Monday, 6 May 2019

Reflections A-Z: From Aghast to Agog via Zoned out

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary Reflections badge

Firstly, this song. May is Tagore’s birthmonth, he was born on 7th May, 1861. All through the A-Z I felt weirdly wrongfooted for not sharing more about his music and celebrity really, because he does impact Bengali culture in this overarching way.

It's been buzzing around in my head - the offspring reaches adulthood this month. Talk about a song summing up the current mood! The song has been sung by many stalwarts of Bengali music, a million others more accurate in their pronunciation, more polished in the technicalities of rendering, recording and production. But I found this rendition beyond moving – non-native speakers singing Tagore more than 1½ centuries since the songwriter’s birth. No fancypants visuals, no drama in the arrangement, just straightforward heartfelt emotions, voices raised unpretentious. The guy gives a translation at the beginning in Italian which I, sadly, don’t speak. Anyways, the gist is – as mine ends, yours begins, with you and me together, that’s how the stream goes on. 

Life, in other words, is a relay race. Enjoy!

Finally, my reflections on this landmark tenth A-Z Challenge

As usual, all yer who enters here, if yer gets this far, yer deserves and gets yo' choize -

The short version

I started this Challenge way less prepared than the other years. But no complaints, no regrets. In the end things fell into place, I survived and I had plenty of fun. A big, fat thank you to all those who read, and a big, fat thank you to the A-Z team for creating this space, for all the hard work to keep it going. Congrats! - on a super celebration of the decadal anniversary. See you next year same time, same place!

The lo-o-o-o-ng version

This blog is a duck. What a visitor sees from the lakefront is a bird gliding over water. More or less serene. Dipping her beak into the waves from time to time and bringing up a post. Poetry or fiction, or even creative non-fiction entries, either weekly or daily, go up here on a regular routine. The visitor gets no whiff of the mad-paddling that is going on underwater, out of sight. 

The blog is also the lake itself. Where I come to relax and detox, and I consciously write about things here disconnected from the fuss and fury going on elsewhere at that moment, keep it all separate and tidy. Madness below, sane above. Simple formula. Makes me feel I’m in control. Of course, that’s also an illusion, all a load of maya. But let’s not get into Vedantic philosophy here. Things are complicated enough without that.

For reasons various, life has been chaos since last December. As someone I know put it pithily – ‘hamster wheel tenterhooks combo.’  ‘Write it as it comes’ – hasn’t worked…what’s come to mind hasn’t always been worth writing down. But fortunately, I’ve been able to keep it from spilling over to the lake, or affect the duck, she’s had to mad-paddle extra-hard but she’s managed somehow to keep on swimming.

Why I’m saying this now is because every cloud is pure silver if turned inside out - my A-Z this year has been massively different because of this, underwater if not above. For a time, I considered not participating at all. But then it was the tenth year anni…fomo, I understand the youngsters call it…Then I toyed with the idea of the shortest possible posts – a photo and caption, a mini-essay, but short’s not really my thing, except for poetry. It felt half-hearted, low-involvement, and I don’t like doing half-hearted, I’m so not good at low-involvement, especially with writing. The upshot of all this stumbling around was that nothing much got decided, not much researched, even less got written.

So. I started this Challenge way less prepared than the other years, I forgot the sign-up date, I plunged in with a fairly complex theme without a drop of due diligence, I did not check for the ‘QX-test’ which is my gold standard for any theme. I had just about half the posts written on 31st March, all the tougher letters were supremely unready, unresearched even, the music was all over the place, it was just anarchy exponential.

But no complaints, no regrets. My A-Z was more spontaneous because of the mess, though I had moments of blind panic as I flailed around for letters which I'd have thought wouldn’t be so hard to write to – U and Z, for instance. But…once you’ve set your mind on something, the universe conspires to arrange it for you. It miraculously conspired for those letters too, I found my topics, I posted in time on the day, even if it was by the skin of my teeth. I scraped through, I survived. The sixth time for me. The tenth anniversary of the event. 

