The story of the Blue and Red Pill


The Pandemic has been with us now for more than one and a half years. A virulent new strain, the Delta variant, is the new weapon unleashed by the wily COVID 19 virus to negate all that the vaccines have been doing. Conspiracy theories abound. We look on helplessly through a tunnel with no apparent light visible at the other end yet.

The West and its much vaunted ideal of human freedom is on the backfoot. As US retreats, Afghanistan has once again proved to be the graveyard of Empires- earlier the British, then the USSR and now Pax Americana. The swiftness of the Taliban takeover has been shocking as they begin the task of taking the country back into the medieval ages.

More than 600 people inside a C 17 aircraft fleeing Kabul on the Indian Independence Day 15th Aug. 2021

Almost two decades back, US President Bush had declared, “Engendering democracy across the Middle East ‘must be a focus of American policy’ for decades to come”. Today democracy is sputtering like a flame about to go out, with the failure of the much-vaunted Arab Spring and the Middle East in a far worse situation than previously.

We are into an irreversible global warming era, possibly the most serious climate crisis faced by Mankind. July 2021 was the hottest month ever recorded on the planet. An extreme heat wave in Canada at a searing high of 49.6 deg. C. was a one-thousand-year weather event. Floods ripped through geographically distant countries like Germany and China. Drought stalked others. It is now being widely claimed in scientific circles that the Arctic would soon be devoid of ice with the resultant rise of sea water levels and low-lying areas going under.

The above are glimpses of a frightening and dystopian future we are headed into.

Now here is the other story.

In the last month alone, one billion people have been vaccinated against COVID 19. By the end of this year more than half the people on the planet would have received the vaccine. Truly a stupendous achievement in terms of swiftness of response and effectiveness.

The COVID-19 crisis has led to a veritable explosion of scientific progress in the tinkering of genetic information flow and the formulation of proteins, the ultimate nano machines. Trials are currently being done for protein-based vaccines for diseases ranging from Cancer to HIV.

As we speak, electricity generation from the clean sources of solar, wind, hydro and nuclear has outstripped that from ‘dirty’ coal.  Closer home in India, the wind and solar generating capacity has exceeded the milestone of 100GW output. In more and more countries, low carbon economy valuations are rising rapidly. The reason is economic. The average cost of power generation from clean sources is now half that from fossil fuels.

As investors spot a rising opportunity, more money is getting committed to climate investment funds in a day than used to be raised in years a short time back. Three weeks ago, two global asset managers, TPG and Brookfield, closed a combined $12.4 billion in climate investment funds.

Reforestation and conservation funding is taking place in countries as disparate as Indonesia and Bolivia who are supporting equatorial rain forests to United states and Canada who are focusing on wetlands, grasslands and coastal areas and the regeneration of flora and fauna therein.

These are but a few stories of a Utopian future we seem to be headed into.

So which future, whether the Dystopian or the Utopian, would come true?

As Morpheus says to Neo in the Matrix:

 “……This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you…. believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill……. and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more….”

Is our future really like the story of the blue and red pills and the need for us to make a choice of the path?

Or could it be that there is no choice after all? The two futures, dystopian and utopian, would always exist together, like the two sides of a coin. It would all come down to our world view and the context lens we choose to use. If our context was one of dystopia, we would see signals of collapse in every situation we look at. Similarly, if we were to deploy our utopian context, we would notice the signals of renewal and hope all around.

Our story, the shared and evolving narrative that it is, would always contain both dystopia and utopia, both collapse and renewal. It would depend on us which context lens we choose to deploy, which future we would wish to live into.

“What we do makes a difference, and we have to decide what kind of a difference we want to make.” Jane Goodall, English Primatologist & Anthropologist

Acknowledgement: The above piece is inspired by ‘Collapse, Renewal and Rope of History’ written by Angus Hervey, Future Crunch Journal, Aug. 24th 2021

In Learning

Shakti Ghosal

Elokeshi


“Dipen crossed the road to move towards his home in the Bhukailash estate. The narrow winding lane had a few single storied houses on the right. As he moved past the third house, his head turned as if on its own volition to the small verandah on the ground floor. His heart skipped a beat. There she was, the young woman in her twenties. Today in the failing light of dusk she stood, her head bent slightly to one side as she appeared to be combing her long lustrous black hair. Their eyes locked for a moment and then Dipen looked away quickly as he hastened his faltering steps. This had been happening almost every day over the last few months.”

The above is an excerpt from the story Pandemic, part of ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories.

Adjudged ‘Book of the Month’ for March 2021 by Booknerds, Professor Gracy Samjetsabam column author in Sunday Guardian Live and copy editor, in her review in Borderless Journal (May 14, 2021), writes:

“….. Ghosal sprinkles confetti of his coaching in life skills into the storytelling to create a set of modern-day tales that are easily relatable and palatable. The style and the settings are like fresh air that enlightens as it entertains. The stories are vibrant and close to current realities, making them a worthy read.”

The full review is available here. https://borderlessjournal.com/…/the-chronicler-of-the…/

On 30th July 2021, the book has received the Nazm-e- Sahitya award 2021 from Nazmehayat, a platform of worthy writers. www.nazmehayat.com

www.shaktighosal.com

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A River that separates two nations


Ichamati River, a distributary of the mighty Padma flows quietly, separating as it does the land masses of India and Bangladesh at places.

The town of Taki is one such place.

