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The First Cigarette
The 1860s and 70s were a difficult time for the old and noble families of Delhi. The changes ushered in after the rising of 1857 had precipitated the decline of the city that had begun with the invasion of Nadir Shah over a century ago. The grandeur (More)
The Promethean Parsi
When Prometheus stole fire from the gods, we do not know in what form he actually carried the fire. Most denizens of gaslit cities, however, carried fire in their pocke (More)
A Calcutta Christmas
It was in 1843, only five years after the then-young Queen Victoria first sat on the throne, that the modern Christmas Card made its debut. Sir Henry Cole and his artist friend, JC Horsley, devised the first Christmas Card. The postal rates had just (More)
The New Year Murders
Amitav Ghosh's poppy trilogy has done much to illuminate the world of the seacunny It (More)
Glamorous Gauhar
Born as Angelina Yeoward in 1873 in Azamgarh, Gauhar Jaan, was one of the greatest stars of the British Raj. One of the best exponents of classical Hindustani music, Gauhar Jaan, like most other classical musicians before her, sang for kings and quee (More)
Smoking Stars
The world of gaslights was made ever more mysterious by the swirling balls of cigarette smoke rising from the fashionable new objects (More)
A Curious Picture
I bought this little poster a few years back at an old book store. The image caught my attention for two reasons. First, notwithstanding the central focu (More)
The Soho Love Tragedy
It was an uncomfortably warm morning in central London. The thick black fog that had hung like a pall early in the morning had moved away and a muggy, hot morni (More)
An Anonymous Murder
On the 30th of May 1867, a worried father walked into the Entally police station. No name, leave alone an image, of the paternal figure has survived. (More)
Phantoms of the Air
“I am extremely disappointed to have to report ill of this officer”, wrote the Magistrate of Saran in 1868 about his young Deputy Magistrate E.E. Fisher. Fisher had had a history of getting into trouble and his superior officers were tired of him. Wh (More)
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