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…

Ramkingkong

Standing seven and a half feet tall and carrying a weight of one hundred and fifty-seven kilograms, eighty-two-year-old Ramkingkong was not your average Homosapien. He was more like an ancient Nephilim out of the book of Genesis from the Bible – a giant offspring of the sons of God and daughters of men.  The old…

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…