We used to live on Avenue de La Bourdonnais and walk our children to school across the Champs de Mars and via Place Dupleix, streets named after two of the men -- La Bourdonnais and Dupleix -- whose little smudges on the history book pages stems from their activities in French India. We have written about Pondicherry here before, about its French graves, about its actes d'état civil, and about checking Compagnie des Indes passenger lists to find the name of one who was sent there.
A surprising number of our Dear Readers seem to have links with the tiny and beleaguered Pondicherry, France's colony in India. One of them, Madame W, kindly has pointed out a refernce work that contains a large number of names of French military personnel and settlers in French India, thus proving useful for a first stage of research. We have found it online at the Internet Archive and offer it here in the category in the panel to the left on this page, entitled "Good Reads".
"A History of the French in India" was written in the nineteenth century by a British colonel and historian. Hence, it is scholarly, emphasizes military history over social history, and is fraught with the usual prejudices held by Britain against France (no more numerous than those held by the French against the English) in that eternal extension of the Hundred Years War. Unfortunately, the copy offered contains the scribbled attempt at notes by some student or other of our alma mater. As usual with such inconsiderate people, they never read past the first couple of chapters, so the rest of the book is clean.
Of further interest to genealogists of French Pondicherians may be the current photographic exhibition at the Alliance Française in Delhi, presented by the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts: "Mastering the Lens : Before and After Cartier Bresson in Pondicherry". Alternative to booking passage to the vast subcontinent, a few of the photographs from the exhibition may be seen on the BBC News India website. Very nice.
©2012 Anne Morddel