Friday, May 30, 2014

Adhuri Prem Kahaniya Book Review: Power Publishers disappoints

Image source: Google

Book: Adhuri Prem Kahaniya
Author: Santosh Avvannavar
Genre: Romance, short stories
Publisher: Power Publishers
No. Of pages: 97
Price of book: Rs 150
Rating: 2 out of 5

Review: Let me begin with a rant directed at these selfies (self publishing houses) who despite stripping your wallet of all its money present you with a 90-page wafer-thin leaflet in the name of a book. I had high regards for Power Publishers and once even contemplated publishing a book with them. But what I have realized over the months is that they rarely care for quality and are just concerned with their share of profits. So in the name of a book cover, Adhuri Prem Kahaniya has got almost a whitewashed page. Unappealing and disappointing.

At Rs 150, a buyer would expect something voluminous, at least 150 pages. But again this book of a shade under 100 pages has been overpriced so that the publisher can warm up his pockets coz he knows that the book will not get many takers.

So far so good. No fault of the author.

But now coming to him (Mr. Santosh Avvannavar that is), he comes across as a well-educated guy with a good amount of intelligence. Perhaps, he could have benefitted had he hired an editor for this book which is full of inconsistencies. Some stories (out of 25) are innocent, some are humorous and almost all are relatable. But they are very short and written in haphazard way, as if penned by different people. There are errors of the kind which PowerPublisher should have rectified but either its editor is incompetent or perhaps they don't do even the basic needful unless showered with more money.

The author's attempt has been sincere and he has drawn a lot from his own experiences. But his own flaws aside, he has been done in by an unconcerned publishing house.

But by all means buy the book for going back to those mushy days of school and college romance.

[This book review has been done by me on special request by author Santosh Avvannavar and is an unbiased one.]

~Ritesh Agarwal Review: An unbiased critique by a first-time user

That's State, the new place for adda

There is this new social platform prancing around in our browsers these days. is thy name. On the face of it, it is just another platform where there is a free interchange of ideas, opinions, statements and desultory talks. But hold your pants, it is a tad different.

So, when BlogAdda entrusted me with this seriously difficult job of exploring ‘State’ for a period of 5 persistent days (no relent there), I was skeptical, even jittery. But five days later, I am more at ease, having earned myself with the knowledge of the site’s strengths and shortcomings.

An initial brush with the site discloses the following pluses and minuses-

Pluses (Pros):

-          Collective global opinion: A near surreal way to figure out what the world thinks of a movie star or of a wrestler or a classic film is to flip through the individual’s profile and check out the adjectives the world has allotted them. For instance, if you try looking up at the global opinions on Miley Cyrus, you are quite likely to stumble on to words like ‘meh’, ‘desperate’ and ‘attention-seeking’ or an occasional ‘talented’ and ‘hot’.
-          Networking: An individual user can network with like-minded people; something which is the strongest characteristic of So, when I searched for DH Lawrence or for Kate Winslet (two people I really admire), I was instantly directed by the automated spider to pose my questions and queries before an audience which despite my unfamiliarity seemed appropriate for these personalities. In short, lets you connect with people (from around the world) who share your passions, aspirations, fondness, apathy and even loathing for something or someone.
-          Every opinion matters: In case you have a negligible network of ‘friends’ or ‘followers’ in those other popular social profiles (recall the f-word and the t-word), even your most eloquent statuses and tweets are likely to suffer neglect due to dearth of visibility. But even the most insignificant of your opinions matters at where your one-word description for anything or anyone contributes to the thing or the person’s overall image. In short, your opinion MATTERS!
-          Content search: Finding new content is a child’s play because of the tailor-made search bar. So, when I searched for my favorite actress Ileana D’Cruz, the spider sensed my thoughts (ahem..) and offered the correct suggestion the moment I typed ‘Ilea
-          Ease of accessibility: Laptops are going the same way where desktops went. So, even if you belong to that category of homo sapiens which likes to flick out their tablets and phones instead of huffing and puffing with giant monitors, will be a few taps (or clicks, the way you want) away. In short, easy to access!
-          Sharing is Sexy: As they say, sharing is sexy (but not of course if it’s an Agatha Christie novel). At State, you not just state but also share it across to other platforms. So, if you are really pumped up to give that long-due harangue to your most detestable pop singer, you can let your battalion of friends read what you wrote. Also, it brings you more friends (from around the world) coz I feel that ‘best friendships are formed when two people find in each other a common loathing for a common man’.
-          Sentiment range: This is something which is really helpful in gauging out the eclectic range of sentiments in favor of or against something or someone. So, if you find Dolly Parton ‘emotional’, State lets you see what percent of people share this same sentiment and what percent share other multifarious sentiments. However, at times, there can be confusion as words like ‘emotional’, ‘sad’ and ‘blissful’ may overlap with each other and truncate each other’s percentage despite meaning almost the same thing.

