Sunday, May 26, 2013

What an IndiBlogger thinks

IndiBlogger A checks his mailbox-

·         “IndiBlogger B has voted for your post.”
·         “IndiBlogger C has voted for your post”
·         “IndiBlogger C has commented on your post- ‘wow, what a beauty you wrote….that was so poignant. It sliced my heart. Even my dog was crying. You are a genius. I am your fan……blah blah”

“Hmmm,” IndiBlogger A muses. “IndiBlogger C has left good, long comments. He spent time typing all those words. I must visit his blog and leave a similar such good and long comment.

IndiBlogger B just voted; didn’t comment. I wonder if he even read my post! Maybe, he read but didn’t like what I wrote. Maybe, he just pressed the ‘vote’ button without even taking a glance into what I wrote. He may have done that to make me feel obliged to vote him back. Well, okay, I would just vote for one of his latest posts. Of course, I won’t comment.

I don’t see anything from IndiBlogger D. I had voted for 3 of her posts in the past week. But she has ignored me completely, as if I’m some silly mediocre writer whose trashy blog is not even worth visiting. I need to stop voting for her again. That would be the best way to settle scores. Why should I shower importance to such a high-headed person who thinks herself to be superior to me? Ehsaan Faramosh, huh!

[Note: This is just a humour post with no malice intended to the IndiBlogger community. All the characters A, B, C and D are fictitious and bear no resemblance to any blogger active, dead or dormant. 

This post has been inspired from the brilliant doodle 'Type of IndiBloggers' created by blogger-cum-doodler-cum-friend MySay.]

Friday, May 24, 2013

Chained book review: Mehek Bassi unchains herself with her engaging thriller

Book: Chained
Author: Mehek Bassi
Publisher: NotionPress
Genre: Drama, romance, crime, thriller
Pages: 192
Price: Rs 200 (exclusive of discounts)
Rating: 3 out of 5

Review: 'Chained' unchains young Mehek from the shackles of teenage naivety and sees her transformation from a girl to a woman. This debut novel by the 19-year old Mehek Bassi is her medium of emancipation, her own expression of freedom. It is as much about the author as it is about Shiya, the protagonist of near about the same age.

The novel is no watershed moment in Indian literature. By no means, it is any great piece of work. But it is a specimen of a complete work , touching upon several genres simultaneously, and is a stark indication of the birth of a new writing culture in the country. The fact that a small town teenage girl could publish a full-length novel of a readable, even engaging, standard is something which should be appreciated, if not outright celebrated.

'Chained' is the story of Shiya and how she goes through a gamut of emotions in her fast-twisting life, once she becomes a nationally recognised singer. The author deftly traces her journey from the first day of her college till the phase post her wedding. She experiences the ugly side of fame and even goes through relationship troubles with her family and love. Though, the author hasn't quite mastered the narration and the story-telling is not entirely flawless, nevertheless, her effort to elicit all kinds of emotions within the reader's heart hasn't gone in vain.

While the story basically is about Shiya, the second protagonist Arjun (Shiya's boyfriend) is the one whose painful memories of the past take us into the flashback mode. How he meets Shiya, how he falls for her, how he wins her heart, their first kiss, their first makeout session, the quarrels, the fights, the reunions- every aspect of a boy-girl relation has been given adequate weightage and has been successfully sketched by the author.

The plot is more like a thriller, though not as convoluted. At times, things appear a bit hurried, even unfinished, or a bit out of place. The pacing of the narration is uneven, though not quite noticeable. Before the final few chapters, the story seems to drag a bit. However, Mehek redeems herself towards the climax, and slices the reader's heart with a poignant and painful end.

The language is simple and easy to understand for a layman. The story is interspersed with a few poems which are a delight to read. Clearly, the author has aced the art of penning love poems. She chooses the best one for the end. These lines offer a fitting closure to the tale of Shiya and Arjun:

"Loving you is no more a beautiful memory, but now just a pain,
I cry and weep every time I walk down the memory lane,
Your love always completed me in every sense as a whole,
But now it's just emptiness and sorrow in my heart that drains,
Of all the people in the world, you choose me to be hurt,
Of all the hearts in the world, you choose mine to break....
Why did you leave me I ask myself every morning and dawn?
Why my love was incomplete tell me why you were gone?
A silence surrounds my heart and fills it again with despair,
Oh this pain is just too much, and the damage beyond repair,
Please come back baby, just come back and bring that old smile,
Or just come to see me every once in a while,
So my heart no more bleeds, and no more my soul aches,
So I can be peaceful after my death, in my ashes and burnt flakes.....

Overall, it is a good book, but not a great one. One could have been a bit more generous, given that the author is still not out of her teens. But in the overall context of literature, 'Chained' is an 'okay type' of book.
However, if you stack it against some of the recently released inane self-published novels, then 'Chained' is certainly one of the better books of the year.

