Would heaven be something like this?


Anjan and Jaya were sitting on one of the lovely grassy visitor areas on the Muscat beachside. A gentle soothing breeze was blowing. Two boys were jumping with joy as the Chinese lantern released by them floated higher. Few families were huddled around portable barbeque stands and the occasional aroma of the grilled meat was overpowering. Ayan was running around with a frisbee. All three of them in fact had just played an invigorating game of frisbee. Now out of breath Anjan and Jaya had begged Ayan for half an hour’s relief to which he had reluctantly agreed.

“Would heaven be something like this Anjan?” mused Jaya. “If only we could be sitting here for ever and ever”.

“Hmm, yes enjoy it while it lasts”, replied Anjan gazing up at the star filled sky. He lowered his eyes towards the darkness of the sea in front. “Look at those bluish phosphorescent patches on the waves breaking on the shore. Did you know that these patches are created by millions of tiny marine creatures?”

Anjan had almost failed to notice a small huddled figure slowly come out of the foaming waves. The figure seemed to be beckoning to him.

Snippet : The public beach close to Al Khuwair and Qurum is beautifully sandy, clean and a beach goer’s paradise. There is a raised continuous walkway parallel to the sea face. One may sit on wooden bemches or plonk down on the grassy atolls wirh a coffee and snacks and watch a beautiful sunset. It remains a preferred place for Barbeque get togethers with family and friends.

The bluish Bioluminescence in the Arabian sea waters is a fairly recent phenomenon and some attribute it to climate change . This is attributed to a plankton like species nicknamed ‘sea sparkle’.

Muscat beach features in the story, ‘Fault Lines’, 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

#pageturner,#thechroniclerofthehooghly,#shaktighosal,#ashtami,

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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

Jagjit Singh Live


It has been ten years since Jagjit Singh, arguably the most successful ghazal singer and composer of our times, passed away.

The other day a two decades old memory of my brief association with Ghazal King Jagjit Singh got jogged.

This came from a Facebook post by Jaya Kumar in which she eulogised Jagjit Singh and mentioned her being there for the Jagjit Singh Live Show at the Qurum Amphitheater Muscat in April 1999. We were still in the last century, how time flies!

It had been a privilege for me to be associated with the organising and compering of that memorable night. As maestro Jagjit Singh gave voice to some of his mellifluous offerings, the over fifty thousand strong audiences comprising of the ‘Who’s Who’ of Muscat listened mesmerised.

As I listen to the words today, I am left wondering at the prescient hold they continue to exercise on me.

In Remembrance……

#Jagjitsingh, #jagjitsinghghazals,#shaktighosal,#muscatoman,#muscatlife

The Chronicler tales…..


Coming you way. Are you ready?

In our lives, we at times get confronted with intense and traumatic events which force us to question who we are, what really matters to us and what we believe in. In some ways these events alter our sense of reality.

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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.

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#goodread,#mindopener.

Bangalore and the Lie!


The Bangalore Skyline

‘One Saturday evening, Anjan suggested, “How about going to the pub and having some chilled beer? The treat is on me”.

But that evening Rohit was not enthusiastic, “I would have loved to Anjan, but it is a colleague’s birthday and I need to attend the party”.

 Anjan with a few other friends decided to go for Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park which was being screened at Rex Theatre on Brigade Road. Being a night show, getting tickets was not a problem and the group soon sank back into the plush seats in air-conditioned comfort, each with a tub of popcorn. The lights were still on. As Anjan looked around, he got a shock. A few rows ahead, he saw Rohit sitting with a girl, their heads leaning towards each other. Anjan could hardly believe his eyes.  Rohit, his closest friend, his buddy, had lied to him!’

Snippet: The name “Bangalore” was given by the British as an anglicized version of the original Kannada name Bengaluru. As the legend goes, Veera Ballala II, the most famous king of the Hoysala dynasty (twelfth century), while on a hunting expedition, lost his way in the forest. Tired and hungry, he came across a poor old woman who served him boiled beans. The grateful king named the place “bend-kaal-uru” (literally, “town of boiled beans”), which eventually evolved into Bengaluru.

 Bangalore is widely regarded as the “Silicon Valley of India”. A cosmopolitan city, it  is the second fastest-growing major metropolis in India. The iconic Rex Theatre on Brigade Road downed its shutters for good on first January 2019 after entertaining Bangalore folks for seventy eight years.

The city of Bangalore and Rex Theatre feature in the story Fault Lines, a part of my forthcoming book, ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories ’. www.shaktighosal.com

#fiction,#pageturner,#thechroniclerofthehooghly,#faultlines,#goodread,#bangalore,#shaktighosal,#rextheatre,#novel

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.

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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