In Search of Robert Clive’s Dog

21 Feb

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21-02-2017, 06:07 hrs

One evening in December 2016, I was telling a friend and neighbour, Dr. Chakko, about my interest in the career of Robert Clive who changed the history of the Indian sub-continent.

Dr. Chakko had worked for CMC Vellore for about 40 years before retiring.

He told me that near CMC Vellore there is a factory owned by Parry & Company with a Guest House at Ranipet.

“This Guest House, oddly enough, has a tomb dedicated to a dog which belonged to Robert Clive”.

I caught my breath… Clive’s career with the East India Company began in Fort St.George, Madras when he landed on the Coromandel coast in June 1744.

He was in the “Carnatic” (Kaveri distributary districts of modern Tamilnad including Vellore, Arcot and Tiruvannamalai) and Pondicherry (now Union Territory of Puducheri) from 1746 to 1754.

I started planning a visit to Vellore from where Dr.Chakko assured me I could hire a taxi and do Ranipet, Kaveripakkam, Arcot, Arani and Poosimalaikuppam (this last location is not associated with Clive) in a single day.

It finally happened over 17-18 Feb 2017.

I arrived in Katpadi Jn. on the Shatabdi Express, about half an hour later than the scheduled arrival time of 0858 hrs on 17 Feb 2017.

Thanks to Dr. Chakko, a taxi had been arranged to take me to Hotel GRT REGENCY SAMEERA. The driver was supposed to stand with a placard with my name… but he identified me from a distance and came bounding up the overbridge steps to relieve me of my baggage, most of which was photography gear, including a tripod.

Suresh was wearing an Indigo blue shirt and was probably in his mid thirties. I spoke to him in my rough tea estate Tamil. He insisted on replying in English.

We drove to the hotel, where I showed the smart lady at the Reception my reservation confirmationĀ  and told her that I would be coming back to occupy my room only by about 1600 hrs.

Back to the taxi and we raced off to Ranipet. Google Maps shows a location near Ranipet called “PARRY COLONY”, 25km from the GRT REGENCY SAMEERA.

We spent an hour looking for the PARRY Guest House but just couldnt find it. When I phoned Dr. Chakko, he told me to go to the PARRY Factory and talk to the manager. I had to reluctantly abort the mission as we were on a tight schedule and I didnt want to spend too much time in Ranipet looking for the dog’s grave!

Someone that driver Suresh talked to told us to visit the Secretary of St. Mary’s Church, Ranipet before leaving. He would know all about “Kallarai” (Graves or Tombs)

We walked down a narrow lane and turned in at the house of the Secretary. He was in the middle of a shave, with foam on his face.

When we told him about our search for the tomb of Lord Clive’s dog, his face crinkled into a smile. He pointed to a photograph on the wall of his front room and said, that is my father, R.C.Paul. He worked for Parry and Company. “R.C.” is for Robert Clive! My own name is R.C.Apollo Paul. “R.C.” for Robert Clive and “Apollo” is the Greek God, no doubt correctly assessing that I wouldnt have had the benefit of a classical education.

He wasnt able to help us with Clive’s dog’s grave. He said that the old Parry Guest House had been demolished and multistoried flats had come up there. He thought we should visit the St. Mary’s Church Cemetry as it had graves of British settlers and officials of Ranipet and Kaveripakkam going back 300 years or more.

Thus ended the first leg of our tour of Lord Robert Clive’s stamping grounds in his days as a Writer of the East India Company and then as a Lieutenant and Captain in the EICo Army under the famous Major Stringer Lawrence.

 

(660 Words)

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One Response to “In Search of Robert Clive’s Dog”

  1. Roshan Mani February 21, 2017 at 8:18 am #

    What a find!!! I wonder if the dogs gravestone really exists.. if not anything else you found the RC’s, a testament to the perambulations of the original who clearly made an impression.

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