This YouTube video spills all info about '' in a manner more bearable than my lengthy discourse :)

Minuses (Cons):

-          May not get BIG in India: On the flipside, may fail to adapt to the Indian conditions. Not everything that works in America works in India ( and vouch for that). In this country, the job-doers are more at ease at those social sites (recollect the f-word and the t-word again) where they can blab and chatter with people whom they know in ‘real’. Indian women, for instance, give precedence to people who share the same geography than to people who share the same hobbies. can work but only if it brings your neighbors, your office-employees and all your ex-college crushes and possibly even your apartment’s janitor together under one single STATEly roof.
-          Needs patience: Being fed with social platforms which give instant entertainment and connectivity, some people may find State’s module a tad sluggish. It can take time to build a network and so those fellows who lack what we call ‘patience’ may not be too rejoiced at the idea of setting up a State profile.

But having said that, State lets you log in using your f-profiles and t-profiles. So, you don’t necessarily have to fill up those tedious forms and register using your mail. It also gives you the opportunity to invite all your friends, enemies, crushes and ex-crushes from those f-and-t profile of yours.

Some features which are good without being great:

a.      User Interface- It’s okay, it’s acceptable but not as captivating or hooking as one would have desired.
b.      Tuning in: You can tune in to someone and get tuned by others. Another feature which is a tad overrated.
c.       Top words groups: This is a sort of micro dictionary that enables you to choose the most appropriate word for a person or a thing out of a group of words. At times, you may fail to find the precise word and even though you are free to add your own, it is unfortunate that people today lack patience and vocabulary to do the needful.

Overall, State may never reach the status of a cult social site, but it has the capability of becoming the favorite networking platform of its ardent users. But then, if cards fall into places, it can triumph over others and become a marquee venue for sharing opinions, receiving knowledge and saying your ‘say’.

-Ritesh Agarwal

And yes, there’s lots of Harry Potter and vampire stuff going on there (almost a constant amongst trending topics). So, you too can dig your wands and fangs in.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A role model who talks through the white pages

The words ‘role model’ usually and ostensibly refer to a parent or a sibling or a teacher or, in rare cases, a sportsman. But will I be digressing from the norm if I state that my one true role model (whom I always look up in awe and admiration) is a character from the pages of fiction? Perhaps yes, perhaps no! After all, making a choice of that one role model out of dozens of nominated names that buzz inside your head is a challenging task. Hopefully, you will spare me this dare of picking up someone who is more of a public figure than someone whom I can call my own (completely my own). But then when I am reading his books, it seems quite like a real face-to-face talk between me and him, as if two people sitting on two sides of the page sharing some fascinating conversations and falling in love with each other.

But then when the person in question is as great as Albus Dumbledore is, all rules, restrictions, norms and conditions have to be discarded. They simply lose their worth before a man of such gargantuan persona. It is the way he speaks, it is the way he carries himself and it is the way he runs an institution (Hogwarts) with so much aplomb that I wonder if I am the only one in the world to have him as my role model!

Dumbledore’s shrewd mind, his sagacious eyes which seem to see everything around, his beard that is perhaps as old as some of our politicians (or even older), his cheek for grinning even at the face of death, his armor of immense wit and that undeniable gift of the gab; how can you not fall in complete, utter and irrevocable awe of this man?

