Saturday, October 25, 2014

How To Build A Fictional World?

As writers most of us love being more in our own worlds rather than the reality. So do many of the readers when they actually try opening a locked door with "Wingardium Leviosa". But what exactly in the stories is the element that makes the world believable? We can relate to that world which is not ours as well as we relate to ours. We even learn those languages, spells and name people we dislike as Lord Voldemort. What makes some stories like Harry Potter, The Lord Of the Rings or The Matrix so profound that they though talk about a very different world are immortal through generations?

In this talk Kate Messner who writes fictional for children beautifully describes the process  of writing fiction, the points to think about etc. the video as is with all Ted Ed Talks is beautifully aided with graphics to explain you the process that will stay in your memory for long. Start playing....


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Nostalgia: Diwali A Time For Family #GharwaliDiwali

I love family gatherings especially the festive ones, mostly because family to me means meeting my grandparents and elders who would teach me a thing or two about our mythology, culture and religion, which I had previously unknown. This year being a final year of my PhD I shall not be going home for Diwali and so here is my tribute to the ones I spent earlier especially the childhood times with my maternal grandmother.

             (image courtesy: www.webneel.com)

The Fun:
As a child my utmost enthusiasm was in buying the crackers and just to prove I was the bravest amongst my cousins buy the most dangerous ones, only to be scolded by may parents again. But the earthlings started contaminating the planet and therefore me and my brother educated other people years ago not to use crackers and so that fun went away. But I still miss the fuljhadi, chakri and rocket. Rockets are nasty and you can really scare people by flying them.

The Food: The next part comes the sweets and while mom makes a few of them really well, my cousin aunt makes some more out of the world. The head of the gang is my maternal grandmother who can even make shrikhand, jalebi's, and Gujrati khajas very famous in surat). Being a child that has spent most of the time studying in hostel, Diwali time is nirvana for the soul. The other dishes my grandmother makes amazingly well is Khandvi (lovers of gujju food I am sure your mouth is watering), Khaman, Dhokla, Patra, Undhitu, Fafda, etc. Well my Jijaji came to India from the USA during Diwali and they put on 10 kgs in 2 months so you can imagine how delicious and irresistible her food is.

The Puja:  Our Kuldevi is Bhavani ma, a version of the Ma shakti or Parvati, the goddess of power. On the Kali Chaudash day we celebrate it with decorating the entire temple with diya's and sing thaal dharavanu bhajan , other bhajans and the most important one being the main aarti. The temple looks amazing and when the aarti begins you are transformed into another world. One of the purest forms of divine intervention I felt on this day. I love this puja over any other in the festive season obviously.


This year since my family is not with me we shall be celebrating it with friends and all time party partner #Pepsi. Check how you can always celebrate with pepsi https://www.gharwalidiwali.com/

I understand that Pepsi tries to bring people together through this video and I wish it was always possible. My grandma is now is in Australia and there is no way I can reach her. The Diwali was in our ancestral village where nobody lives now so cant go back. In the urban world, living our modern lives I miss on every festival the togetherness our simpler lives offered which is elusive now. I am not sure for how long world will be same, things here will be similar but as much as we can try to make the best out of times spent with family, they never come back in the same setting, either its a different place or a set of those people have gone to another world.

A very Happy Diwali to everyone reading this post.

This Post is for Indiblogger #GharWaliDiwali activity.




Sunday, October 12, 2014

#Celebrate Blogging by BlogAdda: The Game Of Blogs

An experience of team based story writing #ScribblersOrchard:

Blogadda this September came out with a very innovative concept "The Game of Blogs" wherein they made a team of bloggers (10 bloggers per team) and gave them five characters. We had to spin a tale around it. I joined it because I wanted to take up the challenge of writing a story. Being a blogger poplulary blogging about books and consulting for some publishing houses it was always a dream to write one myself, however the fear of landing up in mediocrity, of not being a good one in the first attempt stopped me. However this was a way to challenge the fear of failure and so I filled the form.

