goa in India. In Goa it was established in 1570 and remained till 1812 for 242 years, a fact most of the Indians are not aware of or not seen in the school history books. In Goa the administration initially targeted crypto-Hindus, one who practiced Hinduism  secretly after getting converted to Catholics. But over the years the Inquisitors burnt anything written in Konkani, Sanskrit, Dutch or even English! Many natives -mostly Hindus- were criminally charged, flogged in public and some even sentenced to death. It was during this period that thousands of Konkani speaking Hindus had to flee the state leaving their possessions to neighboring as well as far off states and towns including Kochi my home town where they are settled even now. Francis Xavier, a Spaniard Jesuit who was later elevated as a saint by the Catholic church cannot deny the role he played during this period, I presume.

The clear religious discrimination of Hindus, Jews and Muslims were practiced in many ways such a Xenddi tax, similar to Jizya tax imposed by some of the Islamic rulers. Jobs in the Govt service were reserved for Christians only!! The famous French writer Voltaire had remarked "Goa is sadly famous for its Inquisition, equally contrary to humanity and commerce. The Portuguese monks made us believe that the people worshipped the devil and it is they who have served him"! 

However it is also to be added here that such religious oppression ended with a new Portuguese Civil Code of Goa, Daman and Diu in the 1800s where all citizen were given equal rights. Here it is also to be noted that since then Hindus, Christians, Muslims and all live in Goa in full harmony.

Portuguese Inquisition In Cochin and Kerala..

Due to the fact that Cochin was only under the direct control of Portuguese for a smaller period, the perils of Inquisition was much lesser here than in Goa. Interestingly it was directed more on the existing Christians, their beliefs and practices and  their church than other religions! The very fact that Christianity was brought to Kerala in 52 AD by none other than Saint Thomas, Disciple of Jesus Christ is something even now not accepted by Pope. I do not know about  reasons behind this move than could be non acceptance of more pedigree roots of original Christians in Kerala than those who control Vatican! And the 'wise' Portuguese burnt all the documents related to that!

Any way in 1599, the Portuguese could split the existing Syriac church then by conducting the Synod of Diampur, a council that laid down rules and regulations for the ancient Saint Thomas Christians formally uniting with Catholic church disconnecting their relations with Eastern church. This led to creation of Catholic Syro Malabar church.In1542 with the arrival of Francis Xavier, the Portuguese  could start a Portuguese Indian Church in Goa and Kerala with Latin rites.



Tomb of Vasco da Gama is 'majestically' displayed!!But true story of events will never be told ....until lions have their historians ...tales of the hunt always glorify the hunters!

The synod instructed to stop use of Aramaic language, the one Jesus himself was speaking along with closer old Syriac language which was used as liturgy by Saint Thomas Christians and instead to use Latin! All the older records of the older church were destroyed without any trace. It seems like done else where, they were more loyal to pope than even Jesus Christ! However a section of the original Saint Thomas Church revolted and reverted back to their beliefs and customs in 1653 after the Coonan Cross  pledge known as Jacobite church which flourished later years to this day in spite of few splits within. The Portuguese built a number of churches along the coast of Kerala and converted a lot of Hindus to be Christians. Portuguese to be followed by the Dutch and British later also contributed to form a new society named as Anglo Indians. But never meted out a la Goa in Kochi anytime which has a thriving most secular society of all in the state.It has to to be specifically noted that during the last 2000 years since Christianity came to Kerala, Hindus including all the rulers never troubled the Christians or their beliefs but the Christian Portuguese could!!

The Portuguese also contributed many  words which are still used in Malayalam such as Janal (window),chaavi(key),alamari (cupboard),kurishu(cross),maestri(foreman), pena(pen) and took Malayalm words to Portuguese such as jaco(jackfruit),manga(mango), teco(teak) and jagry(jaggery).Portuguese cuisine has  influenced many especially  in and around Kochi as well as Goa. Even now the central part of Fort Kochi is named as Vasco Da Gama Squire while there is a Cabral's yard close by!

