Saturday, October 3, 2015

Hegemonic theme of To Kill a Mockingbird

Image source: Google images

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ (by Harper Lee) has been tormenting the readers’ conscience for the past fifty years, drawing them into a world of racial bigotry and questioning our social and cultural values.

Narrated from the point of view of a girl-child, the novel explores the hegemonic white-black relationship in America, how a black is wrongly accused of molesting a white woman, and how a white lawyer fights for the accused and how the jury, despite its contrary personal beliefs, declares the accused guilty of felony.

Their action, quite in congruity to the existing American society’s bigoted mindset, confirms how racism is a hegemonic social state (it works in the human mind’s psyche).

Ritesh Agarwal

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Jadavpur University campus survival tips

t2 issue of 19th sep, 2015

Following are some survival tips for freshers (or veterans) at JU (Jadavpur University, Kolkata) campus:  

*Don't let AC canteen fool you by its name. It doesn't have AC. As the old bard said, "What's in a name"

*For cheap printouts @50p per page, head to the xerox centre situated shyly behind the capacious AC canteen

*Jheel is just a romantic red herring. For real mush-fest, go to Worldview's terrace.

*Cheapest and the most walk-worthy canteen is a remotely located jungle-wala canteen. Opens after 1.40 pm. On your way, you will pass through quarantined dogs.

*The corridor to Comparative Literature Departmental library will always have water over the floor. A Harry Potter connect, minus the Chamber of Secrets (but who knows). Dare not peep into the girl's bathroom, though ;)


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Arithmetic of Breasts Review: An intelligently philosophical erotica

Image source: Amazon

Book: The Arithmetic of Breasts and other stories
Author: Rochelle Potkar
Genre: Fiction, anthology
Publisher: Notebook Press
No. of pages: 115
Cover price: Rs 115
[Shortlisted for The Digital Book of the Year 2014]

It is a book that is brutal, realistic and an ironic amalgamation of anatomy and arithmetic. The book can be critiqued using feminist perspective too, though the element of storytelling, entertainment for mass readers and clever use of language make it impossible to club it as a purely feminist book.

Here is a story-by-story review of the entire anthology-

The Arithmetic of Breasts

An engaging story that matures as the protagonists mature and age. From lust to love, the transformation is life-like, seamless, riveting. That’s the arithmetic of human relationships. The use of mathematical terms to describe human anatomy is clever, and at certain places, metaphorical. The story, overall, stirs you up in bits but falls short of being a memorably great one.

The Room with a Sea-View

A very difficult read but an enlightening one. It tends to philosophize love. It has multiple layers to it, even a strong layer of originality. Some lines are quote-worthy and need to be penciled. Sample this:

His voice was soundless again today.

Sky Park

Use of geometry in this book is fascinating. Eg. The ‘springing buildings’ in this story described as an act by the Geometry God.
The story begins on a queer note, with a girl falling in love with a boy when he’s making out with another girl. There is powerful narration involving polyphony. Description of a suicide scene is so vivid that it is scary. The story is deeply psychological. Author takes you inside the mind of the character. To put it simply in the words of a character- “It is her mind talking to me.”

Dr. Love

A fresh story with a fresh plot. It highlights the importance of a face and how a surgical change in it is akin to a change of identity.

The Scent of a Conscience

It is an erotica; not a bland erotica but one that leaves you psychologically shaken. The story questions extramarital affairs but not in its puritan didactic form, rather in its visceral, hedonistic form.

A Place They Call Scary

A hard-hitting story that exposes the hypocrisy and sexual cravings of religious forces in the country, through the eyes of a young girl. The climax rattles you, leaving little difference between a young human girl and a Goddess.

Our Lovers

Crisp story. A two-page quick read that ends with a thundering jolt, not waking you out of your leisurely torpor with a shock but rattling your soul with an epiphanic hammer.

The Troll on Page 16

The story gives a peek into the psyche of a lecher. How he fakes complaints to a doctor and thus lives all his fantasies. An absorbing read that sets you up for a revelatory climax that unfortunately never comes.

What Men Want

A very engrossing story if one is wanting to get high. Conversations between old inebriated friends always give a voyeuristic pleasure to readers. But the story comes with no after-effect and, hence, pales in comparison to the other wonderful stories in the book.

As a bonus, the book ends with excerpts (full chapter 1) of Potkar’s debut novel Dreams of Déjà vu.

Should you buy this book? Yes, it is pretty hooking apart from being a highly intelligent book.

[The review was done on request by the author who was kind enough to send me a hard copy after listening patiently to my rants of anti-ebook theories.]

-Ritesh Agarwal

Friday, March 6, 2015

Black is the colour of the rain

Black is the colour
Of the rain that falls today
Black is the farm
And the crop that grows on it
Black is the sown
Black is thy plough
Oh bygone William, black is now your reaper
Black is the bone and black is the eye
So which is the daisy, which one the dew?

On that land of ice
White melts in fear
Sun burns away
Moon no more there

The whole world burns
Even the flame’s colour is black
So why play Holi
Coal will always smile

Yet there’s a heart
That smears a crumb of hope
The moon may be whitewashed
The rainbow painted anew


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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Sailing the sea

Poetry is the yacht on which I sail the sea
I fear the storm no more
I carry a storm within

Ritesh Agarwal


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