Yesterday, my daughters arranged for an all-Italian supper of pasta and Pizza with garlic bread for their Baba. As I was washing down all that great food with a glass of coke I felt so blessed.
In my younger days, we neither had the awareness nor the luxury of such DAYS to acknowledge our loved ones. The only days I recall celebrating were Birthdays and the occasional special anniversary (the tenth, the twenty fifth etc.). Those were simpler times……
Times change. The bond, the love, that heavenly security in one’s father’s arms remain. This is how the feelings, the thoughts, the conviction to take one’s rightful place on the world stage flow down from one generation to the next.
My father Late Debabrata Ghosal gave wings to my creative imagination since childhood. He inculcated the ‘can do’ mindset in me. Decades after he has left my side, I continue to sense his guiding compass when confronted by life’s situations.
Though I too held my daughters in the same manner that Bapi held me decades earlier, have I been able to pass on the right values and mindset onto them? I suppose only time will remain a witness to that ……
Spanning a century between the pandemics of 1919 and 2020, Dipen and Indranil are confronted by tragedies under vastly different societal conditioning and development. What is their link spanning four generations which arises from an old and dilapidated palace and its massive Shiva linga?
Santosh Jami from Bengaluru writes……
” Amazing book, very easy read.
Honestly I am not much into books lately but when I read the preface and the first few pages, I could not put it down, especially the parts where historical facts were interwoven into stories is real magic. The narration of battle of Plassey, events surrounding fall of Bengal when mixed with the characters in the stories – all of them came alive.And the mix of history with contemporary events is beautiful.
The open ending where the Chronicler slowly fades away is really thought provoking and leaves the reader with self reflection and space for introspection in a very subtle way.
Overall, an excellent read.“
The book continues to make emotional waves worldwide with around one hundred and fifty excellent reviews and ratings on Amazon and Good Reads. Available on Amazon, Flipkart and leading bookstores.
“Ghosal impressively weaves history and imagination to blend fiction and reality, thereby providing a voice of the unrecorded, the myths and legends around what happened on the other side of known history…” Professor Gracy Samjetsabam, column author in Sunday Guardian Live and copy editor•
“……What truly grips the reader is this wonderful complexity of ‘a touch of the old Raj’ and the deep humanity of the pages that captivate.” Dr. Viraj P. Thacker, Author of ‘The Myth of Prosperity: Globalization and the South’, US•
“…. sensitive treatment of the characters battling these tragedies that enriches these tales.” The Telegraph
The book is available on Amazon ( paperback and kindle )and Flipkart (paperback). I am giving below Amazon India and US links for fast access.
A sunset cruise on the Hooghly which spins history and myth addictively across different dimensions. Across time as it takes the reader on a two and a half centuries journey. Across human failings and virtues of political intrigue, greed, betrayal, love and magnanimity.
The Chronicler of the Hooghly continues to make emotional waves worldwide with around one hundred and fifty excellent ratings and reviews on Amazon and Good Reads.
Frank Marinko is a Leadership and Executive Coach and the Founder & Managing Partner of Empathinko. He resides in Melbourne, Australia.
Frank says this about the ‘Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories’ :
‘Reading a Shakti Ghosal story is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. His stories are akin to the gossamer of a fine and delicate spiders web, subtle, alluring and surprisingly clever. The narrative expands with coherence and a subtle obliquity and yet as I read, the feeling is one of being comfortably lost in a vast and sumptuous tale of intrigue and mystery.
The way Shakti writes this story with grace and ease allows the reader to immerse themselves into the main character’s experience. One can easily become that character, plunged into the complexities of the circumstances as the story unfolds.’
The book continues to make emotional waves worldwide with close to a hundred and fifty excellent ratings and reviews on Amazon and Good Reads.
As humans, we remain unique storytellers. There is always a story inside each one of us waiting to come out. It usually stems from that intrinsic need to ‘say something’ about what we feel passionate about.
The Chronicler of the Hooghly is all about four stories and five crucible experiences. 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.
Each of the four stories in this book draw inspiration from such crucible events that I have had to face. The protagonists in that sense carry a bit of my own ‘experience and thought’ genes.
Best selling author Dr. Viraj Thacker from the US says about the book, “ ……What truly grips the reader is this wonderful complexity of ‘a touch of the old Raj’ and the deep humanity of the pages that captivate. The Chronicler of the Hooghly truly resonated with this reader on many counts & in a most heartwarming fashion, left me with a sense of hope-faith in the human experience.”
International reviewer Professor Gracy Samjetsabam says, “…..Ghosal impressively weaves history and imagination to blend fiction and reality, thereby providing a voice of the unrecorded, the myths and legends around what happened on the other side of known history.”
The Chronicler of the Hooghly continues to create emotional waves worldwide with more than a hundred excellent ratings and reviews on Amazon and Good Reads.
