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Chowringhee

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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  901 ratings  ·  87 reviews
Set in 1950s Calcutta, this is a saga of the intimate lives of managers, employees and guests at one of Calcutta's largest hotels, the Shahjahan.
Paperback, 403 pages
Published January 2nd 2007 by Penguin Global (first published 1962)
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Dyuti
Jun 06, 2013 Dyuti rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those who want to know about the charming forgotten tales about Calcutta
Recommended to Dyuti by: Soorma Das
Has it ever happened to you that you, that you've got so used to something in your life that you wrongly assumed that you knew all its secrets, and there was nothing further to be explained? And then, one day found yourself face to face with an event which showed you how foolish you were to believe so? An event, which showed you that familiarity with an object or person does not necessarily mean the end of things to be discovered about each other, or new qualities to fall in love with again...

We
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Nusrat
বইটা যেন ফুসফুসে এক ঝলক টাটকা বাতাসের সবাদ দিল। এপার বাংলা-ওপার বাংলার লেখা আলাদাভাবে চিহনিত করা সমরথ করিনা তারপরও সবীকার করে নিতে হয় ওদিকের লেখকদের একটা নিজসবতা রয়েছে আমাদের মতোই। শংকর সাহেবের লেখার ধরনটি সেই গতানুগতিক ধারার বেশ বাইরে বলেমনে হচছিলো পরায়ই। আর হোটেল এর গলপ কেন জানি বরাবরই আমাকে বেশ টানে।আর পূরবপুরুষের শহর কলকাতাকে একটা বিশেষ সময়ে চিনতে পারা, সেই সময়ের মানুষজনদের জানতে পারাটা তো সবসময়ই মনকে আননদ দেয়। বইয়ের সমসতটুকু জুড়ে হোটেল শাহজাহান থাকলেও চৌরঙগী থেকে গলপ শুরু হয়ে আবার সেই চৌরঙগ ...more
Guchu Nathani
A nice read, a light book which one can read at his own pace. It is interesting but then it does not bind you so that you have to finish it in 2 sittings(as it happens to me sometimes). The stories which constitute the book are independent and yet bound together by a few central characters like Shankar(the narrator), Sata Bose(Receptionist), Marco Polo(Manager) and of course Byron(detective)who comes in for small parts but bents the story every time he appears. It is a kind of book which one sho ...more
Sneha
In a word, this book is lovely. The style is eerily reminiscent of Vikram Seth's Suitable Boy (since no two Seth books read the same). Like Suitable Boy, it is also based in post-war, post-independence India, at a time when Calcutta was plagued by poverty, Zamindari affluence as well as the incumbent Marwari businessmen. It is the story of barmen, cabaret dancers, struggling private detectives, filmstars, industrialists, hostesses, struggling musicians, laundry men and anyone, who in any capacit ...more
Erica Mukherjee
Chowringhee, by Sankar, is a story about life in a hotel. While reading the book the reader will quickly learn that this book is about life in a hotel and that books about life in a hotel are very interesting. He will then be reminded of this fact throughout the rest of the book.

Beside this one annoyance, Chowringhee is a very enjoyable book. A colourful cast of characters moves in and out of the story just as guests move in and out of a hotel’s revolving door. While it is a novel with a few mai
...more
Laurent
Fairly good

Chowringhee tells the tale of Shankar and his adventures in Calcutta's greatest hotel, the Shahjahan. It's a colourful tale of intertwined lives of the hotel employees and their guests. Through the eyes of the naive Shankar, we learn the love, losses and adventures of many of these people, as well as the hidden world of beauty but also griminess that exists in an exquisite hotel.

My overall feeling of this book is that it is fairly good, it kept me entertained mostly. However, it is a
...more
Swati Garg
My best read of 2014. The only reason i picked it up at the bookstore because after looking at the books for an hour i didn't want to return empty handed and avoid the salesman's accusatory glances.

Set in Shahjahan Hotel in Calcutta, it is about human emotions and the world through a receptionist's eyes. And the beauty of the book lies in the fact that the narrator makes you fall in love with characters irrespective of his hate or love for them. Set in 1962, most of the observations the author
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Garry
Chowringhee is set in Calcutta's Shahjahan Hotel. Seen from the eyes of a young receptionist, we explore a myriad of stories about those living and working there. From the Italian manager to the Scottish dancer, the band master from Goa who burns for the works of European classical composers, to the beautiful hostess who dares to fall in love with one of her clients... there is a rich vein of stories to tell.

It wasn't until after I'd started Chowringhee that I discovered that it'd been written i
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Parikhit
For a week I lived in the 'Shahjahan' Hotel; I dwelt in the 60's Calcutta-chic, suave, vivid, a confluence of culture, people and traditions; I met people, was privy to the deep dark secrets of the influential, submerged myself into the gaiety and fervour the City of Joy had in store. I do feel strangely misplaced back in 2013!

