Reflections- #AtoZChallenge

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]

How does it feel when you attempt an examination which you have no clue about, but eventually come out with flying colors? That’s exactly how I feel regarding my attempt of this year’s #AtoZChallenge! It has been an AMAZING experience filled with wonder, anxiety, excitement and a sense of contentment.

Little Background: I started blogging (on a serious note) in mid February, 2016. My initial months of blogging majorly included exploring WordPress and it’s wonderful bloggers, besides writing once in a while. But I wanted to develop a habit of writing meaningful, thoughtful content and not just for the heck of it! For a newbie, it is definitely a challenge to write and post regularly, without pondering 101 times before clicking the publish button. I wanted to get over this nerve wracking moment before posting, broaden my thought process and develop a habit of writing regularly irrespective of life’s challenges. This made me take up the AtoZChallenge, which I first came across in mid March. The very first time I came to know about it, I was pretty sure it wasn’t my cup of tea. Why? Because I knew, I can never write daily nor come up continuously with meaningful content for 26 days. Hence, I ignored the challenge.

A week before April 1st, my reader was full of posts featuring themes for the #AtoZChallenge. Having a theme, sounds so cool, I thought. It narrows down your thought process and makes it easier to focus on topics within the theme. The excitement going around in the blogging community before the challenge, enticed me and made me sign up on 31st March, without second thoughts. I was towards the end of the list and had no idea if I’ll ever survive through the challenge at least midway. But Voila! Who knew?! And I did complete my very first blogging and #AtoZ challenge!

These are a few takeaways from my first writing challenge, ever!

Increased Readership:

Ever since I started participating in this challenge, the number of views, comments, hits increased tremendously! Not only did bloggers from WordPress take time to read and comment, but also did bloggers from other blogging platforms. I would owe the instant hike of my followers, likes or hits to this challenge. Numbers may not matter much, but they definitely boost an amateur’s confidence and do encourage bloggers to keep the momentum going.

Thinking out of ‘your’ box:

This challenge has made me think beyond my capability and comfort zone. Since I had no theme, I was open to a vast ocean of subjects. But this did not help me much as I ended up getting too confused on what to write about.

What I loved about the challenge was, I was forced to think each day, to come up with meaningful content. While, writing every day was part of the hurdle, knowing what to write about was another. I realized my potential of pondering and writing beyond what I ever imagined. This definitely helped me improve my writing skills and thought process.

Instilled Belief:

When I signed up for the challenge in the last minute, I had no idea what I would be writing about, every day. Nor was I sure that I would survive through this challenge. But as I started, I thought throughout the day, during my work on what to write. I took time to actually write, during the nights. It was definitely challenging when life came in between, with strict deadlines and accusations from loved ones about not spending quality time with them! Because, I was stressed about hitting the publish button before the clock strikes 12 and spent more time with my phone, typing!

Amidst all this, this challenge has instilled a strong belief in me, that no matter what comes in the way, I can definitely concentrate on one thing I love and succeed in the end! Part of my reason for blogging was to do what I love, to pursue my interest for writing and art. I realized I can, in spite of all the ways life can make you give up! This challenge made me determined and reminded me of what I was capable of, even during odd times!

What I could do better:

I wish I made time to read and comment on more blogs than I actually did. Due to the lack of time for coming up with my posts, I hardly had the chance to dig into more blogs, apart from the weekends. I wish I could explore more! But it was wonderful exchanging comments with fellow #AtoZ challengers.

I wish I signed up much ahead, so that I could come up with a theme, or at least prepare on what I would be writing for each alphabet. This would have saved time and would have been less stressful during busy days. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this ‘last-minute’, nervousness to think and write by the end of the day. Made me realize that I can work just fine under pressure too.

The encouragement:

The organizers of the challenge did a great job by keeping the bloggers updated. The Facebook page with comments for each alphabet, has allowed me to explore blogs and read posts with similar topics, but different takes. It was very kind of the organizers to take time to drop in their thoughts on few of the posts, once in a while. My first challenge has been a wonderful learning experience and I have no complains with the #AToZChallenge whatsoever.

I met few amazing bloggers and made wonderful friends during this stint of mine. I received great encouragement from many bloggers, that stopped me from giving up! Special mention to Gary and bloggeray, who have followed me through out and never felt tired of taking time to comment on each and every post of mine! You have no idea how much this means to me! Thank you!! 🙂

I would highly encourage every blogger to take up this challenge, just to make them remind themselves of what they are capable of. If you haven’t participated, please do consider signing up next year. Congratulations to all the survivors!! 🙂

The complete list of entries through the challenge-> AtoZChallenge- 2016

 

Zootopia- #AtoZChallenge


If there is one alphabet that I was sure of what to write about during the AtoZChallenge, it has to be Z. Ever since I watched the movie Zootopia two months ago, I wanted to put down my thoughts about it. It’s been a while since I felt like writing about any movie, especially animated. For some reason, I get more influenced by animated movies with animals in them. May be because I feel more stimulated with emotions, when portrayed through animals. One such movie that moved me after The Lion King, was Disney’s Zootopia! This is not a generalizing review on the movie, but about why I liked it.