Tomb of Vasco da Gama is ceremoniously exhibited in a highly decorated marble cask in Jeronimos Monastery at Lisbon. The place is a tourist attraction since the Govt of Portugal wanted to show case the location for its rich maritime past and colonizing power! But true story of events will never be told ....until lions have their historians ...tales of the hunt always glorify the hunters!


Friday, 24 December 2021


Merry Christmas to one and all of my readers!

A Christmas season anywhere in the world is not complete without at least a cake these days. Whether it is in the Americas ,Canada or Europe, Africa, Far East or Australia it is the same. Even in non Christian countries or secular countries where Christianity is comparatively a small community like India -with less than just 3 % of population- a Christmas without a cake is unthinkable for the last many decades. In Japan where Christians are limited to less than 1 %, bakers are busy with their trade mark  Christmas cakes during the festive month. I am sure that hardly few know that the only shortcake emoji exhibited in our smartphone emoji selection is a Japanese Christmas cake with a strawberry on the top! You can check that in your phone whether it uses Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung or any other known technology...

In fact it also may be interesting to know  that the first Indian who baked a Christmas cake in India was not a Christian but a Hindu by faith! In Kerala state where I live where Hindus, Christians and Muslims live together cordially, may be due to the influence of commercial practices of traders, a cake has become very popular among all communities. One Mampally Bapu , owner of Royal Biscuit company baked the first cake at Thalasseri, Kerala in 1880.

A cake has nothing to do with Jesus Christ or basic beliefs of Christianity. It is believed to have started much later in Britain in the 16th century based on traditional food there rather than with any church in the world. Thereafter it caught up with the rest of Europe and the world.

Please read on ...A cakewalk on this Christmas day!!

First day of each December while in Qatar...Thanks to Mr. Sherida Al Kaabi..
While in Qatar in spite of my busy official schedule even on Christmas days, I used to remember about Christmas  sharp on every first day of every December for many decades! Definitely it was not because of any religious reasons. In a country like Qatar where Christmas was not celebrated in public much in those years of 1980s and 90s, strange for many reasons, I used to see the Chairman of the company where I was  working ,signing on a number of Christmas cards to be posted to his Christian friends all over the world! That was sure to happen if he was available in the country on first of every December. Of course those were pre internet days. He also used to scribble down one or two sentences on the card to make them more personal. No wonder he had been a very professional and successful Ambassador for his country representing in India, Egypt ,UK and Scandinavian countries for many years. 

Now also he seems to continue the same habit since it is only two weeks ago that my wife and I got one of such cards from him. Time has changed that we got into that list but admire his ability to share and maintain the warmth of relationships for decades with others. Still he uses the good old system of printed Christmas cards in spite of the fact that he is a computer literate. I think his silent but noble action is the best Christmas message one can give to this day- keep the warmth and love with all, irrespective whether they are useful to him or not in life any more!!That's Mr. Sherida Al Kaabi!! And this is only one of the many characteristics of Mr. Al Kaabi which I try to emulate. An Arab influencing me, an Indian was the last thing in my life I expected !!

How the first Christmas cake was born?
The evolution of Christmas cake began with plum porridge which was  an English tradition for dinner. On Christmas eve people over there started having oats porridge after fasting. Soon dried fruit, honey and spices were added to porridge mix which eventually turned into Christmas pudding!

By 16th century oat meal was removed and instead wheat flour , butter, spices and eggs were added. It became the first version of Christmas boiled plum cake. Later the rich started baking the cake. By 1830s eating a traditional plum cake on Christmas day became a practice in Britain and caught up with the rest of the world. 

The most popular types of Christmas cakes in the western world..
Here it is not my intention to give the recipes of various Christmas cakes in the world and bore you. But it could be interesting to know that different types of such cakes remain popular by different names  in different countries.

While the traditional plum cake remains in many countries, in Germany it is Christollen, in Poland it is Makowiec, in Italy it is Panettone and in Portugal it is Bolo Rei. In France , Belgium, Switzerland and Lebanon it is Yule log cake (Buche de Noel).This reminds me that in Qatar most of the patisseries and bakeries are run by the Lebanese and during Christmas season how the Yule log cakes are exhibited in the shelves there more than traditional plum cakes!

And in  Japan....Emoji cake!

