Wednesday, 31 August 2016

"Have some more?"

Urban safari

Prosenjit Das Gupta has logged over 150 miles simply walking around the city, Pentax 1000 slung over shoulder, notebook in hand.

Labonita Ghosh, "India Today", April 3, 2000
"For Prosenjit Das Gupta, going around in circles can be a good thing. Now he's telling others how to do it.
In his recently published 10 Walks in Calcutta (HarperCollins) - a literary global positioning system - Das Gupta, 55, combines maps, history and philosophical asides to allow readers a zoom-in on the city. You must be a walkaholic to write this one.
Das Gupta qualifies: he's logged over 150 miles simply walking around the city, Pentax 1000 slung over shoulder, notebook in hand.

The book is more discerning. It picks the 10 most picturesque and heritage-dotted routes to give walkers a "feel" of the city.

There's the labyrinthine Chitpore Road past the crumbling mansions of old, affluent Bengali families including the Tagores' house in Jorasanko; the riverfront stroll past the ghats; the "path of knowledge" through the city's academic district of College Street.

Das Gupta prefers the offbeat road, cramming the book with minutia rather than textbook history. He actually barged into people's houses collecting facts, and at times got into trouble with the law. Like when he was shooting a photograph of Writers' Building and the security men thought him to be a terrorist.

The book took Das Gupta - a Presidency College alumnus who now works with a refractories firm - 12 years to compile. He was inspired by a leaflet on walking in Aachen, Germany, and Desmond Doig's Calcutta: An Artist's Impressions.

It's hard to tell who the book is for. Tips on clothing, about carrying water and taking a hepatitis shot before eating out, smack of a manual for foreign tourists. But Das Gupta insists it is "first and foremost" for Calcuttans.
"They never really see their city, they never look up," he says. "If you want to study the jungle, you'll have to get down from your jeep." Meanwhile, the book's writer himself may be on the road to Part II. But that's another story."

An abstract from LIVEMINT, 14th December 2013, "Kolkata Chromosome" by Shamik Bag

"The tombstone of Rezebeebeh - the wife of  the Charitable Sookias, who lies buried in the Armenian Church compound - has peplexed many entrenched chroniclers of Kolkata. With the English inscription marking the year Rezebeebeh's passing to "Life Eternal" as 11July 1630, researchers have pondered over the tomb's vintage.
" 'If the date given is true  it would make it by far the oldest Christian grave in Kolkata,' writes Prosenjit Das Gupta in his 10 Walks in Calcutta. The writer wonders if Rezebeebeh died somewhere else and was interred in the church, particularly because the inscription is in English while most of the older grave bear Cyrillic inscriptions 

A book review

Chasing a Dream is a travelogue with a difference. It tells of the author's experiences and impressions when he travelled to the tribal areas of central and south eastern India in the 1970s and 80s. Here he encountered tribal gods and goddesses like Anga Pen, Son Kuar, Kandakankalin, Telgin Mata and Siraha or medicine-men Bhaku Netam. He trekked more than once accompanied by just one or two local acquaintances into areas very far from common knowledge or public gaze, into the land of the Muria and Maria and the Hill Saora, with their unique beliefs and cultures. His inspiration being the writings of Dr. Verrier Elwin, the noted anthropologist, these accounts are interwoven with what Dr. Elwin had himself written of about thirty years before these travels were made. It also goes on to give glimpses of the life that Elwin spent in these areas in the 1940s. It provides the reader with rare insights into the different reality of tribal life in India. Born in Calcutta in 1944, Prosenjit Das Gupta completed his education from St. Xavier's Collegiate School and Presidency College, Calcutta. He joined a commercial organization in 1966 and worked there, till his retirement a few years ago. His interest in wildlife and tribal and folk culture developed in his college days. He has travelled extensively, to tribal areas of central India as well as to national parks and sanctuaries. He has written a number of articles on wildlife and tribal culture and has authored several books on Calcutta, wildlife, common forest trees, his travels to tribal India, and economic change in India. He has also written a biography of Jim Corbett. His other interests include travelling, photography, reading and writing. 

"Tracking Jim - A Hunt in Corbett Country

Prosenjit Das Gupta

"Tracking Jim - A Hunt in Corbett Country" by Prosenjit Das Gupta (2005) is a detailed biography and reappraisal of the life of Jim Corbett of Kumaon, by an enthusiast intimately connected with that region of India. Readable and interesting. Corbett actually shot his first man-eater when he was ten.

Title :   Tracking Jim : A Hunt in Corbett Country

Prosenjit Das Gupta, the author is an ardent admirer of Jim Corbett and following in his footsteps has explored every area that Corbett mentions in his writings. The result is a fascinating book that unravels the lesser known facets of Corbett.'
Raj Shekhar Singh

No comments:

Post a Comment