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

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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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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

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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