It was near the end of last century in 1998. As part of the Raga Varsha initiative, we had invited Santoor Maestro, the legendary Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and his immensely talented son Rahul Sharma to perform at the iconic Al Bustan Palace in Muscat.
Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma during his lifetime has elevated the humble ‘Santoor’ to classical heights by modifying certain key elements. A chromatic arrangement of notes, increasing the range to three octaves and creating a new playing technique. To understand the stature of Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma, he was the recipient of the Indian Classical music’s first platinum disc for the ‘Call of the Valley’ album. He went onto win further platinum discs for the music compositions of films Silsila and Chandni.
When he accompanied his dad to Muscat in 1998, Rahul Sharma was already a hugely talented and handsome young man of 26. Today, Rahul is a music director and classical santoor player in his own right. He has collaborated with international musicians to produce chart busting fusion music.
The mellifluous music strands created by the father son duo at the Al Bustan Palace auditorium that day nearly a quarter of a century ago continues to be part of my album of wonderful memories.
Prem Chandra of the Indian Railways Service of Mechanical Engineers (Jamalpur cadre) is a senior professional ( retired) who has seen the world.
This is what he writes about his engagement with the Chronicler.
” After a long time, I read a full book, breaking my big inertia. I found your book very enjoyable, at the same time, I travelled in a time capsule few centuries back, living in those times, and had some foreign visits too, of US and Gulf.
Sorrow of Shanti in Ashtami, was very touching. In our society, we need to evolve much more to take proper care of handicapped people. Come to think of it, each one of us, have few major physical and/or mental handicaps, which we are able to hide somehow, or we are not even aware of them.
Pandemic has shown us good mirror. Glimpse of the same a century back, was quite informative and brought good memories of our Calcutta days.
Fault Lines, nicely depicted the hindu karma theory, with a good pinch of mystery.
Finally, The Chronicler…, was superb climax. I learnt lot of our own history in a very interesting manner. Some characters in it like, Joba Sundari, Omichand, Satya and Rani Rashmoni, will remain in my memory for a long time. Effect of mixing supernatural in the story was too good and divine.
Congratulations Shakti, for writing this book so well in your first such attempt. It is of a high standard. Best wishes for your future such endeavours. In fact, now I look forward to your next.”
From Ashtami :
As preparations got underway to take the body for cremation, no one could miss that low pitched moan from the room of the deceased. It emanated from Shanti as he alone held onto his mother’s hand. It seemed disturbingly like a sound from the past trying to come to terms with that of an uncertain future. It ricocheted through the house and beyond, and failing to tug at the heartstrings of the folks around, carried to the heavens the sadness, tiredness and the irrelevance of it all.
Ya Devi sarva bhutesu Shanti rupena samsthita
Namestasyai Namestasyai Namestasyai Namoh Namah
Ashtami, part of the Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories, continues to make emotional waves around the world with more than a hundred excellent ratings and reviews on Amazon.
Dr. Viraj P. Thacker, the best-selling author of ‘The Myth of prosperity: Globalisation and the South’, has remained passionate about continuing his Late Mother’s work of a lifetime in the areas of Women & Children, the Environment, Sustainability & Social Justice. This has also led him to set up ‘Manushi for sustainable development’ of which he is the international executive director.
I am sharing a collage of the events associated with the above initiative as well as a thought-provoking article on Globalisation that he has published recently.
Environment, sustainability and Climate Change are areas I remain passionate about. My next book might just be in this area…..
The Chronicler of Hooghly and other stories by Shakti Ghosal.
This collection of stories is the first book penned by the author. But his captivating style of narrating tales bears testimony to the fact he is an accomplished writer of prose. According to the author, these four stories are inspired by his personal experiences. However, he has woven these stories into a multi-hued fabric of history, societal norms prevailing at that time and the Bengali culture linking it to modern times. The prominent aspect is that the reader gets a taste of both the ancient and modern times and the switch over is amazing. For historical perspective, the author has relied on various secondary sources of which he has produced a list of references at the end of the book.
His last story, The Chronicler of the Hooghly, has its beginning from the year 1756, one year prior to the most eventful Battle of Plassey which totally changed the political scenario of not only Bengal but of the whole India. As we know as a part of history that by winning this battle, the Britishers through East India Company successfully laid the foundation of British rule in India subjecting the people of India under the yoke of ignominious foreign rule for about two centuries. This story highlights the unfortunate actions of self-seeking power-seekers who played treacherous and deceitful games in furtherance of their own petty interests. In the process, they even compromised the independence of their kingdoms by their shameful betrayal to the British authorities. Omichand, Nabakrishna Deb and other characters are representative of such phenomenon with which the annals of Indian history is replete. Sowing the seeds of discontent through every ploy under their arms among the local chieftains, significant persons in the establishment and the menial servants and petty officials had been the main plank of the winning strategy of the British authorities in India. The author, in this story has successfully sculpted such characters with finesse and authenticity which evoke readers interest so much that it becomes almost impossible to put down the book before going to the end. Author has narrated this story through a stranger who has linked the history of Bengal, the development of modern Kolkata and the making of British rule in India via Bengal to the pious Hooghly river’s saga. This part of the story is a unique feature. Civilizations usually grow at the banks of rivers and vanish in due course of time. But the river remains there standing as the real chronicler of the events taking place in different regimes at different times. Lastly, the author has laced the narrative with the anecdote of pearl necklace touching the chord of spiritualism and moral beliefs of the people. The whole story is narrated in fluent style keeping the reader glued to pages after pages till the end.
