A Bell in Larkana

Last week I received an email from a friend that had attached to it several pictures of a bell. They were taken by a friend of his who had recently been traveling in Pakistan and had come upon a bell in a church compound in Larkana, a city in the province of Sindh.







Yes, you are reading that correctly — the inscription is “Crocodile!” A friend who saw the photo thought it looked liked a bell from a ship. Sure enough, there was an HMS Crocodile. Here’s what the Wikipedia entry has to say about it:

She was built for the transport of troops between the United Kingdom and the Indian sub-continent, and was operated by the Royal Navy. She carried up to 1,200 troops and family on a passage of approximately 70 days. She was commissioned in April 1870 under Captain G H Parkin.

Crocodile was re-engined rather later in life than her sisters, with her single-expansion steam engine replaced with a more efficient compound-expansion type.[Note 1]

Crocodiles last voyage began at Bombay in October 1893. On 3 November, as she was approaching Aden, the high-pressure steam cylinder exploded and the ship came to a halt. The next day she was towed to an anchorage near Aden. [2] Most of the soldiers and their families were brought home on other ships. Crocodileeventually arrived back at Portsmouth on 30 December 1893, having travelled using only the low-pressure steam cylinder, and was not further employed for trooping.[3]

In 1894 it was sold for scrap.

There is a place along the coast in Pakistan, in Gaddani, where ships are scrapped. Maybe they were already breaking up ships there in the late 1800’s. Maybe that’s where Crocodile was scrapped and from where the bell began its journey up country to Larkana.


So, it seems like I may need to plan a bell-hunting trip to Pakistan. Who wants to join me?

And of course, you can read stories of church bells China in my book The Bells Are Not Silent: Stories of Church Bells in China.

Note: this post was originally titled “A Bell in Sukkur” because I mistakenly thought the bell was in the city of Sukkur. The title has been edited, and a section about Sukkur has been removed. I apologize for the confusion. 


Happy Birthday, Pakistan

Today is Pakistan Day, the anniversary of the founding of Pakistan on August 14, 1947. It hasn’t been an easy journey for the Muslim country that was carved out on the western and easter edges of the British India. In addition to the slaughter that occurred at “Partition,” as Hindus and Muslims raced to get on the right side of the border (India or Pakistan), there were 2 subsequent wars with India (1965 and 1971). Its recent history has been marred by increasing violence.

But as those of us who grew up there know, Pakistan is more than what we read about in the news. It has a rich history and culture, gorgeous and friendly people, and some of the best food in the world.

I spent my growing-up years in the coastal city of Karachi. In honor of Pakistan Day, here’s a video of what the city looks like today: (email readers, click here to see the video).

My, but it has changed! There were only a few spots that I recognized.

If you’re interested in reading more about creation of India and Pakistan, I highly recommend the book Freedom at Midnight, by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre.

Freedom at Midnight

Related Posts:

Touring Karachi

Karachi Memories

Nixon in  China, 43 Years Ago


Evacuation, Part 2

Nixon in China, 43 Years Ago

Forty-three years ago this week, President Richard Nixon made his historic visit to China. It was 1972, and I was a junior high student at Karachi American School in Karachi, Pakistan. I remember our social studies teacher taking us to the US Consulate where we were able to watch news reports of the visit (some live, some taped). Even as a young teenager I knew it was a momentous occasion.


Of course no one knew at the time (probably not even Nixon himself) how much things would change, not simply in regards to US-China relations, but within China itself over the next 40 years. And I certainly never imagined that I would spend a good portion of my adult life living there!

What we also didn’t know at the time was that Pakistan had played an important role in the trip. The year before, Henry Kissinger had feigned an illness during a visit to the country, and while the world thought he was resting in his hotel, he snuck onto a plane and flew to China to lay the groundwork for the trip. 

Since Chairman Mao was still alive at that time (barely), the changes wouldn’t come right away. Following his death in 1976, and the rise to power of Deng Xiao-ping, however, China would set out to re-invent itself. It’s doubtful that they could have done that without a re-engagement with the world; and the Nixon visit and the subsequent re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States was the first step in that re-engagement.