Christmas cake is very dominant in Japanese culture regardless of the fact that the % of Christians in the country is less than 1% of the population. It is sold in every other corner during the festive season right from November! The Japanese Christmas cake is unique- a light sponge cake covered with white cream and decorated with fresh strawberries. The Japanese liking for a Christmas cake started after the second world war devastation. There were a lot of Americans helping out Japan in the resurrection. And the poor Japanese those days were attracted towards the rich traditions of US! The Christmas eve in Japan is like Valentines day in the west. Would you be my 'Christmas' this year they ask each other instead of 'valentine' in Japan!

And the only cake emoji in our smartphones we use is Japanese Christmas cake! It is observed that the color scheme-white and red- of the cake represents the Japanese flag. Red strawberry for the sun while white of cream represents the background in Japanese flag! And why this particular cake in Emoji ? Because Emoji originated in Japan in 1999 created by a Japanese artist named Shigetaka Kurita which was patented. Emoji means 'Picture illustration' in Japanese language and he created the same for his employer firm NTT Docomo initially, but used by all.

First Indian made Christmas cake...
The  Christmas cake in India can be traced back to 1880.Mampally Bapu was a Keralite business man who used to ship bread, milk and tea to British troops stationed in Egypt. On his return to Kerala he started a bakery because he had learnt the art of baking biscuits while abroad mainly in Burma. His bakery was named as Royal Biscuit Factory at Thalassery, Kerala.

One day one Englishman named Murdoch Brown, a planter of estates brought him a cake which he had purchased while in England. He was requested to make a similar cake in his bakery. With the tasting and narration of such a cake from Murdoch , Bapu could bake a similar cake with dried fruits and other ingredients. That was in November 1883.

           Mambally Bapu presenting the first Indian made plum cake to Murdoch Brown in 1883.

Another cake known as Allahabadi Christmas cake also is well known in India for the last many decades. It has origins from Anglo Indian kitchens of Allahabad railways colony. Goa's Baath cake is a delicacy there during Christmas which has Portuguese origin. Vivikam is a traditional Christmas cake of Pondicherry which was ruled by the French. Mandas of Mangalore is traditional Christmas cake  among the Anglo Indians. So also Cochin Jews and Parsees  have their own cakes in the season. 

"You can't have your cake and eat it too" is an English idiomatic proverb, as we all know. Perhaps the only exception is a Christmas cake! Once again a Merry Christmas and a happy new year!!

Wednesday, 1 December 2021


While all educated Indians are fully aware of the rule, rather misrule of the British in India during the colonial years, I don't think that the same awareness is there about that of Portuguese' in India. I used to wonder why Indians and others are not fully focused on the atrocities meted out by the later during their 451 years of colonial rule than 200 years of British in India. Is it because the Portuguese were treating Indians better than the British? Or is it because while the British could directly or indirectly rule almost all India while the Portuguese were ruling only few pockets? These doubtful thoughts were always there in me but could do research on these only after I came back to India. 

It doesn't amuse me when most of the Indians- knowingly or unknowingly- celebrate our past slavery and looting by the British colonists. Or the way the personal affairs of their royal family is publicized in our media even now! Recently the mostly read Malayalam newspaper(in my mother tongue)  had written in detail in their internet edition titled as headline 'Operation London Bridge is ready" about the steps the British would do in case, Queen Elizabeth who is ailing from old age related diseases at her 96 demises....Thankfully she is still live. Winston Churchill  hated India to hilt- and expressed it openly- in spite his country was mostly depending on the loot from there to remain as a wealthy world power! He openly had said that "I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion...". Most of the Indians still think he is great...mostly by ignorance ,if I am not wrong. 

When I finally focused and read about the Portuguese colonization of India, its implications on Indians it gave me shock initially. After making sure of the happenings from various reliable sources including available Portuguese chronicles in English- many back up documents the Portuguese have cleverly destroyed-I am here to share them. I didn't know that  Vasco da Gama was known for a personality as violent, rude and relentless to start with! I didn't know that there is an epic classic poem revered in Portugal by all to this day titled 'The Lusaids'.It was written by Luis Vaz de Camoes in 1572 in celebration of the new sea route to India founded by da Gama! But their celebration was more than agony for India from 1510 to 1961 until Goa, Daman and Diu their pockets in India were liberated after 451 years of colonization! Even at that time all the western so called 'self champions of freedom and democracy'  including US, France, Britain and co were all supporting Portugal, opposing India openly in UN and elsewhere! It seems they sincerely believed that India was created to be mastered by them for ever!!

