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One Night At The Jalpaiguri Planters Club

One Night At The Jalpaiguri Planters Club

Shaken and Stirred cover image

Diptarag Bhattacharjee and Indraneel Ganguli narrate an incident that happened with their friend Nilanjan, during his night stay at the Jalpaiguri Planters Club

This incident was narrated by my good friend, Mr. Nilanjan Ghosh, who was then employed with a leading white goods, multi-national company, handling sales and distribution for North East India. I am trying to narrate his experience in “first-person”, as we discover the curious case of a night spent at the Jalpaiguri Planters Club.

The year was 1995.

Siliguri and Jalpaiguri were important markets for us – acted as “gateways” for most of our sales in the north east. I reached Siliguri, this time, without a prior hotel booking.

The famous HONG KONG MARKET of Siliguri

Most of my work-day was spent at the HONG KONG MARKET, the distribution was being impacted with a huge influx of smuggled brands.

By the late evening, I headed for the RUBY GUEST HOUSE, my usual haunt for these unscheduled stop-overs. A brisk 1.5 km walk past the local markets and I stood before my destination, the place I knew so well.

Rubi Guest House

The Guest House was owned and run by Tapan Da; everyone called him “Mastermoshai”, an octogenarian, who catered mostly to the community of travelling salesmen, like us. He was stern, but friendly and knew some of us quite well.

I was absolutely shattered to learn that the place was running full – not a single room was vacant for the night. What troubled me most was the prospect of missing out on their legendary “Muri Ghanto” and “Fish Thala” … if only I had made prior reservations!

Mastermoshai offered to make a call to the Jalpaiguri Planters Club, so he did and I did get a room!

Muri Ghonto and Fish Thala

I reached the Planters Club way past 9:30pm. The 200-year old building stood like a huge structure against the dark sky, reminiscent of the British Raj and its associated décor & style. I let off my taxi and stepped into the Lobby …

The 200-year old building

A deserted Lobby. Not a soul in sight, except the hushed silence of the large room and hallway. Wait, did I just spot someone walking past the Dining Room?

A kind of reluctant attendant confirmed my booking and quite flatly told me that they were wrapping up for the night, so no meals could be arranged now. I pleaded and the best they could arrange was ”Fried Eggs & Toast”.  I settled for that and was promptly shown the way to the reception, where I waited for someone to hand me the room keys.

Fried Eggs & Toast

I was cursing myself for not doing a prior booking at Ruby’s. Maybe some day, we could all book our rooms through a simple phone call or even through our mobile phones! Will that ever happen, I wonder???

While most hotel rooms looked the same, this one was a whole lot different – mosaic tiles, old-English styled furniture, bed posts … except for the damp, musty smell, everything about the room was favorably nice!

Old english styled furniture and old monk

I managed to retrieve the remnants of the Old Hermit from my suitcase and polished it off with my bread and eggs. Tired, I quickly changed into my T-shirt and Track Bottoms and hit the bed, with a book in hand. I must have turned a page when my eyes felt like lead … I was fast asleep in less than five minutes!

Zzzzzzz … transported to another world, a world without Sales Reports, Weekly Reviews, Market Visits, Accounts & Receivables, fiery meetings with the Boss …


Must have been dreaming. Found a strange pair of eyes staring at me. A set of wiry hands, reaching out to grab me … quite vivid actually!

That’s when a strange sound hit my senses! Something was rattling, something was shaking. Something was not right …

everything started shaking

My God! The Jug and Glass of water were shaking vigorously!!! The glass was advancing towards the edge of the bedside table and tumbled over to the floor, crashing into bits. The Jug followed …

That’s when I heard the voice, faint at first. A whisper, someone was calling out my name. It was a clearly a European voice … NI…LAN…JAN…

An Europeas voice

Strange apparitions, some real, some perhaps my imagination. Haunted me through the night. I could not sleep, tried everything possible to cover my eyes, my ears …  nothing was working! The voice kept growing louder, coming closer …

At the crack of dawn, I ran for my life. Still in my night clothes, I must have run half the distance barefoot, before hollering a cycle rickshaw.

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“Quick, joldi, RUBY GUEST HOUSE!”

Ran to Rubi Guest House

Mastermoshai was kind enough to pick me up from the steps of the Guest House and offer me a hot cup of tea, as I narrated the strange incident of the previous night. He heard me intently, refilled my cup and said,

“Really? But I have heard this story before too!”


DIG-TALES created by Indraneel Ganguli and Diptarag Bhattacharjee

Illustrated by Indraneel Ganguli

Diptarag BhattacharjeeDiptarag Bhattacharjee

Diptarag manages country operations for a US multinational. Photography amateur, food explorer, story teller, cricket aficionado and suffers from wanderlust.

Indroneel GanguliIndraneel Ganguli

Brand builder, artist-writer, storyteller and lover of world cuisine. With a 25-year career across top advertising firms, telecom and IT, he now runs his Marketing Consulting consortium “ReachIG”.




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