October 19, 2014

The Game of Blogs - A Memoir

The Game of Blogs.

Every time,such a contest comes along,there is one thing which is constant :Chaos.

Therefore it is imperative one finds an opportunity in the middle of chaos.It is imperative to keep calm - as that is, the second most tested fact.Finally, the third most tested fact is consistency.

Our group was a diverse mix of energy,ideas,writing styles and stretched time lines...just like anyone else.So what was it that we did differently?  For starters , our central thought,essence was to make our story believable.Real. 

After all, unlike reality,writing fiction has to make sense.

Little did we know- how this would go on to become the most challenging bit in this whole exercise.

The challenges began even before the first word was written.Who would lead? After a few "you first" I'll support you" rounds the gauntlet settled on one of the team mates.The challenge was to get the rest to follow.  

Few realise at the beginning,how is it going to be in the end.So it was important for the chosen lead to draw up a rules of engagement,framework and distribute responsibilities.

That was the easy part. The tough one was to make sure every one responded.

The title "Missing" was quite apt, as it turned out! Each character found himself or herself while searching for someone else. They found out what was missing in their lives.

Then comes the research. We had to logically connect the characters and the story in a particular location.It had to be real ,simple and believable. The research on every new element we introduced in the story...even if it meant a simple description of a characters haircut.It needed to be authentic.

The research on the law,med school, medical cases,and some of the other aspects was well lined up.Each member came up with their research and findings and put it across for the group to debate.We agreed,disagreed and sometimes, agreed to disagree.But we never stopped to keep moving.

As the cliche goes, man proposes, Blogger disposes. 

Once the contest was underway, the team realized, everyone had a different writing style.It began to dawn upon the team that a well written storyline / framework is not enough. It needed a lot of self discipline. The same points could be interpretted in multiple ways, the story should be this way or that way..but certainly not in the way it was being written.

This is the most difficult aspect for a SPOC. Does he debate, indulge, argue or just let go ?There was very little time to convince,coax and let alone debate.The lead had to change gears.He had to be tough. "Get on with it" being the mantra.Just as the cycle began to roll, some of the spokes came off. A couple of mates had to leave. There were travels and plans which needed attention, and some just couldn't continue.

It was the time for innovation and agility.Instead of getting someone new, the idea was to increase length per post and progress the story a bit further than originally planned.The story was now beginning to take shape when Blog Adda, decided to add a little twist to the tale.

Personal commitments,office work, quarter end pressure, college, modelling assignments and teaching commitments just added more spice to the mix.This was the most difficult phase.Maintain pace and connectivity and quality was tough.

As if all this was not spicy enough,Durga Puja/Dusshera holidays had to pitch in right in the middle.

Just like a coracle floating on the edge of a waterfall, we came close to a submission.Only a little tiny rock was visible in front of us : editing. As we looked closer,It was not a tiny rock, it was a  boulder!

As the clock ticked close to midnight,the team realised there were typos and inconsistent narratives and part overlaps.It needed merciless,ruthless editing. Ego's were hurt,perceptions were triggered,and hell broke loose. Nights were stretched into mornings,spell checks, and presentation of manuscript was critical.

We decided to add a bit of poetry to increase the effect...yet to write a simple few lines took so much thought and preparation. 

After the coracle landed, we waited patiently post submission.Tempers calmed down, communications were easier.Some smiles across whatsapp.

The results were announced. We were leading. We did this in round 1, round 2 and as a group we are confident of making the cut in round 3 !

The realistic way to look at this is, a group of people,who left their ego's behind,their debating skills controlled,just their passion to write took the team across the finishing line.

As much as writing is about need for approval,we believe we did a fantastic job under the circumstances, I am just going to say,we are in to win it , unapologetically ,yet in humility.

All for ten....ten for all !

Team : Tete-A-Ten.


PS : below is a small example of how we stuck to discipline with our rules of engagement...our first email to the group.

Welcome to the Game of Blogs.  Welcome team Tete-A-Ten.  

Unlike reality,writing fiction has to make sense.

Before I get down to the object of this email , let me lay down some ground rules or rules of engagement and also explain why they are necessary.
Clarity of thought,roles,deliverable will make this team win. 

