Nanubhai Blog

Exploring History as the Highlight of Her Summer

Sonia shares the highlight of her time in India. 

In the midst of conducting interviews and translating surveys, we recently got a chance to revisit a

chapter of history and culture. India has always been the land of cultures, traditions and festivals. We

thrive on our roots and our lives of modernity are deeply entangled with sayings and makings of

yesterday. I never thought we would have an opportunity to move back in time while interviewing 2014

Nanubhai scholars in Surat.

While Surat is popularly known as the Diamond city of 21st century India, not many know that Surat was

the first Indian city to be ravaged by any foreign ruler. The Portuguese landed in Surat in the year 1512

and this initiated a long line of rulers who would use this dock city for their trading purposes. There was

the East India Company, the Baghdadi Jews, the Dutch and many more who eventually made this place

their home.

How we revisited the past?

We found our way into the ancient English and Dutch cemeteries. What fascinated me the most about the

cemeteries was the fact that the Christian tombs were placed under Islamic style arches and structures.

The English cemetery, in fact, was located in the depths of a Muslim colony. This gave me an idea about

the secular attitude of the citizens who lived in an era gone bye.

Visiting these cemeteries was probably the highlight of this summer.

You learn. You brood. You wonder and imagine.

History makes you do all of this at one go.