The World at Your Fingertips

Interview

“The Chronicler Of The Hooghly And Other Stories” Is An Attempt To Showcase What Kolkata Stands For & Why,” — Author Shakti Ghosal

Shakti

Shakti_ghosal1

Author Shakti Ghosal is a person with enormous talents. He is a mechanical engineer, a proactive blogger, a visiting faculty to some of the most reputed IIMs in India, and a leadership incubator. 

Now, Shakti Ghosal is ready to launch his debut novel “The Chronicler Of The Hooghly And Other Stories.” 

He is as excited about its launch as we are. Any reader who wants to read a riveting story with a grappling plot must read this book.

We are extremely delighted to invite the busy author to our platform and share his thoughts. Despite his busy work schedule, Shakti Ghosal has come forward and candidly answered all our questions.

Our readers will certainly get inspired and motivated after reading it.

Here are the excerpts

Hi Shakti! Welcome to TheCheckerNews.Com. Please briefly explain about yourself.

Ans: Professionally, I am a Mechanical Engineer of the Indian Railway Services and a Management post graduate from IIM Bangalore. I have worked in the corporate sector, both in India and abroad, close to four decades. Currently, I am a visiting faculty at a few of the Indian Institutes of Management as also a Coach and a Leadership Incubator with Empathinko Worldwide.

I am blessed with a lovely family which consists of my charming wife, two lovely daughters, son-in-law and a one and a half years old granddaughter.

How has been your writing journey so far? Was it your childhood hobby? Please comment.

Ans: More than writing, it has been reading fiction that has been a passion and a hobby for me right since childhood. Though I always enjoyed writing, I never could bring to bear the needed self discipline and focus to write something substantive.

I took the opportunity of forcible stay inside my home during the lockdown period to write the book. Though I had a rough structure of the plots in my mind, the application and the daily discipline and effort needed to write happened because of the lockdown. So in that sense the pandemic did produce a silver lining for me!

How has the idea of writing “The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories” struck your mind?

Ans: In our lives, we at times get confronted with intense and traumatic events which force us to question who we are, what really matters to us and what we believe in. In some ways these events alter our sense of reality.

Each of the four stories in ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and Other Stories’ draws inspiration from such crucible events that I have had to face. The protagonists in that sense carry a bit of my own ‘experience and thought’ genes. As I see them now within the larger fabric of the stories, I do notice shades of myself and others who have been part of my life. Writing the stories has been a personal journey in that sense. At times the stories seemed to write themselves.

Please explain more on “The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories” to our readers? How can we buy it (Any Amazon link)?

Ans: As I mentioned above, ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories’ consists of four standalone tales. Small blurbs for each of the stories are given below.

As Samir embarks on a sunset cruise on the Hooghly, he meets the enigmatic Chronicler who takes him on a two-and-a-half century journey surrounding the curse of a fabled pearl necklace, as mentioned by his dying mother. The Chronicler asks, “What could be behind you taking this trip today and me telling you this tale?”

Spanning a century between the pandemics of 1919 and 2020, Dipen and Indranil are confronted by tragedies under vastly different societal conditioning and development. What is their link spanning four generations which arises from an old and dilapidated palace and its massive Shiva linga?

As the capital of the British Raj shifts to Delhi in 1912, Junior Clerk Sujit with wife Bina is forced to migrate from Calcutta to distant and dusty Civil Lines in Delhi. Shanti, born of a forcep delivery gone horribly wrong, comes into their lives. A tale of evolving relationships against the backdrop of momentous events in the nation’s history.

Suffering severe injuries from a gas explosion, Anjan meets Savio who brings him face to face with the private demons from his past. But past demons do have a way to come into one’s present with life changing consequences. Who is Savio?

The book is expected to be released by this month 9 February 2021) end. It would be available on Amazon and Flipkart. As soon as I receive the links on these sites, I would be happy to send them to ‘The CheckerNews.com’ and would seek your support to make them available to the readers.

You have been residing in Kolkata for so long. Is the city as much vibrant as it used to be in terms of Culture, literature, and intellectualism or a lot has changed now?

Ans: Well, as a matter of fact, I have not been residing in Kolkata for all that long. We have been living outside the country for close to quarter of a century and returned back to India about five years back. Since then I have been mostly in Kolkata with frequent stays in Delhi and Hyderabad.

My sense is that the demographics of Kolkata has changed over the years ( just as it has happened in many other cities) with young professionals migrating out of the city to Hyderabad, Bangalore and the NCR for better career opportunities. Having said that, I would opine that Kolkata continues to have strong roots into Culture, Literature and intellectualism. The manifestation of this pervades the city life through Book fairs, Film festivals, theatre and day to day debates in the coffee houses over steaming cups. The Kolkatan is much more enamoured about these rather than ostentatious materialism.

