F for Fiction : #A to Z Challenge

As a writer, for me F is for Fiction. You know as well as I do as to what is fiction and what is not.  What impresses me most about fiction, both as a reader as well as a writer, is how the writer crafts a story using his/her imagination. There are all kinds of stories. Fast-paced thrillers, melodramatic romances, and of course  humorous ones like those written by one whom I consider to be the finest writer of the English language, Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse. To each his own. There are different genres which could appeal to you. About. com has this article which could help you to choose a particular genre.

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E for Escapes : #A to Z Challenge

E is for Escapes as I remember “Escapes from Prisoner of War camps” when I think of the letter “E” today. As a kid, I read as many books about the Second World War as I could. I particularly loved Paul Brickhill’s “Reach For The Sky” the story of Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader, the legless fighter hero of the Royal Air Force. I was totally impressed that even after he was shot down over France and taken prisoner by the Germans, he continued to harass them in ways he could as he believed it was the duty of every POW to do his best to escape. Bader couldn’t do much because of his disability in the actual digging of tunnels but he was vociferous in what was called “goon baiting.”

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D for Diary: #A to Z Challenge

The first thing that came to my mind when I reached D was “D for Dialogues” but then I noticed I had used this in the 2011 A to Z Challenge.  Having decided not to use the same theme for even one of the alphabets, I needed to think of something else.  So this year, I am going with D for Diary as I have been writing diaries ever since I can remember.

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A for April: #A to Z Challenge

Today is the start of the Blogging A to Z Challenge in which I am participating after a break of a couple of years. Did you know that some 1800 bloggers from all over the world are participating in this event? I am proud to be one of them and have chosen to go without a particular theme this time.

Seeing that the challenge starts off on April 1, A has to be for April . Today, April 1, is celebrated as April’s Fools Day or All Fools Day in many parts of the world. Friends pull each other’s legs with pranks and everyone has a good laugh. With so much tension and stress around us, I think April Fool’s Day is a great stress buster. Of course, much of the enjoyment depends on whether or not you are on the receiving end of the prank.

Decades ago when I was working in Mumbai (then called Bombay), some of us decided to teach a lesson to a colleague who was very stuffy and looked down on our easy-going attitude. He used to mutter, “Grow up, fellows. You are no longer at school,” whenever we cracked jokes or had a laugh which was very often.

There were no emails in the ’70s and one morning he found a hand written message slip on his desk that the Big Chief, the General Manager of our Division wanted to see him at 9.00  a.m. the next morning. We youngsters and, I suspect, most of our seniors too, were terrified of the General Manager who was a nice person in his own way but a strict disciplinarian. Our colleague didn’t mention about the note , nor did anyone else. The next day at 9.00 a.m. sharp he presented himself at the GM’s office. The Executive Secretary to the GM who wielded almost as much power as he did, stared at him in a cold manner. She asked what brought him there so early in the morning as she had just walked in after a harrowing journey on the local trains which most of us used in Bombay. Our friend said he wanted to meet the GM. She said he can’t be seen without prior appointment. He said, ” He wants to see me. ” She replied, “I decide who gets to meet him.” When in triumph he showed her the message slip, she laughed loudly, bringing work in that part of the building to a standstill. “You poor fool. Someone has made an ass of you. I don’t blame them for it. Today is April 1. In any case, the boss is in Tokyo and he can’t see you or anyone else.”

Coming back to A  for  April, I find that April is the month for the National Poetry Writing Month, where poets write a poem a day. I guess this is much like NaNoWriMo where we writers write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November each other. I am thrilled that I have successfully completed NaNoWriMo for five consecutive years. Frankly, I believe writing a poem every day for a whole month is far more difficult than writing a 50,000 word novel in a month. To each his own, I guess.


All Set For The A to Z Challenge


You may have seen my earlier post which speaks of the Blogging A to Z Challenge I await this as excitedly as I am sure many do from all over the world. When I last checked, I found that 1800 blogs/bloggers were already registered for the mega event. I use the term blogs/bloggers because some bloggers have more than one blog in the fray!

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Z for Zeal

Zeal or zest mean more to me than zebra or zoo which were the other two words starting with Z that came into my mind. The days have flown past , we have reached the last letter of the alphabet. I can’t believe that the Blogging from A-Z  Challenge will soon come to an end! Z then for me is for zeal. The dictionary tells us it means ” intense enthusiasm, ardor or fervor”.

