Category Archives: travelogue

Hurdling Back Home to Adelaide

Michael Roberts

SYDNEY to ADELAIDE:  Having been informed on Thursday night that I had no Covid and would receive CLEARANCE  I proceeded to pack and on FRIDAY the 1st October confirmed my ticket booking to Adelaide that afternoon on JETSTAR [an airline which permitted extra luggage].

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From Galle Across Oceans: The Talented Joseph Family

An Introductory Note from Michael Roberts, 30 September 2020

This ramified tale begins with the wedding photograph sent to me my old playmate Adrienne Ranasinghe nee Conderlag displaying the elegant couple and entourage in front of the All Saints Church in the fort of Galle. This spark has set Joe Simpson, a Galle lover who taught at Richmond College for a while and is back in Canada now, off-and-running. He saw that the best man at the wedding was Louis Joseph and sent me an old article he had composed on the Joseph family. This essay is now adorning the Thuppahi web site as well.

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The Joseph Family of British Ceylon: Service to Mankind across the Oceans

Joe Simpson. reproducing his article in http://www.worldgenweb.org/lkawgw/sid.html

This dashing military-style portrait is of Sidney Percival Joseph (1873- 934) who was one of 15 children of Arthur Francis Joseph’s younger brother Eugene (1839-1915) and his wife, Georgiana Jemima (nee Ohlmus) (1848-1906). Sidney would thus have been a nephew of Arthur Francis Joseph (“AFJ”) and Eugenia, and a first cousin of Lawrence Joseph and his brothers. As the two cousins were almost exactly the same age, Sidney and Lawrence were probably childhood friends and remained so after Lawrence Joseph (later Joseph Lawrence) moved permanently to Scotland in the early 1890s.

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The Conderlag Wedding in Galle, 1932

The marriage ceremony at the All Saints’ Church in the Fort of Galle on the 17th February 1932 is a reminder of the signficant number of Burgher families who were born and bred in the southern districts of Sri Lanka stretching from Tangalle to Ambalangoda. Absorb these names: Labrooys, Bastiaensz, Ludowyk, Colin-Thome,  De Vos, Bartholomeusz, Austin, Joseph, Ephraums, Buultjens, etc etcetera.  My thanks to Adrienne Ranasinghe nee Conderlag for this memorable document.

Miriam Conderlag, Louis Joseph, Leonard Conderlag and his wife Kathleen Austin, Vivian Blaze, Pamela Roberts, Elma Austin [who subsequently married Eddie Joseph and lived in Hirimbura].

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How Robert Knox’s Opus took shape in 1681

Anna Winterbottom, in The British Journal for the History of Science, Volume 42Issue 4., December 2009 , pp. 515-538 where the title is Producing and using the Historical Relation of Ceylon: Robert Knox, the East India Company and the Royal Society”

Abstract: Robert Knox’s An Historical Relation of the Island of Ceylon was produced, published and enlarged through the collaboration of the author with scholars including Robert Hooke and financial support from members of the East India Company. The Relation should be seen in the context of a number of texts collected, translated or commissioned by the East India Company in cooperation with the Royal Society during the late seventeenth century that informed and shaped both European expansion and natural philosophy. As well as circulating between European intellectual centres, often reorientated in the process of translation, these texts served as practical guides across settlements and trading posts abroad. Comparing written accounts with experience led to annotations and borrowings that served as the basis for further writings. Company records and Knox’s own unpublished works reveal how the Relation was used as the basis for bio-prospecting for naturally occurring drugs and food sources and in efforts at agricultural transplantation spanning the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Through the reports of seamen like Knox, such experiments contributed to contemporary theories concerning the effects of latitude on plant life.

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Dr RL Spittel: A Learned Man for the Väddās and the Wild

Richard Boyle. in Serendib, October 2013 where the title runs thus “Dr. R. L. Spittel: City Surgeon, Jungle Doctor, Wildlife Crusader”

In the late 1880s, a boy with the ambition to become a leading physician stood in a jungle clearing watching his surgeon-father perform an autopsy. From the undergrowth a member of the aboriginal people, the Veddahs, suddenly appeared. Their eyes met for one brief moment before the shy Veddah hastily withdrew. It was Richard Lionel Spittel’s first experience of a Veddah; an encounter that profoundly affected his life.

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A Treasure Trove of Jewish Memorabilia in Manchester

Nazia Parveen, in The Guardian, 24 September 2020, where the title reads “Time capsule from 1873 found buried in wall of Manchester Jewish Museum”

Hidden deep within a cavity wall of the Manchester Jewish Museum, complete with its wax seal intact, lay a glass jar time capsule buried almost 150 years ago.

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The Ahikuntika …. Roaming Gypsies of Sri Lanka

Pujitha Wijetunge, in http://www.lankalibrary.com/cul/gypsy.htm ….where the title is “Ahikuntika: Roaming Gypsy Clan”………. alas, no date given

Clad  in a sari and with a red mouth that showed signs that she was chewing beetle, Lili didn’t look any different from those fortune-tellers or palm readers who were a common sight in the streets few years back. But the next generation, Lucki, looked very much like those village boys, wearing a sarong and a gold painted wristwatch.

Lakshman with his dancing cobra.

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Epitaphs in Memory of Elmo de Alwis of Kalahe

Nihal De Alwis

Elmo was born on the 29th Of November 1935 in Galle to my loving parents FELIX DE ALWIS and ENID BERYL DE ALWIS. He was the seventh in our family of eleven He was my closest brother and friend throughout my schooling career until he left Sri Lanka with his family to Germany. But he never distanced himself from me and my family though he did not come very often to Sri Lanka having ensured that he was in Sri Lanka at least once a year especially in February. He was the most intelligent out of our family except for Fidelia our eldest sister, who had passed the senior matriculation in the early forties and my other eldest brother Chandra, who excelled as an entrepreneur being the managing Director of Lankem and Lanka wall tiles and becoming Founder Chairman of Royal Ceramics.

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The Carpentry Trade in the Rise of the Karāva in British Ceylon

Professor Sanath Lamabadusuriya

The Dutch period opened up several new economic opportunities for the locals, and the British period that followed opened up even more. Carpentry was one of them. Colonial economic activity in the maritime provinces required large buildings with extensive woodwork, Carts, boats and ships for transport, barrels for storage and European style furniture. These demands created a new and thriving carpentry industry.

A Coopering Factory …. Such products as arrack and coffee (and later graphite) were packed into barrels for transhipment. The demand would have been considerable so that entrepreneurs who set up coopering concerns would have been among those who became scions of the indigenous capitalist class.

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