Pallagram Pandemic Pandemonium

Deep in the heart of the ancient and mysterious jungle tableland of Ajodha Hills and reserve forest at the easternmost part of the lowest step of the Chhotanagpur Plateau and the extended regions of the Eastern Ghats mountain range, very close to the Chamtaburu mountain peak, at a distance of a day’s walk from the…

Maratha Ditch

Savitri hummed the ancient Bengali lullaby – “Khoka ghumalo, para juralo, Bargi elo deshe. Bulbulite dhan kheyechhe, khazna debo kishe? (My boy has fallen asleep, silence has set in the locality, the Bargis have come to our state. Passerine songbirds have eaten the rice grains, how shall I pay my taxes?) She was trying to make…

The Lighthouse

Khurram Kha anxiously glimpsed at the trickling sand in the hourglass. Glanced up towards the night sky, and then gazed at the frothy ivory waves lit up by the moonlight, lashing on the ancient and rugged rocky cliff-shore, on which stood his lighthouse, and finally looked at his daughter standing on the edge of the…

Poetay

At four every morning the severely annoying sound of a gradually intensifying, prolonged and near-deafening yawn would obliterate the tranquillity of a sleepy northern neighbourhood slowly waking up to face another day in the cosmopolitan city of Kolkata in the eastern armpit of the Indian subcontinent. A solid ten minute of thunderous “Hh uuu aaaa wwwww…

The Blue Indians

The year is 3,300 BC, Bronze Age begins in the Near East. The passage tomb of Newgrange is built on the north side of the River Boyne in Ireland. The Ness of Brodgar is built in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney in Scotland. The Harappan Civilisation of the Indus Valley dawns in the Punjab province…

Bandook Gali – Gun Lane

Fourteen-year-old Abadan finds a one-hundred-year-old Mauser Construktion 96 semi-automatic broom-handle pistol encased in its legendary walnut holster cum detachable shoulder-butt, wrapped in a disintegrating rag with the faded tag – Messrs Rodda & Company, buried under a rock in the garden inside the Zoroastrian fire temple of Anjuman Atash Adran. The year was 2014, and the…

Midnight Swimmers

On the eve of Christmas in 1892, a young monk from Kolkata jumped into the shark-infested waters of the Indian Ocean off the shores of Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu at the southernmost tip of the Indian peninsula. He swam across to a rock perched in the middle of the rough waters, but what did he…

Rooftop Ruffians

At about the same time that David Belle was inventing the acrobatic training discipline of Parkour in France in 1988, a much cruder and somewhat hilarious version of the same was emerging on the rooftops of closely stacked houses in the northern crannies of the port city of Kolkata.  Similar to the Yamakasi – the nine founding…

Mudskippers

Brothers Kada and Mati were abandoned as babies on the muddy banks of the river Ganges in the Shovabazar area of nostalgic North Kolkata. While some thought them to be the unwanted seeds of a prostitute from neighbouring Shonagachi, Asia’s largest flesh-market, others believed them to be Demigods, sons of the Goddess Ganges herself. It was a wet and cold August night in 1980. Chandrabhanu Pal, a…

Fish n Rice

Bipin Bihari Choudharee belonged to a very particular breed of endangered Bengalis. A dying pedigree reminiscent of the bygone days of the Zamindars and ‘babu-culture’. A typical Bong in many ways and unique in some very distinctive traits. Residing in his ancestral home – a dying palatial facade in Goabagan, north Kolkata, Bipin had never left the ‘City of Joy’. The septuagenarian…