Category INDIA

What became of Mrs Ali? A Londoner in 1920s Calcutta

Calcutta, British India, 17th August 1921: “Mrs Muhammad Ali (alias Mrs Campbell), has been declared vagrant for being destitute. The Government of Bengal have issued orders for removal under the European Vagrancy Act.”

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The last Indians of Masvingo, Zimbabwe

For our fabric needs in Masvingo, a town in southern Zimbabwe, Anneliese and I were told to look no further than Ali & Co. Located on Josiah Tongogara Street, Masvingo’s principal shopping artery, the shop is packed-solid with cloth and sewing accessories suitable for pretty-well every conceivable taste, budget and purpose. Judging from the number of customers who were […]

Death in early Johannesburg: Braamfontein Cemetery

Shortly before visiting South Africa, I read Lost and Found in Johannesburg,* Mark Gevisser’s wonderful memoir combining family history with an exploration of the ruthlessly fashioned spatial absurdities of the city of his birth. As a child obsessed with maps, Gevisser noticed that parts of Johannesburg seemed uncharted, that city’s geography was “bizarre” and “eccentric”. Neighbouring areas – […]