Dumbledore, through his words and through Harry’s eyes, has not just conveyed some plain truths of life to me but has also been a constantly looming presence during all my times, good or bad. Twirling his words through my mind, I have found solace in them at times which were bad enough to crush me to pieces. His wisecracks have been shockingly real, so earthly, so easy to agree upon and so astoundingly relatable that you feel scared lest this man was standing behind you all your life, observing every act of yours with his all-seeing eyes and witnessing every deed (heinous or wise) you ever committed.

With so many other indefinable and unexplainable traits ingrained deep within this mystically flamboyant character, I wonder if I am the only one in the world to have him as my role model!

And so during one moment of random hallucination, I closed my eyes, looked clearly at him over the misty air and tossed an unsettling query at his smiling visage,

“Sir, is this blog post real or is it just happening inside my head?”

And he tossed back a rather unconvincing reply accompanied with his queer chuckle,

“Of course it is happening inside your head, but why do you think it is not real?”

~Ritesh Agarwal

I am writing about #MyRoleModel as a part of the activity by Gillette India in association with

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How DH Lawrence helped me in my MA exam

Google images: DH Lawrence

I am writing this sitting uncomfortably in a sweat-filled, grime-filled and people-filled bus chiefly because I owe a post to DH Lawrence and can't wait till I reach home (or till the home reaches me).

I gave myself two hours of DH Lawrence last evening on the eve of this exam I am returning from (MA entrance in Jadavpur University for Comparative Literature) and just as I had expected, just as I had envisioned, he filled me up with everything a pupil can expect of his teacher.
When you read the kind of classic that Lawrence writes, you become so full of words, so full of vocabulary and so full of refinedly structured sentences that you feel never at a loss for words.
For someone on the brink of the most vital exam of his life, such a state is a state of utopia, a scenario of complete perfection or near-perfection as in my case.

If I top this exam, which I think I should, I shall be eternally indebted to Lawrence and his Lady Chatterley.

My indebtedness also owes itself to Brita aunty, Sneha Isabella Sharma, Tanisha Chatterjee and Sreetama Ghoshal for their helpful inputs over the past few days. I hope to be perennially grateful to them despite the fact that hope is a dangerously unreliable thing. :)

-Ritesh Agarwal

19th May, 2014

Friday, May 9, 2014

Crossroads by Preeti Singh: Chapter-by-chapter review

Book: Crossroads (It’s about time….)
Author: Preeti Singh
Publisher: ACCESS (an imprint of Authorspress)
Genre: Fiction, Romance
Number of pages: 264
Cover price: Rs 200

Here is a chapter-by-chapter review of ‘Crosswords’ by Preeti Singh.

Chapter 1
A Journey of Two Hearts (Falling in Love…)
Review: The beginning is smooth, simple and risk-free. Not bad but nothing extraordinary. However, the author chooses two different timelines, making her intentions clear that she’s going to make the reader shuffle between past and present.
Rating: 3/5

Chapter 2
In Pursuit of Ecstasy (Blossoming in love….)
Review: Preeti Singh’s way of describing love scenes in laudable. She provides graphic details but without taking help of tabooed words. ‘In Pursuit of Ecstasy’ is primarily about post-wedding romance, love-making and titillation. Author’s debut novel ‘Flirting with Fate’ too had some well-chronicled love scenes. The romantic readers do feel aroused but the celibacy-preachers don’t get offended.
Rating: 3.5/5

Chapter 3
I Loved an Angel (A child born of love…)
Review: An unpleasantly long chapter that just drags on and on with recurring episodes of husband-wife conflict. A few things lack conviction and the rest is very ordinary.
Rating: 2/5

Chapter 4
The Dark Rainbow (The pain in love…)
Review: Decently written. Our protagonist Kavita continues to endure domestic abuse.
Rating: 2.5/5