Image Source: Google

Anyone can be anything” in Zootopia.

This being the theme of the movie, Zootopia is a big city where every creature, from the biggest elephant to the tiniest rodent live in harmony. The city is presented more or less like New York, with high skyscrapers and busy lives.

There is this bunny, Judy Hopps living in the countryside who dreams of becoming a police officer, inspite of the society threatening her that it’s no good for bunnies. Judy moves to Zootopia for her first job posting and is the only tiny animal and the first rabbit cop in a class full of bulls, tigers and muscular carnivores who fit the bill of belonging to the Police Department. Given her size, she is underestimated and is assigned with parking duty, even though she graduates as a topper at the Policy Academy.

With unfavorable events turning up, Judy encounters a case and is challenged by her boss to take up the case. In order to be considered seriously at the Policy Department, Judy agrees to solve the mystery. Now, she is forced to work with a witty street smart Fox, named Nick Wilde. He helps her with the case and an ample number of twists turn up as the case is solved, eventually leading to a bigger mystery than expected. How Judy solves the case and emerges a hero with Nick’s help is an old wine in a new bottle. But there were certain aspects that I loved in the movie:

Busting the stereotypes:

The movie was all about showcasing beyond the typical. First, a female protagonist, next a bunny. A female rabbit who wants to become a police officer, something very unsual. The societal pressure of discouragement when an underdog wants to achieve something beyond their clan’s imagination was aptly captured!

Why should a Fox be always considered a cunning animal? Breaking this stereotype, the movie depicts how a fox suffers all it’s life due to lack of trust and just with the fear of being labelled as cunning by all the other animals. Something synonymous with the real world. Humans are pretty good at labelling or judging, specially based on established standards and perceptions. This movie tries to bust that notion.

Attention to detail:

Zootopia is no way less than New York! They have the busiest transportation system feasible to every shape and size of the animal world. There are special areas for special breeds. The malls, streets sound similar to those of real big cities. For instance, little mouses shop at Mousy’s just like our Macy’s. The Police Department very well imitated the NYPD. While our world went crazy with the evolution of Apple and it’s half eaten apple logo, Judy Hopps skypes her family once in a while from Zootopia in her iPhone with a half eaten carrot logo! May be they too had an evolution of a Carrot company that has been a pioneer with innovation! I felt giving importance to such tiny details that just pass over in a jiffy and usually go unnoticed, was impressive.

I would do no justice while talking about this movie and not mention the ‘Sloth’ episode at DMV. This was the most hilarious scenes I have watched in recent times! Genuinely entertaining, without pretentious humor. I bet no one would watch this scene without bursting out into laughter!

Motivational theme:

Anyone can do anything! How cool is that! The movie wonderfully showcases how an underdog emerges a hero against all odds, with mere determination and positive outlook. The society never stops reminding us about who we are and where we come from, but our ability to think and achieve beyond what society labels, leads us to real victory!

If you haven’t watched this movie, please do watch it! It’s fun and enlightening.


Yearlong Yearning- #AtoZChallenge


It was one foggy morning in the month of October. Rohan woke up to the sound of bursting firecrackers in the neighbourhood. The fog was only an illusion created from the continuous burning of fireworks. It was Diwali- The festival of lights and prosperity. Rohan was much excited for Diwali than usual this time, as it has arrived a month earlier compared to the previous year. Not because he can light firecrackers in advance, but because his yearlong yearning to see his dad has come down by a month!

Rohan’s dad lives in the Middle East and Diwali is the only time he visits his family every year. As Rohan’s mom was busy preparing festival delicacies in the kitchen, Rohan jumped around the house with anticipation for his dad. “When will he be here?? I can’t wait to see him!!”, yells Rohan, doing fake cartwheel stunts with excitement. “So do I dear! He should be here by afternoon. Meanwhile, go burst some firecrackers with your friends”, his mom replied while deep frying some savories. “Nooo, I’ll burst them with Papa. He promised he’ll teach me to burn the new rockets this time. I can’t wait!!”, screamed Rohan.