'Chowringhee' (immensely hard to pronounce) is a delightfully interesting book and is best described as a collection of individual stories sewn together. As a receptionis
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Darryl
This novel was originally written in 1962, and is one of the most popular novels of 20th century Bengali literature. A movie of the same title was equally popular and well received. Chowringhee was not published in English until 2007, and the translation won two major awards. This edition was published earlier this year in the UK by Atlantic Books.

The setting of this novel is Chowringhee, a neighborhood in Calcutta, in the mid-1950s. The narrator, Shankar, is an ambitious young man who finds him
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Da-ri-ko
I would name this book "Hotel Shahjahan" if i were Sankar.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

'As I was saying, when i got the job, the advertisement they had put in the papers implied that they wanted someone who knew English like Shakespeare, Bengali like Tagore, and Hindi like Tulsidas - salary:seventy-five rupees. And in response they got me. I had all the qualifications, but a little mixed up-English like Tulsidas's, Bengali like Shakespeare's and Hindi like Tagore's. But does that mean t
...more
Abhinav
If one were to ask what the Great Calcutta Novel would be like, Sankar's classic "Chowringhee" would definitely come to mind. An ode to the City of Joy & the people who live in it, this book is symbolic of a time seemingly long lost, but Sankar's acute observations on human nature stand true even fifty years since it was first published.

Recommended.
Kim
hmmm....romantic premise. Poor young man in calcutta lands a job in an upscale hotel. Nice story about friendships, life with lots of interesting characters but I found it a little flat.
Hasibul Haque Sakib
By taking an ill-fated boy from his highs of life to low and then suddenly showing the light of hope, the writer takes us into a different world. A world where we have occasionally just stepped in, passed a few moments but never given a thought of how complex and diverse this world is, how this world consumes another world - peoples' lives into it; its called hotel. An amazing portrayal of the faces of people, seen and unseen; incidents that will make you wonder of authenticity and trust sometim ...more
Sabbir Ahmed
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
PSmith
Aug 22, 2012 PSmith rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to PSmith by: Indian Readers group reads
It was a satisfying read. I had my doubts in the initial few pages, but then got involved in the lives of the people working at 'Hotel Shah Jahan', probably a five star hotel in Calcutta. It was an intriguing view of the functioning of a large hotel and the lot of the employees working in such a huge establishment. The descriptions and events were too real to consider the novel as a piece of fiction. The protagonist and his friends were a simple group of people who cared for each other as well a ...more
Ruth
I'm always a bit hesitant to read translated novels because I worry about missing nuances that just can't be translated into English. However, it became clear very early on that it wasn't going to be a problem with this one. The writing was beautifully done and had me entranced from the beginning (that probably says something about the translator as much as the author). I just wish I could have stayed as entranced in reading further on. The ending also left me unsatisfied. But I did like the col ...more
Mary Graves
This is the scenario written on Amazon: Welcome to the Shahjahan, one of Calcutta's oldest and most venerable hotels. In "Chowringhee", the Shahjahan's new receptionist regales his audience with stories of the people who spend their days and nights within the Shahjahan's grand facade. Like Bengal itself, this is a place where greed, seduction and death live alongside love, luxury and pride. With wit, warmth, and ferocious energy, "Chowringhee" reveals to us an entire universe. One of the great n ...more
Glenna Barlow
a nice insight into life during what i suspect was the golden age of calcutta. at least for this particular hotel. the stories were interesting but the narrator seemed unrealistically naive and tended to harp too much on nostalgia, almost bordering on the repetitive. a nice read, but some of it could have been cut down.
Leggere A Colori
Tutto il libro "Hotel Calcutta" è stato come osservare lo scorrere della vita di molte persone, rimanendo però seduta in un angolo della magnifica hall dell’hotel, con i piedi posati su tappeti persiani e con un the fumante sul tavolino. Non c’è nessuna trama precisa, come d’altronde è la vita: s’incontrano persone, si salutano con educazione, per quanto ci è possibile le si aiuta, oppure ci si fa aiutare. È un libro meditativo, che mostra quanto può succedere nella vita di una persona senza che ...more
Nitya Sivasubramanian
Its not often that one gets to peek behind the curtain at the workings of a fancy hotel. And when that hotel is situated in 1950s Calcutta, it adds just the dash of historic romanticism that I needed to suck me in completely.

Honestly, the success of this book lies in how honest it seems to be. The humans who populate its pages are exactly that, human. They are tired, angry, in love, in lust and greedy for profit in the same way that every human you meet on the street is at some point or the othe
...more
Shalini M
Chowringhee was a very interesting read, and quite a different fare from what I usually go for.

It captures the romance of a bygone era, when grand hotels and travel was the privilege of select few. It gives a glimpse of what Calcutta would have been like at that time, though it could have taken place anywhere else. It is as much about the life and workings of a large, popular hotel, as it is about the human nature in general. On one hand is the picture of sophistication and the luxury that the w
...more
Jyoti Narang
I was always amused by the hospitality staff. They are always appear so happy. Quite unnatural for a human being to be always happy. I felt they were prisoners. Chowringhee tells the tale of one such Prison - Shahjahan Hotel. A hotel that is majestic, regal and opulent in every description…Shahjahan as it is aptly named is like an unattainable luxury. Tale by tale, Chowringhee builds up into a panoramic and utterly captivating picture of a workplace, a city and an era.
Each guest in the hotel bri
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Girish Krishnakumar
If you were ever into software development and know what a nested function or nested loop is, this book is like that.