~Ritesh Agarwal

[The review for 'Chained' has been written on the special request of author Mehek Bassi who was magnanimous enough to send me a signed copy. Readers can buy the book from Flipkart at a discount using this link.]

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

55 word story: He took my breath away

There was pin drop silence in the theatre. A bed scene was on.

Ratul made the first move. His hand slid over my arms and he directed his face towards mine. Our lips came closer. I exhaled in anticipation.....

“Bad breath,” He grimaced, backing off.

Embarrassed, I wished I had opted for a good mouthwash. 

Moral of the Story- Not paying heed to your oral hygiene can cost you your first kiss.Why not run through Colgate's tips & tricks for prevention and cure of Halitosis (bad breath)? You can read them all here and finally fortify your chances of getting that perfect kiss.  

[This post is a part of IndiBlogger's Contest in association with Colgate.]

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Poem: The Gift of Life

In the autumn of my life....
You came like a spring....
Raining smiles at me
You made me croon and sing...

When love walked away
You stayed and held my arm....
When my soul was maimed, and heart felt stabbed
Your presence was constant, it smelt like a balm....

You are a sunshine, my rainbow, a ray
May your year be joyous, have a beautiful birthday :)

[This poem is my gift to a dear friend who recently celebrated her birthday]

Image Source: Google Images

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bedtime Story: The Puzzle

I woke up with my hands smeared in deep red blood. It was puzzling. I couldn't fathom how it had got there and I had no remembrance of my prior actions. I was just groggy, feeling dazed as if I had been drugged. Dizziness, feebleness and lethargy had gripped me. 
I pulled off my quilt and heaved myself up. The bed groaned underneath and I felt a spasm of pain around my midriff. I felt as if the air had gone out of my lungs. So, I inhaled hard willing the cold wind around me to gush into my throat. But I still couldn't breathe. I coughed to clear the air passage. But no sound emanated from within. I lifted the jug from the side-table and drank deeply. I could feel the water streaming down my windpipe, traveling down the ribs and into my belly...and then my stomach appeared to leak, as water drained out of its walls and into my bloodied hand.
I felt my stomach with my palm, and felt a dagger entombed in it. I pulled out the blood-stained dagger and let life drain out of me completely. My soul had been hanging on there, just holding on to the long-dead body. But now it was liberated. I had finally solved the puzzle, of how my hands got smeared with blood. It was my own blood, as you must have realized by now.
I had committed suicide. I had committed suicide in my sleep. I, for many months, had been a sleep-walker.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

55 word story: The guava tree

The axe man appeared. They were pulling down the guava tree.

Memories flew.
Its branches had nested my childhood; its leaves had aged alongside me.   Now, in our twilight years, we were both at our children’s mercy.

“We can’t afford his medicines anymore,” I overheard my son.  

The axe struck. Tree fell with a thud.....  

Book Review of The Evolution of an Inglorious Moron: Pros and cons

Title: The Evolution of an Inglorious Moron
Authors: Ritesh Rangare and Harshal Gondane
Publisher: NotionPress
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 255
Price: Rs 195 (exclusive of discounts)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Review:  Ritesh Rangare and Harshal Gondane are young debutant authors and ‘The Evolution of an Inglorious Moron’ is their joint effort under the wings of self-publishing firm NotionPress.

This book traces a modern day story of a budding engineer Amar and explores various facets of his life. From romance to heartbreak to collegehood- these are segments which seem to be the firm favorites of the current crop of writers. Despite the hackneyed storyline, such books can be always enjoyed since they make for excellent light reads.

This book has been written with a lot of heart. But it seems like it was written and published in a hurried manner without any major editing. Even though the young, amateur authors have tried their level best to put in an engaging narrative, what comes as a dampener is the unprofessional style of writing. The language is not up to the mark and the ubiquitous grammatical mistakes are not acceptable for any published literary work.

Though, Ritesh and Harshal tried putting their best foot forward, it is clear that they are still raw in the world of writing and need to polish their skills. And they need to do some basic homework to ensure that these mistakes are not repeated, in case they ink a second novel in the future.

However, as a professional publication house, NotionPress clearly disappoints. How could any reputed publication house publish a book without ironing out its basic grammatical and English-related flaws?
Lackluster English and unforgivable editing work are the chief reasons why I have rated the novel at 2.5.

Coming to the plot premise, this book is centered on Amar, a small town guy, who spends a few years in NIT Calicut and keeps shifting between studies and romance. With a soft heart for his old coaching friend Tanvi, he keeps trying to win her over. However, with another boyfriend Anuj by her side, she does not reciprocate and Amar has to go through those soul-wrenching pangs of pain. His sentiments have been very beautifully depicted and are very relatable. His yes-no moments with Tanvi form the best portions of the book and tide over many of the less-impressive segments.

