Yes, we have come to the end of the alphabet in our A to Z Blogging Challenge. There aren’t too many words that start with Z anyway so I shall write about the first thing that comes to my mind, which is Z for Zombie. As a writer of thrillers I find the idea quite fascinating. In day-to-day speech, we do use phrases like ” he looked alike a zombie” but what actually does the term mean?
When I first started reading about the World Wars, one event that had a great impact on me was the story of Allied troops facing poison gas attacks. For me, therefore, today Y is for Ypres, the scene of many a battle in Belgium during the First World War. There were heavy casualties on both sides. Amongst the thousands who were wounded here was a Corporal in the German Army, a man called Adolf Hitler who was awarded the Iron Cross for rescuing a wounded comrade. Battles were won and lost as the two sides jockeyed for control of the terrain around Ypres. The last shell fell on Ypres in October 1918. It is estimated that in the area around Ypres over 1,700,000 soldiers on both sides were killed or wounded apart from an uncounted number of civilians.
Many years ago I had the opportunity to visit the facilities of the Xerox Corporation in Rochester, New York and so for me today X is for Xerox. This is a proper noun , one of the few I may add, which has become a generic word for a copyrighted name and one which has become so well-known as to be used as a verb! “I’ll send you a Xerox” is as commonly heard as, ” I’ll Xerox this for you.”
Xerox was started some 75 years ago when Chester Carlson seventy-five years ago, Chester Carlson created an easier way to duplicate information on paper. Named “xerography,” his invention revolutionized how information is shared and, ultimately, how office work gets done. The process, like many others devised over the years by the Xerox Corporation has made our lives so much easier.
V for me is for Vikrant, the one time pride of the Indian Navy which has now been towed away to a scrap yard. INS Vikrant started life as the Royal Navy’s HMS Hercules and was launched in September 1945. She was sold to India in 1957 and formally joined the Indian Navy in 1961. She was then the pride of the Indian Navy. My maternal uncle was one amongst the many who served aboard her during her prime.
As a Second World War freak, for me U has to be for U-Boats, those menacing destroyers of Allied shipping which Hitler used so effectively in the first part of the war. Most historians agree that all through 1939 to 1942 the U-Boats were feared for their sudden attacks as Allied convoys ran the risk of running into packs of U-Boats in the Atlantic waters. It was only after 1943, when Allied bombing severely damaged U-boat pens in Europe and brought the production of U-Boats down from a flood to a stutter that things began to change. Convoys became safer at sea and Allied Navies grew as the strength of the German Kriegsmarine waned. The Battle of the Atlantic raged on and was finally won by the Allies but at great cost: the Allies lost 3,500 merchant ships and 175 warships were sunk for the loss of 783 U-boats.
I have always admired the tiger, from far and in pictures of course, so for me today T is for Tiger. Did you know that some decades ago, the tiger came perilously close to becoming extinct in India? In 1972 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi started Project Tiger there were only about 230 tigers left in India. A sad commentary of affairs because at the turn of the 20th century, India was estimated to have some 100,000 tigers. Large scale hunting of them as a sport by the British who then ruled India and by the Indian royalty brought down their numbers rapidly.
Frankly, I don’t know too much about today’s popular singers. When I think back of the music and songs that I have loved, the names of Simon and Garfunkel come to my mind, so for me today S is for Simon and Garfunkel. To better appreciate their songs and music you must know something about those far away days in the ’60s. I think their story is so well described in their website.
I have always been fascinated by the Royalty so for me today R is for the Royalty. In the United Kingdom, I hear that there are mixed reactions to the Royalty. Some believe this ancient tradition should be carried on irrespective of the costs involved as they are a part of British heritage and culture. Others feel that today’s world has no need for the Royalty more so when they play largely ceremonial roles. As you know, in a parliamentary democracy, even the Queen has to abide by the advice of her Council of Ministers. This article in the BBC explains why the British seem to love their Monarchy.
Q for me has to be for Quitting. Not quitting in general but this is about how I quit smoking and I hope my example could encourage someone somewhere to do the same. This 2007 post in my blog, ‘People at Work & Play” proudly proclaimed that as on that date I had remained Quit for 1514 days. More than six years have gone by since then and I haven’t sat down to count how more days have been added to that score.
A few key dates remain engraved in my mind. The first is July 4, 2003 easy to remember because it is the day the United States got Independence and I got independence from the clutches of this addiction. I went to NIMHANS in Bangalore where I live, curious to know what would happen in a Smoking Cessation Clinic. At 2.00 p.m. that day, I smoked my last cigarette. The initial days were excruciating as I was attempting to kick off a deeply ingrained habit. I had, after all, smoked for more than 30 years and you can’t break free from such a strong addiction so easily.
I once again would like to express my gratitude to ” buddies” in QuitNet who encouraged me, just as I encouraged them. I don’t know how many of them have remained away from cigarettes. I hope at least some of them , like me, have managed to break away from thus habit which is known to cause so many health hazards.
In 2005 I had a heart attack and in 2010 underwent a coronary artery bypass surgery. I am fine now, under the circumstances, but I often think that things may have become far worse had I not stopped smoking that afternoon way back in 2003.
I started blogging in 2006 and today for me P is for “People at Work & Play” one of my earliest blogs. At that time I was a practising Human Resources professional. I had a small consulting firm called “People 1st Consulting” and it was natural that most posts were related to issues concerning career, work/life balance, talent acquisition & development and the like.