New Editor takes charge of The Herald, oldest English Catholic weekly in India

 C.M. Paul, KOLKATA

Fr Julian Das

The archbishop of Calcutta, Rev Thomas D’Souza has appointed the director of Chitrabani Jesuit Communication centre in Kolkata, Fr Julian Das as editor of The Herald from 1st July 2012. Besides continuing his present office, Fr Das will also edit the oldest English language Catholic weekly in India established in 1839.

“I am soon planning to send soft copies of The Herald in PDF file version soon, so that you do not need to wait so long for the post version. Besides I am starting this week The Herald Blog to post important articles and reports. The blog link is: http://calcuttaherald.wordpress.com. I am yet to populate the blog. Will do it tomorrow (3rd July) the solemnity of St Thomas the apostle, patron of India.

Fr Das succeeds Fr. B. L. Mathai, a priest of the archdiocese of Calcutta who proceeds for higher studies in media at the National Institute of Social Communication, Research and Training in the National Capital Region, Delhi. NISCORT is a national venture of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India.

The Herald is owned by the archdiocese of Calcutta and is a published under the banner of Catholic Publications West Bengal. (courtesy: NewsGrab & C M Paul)

Photo Treasure: 1912, Kolkata at the high point of British Raj

H Hobbs & Co, 4 Esplanade East, Kolkata, lit for the British royal visit. The shop sat next to the Military (Ordnance) Department. Harry Hobbs (1864-1956) arrived in Calcutta to work as a piano tuner in 1883. In 1893 he established his own company, H Hobbs and Co Ltd which advertised as ‘Pianoforte importers, repairers and tuners, player pianos and extensive library of perforated music. Agents for Ky-Ko non-electric fans’. Hobbs lived above the branch on 4 Esplande East until his death in 1956 (apart from travel to the UK and abroad). The shop itself moved to 9 Esplanade East and then 21 Old Courthouse Street. For a period before and then again during and after World War II, he was also ‘Special Director’ Manager of Spence’s Hotel (now demolished). He was a succesful businessman and Calcutta character, writing a number of newspaper articles and books on Calcutta life. By the time of his death his obituary made the claim that he had been the oldest living European in India. Information on Hobbs from various sources including from ‘The Chingri Kal Chronicles’ by Malcolm Tucker, Hobbs’s grandson.

An impressive collection of photographs of India, dating more than a century ago, have been discovered in a shoebox in an Edinburgh institute, London. However, identity of the photographer is a mystery.
The rare and fragile glass plate negatives, which date back to around 1912, show life on the subcontinent at the high point of the British Raj and mostly detail life in Kolkata, which was a major commercial hub.
The plate-glass negatives were found by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland in Edinburgh.

“The 178 negatives were found in a shoebox for a pair of grey, size 9, Peter Lord slip-on shoes, and were stored in their original five-by-eight-inch plate boxes,” the commission said. The negatives had been wrapped in copies of the Statesman newspaper dating from 1914.
“As the negatives were still wrapped in newspapers from 1914, it is possible that they were transported back to Britain from India at this time, and have remained unopened until now,” the commission said.
However, the commission does not have any details about the provenance of the rare photographs. “Among the theories are that the photographer was a British civil servant headquartered in Kolkata, or was connected to the jute trade, as many Scots were at the time.,” the commission said.
“We don’t know for sure how the negatives came to be in our collection. We receive archive material from countless different sources, from architectural practices to generous donations from the public, and sometimes take large amounts of material in at once, and often documentation for historical deposits does not exist,” RCAHMS architectural historian Clare Sorensen said.
“Over time all this new material will be inspected and catalogued as part of our collection and then made available to the public. It’s fantastic that a small shoe-box contained such a treasure-trove of photographic imagery, but in some ways it’s not unusual. Our experience as an archive has shown us that some of the most interesting discoveries can be made in the most unlikely of places,” she added.
The commission approached John Falconer, curator of photographs at the British Library, who correctly identified some of the locations.
The 178-photograph collection includes images detailing celebrations for the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Calcutta in 1912, the only visit by a British monarch to India as Emperor of the subcontinent. The photographs show Kolkata’s buildings lit up at night in tribute. The collection also includes photographs of ships arriving at the Chandpal Ghat, the main landing place for visitors to Kolkata along the Hooghly river; and pilgrims gathered for a religious festival on the Maidan in the centre of Kolkata.
The collection also includes photographs of Britons playing tennis and socialising as part of their day-to-day lives in India in the early 20th century. The photograph collection can be viewed online at (http://canmore.rcahms.gov.uk/en/site/304615/digital_images/india+general…).

Life in a Rectangle: Believe me, your life will come full circle!

Anurag Hira

For someone who spent eight of his almost 25 colourful years at the very same 55B Mirza Ghalib Street that is the epicentre of Sujit Sanyal’s Life in a Rectangle, his candidly written memoir is a trot down the characteristic advertising grasslands of Calcutta’s yesteryear.

