Mahe To Indo - China, Via Singapore

Dad's aunt with her husband and her brother. The picture was probably taken in the 1930s. At Lang Son in Indo - China (present day Vietnam). The photograph was printed as a post card. The kind one sees in tourist sites. With this picture on the front side. This was likely taken soon after aunt and her husband reached Indo - China; maybe soon after their wedding. Her older brother had been in Indo - China for sometime before that. I don't know how long the husband was there before getting married but this would have been aunty's first trip to the place. Her first time abroad. Her first time outside Tellicherry. 

Family portrait
The letter on the back speaks of the journey. From Mahe to Indo - China. Via Singapore. It's the 1930s, the journey is by ship. The transit at Singapore is 4 days long. They visit her uncle (my great grand uncle) who's then at Singapore. I wonder how the journey would have been. What was aunty's experience of it: the first time out of Tellicherry and she's on a ship to the Far East. It wouldn't have been easy.

I'm also intrigued by the context around the letter. Take the people involved. Aunty and her husband are at Lang Son. Her older brother is probably at Hanoi. Their uncle is at Singapore. And the letter is written to my grandfather in Bombay. And all these people have grown up in and around Tellicherry. This is from a time when modern India doesn't exist, let alone the modern day state of Kerala. What drove them on. Ambition? Educated people of a certain background would have probably found themselves constrained in mofussil towns like Tellicherry. And for those in British India, cities of the empire - Bombay, Calcutta and Singapore - would have appeared very attractive indeed in the inter - war years. While the French were not in the same league, in the years after the first world war, they began entrenching themselves in Indo - China: building rail lines and commercially exploiting the region's natural resources, creating a significant demand for educated professionals from the sub - continent.

Whatever the big picture may have been, for a young lady leaving Tellicherry for the first time on a ship headed to the Far East would have been a leap into the unknown.