A rainy day email from late 90s

Familiar Scenario during Rains at Kolkata

Familiar Scenario during Rains at Kolkata

The Late nineties saw some serious changes in the present Capital of West Bengal.  To start with its name changed from Calcutta to Kolkata. Cell phones came into existence and the distant future of paging devices looked bleak. Maintaining a cell phone was very costly, there were charges for incoming too. People talking in mobile in public were stared upon by the masses with jealousy and awe.

The idea of having personal computers for residential use was considered as a luxury. The only internet connection was available from Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited. There was only one scheme which will look crazy in today’s scenario – 500 hours @ Rs 10,000 per year. It was to be a one-time payment. Incidentally, our family was among the first lot of subscribers opting for this crazy scheme in 1997 after my brother brought home a personal computer from Singapore when he came from home to take a break from his first overseas job.

With the arrival of the internet, I got introduced to email. Although I was working with computers in my office, there was no facility of email there. A software named Trumpet Winsock developed by the unsung developer Peter Tattam was used to get connected to the internet. First it was the Shell account with a black creepy screen where the white typed letters appeared in a halting fashion.  Vsnl provided us with an email id. We later dumped it and upgraded to Hotmail with its graphic interface.

I did not use Hotmail for long. Initially, the account had a lot of security loophole. After having my email hacked for several times, I switched over to Yahoo.

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Byomkesh Was Here

The Changing Faces of Byomkesh down the years

The Changing Faces of Byomkesh down the years. Photos sourced from Youtube.

In films and serials of Byomkesh, many remarkable historical and heritage locations have been shown. Many people have asked me about these places. It has been always my interest to identify these locations and write about them.  This blog post “Byomkesh was Here” is mainly about those places and their history. It covers Five of such locations

There has been a sudden interest in the Indian film industry for Byomkesh Bakshi, the fictional sleuth created by Saradindu Bandopadhyay. Byomkesh Bakshi hated to be referred as Detective. Instead, he preferred to be known as “Satyanweshi” (The seeker of the truth). Byomkesh is a very humble man, leads a simple life with his wife Satyabati and his friend / sidekick – writer Ajit Bandopadhyay.

It was not that earlier directors and producers have not shown interest in making films about Byomkesh Bakshi. From 1967 to 2010, four Bengali films, three Bengali serials, and one Hindi serial have been made on Byomkesh. Out of them, Uttam Kumar as the first Byomkesh and Rajit Kapoor as the first “National” Byomkesh had their presence felt.
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History revisited at Murshidabad

Ruined Fouti Masjid, Murshidabad

Ruined Fouti Masjid, Murshidabad


I looked at the ruined mosque. Then I turned to my guide Abbas Bhai, a middle-aged Muslim gentleman clad in a sherwani.

 “I have seen old brick mosques having their domes broken. Then why only this particular mosque is known as Fouti Masjid or Phuti Masjid. ?”  I asked Abbas Bhai.

Despite the fact my hotel was close to Hazarduari Museum, I decided to start my tour with this dilapidated structure. Structure wise the Mosque is unique than many mosques of Bengal.

The Mosque is located near a railway crossing, almost 1 km from Hazarduari. Surrounded by Trees, thatched huts and a pond the 135 feet long structure looked like a sick giant counting its last days.  Getting into the mosque is itself a problem for the aged as there is no stairs or even a raised platform.  Curious local children were looking at us.

Abbas Bhai did not reply immediately. He was chewing paan. He spat some of it, looked back at me and said “Because Janab, in those mosques the domes were completed. They broke down at a later stage. In the case of Fouti Masjid, only two domes out of the five were constructed. The rest three was never made at all.  It was incomplete. Nobody had read Namaz here. It was an unfinished work, a failed mission of Sarfaraz Khan – the grandson of Murshid Quli Khan. ”

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Unlimited fun In “Happy Streets”

Boxing Event Participants of "Happy Street" in front of  "The Park

Boxing Event Participants of “Happy Street” in front of The Park Hotel

It was 08:00 in the morning of 22nd February. Two pairs of men were hurling punches at each other on Park Street (alias Mother Teresa Sarani) right in the front of Park Hotel at Kolkata. Granted the traffic is less in the early hours of Sunday. However, the traffic is not that less to allow people to hurl punches against each other standing in the middle of the road. Also people were cheering them, instead of restraining them to punch each other.

But the case was different on this Sunday. Looking closely, one could see that the men were actually practicing boxing wearing boxing gloves and required attire right on the middle of Park Street in broad daylight. However, impossible it may seem the event was happening.

More action could be seen throughout a portion of Park Street and some part of Russell Street and Camac Street. Youngsters, teenagers and some young adults were practicing Karate, gliding on roller skates, balancing on Skate boards, doing stunts on cycles, playing cricket, having a kick at football, swishing badminton rackets, trying a Michael Jordon stunt at basketball, singing songs, staging a road theater – you name it and this Sunday, Park Street had all of them happening simultaneously in the middle of the road.

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My Unforgettable Train Journeys

Endless Journey. Numerous Stories.

Endless Journey. Numerous Stories.

Like most of travelers in India, I have had my shares of Train journeys. True, I haven’t yet had the pleasure or misfortune to travel on rooftop of a Train compartment, but I had my share of experience. Right from my first train journey at the age of two and half till present date I have experience many incidents to share. Many readers may raise their eyebrows and express doubt regarding my remembrance of my experiences as a two and half year kid, but let me assure them that I vividly remember quite a bit of that encounter.

In this blog post I will share some moments from three of my innumerable train journeys. This is bit different from the type of blog post I usually write, but nevertheless many of my friends have been asking me to share these memories. So, here goes my collection of experience.

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Terracotta Temples around Shantiniketan, Part III ( Nanoor and Uchkaran)

Cluster of Temples over Mound of Baru Chandidas, Nanoor

Cluster of Temples over Mound of Boru Chandidas, Nanoor

The town of Nanoor alias Nanur is also known as Chandidas-Nanoor as it was the hometown of the famous 14th century poet Boru Chandidas. Although the name of three other Chandidas comes up from the history, the one associated with Nanoor is the most famous.

The Police station is named as Nanoor too. Chandidas Nanoor is also the head quarter of the Community Development Block of Nanoor which comprises of 24 villages. Apart from the temples at Chandidas Nanoor, some of these villages have age old brick temples of which many have exquisite terracotta work on their walls. Uchkaran is one such village. The villagers of Nanur Block are not well off. Recently many NGOs have been working in this area to promote handicraft made by the villagers.

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Terracotta Temples around Shantiniketan, Part – II ( Ilambazar and Ghurisha)

Terracotta studded Facade of a temple at ilambazar

Terracotta studded Facade of a temple at ilambazar

Temples of Ilambazar

Ilambazar was a prominent trading hub during the 19th century. British had sugarcane manufacturing factory and indigo plantations and the people had enough reason to be prosperous. As mentioned in my earlier blogpost a busy port named Saheb Ghat existed at Birbhum’s Ilambazar, with numerous British and French ships in its vicinity. One John Erskine was the leading sugarcane manufacturer. He also had indigo plantations. Today’s Ilambazar looks like any suburbs of Kolkata. A scenic drive through the Chaupahari Jungle towards South of Bolpur takes you to Illambazar. There are many tribal villages in this jungle. The people of these villages are extremely poor.

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