A visit to Gadar Memorial in San Francisco

Getting Inside

After getting misdirected once to 436 Hill St, San Francisco which is the old original address which does not exist anymore, I eventually reached 5 Wood St, San Francisco.
It was the time of sunset, I knew I was late, but finally, it felt good to see a nondescript apartment marked “Gadar memorial”. Least, I expected locked doors. I did not drive 40 miles to stand in front of this locked door. There must be a way to get in, I contemplated, as I noticed an Indian woman walking upstairs towards me.
“I am here to see Gadar Party’s office”, I asked as she stammered while replying in English.
“हिंदी बोलती है आप ?”, I inquired.
“जी हाँ”, she confirmed.
“मैं आशीष, south bay से आया हूँ ग़दर स्मारक देखना था । “, I said, while pointing towards the building.
“आपके पास consulate से permission है?”, she asked.
“consulate से permission?”, I inquired.
“consulate से बिना permission लिए यहाँ आना मना है । “, she confirmed.
Even for bureaucratic Indian govt, taking permission from the consulate to visit a first world war era memorial is perplexing. I believe this is the only such Indian memorial in the western hemisphere. Of course, I was not ready to yield and drive back another 40 miles before paying the homage. We both stood there motionless with an awkward silence.
Someone had to blink, thankfully, she did.
“एक बार मैं अपने husband से बात करती हूँ । “, she said.
She unlocked the door and went inside, and after some chatter, they both came out, and after some quick conversation, he allowed me in to visit the memorial. The rest of the discussion with them was pretty friendly.

Inside

The memorial consists of a single hall with locked showcases filled with books in English, Hindi, Punjabi, and Urdu. A few posters and pictures were hanging on the wall, labeled in one or the other of the languages mentioned above. I didn’t visit the memorial expecting an audio tour but not finding English, or Hindi labels on the items were depressing. The whole space lacked maintenance. After thanking the Indian couple who seems to have been appointed by the consulate to maintain the place, I left half an hour later. The treatment of the memorial, which is the last symbol of this movement and Indian students who started it, by Indian govt is deplorable. Especially, given the fact that this is the only memorial of its kind in the USA.

Departing thoughts

The treatment met out to defenders of the nation, dead or alive, uniform wearing or revolutionary, determines its destiny. A second world war story of France vs. the UK is apt in this context. “Before World War II, it was not uncommon to see placards hanging outside some restaurants in Paris which read “Dogs, lackeys, and soldiers not allowed”. On the other hand, even pregnant women used to get up and offer seats to soldiers on London buses. When the war broke out, France capitulated in no time while Britain remained undefeated.” [source]

8 Replies to “A visit to Gadar Memorial in San Francisco”

  1. Its a property where you are not allowed to visit on your own. You havs to schedule appointment to visit the place. This place is maintened and monitored by the indian consulate and of ourse for that reason you have to first have a valid reason to visit and on that basis you will be allowed to take a tour
    Suggestion: you seem like an educated person, so please get your facts right before you embark on writing something that is incorrect

  2. >Its a property where you are not allowed to visit on your own.

    That is what I object to. Why not keep it open like just another museum?

  3. For your information, it is not yet A MUSEUM. The Indian Government declared to convert this place to a Museum on 2013, a year before you visited. They are still working on it since the conversion requires huge amount of capital. It is very easy for individuals like you to comment on such matters before gathering enough facts to support your argumentation.
    This link may help you.

  4. […] where a child’s Indian’s interaction with Indian history ends. Museums suffer from the neglect of the government. Any attempt at pointing to any other narrative is met with […]

  5. I fully agree with everything that you have said, especially the the last few lines.

  6. Why cant I comment using my wordpress login?
    Why do I have to give my email id once again?

  7. It used to work. I am not sure why it’s broken. I will try to fix this.

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