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04 Jun 2023, 00:32 HRS IST
  • PTI
  • Book reveals Kolkata's best kept secrets

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14:13 HRS IST

New Delhi, Jan 29 (PTI)
A classic by famous Bengali author Hemendra Kumar Roy has been translated into English almost a century after it was published in 1923 and reveals to the contemporary readers the darkest secrets of the erstwhile Calcutta.

"Calcutta Nights" (originally 'Raater Kolkata') tells stories of the city that led a life of glamour and scandal in her youth. Only that, those are not stories but a moving landscape of events that used to happen under a pale hazy moon or perhaps, the dim street lights of Tilottoma.

In the book, translated into English by Rajat Chaudhuri, Roy reveals the darkest secrets of an earlier Calcutta.

From Chitpur bordellos to the Chinese gambling dens of Territi Bazaar, from the green rooms of Bengali theatres to the hideouts of ruthless hoodlums of Mechhobazaar, from burning ghats to prostitution - the narrative traverses through all the dark, narrow alleys of the city and the self, living in it.

And thus, the city becomes a character by itself.

It creates a unique cosmopolitan setting, coloured with shades of debauchery, darkness and crime that this first-hand account brilliantly recounts.

This was a time of a decadent zamindari, a time though turbulent, was nostalgic about its famous Babu Culture' - the gentleman's misdemeanours. Those days, Calcutta (the colonial capital) was teeming with people from different parts of the country besides Europeans and other foreigners.

Published by Niyogi Books, Calcutta Nights acts a guidebook to the dark dens of eerieness where most people are aliens - not only the outsiders but also the Calcuttans.

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