The last leg of the book also injects a refreshing sub-plot as the authors sketch a vignette of the world of eunuch (kinnar) community. The authors skim through their well-hidden community and leave behind an impressionable social message.

In a nutshell, the pros and cons of the book are:

-          Charming and relatable romance
-          Engaging narrative laced with adequate humor
-          Some fresh sub-plots
-          Non-clich├ęd climax with a social message

-          Unacceptably sub-standard English
-          Inconsistent pacing
-          Some hurriedly written portions
-          Incongruous  title

Final verdict: You may like the book if you love modern cheesy stories for light reads. However, if your shelf is loaded with classics, then this book may not fit into your scheme of things.

~Ritesh Agarwal

[The review for this book has been penned on personal requests by authors Ritesh Rangare and Harshal Gondane, who were generous enough to courier me a copy of the volume.]

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

An unusual night

I felt a whiff of breath on my neck. There were goose bumps. They had erupted over my neck as blisters would sprout after contact with a hot iron bar. The only difference being that the breath which made contact with my skin was cold as cold could was frozen air, frightful, as if someone just dipped my bare skin into a smoky lake on a frosty winter night.

As her breath caressed my nape, i felt aroused. I hadn't experienced anything like it before. My heart seemed to have found its own pace and my mind had transitorily dumped my body. I let her kiss me. She pressed her lips deep into my ears and explored my mouth. I wanted it to go on and on. But i knew i had to do something to make this stop. This was against the law of the nature. A ghost and a human aren't supposed to get physical. Yet, oblivious to this seemingly frivolous law, we clung on to each other, our body wrapped onto each other, we sucked pleasure as life embraced death, the living embraced the dead.

The night witnessed our foreplay and the cloud covered the moon's eye. After an eternity, we let go. Exhausted, we just lay over the tomb living the bygone hours again and again and savouring the moments.
It was through a chance encounter that i met her. I am conscious of the fact that I am unlikely to meet her again. She belongs to a world entirely different from mine, and no matter how much it pains me, i will have to let her go.

As she robed herself and looked set to go, i planted a goodbye peck on her forehead.
Early morning rays had begun to stream in. The moment of painful parting was upon us. I couldn't stifle a tear, but she was an embodiment of stoicism, completely impassive and restrained.
She walked over the threshold of my home and disappeared. I looked back fondly and trudged over to my coffin. This was the first time I had made love to a human.

Update: This story has been featured in the July, 2013 edition of e-magazine ‘Storizen’.
My story-

Friday, May 3, 2013

Top 5 sites for booking cheap flights in India

Booking a flight these days can be a torment to both your purse and your peace. With air prices literally touching the sky, it can be a pocket-burning experience to book flights at the last moment on your own. Besides, it can be quite hassling since there are only a few reliable carriers and the demand for tickets tend to sky-rocket especially during peak holiday seasons. So, for economy as well as that much-needed peace of mind, it is best to avail the services of the popular web-based agencies.

Here is a steal glance at the 5 most recommended sites for booking cheap flights (in no ranking order):

i.                    Make My Trip: ‘Make My Trip’ is a trusted and reliable source for booking flights both within and outside the country. Over the years, it has built a very strong reputation for itself and has come up with several new services. Special schemes and deals are often dished out to tempt prospective tourists and honeymooners. It also keeps you updated with the booking status and the schedules of your flights.
Website URL:

ii.                  Cleartrip: ‘Cleartrip’ is another noteworthy name in this field and has done satisfactory service spoiling travelers with its huge gamut of packages. Its website instantly provides a user-friendly search engine for you to check flight availability, timings and rates.
Website URL:

iii.                Hungry Bags: ‘Hungry Bags’ has emerged as one of the most impressionable and influential tour operators in recent times. A Delhi-based holiday planner, it offers its visitors with a magnanimous choice of over 300 packages spreading over all the major holiday destinations in the country. It has notched up some meaty awards over the past months and can help you book a flight instantly and very cheaply. Its home page itself is stacked with enticing packages & deals wrapped with complete info.
Website URL:

iv.                 Goibibo: ‘Goibibo’ is another reputed source for booking cheap flights. It offers healthy discounts and is a genuine source whose advertisements on the television are becoming pretty frequent. There are special promotion codes which one can use to extract maximum discounts.
Website URL:

v.          is another top-notch website which has created a niche for itself in matters of flight bookings and hotel bookings. Some of its Indian and international holiday packages are also pretty catchy. Moreover, its authenticity has already been proven since it has a loyal following of peripatetic travelers.
Website URL:  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

55 word story: Clouded

The septuagenarian stood timidly on crossroads.

His wrinkled face, creased in frown, mulled over the right direction. Passersby hardly paid notice to his untied laces; no one guided him when he headed towards the wrong house.

 He tried to call his son from a PCO, but his mind was clouded; Alzheimer’s hovered over his memories. 

Share please

How many stars?