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Memories of my travels between 1972 and 1982

Saturday, 5 February 2011

February 5th: Vellore in South India

On this day or thereabouts I was in Vellore in southern India.  We were there to fulfil obligations to my  relative John Cameron who had served with the Madras Sappers in Bangalore before and immediately after the Second World War.  We had met a number of people whose addresses he had given us, from a recently retired general to his driver living in Kerala.  We had stayed as honoured guests at the mess in Bangalore and had visited John's number two, called Sampangi, in Bangalore for a typically sumptuous meal.  We had made an arrangement to return to Vellore at this time to see more old soldiers.

We went to look at the Old Fort, which was a large intact space with fortified ramparts and an ancient temple.  There were the inevitable meals, which were too substantial and heavy.  There was a meal at the bungalow in Vellore where a number of old Sappers came to introduce themselves to us before we ate.  It was a very formal situation for much of the time. 

Finally we taken out to the village of Cameronpet, which was along the main road near the small town of Pallikonda as far as I can compute it.  This was a tiny settlement right next to a much more prosperous village which had a large white church.  All the inhabitants came out to greet us and showed us around.  My understanding is that John had paid for the building of this place for the impoverished families of soldiers probably sometime in the thirties - he modestly refused to discuss Cameronpet at all when I returned to England.  The buildings were simply built and looked all of the same style and could well have been pre-war.  I presume that all the inhabitants were untouchable as were most if not all of the people we were visiting in Vellore.  The Italian Catholic priest from the church was brought to meet us but unfortunately, with Sampangi back in Vellore arranging yet another feast, we had no way of doing much communication as little English was spoken.  A formal photograph was taken and I managed a less formal one as well, but not of the centre of Cameronpet itself.

We drove back to Vellore for the arranged feast and we were eventually allowed to relax on our own.  We started our journey north the next day by driving to Hyderabad.

In Cameronpet:  My picture
Near Cameronpet:  My picture

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