Friday, June 27, 2014

Harry Potter and the secret of online shopping

“Harry, have you checked the cool jackets they are offering at Flipkart,” asked Ron with a wistful look.

“Ha, you seriously need one Ron, scoffed Hermione.

Harry interjected, “Hey wait, look at this what’s written in today’s The Daily Prophet.”

All three heads peered into the newspaper-


“That sounds interesting,” said Hermione and peeked closer to read, “ is the latest shopping portal to hit the town. It won’t be unfair to call it a shopaholic’s treat as it exhibits top deals from all the top online stores.

Flipkart, Myntra, Jabong and more
You can exhaust your wallet and still explore

“Wow, that’s a cool jingle,” Ron looked up with a twinkle in his eyes.

“Wait there is more,” said Harry. “See, what it says.”

·        Browse products from all stores
·        Discover great products
·        Get cashback and coupons
·        See what your friends love
·        Buy products or save them for later

“Ooh, we can check what our friends are buying. I am dying to see what Fred is buying. All the hot girls at Hogwarts fancy him,” sighed Ron.

“Huh, I can smell smoke somewhere,” sneered Hermione.

“Oh as if you are not excited about the cashback offer,’ Ron shot back.
“Ummm ya I am, but I would first like to explore the whole site before deciding on my haul.”

“And Harry what are you planning to buy?”

“I dunno,’ said Harry with a confused look. “I wanted a new wand but I don’t think they will have that. So, I would buy himself some jeans and a pair of shoes. And Dobby was hoping for ten sets of differently colored socks. So ya that’s it.”

“If I were you, I would rather invest my father’s gold in a new bedding,” came a cold drawling voice from behind. “By the looks of your tattered four-poster bed, I can bet all my potions that would be a fantastic place for you to upgrade your room.”

“And Miss Granger,” Snape continued, “I think you better buy a table clock. Your OWL exams are just a few months away. I am hoping that you will not let your grades suffer from the atrocities of Mr. Weasley’s company,” he tossed a lazy derisive look at Ron before walking away.

“That son of a-

“RON, sssshhh,” Hermione pressed his lips.

The soft touch of her finger felt good. To his own surprise, Ron cooled down.

“Ah, do we have a problem here,” strode in Dumbledore with his ever-smiling face.

“Good evening Professor. We are just trying to figure out what to buy from, replied Harry.

“Ah, Baggout. Yes yes, that website has been all over the papers today. Professor Snape himself just ordered a bottle of shampoo and I think Mrs. Gonagall is eyeing a beautiful new gown for the Yule Ball,” he winked.

“Can you suggest anything for me Sir,” asked Harry hopefully.

“Harry dear, why don’t you explore what’s Trending NOW. The section is for newbie like you. It will help you to choose from an eclectic variety of merchandize. Go have fun. Meanwhile, I will go see if they have a good set of razors. My beard is becoming rather unmanageable these days.”

“Eclectic- now what does that mean,” asked a puzzled Ron.

“RON, it is high time that you open a dictionary,” yelled Hermione and tossed one at his head.

Meanwhile, chuckling loudly, Harry switched on his laptop and began exploring the goodies and deals at

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The lady who loves classics too much

This post is dedicated to Asha Roy, the woman who reads (and loves) classics too much.

Last day she shared a pic with me. The pic described a classic as something which everybody respects but nobody reads. Till a few months back, I used to feel quite devastated at the preferences of the current generation of readers. But I upset myself no more. I have come to realize (call it an epiphany if you want) that classics are too beautiful to be understood by everyone. 

A classic is that rarely beautiful thing which can be appreciated only by those rarely beautiful people. You tell me, can an internet-bred 21st century romance ever be better than Victorian romance? Can Nikita Singh or Ravinder Singh or Chetan Bhagat or Durjoy Dutta (all bestselling authors in their own right) ever be purer than a Jane Austen or a DH Lawrence or an Emily Bronte?

But here comes the chimera. A classic requires a certain level of intellect and patience which not everybody has. Some readers find these voluminous books to be having quite a toil on their grey cells. Some frankly lust after books which move at breakneck speed. For them, the task of sitting through a Tolstoy is going to  be a laborious ask too intimidating to be ever encouraged.

But those who love literature and love it truly will neither find classics daunting nor laborious. Rather they will tremble before its beauty, stunned and elated at having a piece of old treasure on their lap.

