ISSUE 17, April 2006
Editorial
Historic: The Brother who designed the Spitfire
Travel: The charm of Kerala
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's speech and Quarterly Communication
Public Relations: Hottest spot in town
International: Emulation in Bulgaria and Mauritius takes a leap forward and Hungary's Royal Arch library
Library & Museum: Recent acquisitions
Masonic Bibles: Lodges and their Bibles
    Royal Masonic Girls' School: My thanks to the Freemasons
Holocaust: The Count of Auschwitz
Education: International conference on the history of Freemasonry and Events
Specialist Lodges: Masonry universal - via radio
Masonic Charities: Grand Charity continues to help those in need and New Masonic Samaritan Fund and Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys
Grand Charity: The Tsunami - one year on and Important Gift Aid information
Letters, Book Reviews, and Gardening

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When you arrive in India the most difficult thing to accept is that their life and standards are not the same as in Britain with dirt, dust and poverty visible all around.
    Waste paper bins are virtually non-existent, and many people still wash their clothes on stones by the water’s edge. The people are absolutely charming and, while English might be spoken in the major cities, their knowledge of the language is much more limited in the countryside.
    It is only when you have to request the same thing several times, that you realise that while they nod and smile at whatever you ask, they have not actually understood you. Our trip around Kerala was concentrated on the middle of the State, starting in Cochin. Located here are both St. Francis, the oldest European church in the Indian subcontinent, and the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth.
    Situated on the banks of the Arabian Sea, all kinds of fish are caught fresh here with the use of picturesque Chinese fishing nets. I stayed at the newly opened boutique hotel, Koder House, in the historic part of Fort Cochin, which is owned by Vicky Raj, a member of Lodge Vembanad No. 319. The building was originally the home of Samuel Koder, who introduced Freemasonry to Cochin by setting up Lodge Cochin.
    A four-hour drive on very windy roads took us to Munnar, high in the mountains, 1,600m above sea level. The area is covered in tea plantations, although we also saw various spice and fruit plants growing along the route. Being high up, the scenery is particularly spectacular, and is primarily a walker’s paradise.
    The Eravikulam National Park was unfortunately closed while we were there as it was the breeding season for the endangered Nilgiri Thar mountain goat. However, we were able to look around a private club, used by the plantation managers, which echoed back to the days of the British Empire. Its interior walls, made from locally grown teak wood, had trophy heads of stuffed animals that had been shot, lining the walls. The grounds include a rather unchallenging ninehole golf course, which the manager rather grudgingly said could be used by visitors.
    The tea plantations in the area were owned by the Scots. Lodge Heather No. 928, which was affiliated to the Grand Lodge of Scotland, was established here in 1902, closing in 1983 when all its members returned home. Its premises still stand, locked up, as the locals consider the building rather spooky. There is also a stone, laid in March 1910 with Masonic honours, on the wall of Christ Church, as the Masons had donated money towards the building and its furniture.


A spectacular display of the harvest festival boat race



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