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 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

Ghantewala @ Chandni Chowk, Delhi


Once when the emperor was going through Chandni Chowk, my predecessor offered sweets to the royal entourage as well as to the Emperor’s elephant”, said the shop keeper.

“And what did the elephant do?”, asked the children in unison.

 “Oh! It was a very intelligent elephant and he liked our sweets very much. So after that day, every time the royal procession would come this way, the elephant would stop in front of our shop, shake its head and refuse to move on till it was offered sweets. The bells hanging from its neck would keep on ringing till it finished the sweets. This is how we got our name”.

Did you know that the Ghantewala Halwai, iconic sweet shop in Chandni Chowk, Delhi: Set up in 1790 AD, it is arguably the oldest running sweet shop in Inda. It has catered to Mughal Emperors, Presidents and Prime Ministers….

Ghantewala Halwai 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

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

https://www.facebook.com/author.shaktighosal

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