As the capital of the British Raj shifts from Calcutta to Delhi in 1912, Junior Clerk Sujit with his wife Bina is forced to migrate from Calcutta to distant and dusty Civil Lines in Delhi. Shanti, born of a forceps delivery gone horribly wrong, comes into their lives. A tale of evolving relationships against the backdrop of momentous events in the nation’s history.
Urvashi Basu , a British national, is a lady always on the move. Owner of Realty Design, Le Cafe Seine’and design studio, Urvashi effortlessly juggles the myriad roles of an entrepreneur, interior designer, wife and mother.
Can the Chronicler fit into her scheme of things?
Author Sambit Daspatnaik, author of the The Last War and other stories, now in its second edition, has this to say about the Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories.
I love historical fantasies… and one may call it synchronicity that I had this wonderful opportunity to connect with Shri Shakti Ghosal, author of the book ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly’, which is a historical fantasy. When I read his debut book, I was fascinated to see how beautifully he has narrated such wonderful tales. I would call it as one of the finest historical fantasy with a pure advantage of getting a chance to experience the historic city of Kolkata during the British times. The portrayal of complexities in human relationships in the backdrop of the British Raj is impeccable. Each of the characters are well thought of, along with a good amount of research done on history.
The portrayal of Shanti, the differently abled child in the story Ashtami is heart touching. The subtle change in the chanting syllables of Goddess from Shakti (power) to Shanti (peace) at the end is thought provoking and leaves the readers to draw their own references.
The complexities in the human relationships, the evolving social fabric and the affluence in India over the past 100 years and a critical comparison of the pandemic in the 1920’s and 2020’s makes the story Pandemic commendable.
The story Fault Lines, subtly juggles between the technical fault lines in the building construction and the fault lines that we often see in the human nature and fallacy.
Coming to the main story, The Chronicler of the Hooghly. It is in itself a masterpiece that weaves the history of Kolkata through the centuries, interwoven beautifully through the strings of the pearl necklace. Along with a historical ride, the story carries with it a sense of eeriness. Earlier, I had read the stories and works of Swami Vivekananda, about the temple of Maa Dakshinwshwari Kali and the appointment of Gadadhar as the temple priest who later came to be known as the beloved master, Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. But this story references this from such a different and beautiful angle, that I had never imagined. The story reminds me of the story ‘Monihaar’ written by Thakur Rabindranath Tagore and later made into a movie by Shri Satyajit Ray.
Overall, the multiple stories remind me of Shri Satyajit Ray’s short stories and movies, while the beautiful narration in the backdrop of Indian history reminds me of E.M. Foster’s ‘A passage to India’.The language, the diction, the knowledge and the references shared through the stories reflect on the in-depth knowledge of the author, and how well read and experienced he is.I wish Shakti all the best for his future books and strongly recommend everyone not to miss this amazing book.
Do past flavours motivate folks to pick up and read a book? It appears to be the case for these two veteran Railway men.
Pradosh K. Sinha of the Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers, looks forward to a rendezvous with the Chronicler of the Hooghly.
Sushil Luthra is a Railways and Transportation veteran, a logistics and Cold chain expert and currently the Director at Alfresh Supply Management. Sushil wonders if the Chronicler can bring in some fresh perspective during the current times.
Book of the month, creating waves globally with more than a hundred excellent reviews and ratings on Amazon.
Dr. Avik Basu , MBBS, MD (Cal), humbly calls himself a General Physician. But he is also an Intensivist, Psychologist, Academician, Medical Researcher, Author……the list goes on.
But above all, he is today a frontline COVID warrior having treated more than a hundred COVID patients in the last few weeks alone.
In a recent Social Media post, Dr. Avik Basu writes,
“FEAR…SUFFER…DEATH…these are the 3 words, the only 3 words, that should bombard the minds of every single person of this city. Of this country. There are experts who are asking people not to panic. But I will speak the contrary. YES, YOU NEED TO PANIC. YES, YOU SHOULD PANIC. YES, YOU SHOULD BE AFRAID OF DEATH. YES, YOU SHOULD BE AFRAID OF LOSING YOUR LOVED ONES. Probably it’s only this fear that can drive out the madness of enjoying blatantly from the minds of this lunatic species which has long forsaken the realm of logical reasoning. I am no COVID expert; not a COVID-ologist. I am not invited on national television to give a speech on COVID awareness. I don’t sit and explain the principles of ‘Hit and Dance’ hypothesis in news channels. I am a general physician, just a general physician, who are habitually regarded as the ‘doctors of cough and diarrhoea’. But I do take the privilege to state that I have seen almost 100 COVID positive patients in the last couple of weeks. And I’ve treated them……
I visited the Flemming Hospital yesterday to see one of my patients admitted. I witnessed the most dreadful scene of my life till date. Almost all moribund patients. Some gasping, some gone into cardiac arrest, some staring at the ICU staff with apprehensive look fearing an imminent death……
These days even I have started to fear death. Not for myself, but for the family I provide for. When a doctor loses a patient, he weeps in silence. But when a doctor passes away, does anyone shed a drop of tear???”