This brings to mind a quote by Alfred Gardener I remember from my class 11 days, "If diamonds were as plentiful as pebbles, no one would have stooped to pick them up."

It is the rarity of a diamond that makes it so treasurable. In the same vein, it is the rarity of a true classic lover that makes him/her so delightful a person.

I am, hence, glad to have a friend in this girl. Even though there have been cracks in the friendship and a huge question mark looms over the tenure of the relationship, I am glad that our paths crossed. Over the years, we have had some fascinating conversations which only two true classic lovers could have actually had.

I am not sure of the future of this friendship. Now, it all seems like all those talks happened in a different planet on a different time zone. But come what may, as long as my memory serves me and perhaps till my last breath, I shall cherish these conversations as the most beautiful memories of my life.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

55 word story: 7 Seconds of life

In those seven seconds of fall, he sees himself being cradled, mom bandaging his wound, dad pushing the bicycle, Maths tutor slapping him, peeping into Mrs Sen’s bathroom, sleeping with Sunaina, graduating, parents finding a girl, first night, he slapping her coz she is not a virgin, on honeymoon she pushing him off the cliff………..

[This post is written for IndiSpire as a part of ongoing theme ‘Virginity should not be regarded as a girl’s character certificate’]

~Ritesh Agarwal

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Appointment with Death Review: Nail-biting ambiance with an unusual finish

A Hercule Poirot mystery

Book: Appointment with Death
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Crime fiction (murder mystery), classic
Publisher: Harper Collins
Year of publishing: 1938
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Review: In the back cover, this quote by Observer is an instant catcher- ‘Twice as brilliant as Death on the Nile, which was entirely brilliant.’

So, when I prodded to ship me this book for the monthly review, they benignly obliged and I was through this book within a few sittings.

‘Appointment with Death’ is a charming title. While the plots and the narrative of Dame Agatha are extolled all over the world, her power to come out with head-turning titles is a talent which has remained pretty much unsung.

The book is set in the Middle East in the land of Petra and our crime Queen has naturally borrowed a lot from her own traveling experiences of these countries. An authentic classic setting is a great precursor to a sensational murder and the author dutifully takes her time to set up the ambiance for that murder, which could so easily have been the perfect murder but for one Poirot….alas.

The victim this time is an elderly but tyrannical lady called Mrs Boynton who holds all the strings when it comes to her family (her children and daughter-in-law). So powerfully evil is her malevolent nature and dictatorial mindset that her family live a compromised life without any liberty of their own. So, when her corpse is found sitting on a chair like a monstrous swollen Buddha, no member of her family is perturbed. It is as if her death came as a reprieve for all.

No wonder when Hercule Poirot jumped on the scene, the moustache-flexing little big man had a suspicious eye on everyone. And how can you attribute the incident to a case of natural death when her wrist clearly had a puncture mark etched over it?

Poirot believes (actually he knows) that he can solve the mystery through a psychological route. And our little big man has accepted the challenge of finding out the hunter in a space of mere 24 hours. So, will he succeed?

Of course, he will!

The climax once again is something which will be nearly impossible to predict. All the theories which buzzed in my mind while turning the last couple of chapters came to a crash in that fateful chapter where Poirot reveals the answers before the room-filled gathering in his usual dramatic fashion.

The way Hercule Poirot unravels everything one by one makes for a delicious read. But, the key to the puzzle may not make the readers go up in delight. An Agatha can be compared only to Agatha. On that count, I would dare say that the end disappoints a bit since the author plucks out a rather remote and obscure connection of the murderer with the murdered.

‘Appointment with Death’ is certainly not a ‘Murder of Roger Acroyd’ or a ‘Death on the Nile’ or even a ‘Murder in the Orient Express’ but it is yet another nail-biting crime fiction which has all those ingredients only an Agatha can brew.

[Review written by me on behalf of MySmartPrice which funds most of my books these days and in itself is a great website offering everybody something of everything. Do check it out.]

Kindly check out the book at cheapest available price (Rs 78) from here   

-Ritesh Agarwal, 
a sucker for Agatha's books


tags: Agatha Christie books, Hercule Poirot books, book review of Appointment with Death, classics and crime

Friday, June 13, 2014

Are Dumbledore’s shoes too large to be filled by Casual Vacancy?