An easy-going and highly entertaining book, it is about how Calcutta nurtured and shaped some of the finest minds of advertising and how those wonderful people then outgrew Calcutta. Some left the city for greener pastures, while others, sadly, left us for another paradise. Mr Sanyal’s book is largely anecdotal and the stories he so vividly captures are all about the good times and the bad, the really fun times and some, quite sad.

early, he chose to make this a rambling all-over-the-place kind of book without a proper path in place, but at no point does it make the reader feel unstrung. A free-flowing string of entertaining stories, they have been told as any advertising person would when you catch up after a long time. It leaves you with a montage of images and a potpourri of memories, mostly nice. Clarion, though — as anyone knows — had more ups and downs than all of Free School Street’s and Ripon Street’s potholes put together! But that’s another long story for another time.

Getting back to the crux of my piece, the truth is I heard about Life in a Rectangle from my brother Mohit, who was invited to walk the audience down Calcutta’s advertising journey at his book launch in Delhi — from his ‘Contract’ed, but unlimited point of view.

Incidentally, Mohit, the last shishya of Subhas Ghosal, has seen a lot more of our largely-fun-but-lately-dirty advertising world than I have; he is one of the four pillars who gave my career a rather solid structure.

I’m not sure what implications Life in a Rectangle holds for even a generation after me, but clearly it is a well-travelled, beautifully told series of short stories by one of the last few gentlemen in our business. I had to, quite unfortunately, give Mr Sanyal’s book launch and the panel discussion a miss, owing to work and social pressures (in that order), but snacking voraciously on it over the first few nights and having made a wholesome meal by the end of it, I have to admit that he has a vivid storytelling ability of a typical advertising man.

This book is nothing but a hard-cover adda session that has every character of those days mentioned lovingly and realistically — something all of us do even now, whenever we meet old colleagues who have turned friends, over the years. Clients and some iconic brands, client-agency relationships way back then, the ethics of conducting business, encounters with legends and all those wonderful, real people who crafted such memorable communication in between living mad lives, are all strewn across in abundance. Clearly, through all his experiences, Mr Sanyal possesses the rubbed-off pedigree of Mr Ghosal and to an extent, professor Subroto Sengupta.

Life in a Rectangle is a must-read for anyone from that bygone era and is, perhaps, the only ‘advertising reunion’ in print that I have laid my eyes and hands on. We all remember our beginnings and lovingly like reminiscing our glory days among wacky characters of rare talent, combined with a sense of acerbic wit and dry humour. It is a book that dwells on strong human relationships and lifetime bonds made while conducting business, above all.

Advertising was, as Bill Cosby put it, the most fun you could have with your clothes on! So if you’ve been a part of the people’s business from the ’70s through to the ’90s, please pick up a copy of Life in a Rectangle.

Believe me, your life will come full circle!

(The author is the co-owner of One by One Design)

HARD-COVER ADDA

Sujit Sanyal at Crossword to launch his first book Life in a Rectangle: The World Around 55B Mirza Ghalib Street, in association with The Telegraph.
Picture by Anindya Shankar Ray

Crossword Bookstore on Elgin Road boomed with laughter on the evening of March 30 as the dadas and didis of Calcutta’s advertising world caught up with one another after years at the launch of Life in a Rectangle: The World Around 55B Mirza Ghalib Street (Fingerprint, Rs 395) by ad veteran

Sujit Sanyal, held in association with The Telegraph. Oindrilla Dutt and veteran actor Jagannath Guha read excerpts from the book.

“It is not an autobiography. It’s the Clarion story, the story of everyone who was a part of Calcutta in the 1970s and ’80s,” said the author, tall and energetic in a rich navy blue kurta.

From adman Ram Ray to evenings at Oly [Olympia on Park Street], the book which was released by Dilip Chatterjee, former president of Advertising Club, Calcutta, gives the readers a sneak peek into the lives surrounding Clarion McCann Advertising since 1976, when Sanyal joined the firm as a trainee.

“I just had to download those memories somewhere, and while sitting and staring at the laptop, the words came naturally to me,” laughed Sanyal.

The event also saw Sabyasachi Ghosh, the current president of Advertising Club, join the bunch of ad people as they swapped memories of hilarious client presentations to the familiar last-moment adrenaline rush.

“This is an insider’s book, but for people who are not insiders it gives rare glimpses into the circumstances in which the advertising world grew in Calcutta,” said Guha about the book, written by one of his first students at Bhawanipur College and later a friend.

Sreyoshi Dey

Life in a Rectangle: The World Around 55B, Mirza Ghalib Street: A compelling read !!

‘This is more than just a book of what advertising was in Calcutta. In many ways it is an insight into how the city shaped some of its best and how those very people then outgrew Calcutta . . . a compelling read‘ – Suhel Seth.

Interesting stories of the good times, fun times, sad times, bad times, true advertising times from an era

Author Sujit Sanyal rambles down the memory lane in his candid memoir and narrates some revealing, some intriguing and other wacky stories about the advertising world from his Clarion days, his first agency, which he join

ed as a trainee and whose Kolkata branch he later went on to head.gone by. A memoir that makes you go back in time to experience the good old days, with the who’s who of the ad world. An Engaging,

easy-to-read book, with an amusing pack of tales that will keep you entertained.