The Glass Palace Questions and Answers
by Amitav Ghosh

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Comment on the life of the Burmese Royal family in Ratnagiri.

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After the Burmese royal family is exiled from Burma, their lives change radically. In Burma, they had unparalleled wealth, power, and respect. When exiled by the British to Ratnagiri, India, they live outside the centers of power, living as foreigners in a country where they are basically irrelevant. While they once lived in luxury, they are now located in Outram House. Unlike the "glass palace" with its glittering mirrored walls, Outram house is old and shabby, with walls covered with flaking paint and mildew. Rather than ruling a country, they have only a small group of loyal servants. 

Perhaps even worse for them was the realization that the Indians regarded them as semi-literate barbarians, despised them for being Burman, and considered them rude and uncultured by virtue of their nationality. While both King and Queen lived on a pension granted them by the British, King Thebaw accepted their decline into irrelevance while Queen Supayalat continued to speak out against British imperialism. As a royal family, they lacked professional educations or trade skills, and really never assimilated to the ordinary life of India, and thus when their pensions ended at their deaths, their children ended up living in poverty.

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