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 Corniche and the Mutrah Souq


Muttrah Corniche, Muscat, Oman, Middle East

“Anjan managed to park his car between two cars in the congested parking area of the Muttrah corniche. Mercifully it was early afternoon when the crowds were less. Anjan had driven through the old town areas of Darsait and Jibroo, go around the small and quaint fish roundabout before parking close to Muttrah Souq.

As he stepped out of the car, Anjan looked at the long and curving corniche and the sea beyond. He could see a few ships and dhows anchored. To his right, he could see the giant incense burner standing guard over Riyam park. It was always a pleasure to visit this old Muscat area and savour the beauty of the surroundings.

Corniche – Harbor Promenade in the City of Muttrah. Muttrah Corniche, Oman, Middle East.

Anjan had come to purchase a gift of a framed Omani Khanjar for an industry colleague who was leaving Oman and returning back to India. The best place to buy was from one of the many small souvenir shops in Mutrah souq….”

Snippet : Before the discovery of oil, Muttrah was the center of commerce in Muscat, Oman . It is still a center of commerce as one of the largest sea ports of the region is located there. Muttrah Souq is one of the oldest marketplaces in Oman dating back two hundred years. In Arabic, it is known as Al Dhalam Souq, which signifies darkness because of the crowded stalls and lanes where the sunrays do not infiltrate during the day.

Muttrah Corniche and Souq feature in the story Fault Lines, 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 @ author.esgee@gmail.com

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

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

Birthday @ Pavo Real


‘Getting into Madinat Qaboos, Anjan drove to the Al Madina Plaza, where Pavo Real was located.

As they reached their assigned table, the waiter pulled out the chair for Jaya to sit. He placed a bottle of mineral water and asked what drinks they would prefer.

“Two large Margaritas please with a plate of tacos and chicken enchiladas”, said Anjan. Pavo Real was a favourite of Jaya and Anjan knew what she liked.

The margarita is a cocktail consisting of tequila mixed with orange-flavoured liqueur and lime or lemon juice, often served with salt on the glass rim.

After the waiter had gone. Anjan pulled out the birthday gift and handed it over to his wife. Jaya opened the gift box and gave a squeal of delight when she saw the pendant set.’

Pavo Real, also known as “the Mexican”, is an exclusive restaurant in the up-market neighbourhood of Madinat Qaboos in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. Commencing operations in 1993, it offers special evenings with changing themes, great food, music and Margaritas !

Pavo Real features in the story Fault Lines, 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 @ 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.