This activity was to be judged by a panel of six eminent authors with Ashwin Sanghi and Ravi Subramanian, my favourite Indian writers judging the writings of ours, novices, was thrill and kept the pressure on to write better each time. I was allotted a team where like every other team there was a difference of opinion from point one- the team name. We made a facebook group and I believe even a whats app group existed (I couldn't be a part of that as my cell phone was snatched from my hands on Delhi roads and stolen, I was very sad then and without a smart phone). However as all of us were on facebook we decided to discuss everything there. 

Coming to the team name, I wanted something on the lines of The Game of Thrones as The Game of Blogs was inspired from there. However be it any competition I am stuck with people who have unidirectional thinking so "The Big Bang Bloggers" a cooler name (I think) couldn't be our team name and we were now the Scribblers Orchard. This name was thought of as the lead character of our story was a journalist and also we were writing a story so scribbling. 

The other interesting thing that happened was our POC left the team the very first day due to some unforeseen circumstances and our tenth member didn't respond. Blogadda replaced her with another blogger who responded initially and then alas! two days before the deadline of round one she quit. While we all had to write this was one huge problem and that too at the last minute. However Blogadda considered it and had a criteria of minimum seven posts, plus we weren't given a negative rightfully as it wasn't our fault.

Now came the discussions, we had thought of four plots for round 1 and out of them was finalized based on voting of course. I being a PhD student in Biological Sciences am someone who is extremely difficult to convince and so plot 4 had to be revised and rethought an re-revised before end of round 1.  All of use had different comfort in terms of timing and availability but most of us always were involved in the ideation and that was the strong part. Also we critiqued ourselves thoroughly which I feel was the USP of our team. 

Our real story was formed at the end of round 1 where we gave each of our team mates the freedom to take the plot ahead as they wanted and I lived my dream of creating the ultimate, invincible supervillian Acharya.  He is a character inspired by the amalgamation my love for comic books and Dan Brown. Our story post round 1 was really strong and we were confident of getting through to round 2 only to realize sadly that all the teams were sent to round 2. 

The true challenge was Round 2 now, the ideation here was simpler as we already had the plot in mind. We followed a simple strategy "Divide and Write" . i.e.  We divided the story to be disclosed per round and gave each one a part they would love to write. Thus went by round 2 peacefully. We were extremely overwhelmed to be on position 2 (with three other teams), so technically 4. I was happy but there was lot to be done to reach the position 1.

Our collective writing had been beneficial so far but where there are vessels they are bound to collide, and round 3, the grand finale where the climax had to set was the point. In the beginning we had to form the road leading to the climax which took two nights of thinking (post 14 hours of PhD slavery in my case). We had a couple of endings however some people felt a moral ending was the best one. I personally do not agree with the end that we have written as it didn't give me a high and I do not think stories have anything to do with morals, if that was so The Game Of Thrones once again could never be a good story. I sadly couldn't convince my team and so what we wrote in my opinion is a no so interesting climax but moral. I am not sure if morals are valued in real life but now since we have written that Voldemort never made the horcruxes as it was immoral, I sure as well hope we win. Fingers crossed.

Having said that it was good learning experience and I could happily say i gained from it . I am better at story telling now. I also have a better understanding of the mindset of Indian audience so I know what will sell in this country if I ever write a book. Also though I think too many cooks spoil the broth, and nine was huge number, I am happy for those that didn't participate actively.I am happy for the ones that did were very sincere (despite our difference of opinion). Managing to write within those office hours, sneaking during lunch time, correcting work multiple times (we had 7 revised versions of the final document for heavens sake, yeah that crazy) were the qualities that got us so far. I hope everyone enjoyed each part as much as we did. 


Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Scribblers Orchard Part 29

The part before this one is here...http://www.fewmiles.info/2014/10/the-scribblers-orchard-part-28.html
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They say all is well that ends well, but is every end a full stop? Sometimes it can be a comma post which there is a new and different beginning. The nation that lost one of the greatest Prime Ministers, a man whom they elected with such a huge majority wavers at the thought. Some sad for the progress and the promise he showed now left for the incompetent scavengers, many shocked at the revelation of his true identity and many for whom it will still be time till the truth seeps into them for their love for him was blind.

After the roller coaster ride of the past few weeks Jeniffer returns back to her home in Kochi. She now feels a new zeal towards her profession, it saved lives after all. Arjun's team is appreciated for their efforts is solving one of the greatest murder mysteries of the decade. Though more medals are added to his existing records, he feels his responsibility growing towards his nation. He has no time to ponder for a next life waits to be saved, another mystery to be solved and another perpetrator to be caught.

Shekhar is just more than happy to be re-united with his family especially his child. He is more careful now and sometimes wakes up many a times in the night to check on her. Even Tara realizes that her daughter means everything now. She has one true relationship with her daughter, unspoilt by time unlike the others that have and will change even end with time. She feels the world when she sees her sleeping safely in her bed each night and wonders why the child that went through the most in the whole process is least scared.

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Tara takes an off that weekend. It has been just a lot of news, the incidents with her family and her father being in the centre of it all. Shekhar decides to take her to the nearby temple which has lush green gardens. The holy smoke of the havan kund rises to purify the negativity around, the atmosphere is divine with the chants of the sadhus performing a yagna. They enter the temple and Tara and Shekhar bow down to the idols of the various gods and goddesses. Suddenly they don't find Roohi around. Shekhar's heart misses a beat and he starts frantically searching her. Tara is extremely scared and begins asking people if they saw a little girl and then at that moment her eyes fall on a little child with folded hands sitting amongst the sadhus with concentration of an adult, praying to the one true God that she has found her faith in "Fire".

To be continued............
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 “Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.”


Monday, October 6, 2014

Poetry: A Journey Into Adulthood

Along the road I walked believing that the hand that held mine will never let me fall,
that the hand shall always be the same;
that it will always help me even if I did afterall,
I hated when there was none and cursed them all;
I hated to be alone on a dark alley alone,
I complained when lonely and cursed when hopes seemed to have ended once and for all, 
but somewhere I stoop up and leart to walk, this time tall, 
Unwavered by life's odds I rose above everything,
for life is a circle and today I am the hand that helps a toddler walk
‪#‎TheJourney‬ ‪#‎IntoAdulthood‬ ‪#‎JustAMetaphor‬

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Scibblers Orchard: Part 17

The Part before this story is here: Part 16 :  http://shaivikafunda.blogspot.in/2014/09/scribblers-orchard-part-16.html

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As Arjun reached his police station after barely sleeping a little and found each national newspaper on his desk roaring "Ismail Abdullah: Head of All India Muslim League Kidnapped", "The Man Behind Peace With Muslim Nations Disappears”, “First the PM and Now Ismail Abdullah, the Police has No Answers". He kicked his table, they were not wrong for it had been 6 days and not a clue about the Prime Minister was found apart from that one of his kitchen staff had drugged everyone in the security, the last supper, he made. It was an inside job and the man had fake identity, but that was a dead end and now this. As if that wasn't enough there was another one, what did they want? No sooner could he gather his thoughts his mobile phone started ringing, it was his team following the car where Rohi’s bag was found.
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Shekhar Dutta was just amazed at another kidnapping. Already there had been one murder and two kidnappings and no news about the Prime Minister and now this. At first he thought it was some terrorist organization, his experience as a journalist could only suggest that because as far as history went only terrorists would dare such a feat, but this was more much more. The Prime Minister was loved by all, after a long time there was a leader people had selected by majority for he had tolerance and respect for every religion, why would anyone wish to harm him and if they were indeed terrorists why had there been no demand yet? 

