The Unwanted and an Indian Wedding


‘Malati had been all of fifteen years old ‘when she stepped foot in Dipen’s humble abode as a shy young bride. Draped as she had been awkwardly in a red Benarasi sari, her fresh young  face adorned with chandan, sandalwood paste dots and bright vermilion sindoor in her hair parting, which declared her recent elevation to wedded status.

Malati came from a humble but conservative Brahmin family of Kalighat. Her father was a priest by profession and Malati was the youngest in the brood his parents raised. Not surprisingly, the economically challenged parents were past the stage of being thankful to the Almighty for His bounty in this direction and had named the last of the lot Chaini or unwanted in Bengali. So Malati was the hapless owner of a name that shouted her unwanted status to the whole world till she was fifteen…….’

Snippet : The Beeye or the main Bengali wedding has quaint rituals like the Saat paak in which the bride is taken around the groom seven times thus firmly securing the two together, the Subho Dhristi in which the bride coyly peeps at the groom from behind paan leaves and the Mala badal in which the bride and the groom exchange floral garlands thrice as the first step towards mutual acceptance.

Malati and Dipen feature in the story Pandemic, a part of my forthcoming book, ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories’. Should you wish to receive exclusive previews and the chance of winning a free copy of the book, do participate in the monthly contests.

https://www.shaktighosal.com/

#historicalfiction,#thechroniclerofthehooghly,#shaktighosal,#pandemic

The Birth of the Chronicler of the Hooghly


Borders were drawn through history dividing mankind into smaller more manageable divisions that could be ruled and led. Borderless is a celebration of the human spirit that soars exploring and developing links beyond all the borders that exist in today’s world. 

Borderless is a literary journal to connect all writers and readers beyond the bonds of money, nationality, rituals and cultures… to a world of ideals. We look for any positive input — humour, poetry, prose. There are no boundaries to human imagination and thought and that is what we are set to explore…

I am delighted to append below the book excerpt of ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories’ featured in the November 2020 edition of the Borderless journal.

#thechronicler of the Hooghly, #shaktighosal,#borderlessjournal

The London Birmingham Railways and Prince Dwarkanath Tagore


England, 1842

“The train was chugging on the newly opened London Birmingham Railways. Inside the well-appointed first class carriage sat an elderly English couple and a middle aged distinguished looking Indian gentleman. The latter was listening to the tchjk tchjk tchjk of the engine as his mind raced with the possibilities of Railways in his native land.

“Good morning to you Sir. Are you from India?”, asked the English Gentleman, opening a conversation with a fellow passenger who seemed to be from the exotic Orient.

“Good morning, indeed so”, came the response with perfect diction. “I am Dwarkanath Tagore and I am visiting England on business”.

“I am Thomas Woods from Berkhamsted”. Leaning over both men shook hands and Dwarkanath bowed to the lady with respect. The conversation warmed up.”

Snippet: The London and Birmingham Railway (L&BR) was an early railway company in the United Kingdom.The 112-mile railway line between London and Birmingham, was the first intercity line to be built and was engineered by Robert Stephenson.

Prince Dwarkanath Tagore, a title he earned as one of the pioneering Indian industrialists, was one of the earliest promoters of Railways in India. He was the grandfather of nobel laureate and poet Rabindranath Tagore.

The London Birmingham Railway and Dwarkanath Tagore feature in the story ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly’, part of my forthcoming book of the same name. Should you wish to receive exclusive previews and free copy of the book, do write to me @ author.esgee@gmail.com.

#thechroniclerofthehooghly,#dwarkanathtagore,#londonbirminghamrailway,#startofindianrailways

The Corniche and the Mutrah Souq


Muttrah Corniche, Muscat, Oman, Middle East

“Anjan managed to park his car between two cars in the congested parking area of the Muttrah corniche. Mercifully it was early afternoon when the crowds were less. Anjan had driven through the old town areas of Darsait and Jibroo, go around the small and quaint fish roundabout before parking close to Muttrah Souq.

As he stepped out of the car, Anjan looked at the long and curving corniche and the sea beyond. He could see a few ships and dhows anchored. To his right, he could see the giant incense burner standing guard over Riyam park. It was always a pleasure to visit this old Muscat area and savour the beauty of the surroundings.

Corniche – Harbor Promenade in the City of Muttrah. Muttrah Corniche, Oman, Middle East.

Anjan had come to purchase a gift of a framed Omani Khanjar for an industry colleague who was leaving Oman and returning back to India. The best place to buy was from one of the many small souvenir shops in Mutrah souq….”

Snippet : Before the discovery of oil, Muttrah was the center of commerce in Muscat, Oman . It is still a center of commerce as one of the largest sea ports of the region is located there. Muttrah Souq is one of the oldest marketplaces in Oman dating back two hundred years. In Arabic, it is known as Al Dhalam Souq, which signifies darkness because of the crowded stalls and lanes where the sunrays do not infiltrate during the day.

Muttrah Corniche and Souq feature in the story Fault Lines, a part of my forthcoming book, ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories ’. Should you wish to receive exclusive previews and the chance of winning a free copy of the book, do write to me @ author.esgee@gmail.com

The Embarkation and the Journey


Come! Embark with the Chronicler on a journey through Time and Transformation.

