“When you write an autobiography it’s a time for reflection and assessment. For looking at life with love and compassion,” Ganesh Bagchi said.
Now living in Horncastle after racking up thousands of air miles, Ganesh has published the first part of his autobiography titled ‘My Days and Ways’.
Ganesh was the seventh child of his family, who lived in Faridpur in the eastern part of Bengal before the Partition of India, although as he states in the first chapter of his book, he has no recollection of his true date of birth.
He was given a ‘hoax’ date of birth when he registered for school and his uncle gave the date of March 1, 1926.
The first part of the unofficial 88-year-old’s autobiography tells of his time in India, Uganda and Britain, which includes the Great Bengal Famine of 1943, the Second World War, struggle for Indian independence and the assassination of Gandhi.
“This autobiography is a genuine attempt to understand what it’s all about. If it’s not that, it’s an ego trip,” he joked.
“We need to attempt to discover what life is all about, it’s something we must all keep trying.”
No stranger to publishing, Ganesh previously courted fame after writing award winning plays.
He worked as a teacher in Uganda, first in 1951, after being invited by an uncle of his first-wife, appointed as a teacher of English in Kampala Secondary School, in the Ugandan capital.
He then moved to London to study a PGCE at the Institute of Education before embarking on a trip from the capital to Calcutta in India via France, Austria, Yugoslavia, Turkey and Iraq.
Ganesh then returned to Kampala to continue his teaching career and it is during his second stint in Africa that he turned his hand to writing plays.
Dr Jayant Thacker paid him a visit and explained that the British Council had sponsored a competitive drama festival for a number of years, but the Indian community did not take part in the event.
Jayant told Ganesh that he would like to enter a play and after a discussion about the possibilities of plays to perform and the competition they were up against - including experienced actors and directors - Ganesh volunteered to write a play.
“Are we that desperate,” Jayant replied.
Despite not having written any plays before, Ganesh set about writing a one act play which would be performed within an hour.
His first play was titled The Gold Diggers of Yaksha Town and in Ganesh’s description: “There would be a king, behind high walls, in his palace, who’d be more interested in power, in control, in his image, more than in anything else, and there would be people who didn’t have a say in anything including their own lives.”
Incredibly the play was declared by Norman Marshall, a well-known British theatre personality, as the best play of the festival.
Ganesh continued to write plays and spent more time travelling between England and India where he met his current wife Julia.
The couple married and after spending a number of years in Asia settled in the UK and currently live in the town.
Ganesh finishes his first book with his return to India with Julia in the 1980s and is hoping to release part two in the near future.
A book launch and signing will be held at Nice Things in Horncastle’s High Street and, when released, the book will also be available at Perkins Newsagents.