For all the Harry Potter and JK Rowling fans out there, the latest scoop is that Michael Gambon (the actor who portrayed Albus Dumbledore, movie 3 onwards) has been roped in to play parish council leader Howard Mollison in BBC/HBO adaptation of JKR’s The Casual Vacancy.

Gambon, no doubt, is a prolific actor and his presence in the adaptation is quite just. Besides, he has no dearth of his own army of fans (remember Dumbledore’s Army). So, quite naturally, many people who were not intending to watch this miniseries may now feel compelled to give it a try.

Not that The Casual Vacancy is a bad book. It has caressed the line of bestsellers and has received its share of positive reviews too (though some readers and critics have also left behind scathing remarks). But frankly speaking, TCV is just another book out of the thousands which hit the shelf each year. That hallow of infallibility that encased Harry Potter series is just not there.

So, this brings us to the question- “Are Dumbledore’s shoes too big to be filled by a parish leader in a series which is not even a shadow of the adrenaline-pumping Harry Potter?”

In a way, Gambon’s position is pretty much like Rowling herself. The writer from Edinburgh touched the peak right with her debut book. It’s only going to be a downhill journey from here.

Image source: Google images

I don’t see JKR repeating the vociferous success she achieved with her Hogwarts series of books. And it can safely be surmised that Gambon’s onscreen roles shall never touch the same altitude of meteoric recognition he attained while playing the Hogwarts professor…… unless, of course, Rowling pens her 8th. But then that’s wishful thinking by the wistful heart of a casual writer who also happens to be incurably in love with Harry Potter books.

-Ritesh Agarwal

Request: Kindly buy one book from the link displayed on side bar. Money raised shall help me to raise my adopted pets Dobby and Binky

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Lady Chatterley’s Lover Review and critique by Ritesh

Image source: Google

Book: Lady Chatterley’s Lover
Author: DH Lawrence
Genre: Classic, romance, drama
Year of publication: 1928
Rating: 4 out of 5

Review: It is unfortunate if ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ has been side-brushed by some people as a pornographic novel. The theme of the story is loneliness. It is aloneness and not sex that has been depicted in its true naked glory (or un-glory). And after all, as I feel, one has to sometimes give in to his hormones.

Lady Chatterley is no different from me or from you in the fact that she is a human being who has her urges, her needs, and is perfectly entitled to getting subjugated by the malevolent powers of the hormones.

DH Lawrence is a master of words. It is frightening to see the way he manhandles words, as if he is their Lord and they his menials.

Due to the prudish nature of early 20th century, the book was considered an outright scandal and dismissed by many as a pornographic work. However, in ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’, DH Lawrence also projects (albeit with subtlety) the divide between the ruling class and the working class. The snooty attitude of the ‘gentlemen’ and the silent resentment of the ‘worker’ have been portrayed to full effect.

But, by and large, the story is still about adultery committed by one Constance Chatterley (Connie) whose body (and soul) seeks refuge in the shabby hut of their gamekeeper, propelled perhaps by her sex-starved hormones, egged possibly by her crippled husband’s chauvinistic mindset and prodded certainly by her quest to quench her loneliness.

A reader may however feel a sense of sympathy and compassion towards the climax. It may appear to some that the right man has been wronged. But then the feeling of sympathy would still have arisen had the other man been wronged. That perhaps is the beauty of the story.

~Ritesh Agarwal

Request: Kindly buy the book using the above link to help me raise my adopted pets.

Tags: classics, classic novels, DH Lawrence's works, review and critique of  Lady Chatter's Lover

Friday, June 6, 2014

Classics, Crushes and Google-gifted girlfriends

 I am tempted to talk of my social life, of my friends, of people who claim to be my friends, of friends who claim to be just people and of nobody who claims to be anybody. But this blog is my way of giving something back to ‘literature’ to which I owe a part of my life and the whole of my heart till eternity. So, would it be digression on my part if I throw in a gadget which you may yell should be discussed (and debated) over the tables at some tech-heavy blog like or or something other (who cares)!

But actually, technology is as much a part of ‘literature’ today as a river is a part of sea. E-book has changed the course of history (rather literature).
I can stand from the top of my roof and confess to the world at large, “Hey, I hate e-books. I love my tangible, touchable, smellable, feelable, readable, holdable, sleepable and everything else-able ‘real’ book.”

