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…

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…

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…

House Of The Living Dolls

There is a house near the Shovabazar jetty on the banks of the mighty river Ganges, in the postcolonial city of Kolkata in India’s West Bengal state. Once it was a beauty to behold, a mansion of breathtaking artistry, a marvellous reflection of the Roman architectural style. A spectacle of wealth and power of the…

Haunting Howls of Hanabari

About forty-kilometres north of the city of Kolkata on the west bank of the two-hundred-sixty-kilometres-long river Bhāgirathi-Hooghly, a distributary of the mighty Ganges in the state of West Bengal in India lies a once important port town during the pre-colonial times, the ancient borough of Hooghly-Chinsurah city. Hooghly was founded right after the decline of…

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…

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…

The Crossing

A sudden burst of wind revealed the silhouette of a man lying huddled and hidden under the silver desert sand. Visible by the light of a million dotted stars and the enchanting midnight moon magnified in the backdrop of the nomadic night sky painted in hues of lilac, turquoise and electric blue. A night in…

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…