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.

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

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.

Fort William Calcutta


Did you know that there were two Fort Williams?

 The original fort was built in the year 1696 by the British East India Company under the orders of Sir John Goldsborough which took a decade to complete. The permission was granted by Mughal Emperor AurangzebSir Charles Eyre started construction near the bank of the Hooghly River with the South-East Bastion and the adjacent walls. It was named after King William III in 1700. 

The original building had two stories and projecting wings. In 1756, the Nawab of BengalSiraj Ud Daulah, attacked the Fort and temporarily conquered the city. This led the British to build a new and a more defensive Fort in the Maidan. based on Robert Clive’s directive. The new Fort William was built with open spaces on all sides to allow 360 degree visibility of any approaching enemy.

Fort William 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

Ashtami


In Ashtami Sujit, a Junior Clerk in the British administration in Calcutta, with his young wife Bina, is forced to migrate to distant and dusty Delhi as the capital of the British Raj shifts. Shanti, born of a forcep delivery process gone horribly wrong, comes into their lives, physically and mentally challenged.

“Shanti sat there in the engulfing darkness desperately holding his dying brother’s hand. A low pitched moan emanated from him; a sound of utter helplessness that ricocheted on the closed doors and windows of the nearby houses, and failing to open them, got lost into the night…”.

Ashtami is 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

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Viceroy’s House and the Secretariat Building on Raisina Hill, New Delhi