It was half past six in the evening. Rohan’s dad was still not home. Rohan hasn’t stopped pestering his mother about his dad’s arrival. His mom has been trying to reach Rohan’s dad since hours, but in vain. The air of excitement began to fade. They actually began to worry, as they came to know the flights have landed on time. Rohan’s mother was tensed and felt pity looking at her 9 year old’s yearning for his dad. All the festival sweets and savories were lying on the table sans attention. Rohan’s mom was busy enquiring his dad’s friends back in the Middle East, while he looked helplessly at his mother.

At quarter past 9 p.m, the door bell rang. Rohan rushed to the door, while his mother was on the phone. “Papa!!!”, yelled Rohan and hugged his dad. His elation had no bounds. His yearning for yearlong has finally come to an end. “What happened?? I couldn’t reach you, we were so worried!”, Rohan’s mom inquired. “I missed my connecting flight and had no time to either recharge my battery dead phone nor call you to inform. I had to board as soon as I got the new ticket. Also, I thought this would make a nice surprise!”, Rohan’s dad replied winking. “This is not a pleasant surprise!”, his mom bawled. The excitement was back in the air, with a sense of relief. Rohan clinged to his dad and was living the moment, a moment he has been waiting for, since a year! “Ready to burst some rockets son?!”, his dad asked, while holding him tight. “Yes Papa, I’ve been ready since last Diwali!”, Rohan replied with a twinkle in his eye.

Xerox- #AtoZChallenge

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I was eight years old when I first encountered the word- ‘Xerox’. My family moved to another city on my dad’s transfer. By the time I joined a new school in the new city, it had been 2 months already since the academic year started. So I had to catch up on all the notes I missed. When I approached my teacher about the same, she suggested to get all the missed notes ‘xeroxed’. I wasn’t aware what in the world it meant. Nor did I have the courage to ask her for confirmation. But I felt I read or heard the word earlier, though I wasn’t sure when or how.

I told my mom about what the teacher suggested on my missed classwork. She nodded casually and said, “We’ll get it done over the weekend.”What does getting xeroxed mean?”, I asked out of curiosity. “Just to create a copy”, my mom replied. It’s finally weekend and I accompanied my mom to get my friend’s notes xeroxed. As we walked towards the shop, I saw the shop’s name titled ‘XEROX’ in all capitals. Ahaan! So, this was how I knew the word, the names of stores get registered in the mind sometimes. There are a plenty of Xerox stores across every street in every city. So, it’s highly unusual even for a kid to be unaware of the word. I stood watching the machine create ‘xeroxes’ of the notebook pages one after the other. First experience with anything (even Xerox) remains very memorable, isn’t it?

Ever since, for years, I’ve been visiting the stores to get Xerox. At some point during my high school, I came to know that the word Xerox was not a verb. And that, it was actually a company’s name that manufactures the photocopier machine. I was enlightened about the right word ‘photo copy’  only then! For some reason, I was surprised. I started wondering how a company’s name can be actually floating around as a verb so well, that even the stores have it as their official names to create a photo copy? Oh well, may be that’s the brand value! Since then, whenever I hear someone saying the word xerox for getting a photocopy, there comes an instant smile on my face, which is rather misunderstood.

Years later, when I google the word Xerox, it actually gave me the results saying it is an “act of copying using xerographic copying process.” Oh, so now it’s officially a verb! The Xerox Corporation was actually worried about the brand becoming a ‘generic word’ and started advertising on how xerox does not mean photo copying, but a  machine that creates one! It’s impressive how major well known brand names turn out to become verbs. May be it’s a way to portray how well they conquered the world and made us dependent on them!

Next time you hear yourself or someone uttering, “I googled for the place” (Just like I mentioned about googling for the word Xerox!) or “I shall Skype you next week”, remember that they aren’t verbs, even though they’ve earned a place in the urban dictionary!

 

 

 

 

WordPress World – #AtoZChallenge

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WordPress has been one of the best things that has happened to me in recent times. Like everyone else on WordPress, my passion to write landed me here. However, I had no idea what I had in store, nor did I know what to expect. All I knew was that I have too many things running in my head and I need a medium to let it out in a ‘structured’ manner. I wanted to share personal stories and experiences that motivated me to be a better person and also made me gain a better perspective of life. Also to remind how powerful our psyche is and how it is the ultimate solution to every problem. This was my sole reason for getting here on WordPress, apart from the writing bug. Also, how can someone be good at something without actually trying? Thus I began blogging, to hone my writing skills, to get inspired from others work and to keep learning in every way possible!

