Pot-Pourri two and soixante


Tiger hunt with the Prince of Wales. c.1905. First row, 2nd from the left, holding a stick, Rao Scindia, Maharajah of Gwalior; dressed in a dark suit, the Prince of Wales, future King George V; last from right, with a colonial helmet under his arm, my great-uncle, Frank Onraet, Chief-of-staff of the Maharajah, and organizer of the hunts. The day’s hunt: one tiger, and two panthers, which I have cut out. Sorry about that. (c)ourtesy my cousin Irene. She has a better copy than I do. 😉


Mother Cheetah and her two big cubs. East Africa, c.2010. (c)ourtesy Gini. Though the Prince of Wales no longer hunts, the preservation status of cheetahs is vulnerable, with only 6,600 left in the wild. That is frightening, I thought there were more… 😦


Colonial church, Minas Gerais, Brazil, 1975.

H Raj001-B

Gwalior, India, 1887. My great-grandfather’s boss, the Maharajah of Gwalior, Sir Gunpat Rao, father (or uncle?) of the rajah above. My great-grandfather, Henri-Felix Onraet was born in India in Bhagalpur in 1842. He was 15 during the Great mutiny (when many Indian regiments rebelled against British rule). in 1875, Henry-Felix joined the Indian Cvil Service and started working for the Maharajah of Gwalior, as Sarsubha, Inspector general of police. I guess the English placed their men in key positions in the – technically – independent Princely states…

H Raj001-A

Council of Regency, Gwalior, 1887. Do note the very elaborate beards, moustaches and hats.


The spire and roof of Notre-Dame, 2018. A view gone forever.

“Mr Spock, some our guests look a bit green. Can you arrange for some refreshments to be served against Time-Travel sickness? Thank you.”

“Captain to passengers and crew. Strap on, we may experience some mild turbulences.”

Foto 28-12-16 10 14 32 a.m.

Branding irons and saddle. Late 20th century, Tolima, Colombia. At my Sister-in-law’s country house.


Chinese bamboo. 2006. By Fer.


Minette stalking in the garden. Nairobi, Kenya. c.1968.


A distant cousin of Minette, pacing at the Zoo de Vincennes. Paris, 1972. “Scotty? Ready to hop?”


“I‘m a liberal, because I always do what I like.” Mexico city, 2019.


I got my eyes set on you. Mexico city, 2019. “Scotty. Jump!”


First day envelope. See below:


6 of April 1952. 300 years of Jan Van Riebeeck’s landing at the Cape of Good Hope. (That one is for Dina) 😉


Leeloo in B&W. (c)ourtesy Gini. Mexico city, 2019. “Jump again, Scotty. Thank you.”


University of Alabama, 1977. Anybody knows what this is, is getting as old as I am. 🙂 It’s a computer punch card. 80 columns, 10 digits from 0 to 9. I punched those when I was “running” the Business Game at the U. Every Friday, the participants gave me their Business Game decisions. I had to write the programme and punch their data. Hand the stack of cards to the High Priests at the Computer center. Pick the results on Saturday morning and post them on a board. With tacks. On paper. Not on-line…


Barber-Tattoo salon. Mexico city, 2019. Care for a haircut?


Combos: “King of the jungle”: cut, beard and facial. 550 Pesos. US$27.50″.

“Majestic”. Cut, beard, eyebrows… (what on earth are they doing to the eyebrows?) 22US Bucks.”

“Rough”. Cut + beard or facial. 20 bucks.”


The Dragon kiss. Mexico city, 2019.


Don’t mind me. I’m just here for the ride. Been kissed by a Dragon.


A “fest-noz” (dancing party) in Brittany, celebrating the fires of Saint-John. July 1893. My ancestors dressed – and danced –  so, from the 18th to the late 19th, very early 20th century.


Little sister, dressed up for a costume party. Amsterdam, 1966. Dress and lace “coiffe” by my mother. Each region, even city, in Brittany, had its own style of “coiffe” or headdress. I think this particular style is from the city of Rennes, where my mother was born.

Thank you for flying on Equinoxio Time-Space shuttle. Scotty will beam you home. If, by any chance, you do not arrive at your destination (there have been minor computer bugs lately), open the special handheld communicator you were given when you boarded. Type *#* and you should be beamed home. Caution: Android does NOT work for beaming up or down.




114 thoughts on “Pot-Pourri two and soixante

  1. I can’t believe people kill animals for any reason. Personally, I would love to hunt the men who did it. But I digress. Your photographs are wonderful. I do recognize the punch card. LOL The cats are gorgeous, each and every one of them. Your sister looks adorable. Live the gargoyles. 🙂 Another wonderful post. Mercí.

    • Pas de quoi. 😉
      So you do recognize the punch card? Hmmm.
      Hunting? Humans hunted for foos a long time ago. Necessity. It then became a privilege. First for nobility. Then for the rich. Idiot (ex)King of Spain still hunted elephants a while ago… He got fired. In India? Well, no-one really thought about extinction then. And the future King of England came to see his buddy the Rajah who asked his chief-of-staff (Uncle Frank) to set the hunt up.
      Glad you liked the post. Thank you Gigi.