I have used the word 'unbeknownst' in the title intentionally meaning 'without someone's knowledge' which is more apt than just 'unknown'!! Hardly publicized  episodes of the erstwhile  ' Portuguese India'!

                                                    Vasco Da Gama meets Zamorin

Portuguese...pioneer in globalization? 
Motivations were three G s....God, Gold and Glory! 
It is said that the kings/Queens of Europe who funded such expeditions and the brave who captained all exploration trips were after three G s - God, Gold and Glory! And the Portuguese was not an exception. The usufructs, the benefits or profits so generated were always divided between them based on a pre trip agreement- mostly on percentage basis!
Though not in the correct sense of it, the Portuguese started globalization in the world in the 14th century. It was them who were the first European power to engage with other Europeans, Africans, Asians and Americans! It was smart of  King Manual I of Portugal who  sincerely believed that explorations to find new lands and sources of spices which were popular in Europe, can boost the poor economy of the country. Finding a new sea route to India and Indies was so intended to overcome the influence of Venetians in Mediterranean Sea and those of Ottomans and Mamluks of Egypt over Indian Ocean. Until then the Muslim middlemen who traded the Indian  spices to Europeans were charging hefty commissions claiming that the same was brought from far off lands guarded by serpents and devils as well. It was also hoped to find new Christians living in those parts of the globe so that more effective joint opposition could be made against the ever growing control of Muslims and Arabs over trade and power. And  to avoid robbers who always waited to ambush the land caravans.

The journey starts... 
Vasco da Gama belonged to a family of explorers. His father and maternal uncles -Vincente and Bras Sodre- and brothers were known to be in that category. It was Estevo da Gama, father of Vasco da Gama, a minor provincial nobleman  who was assigned with the trip but for some unknown reasons it was delayed and the duty was entrusted to young da Gama by the king. 

With 4 ships and 170 men including a catholic priest named Fr. Figueiro and interpreters,  da Gama commenced the journey from Lisbon on July 8,1497.He followed the same ship route without out losing sight of the main land which was discovered by another Portuguese explorer named Bartolomeo Diaz few years prior till the Cape of Good Hope, rounded the tip of Africa to reach Malindi, Kenya.

It was an  Indian who navigated da Gama from Africa to India!
Da Gama knew that he had to sail across the Indian Ocean from Malindi to Calicut which was really tricky those days. There it is believed that da Gama befriended a rich Gujarati merchant from India named Kanji Malam who escorted him in his own ship  to the shores of India! The identity of such a guide is also claimed to be one Ibn Majid, an Arab of descent by many Arab historians. But it is unlikely since the Arabs were already on loggerheads with Portuguese! I wonder why Indian history texts remain mostly silent of such a person all these years albeit many foreign chronicles like Encyclopedia Britannica writes about it authoritatively. Even the Portuguese chronicles mentions the help of such a person who had large fleet of ships bigger than what Portugal had! I wonder why I had not studied this factor anywhere in my school textbooks! And that could be more intentional than passive,I am afraid.

Ahoy Calicut! Land of 'Prester John'!
As da Gama landed at Calicut on 20 May 1498 taking 23 days from Malindi , he was under the impression that the local king- Zamorin and inhabitants of the town were Christians! Europeans were of the belief that there was a king named Prester John somewhere in Africa or Asia. For this reason da Gama was carrying a letter addressed to him by King Manuel I of Portugal while he met the Zamorin. He was given a warm welcome and reception by sending a palanquin and the people thronged on the sides of the road and roof tops leading to the palace as he travelled. It could be interesting to quote the first hand early thoughts of da Gama as I have read from one of his companion's diary." They are of tawny complexion. Men wear moustaches, go half naked to the waist covering the lower part with fine cotton stuff. Not all, but all seem to wear the best they have." " The women are ugly and of small stature. They wear a lot of gold ornaments ". He also thought that all the people were friendly but seemed ignorant!!Being polite, guest friendly and a warm reception with wide open arms including a royal ride in a palanquin for the first time carried by our Indians for miles, might have made him to think so, I presume!

