Its evening. And on the banks of the lake, in Kodai, i spot this memorial structure. In the name of Sir Vere Henry Levince Baronet.
‘ I haven’t heard of that name before’. I think. And so, whats written at the base of the memorial perks my eyes. And i peer through the evening dusk. And read. ( and reproduce from the photograph with minor punctuation changes)
“In memory of Sir Vere Henry Levince Baronet of Knockdrin Castle, Westeath, Ireland and formerly of the Madras Civil Service, born 26th Nov 1819, died at Madras 22nd March 1885
After a long service in the districts of Tinnevely and Madura where he won the sincere respect and affection of the people, he settled in 1867 at Kodaikanal and lived at Panmbar house until within a few weeks of his death.
To him are due nearly all the improvements which this settlement possesses
A true friend to the poor, no one however humble appealed to him in vain, while his upright character, his love of justice and his kindly heart endeared him to all classes of the community European and native. And thus he bore without abuse, the grand old name of Gentleman.”
I shake my head in disbelief and think that he must have been some man. I wonder, how it must have been in the early part of the 18th century. To travel all the way from Ireland. Set up base here. Work in Madurai and Tirunelveli. And the, trek all the way up into the Kodai hills and live there for many years
( It took us all of metalled roads, a Japanese engine, Italian tyres and Indian ingenuity and two hours to reach this place. I shudder to think of the 1845 effort !!)
The disbelief stays. What must have driven the likes of Sir Vere Henry Levince Baronet ? I don’t know.
His memorial inscriptions are carved in stone. And don’t bother answering that question.