 I sat looking at the serenity of the Ichamati waters from my hotel room in Sonar Bangla.  As the tide ebbed, the river bed peeped above the water. As if separating the water itself between the banks of the two countries. The sad  impact of the river bed silting is so visible. Decades of uncontrolled construction, encroachment and forcible occupation of the land have contributed to this.

But Icchamati continues to mesmerize the visitor.

I am told the Durga Pujo immersion ceremony on the Ichamati is a unique spectacle with boats full of folks of both the countries immersing their respective Durga Protimas.

In the words of the famous Bengali writer Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay

‘The ashes of so many burnt bodies have been carried by the river to the blue ocean over millennia. The man who expected so much return from his plantain trees on the southern side of that green, and at the bend of the river put bamboo traps to catch fish, is lying today on the bank of the Ichamati – only his white bones remain, bleached by sunrays.

…….… one listens to the music of eternity when one spots the old flowers or smells the pungent fragrance of herbal plants in Autumn. Some can visualise and dream the unlimitable unknown eternity in the image of the Ichamati river during the turbulent rainy season.’

http://www.shaktighosal.com

India’s 75th year of Independence


‘Came the partition of the country and the independence speech of the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in which he proclaimed, “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom”.

What followed was something quite the contrary.

Rather than awakening to life, people were awakening to bloodshed, killings, rape and pillage. Rather than awakening to freedom to live where they chose to, people were being forced to leave behind everything they possessed and cross a newly created artificial border, homeless and penniless.

The above is an excerpt from Ashtami, one of the stories in ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories’ which recently received the Nazm-e-Sahitya award for 2021.

On this day, as we mark the 75th year of India’s independence, the following excerpt from the section ‘Hebrews’ in the New Testament comes to mind.

“So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us.

We may feel alone, but we aren’t. We are surrounded by an army of witnesses. They have run the race of faith and finished well. It is now our turn.

Let us not forget all those who have gone before. Indeed, now it is our turn.

www.shaktighosal.com

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A discussion in the Metaphysical World


Goura Prasad from Odisha, a student of literature, has sent me this beautiful piece and I am copying it below:

“I’m an admirer of literature. I used to write short poems, few lines about my teachers and felt happy to write about that. I ‘m enjoying The Chronicler of the Hooghly on a fine Sunday morning.

The Chronicler of the Hooghly is a good book with a unique writing style. It can be best enjoyed at the dining table, a father with a copy of the book in his hand and his children as active listeners.

Goura Prasad further provides this so very interesting discussion in the metaphysical world!

(Topic- Author Shakti Ghosal)

If Shakespeare, George Benard Shaw, William Wordsworth, Robert Frost and some other contemporary writers of their level were to talk to each other in the metaphysical world regarding Author Shakti Ghosal they may be very much thankful towards him firstly.

How Shakti is deeply rooted in the field of literature with some advanced literary ideas; claps may come voluntarily from them while talking to each other in the metaphysical world.

Shakespeare might say this to Shakti, “I’ve written so many dramas and sonnets, but the way you present the incidents with appropriate scenes Hail Thee to it.”

George Benard Shaw might suggest, ” No foreigner can speak English with hundred percent accuracy but your writing style is worth observing.”

Robert Frost may confide, ” I could not stop in the forest to enjoy the growing darkness of an advancing evening as I was assigned with so many responsibilities and I ‘ve mentioned this also in “Stopping by Woods on Snowy Evening.” But from our discussion, I can assure you I’ll take leave to enjoy your The Chronicler of the Hooghly.”

And the discussion goes on……..

Thank you Goura for the above wonderful thought. You have indeed made my day!!

www.shaktighosal.com

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How can I come when I am not even here ?


“Hmm. Yes there is something but I am not sure if I should be speaking about it”, Anjan said. “I have been trying to make sense of an unusual incident that happened just a while back”.

The room quietened as everyone turned towards their host expectantly. Jaya too had come in, poured herself some red wine and sat down.

“Just before all of you came in, I was looking out of these French windows when I was somewhat surprised to see an old school friend of mine Savio on the walkway outside. We had lost touch for over two decades. Suddenly I see him outside my very window”.

“And you recognized him right away?” Akshay asked.

‘Right away, as if the years slipped away and I saw him just as I had last seen him two decades back’.

But when I invited him to join us for dinner tonight, he said something strange and vanished!

As his friends looked at each other in puzzlement, suddenly Anjan could hear shouts of “Anjan! Anjan!” coming from outside, accompanied by loud knocks.

To Anjan it seemed like Savio was calling him; he started getting up to go to the door.

****

The above is an excerpt from the story Faultlines, part of the Chronicler of the Hooghly collection. Emotionally gripping and a psychological page-turner, the book recently received the Nazme Sahitya award for 2021. Available worldwide on Amazon ( 180 excellent ratings and reviews) , Flipkart and select book stores.

www.shaktighosal.com

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The Hooghly has seen it all….


A thrilling saga of a mystical pearl necklace which spins history and myth addictively across different dimensions.

Across time as it takes the reader on a two and a half centuries journey.

Across human failings and virtues of political intrigue, greed, betrayal, love and magnanimity.

The Chronicler of the Hooghly continues to make emotional waves worldwide.

In the words of The Telegraph, “…. it is the sensitive treatment of the characters battling these tragedies that enriches these tales.”    

http://www.shaktighosal.com

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