Anyway the meeting with the Zamorin who was 'constantly chewing leaves of betel-nut' did not take off well especially because the quality of presents da Gama presented to him were not of gold but of lesser value! And already he had an influence of Arab merchants who were taking all the spices from his port which was unexpected by da Gama.

The return trip to Lisbon...
Apart from the fact that Vasco da Gama had to leave India empty handed without entering into any sort of trade agreement, he had to face an unexpected situation where a lot of his crew died of the disease scurvy. His own brother Paulo who steered one of the ships was one among them. He had to order to burn down one of his ships too because of shortage of enough competent men. Finally he reached the shores of Portugal with only 54 men in a dejected mood.

But the King of Portugal had ordered for a grand reception and celebration. He knew that his battle to monopolize the trade route to India out beating rivals such as  Spain, Britain, Dutch and others was over. He knew that the West is connected to the East by sea for sure and further the lands of Ceylon, Indonesia, China and Japan!!

Further expeditions of Cabral and da Gama of Portugal.

In 1500 Pedro Alvres Cabral with his 13 ships and 1200 men set sail for India. One of his ships was captained by none other than Bartholomew Dias of 'Cape of Good Hope' fame. The wind in the Atlantic Ocean accidentally took him to present day Brazil in South America. He is credited with finding of Brazil. Leaving behind few convicted criminals who were taken with him in the armada, after few days Cabral successfully sailed back across the Atlantic to round the Cape of Good Hope and reached Calicut on the west coast of India. He had lost few ships and captains including Bartholomew Dias in between in storm!

He reached Calicut on 13 September 1500 and tried for a trade treaty with the king which was resisted by the Arabs. Cabral then demanded the king to banish all Muslims from his kingdom which the king refused. Enmity between both came out. Arab traders killed 50 Portuguese men and Cabral retaliated capturing 10 of Arab ships!! Cabral then moved to Cannanore and later to Cochin where the kings were in bad terms with Zamorin. They welcomed the Portuguese and allowed trading facilities at Cochin. 'The enemy of my enemy is my friend'- their new relationship flourished well. Cabral could return to Lisbon successfully with his ships loaded with spices of Malabar. He could  get permission of the king at Cochin to leave 30  Portuguese sailors-thankfully not convicted criminals- behind, when his ships sailed off! European domination and ultimate colonization of India for the next 447 years had kick started!!

It was the turn of Vasco da Gama to make the next rip to India in 1502, his second and third of Portugal. He wanted to show the Arabs who had been opposing them to have a trade with India the might of Portugal! With 20 ships in his command da Gama captured many Arab ships on the way. He stopped a ship full of Muslim pilgrims who were on the way from Calicut to Mecca. It is recorded that da Gama was merciless to the extent that he looted the ship and killed all the 400 passengers and crew on that ship!! As he reached Calicut on October 30,1502 he came to take revenge on the treatment of Zamorin and Arabs on his predecessor Cabral. He bombarded the port of Calicut and destroyed it considerably. It is also recorded that the crew of many rice ships of Zamorin were caught live by  da Gama. He then cut the hands and ears of some of them and send them to Zamorin with a warning note. Zamorin did not yield to the pressure tactics anyway. As such da Gama had to go to Cannanore and Cochin to fill up his ships with the spices before he returned to Portugal!!

           Original burial place of Vasco da Gama at St Francis church, Fort Kochi.

In fact da Gama had made one more trip to India sometime later in 1524.By that time headquarters of Portuguese had been shifted to Goa. Da Gama landed in Goa but couldn't be in India for long. Vasco da Gama died while in Cochin in 1524.To keep the records straight Vasco da Gama had six sons and one daughter. His second son also was in India as a Governor in 1540.His body was cremated in a church at Cochin which is close to my  residence but later the remains were taken to Portugal.

                                     TO BE CONTINUED IN NEXT AS PART II....