Fishy Pirates

Technically speaking, this is not a story that unfolded by gaslight. Gaslighting at the time was still in the distant future. The Calcutta we Bengalis love to be nostalgic about had not yet been born. Rammohun Roy was but a boy then, and one of Mir Jafar’s sons, Mubarak-ud-Daula, sat on the masnad in Murshidabad. It … [Read more…]

Henry & Miriam’s Love Story

Police Courts are hardly places of sentimentality. Murderers, robbers, fraudsters and petty thieves rather than star-crossed lovers are the usual denizens of these courts. It is the seamier underbelly of a city that leaves its marks on the white-washed walls of its Police Courts. Yet, perhaps only to remind the mute walls that stand silent witness … [Read more…]

The Walrus Comes to Calcutta

In the 1870s, Calcutta was growing at an exponential rate. Yet it remained surrounded by small fishing villages reminding the grand metropolis of its own humble beginnings. Late in June 1870, a group of fishermen from one such nondescript village set out as usual to fish in the stream that ran along their hamlet. They … [Read more…]

Jessie’s Dream

On December 10th 1857 a curious report appeared in the Jersey Times. The report pertained to the events in far away Lucknow, India. The report told of a highland lass, Jessie Brown. The fiancee or wife of a subaltern, she had indefatigably cared for and cheered the beleaguered British contingent in Lucknow throughout the tortuous summer. Her … [Read more…]

Cholera Cloud

  In was an unexceptional Fall Sunday in 1831 in the tiny Scottish fishing village of Nigg. The villagers had just come out of the church having thanked The Lord for having spared them the deadly scourge that had for months been reported to be creeping towards The Sceptred Isle. The scourge had arisen far away … [Read more…]

The Bengali James Bond

  It has been estimated that a quarter of the entire human population has seen at least one James Bond movie in their life. Nothing distills the Cold War Modern to its quintessence as well as the gizmo-wielding, martini-drinking, serially philandering British spy. The flagrant individualism, the unbounded hope in the powers of technology, the clear … [Read more…]