As far as Ismail Abdullah was concerned, he was the most peace loving religious Muslim. As far as his story went he had only and only sent out messages of peace and been very active on the Prime Ministers mission to establish good relations with each and every Islamic nation. It was the combined effort of the PM with him that had led to better relations with the most difficult to achieve nations like Pakistan. So could it be some other fanatic group from one of these nations? There was just too much happening to focus and write; there had been no news about his darling daughter yet.

At the very moment his thoughts were perturbed by a door bell, it was Arjun. He requests Shekhar to go to spot where the Police had been surveying the abandoned car on Juhu beach. All they found was a ribbon, which Shekhar confirmed was Roohi's. The forensic team now searched for fingerprints or any other evidence. The car's papers were all false and it was not on Ahuja's name, though Shekhar was sure it was his, they need more proof to get a search warrant to this man's house. 

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Acharya was sitting in his room. Its darkness a symbolic of the state of people's minds he thought. He burnt a candle. The flame reminded him of his family house, how each day he and his mother would light up the lamps of his temple. A practice he continued even after he became a father. He was closest to his mother and happiest with her. She was a religious woman and so the quality came naturally to him. There was not a single festival or an occasion Natural it was, wasn't it for the only son. His mother loved him most in the world too and was very proud of him. And why wouldn't she be? He had successfully handled his business after his father and made it reach new heights. He spun the millions that his father had made into billions, a feat not achieved by anyone in their families. Life seemed at its happiest with a successful marriage and a lovely little daughter he had. But can life be so perfect so easily? 

One day the dream broke and his mother was detected of leukemia. He wanted to do everything to save her He took her to the best specialists in the world and tried everything in the world possible for her treatment. He also appeased every God in every religion and every temple, Gurudwara or Mosque. He went to each place he thought God is and will give him back his mother's health. His focus was completely lost on the business and his partners took advantage of that. One day he was left with no money, not a penny to buy his mother's expensive drugs. What else was left to happen then, she left him. He was shattered, the grief was beyond anything he had ever felt. He felt cheated not for the loss of money but faith, the Gods he so lovingly prayed to, so regularly had all snatched away everything he had. It was then for the first time his mind asked for greater truths. "Was there any happiness at all or it was a myth?" "Was there anyone who would not leave you and love you for life?" Many said God will do right one day, but then God's had lost their chance with him, so he left home and went wandering. That was when he started feeling that he would find his answers. He worked for 3 days a week to fill his hungry stomach and the remaining three he spent in a library trying to read journeys of men similar to him. He read the life of Asoka, who was betrayed by his victory; that intrigued him to read more about Siddhartha or Buddha, who was illusioned by happiness that a mere glimpse of sadness broke him but the answers to his questions were nowhere. So he went into earlier times when Man had started worshipping elements of nature. He couldn’t find much on this and so he decided to travel to get to his answers.

He travelled the country far and wide where he had lost all sense of time, space and location. He had walked into the dense woods in search of food unknowingly. It was growing dark and all he had managed to get was wild berries. He was hungrier and needed more but wasn’t adept at hunting. He then saw fire and heard some chanting. He walked in the direction trying to get a sense of it all. He found a bunch of men and women barely dressed in leaves chanting around fire. Their faces shone brighter than any he had seen. When he went near them to ask for food, they fed him with whatever he had, they cleaned his bruises from walking in the forest, thorns etc. and then began talking. They were the kindest people he had met in days and they told him, they too like him had given up on the world; each one had travelled to the forest and met their leader who was the first enlightened one. They believed like the ancients in the worship of Fire, which was one true God. He now thought maybe he had found his answer. After spending six months there he decided this was the truth of life. This is what the world had to learn. There is only one God out of which all life is born and that is Fire, and it was time for him to spread his message far and wide.

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Arjun heard back from the forensic team. The fingerprints didn’t match anyone with criminal records. They were all now at the orchard. Some of his people in civilian clothes were keeping an eye on the place. Jeniffer had also come there hearing about the car. There was no evidence against him, and Shekhar began to break. Tara wasn't there to soothe her husband but went ahead with her work saying that was the only thing that kept her sane in tough times. He was fine with it but at that minute when Roohi's kidnappers had left no clue he felt just too lonely and really wished he could hug someone.

