The Speaking Ghosts of Rajpur


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Book Blurb: It is India of early 1990s – the ‘picturesque’ small-town of Rajpur is in ‘full summer bloom’ and there is a definite sense of mystery in the air. Amidst its scenic setting each year a group of boys band together to spend their summer vacations – going cycling to far-off forests, sharing books, discussing everything under the sky and ogling at girls…

But as youth would have it, their curious minds are more inclined to seek adventure and (hopefully!) uncover some mysterious affair. However, unlike their previous vain attempts, this time certain unusual events and the sudden appearance of a curious case of a ghost in their midst seem to hold the promise of some real adventure.

In the pages of The Speaking Ghost of Rajpur rest assured you will soon be whisked off and plunged into a headlong journey of adventure and romance of your own – on a path of discovery of friendship and brotherhood, of life and love – and, who knows, you might even get to encounter the Speaking Ghost itself!

A bunch of friends, a summer when days are longer than nights,lazy afternoons spent doing nothing, reading comics or in siesta, first crushes and all the little tales that fill young adolescent live…Now, add an abduction, terrible tales of human sacrifice, a conman and a self-declared Swamiji and you have “The Speaking Ghosts of Rajpur”

An extremely detailed account of an unforgettable summer in the life of Shoumo, who along with his brother Shaumik joins his cousin Joy to spend their summer holidays in the sleepy town of Rajpur. I started reading the book waiting for ghosts to appear and start their ruckus anytime but then got drawn into the lives of the main characters and their plans for the hot summer days. Reading a book like this will definitely make a reader pause and reflect on their own childhoods and adventures that came with it. The author has done a wonderful job in recreating the small town like Rajpur and has given it a lot of color making it pulse with life. It reminded me of another popular sleepy town from Indian literature – Malgudi! Every character that appeared in the book seemed to have a story to share and the local scene and scenery of Rajpur has been detailed very well.

This being said I should be honest and admit that the book was a little too detailed, almost to the point of exhausting in some places! I was once given a piece of advice from a fellow writer about how a successful author should avoid over the top details and leave something to the imagination of his / her readers. This book definitely suffers from this issue wherein the reader a subject to loads of details about the friends, their friends and almost everything they did that summer before actually getting to the core plot.

Speaking of the plot, it is definitely a very good one especially something that would appeal to the inner detective within us! If only the plot did not suffer from its sudden appearance and disappearance throughout the book, it would have been a more thrilling read.

The cover of the book deserves a special mention. Having created by the author himself, the cover is an ode to a carefree childhood and of course the author’s artistic streak –  A perfect face for this book. 

In spite of what I have mentioned the book was a pleasant read. Remember the first time you watched a horror movie with a friend and pretended not to be afraid? Or how about doing something utterly ridiculous and maybe even slightly dangerous so that you would be accepted into the “IT Circle” at school? This book is all that and more – a blast into the past, a time machine that takes you back to a time when there were no responsibilities or barriers, when everyday was filled with pure joy, where every little discovery  and first experiences mattered – A reading experience to cherish from first time author Priyonkar Dasgupta.

I would definitely recommend the book to those that can devote some quality reading time in their lives. I would like to sign off wishing you a happy journey to you childhood!

I won a review copy from The Tales Pensieve as part of Reviewers Programme. Register on #TTP for lots of #book fun and activities.

Foolish or Wise?

A note worthy incident from my childhood ; an act that was performed without much thought, an act that was not quite dangerous(depending upon how you look like it) but an act that cannot be deemed smart either, especially when you are in class IV. In fact, the right word for what I did is “Foolish”!

 Back when I was in primary school [am ignoring the jabs about how long ago that was :)] I used to take “Bharatnatyam “ dancing lessons and the dance school was about a 10 minute drive and a 30 minute walk away [this was the 80′s and there wasn’t much traffic, other than the scooters that zipped past and the normal amount of cars that went at the approved speed limits] My dad always dropped me at class before 5 and picked me up after around 6.00PM – sometimes he would be delayed due to other chores but I would hang around the gardens with the other kids or play with the black dog aptly named “Karupaiyah” [meaning the black one in Tamil].

 One particular evening, my dad didn’t turn up until about 6:45 p.m. The other kids had left and I was getting bored sitting by myself. My dad had never been this late before and I was getting restless. Being the carefree kid that I was, I decided that he as busy dealing with other matters at hand and I should help him out by finding my own way home. Taking matters into my own hands, I decided to walk home by myself – yes! the 30 minute walk! I knew the way, so I thought why not?? I started walking and after a few nervous minutes, [considering that this was the first time I was doing something by myself] I started getting confident and was even thrilled at the prospect of going home without adult supervision! Oh! I felt so grown up! I even stopped at the Ganesh temple on the way to pay my respects to God. By then, I was only 10 minutes away and I was in such a good mood that I even practiced some dance steps along the way! It must have been a funny sight – a kid in her dance uniform dancing on the road 🙂

Just as I was swaying my hips (like dancers of course) and dalking [my new word for walking+dancing], someone called out my name with an element of shock, surprise and relief. It was my dad, apparently very relieved on finding me. He had been late, thanks to a punctured tire and had panicked when he didn’t find me at the dance school. He had been rushing back home looking for me frantically all over, when he spotted this crazy kid dancing and walking on the road! Must have been a hilarious sight! Well, I went back with him on the scooter and got a earful after we reached home on how I should not disappear without informing people and that I should exercise more caution!

“It is foolish” they said, “not to forget ridiculous!!” The best part is that my parents were actually trying to control their laughter while trying to be strict with me…the sight of their daughter swaying her hips on the road was too hilarious to be serious about! The icing on the cake were their baffled faces when I offered them the sacred “kumkum” that I had got at the temple!

“You better be careful” said my mom, “Not all kids who wander by themselves are not lucky to get back home safely.

“Be brave, but exercise caution and common sense” declared my dad.

There was no point in explaining life and the impacts of one choices to a bewildered primary schooler! So, that conversation was saved for another day with and I was let go after the appropriate warnings. Stumbling upon this contest made me wonder what it was that day that made me do what I did. After much thought I decided that it boiled down to the fact the that I did not think much or had much fear of the unknown. In my head I knew the way home, I knew the traffic rules(they had taught me in school to use the footpaths; these were quite usable back in the 80′s and I also knew the look right and left rule while crossing the road) and I was just spunky enough to take the route and walk. I had NO FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN and did not think that I would go wrong – I knew I was going to reach home and I was thrilled about doing it myself! I was excited and optimistic – rare qualities that are displayed these days in the face of the unknown…..

These days it is all about analyzing any situation to death and then planning the next move with every care and precision possible. Now, I am not saying that this is wrong but many a time we end up not doing what we want to do! Many adventures are not experienced and we always look back on certain choices and situations with a small amount of regret laced with “What Ifs” and “coulda, woulda, shoulda”. We live our lives dreaming and not acting or implementing – all because of the fear of what may go wrong and the feeling of insecurity that stops us from leaving our cozy present, even if we hate it! I would love to make that mistake I made that day when I was in class IV, every now and then and see where life takes me! Maybe I will not regret being wise enough to be foolish! NOT FEAR THE UNKNOWN, but embrace it and be courageous enough to do what I dream of!

Also sending this entry to the Write Over the Weekend contest, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda