Wednesday, February 12, 2014

25 Strokes of Kindness Review: Pros, cons and Ratings

Source: Google Images

Book: 25 strokes of kindness
Genre: Fiction (anthology)
Authors: Several
Publisher: Grapevine India
Pages: 247
Price: Rs 125 (excluding discount)

Story 1
Title: Ouroboros
Author: Nanya Srivastava
Pros: Unpredictable story, satisfying climax
Cons: Average writing, some questions stay unanswered
Rating: 2.5 on 5

Story 2
Title: Is it kinder to give or receive?
Author: Asfiya Rahman
Pros: Fresh story, good writing
Cons: Nothing much. The climax may have been handled better
Rating: 3 on 5

Story 3
Title: A pack of Parle-G
Author: Himanshu Chhabra
Pros: Quite a beautifully imagined story, endearing characters, sharp observation of life by the author
Cons: Flawed structuring of a few sentences
Rating: 4 on 5

Story 4
Title: A ten dollar wedding
Author: ArashitaaSehrawat
Comments: This is a story more than just inspired by a classic short story. But since the author is a 17-year old, I would let it pass   : )

Story 5
Title: Please Hug Me
Author: Preeti Shenoy
Pros: Crisp narrative, subject of HIV
Cons: It’s more like a non-fictional memoir. More suited for a personal blog than for an anthology
Rating: 2 on 5

Story 6
Title: Pentimento
Author: Rafaa Dalvi
Pros: Emotional story exploring love between a man and a child, warm plot
Cons: Average narration, mediocre writing
Rating: 2.5 on 5

Story 7
Title: Fifteen Minutes
Author: Nikita Singh
Pros: The setting, the story, the humour
Cons: Nothing as such
Rating: 4 on 5

Story 8
Title: Savings of life and love
Author: Parul Tyagi
Pros: Brief, engaging and offbeat
Cons: Some mistakes in sentences
Rating: 3 on 5

Story 9
Title: Crossroads
Author: Renuka Vishwanathan
Pros: Writing, narration, clarity of events, humour
Cons: Nothing
Rating: 3.5 on 5

Story 10
Title: Court sentence
Author: Naman Kapur
Pros: Storyline
Cons: Ordinary climax, average writing
Rating: 3 on 5

Story 11
Title: A piece of contagious kindness
Author: Sakshi Budhia
Pros: Message in the story
Cons: Average writing and narration
Rating: 2.5 on 5

Story 12
Title: The lost girl
Author: Arushi Pathak
Pros: Moving story, warm and fresh
Cons: Nothing much
Rating: 3.5 on 5

Story 13
Title: Letters to Karka
Author: Pernasi Malhotra
Pros: Everything
Cons: Nothing
Rating: 4 on 5

Story 14
Title: The helping hand
Author: Ruchika Thukral
Pros: A court battle, nice arresting stuff. The climax adds another dimension and reveals the suitability of the title
Cons: Slightly confusing in the beginning, few unconvincing sub-plots
Rating: 3.5 on 5

Story 15
Title: The photograph
Author: Nikhil Khasnabish
Pros: A promising start, a thought-provoking climax
Cons: Uneven pace, patchy writing at places, abrupt end
Rating: 2.5 on 5

Story 16
Title: The Collateral Emotion
Author: Shomprakash Sinha Roy
Pros: Narration, vocabulary, quality of writing, freshness of story
Cons: Slightly disappointing climax
Rating: 4 on 5

Story 17
Title: The last one
Author: Ishita Das
Pros: Lots of emotions, good writing
Cons: Nothing as such
Rating: 3.5 on 5

Story 18
Title: Lessons of a father to his daughter
Authors: Paromita Bardoloi and Ricardo Vaz
Pros: A nice little story about goodness and how kindness gets repaid
Cons: Average writing
Rating: 2.5 on 5

Story 19
Title:Colours of Gratitude
Author: Kalyani Manojna
Pros: Simple story with a lot of heart, excellent writing and great language
Cons: Apparently nothing
Rating: 3.5 on 5

Story 20
Title: Reality Check
Author: Anjali Kirpalani
Pros: Engaging writing
Cons: Mediocre story, average narration
Rating: 2.5 on 5

Story 21
Title: A rare sight
Author: Namrata
Pros: Touching story, simple and uncomplicated with a warm end
Cons: Technical mistakes- like proofreading errors, minor mistakes of usage of words, like use of ‘off’ instead of ‘of’
Rating: 3 on 5

Story 22
Title: Six rupees
Author: Husna Advani
Pros: Crisp, arresting, a brilliant finish
Cons: a couple of grammatical errors
Rating: 4 on 5

Story 23
Title: Love Thy Neighbour
Author: Privy S
Pros: Original story, good climax
Cons: Mediocre narration and writing
Rating: 2.5 on 5

Story 24
Title: An act of kindness
Author: Sachin Garg
Pros: Good start, some quirky dialogues
Cons: Ending seemed hurried, lacked that ‘wow’ factor
Rating: 3 on 5

Story 25
Title: Santa for Christmas
Author: Drishti Dasgupta
Pros: Powerful touching story, even pacing, makes an impact
Cons: Nothing really
Rating: 3.5 on 5

~Ritesh Agarwal

Saturday, February 8, 2014

In the bath tub with Maria- An erotic short story

I pulled off my T-shirt and stepped inside the bath. Maria was already sitting in the tub with her slender legs spread out luxuriously.  For a moment, I admired her grace from far. Then, as if by invitation, I lifted my sodden jeans, crossed over and got into the tub. Maria threw me a glance. It was one of those enigmatic looks for which I never seem to have an answer. I discerned a small curve in her lips, though I could not be sure if that was a smile.

The water felt warm. Or perhaps it was her skin. She inched closer. I peeled off her socks and undid her yellow top. It came off easily and she shuddered in the cold. I wanted to soap her but she wouldn't let me, at least not so early. I looked into her eyes. She looked into mine. I ran my fingers on the nape of her neck. She moaned in delicious pain. 

Sensing an opportunity, I poured warm water over her back. She quivered but relented.
My jeans felt heavy, now drenched in water. She dug her nails into my arms, responding to her natural instincts. Her skin felt soft against mine. Despite her killer charm, she was a lady of grace.

I picked the soap and gingerly rubbed it over her breast. She moaned, protested and loathed the sensation. But finally surrendered with a soft purr.

6 questions, 6 answers: An interview with Tikuli, author of ‘Collection of Chaos’

Blogger-turned-author Tikuli

Q1. Tell us something about your book ‘Collection of Chaos’? How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

‘Collection of Chaos’ is a journey inside the poet's mind, her life and all that surrounds it. Each poem has emerged from the complex interactions of heart and mind, the struggles of daily life and a search for oneself beneath all the role playing. The book wasn't conceived as a whole but it's a patchwork quilt of poems.
It isn't just the product of disciplined hard work and learning with an open mind but also of great mentorship. They say that when the student is ready, the master appears and I have been blessed to find teachers who not only helped me evolve but also stood by me when everyone including myself had given up on me. They had a profound impact on me as a writer and as a person. Sometimes you need more than your own power to make things happen. This book could not have happened without the support, encouragement and friendship that made me trust those people implicitly.  An artistic evolution is a dream work and each dream work is a team work.

Q2. When was it that you found your call in writing?

We are all story tellers. Sometimes we know it, sometimes we don't. Writing is a vital tool in healing, in connecting with oneself and others. I began serious writing some seven or eight years back when a friend on a social network group encouraged me to showcase some of my writing online. Until then I wove my stories and poems either in my mind or on pieces of paper. The exposure to internet opened up the world to me and allowed me to learn things I would otherwise have known little about. It was when I read and interacted with poets and writers from across the world that the urge to seriously write actually began to emerge. You may find it amusing that my actual apprenticeship began with these virtual people (who later became good friends). It is through them I found my calling. Blogging was an immense help in allowing me to connect with fellow writers and learn from their constructive comments. It has been five years since I started my blog and it has been a wonderful platform from which to offer my work to the readers. 

Q3. For a debut writer getting published is not usually easy. What kind of issues did you face?

Yes, for a debut writer getting published is not easy but I have been fortunate. There are few people who are prepared to help you realize your potential and achieve one of your biggest dreams. I found a mentor who not just helped me break my mental barriers but also gave me the opportunity to publish them so you can all read them. I owe the existence of this book to James Goddard, my mentor, editor and publisher and also Kris Saknussemm who helped me take the first steps in learning and has been the wind beneath my wings. Nurturing is a tough job. It takes absolute selflessness, a lot of patient understanding and tough love. I found them all including a warm friendship in him.

Q4. If you could be one author (someone other than yourself, of course) who would you like to be?

I don't think I would want to be any other author in particular. I would rather learn from reading a variety of authors and develop my own style.

Q5. You have got published earlier as well. Please familiarize your readers with your previous works.

Yes, I have been published online and in print previously.
Some of my poems and stories have been part of the famed Chicken Soup For Indian Romantic Soul (Westland), Ripples- An anthology of short stories by Indian women writers, Posy of Poetry- A poetry anthology from Guntur national poetry festival.
Online my works have appeared in Le Zaporogue, Mnemosyne Literary Journal, The Enchanting Verses (issue-x), Trabadour21, The Smoking Book (Poets Wear Prada Press), MiCrow8, Bamboo Lounge, Ginger Chai etc. Some of my articles/poems have also appeared on websites related to gender issues like Women's Web.

Q6. Coming back to your book, what kind of reactions have you received from it? And what next?

I've received a few positive initial responses and a mini review but it's still too early to say what the longer term reaction would be.  

 What next ?
To continue evolving as a writer. A book of short stories perhaps. Let's see.

About Tikuli:

Brought up in Delhi in a family of  liberal educationists Tikuli is a mother of two sons. She is also a  blogger and author. Some of her short stories and poems have appeared in print and in online journals and literary magazines including Le Zaparougue, MiCROW 8, Trobadour 21, The Smoking Book (Poets Wears Prada Press, US), The Enchanting Verses Literary Review,  Mnemosyne Literary Journal, Women's Web. She blogs at  Some of her print publications include  poems in Guntur National Poetry Festival Anthology and much acclaimed Chicken Soup For The Indian Romantic Soul. Her work has also been featured on websites related to gender issues and child sexual abuse.  She blog at

Please buy/check out her book here

Friday, February 7, 2014

3 reasons why to attend the Delhi Literature Festival 2014

Image source: Google

What: Delhi Literature Festival (2nd edition)

When: 7th-9th February, 2014

Where: Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts, NewDelhi

Why the hullaballoo: Because, it’s a festival which celebrates books, authors and literature in general

Who should attend: Readers, book lovers, authors, budding authors, book-hoarders and You

What to expect: Stimulating, exciting, engaging and enlightening discussions and literary sessions on books (and writing) served with delicious dollops of humour

3 reasons why to attend the Delhi Literature Festival 2014:

Reason 1) To interact with published novelists, publishers and intellectual people from the literary world

Reason 2) To make friends. *Happiness is to find someone who loves the same books you love*

Reason 3) To get a direct peep into the path of getting published. If you aspire to pen your own book (anthology, novel, cookery book, parental book, et al), this festival will tell you all about the ups and downs of the journey

Star presence of the festival: Arvind Kejriwal (in an Interview with journalist Barkha Dutt) on 9th February, Sunday, 7 pm.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Inside the heart of JK Rowling

Image source:

Trust JK Rowling to send millions into a tizzy every time she airs her thoughts on Harry Potter. Her legion of fans had jubilantly frenzied over her revelation of Dumbledore's sexual preferences a few years back. Now, once again, after a period of great calm, Rowling has brewed up the proverbial storm. So, when quizzed about the appropriateness of Ron and Hermione's relationship, the author gave away a piece of her heart as she disclosed how she linked up the two characters purely in pursuit of a personal ambition. She admitted that Ron and Hermione were the kind of couple whose marriage will easily run into a thick wall and will necessitate counselling.

Rowling sent another shockwave across her sea of followers as she articulated that in true literary sense, Harry (and not Ron) should have married Hermione. But she stuck to the Ron-Hermione pairing in the book since this is what she had envisioned at the beginning and her vision had less to do with a literary obligation but more to do with her own dire wish to get the two of them marry each other.

This perhaps gives us a peek into Rowling's heart, which must have undergone deep melancholy after her estrangement with her first husband. Though she did not admit it in explicit words as such, it does appear that she yearned for a happy fairytale ending for Ron; something she herself felt deprived of. It also goes to show how literary characters are often a partially-baked alter ego of their own creators. In fact, the writers are often as intriguing, if not more, as their most convoluted characters. Really, there is no better way of describing a writer...

~Ritesh Agarwal

Saturday, February 1, 2014

55 word story: Something of me

Image source: Here

I observe Rosie on the sly.

 I have blue eyes, she has black. I have hooked nose, she has square. I am blonde, she is a brunette.

Completely like her father, not a wee bit like me.

And then she trips, hits the vase, knocks it over.

And I squeal delightedly,

 ‘Hey, there I am’

Share please

How many stars?