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

Birthday @ Pavo Real


‘Getting into Madinat Qaboos, Anjan drove to the Al Madina Plaza, where Pavo Real was located.

As they reached their assigned table, the waiter pulled out the chair for Jaya to sit. He placed a bottle of mineral water and asked what drinks they would prefer.

“Two large Margaritas please with a plate of tacos and chicken enchiladas”, said Anjan. Pavo Real was a favourite of Jaya and Anjan knew what she liked.

The margarita is a cocktail consisting of tequila mixed with orange-flavoured liqueur and lime or lemon juice, often served with salt on the glass rim.

After the waiter had gone. Anjan pulled out the birthday gift and handed it over to his wife. Jaya opened the gift box and gave a squeal of delight when she saw the pendant set.’

Pavo Real, also known as “the Mexican”, is an exclusive restaurant in the up-market neighbourhood of Madinat Qaboos in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. Commencing operations in 1993, it offers special evenings with changing themes, great food, music and Margaritas !

Pavo Real features 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

A spear came whizzing out of the trees………


A spear came whizzing out of the trees and pierced the ground barely ten feet from the palanquin. The shaft vibrated giving out an ominous hum. Almost in unison the tree branches and leaves started to rustle all around. It sounded like an army getting ready to strike.

“Alert! Hold!”, ordered the captain to his men as the guards immediately formed a protective circle and cocked their guns. They peered into the trees to try and spot the hidden enemy, knowing that hidden eyes were watching their every move.

The palanquin curtain drew open and out stepped Rani Rashmoni………..

Rani Rashmoni (1793—1861) was the founder of the Dakshineswar Kali TempleKolkata. A Low caste Hindu by birth but exceptionally beautiful, she was married to Babu Rajachandra Das (Marh) of JanbazarKolkata, a member of a wealthy zamindar family, when she was eleven years old. After her husband’s death she took charge of the zamindari and finances.

Rani Rashmoni 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 Blue Serpent…..


As Anjan put on the kettle switch, the power light came on. A few moments elapsed and then hearing a slight crackling sound Anjan turned. He saw a snake-like bluish flame moving from the electric point and spreading across the floor. As Anjan bent down to shut off the switch, he saw the blue serpent moving into the drain. For a moment time stood still and then, almost as if in slow motion, Anjan saw fault lines appear on the ceiling and the walls before they splintered. Then as he watched, the blue serpent coiled out accompanied by an earth-shaking explosion sound. Anjan was picked up and thrown against the debris like a ragged doll.

The above is from ‘Fault Lines’, 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

World’s largest Shiva Linga…..


“You may call me Elokeshi”, said the woman with the black tresses and the mysterious smiling eyes. “Yes, we have met, in a way. During the festival of Maha Shivaratri last year, I had seen you accompanying Boudi when she had gone to offer milk to the Shiva linga. You held her when she climbed up”.

Dipen remembered the festival though could not recall seeing Elokeshi.

The Rakta Kamaleshwar and Krishna Chandreswar Shiva temples had been built by Raja JayaNarayan Ghoshal, nephew of Gokul Ghoshal, almost a hundred and fifty years earlier. The twin temples housed the world’s two largest Shiva Linga because of which the estate came to be known as Bhukailash, in deference to Lord Shiva’s heavenly abode Kailash.

Rakta Kamaleshwar and Krishna Chandreswar 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 write to me @ author.esgee@gmail.com

Nizwa Fort


Savio gestured onto the countryside, “Did you know that till a century back, the Sultan’s writ ran only in and around Muscat? The hinterland was really under the control of the Imam and his capital was Nizwa”.

“Would you believe me if I were to say that this fort and its design is based on deception? Right from its turrets, secret shafts, false doors to camouflaged wells. There are hidden wooden doors with metal spikes as also murder holes and shafts above each of the real doors through which boiling oil or date syrup could be poured on intruders. There were pitfalls in dark passageways as also removable wooden stairs with deep gaping holes to put an end to those unfortunate enough to fall into them”.

Savio stopped for a moment and glanced sideways at Anjan.

Nizwa Fort, built in the 1650s, features in the story, ‘Fault Lines’, 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

Nizwa Fort, Oman
Nizwa Fort inside
Nizwa Fort library room
Nizwa Fort plan

September 2020 Challenge


An exciting news for all ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly’ fans.

Time to win three to five book copies free.

Read the following line from the book

“What could be behind you taking this trip today and me telling you this tale?” asks the Chronicler.

Now allow your creative imagination to think of a word, a phrase or a line which resonates with the above, for you. It need not have any relevance to the book.

Send the above to me by replying on this forum or through email to : author.esgee@gmail.com

Share this post to your friends and groups.

Last date of entry 30th September 2020.

Winners would be announced after the contest ends.