The biggest challenges in these competitions are as follows :

Problem Statement :
  1. Coordination  : ten random people communicating with each other in an ad-hoc fashion results in total chaos.
  2. Egos : we all have em. It surfaces mostly when your so brilliant write up, is ruthlessly edited by fellow mates.Personal attacks a.k.a bitching.
  3. Timelines : there will be travels,meetings,classes,relatives,parties,emergencies and everything else to not let you write.
  4. Interest : it starts with a bang  and ends with a whimper.
  5. Consensus : at almost all times, there will not be a consensus.
  6. Plan B : there is never a back up plan.
  7. Birds Eye : There is almost no one who sees the story connectivity from a birds eye view.
  8. Follow up : Mostly, one person, usually the captain or the fellow "enthu cutlet" is chasing people.
  9. Trolls : Side talks,take it easy talks,its just a game talks, often derail momentum.
  10. Winning : if the team wins, then those who dropped out earlier find time to bask in glory.

Solution Statement :

  1. Coordination : The Team captain's decision should be final. No questions asked.You live and die by your captains words. All successful teams in any sporting activity revolves around the captain.The more democratically you run-  the more confusion it creates and consumes time.Therefore a captain has to be chosen carefully and if appointed then every single member has to be in agreement.
  2. Egos :  no personal attacks will be tolerated. None of us are descendants of Vikram Seth or related to Chetan Bhagat. We will back the team mate who is not writing upto standard.We win as a team and we lose as a team.If you care so much, then help the mate write better instead of criticizing  him or her.Find time.
  3. Timelines : Posting your entry up first on the BA site will ensure more eyeballs of the judges.Nail it in the first time - no one remembers who was the second dog to the moon.Even the president of United states finds time to play golf.So you too can find time to write ahead of the deadline.Its known as the cult of the done manifesto.Do it now.
  4. Interest: Honestly, no one forced you to do this.You have an option to opt out - but you  didn't. So don't let your team down mid way.Show some character.Be there till the end.
  5. Consensus : related to point #2. Its ok to go ahead with a write up - rather than delaying or missing the deadline.Remember, just like, others too will make mistakes.The most disorganised team never wins, no matter how talented they are.Its the finishing line that matters.
  6. PlanB: Shit happens. So each owner to have  a back up plan. If you cant deliver, get your husband,wife, boyfriend,girlfriend,sister,brother...whoever to write for you.Don't expect your team mates to jump in because you had an important meeting.Trust me- we all will have moments of madness - but we ve got to hang in there and cross the finish line....together.
  7. Birds eye : People often go in a  tangent while writing a story. Remember, keep it simple.Have a outline,framework and fill in the blanks and your story will shape up just fine. Sometimes when a third person singular reads your story he/she might have a different take.Accept feedback and move on.or make changes as required.
  8. Follow up : Really no one should follow up. You wanted to do this.That's is why you are here.Where is the need to follow up? you have sophisticated devices and technology to have ample reminders to finish a task on time.So do it.Team should have a 0 reminder policy.
  9. Trolls : In a group chat, refrain from non relevant conversations - the chain of thought, importance is lost.
  10. Wining:  If we manage to win - then you will know that all of above were adhered to the T. If we lose, let us not blame or criticize a member - fair enough we tried.Move on.

Now if everyone is in agreement - then let the games begin.

Rules of the Game : Round 1.

Right, as promised please go through the mail carefully and revert with a Yay or Nay. Yay = I will send subsequent mail on next steps. Nay = someone else will need to step in.


October 10, 2014

Missing - Finale


Fanus Mistry sat in a corner of the cafĂ© just before the escalator into security check. The espresso rim on the porcelain cup had dried up. People strolled across the leather tan sofa where Fanus Mistry sat for the last hour. A little girl, sitting on the edge of a  trolley loaded with suitcases , looked at him and yawned. Fanus snapped out of the blank gaze.

The phone screen showed "Boman Uncle". Fanus finally clicked on the green button after multiple rings.

"Dikra - where are you and Cyrus?" He is not picking up the phone  ,I'm worried ,please come home  - I beg you" Boman Daruwala broke down into a silent sob.

"Uncle, he is not coming back to Delhi" he said.

"I don't understand, I mean if he is not coming back to Delhi what is he going to do in Mumbai?" he asked.

"Mission Roohi" Fanus said looking at the little girl on the trolley.

"Mission what? Who ? What is this?" Boman asked.

"Uncle - if he manages to do it, it will be his first movie"

"Movie, Dikra how is he going to …I mean where is the money…but" Boman was at a loss for words.

Fanus closed his eyes and recalled all the moments with Cyrus and disconnected the phone.

A few miles away, Cyrus Daruwala sat down at "Azad Maidan". The phone rang again, this time he picked up.

"Hello, hello , are you there Cyrus ,hello.Come on ,Cyrus say something, aren't you in the hotel? I mean why aren't you in the hotel with Fanus? Where is Fanus, please give the phone to him, Cyrus you need to rest, I'm trying to reach you guys  - tell me , speak up will you" Sneha probed.