As Dr. Avik Basu engages with the Chronicler, I remain uncertain who will learn from whom? Who is the true Chronicler of our times?
Book of the month, more than a hundred international ratings on Amazon.
An Electronics Engineer and a MBA, Sambit is a Program Manager with Oracle. But this but the tip of his competence profile ‘iceberg’. He is an established author, a talented artist as well as a mentor.
Sambit had been kind enough to write a generous testimonial for my book, ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories’ when it was under publication. His testimonial is part of the book.
I had the privilege to read his book, ‘The Last War and other stories’ which has just gone into a second edition. I am delighted to provide my review here.
The Last War and other stories- Review
What would you say would happen if you were to take a dollop of Indian mythology, slices of long forgotten civilisations, a cupful of open-ended creativity and garnishing of science fiction and then mix all of that in a crucible ? What you are apt to get is a superb and rollicking tale called the ‘Last War’. This is what author Sambit Daspatnaik has served as the main fare in his book ‘The Last War and other stories’.
I do not want to give out much about the story and its context as that might spoil the surprise elements for the reader. Suffice it is to mention that I found the story and the audaciousness of the plot thoroughly enjoyable.
Sambit’s depiction of the Last War, the scale and the wide-angle perspective he uses, brought for me shades of J.R. Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings view of the world, replete with its magic. As Sambit writes in his foreword, the great war of Mahabharat fought between the Kauravas and the Pandavas many millennia back, was but a forerunner of a much larger war to come. In the words of the author, “……. everyone was mistaken… it looked like the ancient magic was still around… new lessons were learned…old secrets were unveiled… new allies were made……”
Four other science fiction stories make up the book.
Genesis is all about a spectacular discovery of the ‘sphere’ made thousands of lights years away by a research expedition. But as they say, with every benefit or solution, there is a downside. In the ‘Holy temple of Eula’, an alien civilisation awaits the arrival of a new Messiah who would save them from the perils of a dying world. The story ‘Blink’ employs a wonderful context as it transports the reader into a star trek like space incident complete with a ‘who dunnit’ mystery. The last story, with the wonderfully appropriate title of ‘Resurrection’, transports the reader into the distant future of Mankind with a dying sun.
All in all, Sambit Daspatnaik uses a simple and racy style in his narrative and this, coupled with the excellent and imaginative plots, makes this book a delectable fare and un-putdownable.
I would go with a rating of 4.5 out of 5 for the ‘Last War and other stories and would recommend it to the reader.
Author – ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and Other Stories’, Leadership Coach and incubator and Visiting Professor at IIMs.
IIT Kanpur graduate Aroop Roy, Ex General Manager @ Saud Bahwan Group, Oman & UAE, has this to say about the Chronicler.” Very well researched stories. Takes you back in time and you can simulate in your mind what actually happened and evolved. The previous Pandemic a century ago, a fire incident decade ago, British Raj story…..all are well described”
The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories’ is available worldwide on Amazon, Flipkart and select bookstores.
Adjudged ‘Book of the Month’ for March 2021 by Booknerds, The book has already got more than a hundred excellent ratings and reviews on Amazon worldwide.
Chief Engineer Arunabh Pal ,domain expert in Naval architecture and Marine Engineering, has the following to say after his engagement with the Chronicler.
“I have never attempted a book review, but this one is special : The Chronicler of the Hooghly.
“No words”, is the first thought that crosses my mind when I try to praise the book. Spellbound comes close to describing the feeling…but then it is not fair that such a stupendous piece of work from a good friend goes unsung.
I read the book at a leisurely pace, soaking in each crucible experience as the author calls it.
“Ashtami” leaves you gasping. Gasping for more as you suddenly appreciate the myriad emotions of a mother around a not-so-perfect child. One would like to think it happens only to others, but reality is often so different.
It is not difficult to relate to the double tragedies portrayed in “Pandemic” given the numerous human stories of struggle, failure, triumph and deceit unfolding around Covid today. You wonder about the timing of penning this story just as you marvel at the brilliance in creating the character Elokeshi.
“Fault Lines” unleashed a volley of unpleasant memories in me, of being a victim of an industrial explosion many moons back. I consider myself fortunate to have looked death in the eye and return. Anjan’s tryst with his conscience is scarily real. Savio succeeds in unsettling you. Stellar work there!
“The Chronicler Of The Hooghly” does just that: chart a mystical course amidst several (lesser known) historical facts and events and keeps you glued to the narrative even as you anticipate the next turn. It brings up the rear end rather well, resonating with the common theme of weaving history intricately into fiction to create four fascinating tales.