Crossborder > Gujarat’s ‘Rangoon Wallas’
  • Salim Malim

    Great factual and historical story! Thank you! I am overwhelmed with nostalgia. It brought back precious and golden memories of days growing up in Rangoon and schooling at M.M. Randeris High School, Mogul Street. My ancestors immigrated to Rangoon. They were natives of downtown Surat. There are still LOTS of fifth or sixth generation Surtis, Variavs, Ramderos. etc in Rangoon up to this day. I remember Rangoon as the London of East during the 50’s and 60’s. Incredibly WONDERFUL PLACE to live where Muslim and non-Muslims, Burmese, Indians, Ceylonese, English, Armenians, some Yemenis, Portuguese, Afghans, Chinese, etc, etc lived n coexisted in harmony n peace all as one family. They were kind, sincere, humble, friendly, outgoing, peaceful and caring toward each other. Amazing!! GREAT MEMORIES to treasure!!!!!

    These words do not describe even one tenth of what it was really like in Burma.

  • Ridit Raj Dutta

    Great to know such historical facts. Thanks Wenner-Gren Foundation and Duke University for help bringing such insights to the fore. Thanks Ketki Pant for the research work – you are at the same time very good in the art of story-telling. Enjoyed reading this article.

  • U Kyaw Win

    Thank you, Ketaki Pant, for this tender, passionate piece about the “Rangoon Wallas.” It made me nostalgic for my homeland Burma, from which vicissitudes of history have forced me to live in exile for the past half century. I feel for Usman Madha and his extended family. I am a proud “Thongwa Walla.” No one can take Burma and Thongwa out of my mind and heart. U Kyaw Win, author of MY CONSCIENCE: An Exile’s Memoir of Burma.

  • Sara

    Thank you fcr this piece, I am so curious about my familys history as all I know is that my grandparents immigrated to Rangoon from Surat. From Rangoon, my mothers family moved to Dhaka. My parents moved to the states at a young age after they had to change my fathers last name. Both of my fathers parents are deceased and I wish I knew more about their history.

  • Yasmin patel

    My great grand father was from Variav. A Rangoon Merchant Ismail Patel. His Son Ahmed Patel my dadaji died in variav. I miss my village. My late father Mehmood Patel always narrated stories og Rangoon and how they had to leave their precious belongings and house behind. My phuppu Amina is no longer with us. I want to meet my community fellow people and have the pleasure of being nostalgic. I would love to meet the Madha and Rangoon wala families.

  • SM

    What a lovely piece Ketaki. My husbands family migrated from Burma to Mumbai. Like several others, they walked across the border for much of the journey. If you would like to speak with his now 89 year old grandmother who has a fantastic memory, please do get in touch.

  • Simin Patel

    Great piece.

  • Abdul Rahman

    A very interesting and factual article about variav. For the benefit of all rangoonwallas and variav community a dedicated variav website has been created at Videos and articles are being added regularly and a link will be created to this webpage.

  • Usman Madha

    Interesting article especially about the Madha family. I am a Madha and had stayed in the Mansion when I last visited Variav in 1959. Although you mentioned about the house and the water delivery, my grand uncle also provided free medical check ups etc to the community. He had a silver throne/chair specially built for the Gaekwar of Baroda when he came to inaugurate the Variav Water Work. A pure gold lock and key was also presented to him as a welcome gesture to Variav. Most of the Madhas including me now reside in Los Angeles. Thank you for sharing the story of Variav, the land and home of my ancestors.

    Usman Madha

  • Rajesh Pant

    This is what insights are all about. Finding hidden meanings in things that lie around us; and once exposed seem to be so ‘natural ‘. Investigating and uncovering such insights reminds me of Shelley – ” look on my works ye mighty and despair”.


    Rajesh Pant

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