Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Chamonix, France

“This striking photograph, for which the caption reads Vallée de Chamonix - Traversée de la Mer de Glace (Chamonix Valley - Crossing the sea of ice), was taken between 1902 and 1904 near the popular winter sports destination Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. The town, which borders Switzerland and Italy was the site of the first Winter Olympics in 1924, and the place has been known as a tourist destination since the early 19th century.” Source: Photo of the Week: December 26, 2014; By Rachael Woodson.http://bonjourparis.com/story/photo-week-december-26-2014/

I visited Chamonix in mid 1980s and it is one of the places that I would like to visit again and again.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

'Pleasantly surprised in Paris' by K.J.S.Chatrath

After a long trip covering four of the South American countries I boarded an Air France flight from Rio De Janeiro for Paris. When the flight took off and the service started after a while, I saw champagne being served even to the economy class passengers. It was a long 12 hours non-stop flight and I followed my self imposed restraint of not having any alcohol when flying. But silently appreciated the champagne gesture of Air France. The flight was long and tiring. It reached Charles De Gaulle airport Paris at the schduled time. Tired, half asleep and carrying the baggage of lack of sleep of the South American trip, I deplaned and walked towards the Immigration. Suddenly I saw something which made me smile from ear to ear. It was a board in various languages welcoming passengers to Paris. It carried a pleasant message in Hindi in Devanagri script. Take a look:
From the airport I went to the hotel. Put my luggage there and then went off to visit the Catacombs of Paris. That visit deserves to be told in detail along with photographs. At the reception of the Catacombs one could buy a souvenir coin. This was a new addition and was not there when I had visited the Catacombs on three earlier ocassions. The souvenir coin gave me another opportunity to smile from ear to ear. On one side of the coin 'France' was written in various languages- including boldly in Hindi. Take a look:
More about the visit to the Catacombs later. . .

Friday, December 26, 2014

'WWI Indian soldiers were not merceneries' by K.J.S.Chatrath

Recently Hon'ble Justice Markandey Katju termed the Indian soldiers who fought in the World War I as 'merceneries'. I was not the only one who totally disagreed with this labelling. Read what a researcher on the subject has written:

'Taking up arms for the men' by Vedica Kant (The Hindu):The occasion of the centenary of World War I has in India focused attention on the ... the side of the Anglo-French Alliance in France were nothing but mercenaries, ... In post-colonial independent India, there has been little scope for ...Please click at the following link to read the full article:


Thursday, December 25, 2014

'The Destruction of Chartres Cathedral' by Alexander Gorlin

Anyone visiting India for the first time is taken aback at the number of centuries old heritage buildings that lie in various parts of the country. Once in a while we are appalled to get news of some over enthusiastic persons white washing some such monument/s with the seemingly good intention of renovating or saving it. I was surprised to find that such things sometimes happen in culturally sensitive countries like France also.

You may like to read the following article about Chartres, France. "The Destruction of Chartres Cathedral" by Alexander Gorlin


Monday, December 22, 2014

" WW1 Centenary - Tribute to Indian soldiers: The human faces behind the heroes: France’s tribute to Indian soldiers in WWI"

An inscription comemorating an Indian Soldier of WWI in Mezargues War Cemetery, Marseille, France. Photo: K.J.S.Chatrath

WW1 Centenary - Tribute to Indian soldiers: The human faces behind the heroes: France’s tribute to Indian soldiers in WWI*

Opinion piece by H.E. François Richier, Ambassador of France to India.

"A hundred years ago, almost down to the day, in late October 1914, two Indian infantry divisions - the Third (Lahore) and the Seventh (Meerut) – reached the Western Front in northeast France and Belgium to fight alongside French and British soldiers. On 28th October, fierce battles broke out in Neuve Chapelle with heavy losses. By the end of that year, around 28,500 Indian soldiers, enlisted in the British Army as part of the Indian Corps, came to fight on French and Belgian soils. They faced the severe winter of 1914-1915, then the brutality of war once again in Neuve Chapelle (March), Ypres (April), Festubert (May), and Loos (September). In all, from 1914 to 1918, around 90,000 combat and non-combat men fought for the freedom of France and Belgium, serving under the Indian Army and the Imperial Service Troops. Of them, 8500 died and 50,000 were injured. Numerous soldiers hailing from former French trading posts – now in present-day Puducherry – also fought in France. The names of those who died on the battlefield are engraved on war memorials in these former trading posts, and this military tradition is being carried forward in the French armed forces.

