Calcutta in Shorts

Short stories from Calcutta



A Calcuttan is univocal in admiration for the city, its vibrancy, the colors and the warmth of Calcutta resonates between the lines of “Calcutta in Shorts”.


‘The Coffee House’ is a story which reeks with old – age charm. It begins with a crisp, catchy dialogue between Munna, the waiter, and Setu, the old – time customer, his unseen friends, filling the vacant seats, the silent monolog which ensues and the scattered surprised onlookers all around. The faded decor, the self- same conversations which fills the air, establishes an aura of mystery and heightens the surprising twist at the end. A story that keeps the reader glued to the lines. A beautiful portrait of the many life sequences which unfurl within the precincts of ‘The Coffee House’ even today.


‘Dream Chasers’ nurtures the latent desires of youth, which haunts and mesmerizes them into wearing blinkers and guides their footsteps into a  cesspool of deceit, agony, and misery.


‘Homeless’ portrays the inherent sadness of those forced to relinquish their hearth, pick up their tiny bundle of the remnants, they, once upon a time, called ‘home’ and leave their place of birth and move towards unknown horizons.


‘Mithu’, welcomes us into a sunlit zone filled with love and laughter, the beautiful connect that exists between different species made by the same Maker. The ones we proclaim made ‘in His own image ‘ and those who are a tad lower in intelligence or are they?  The deep love, trust and bond which invariably exists between the two. A beautiful description which depicts the friendship that throbs and emanates between Man and a Bird.


What is poignant about these short stories is that each subtly paints a niche character of the great city, Calcutta.

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History of Interpretation





There is no proof regarding the precise period when interpretation started.  Unlike written translation interpretation leaves no record. The first recorded proof of interpretation dates back to 3000 BC in Ancient Egypt. Interpretation has existed ever since man has spoken and it has played an important role in connecting people of different origins.


Ancient Greeks and Romans forced the slaves and prisoners to learn multiple languages and translate for the nobles. Learning the language of the people they defeated was not respectable for them. Latin, was the language of diplomacy, in Europe, until the 17th century, all nations had Latin speaking officials to carry on diplomatic relations. Linking the gap between different languages enabled pacts and treaties to happen, hence interpreters have shaped the world we witness today.


Apart from trade, religion also made interpretation popular. The people of different religions have journeyed into foreign boundaries to share and teach their faith. In the 7th and 8th century, Arabs went to West Africa to trade and introduced Islam to the Africans. Interpreters spread the words of the Koran to the villagers and made Arabic, the language of the Koran, important.  Christianity has always craved to extend into foreign lands. In 1253, William of Rubruck was sent by Louis IX to Asia with interpreters to spread the message of Christ.


Expeditions to different lands saw people come across others who spoke a different language making the role of interpreters imperative. In the early nineteenth century, the legendary expedition of Lewis and Clarke hired Charbonneau and his wife Sacagawea as interpreters, Sacagawea spoke Shoshone and Hidatsa, and Charbonneau Hidatsa and French.


In the twentieth century, simultaneous interpretation was tried at the International Labor Conference in Geneva, Switzerland in 1927, and the United Nations’ Resolution 152 established simultaneous interpreting as a permanent service for the UN.


Community interpreting was created for public service providers and individual clients who did not speak the same language. It started in the 1970s in Australia after the Second World War with the influx of refugees and later spread to Europe and the US. Telephonic interpretation came into practice in 1973. In 1978 the US Court Interpreters Act promoted the development in court interpreting by compelling interpreters to be educated through professional bodies or universities.



After the Second World War and the immigration of many refugees, the Code of Judicial Procedure in Sweden made interpreter service in court, an immigrant’s right. The State Officials Act also extends the interpreter service when an immigrant interacts with the public officials. For a high standard, Sweden has been training interpreters since 1968.



Today countries, cities, and towns are becoming more and more multilingual sharply raising the value and growth of community interpretation and a steady demand for quality interpreters.


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Pain, failure and sorrows of life

Life teaches us to face pain, failure, and sorrow. All of us, at some point, are broken or wounded.

Our scars arise from tragic circumstances like the loss of a loved one, an abuse, a neglect, or a betrayal. In gaining those injuries and battling them, we become true humans.

Sufferings are unpleasant but, brings wisdom and strength, empathy and modesty. And the struggles of overcoming suffering and distress are what make stories so necessary.

CALCUTTA IN SHORTS, states how people are forced to become refugees, against their desire. Their misery and suffering to exist like a civilized individual.

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Writing Habits



Writing coaches say you need to write every day. What are your thoughts about this advice?

If you want to be a writer, you should invest the most productive part of your day writing. Which writing schedule works best for you?


Coaches urge you to write 2000-2500 words each day. How much do you write?

I do not know how many established writers compose a certain amount of words, neither understands how many aspiring writers follow this schedule.


A writer is smarter than the average. He is creative, builds up suspense as the story progresses through the rough curves and jerks of the plot. He is clever to hide the end until the last page is reached.


Writing is to create a story, a poem or an article. Does creation happen in a routine? Might have happened sometimes but not every day.


If you sell jam, you have to advise people to eat jam every day so your brand of jam finds its way in their kitchen. When you have a tie-up with a bakery, you advise “bread with jam.”


The writer is smarter than the average, he narrates the story from a different perspective and his conclusion surprises the readers. He is logical and aware of what to consume and what to reject.

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Judging People




The brain makes humans unique from the others. On many occasions, we refuse to use this brainpower. We forget to observe and examine and simply pass our assessment. Don’t we?

I watched this young man sitting in the front seat of the bus with both feet on the seat. I thought, what a jackass! I wanted to yell, “The seat is meant to rest your butt, not your feet mister.”