The third story Fault lines deal with a unique idea that may easily be counted within the realm of psychology! The story carries a loud message that despite all our conquests in the contours of day-to-day life, it is our alter ego who decides the final results. Sometimes, we weave around our thinking faculty a mesh from where we see everything done by us as rightly done! But this is not so. There is someone who reminds us or rather shows us our fault lines, at least once in our lifetimes. Alter ego does that acting as mirror to our mind’s eye! Set in the foreign land, Muscat, Oman, this is a story of two close friends who are diametrically opposite in temperament and approach towards life. As destined from above, they are in the race to woo the same girl. But this time, the slow-moving tortoise loses the race to the guile of his worldly wise and fastmoving friend. The loser quits the field. However, one day the girl, now a married woman, finds an unread envelope of the loser friend and ultimately knows the truth. Her inner self rebels and she leaves the place of her husband loaded with a heavy sense of remorse. The story has been narrated in fluent style, which is the hallmark of the author’s genius. As it comes out in all his stories, the author’s familiarity with the places and the incidents adds to the natural flow of the narrative.
Pandemic is the second story of this collection. Author has picked the threads of this story from the Spanish flu pandemic of 1919, and the scenario is old Calcutta. He has taken it to its logical end by linking it to prevalent COVID-19. Interestingly, nothing has changed manifestly. In the olden times, we were as ignorant about the disease as we are today. At that time too, there were no specific medical prescriptions or safe vaccination regime. The condition is albeit same today. Though the growth of science and technology has made tremendous strides. We are running through the age of computers. But the most interesting aspect is that human nature has not changed a bit! In the times of crisis like the pandemics, the appearances of Good Samaritans do decrease! Moreover, the moneyed class remain indulgent in the pursuit of materialistic pleasures, come what may! The central character of this story, a woman of insatiable thirst for male company remains oblivious of the dreaded impact of novel corona virus of the present times, and constantly seeks the presence of her one-time beau, the hero of this story. However, everything ends so quietly and all of sudden that might be the dream end of the current pandemic also! At least, we can wish and pray for such end! It safeguards the lives of many, particularly of the hero’s family and the story comes to a sudden halt with a happy ending. Like other stories of this collection, the author has described the life and times of Calcutta of yore and the Gurugram of the present in great detail. The narration is fluent and flawless, as usual.
The first story of this collection Ashtami is simply superb. The author has cooked up his story raising a very socially relevant issue in the crucible of history which is the forte of his writing mindset. Starting from the infamous partition of Bengal of the year 1905 masterminded by the staunch imperialist Governor-General, Lord Curzon, he ends the story in the backdrop of communal frenzy in the wake of India’s freedom, 1947 to be precise. In both the settings, there were people’s protest culminating into deadly communal riots. But in between and at the troubled times, the chanting of Durga Saptashati slokas, the widely resonating sounds of dhak and the auspicious puja of Maha ashtami come live in this story. In all his stories, the author has successfully sprinkled the aroma of the culture of Bengal and the Indian ethos with credibility. The end of the story comes to us as a brainstorming session. The message is loud and clear. We still lack a general understanding and overall empathy for the special children who are still considered a burden on their families. Despite a better awareness level regarding the problem, we still treat our special children not as a gift of God but as a curse of God. The sudden downfall of Shanti, the main protagonist of the story, becomes nobody at the time of riots. The author has portrayed the nasty and heartrending picture of ensuing riots in Calcutta and New Delhi with rare sensitivity. In this backdrop, he had chosen a very much socially relevant theme, for which he deserves appreciation.
Though this is his first book of fiction, and he is not a professional writer, his acumen and flair for writing are simply commendable. This is unputdownable book, once you start reading. The narration reminds us of rivers in the hilly terrain that despite rugged interface with rocks and boulders, keep on flowing in a rhythm and reaching their destination without much ado. The readers must read this book as a visit down the memory lane in regard to forgotten annals of Indian history, particularly of Calcutta and Bengal. The most interesting aspect is that the whole narration is centred around the river Hooghly which, sometimes appears to narrate by herself its own story through the powerful quill of the author itself. Kudos to the author for his brilliant debut as an author on the Indo-English literary firmament in India.
Copyright@ Rakesh Chandra.
The Chronicler of the Hooghly continues to make emotional waves worldwide with more than a hundred excellent ratings and reviews on Amazon and Good Reads.