All I thought about WordPress was that it is a platform to pour in your thoughts/ opinions/ arguments/ discussions, DIYs or a web space to showcase your talent in photography and art. Little did I know that it was way more than what I assumed. Once I created a WordPress account, I started digging in the innumerable themes and options available. Being a web application developer, I know the pain behind the scenes of these fancy themes and the user friendliness of this website. I could not stop admiring how such a complex application was developed to appear so simple and ‘easy to use’ to the user. I got inspired and was reminded of my distant dream of having a web space of my own (created/developed by me) on my own domain. Until then, WordPress it is! 😀

Once the developer in me subsided, I got back to wearing my creative hat. I started exploring and following fellow bloggers. It was wonderful to see how everyone is not only unique but also like-minded at the same time. As I started getting used to this new routine of mine and took to the ‘impossible’ of writing regularly, I was astounded by the community spirit that WordPress offered. I felt encouraged, relieved and most of all secured! Something that I don’t find other social networking sites offering.

I always believed I had some meaningful thoughts that I need to share. Thoughts that might help others to perceive life better or motivate them towards optimism or gratitude, just like how I got inspired from reading others work. But I never dared to post such thoughts on Facebook/ Twitter or any of those social networking places with hundreds of friends, who I have known for long in my real life. Why? Is it because of my fear of being judged? Or my feeling of being abandoned? Or may be I was just insecure? I don’t know. It is a naked truth that no matter what we write, we want someone out there to read. It is an irony, that I feel more secure sharing here on WordPress among strangers, rather than among real people I know or through my social media profiles. I wonder if it’s the power of anonymity or the positive atmosphere in WordPress or both!

The community here is so very encouraging and inspiring which I find lacking in other social platforms. Networking and ‘give-take’ policy is another important aspect that I’ve learned and enjoyed during my 2 month stint with WordPress. Just like many others, I got to meet some amazing people from across the globe, read their awesome work and learn from their writings.

500 likes- This has been my first accomplishment in 2months since I started here on WordPress. I don’t know if it’s considered an achievement as per blogging standards, but it indeed was overwhelming for an amateur like me when this popped up in my notifications. It is indeed a great source of motivation for someone who had no idea what WordPress was all about, or how wonderful people are in encouraging you and letting you inhibit all your fears and doubts.

500

I’d like to thank WordPress and all my fellow bloggers for making this a part of me and my world, for encouraging and inspiring me to take up things that I always wished to, but never dared to.

Validated Values- #AtoZChallenge

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“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them all over everything you do.” – Elvis Presley

Values are deep rooted. There is significant influence of culture, religion, upbringing and awareness on values one develops as an individual. Hence they are prone to differ from person to person. But values are contingent. They are subject to change as we get older. Values are the core beliefs we trust in and believe to be ethical. As children we believe the set of values our parents and families practice. But as we grow older with increasing awareness of the world, we tend to modify our beliefs. This is because, the definition of ethical undergoes metamorphosis based on our experiences and understanding of the world.

There are instances where children from the same household or family grow up to have their own set of beliefs. While the roots are the same, their values are molded based on their different life experiences. Values are often misinterpreted and interconnected with opinions. This is a vast area that has been subject to various theories and conclusions. Opinions are the way we look at facts. But values are not based on facts. They are developed and evolve as we grow older. As long as we grow not just with respect to age, but as an individual, changed ethical values are acceptable.

But once we are clear on the set of beliefs we value, there will come a number of occurrences, that will try to make us lose them. Our values are validated. Now this is not a scenario, where we are trying to grow as an individual, but an opportunity to prove how strong we can hold on to our values. Every firm irrespective of the industry it belongs to, swears by it’s core values. There are several examples of failed companies that could not stand up to the values they believe in. The same applies to individuals. Giving preference to personal cravings over values may lead to unfavorable outcomes. No matter if the entity is a group, a firm, a family or an individual, values/ beliefs are always put to test. This is when we need to prove how strong we stand by the values we believe in, irrespective of the circumstances.

Because, “Integrity is choosing your thoughts and actions based on values rather than personal gain.”

 

 

Unexposed Urges- #AtoZChallenge

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I was sweating and puffing. It was an intense moment.

I was afraid if someone would notice. I had to be careful.

I could not control my anxiety, but I was glad I was going to do it! Finally!

I realized she was fast asleep. The pills worked.

The very moment that I’ve been planning for, was finally live in action!

Yes, I’m going to strangle her. Strangle her to death!

I was filled with rage. I’ve had enough of her nagging, emotional abuse and maltreatment. I finally took in the courage to take this extreme step after many failed attempts to negotiate. A step to break my bondage, forever, from the only pain of my life. I felt relieved.

 

Wake up!! You’re getting late for work”, she said while waking me up. “Our couple shoot picture that you posted on Facebook received 150 likes! How cool is that? By the way, why are you sweating?”, she continued.