As I observed him a few more seconds I found his torso was strangely narrow. Before I could discover the cause his right foot went up and clutched his smartphone from his shirts pocket. Holding the phone with his toe he surfed touching the screen with the tip of his nose. The man had no arms. I was embarrassed at my own misjudgment.
Life is a mission that is not forever comfortable and seldom the obstacles are steep.A happy face does not necessarily mean a very cheerful life. Some pain may be hidden behind that smile. The strongest individual may be the most delicate, the kindest may have been the most mistreated and the most caring may have none that cares for him.

When you consider there are several struggling a tougher life’s battle, your hindrances will seem much tinier.

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To know Calcutta, the city of joy, you have to understand its pulse, history, and the people.

Ask anyone for directions on the street and with his heavy Bengali-accented Hindi-English, he will give you the directions along with a few pieces of free advice.

The mechanic who declined to open his workshop for his afternoon siesta will happily fix a midnight breakdown, sometimes maybe free of cost.

At the local tea shops, people meet every day debating politics, discussing the latest movie or a cricket match that was played a decade ago. Seldom people wonder does this city ever move forward?

Calcutta is not the fastest paced city or the most perfect or intelligent, yet we love Calcutta for its simplicity, the people, the food, and their love for books.

CALCUTTA IN SHORTS, Stories from Calcutta, is a collection of four short stories that originate or revolve around Calcutta where I was born and grew up.

It is available for pre-order on Amazon now and will be released on September 17, 2016.

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“The shrewd sell dreams effortlessly because the colors of the dreams are stronger than the logic of reality.”


They say, without a dream, you go nowhere. The little or adult, wealthy or poor, everybody dreams. We set our own goals from what we fantasize. The resolution and determination to accomplish the fantasy, makes us work harder and excel in life.


The journey called life becomes meaningful with goals we want to achieve. Fantasies come with great responsibility.  Without hard work, a plan will remain a dream never achieved. After dreaming we neglect to wake up and work for it.



There is no bypass to hard work. Few may have succeeded with less effort but that approach has no consistency. People who want to avoid hard work and purchase illusion from the traders end in the pitfall of disaster. As did Salma in “Dream Chasers.”


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SWAGr – Accountability for August 2016

Source: SWAGr – Accountability for August 2016

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(An old folk tale)


A young couple lived on a small farm. With little income, they were forced to live a life in poverty.

One day, the husband said, “Love I want to go to a faraway land, get a decent job, work hard to earn a lot of wealth and give you the comfort of life. I do not know how long I will be away, but please wait for me and be faithful.”

His wife held his hand and said, “I will always wait for you.”


The young man left and wandered for many days till he found an old farmer who needed help. Observing the interest of the young man the farmer appointed him on condition he would be discharged with all his earnings when the young man decides to go back home. Till then the farmer would save his salary.

The young man worked for twenty years without taking a day off.

One day he said, “Sir I want to return home please pay all my salary.”

The old farmer responded, “I want to offer you something different. I will give you all your money or three pieces of advice. If you get the money you lose the pieces of advice. Think and say what you want.”


The man took two days to think and returned, “I want the three pieces of advice.”

The old farmer smiled and said, “Well, First never take shortcuts in life, shorter and unknown paths may take your life. Second, never be too curious, curiosity can be deadly. Thirdly, decisions taken in pain or anger are always wrong.”

Before saying goodbye the old farmer gave the young man three loaves of bread, two for the journey and the third to share with his wife when he gets home.


The young man was on his way home. After the first day of travel, he met a fat man who showed him a shortcut way to reach home.  The man took the trail till he remembered the first piece of advice. He returned to the longer path. Days later he learned that the shortcut led to a deception.


After a few more days of travel, he found an inn to rest. Late in the night a terrifying scream woke him up. He went to the door to check what happened. As he was cracking the door, he remembered the second advice. He returned back to bed and lay quietly.

The next morning he was shocked to discover an insane neighbor was screaming at night and shot all the guests that went out to check the screech.


After his long journey, one night he reached his village. From a distance, he could see his house and his wife in the window. But immediately his happiness was gone. His heart was filled with shock and hatred to see the silhouetted image of a man by her side. She softly caressed his hair. He wanted to kill them both, but he remembered the third piece of advice.

He stopped and slept in the midst of the bushes, determined to make a decision next day. Next morning, he thought, “I will not kill my wife and her lover. I would rather go back to the farmer after letting my wife know I loved and never betrayed her.”

He knocked on the door. A young man answered the door and asked what he wanted? By then his wife also arrived to check the door

She gazed at him and said, “Son that is your father!”

He could not hold the tears that came rolling out of his eyes.

That night at dinner he tore the bread to share with his family and was surprised to find the old farmer had put all his earnings inside the loaf of bread.

Effort, patience, and wisdom are priceless!

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1971 was a happening year in my life. My dad passed away from a massive heart attack that ended his life in fifteen minutes. A few months later that winter I fell sick with typhoid and the Bangladesh war of liberation broke out. I hazily remember the sound of the siren every evening signaling the beginning of a blackout. Darkness was an endeavor to not let enemy planes spot our homes.


During this period millions of refugees from Bangladesh, then East Pakistan, poured into India. They lived in terrible unhealthy conditions in various refugee camps that were always short in supplies.  Some infringed and lived in the suburbs in temporary sheds and ventured into the nearby townships begging food.


We were ordinary middle class yet mom and some neighbors cooked a bit extra every day to feed those hungry mouths that came requesting for food at our door.  Calcutta in Shorts is a collection of short stories inspired by my life during these times.

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