But I cannot deny the significance of an e-book. Today, I have enough money to fund my books. But I remember when I was pursuing my graduation in 2005, I didn’t have money and it was on internet where I devoured Jerome K. Jerome’s “Three Men on a Boat”. Of course, things were not as easy (and fast) as we have today. I would still use an alarm clock to wake up at 5, most girls still wore inners and internet was available either at a cyber cafĂ© or at a rich man’s house.
Goes without saying that I had to sit for hours in my college cyber to satisfy my reading urges. I couldn’t read while on the move or else I would have used my traveling time of 1-hour for digging into Dickens and D.H.

Wish we had some gadget back then which was portable and also affordable! Sigh!

Now, of course, the story is altogether different. I don’t use an alarm clock anymore. It has been chucked in the deepest recesses of my shelf, its place now being taken by the ‘talking alarm clock’. Girls still wear inners, though not with the same enthusiasm (or frequency). And internet is freely available at every place (sometimes even at toilets). It needs no saying that thousands of readers now prefer to tap at the screen instead of turning the pages. E-reading has taken over in a big way and even though my loathing for it is incorrigible, I cannot deny its universal impact.
With something like ASUS Transformer BookT100 (the new gadget on the block), reading on the go is as easy as Trigonometry (at least I was good in Maths you know). While the existing set of laptops, tablets and phones has already been ruling the e-reading circuit, the special and standout quality about T100 is that it is a two-in-one gadget. It is a laptop prima facie. But you can yank the monitor out and bingo you get a 10-inch phone/tablet at your hand.     

The way I put it, you may have got reminded of a lizard and its detachable tail. But allow this video to do the explanation to you

ASUSTransformer Book T100 is light in weight (almost as light as light). It is user-friendly (almost as user-friendly as a girl who believes in live-in relationships). It is full of surprises, full of features but I repeat what makes it stand out is its capacity to satisfy your dual needs for a tablet and a laptop.

So when I eyed the society ‘1984’ style (hope you have heard of George Orwell), I realized that the youths today are suffering from three serious problems.

Problem 1: They want to carry less

No matter whether they are carrying books, gadgets, bags or even food, they like to keep their hands free. T100 is, I dare say, the child born out of a happy marriage between laptop and phone. So, you can carry less and still have more.

Problem 2: They are restless while traveling

Gone are the days when a man would happily while away an entire train journey by only gazing shyly at the equally shy girl sitting on the opposite seat. Now, people don’t have the patience (or the shyness) to merely gaze. They want to talk and the best way to break the initial cold ice is to chat online. So, if you can equip yourself with a user-friendly portable gadget, a girl will be just a mouse click away. Likewise, if you are a girl, a boy (and a hot one at that) will be just a tap away (As one Priyanka says, ‘why should boys have all the fun’).

Problem 3: Men no longer play ‘dress me up’

Those kinky days of fun and flirt when men would try to salvage a drab office day by playing ‘dress me up’ upon an animated girlie character are gone. Candy Crush is their new crush. And as far as Temple Run goes, I swear I will kill that guy who sends me a FB request over it 10 times a day.

*shrugs* I really am not much into these games. I had my full quota of Super Marios and Battle Citys when I was a kid.

But as far as I see, the world is divided into two kinds of people. One kind is that kind which is obsessed with games, and the other kind is me. So, if you are not me (which of course you are not unless you have written this post and know my favorite brand of butter), you are someone else and if you are someone else, you are bound to be a geeky gamer in which case you should seriously start thinking of getting ASUS’s T100.

You may call me old-fashioned if you want but I am a sucker for classics (both books and films). So, when I do get my ASUS Transformer Book T100, if I do get it ever, you are likely to find me reading a Jane Austen or watching Lady Chatterley’s Lover when I am traveling (and these days, I do travel a lot).

The rest of you can run your Temple Runs and do your cooing with Google-made girlfriends. But for me, a book is still a sexier thing.

[This post, despite having been written on behalf of ASUS for an IndiBlogger-run contest, is a true reflection of my feelings and views. So you dare not think that I am trying to force you to buy this product, though if I were you I would have bought it alreadyJ]

-Ritesh Agarwal


Ranked 3rd in entrance exam for Comparative Literature

Wanted to top but woh ho na saka. Secured 3rd position at JU's entrance exam for Comparative Literature.

Printshot of results

To know how I made the cut, kindly read my earlier post

How DH Lawrence helped me in my MA exam

Thank You,
Ritesh Agarwal

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How many stars?