Four Stories. Five Crucible experiences.

What could be behind you taking this trip today……. and me telling you this tale?

Which Pandemic is going to leave a more lasting impact, the one inside the head or the one outside, can we be sure?

Can a moan carry with it the realisation that friendship and harmony have lost out to communal mindset and greed?

What do you say when you go away……. only to come back and find that your life has irretrievably changed?

In Learning………

Shakti Ghosal

Ashtami @ New Delhi Kali Bari


“O, Jayanti, Mangala, Kali, Bhadrakali, Kapalini, Durga, Shiva, Khama, Dhatri, Swaha, Shwadha, my earnest dedication to you all. Ma Durga, salutation to thee!”

At the conclusion of each mantra, pushpa, flowers were offered at the Goddess’ feet.

Shanti just loved the overall feel and smell of Durga Pujo, replete with the incense of Dhoop-dhuno, flowers, folks adorned in new clothes and jewellery and the heavenly rhythm of the dhak.

Having offered pushpanjali, Shanti ate the prasad being distributed with great relish. He then slowly limped down the stairs onto the road where food stalls and makeshift cafes were vying with each other to attract the Pujo visitors with snacks. Shanti had fasted since morning to offer his anjali and now looked forward to having his customary Mughlai paratha, peas ghoogni and a soft drink.

Food stalls at Kali Bari Durga Puja pandal at Mandir Marg in New Delhi on October 05, 2019. (Photo by Qamar Sibtain/India Today Group/Getty Images)

That evening Bina’s condition worsened. It was almost as if she had been waiting for this day.

Snippet:  Durga puja at New Delhi Kalibari started in 1925. mainly by the Indian Babus who had relocated from Kolkata to Delhi with the British administartion. Kali Bari continues to follow the traditional ekchalar thakur and sholar kaaj.

The Kali Bari Durga Puja features in the story, ‘Ashtami’, part of my forthcoming book ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories’. Should you wish to receive exclusive previews and the chance of winning a free copy of the book, do write to me @ author.esgee@gmail.com

The Company Puja


‘On the appointed day of the Pujo, Robert Clive drove in his carriage to Nabakrishna Deb’s residence in Shova Bazaar and participated in what was to become the biggest festival in the Bengali calendar. He was accompanied by a number of Englishmen. The pomp and grandeur of the pujo were such that it became a talking point and something to aspire for by the upcoming rich merchant class. The Company Pujo, as it became known as, was not the usual conservative ritual based Hindu puja. Instead, it became known for its dance parties, elaborate menu of meats from the Wilson Hotel and unlimited drinks!

It is also said that Raja Nabakrishna Deb’s guests were regaled with the performances of the best nautch girls of Calcutta, one of them being the sensational new courtesan Rajni Bai who also responded to the name Joba……..’

Shova Bazaar Rajbari and its Durga Puja features in the story ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly’, part of my forthcoming book of the same name. Should you wish to receive exclusive previews and free copy of the book, do write to me @ author.esgee@gmail.com.

The Tonga wallah and his tonga


The tonga wallah had duly arrived and was waiting near the door when accompanied by shrieks of joy, Niren and Suren ran out with Roma toddling behind. Both the boys were scampering to get up on the front seat of the Tonga before the other; this gave a vantage view of not only the road ahead but also the horse and this led to a huge competition of who will sit in the front. Along with the tonga wallah, Sujit could sit with only one of the children. Usually, it would be one of the more vociferous boys.

“Niren! Suren ! Behave yourself. Do not leave your sister behind like this”, admonished Sujit, as he came out of the quarter. “Today, Roma will sit with me in the front”.

Snippet: The ubiquitous tonga-wallah and his tonga remained on the Delhi roads for more than a century till in 2011, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi banned their services. The ‘clip-clop’ sound of the horses’ hooves is no longer heard on Delhi roads!

The tongawallah and the tonga feature in the story, ‘Ashtami’, part of my forthcoming book ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories’. Should you wish to receive exclusive previews and the chance of winning a free copy of the book, do write to me @ author.esgee@gmail.com

http://www.shaktighosal.com

The Burning Ghats of Keoratola


Reaching the cremation ghat at Keoratola, Dipen and his accompanying group were confronted first hand with the immense tragedy and the pain arising from the pandemic tearing through the city and the province. Dead bodies were lying in every conceivable place; on bullock carts, on both sides of the narrow pathway going to the burning ghats and under makeshift canopies. In some cases, there were people around the dead bodies but in other cases, it seemed the bodies had been left there and abandoned. There were hordes of dirty, soot covered urchins accosting groups who had come to do the cremation. The oppressive smoke and the odour of burning pyres were all pervasive. Jostling for supremacy with the putrid smoke and smell was a cacophony of crying, moaning, shouting and Vedic chants.

Keoratola cremation ground features in the story Pandemic, a part of my forthcoming book, ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories ’. Should you wish to receive exclusive previews and the chance of winning a free copy of the book, do write to me at: author.esgee@gmail.com