The Writers Building


“1912

Sujit was hurrying from his desk in the administrative block of the Writer’s building. The office chaprasi had conveyed his officer’s summons.

Having completed his matriculation, Sujit had been lucky to have secured the position of a Junior Clerk in the British administrative office at Writer’s Building. His desk was in one of the newly constructed blocks which required him to walk down the front corridor whenever summoned to the officer block.

Sujit never failed to admire the newly added Roman facade to the building, the central portico and the exposed red bricks on the outside walls. A quick glance showed the outside promenade with a few carriages and the lake water beyond glistening in the morning sunlight.

“Hello Sujit, come sit down. I wanted to speak to you”, said his officer on seeing him. The friendly words belied an overall nervousness of the gentleman’s posture and movement.”

Snippet: The Writers’ Building was built in 1777 by the erstwhile East India Company to serve as an office for its trading operations. The building got its name from the company’s junior clerks called writers. The Writers Building became the effective headquarters of the East India Company, serving as it eventually did as the centre of British power for more than 200 years. It actually marked the centre of the ‘White Town’, where the English and the East India Company officials lived and was kept separate from the ‘Black Town’ populated primarily by the native Indian people.

On 8th December 1930, three young Bengali revolutionaries Benoy Basu, Badal Gupta and Dinesh Gupta, armed with revolvers and wearing English attire, entered the Writer’s Building and shot dead Colonel N.S. Simpson, the Inspector of Police, notorious for brutal oppression of Indian political prisoners. In the ensuing gun battle, they were overpowered by the Calcutta police. Unwilling to give themselves up, Badal took potassium cyanide and died instantly, while his comrades shot themselves. Benoy died five days later but Dinesh survived only to be hanged.  In memory of their martyrdom, a statue of Benoy, Badal and Dinesh stands in front of the Writers’ Building.

The Writers Building is currently under renovation.

The Writers Building 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

#historicalfiction,#pageturner,#thechroniclerofthehooghly,#shatighosal,#ashtami,#writersbuilding.

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