Chapter 5
Crossing the Line (Taking decisions in love…)
Review: Slow narrative is not absorbing enough. ‘Crossing the Line’ takes the acidic relationship of husband-wife further and propels the lady to cross a line she thought she would never cross.
Rating: 2.5/5

Chapter 6
Flirting with Fate (The twists of destiny….)
Review: One of the better chapters. Talks of a life fettered by loneliness and the despairs of a hapless woman. The brief visuals of an epileptic seizure add power to the narrative.
Rating: 3/5

Chapter 7
Love You Forever (True Friendship stays…)
Review: The chapter shows that life goes on. In between personal losses and conflicts, the mundaneness of life remains there inevitably.
Rating: 2.5/5

Chapter 8
 Truly, Madly, Deeply (When passion takes over….)
Review: When forbidden pleasures find a way out, things always become readable. Besides, Preeti Singh’s one major strength is to draw the reader with her explicit, yet inoffensive, description of erotic encounters.
Rating: 3.2/5

Chapter 9
Uff Yeh Emotions (Where only feelings rule….)
Review: The story offers its dose of emotions as our protagonist Kavita skids through happiness and falls headfirst over to a pile of sorrow. Not an extraordinary chapter but a somber one for sure!
Rating: 3/5

Chapter 10
Long Distance Relationship (Distance makes hearts grow fonder….)
Review: An unconvincing and melodramatic encounter between Kavita and her hubby Rajiv! The plot is threadbare and the love-hate relationship of the couple doesn’t evoke conviction.
The author redeems herself somewhat towards the fag end of the chapter by depicting a refreshingly bold mother-daughter relationship.
Rating: 2.5/5

Chapter 11
The Other Side of the Bed (Alone but not lonely…)
Review: Again, the husband-wife chemistry lacks conviction and the author seems to lend them haphazard emotions where neither of the protagonists know what they want or whom they love.
The shock proposal towards the latter part of the chapter offers some reprieve.
Rating: 2.5/5

Chapter 12
Lilacs Blooming in my Backyard (Happiness blooms…)
Review: A versatile chapter that spotlights the troubles of a single mother having a teenage daughter and how fame is no compensation for loneliness. One of the better chapters of the book!
Rating: 3.5/5

Chapter 13
Love me in the end (endless love…)
Review: In the final chapter, the protagonist finds herself standing at the crossroads of life where she has to make a difficult choice. And the choice she makes may not please a lovey-dovey reader but has a sense of poetic justice to it.
Rating: 3/5

All in all, ‘Crossroads’ is an okay book written with a lot of heart but fails to match the literary quality of its predecessor ‘Flirting with Fate’.
Overall rating: 2.5/5

-Ritesh Agarwal

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

15 word story: The phobia

Iqbal was claustrophobic. 

So, he converted to Hinduism. 

He said he would prefer the flames. 


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Author Ayesha Rahman, the teenager who brewed up ‘Turbulence’

Holding a copy of your book at bare age of 16 does make people cock their eyebrows though the act is not totally surprising, given the influence of internet and self-publishing in today’s era. But Ayesha Rahman nails it with an influential book; a canvas of poems which impel you to think, to introspect, to admire and to hope. Through her ‘Turbulence’, Ayesha lends you some of her words and borrows plenty of your emotions.

Please check out the book at Flipkart:

(Coz checking out is free)

For the time being, she spills some of her words (and emotions) on my blog and allows me to probe a bit into the mind of her pen.

Q1. Hi Ayesha, you have come out with a book at an age at which many of us don’t even pick a heavy book to read. Do you know how inspiring a person you can be for many people?

Ayesha: I think inspiration can come at any age, from any place. I would like to think that after seeing me, more and more poets will publish their work. Publishing on paper shouldn’t be a limitation when it comes to writing. And I hope people will follow my idea- never stop. Never stop believing, never stop dreaming. Writer’s block affects everyone, but ideas come to paint all over it.

Q2. Give us a peep (if possible, more than a peep) into your book!

