Glossary

The terms and words in the table below may be useful to readers.

Term Meaning
Ayah A nursemaid or nanny - a term usually applied to a person employed by Europeans in India and other former British territories
Bawatchi or Barwatchi An urdu word for chef. May also mean chief housekeeper or butler in larger establishments
Bheesti A person formerly employed in India as a water carrier - doing this with bags made from animal skins.
British Raj This system of governance was instituted on 28 June 1858, when, after the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the rule of the British East India Company was transferred to the Crown in the person of Queen Victoria (who, in 1876, was proclaimed Empress of India). It lasted until 1947, when it was partitioned into two sovereign dominion states: the Dominion of India (later the Republic of India) and the Dominion of Pakistan (later the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the eastern part of which, still later, became the People's Republic of Bangladesh in 1971). At the inception of the Raj in 1858, Lower Burma was already a part of British India; Upper Burma was added in 1886, and the resulting union, Burma (Myanmar), was administered as an autonomous province until 1937, when it became a separate British colony, gaining its own independence in 1948.
Chota Hazara An early breakfast
Dhobie An Indian washerman.
Gharry A horse-drawn cab.
Ghat This can mean 'a set of stairs leading to a river', 'a range of mountains' or 'a place where bodies are cremated.
Lascar A lascar was a sailor or militiaman from the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, the Arab world, and other territories located to the east of the Cape of Good Hope, employed on European ships from the 16th century until the middle of the 20th century. The term is thought to have been Portuguese but later adopted by the East India Company.
Maidan The Maidan (literally, open field), also referred to as the Brigade Parade Ground, is the largest urban park in Kolkata in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is a historical and cultural center of Kolkata as well as a center of leisure and entertainment for Calcuttans.
Nullah or Nulla A canal or watercourse.
Palki Term used for a covered litter - usually for one passenger - and carried by an even number of bearers. Usually four but can be between two and eight. English equivalent word is palanquin. In the past, Indian women of rank always used them and they were used by European residents. They fell out of favour around the beginning of the 20th Century.
Serang A serang was a senior member of a lascar crew and would be the main intermediary between the lascars and the European captain.
Tank A pond used for washing and cleaning things
Tiffin In the British Raj, tiffin was used to denote the British custom of afternoon tea that had been supplanted by the Indian practice of having a light meal at that hour. It is derived from "tiffing", an English colloquial term meaning to take a little drink. By 1867 it had become naturalised among Anglo-Indians in northern British India to mean luncheon. The term is still in use in South India and Nepal to mean a snack between meals: dosas, idlis, vadas etc.





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