Apart from everything else, doesn’t the word itself sound good?  Some words like zeal and zip sound really positive. When you say ” He does it with zeal” one can literally imagine the energetic and enthusiastic approach to the task at hand. Zeal knows no barrier of age, background or disability. The feats done by some people irrespective of their being physically challenged are astonishing. As a child, I remember hearing stories of Wilma Rudolph who had a polio afflicted left leg but went on to become a champion athlete. In the 1960 Rome Olympics she was a trail blazer winning the 100 and 200 metres dashes and anchoring her team to a gold in the 400 metres relay. She became a role model for many aspiring athletes.

This is not to suggest for a moment that zeal is restricted to people with physical disabilities. There are many who have come up from crippling circumstances, overcoming great odds to become eminently successful in their careers. You will know of many such examples so there is no need for me to list them here.

To my mind, any and all of us have it within ourselves to demonstrate zeal. One need not be specially gifted to display it. Be it writing a novel, preparing for a competitive examination, pursuing a career or carrying out our responsibilities to our families, we can do all of these as if they are a pain or we can do them with zeal. Often zeal is that factor that sets the winners apart from the ordinary.

I know you cannot generalize but it’s interesting that psychologically most of us have a lot of zeal for things that we like doing. If you an avid runner, you would think nothing of doing the marathon. You won’t have the same kind of zeal for  say, collecting stamps. Conversely the accomplished philatelist may be unlikely to have the same zeal as the runner for the marathon!

I am happy that I participated in the Blogging A-Z Challenge. I am glad too that for me it ends with Z for Zeal. May this give me the zeal to contnue writing even without the “pressure” of having to post every day as part of this challenge. I enjoyed writing 500 words per day for the last one month thanks to this initiative. The challenge ahead is to continue this practice until it becomes a habit with me.

To my fellow participants who have successfully completed the Blogging A-Z challenge, here is a message :

” A Bouquet of Compliments for your Dedicated Efforts to Finish this Great challenge. Here’s wishing you Incredible Joy. Keep Looking for More New Opportunities to Participate.  Quit Reneging! Look for Success and Tell your Unique stories. Very Warm Wishes for that something eXtra that made You complete the A-Z Challenge. Your Zeal!”

Y for Yesterday

The word “yesterday” has for me quaint feelings of nostalgia. Could it be fuelled by the words of that old favourite of the same name by the Beatles?  The 1965 song written by Paul McCartney became one of the biggest hits of all time. When I caught myself humming it this morning ( no, not singing it, I am  a lousy singer) I realized it was still appealing despite the five decades and more since it first burst on the charts.

The problem about yesterdays in general is that they are focussed on the past. Dwelling on the past is pointless unless you can do something about it. They say the best lessons we learn come from adversity and out of bad times. If we learn these lessons well, we would have gained from adversity instead of sitting around and waiting for it to happen again. Old phrases like “There’s no use crying over spilt milk” sort of sums it up. No amount of whining can bring back the past. Even if you stand on your head, the day that’s gone by, has gone by.

Interestingly, the word “Yesterday”  conjures up different images from the past not restricted to the day before today! Doesn’t your memory pick up incidents connected from different time periods? Don’t you get carried away from one memory to another until you land up in something that happened many years ago, which you were reminded of because of something that happened yesterday?

I was thinking the other day that people generally fall into two categories: those who are past focussed and those who are future focussed. The former dwell inordinately long in the past. They spend large amounts of time thinking about ‘it might have been” and  “if only I have done this instead of that” and things like that. The same stories and incidents are pulled out, viewed from sixteen different angles and analyzed to death. This is a waste of time, because you can’t do anything about what has already happened.

Those who are future focussed don’t spend much time in the past. They like to think about the future. They look ahead at the things that need to be done. They don’t waste time enjoying the past or bitching about it. They are full  of plans for what lies ahead. The operative word is hope for the future.

I realize that all of us do not necessarily fall squarely in one or the other categories. Surely the person who dwells on the past does think of the future sometimes, even if it is with dread. And yes, the person who thinks of the future also thinks of the past. Usually with a ” I won’t let that happen” again kind of resolve.

It is entirely possible that my state of health has something to do with this philosophy. Having had a heart attack in 2005 and undergone heart surgery in 2010, I guess time has new meaning for me. Every day is there to be enjoyed. Make the most of it because it won’t come back-ever!

I guess no one could have put it better than Khalil Gibran when he wrote “Yesterday is today’s memory. Tomorrow is today’s dream”.