Through all its challenges of over crowding and creaking infrastructure, the City of Joy does manage to hold on to some of its age old legacies and thoughts.

In my book, the story ,’The Chronicler of the Hooghly’  attempts to showcase what Kolkata (or Calcutta as it was called earlier) stands for and how and why it has become the way it is. Two other stories, Pandemic and Ashtami also offer glimpses of certain aspects of the city and its people.

Good Reads reviewer, Vandana Sinha, after reading, ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly’ has written this: The writing is almost a depiction of scenes – very alive. The city breathes, lives, closes doors, allows the river to flow by – does everything the author wants it to.

How much have you travelled so far? What next in your travel wishlist!

Ans: I have always been passionate about exploring new places and cultures. Life has provided me the opportunities and I have been somewhat of a globetrotter. Apart from my work which took me to almost all the continents, during family vacations we always planned to visit new places and countries. Together we have even ventured into the Arctic Circle!

Recently, on our Wedding anniversary, my daughters had a special anniversary cake baked with the theme of ‘Wandering and Wondering!’ with signposts pointing towards the various continents.

I might mention something which many people would not know about me. As I have travelled, I have remained elated by the thought that on this globe, mine is a unique name. Or so Google thinks. You can check this out by typing “Shakti Ghosal”. No, seriously try it!

Going forward, our travel wish list consists of travelling within India since our country, truly a sub-continent in its own right, has so much to offer. I would also like to travel to South America to visit the sites of the incredible Mayan and the Inca civilizations.

So, you are an active blogger with many followers. Please share your blog link. How you manage time for blog-writing?

Ans: As humans, we remain unique story tellers. There is always a story inside each one of us waiting to come out. My journey with blogging, which started a decade ago (about 800 followers, 39,000 plus hits from all over the globe), also stemmed from that intrinsic need to ‘say something’ about what I felt passionate about at that point in time. So I ended up writing about Philosophy, World events and Trends, Management, Coaching, Life experiences amongst other domains.

When one is passionate about something, one really does not need to manage time. I would say it is time that manages you while you write.

With the impending release of my book, I have been almost exclusively blogging about it through sharing of excerpts and snippets over the last few months. I am providing below my blog link, should anyone wish to visit: https://esgeemusings.com/

Any advice for new Indian authors and writers!

Ans: Well, I am a newbie myself so remain unsure if I am qualified to give advice. However, based on my own experience of writing a debut book I would say this. An aspiring author needs to structure the story plot, remain resilient through days when one’s creativity goes on a holiday and maintain authenticity in one’s writing. In the ultimate analysis it all comes down to writing something which one is passionate about. In such cases, the genuineness of what has been written shines through.

The other aspect to be kept in mind is that what is being written should provide some intrinsic value to the reader. While as an author, writing becomes a personal journey, it also needs to make the reader say, ‘Yes! This speaks to me!’ It is this alignment, or the lack of it, which separates success from failure of a book in the eyes of the reader.

Who are some of your favorite writers?

Ans: In the genre of historical fiction to which three of the four stories of “The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories” belong, my favourite authors are William Dalrymple and Amitav Ghosh. Their depth of research which shows through in their writings, their alignment with the broad brush of history and development of characters within that mileau is nothing short of remarkable.

Finally, please suggest some tips to our young readers who often get tensed and impatient when things don’t go as per their plans.

Ans: This is an interesting question, and if I may add, a tough one.

If I were to give a tip to our young readers about a way to avoid getting tensed and impatient when things go contrary to their plans, I would say this.

The first aspect is to consciously shift away from one’s reactive mindset of ‘trying to ascertain who is at fault and ascribe blame’. So every time when something is going wrong (or not going right) in our perception, we need to press the pause button, slowly count, “1…2….3….” and then ask these questions in our mind, “What is that which I can do under the current situation?  How can I be the Cause in this matter? What possibilities are showing up for me?” In effect, we need to learn to shift away from a ‘blame’ mindset and into a ‘taking responsibility’ mindset.

I would seek all our young readers (and even those who are not!) to practice the above starting with at least once every day on any situation they may choose. Over time, as one starts building the ‘take responsibility’ muscle in the mind, one would see the advantages of doing that.

The other tip I would like to offer is the need to be authentic and genuine. Young minds are easily swayed by the huge influence and ‘larger than life’ persona that social media creates. This becomes a temptation for the young to try and ape, and in the process, they end up developing an inauthentic personality.

They do not realise it but the inauthentic veneer they have put on shows up as such and this detracts from trust and faith that their friends and acquaintances have of them. In contrast, showing up as who we actually are in an authentic manner improves the trust and faith levels of all those who are around and their support in times of difficulty and ‘when things are not going as per plan’ becomes invaluable.

(We wish you all the best for your future endeavors. This interview session was moderated by Atish Home Chowdhury.)