  2. Nice! And yes, time travel was rough this time. 🙂 Don’t you have your barber trim your eyebrows once in a while? My hairdresser girl always asks politely, but in the mirror I can see her juggling the siccors in keen anticipation.

    • LOL. Not enough hair left to warrant a barber. I trim it with an electric thing. Eyebrows? A click or two with the scissors once in a while. I just wondered why that would be part of a combo? Plucked maybe? 🙂
      Tot ziens Peter

  3. Je sais certainement ce qu’est une carte perforée à 80 colonnes. C’était mieux de les numéroter avec précaution. Parce qu’il arrivait de laisser tomber le bac qui contenait parfois un bon millier de cartes ! Heureusement, le CNES voisin avait une machine à trier. Le jour où le lecteur optique est arrivé, avant c’était un lecteur par contact électrique dans les trous, très lent, on a eu soudain moins de temps pour faire la causette avec la technicienne de service. Entrée sur des cartes perforées le soir, sortie le matin sur des listings … quand quelque chose sortait !
    ‘s Gravenhage, c’est la Haye !
    Merci et bel après-midi, Brieuc.

    • Je vois que monsieur est un connaisseur! Effectivement, numéroter à la main. Ça m’est arrivé de faire tomber un paquet… Et le listing sortait s’il n’y avait pas d’erreur de programme. M’est arrivé aussi… 🙂
      A +

      • Very true. In those days of “de-colonialism”, I have no qualms whatsoever of my family’s and my own doings… 😉 I do have the story of my great-grandfather’s and his fight against the Dacoïts (bandits) in the state of Gwalior in electronic form. Written by my father. Alas, it is in French, need to edit and translate. Another perspective.

      • Will work on it. I already managed the not small feat to scan the text. It was obviously typewritten, ages ago. And my mother’s typewriter was a worn old thing. I just couldn’t face the idea of “typing” it again electronically. Next steps (2020), edit the thing and translate the most interesting fragments to English.

      • Indeed. I always tell my daughters that if they/we are who/what/how/where we are now, it’s because our ancestors worked their a… butt off…
        It’s important to know where you come from.

  4. You mean, there was a dead tiger and panthers in that first photo? If so, I’m happy you cut that out. I went to a cheetah preserve when I was in Namibia. Sometimes they still get shot by farmers, but nothing can be done about it. I didn’t realize they were so endangered. Thank you, as always, for the spectacular tour, mon ami. Have a beautiful rest of the week.

    • Thanks for the visit my dear, and you too. Yes, there were. It’s the typical old-style picture with the hunters and the huntees. I have several photos of my uncle, the Maharajah and the Prince of Wales. But I figured, taking today’s… perspective, best to cut the poor things out…
      Sorry about the cheetahs. They’re such beautiful and elegant animals. NO threat to anyone. Not even cattle. (Had no idea either… just started to look at the vulnerability status in another post) Sigh…

  5. A goodly selection of pics. The hunt was before it became fashionable and sensible to do them with a camera, so is forgivable. I still remember as a boy one of the things one wanted to be was a Big Game Hunter.

    • The so-called “white hunter” figure… Hemingway and many others came to Africa to hunt. The “Big five”. And no-one ever imagined the game would end. Now it’s probably too late, not so much because of hunting as because of poaching, pangolin scales, rhino horns or lion bones or other stupidities…
      Good to “see you”. How’s the health going? Better now?

  6. Your time space shuttle, especially the pictures from Gwalior (along with the description) are fascinating. I am a sucker for history and everything vintage and this absolutely was amazing.

    • Thank you pallavi. (Would “shukriya” be appropriate? Don’t know the Hindi word). I need to spend more time on your blog, but thank you for your visit and comment. Yes, my family lived in India for nearly 2 centuries. Many stories to tell. The Gwalior stories in particular are quite unique. I write one from time to time. (Those were very different times…)

  7. This fascinates me: “Gwalior, India, 1887. My great-grandfather’s boss, the Maharajah of Gwalior, Sir Gunpat Rao, father (or uncle?) of the rajah above. My great-grandfather, Henri-Felix Onraet was born in India in Bhagalpur in 1842.”

    • It is out of the ordinary, isn’t it? Franco-English settled in India since the 1700’s. Some came with Dupleix, and stayed. And made a living as they could. Henri-Felix’s brother ran a steamer along the Hoogly… 😉 I think Adventure ran in their blood.

  8. Very nice! I really like that Chinese bamboo by Fer … I like Chinese and Japanese art …It is often said of Chinese and Japanese painting that what is not there is at least as important as what is. The broad brushstrokes convey with great sensitivity the idea of the snow-capped mountain, or the mist-shrouded valley, or the fields, streams and trees below. They give the viewer the essence of the scene, but the imagination is left to supply much of the detail. And yet the painting is far more than an outline. It explores the inner reality…Thanks for sharing this…Have a nice weekend! D.