France will never forget the suffering and the heroism of these men. In 1927, Marshal Ferdinand Foch, Commander of Allied Forces in World War I, paid them a rich tribute: “Return to your homes, in your distant lands bathed in the light of the East, and proclaim out loud how your patriots spattered the cold northern lands of France and Flanders with their blood, how they liberated them from the clutches of the determined enemy, thanks to their quick-wittedness. Go and tell all of India that we must look upon their graves with the devotion that all our dead deserve. We shall cherish, above all, the memory of the examples they set. They hewed the path for us, it is they who took the first steps towards the final victory.”

On 11th November 2014 at the international memorial in Notre Dame de Lorette, President François Hollande will pay a solemn tribute to the 6,00,000 foreign soldiers who fell in World War I. Their remembrance remains deeply rooted in the memory of the French people, who recall the violence of the aggression and the magnitude of the sacrifice made to counter it.

During these commemorative events of the First World War Centenary, honouring the memory of these Indian soldiers will not be only about remembering their engagement. They will not be only a litany of battles, nor only a roll call of the dead. The commemorations will also be about gathering narratives so that, behind the valorous soldier, appears also the lives of these men who left their lands and their families behind to fight: Punjabis – who accounted for almost half the force – Pathans, Rajputs, Garhwalis, Gurkhas and many others. They will also be the re-reading of letters written by these soldiers; they will also be the collection of objects that bear witness to their passage to France.

These men lived through a period of not only extreme violence but also the sudden encounter of two worlds: India’s small landowners and a France whose countryside was ravaged by enemy fire, where women and children had to shoulder the tasks of the men who had left for the warfront. Apart from the sojourns in France by maharajas and political exiles during the Belle Epoque, the glorious period when peace and prosperity reigned and the arts flourished – which the War abruptly brought to an end – this was the first time that Indians came to live in such great numbers alongside the French, who, according to all accounts, extended them a warm welcome.

In 2015, we wish to continue this work of preserving memory and of respect by translating into English French works on Indian soldiers in France and by gathering objects and accounts of their lives for the major exhibition being organised by Roli Books. We are also delighted to support the Paris-based Indian filmmaker Vijay Singh, who is shooting a remarkable documentary on the lives of Indian soldiers in France, the brotherhood of arms created with French soldiers, and the close ties forged with the French civilian population.

Similar to those on the joint fight of French soldiers and Indian princes against the British in the 18th and 19th centuries, this work on Indian soldiers and World War I is important for the French and the Indian peoples to gain greater knowledge about each other. This part of shared history is a source of pride and mutual respect."

Hindi and Punjabi versions of this opinion piece by H.E. François Richier, Ambassador of France to India appeared in "Dainik Jagran" and "Punjabi Jagran" respectively on 31 October 2014.

*Source: Website of French Embassy in India

Top 10 French books of the year.

'Cultural Services of the French Embassy in USA have compiled their picks for the year's top 10 titles, from psychological thrillers to beaux livres, from the more buzzed about titles to those critics may have overlooked. Here they are, in alphabetical order by title...' http://frenchculture.org/books/news/top-10-french-books-year-book-department-picks

Saturday, December 20, 2014

‘Brave Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives defending the freedom of France’ by K.J.S.Chatrath


'Missed circus in Paris' by K.J.S.Chatrath


Thursday, December 18, 2014

'Three glorious schools are now in focus' by Annie Phillip

Please click at the following link to read the article about saving Puducherry's heritage: http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/three-glorious-schools-are-now-in-focus/article6705204.ece

Wednesday, December 17, 2014



Saturday, December 13, 2014

Now this is a secular country. Bravo France!

"France Celebrated 'National Secularity Day' By Banning Baby Jesus From Public Buildings" By Virgile Dall’Armellina

Please click at the following link to read the full article. https://news.vice.com/article/france-celebrated-national-secularity-day-by-banning-baby-jesus-from-public-buildings

France is a country where freedom of religion and freedom of thought are guaranteed by virtue of the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The Republic is based on the principle of laïcité (or "freedom of conscience") enforced by the 1880s Jules Ferry laws and the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State. Roman Catholicism, the religion of a majority of French people, is no longer the state religion that it was before the 1789.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

French Homage to Indian Soldiers

Monday, December 1, 2014

Georges Gaste in India- Exhibition

George Gaste
George Gaste was a French Orientalist painter and photographer. The invite says the rest! . .

Hello France! Welcome a new writer in French- Supreet Dhiman

I have been trying to learn French since the last 50 years but quite regretfully, I am far from being in a position to speak or write good French. Yes it is not easy to learn a foreign language.

In this background I am absolutely stunned (in a very pleasant way) by the mastery of French- written as well as spoken which my friend Supreet Dhiman has achieved in a very short time.

Take a look at the latest article in her blog and decide for yourself if I am right. https://anindiansummerbysupreet.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/la-boisson-de-linde/

Welcome to a new writer in French.

Mes felicitations Mlle. Supreet Dhiman.