Dasgupta & Company: India’s Oldest Bookshop

Dasgupta and company

Way back in the late 19th century, while coming on a steamer from Khulna (now in Bangladesh), Girish Chandra Dasgupta, who hailed from the Kalia village in Jessore had shared his dream with his bosom pal, Dr Mahesh Chandra Bhattacharya. ‘College Street is home to Calcutta Medical College, Calcutta University, Presidency College…I have a keen desire to start a bookshop here.’

Dr Mahesh Bhattacharya, who later became the renowned homeopath, said, ‘Go ahead, I will start my practice in the city.’

In 1886, Girish Chandra Dasgupta started Dasgupta & Company with only 34 books in his collection in this very shop situated in what is known famously as College Square – the haven of books.

That humble start became an institution as his son Kshitish Chandra and later Amulya Chandra turned the bookstore into a massive collection frequented by top scholars, educationists, authors, intellectuals and of course, students. The popular belief was that if an Indian or international publication is not available in this bookstore, then it is unlikely to be available anywhere else in India! From the National Library to the top university and college libraries are Dagupta’s customers apart from regular book lovers.

In the picture: the genial, helpful Arabinda Dasgupta, son of Amulya Chandra, at the counter of this 137-year-old 3-storey bookstore which stores some 70,000 odd books!

(Info courtesy: Dasgupta & Co. Private Ltd. College Street, College Square (Phone: 033-22414609 ), Kolkata.
(Pic courtesy: Blue Pencil team)

Blue Pencil’s publications available at Dasgupta and Company include

* Murmurs: Silent Steals with Soumitra Chatterjee
* Incomparable Sachin Dev Burman
* The Unforgettable Music of Hemant Kumar
* Majrooh Sultanpuri: The Poet For All Reasons
* Reflections & Stray Thoughts

Have you got your copy yet? 😊🙏

‘Gem of a Book’ – Nehreen Rahman aka Tootli Reviews Reflections and Stray Thoughts

Super thrilled 🤩🤩 to receive this amazing review from

Nehreen Rahman aka Tootli

Bangladesh’s Top Women Entrepreneur and Socialite

“HQ Chowdhury’s new book, Reflections and Stray Thoughts after his block buster, Incomparable Sachin Dev Burman now springs another surprise. Published once again by Blue Pencil, India,

There are about 40 articles and they are about stars we know of, events we vaguely recall, stories we heard from our seniors and issues our parents talked about. Reflections and Stray Thoughts was so delightfully engrossing that I had to skip my evening program.

Checked out with Amazon to present a copy of the book to a friend in USA and found it so highly rated! Thank you HQ Chowdhury for this gem of a book. Wish you had more to say!”

Take a bow HQ Chowdhury, the author of “this gem of a book”.

And TJ Natarajan for the “superb cover” photograph.

Nehreen Rahman aka Tootli
Nehreen Rahman aka Tootli

Reflections and Stray Thoughts
By HQ Chowdhury

Available on Amazon India | US | UK | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Netherlands | Poland | Sweden | Japan | Canada | Australia

Genre : Non-fiction
Binding : Paperback (6″ x 9″)
Pages : 167 pages
Published : 2021
ISBN: 978-81-952978-3-2

Reflections and Stray Thoughts: Honest Portrayal of That Bygone Era

Reflections and Stray Thoughts by HQ Chowdhury is a pure gem. It tells the stories of the author’s growing-up in Old Dhaka, his love for cricket, classical music and movies.

Book Review by Shafiqul Alam

Reflections and Stray Thoughts full coverThis book is a pure gem. Recommended by a friend, who is a niece of the author, I bought it at the Dhaka LitFest 2023. And I just loved it. HQ Chowdhury was a physicist who set up Plasma Plus, Bangladesh’s first private R&D science laboratory. He is now in his 70s and quietly lives in Dhaka.

Reflections and Stray Thoughts tells the stories of the author’s growing-up in Old Dhaka, his love for cricket, classical music and movies and all the stars he met and fell in love with in the 50s through the 80s. His essay on Bangla and Urdu filmstar Shabnam and her music director husband Robin Ghosh and the impact the formerly Jharna Basak had on Pakistani movies is simply brilliant. It sews some gaps in my knowledge about the 1960s.

And his tribute to his boyhood hero Kabir, the Choha, and his late incarnation in the US, sums up the kind of man the writer is. I have never read a Bengali man ever expressing his love for his Bihari boyhood hero who introduced him to the art of batting and injected a lifelong love affair with cricket. He writes about the music scene of Dhaka during the Pakistani period and about Suroor Barbankvi, a Dhaka-based Urdu filmmaker, who made some brilliant movies with Shabnam.

Reading luminaries like the late Professor Anisuzzman and present-day patriotism-laced memoirs gives an impression that the 60s were a dreary time when Pakistan was under Ayub Khan’s martial law and his funny invention called Basic Democracy. And that people were fed up with a repressive regime. But Dhaka emerged as a multicultural melting pot in the 1960s. Urdu films made by Ehtesam and Mustafiz became blockbuster hits and every Bengali director including great Zahir Raihan was trying their hands in Urdu movies.

HQ Chowdhury’s Reflections were an honest portrayal of that bygone era. The greatness of his writing is his stories are not confined by narrowness. My only regret is the stories are very small. I wish he could shed more light on the local movie and sports scenes, especially cricket during the 1950s and 60s. I heard similar stories of growing up from Mashuk bhai, a journalist at The Bangladesh Observer and a friend of my late dad.

If you want to know how a young boy actually grew up in Dhaka in the 50s and 60s, this is your book.

[Shafiqul Alam, a journalist, is based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This review was first published as Dhaka Diary on Facebook.]

Reflections & Stray Thoughts
By HQ Chowdhury

Available on Amazon India | US | UK | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Netherlands | Poland | Sweden | Japan | Canada | Australia

Genre : Non-fiction
Binding : Paperback (6″ x 9″)
Pages : 167 pages
Published : 2021
ISBN: 978-81-952978-3-2