The website All Day has posted a collection of photos of Nixon’s visit. This one is my favorite. Wouldn’t you love to know what the President was thinking as he stared intently at his chopsticks? (“Oh no, not kung pao chicken again!”)


If you’re interested in reading more about this historic week and the changes that followed, I’d recommend the following excellent books:

Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World, Margaret Macmillan.

Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World


About Face: A History of America’s Curious Relationship with China, from Nixon to Clinton, by James Mann.

About Face: A History of America's Curious Relationship with China, from Nixon to Clinton

On China, by Henry Kissinger

On China

Image Sources: wikipedia, allday.com.

Pinch and a Punch

pinch and a punch

When I was growing up, the last day of each month and the subsequent first day were always a big deal in our family. Each of us would lie in wait for the other one, trying to be the first to land the dreaded first “pinch and a punch for the last/first of the month.” My dad particularly loved the game, and was a master at beating everyone to the punch (literally).

When I attended the college where he taught, our battles grew more fierce. On the appointed days, he would lie in wait in the hallway and jump out at me as I was leaving class. Sometimes I got the better of him, sneaking into his office to get in the first pinch. At other times we could be seen dancing around as each of us tried to get to the other first. My friends and his colleagues, of course, thought we were nuts.

I don’t know where my parents learned this game, but I suspect it was in Pakistan, where they had lots of British colleagues (it’s more common there than in the US). Everyone I knew there played it, but when we moved to the States, very few knew about it.

My father passed away 13 years ago, and for some reason, this family tradition died as well. I was reminded of it again this morning when a friend posted about it on Facebook (yes, a friend from Pakistan days).

I turned to the Interwebs to see if I could find out something about the game. Here’s what Allwords.com has to say about it:

Originating from old England times when people thought that witches existed. People thought that salt would make a witch weak, so the pinch part is pinching of the salt, and the punch part was to banish the witch. The witch would be weak from the salt so the punch was to banish her.

In honor of my dad, I’m going to try to revive the family tradition.

Image source: Keep-calm-o-matic




One More Photo

After the post on Tuesday remembering my dad, a friend who used to work with my parents in Pakistan sent me another fun photo. It is of my mom and dad (and my older sister), and Hu and Bettie (and their eldest son) on board a ship bound for Pakistan in 1956.


Aren’t they two fine looking families?

If you’re interested in knowing what life was like for Americans in Pakistan in the 1950’s and 1960’s, I heartily recommend Bettie’s book: The Day The Chicken Cackled: Reflections On A Life in Pakistan

The Day The Chicken Cackled: Reflections On A Life in Pakistan

Their second son, Jonathan Addleton, also wrote a book about his childhood in Pakistan, called Some Far and Distant Place It is excellent!

Some Far and Distant Place

More recently Jonathan wrote a book on Mongolia, which came out of his experience as a USAID Officer and later US Ambassador. The book is called Mongolia and the United States: A Diplomatic History (Adst-Dacor Diplomats and Diplomacy Series). (I haven’t read it yet, but I’m sure it’s good since Jonathan is an excellent writer!)

Mongolia and the United States: A Diplomatic History (Adst-Dacor Diplomats and Diplomacy Series)

Thanks, Aunt Bettie for sending along that photo! I should have titled this post “Books by Addletons!”

Iran in the 1960’s

When I was a kid growing up in Pakistan during the 1960’s and early 70’s, going to Tehran, Iran was like going to Paris. It was much more developed and wealthy than Karachi, and had tons more western food (a big deal for us kids!).



I recently ran across some great photos of Iran in the 60’s and 70’s. Thanks to the Asia Society for posting these. 

New York City resident Norma Lee Mahdavi lived in Iran from 1960 to 1967 and served as marketing director for the Iranian National Tourist Organization’s New York office in the 1970s.


Mahdavi recently let us sort through several boxes of official tourism slides taken in Iran during the 1960s and 70s — and we’ve reproduced two dozen of our favorites in the gallery above.


Some of the photos were taken by Mahdavi, and others were taken by professional photographers hired as part of the Iranian government’s tourism and cultural outreach initiatives.

Click here to see all of the photos.

Related Posts: 


Evacuation (Part 2)