Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Missing (Part 6)




This is part six of a story that I am writing in collaboration with some very talented writers on Blogadda.com. Our team name is 'Tete-a-ten'.



Read the previous part of the story here




3 am, Ballad Estate



The trees around her looked as mournful and dark as the night into which their fate had driven them. As Tara sat down gingerly behind the bushes to relieve herself, she could smell the pain of the moon. Though it had dutifully turned its face away, going behind the clouds in a rare display of gentility, Tara felt a rush of gratitude towards Shekhar who stood between her and the car, thereby according her the privacy which she needed not. Coz the darkness was terrifyingly intense and it was only the silhouette of the sky which was visible under the stars. But his gesture which, even though could have been passed off as a mundane code of propriety, didn't go unnoticed and touched her in a way she had fathomed not.

And then she heard his voice; a soft hum and though their lamentable situation didn't offer any occasion for such a cheerful burst of singing, it did forge a small smile on her face. Though no one, not even the trees which sat nearby in loneliness, neither the stars that twinkled above gently and nor Shekhar could see that smile, she felt surprised with its suddenness, and more importantly, with its exuberance. She knew, with a sudden wave of happiness, that she had smiled in so natural a fashion after a long time and even though the day was a harrowing one and the night ahead seemed long and sad, she felt that she had earned something back; something which she had been missing all these years without actually knowing what she was missing. The humming may have seemed inappropriate to some and a way to vent out tired emotions by many, but Tara knew the real reason behind it. Shekhar's few seconds of singing and whistling thoroughly coincided with her relieving herself against the dry leaves and she fell in love with him, once again after so many years, for saving her the embarrassment of the noise made by the water's rustle.

The beauty of that moment was evanescent. She was up on her feet in no time, and once again her heart relapsed into the mournful mood of before. But this time, there was a spring in her stride as she tottered back towards Shekhar, her fingers wrapping themselves around his, as they walked back to the car. Each of the two had lost a daughter and found a partner that night. Yet the night was not over yet. And with it, there was hope and with hope, there was a deep sense of sorrow for a loss which seemed more and more prominent with every passing hour.

The night had begun with Jennifer’s account and her description of the man and the place where she had seen them. She had a photogenic memory and her portrayal of the man helped the cops to create a rough sketch. Tara and Shekhar and their friends, of course, had to search every inch of the place and the surrounding areas till the night was consumed or the child was discovered.


As the two slipped back into the car, their sleepless eyes met the sleepy ones of their friends who had sacrificed their happy night in order to be with them in their desolate one, so what if the search so far had been nothing but futile. The car started from where it had stopped, gathering speed with every step it took as it entered deeper into the death of the night.

In the past few hours, they had already scanned all the hotels and inns where they thought she could be found. Of course, there was the police which must be on guard and could be expected to check all these places but the parents of a nine-year old cannot be expected to sit at home when their child may be writhing in some grave danger.


"Shekhar, where do we find our small Roohi in such a big city," the pain was inherent in Tara's voice.

Shekhar smiled dolefully and pressed her shoulders, "We will find her there. Look."


There was an old decrepit mill which stood straight ahead of them. It had a haunting look about it and looked in perfect concordance with that deserted place.


"Can Roohi really be there," Tara played along, both of them quite tired of their painful search and creating a false hope to cling for survival. 


"Yes," Shekhar said. His words, though held no conviction of truth, had never felt so warm and endearing to Tara than they felt at that moment.


The car was driven right till the point it could access. It parked itself and the search party alighted hurriedly. The mill was ransacked in minutes but no, she wasn’t there.


"We are looking at the wrong place. There would have been a vehicle of some sort if that guy had brought her here," chipped one of Shekhar's friends wisely.


"Yes, but now that we are here, we should scan the area thoroughly," said another from the hunt party.


The team spread in every direction, the couple running towards the back side of the mill into a boring-looking warehouse without actually thinking where they were going.


"Roohi Roohi," screamed Tara at the night in a desperate attempt to satisfy her soul. Little did she know and little hope had her heart cultivated of the response her voice was searching for. And when it came, it was bliss.


"Mummy, what are you doing here," came a voice followed by two pudgy steps. "Oh wow, dad is also here."




Read the next part of the story here


[Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us]



~Ritesh Agarwal
Email: ritzy182000@gmail.com




Wednesday, September 10, 2014

10 books which have stayed with me



Since this is a list of books that have ‘stayed with me’, I have desisted from picking books which I read in 2014 or 2013 (or else books like ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’, ‘Unaccustomed Earth’, ‘The Lowlands’, ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ and ‘Autobiography of Agatha Christie’ would have surely made this task of picking only 10 books extremely difficult, though I must say that the task was still equally ‘extremely’ difficult and I had to bow in to my heart by including some personal favorites under the guise of the convenient category we love calling as ‘special mentions’.)    J

So, these are my 10 and I am not ranking them (so please do not agitate your brains):

1. War and Peace (love in the backdrop of war), written by Leo Tolstoy

2. The diary of a young girl (the memoir of a Jewish girl during Hitler's regime), written by Anne Frank

3. Papillon (autobiography of a convict) by Henri Cherriere

4. Harry Potter (you know what), written by you know who

5. Journey to the Centre of the Earth (Jules Verne)

6. The man-eaters of Kumaon (terribly thrilling tiger tales from British-ruled India), written by Jim Corbett

7. The Famous Five series (involves my first literary crush Anne), written by Enid Blyton

8. The hound of the Baskervilles (a pastoral horror setting), written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

9. Tales of Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe

10. Albert Einstein- a short biography (by RK Murthi)

Special mentions:

11.  Mixed Blessings (Danielle  Steel)

12. A walk to remember (Nicholas Sparks)

13. Malgudi days (RK Narayan)

14. Curtain- Poirot's last case (by Agatha Christie)

15. The murder of Roger Acroyd (a path - breaking crime novel), written by Agatha Christie



-Ritesh Agarwal,
Date: 10th September, 2014




Sunday, September 7, 2014

Bubble Wrap Review: A well-deserved assault on society

Image source: Google


Book: Bubble Wrap
Author: Kalyani Rao
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Fiction
Number of pages: 185
Cover Price: Rs 250
Rating: 3 out of 5

Review: The first thing that delights the mind is the cover pic which is eloquent, powerful and picturesque, not to forget relevant and engaging. Second good thing about the book is that its publisher is a more notable one in this world teeming with a sudden mushrooming of publishers and self-publication firms. The third good thing is that the story is not what the title suggests. 
“Bubble Wrap” may ostensibly appear like another bubble-gum college romance (a genre which has become the favorites with readers and sadly with publishers too). But “Bubble Wrap” is everything but a cheesy college romance.

It is a touching and realistic story of a young girl (Krishna) who gets married off even before she hits puberty. The setting of a small town, the plot revolving around the theme of child marriage and the society’s hypocritical and callous take on widows are the reasons why this book is worth a read.

Also, the fact that the 12-year old Krishna (the girl who gets married off at such a tender age) takes the role of the narrator and the readers see her world through her eyes is a winner. Her cousin’s widow Gudiya (slightly older at 15) assumes the role of her mentor and despite the mud which society flings at her widowed status and despite getting raped by an old man, she shoulders the courage of shielding the 12-year Krishna from similar torments. They escape!

The second half goes slightly wayward as the plot thins though the reader does not lose his grip over the book. One must not dissect ‘Bubble Wrap” from the perspective of plot or of narration or of language which are simple and staid, but rather from the perspective of the bold story-telling which is a brutal and well-deserved assault on the society.

The job done by author Kalyani Rao is a credible one because she maintains simplicity and innocence in language which reflect the thought process of the juvenile narrator. Perhaps, the second half could have been tauter but the shocking climax more than makes up for the languidness. The book will not stay with you till ‘forever’ but will stir a few emotions and make you sigh as you turn over the last leaf.


-Ritesh Agarwal



The book is available at throwaway price at Flipkart. Kindly use the below link to check it out. 



Monday, August 4, 2014

Lost in Pattaya Review: A saga of irony of life

Image source: Google

Book: Lost in Pattaya
Author: Kishore Modak
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Grapevine
Number of pages: 215
Cover Price: Rs 150

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Review: “Lost in Pattaya” is a book which can grab the attention of a puritan because of its simple yet arresting cover design. In the age of bubble gum cover designs, it is heartening to see a cover design that is poignant and subtle instead of being in-your-throat.

The book, penned by Kishore Modak, is a painful tale told mostly in flashback mode as a father recounts the loss of his daughter in the city called Pattaya. The man loses years and the prime of his youth in chasing the darkened doors and defamed corners of the ill-famed city to look for his little girl. In the end, it is perhaps the man himself which is swallowed by Pattaya rather than the little child.

The title, therefore, though is directed at the girl who gets ‘lost in Pattaya’ can be taken metaphorically to hint at the father who, in desperate and failed search of his loving child, loses himself. It is his body, soul and mind which get ‘lost in Pattaya’.

The writing is leisurely but the use of language is heavy. Structuring of sentence is good at places, and excellent on occasions. The story somewhat loses its thread in the second half which appears weaker than the first half. However, there is the irony of life and of relationships which are the true heroes of this saga.

I will quote myself and say, “This book is good without being great.”

Should you read it? Yes.


[The review has been written on request by Grapevine Publishers but the opinions are mine]


Ritesh Agarwal




Sunday, July 13, 2014

Goa honeymoon: Will Skyscanner make my dream come true?



I always craved for a Goa trip and those who have read my bucket list are already cognizant of my honeymoon plans. Given that I am at the twilight of my 20s, perhaps the day is not far when I shall allow my nagging parents to get me hitched. Though I may be as recalcitrant as my pet rabbits if I want to (stubbornness is my forte, some say), if I give in to my parent’s wishes, it would be purely because it would be a precursor to a honeymoon I have always held a strong fascination for.
Assuming I will be taking a trip to Goa on 15th May 2015, I just made a rough calculation of my cost via Skyscanner

Kolkata-Goa (return trip): Rs 11,967 per adult. It will be Rs 23,934 for the two of us.

Hotel stay at The Hawaii Comforts; Rs 15,345 for 7 nights

Car booking: Rs 25,336 (Intermediate class)

Total: Rs 52,648

I am in love with nature and it would be a sin to miss out on Goa’s lakes, wildlife sanctuaries and those age-old churches. I am sure my future wife too will cherish sightseeing with me. Since, I will be choosing an economy class for the two-way flight, I felt it only right to book an intermediate car for the sightseeing purpose. After all, my wife should not feel uncomfortable during May’s heat.

Yes, May may not be a great time to go for a honeymoon. But it is a crowd-free month and one which can help save a lot of money.

As shown above, Skyscanner has planned out a 7-day itinerary for me such that my travel, hotel stay and sightseeing plans will boil down to Rs 52,648.

Given that my budget will be only Rs 1 lakh, this rough estimate enables me to plan better and keep aside a substantial sum for shopping, binging, partying and boozing *winks*


Had it not been for Skyscanner, it would have been difficult for me to predict an estimate and I may have holed out more money than I would wish for. 



This post is a part of Skyscanner travel wizard activity at BlogAdda.com


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