"He's gone" he said.

"Gone, gone where? I mean are you not with Fanus?" she asked.

"No, and I think I never will …ever" he said.

"What do you mean? " she asked.

"We broke up, I am not going back to Delhi  - I am going to be here  and,  I don't know, what he is going to do "Cyrus spoke in a low voice holding back his tears.

"Cyrus this is unreal , after all those years ..how can you Cyrus?"

"I did not leave him, he did -"

"Where is he now?"


"Listen Cyrus, go find him now , you will lose him forever"

"Doc. Not all those who are lost, want to be found".

There was a moment of silence and then Sneha spoke again.

"Can you just snap out of this and get going - enough - I've heard enough - listen ,I am not saying it is going to be easy, but you have a chance to build your lives together, you have a chance to lead the lives you always wanted to - just as you, Fanus needs to be healed - and there is no medicine in the world that can heal a heart ache. Only another loving heart can…so go now, before it is too late , go find him, his flight is still two hours away…"

Cyrus disconnected the phone  and hailed a cab"Taxi, domestic terminal - now , can you drive fast? "

"No" said the driver and ambled away.

"Please , please bhau , take me there it is very important" Cyrus pleaded grabbing the front window of the cab.

"Nahi Saheb" and sped away.

Cyrus started to run towards  Churchgate  station. He pushed the crowd away, leaped across the pothole, rolled over the fence and came to a grinding halt when he saw the ticket queue.

"Train to Virar departing platform number eleven" the speaker announced.

Cyrus looked at the departing train gaining momentum. His pounding heart dragged him out of the queue and chase the last compartment. Just as the last coach was about to leave the platform behind, the handle bars found a tight grip.

 "Spice Jet announces the last and final call for flight SG 437 to Delhi, passengers are requested to proceed to security check"  Fanus rubbed his eyes and took a deep breath.

"This is it - I am done, It can't always be about him, Its my life, and I am not going to be a coward like him - I am going to make it on my own - I was and always will be on my own, I don’t need him I don’t  need anyone. So much for spending so many years together." Fanus brooded.

"Is it over, Sir"?

"Can I get you a refill?"

" You can't - once its over, its over for ever" he said still looking at the empty cup.

"No Sir, there is a lot of coffee ,I can certainly get more" the steward offered.

"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls it a butterfly" Fanus smirked.

"Uh sir I don't understand" he said.

"Forget it, please, get the check please" Fanus asked gesturing with his fingers to the waiter.

"But Sir, we have …" the waiter insisted.

Fanus Mistry finally looked up and said "My friend, magic only happens once, my cup of joy is over, and now I've to pay a price for it, is it too difficult for you understand?"

"Uh oh yes, Sure Sir, I will get it right away" he said and trotted off.

The waiter walked towards Fanus with the check in hand and got interrupted in between.

"Give me the bill" he said.

Fanus was about to sign the check but noticed a few words scribbled

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

"I do, I really, do love you"

He looked up and saw Cyrus standing.

Endless streets walking by
Empty eyes on lonely skies
Raindrops fall on rolling tears,
Someone finds and someone fears.

They look, but don’t see the realms,
Lost  in thoughts & missing dreams.
A lonely star shows shares the load,
Lighting hope through cross-roads…

October 6, 2014

Missing - Episode 18


Ballard Estate - 

Sometimes I wish I was that child running in the garden with freedom, without any worries, because  I know now, bruised elbows are easier to heal than broken hearts.

Dr.Sneha remembered the scribbled lines on canteen table. The wood and wrought iron bench in the far corner, the hot cup of masala tea, lasting cinnamon fragrance in the air and those long conversations about life and death. The stolen glances, the fleck of ketchup on his pristine white shirt, Dr.Sneha replayed the most vivid moments in her mind.

"Doctor Phadnis - are you alright?" Tara asked craning her neck.

"Uh-Yes - yes, everything is fine, please continue" Sneha replied.

"I was just saying that Dr.Ahuja has been a great support to our family, he is a compassionate man and understands Roohi's complications so well. We are truly grateful." Tara said waving Roohi's hair.

"How did you find him?" Sneha asked.

"Come to think of it, he was like a divine intervention, a stroke of luck, out of the violet, that's how co incidental it was. Roohi was unwell yet again, had to rush back to Mumbai leaving a conference midway, Missed  a connecting flight, argued with staff, got a horrible co passenger, moved to someone else's seat and, and then I  met Aryan" said Tara while Sneha checked Roohi for any bruises .

