Like a beast awakening…..


Like a beast awakening, the British Howitzers and cannons roared to life. The searing flame moved from right to left as the guns fired in sequence. Ram Prasad saw the charging infantry getting mowed down as he saw the General himself getting hit and toppling from the horse.

“Charge!” Ram Prasad heard his own voice calling. He saw his men as they rose from behind the embankment and moved forward. The unforgiving howl of the British guns erupted again and he saw his brave men falling all around him.

But why was a large part of the Bengal army not moving? He felt a searing pain in the left shoulder and then in the abdomen. Blood erupted from his body, he had been hit. But still, the main flank of the army remained stationary. Indeed, they seemed to be mute spectators of the massacre.

The Battle of Plassey was a decisive victory of the British East India Company over Nawab Siraj Ud Daulah of Bengal on 23 June 1757.The battle took place at Palashi on the banks of the Hooghly River, about 150 kilometres north of Calcutta and south of Murshidabad, then capital of Bengal.The outcome of the battle was to change the history and shape of things to come for ever not only for India, but as some say, for the world, in terms of ascendancy of the British Empire.

The battle of Plassey features in the story ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly’, part of my forthcoming book of the same name.

#thechroniclerofthehooghly, #battleofplassey, #fortwilliam, #shaktighosal, #eastindiacompany,#goodread,#historicalfiction,#ilovebooks

First tram ride in Delhi


“Baba, why is that train bogie standing in the middle of the road?” asked Niren, pointing to a single carriage, surrounded by tongas, carts and people walking on the road.

“Niren, that is a tram, a modern day invention. It does not need any engine to pull it. Can you see that pole on the top? It draws electric current from that cable on top to move”, replied Sujit.

His eyes twinkling, Sujit asked, “Would you like to ride the tram?”

“Yes! Yes!” the boys shouted as they started running towards the tram.

“Niren, Suren! Stop, do not run ahead like that”, so saying, Bina turned quickly and rushed towards her sons, her maternal protective instinct taking over. That was when the first wave of nausea and dizziness hit her and she lost her balance.

Snippet: The first horse drawn tram made its appearance in Calcutta in 1873, operating between Sealdah and Armenian Ghat seat. Electrified tramways started operating between Khidderpore, Esplanade and Kalighat in 1902. Close on the heels of Calcutta came the introduction of tramways in Bombay, Nashik and Chennai.

Trams in Delhi began operation in 1908 and with the shifting of the Capital to this city, the network continued to expand.Tramways ferried people between Chandni Chowk to Tis Hazari in the north and Pahar Ganj and Ajmeri gate in the south. However the system had to be shut down in 1963 due to urban congestion.

Interestingly, Delhi’s dalliance with the trams might soon be revived as Delhi Government plans to introduce ‘trackless trams’ in the heritage Chandni Chowk area.

Delhi Trams feature in the story, ‘Ashtami’, part of my forthcoming book ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories’ which is scheduled to release in February ‘21. For updates, do visit

#historicalfiction,#pageturner,#thechroniclerofthehooghly,#shaktighosal,#ashtami, #novel, #readersgonnaread, #booklover, #bookworm, #bookrecommendation, #fiction, #booknerd, #bookobsessed, #returntoreading, #rediscovergoodread, #happyreading

Widows of Bengal


“Her unadorned face with a parting free of sindoor and a simply worn white sari indicated her to be a young widow. Something in her appearance impacted Dipen.

 Dipen could recall his aunt becoming a widow when he was a mere seven or eight, she had her hair cut short and seemed perpetually in a complaining and cantankerous mood. She was required to observe strict fast on certain days and Dipen still remembered how she would secretly beg him for moa or naru, homemade Bengali sweets. Considered inauspicious, Dipen’s aunt was barred from participating in joyous occasions; to everyone around she personified inconvenience and this showed up in the insensitive behaviour of family members towards her. Dipen was too young to understand the ramifications but as he grew older, he could sense the unforgiving and interminable despair that his aunt’s life had represented.”

Snippet: In the early twentieth century, the plight of widows in Bengal continued to be terrible, arising from customs and social ostracization.Even though remarriage of widows had been made legally permissible from mid-nineteenth century, largely due to the efforts of the Brahmin social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, society continued to frown on all such attempts.

Once the husband died , the torture of his wife began. It was as if Lord Yama of the netherworld was taking away her soul. Even when she had to endure the grief of her husband’s death, society somehow held her ‘responsible’ for the death and even her closest relatives could not come to console her. A woman whose husband had died was thus like a living corpse. She had no rights in the home and had to remain as a slave to other family members. 

The above extract is from 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.

#historicalfiction,#pageturner,#thechroniclerofthehooghly,#shaktighosal,#pandemic,

#goodread,#mindopener.

The Black Hole of Calcutta


Fort William on the Hooghly 1757 Artistic depiction

“Jim with a few of his soldiers stood surrounded by a large contingent of the Nawab’s forces. Soon Jemmaatdaars shepherded the Captain Commandant with soldiers and civilians into a small room. This is when the horror began.

Packed like sardines in the room, delirious from lack of air and acrid smoke from the burning godowns filling their lungs, the prisoners started feeling suffocated and begged the guards for water. In their despair, they started offering whatever money they had to the Nawab’s guards outside. “One thousand rupees! Two thousand rupees!”

Though finding it difficult to breathe himself, Jim passed the little water that was brought in to others using his hat. But in the frenzy that ensued with the prisoners struggling to get to the window, most of the water was spilled. Worse, people were getting trampled.

Jim shouted over the ravings and rantings, “Gentlemen, we need to help each other, we need to keep our heads if we are to survive this night”.

He could dimly see a Captain frothing at the mouth and collapsing. Jim himself was losing consciousness from the heat and exhaustion. As he slowly crumpled in a heap on the ground, strangely enough the last image which fluttered across his mind’s eye was the suffused glow of the pearl and emerald necklace he had glimpsed briefly the previous night.”

Snippet: After the fall of East India Company’s Fort William to Nawab Siraj Ud Daulah’s forces on 20th June 1756, the surviving English soldiers, Indian sepoys along with some civilians were rounded and locked up in a small room for the night. Next morning only twenty odd prisoners had survived, the remaining around forty to sixty having perished from exhaustion, suffocation and stampede. The incident came to be known as the Black Hole tragedy of Calcutta and directly led to the British seeking revenge by overthrowing Siraj Ud Daulah as the Nawab of Bengal by defeating him at the Battle of Plassey the following year.

The fall of Fort William and the Black Hole Tragedy feature in the story ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly’, part of my forthcoming book of the same name.

#thechroniclerofthehooghly, #blackholetragedy, #fortwilliam, #shaktighosal, #eastindiacompany

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 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 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.