Chowringhee is more a collection of stories - some Indian, many interesting and human - whose characters are the soul of Hotel Shahjahan in Calcutta's 1960s. It talks of the society then, the vestige of the west and Bengal and Calcutta in all it's glory. The narrator speaks to you about his book, gives out teasers of stories he will narrate later and narrates stories within stori
...more
Stephen Ross
The story of a young man in Calcutta who finds himself working in the famous Shahjahan hotel, this novel wanders a bit. Perhaps because of the conceit of the hotel setting, it reads sometimes more like a collection of connected stories than a novel per se. The main character does not really grow or change much, and in the end is very much the same naif who comes to the hotel in the first place. The ending provides a couple of real hammer blows after making light of much of life for most of the r ...more
Kecia
Jun 30, 2014 Kecia rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: india
Books in translation can be tricky and I suspect that was the problem with this novel for me. It wasn't until the final 20 pages or so that it touched me.

The novel tells the story of a man working at the Shahjahan Hotel in Calcutta, and his relationships with the other employees and guests. I never felt like I was right there, inside the Shahjahan with them. I always felt like an outsider looking in. It wasn't until the very, very end that it connected for me - and when it did it was grotesquel
...more
Susan
Apr 01, 2014 Susan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: india
Rather a disappointment - as I read the book while visiting Kolkata and was really prepared to love it. Follows several characters and their careers working in a famous (tho imaginary) Kolkata hotel. The hotel is definitely the star character. Interesting in the way it follows the history of the city, socio-economic changes taking place, peoples lives changing - but still lacking.
Riju Ganguly
এই বইটি ছিলো আমার পড়া পরথম 'বড়দের' উপনযাস| তাই বইটির কথা বলতে গেলে শুধু সাহিতয-গুণ (বা নিরগুণ) নিয়ে কথা বলা যায় না, বরং আমার জীবনের সেই গোলমেলে সময়টার কথাই মাথায় আসে যখন শৈশব নিরুদদেশ, অথচ +-এর দাপুটে সবাধীনতা ধারেকাছে নেই| তবু লিখি, বইটি আমার পড়তে বেশ ভালোই লেগেছিলো| শংকরের লেখার টানে মনে হয়েছিলো যেন চরিতরগুলোকে আমি বুঝতে পারছি, ছুঁতে পারছি| হোটেল শাজাহান আর তার আলো-অনধকার আমার চোখের সামনে বাসতবের থেকেও বেশি বাসতব হয়ে উঠেছিলো| কিনতু এতো কিছুর পরেও বইটা পড়ে মন ভার হয়ে গেছিলো, কারণ বইটির শেষে, যে ...more
John
I don't usually read "novels" as such, but decided to try this one for the cultural aspects. The timing of the 1950's is interesting, as the euphoria of independence has worn off, with the bureaucracy of the Indian state creating a sense of nostalgia for the British, not unlike Communism among some in eastern Europe 50 years later.
The characters are well drawn - I found myself becoming invested in their lives, with the exception of Marco Polo, the hotel manager, who appears at the beginning and
...more
Cody
*Chowringhee* is a lively novel that examines an assortment of post-colonial tensions during the transitional stage of the first decade of India’s independence. A unique window into a Calcutta that is, with very few exceptions, no longer, Sankar’s novel--not unlike those of Dickens’--is driven by colorful, well-developed characters and a range of social concerns that boil just under the seemingly pristine surface of life in a colonial hotel. A fascinating read for those interested in the Raj and ...more
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  • Those Days (সেই সময়)
  • গল্প ১০১
  • চাঁদের পাহাড়
  • ব্যোমকেশ সমগ্র
  • প্রথম প্রতিশ্রুতি
  • Mother of 1084
  • Srikanta
  • দূরবীন
  • My Reminiscences
  • Adi Parva - Churning of the Ocean
  • Gobble You Up!
  • বিশ্বাসঘাতক
  • সুকুমার রচনা  সমগ্র
  • কোথাও কেউ নেই
7083158
Shankar's real name is Mani Shankar Mukherjee. Sankar is a very popular writer in the Bengali language. He grew up in Howrah district of West Bengal, India.
Shankar's father died while Shankar was still a teenager, as a result of which Shankar became a clerk to the last British barrister of the Calcutta High Court, Noel Frederick Barwell. The experience of working under Mr. Barwell provided the mat
...more
More about Sankar...
The Middleman The Monk as Man: The Unknown Life of Swami Vivekananda The Great Unknown অচেনা অজানা বিবেকানন্দ ঘরের মধ্যে ঘর

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