Holmes is where the Heart is

In its 12th year,India’s first Sherlock Holmes society is taking the next step by launching an e-magazine

Written by Prajakta Hebbar | Published: May 10, 2013 3:01:54 am

In its 12th year,India’s first Sherlock Holmes society is taking the next step by launching an e-magazine

It is very hard to place how and when the phrase,“It’s elementary,my dear Watson,” found its way into popular culture and everyday vocabulary. It may be because of the number of novels,thesis,movies and sitcoms dedicated to the fictional “consulting detective” created by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,or the enigma of the character himself. But one can be sure that the dual-brimmed,checkered hat along with the long smoking pipe signify only one thing –– the game is afoot.

Sherlock Holmes’ adventures take him all across the world,from France to Switzerland and Tibet. But what about his Indian connection? The Sherlock Holmes Society of India (SHSI) is dedicated to finding about and discussing the connection that Sherlock Holmes and author Doyle shared with our country.

Sumal Surendranath,who founded the group on Yahoo! Groups in 2001,says it is one of the only groups in Asia that interacts almost on a daily basis. A hardcore Sherlock Holmes fan from Kerala,Surendranath is with the Indian Coast Guard. “I was 12 years old,when I first read a Sherlock Holmes story. Since then,I have been in love with the character and his world,” he says. Holmes’ personal life,whatever little Doyle wrote about it,has been the centre of many discussions and arguments on the group.

His habits of keeping cigars in the coal-scuttle,tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper and his fixing unanswered correspondence by a jack-knife into the centre of his mantelpiece,have also intrigued the members. The society,which also has a Facebook page,now has close to 200 members from Mumbai,Delhi,Kolkata,Pune and Goa,among others. And it is a motley mix to say the least with a particle physicist,lawyers,Indian coast guards and even published authors such as Tim Symonds,Partha Basu and Pinaki Roy,who has a PhD on the subject.

Pointing the detective’s Indian connection,Surendranath says,“In the short story The Speckled Band,the villian has served time in India and has brought a shipment of wild animals with him to England.” Even the novel The Sign of the Four has complex plot involving service in East India Company,the Indian Rebellion of 1857,a stolen treasure and a secret pact among four convicts and two corrupt prison guards from a prison in the Andaman Islands.

The Society,in its 12th year,now has decided to come out with their first ever e-magazine. Jayantika Ganguly,a Kolkata-based lawyer who is a part of the editorial team for the magazine,says,“We will be compiling various submissions,stories,essays,art,photographs and poetry related to Holmes for the inaugural issue. It will be shared with all our members including affiliated groups around the world,such as the Sherlock Holmes Society of London and the Baker Street Irregulars group from the US.”

Surprisingly enough,none of the members have met each other officially. “We all come from such different cities,that it has been difficult to meet up,even though we interact regularly,” says Satyajit Gupta,a Delhi-based lawyer,who is also on the editorial team of the e-magazine.

The Society will complete a full circle,when they will throw a party for members of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London,who are coming for a tour of India,early next month. “We are really looking forward to picking each others’ brains about our favourite character,” says 28-year-old Ganguly.

But right now,all the members have set their eyes upon their maiden e-magazine issue. “We are accepting entries till mid-May,” says Ganguly.

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