Ayesha: I often write online under a pseudonym, that’s where all the writing started. And when it comes to favorites, picking one wouldn’t be fair to my other poems.
This poem is called Perfect Storm, and it’s about a couple who are about to break apart and the storms outside their house and in their home. My reason for picking this is because this makes the reader focus more on the story behind it- the “what is to follow”. I never urge readers upon a definite meaning but want them to search their own.

Perfect Storm

They say the perfect storm
is the one which
cuts you off
from the bare necessities.

You stood strong,
with three bags full of clothes,
books and everything else.

That you are to leave
this house,
walk away and never step foot
again in this house.

My words break as they
escape my mouth,
as if I am speaking
only in my head.

Then the storm came
and you were afraid.
The water lashed the windows
and now there is a tree inside the house.

There was no light,
no heat and the ceiling cried.
We finished up whatever food we
had left in the house.

The winds lasted a day,
the rain three,
and you six years,
still counting.

In the hum of the stormy night,
as you and I sat together
to find something at the bottom of empty cans,
I hoped you’d see it.

That all it took was a moment.
Of sacred calm in the noise of life
to see that things untangle,
and lies seep into the woodwork.

All it took was a perfect storm
for us to share that moment.

Eight days later,
the skies cleared,
the clouds said farewell.
The storm ended,
and you still walked out the door.

Q3. Those were some gorgeous lines Ayesha. So, why a book on poetry, why not prose? Was there any conscious decision on your part to script an anthology of poems, given that you do have a strong flair for short stories too?

Ayesha: Most of my stories have a poetic flair to it, and many of them also drew themselves to life from lines of poetry. That is why I chose poetry over prose. Because stories need a flow that I can provide most to poetry.

Q4. You got self-published with Penguin Patridge Publishing. Was that your first choice or did you try to reach out to traditional publishers earlier?

Ayesha: I did send my manuscript to a few places before realizing myself into an inbox of silence. Publishers don’t want to print poetry simply because they think it doesn’t sell. Poetry has become a dying art in India. People just want to read novels from popular foreign writers.
So I turned to independent publishers. There are a large number of indie houses that have come up, and that is a good thing. Poets and authors need to be heard. Because if you don’t kindle a fire, it’s going to burn out.

Q5. I am repeating myself but I would again say that you are an inspiring figure simply because you went ahead and came out with a book at 16. So, what have been the sources of your inspiration? What propelled this hunger to write at such a paltry age?

Ayesha: My grandfather’s influence on me was one of the main reasons I took to writing. I grew up hearing him tell stories about his life and adventures as a journalist in the 80s. It was his determination that just showed me that anyone can be a writer, if the passion was strong enough. I do dedicate my work to him, with respect and love, but somehow some of that got lost in a missing back-matter.
Most of themes in my work have been inspired by my favorite poets Pablo Neruda and Gabriel Gadfly. Neruda, as you know, is one of the greatest classics; while Gadfly was the inspiration to the contemporary side of my writing.
On most days my thoughts ran like chaos and they just had to be put to rest on paper. Hunger, you call it. I call it momentary silence.

Q6. I do take the liberty of asking one personal question to all my interviewees. So, do excuse me for this audacity. But I would like to know which is your favorite brand of nail-polish (I hope this wasn’t too personal)?   :P

Ayesha: I actually don’t use any nail polish. I know nothing about make-up and I always ask my sister to put kajal on for me, which is a challenge because my eyes tear up and I start to laugh.
I think that is what’s with our generation- new clothes and old music. Generations get more diverse as they pass. Everyone is different, like caught in the influence of different times.

Q7. And lastly, why should someone who has never heard of you pick your book?

Ayesha: Because everyone knows what love is.
Turbulence is a book that will resonate within almost anyone. It is much easier to write about lifeless things, but when it comes to emotions- words tend to fall short. The book is about love- the cycles of hello and goodbye- and all in between. Now that’s something everyone is stuck in.