    • Mutumesc D. 🙂 Fer is actually Colombian, the son of a very old friend of hours. A very talented young man, he stayed with us a while in Mexico. He was teaching himself Mandarin by one character a day. And calligraphy, and those paintings. You are quite right. What is not there may be as important as what is… Thanks for the visit and the thought.

  9. Quite a few photos here, and I really like how some of them show quite notable moments in history. Amazing to hear your great uncle is in that first photo in such important company. The computer punch card brings me back to my early days at university (around the maths, computer science and programming rooms) and some factories where I’ve been. Those seem so ancient today.

    • 🙂 Yeah we have brushed elbows with “important company”. But in the end, they go back to their own world and the normal people to theirs. I just find it intriguing snapshots of long gone worlds…
      You still used punch cards? Wow. Amazing. (Another world long gone…) Yes. Ancient today. Now my 3 year old grandson can’t write yet, but he knows how to send a voice message on his mother’s phone… 😉

      • It does look like you have mingled and danced with important company 😀 Now, the normal world isn’t too bad for normal folk. It’s where you can get peace and quiet on your own.

        Yeah, I do remember punch cards. I also remember using the typewriter. It really was a long time ago and computers are a whole other world. Your grandson sounds tech-savvy already. Some people don’t like to type so they send their messages through videos instead. What a world we’ve become.

      • “Important”? Well, it’s what they think. But there are a lot of self-important idiots… 😉
        Yeah, videos or voice messages… Some places (in the US, Australia, maybe?) have stooped teaching kids how to write by hand. Pointless they say. There are keyboards everywhere… Tsss.

      • Oh yes, there are a lot of self-important idiots in this world… I guess we just have to find the ones whom we vibe with which is easier said than done.

        I have heard some classrooms have introduced learning by iPad or tablet. At universities here these days you turn in assignments online… I still remember the days where I had to physically run to hand in my assignment all pages stapled in order before the deadline.

  10. What an interesting medley of photographs and memories — and hopping from place to place in one post. Thank you for the window in times gone by. Amused by the handlebar moustaches and beards of the Indian royalty. They must have been narcissists? 😛

    I have never seen a computer punch card before this, nor heard of it. Why would you have needed them, again?

    • Narcissism is quite likely… They were after all “filfthy rich”. No disrespect to Scindia, who was a true gentleman, despite his hunting tastes. When my great-grandfather died, he granted my great-grandmother a lifelong pension in Sterlings that allowed her to raise half a dozen kids still underage.
      You’re way too young for the punch card. Cards were the input to the computer. What you now strike on a keyboard was “punched” on cards before. Each column held a combination of digits for 0 to 9. A binary code for numbers and letters. The combination was punched in the right place leaving a hole that the computer would read and interpret as a letter or a number. So all your programme (in Basic, Cobol, Fortan) was punched in a series of cards. Sometimes hundreds of cards for a single programme. Imagine: 80 columns give 80 characters… A few pages of programme could be many cards… Now all we do on our phones and computers is actually written in binary code… Anyway, this was prehistory. Fun to have witnessed the evolution. Cheers.

      • You did witness the beginnings of the computer revolution. I bet in those times you could have never thought that technology could have sped up like this, as we have today.

        Fascinated by the window into your ancestral lives and their stories. Seems like one for the books. Cheers Brian ji.

      • When I started? With this huge computer? Stacks of cards? No. But at the end of the 70’s in Grad school, we were already accessing the mainframes by terminals for some applications. Then came the IBM compatible. My boss had bought one. Didn’t know what to do with it. I started to fiddle around, and developed an “App”. And so on and so forth…
        I want to put all the bits and pieces of “history” in one page on the blog. Just haven’t had time to figure how… January maybe…
        Bon week-end ma’amji.

      • That will be an interesting post to read. It all sounds terribly inventive to have come up with an app. Looking forward to the post, Brianji, whenever you write it up.
        Bon weekend!

    • It is. Out of the ordinary. Then many families have similar stories. The Durrell brothers (Larry and Gerry) were born in India. As were many others. Remember Agatha Christie’s many characters of retired Indian Army colonels…
      And I am grateful many photos survived and have been labeled. (w/o labels they’re meaningless.) I need to talk seriously with one my cousins, she has the largest lot of India pictures… 🙂

  11. Thanks for the link, Brian. This was a very interesting post and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it! Thanks for that special envelope…a year before my birth! Nowadays that day is no longer celebrated and pushed back into the misty clouds of the past.

    • Merci. C’est l’idée. Henri-Félix had a hard life. Interesting no doubt, but hard, contrary to popular belief. He did have a fantastic career with the maharadjah of Gwalior. But they lost two little girls in a row, a few days old. His eldest son, Frank (first photo) married late, brought his young wife to India from Saint-Malo. She died three weeks after she arrived. Typhoid possibly. She was only 22. and Henri-Félix died “young”, at 57. His tomb is still there, in India. One of my cousins saw it…
      A bientôt.

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