The Dom And The Goddess

In the year 1690 on the banks of the river Bhāgirathi-Hooghly locally known as the Kali-Ganga or Ganges in the ancient village of Sutanuti or India’s present-day Kolkata city stood a mesmerising idol of the Hindu Goddess Kali under the shade of a bowing colossal Neem tree. The appearance of the idol was simply bone-chilling. Her…

Chidam

In the heart of the traditional northern localities of India’s Kolkata city, right opposite to the Mukul Bithi Children’s School on the Abhedananda Road previously known as the Beadon Street; survives a hundred-year-old barbershop under the main staircase of an equally antique mansion in a room measuring ten feet by four feet. Rain, hail, or…

Priest Pundit Moulvi

Much before the rooster crowed at the crack of daylight and sometimes even before the sun peeped from the horizon to say good morning, three very distinctive loudspeakers blared to wake up the sleepy resident of the green and pristine village of Dhormosthol in the southern fringes of India’s most cosmopolitan and diverse Kolkata city….

Doctor Train

Srikant anxiously glanced at the time displayed on the HMT Sona strapped on top of a sweaty handkerchief wrapped around his left wrist. People all around him squeezed and pushed each other in a pile of obnoxious human fumes, sweat, and breadth. Beads of perspiration trickled down his forehead and nostrils falling on the shoulder…

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…