"Roohi is fine, she's not hurt, in any way " Sneha emphasized looking at Shekhar.

"Oh thank goodness. Thank you , thank you so much, this is the best piece of news I've heard in what seems like a really long time. And I'm sorry, I was just too worked up" Shekhar said looking at Cyrus.

"Come here Cyrus, its OK, everything will be just fine, let me have a look" Sneha said while walking across towards Cyrus. He took a few steps back spontaneously, but stopped after a few paces as he saw Dr.Sneha walking towards him.

Shekhar walked towards Tara and Roohi while Sub Inspector Bhambore scratched his right eyebrow.

"Erm so ,now where are we with the case madam ? Do I  -" Bhambore asked looking at Dr.Sneha Phadnis.

"Inspector, Cyrus is studying in a law school, he is going to be a lawyer soon. He hails from a  good family, and I know his parents quite well. However, life has not been kind to him. 

In fact he is the one who should be complaining. He is the one who should speak. Haven't I told you Cyrus not to be the victim, be the victor, haven't I taught you to get up and fight  - where is that brave soldier, that brilliant lawyer gone ? Get up Cyrus, get up."  Sneha spoke as the only other noise came from passing  vehicles honking unnecessarily.

"He is harmless, he has been hurt, yet he would never hurt anyone else" Sneha concluded after a pause.

"So madam should I..?" SI Bhambore did not complete his question as looked at Tara.

"No inspector saheb  its not required, we are not pressing any charges" Shekhar said while looking at Cyrus.

"Uh-oh yes, I mean what was all the chaos about,eh?  You had raised hell on the kidnap issue just a few hours back" Bhambore attempted to raise the issue one more time.

Roohi managed to free herself from her fathers embrace and ran towards Cyrus.
Sub Inspector Bhambore realized the futility of his question shaking his head.

Tara extended her arms and said "Come on sweety, it’s a long way home, lets get going".

"I don't want to leave Cyrus alone, he's lost, we need to take him home too" Roohi cried out loud.

Fanus wiped the solitary tear rolling down his cheeks and looked at Cyrus with a hint of a smile.Shekhar pulled Roohi out of Cyrus's embrace and started to walk towards his car parked a few meters away. 

"Take care" said Tara while walking out of the warehouse. Cyrus and Fanus hugged each other as tears trickled down their eyes.

"OK,I think I will go as well, will have to make some report out of all this" said Bhambore following Tara's footsteps.

"Fanus - I think he needs rest, he needs to relax. Can you take Cyrus to the hotel? Also, please follow up on the return tickets. I need to excuse myself for a little while" said Dr.Phadnis.

"But where are you going, aren't we going back together?" Fanus asked raising his eyebrows.

"Don't worry ,I won't be long, its just that I need some time of my own - will be in touch on mobile" she said and walked out.

"Fanus, I'm not going back" Cyrus said looking down.

The two looked at each other without speaking any further. The  silent look was witness to a melee of emotions. The years of being together, the bullies and the bruises, the pleasure and pain , the chiding and the hiding , the losing and the finding, all summed up at that moment in time.

"We can face it together Cyrus, you are not alone, we will build a new life, our life, on our terms and conditions"

"My life is over in Delhi Fanus,I will make my life , a new life , on my terms in Mumbai" .

"Uff that’s all you know - I ,I,I, and more I - whatever happened to we Cyrus? Where are we in this new life? Where did you think about me ? Or does it not matter to you anymore?"

"Fanus its I,I,I and only I who was raped not you, it was I who lies here bruised and battered, not you, it  is I who is shattered Fanus. You were not pinned down by two hands in the back of a building. Your body was not humiliated, penetrated, ruptured and left to bleed. Your soul was not  hurt. You did not walk half naked to the nearest hospital. Your eyes did not see those snigger's, your ears did not hear those whispers, your hands did not shake uncontrollably. Yes Fanus, you guessed it right. It was me."

"It was not my fault that I didn't know" Fanus knelt down.

"I'm not leaving, Fanus-  its decided."

"I am leaving Cyrus - I'm going back to Delhi - I am going to complete my studies and face the world. Not hide here , I am not a coward, I am going to go out there and face the world - I don't believe in breaking, I believe in making. Besides,I am not leaving college,I am going to back and stick it out.What are you going to do about your law school? Abandon it ?" Fanus asked raising his voice.

"Law is not for me, I will make movies" he said.

"Make movies? You are out of your mind,you have no background, no godfather, no connections -who is going to let you make movies ?"

"That's not the point Fanus, let's see who stop me from making movies".

Read Episode -19


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