History of RangoonRangoon History
India's link to Rangoon: Reminiscences of the thousand who took an unsettled stroll home.
In his last movie, Rangoon, director Vishal Bharadvaj has unearthed a much less well-known era of India's story. A cloth from the more famous social movements in India and Britain stood behind the country's own face with the Second World War. As the Japanese came knocking on the doorstep of Burma and later North East India, the Nazis knew that Britain was no longer the only menace they had to get out of.
It was Burma they first invaded in December 1942 before the Japs were able to enter Britain. Yangon was at that point a predominantly Hindi town. Since Burma was under UK domination, it was customary in the nineteenth century for Indians to move there to have better job opportunities. Although the attack on Burma by Japan was indeed an attack against the Brits, it created widespread anxiety among the people of India.
Maybe they were worried about their welfare in the British' absentia. Japanese aerial attacks began in December 1941 and shortly afterwards the British began to evacuate their people. Only very few Indians were able to use them. Unattended, tens of millions of Indians have crossed malicious territory and fought against savage beasts, bugs and intoxicants.
Except for a selection of individual reports that lie around, no organized archives can be found that have gathered the memory of tens of thousands of people who have abandoned their well-populated life in Burma and have been on a dangerous trip to India. Mitali Choudhury, a mum of three children, was borne in London and grew up in a village in southern Kolkata before getting remarried.
However, an important part of her familial identification is the connection to Burma, where her great-grandfather Joy Chandra Dutta made a fortune in the woodshop. Amitav Ghosh's famed novel "The Glass Palace" in Burma is thought to be influenced by his work. Satish Chandra Ray, his grandchild from the side of his daugther and Mitali Choudhury's dad, was the last of the Burmese people.
But he and his daugther did leave a large number of memories of the periods of anxiety and concern that seized his familiy as they stormed out of Rangoon. At that time he was about 20 years old and was the last strong man in his extended household who could climb onto a steamship with the wives and underlings.
Anyone older than him had to go downstairs," says Choudhury. When his older brothers were about to get on the steamship, they gave him a little purse with some cash and asked him to take good charge of the whole household until they could get there by road. Choudhury says, "He didn't know how long it would take his older brethren to get to Dhaka by road.
The majority of them had some sort of tragedy," says Choudhury. And Choudhury remembers her aunties talking about Rangoon living. "Choudhury tells stories narrated by her aunties about jad bracelets and Myanmar jewels selling on the Rangoon street, as part of the heritage that once owned King Thebaw of Burma," Choudhury says.
Choudhury says, "They could never accept that they had to abandon such an expensive home and lead a normal middle-class lifestyle in Calcutta. He was sent to Burma to work on the railroad. Madamhavan was in Rangoon, where he was living until the ages of 3-4 when he had to evict the town, as anxiety about a Jap raid gripped his people.
Y'all abandoned Rangoon in 1938, years before the actual start of the conflict. Him and his wife and daughter were lucky enough to get a steamship to Chennai. "There were a number of South Indians living in Rangoon back then, so we all got together," Madhavan says, explaining that several other relations of his took the road.
Shah, who was borne one year after his familys arrival in India, says that when the streamers arrived in Calcutta, the borders were just bequeathed. Amitav Ghosh, the writer, has written down the story of a Burmese refugee, Dr. Gurumurthy, in his own private diary. Gurumurthy's dad, like many other Indians in Burma, had emigrated there to lead a better life.
He is a Burmese native. His dad was borne in Burma in 1902 and he was borne in 1933. Gurumurthy remembers how his mom and grandma were in a state of spiritual breakdown when they arrived in Imphal and then Calcutta.