~Ritesh Agarwal


Saturday, May 3, 2014

An Atlas of Love Review: Engaging but not enslaving

Book: An Atlas of Love (The Rupa Romance Anthology)
Authors: Several
Publisher: Rupa
Genre: Romance (Fiction)
No. of pages: 188
Cover Price: Rs 195 (ex-discount)

Review: Here is my story-by-story review of each of the 16 winning tales.

Story 1
Phoenix Mills (by Aurodeep Nandi)
Rating: 5/5
Review:  Such a well-crafted story of wit and realism that it sucks you like a vacuum and leaves a void when it spits you out of its chamber at the end. ‘Phoenix Mills’ is about a man, a mall and love found and lost. (This story won the 1st prize in the Rupa Romance Contest).

Story 2
Just One Glance (by Rhiti Bose)
Hard-nosed critics will surely trash this story calling it cliched and a done-to-death teenage romance. But ‘Just One Glance’ is so insanely readable and so incredibly relatable that you will love walking through its pages to relive your own mushy teenage days.

Story 3
Jilted (by Cecile Rischmann)
Okay, though ‘Jilted’ is readable and decently written, it is plain and has nothing extraordinary to offer. Why this story won the Rupa contest baffles me?

Story 4
The Unseen Boundaries of Love (by Debosmita Nandy)
What apparently looks like another chic lit romance turns out to be brutally intense, powerful and shocking towards the end. The final two pages helped this tale bag the 2nd prize in the Rupa Romance Contest.

Story 5
The Library (by Tarunima Mago)
Fresh story with some nice lines. Makes for a nice read but then nothing unforgettable. ‘The Library’ is engaging but not enslaving.

Story 6
Rock My Ass (by Shoma Chakraborty)
Ordinary hackneyed story but so incredibly well-written.

Story 7
The Impasse (by Aabhishek Patwari)
A mature story that talks about an aged man who has just lost his wife. Life becomes frighteningly lonely when you are at the fag end of it. ‘The Impasse’ brings plenty of lumps in the throat. One of the better stories of the book!

Story 8
Mixed Erotica Goes to the Party (by Sheila Kumar)
Writing is good but the story has nothing to offer. Readable throughout, engaging at times, arresting at odd corners but nothing too brilliant to admire.

Story 9
Something about Karen (by Abhishek Mukherjee)
A different kind of romance! Ryan loves Karen. But who is she? The climax may delight some and irk others. Quality of writing is good.

Story 10
The Affair (by Anita Sarkar)
A riveting extramarital affair with the usual do’s and don’ts. The climax was all set for that cheesy melodramatic finish we all love to feed upon. But Anita Sarkar chooses to play her cards differently (and intelligently).

Story 11
When You Least Expect It (by Meera Rajagopalan)
A feel-good story that advocates the concept of ‘signs’ in love and relationships.

Story 12
Urmila (by Sudha Subramanian)
The story talks of Urmila’s desolation during the 14-year exile period when she was away from her husband Lakshmana. It is a modest attempt by the author but fails to grip, delight shock or sadden.

Story 13
Blossoms (by Roshan Radhakrishnan)
Sweet innocent classroom love story. A bit too simple but a charming one all the same.

Story 14
Death of a Widower (by Monidipa Mondal)
Written with maturity, this story about a young man who lost his wife in a terror attack is painfully realistic and brutally readable. The end drops down at you all of a sudden like a bomb and leaves you to imagine whether it will explode or not.

Story 15
Post-Coital cigarette (by Aarti Venkatraman)
A devastatingly well-written story of a psycho-lover narrated in 1st person style, ‘Post-Coital cigarette’ is a smoldering stuff.

Story 16
Siddharth (by Pooja Pillai)
Story-wise it is another teenage romance and not quite the material for winning the 3rd prize in this Rupa Romance Contest. But it is narrated in that seductive way that you are just stuck like a Fevicol till the very end.  

[This review has been written on behalf of, the web-based portal which apart from providing free books (including ‘The Lowland’ and 'The Hungry Tide') also helps me to discover the best prices for any product, be it a phone or a book or something as insignificant as a badminton racquet and something as significant as a shuttle cock.]

~Ritesh Agarwal

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How many stars?