Arjun couldn't see his favourite person Shekhar in that state; he was worried more than anything else of what could happen to Roohi. He couldn't give them more time, if Ahuja was a suspect they had no option but to break into his house and survey and all of them agreed to the plan.

The next moment they were standing at Ahuja's door.
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Read the next part of the story here: http://alazydesi.blogspot.in/2014/09/the-scribblers-orchard-part-18.html
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 “Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.”


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Scribblers Orchard : Part 9

The parts before this one are here: "RECAP"







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The chants of "Om Shree Ganeshay Namah", "Ganpati Bappa Morya", reverberated outside. He sat in his dark room, thinking, contemplating if he would be successful? He had never failed, never ever failed. He was called “Acharya-the learned one” for he was the one who knew the truth. Nobody, only him. He smiled at the foolishness of people who went crazy in the frenzy of their Gods to forget the world, fast ceremoniously and make all the noise for days. It angered him to no extent. The dark veil of ignorance of believing in a God that doesn’t exist, that never listens to their prayer’s, the one they had never seen. He smirked how as a little boy even he was the same. As a child born in a Hindu Brahmin family, he knew the word “Bhagwaan or God” before his own, recognized their idols before his own people. He was lucky to realize the truth, the truth that there was no such God as they all believed. There was just one true God “Fire” that gave birth to all, right from The Big Bang. It is fire that cleanses, fire that teaches you selflessness when you give something to, it is the fire- the spirit within your body, fire is what the body is given to when this journey ends. Fire was the only God, one of the Pagan Gods, worshipped by the ancients and lost to the materialistic modern. However his life’s mission was to bring the lost wisdom back. Whatever it may take he would fulfill his wow of making people see it. Initially he tried to explain it to people, but what would these un-evolved souls even feel? They couldn’t sense everything logical around them, the mere inequality in a society, the fact that their God was no where when the innocent were killed.  They were blind so was their fate.

But may be it was he who was destined to bring humanity into the light, again the opposite of darkness and “Fire” stood for light.  He was a master strategist and his life was his lesson. Very early on he learnt in life to trust nobody and he did just that. He was successful for nobody ever knew his plan, not even the people who worked for him. They just knew their part and the big picture always came when it was all done. Nobody even knew him, or his voice. Only his shadow communicated. He never physically met anyone and spoke through a machine generated voice.  The blind human race did give him some tools to accomplish what he wished for, being the one, the anonymous one. Oh! How he loved to be smarter than the smartest.

There were just a few people left and then the world will listen to him, he was the true preacher, he was “Acharya”

A sound baffled everyone,  Arjun whose mind was just  trying to comprehend “Where was the PM?” turned and so did Jeniffer and Tara. An array of crackers lit up surrounding Cyrus and within seconds the fire grew monstrous engulfing a large part of the ground. The crowd screamed and started running haphazardly. Cyrus wailed, tried to move, but half drugged his efforts were in vain. The bomb squad team now had to save him, rescue him. Arjun luckily had men in fire proof suits, keeping all circumstances in mind, he ordered them into get into action. The smoke from the crackers blinded vision.

Jennifer tried calling the worried Shekhar to report the incident. Arjun’s team managed to take Cyrus out. The bomb squad then began working to diffuse the explosives all around him. Arjun tried to get back to his bearings the best and ordered the rest of his men to search for all the actors in the last play. They left the very second. 

Arjun's phone kept ringing all the while, however he couldnt hear it at all in the commotion that there was. When he finally did, it was from the police headquarters, the Prime Minister had gone missing.

And then there was a gunshot.

--------------------------------------------------------Week One Ends Here--------------------------
...............................................................To be Continued.............................................................

 “Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.”
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Week 2 Begins:

Part 10: http://www.myworldfoodandtravel.com/2014/09/the-scribblers-orchard-part-10.html