Brihospoti’s Clock

In the year 1582 AD the Italian astronomer, physicist, engineer, and polymath, from Pisa, Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de’ Galilei discovered that time could be calculated using a pendulum. He inked the blueprint of a wound-up device, which could measure time and changed the history of Christendom. Using his designs, seventy-four years later in 1656,…

Masala Tea

As the clock struck four in the twilight hours every morning, as the slumbering postcolonial Indian city of Kolkata slowly woke up to face another day, Shibnath Sammadar or SS would get busy opening his 150-year-old tea-shanty. Located diagonally opposite the main gate of Scottish Church College, on the north-eastern wall corner of the Hedua…

Gopi And The Tank

Gopi Chand emerged from the pitch dark bowels of one of the four compartments of the world’s largest elevated steel drinking water tank, at a height of 110 feet from the ground level. His livelihood could be easily featured in the ‘World’s scariest jobs’ list, however, hardly any of the 10.5 million people whose lives…

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…