Volkart Brothers – The Swiss connection

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Cochin & Tellicherry, through the eyes of AF Ammann

Kayalinarike…goes the old Mehaboob song written by Meppalli Balan, brought to life a decade ago by the sonorous Shahbaz Aman. The song takes you through the Kochi of the 50s and tells you about the many companies that had set up shop at the bustling Cochin (Fort Kochi) port and the travails of a jobless man. Calicut had lost its sheen as the medieval port many a decade ago, and Cochin had taken over. A new harbor had been constructed and had become home to liners, cargo ships, and other marine craft. Mehaboob goes on to mention Pierce Leslie, Aspinwall, AV Thomas.…and of course Volkart. We had discussed Perce Leslie in the past, so now it is time to study the checkered story of Volkart in Cochin, Calicut, and Tellicherry. I was a bit unsure when I started the research, wondering if it could be interesting, but trust me, it is.

Conceição – Our new book

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 The Sad Story of the Conceição – Published by the Chagos Conservation Trust (CCT)

Sometimes I wonder at the surprising turns that life takes. I was researching for material to add meat to the article that I was preparing on Deigo Garcia and chanced upon a site related to the Chagos Archipelago, where I found an old copy of ‘Chagos News’. In there, I did not find much on Diego Garcia as such, but I chanced on an article by Nigel Wenban-Smith, on the sinking of an India-bound Portuguese Nau called Conceição (Conception) in 1555. Intrigued, I read it up and when I saw that it was about a shipwreck among those islands, I became very interested, desiring to get to the bottom of the story. This was in my wheelhouse, so to say, and melded with the many Portuguese studies I had made, while at the same time being on the fringes of the Diego Garcia research. I obtained a copy of the survivor Rangel’s account of the shipwreck in Portuguese, but an online translation did not prove to be very helpful.