In the end things fell into place and I had plenty of fun. Possibly more fun than if my posts had been scheduled to the gills, because I’m really a pantzer at heart. The final takeaway?  – scheduled is great, but unscheduled is not always as hopeless as I’ve allowed myself to believe. Why have I lured myself into this belief anyway? Why get into a mindset where only one way of doing things, of surviving challenges, is the valid way? Not a good habit to fall into. The brain knows it, there’s no right or wrong way of being on the lake and/or the lakeside, yet the heart panics and flaps around, such a waste of energy and emotion. Take it easy and be bindaas boss, it will pan out if only you jump in. A thing half-done can also be well begun.  Bas lagi raho Munnibai!

A big, fat thank you to all those who read my overlong posts (including this one! You’d have thought not being scheduled would mean less of the megarambles, but no, it didn’t work that way, not quite sure how it does work, but there it is. Less time for the ruthless big chop, I guess.)

And an equally big, fat thank you to the A-Z team for creating this space and for all the hard work to keep it going. Congrats! - on a super celebration of the decadal anniversary. Here’s to many more.

I shall be, as in all the other years, reverting back to my bloghopless self forthwith, to my weekly poetry/fic business as usual. Except WEP/IWSG of course. See you next year same time, same place! As the Bengalis say – aschhe bochhor abar hobe! (Lit. will happen again in the coming year). And who knows? - maybe I’ll learn to chop and edit better meanwhile.

Posted for the A-Z Reflections


  1. You did the A-Z relatively unprepared? Colour me awed. They certainly didn't read that way.
    And how lovely that Tagore's work survives and thrives. Happy birthday to him and your offspring.

    1. I had upto K pre-written properly, the rest were just strings of links as on the 31st :)

      Tagore continues to influence his culture way after his passing, his birth and death anniversaries are marked with huge events all through Bengal and in the diaspora. Legions of students write dissertations on him every year. He'd actually make a great theme for an A-Z all by himself!

      Thank you EC for reading and the wishes. Much appreciate the support.

  2. Going in less prepared didn't hurt your posts and you still pulled it off. Well done!

  3. It was an excellent theme, with excellent posts (I'm one of those werid people who like long posts :) ). Can't wait to see what you come up with next year!

    The Multicolored Diary

    1. Not many do :) I like long posts too...reading and writing.

      I have a few theme ideas :) too many in fact...must jot them down somewhere before I lose them all...

      Thank you for hosting and your incredibly entrancing posts, as always.

  4. i'm glad you had fun. i definitely had fun reading your challenge! x

    Joy at The Joyous Living

  5. Fellow Pantsers Unite, well, maybe at the last minute.
    I wrote day by day, missed two deadlines, and wrote a ton of my serialized story.

    I get what you went through 100%

    Congrats on making it to the finish.

    Tale Spinning

    1. Congrats to you too! Pantzing through the challenge has its own rewards.

  6. Half done sounds very organized to me! Amazing.

    1. Yup, I guess it could have been way worse Sometimes less organised is also okay.

  7. I had my posts pre-written this year, and I honestly kind of missed winging it haha

  8. Never saw a ‘QX-test’ referred to before this, but I understood it immediately! Didn't realize you were relatively unprepared this go-round, but you still achieved admirable results!

    1. It's quite my prelim acid test for a theme, not much point bothering with the rest of the letters if you can't find something that you like for those two letters. I've done it that way for nearly all the challenges I've done, except this time. Which was a super foolish thing to do, given that Bengali doesn't have a Q or an X, or a Z either, for that matter. But thankfully it turned out okay, phew!

  9. Your A to Z, if it was that random and unorganized, is possibly a new brilliant style you've created. I enjoyed it and learned a lot. I'm glad you had fun with it and were able to find calm in your sea of chaos. As always, I find your writing sublime on any subject. Take good care.

    1. Thank you for your warm words and for your support through the A-Z. You totally made my day with this.

  10. Hi Nila -I'm loving the Tagore song - gorgeous ... soft and soothing - just what's needed at the end of the A-Z.

    You've done yourself complete justice for your posts - so well thought out and written ... I do love reading them ... and now need to read through them with the music accompaniment.

    Also love the analogical take on your style of writing ... it's fun to read. You're a star for having completed 10 - I joined year 2, but now have only done 7 ... life being the challenge.

    But I'm around - and you teach us so much. Congratulations to you and the offspring on reaching this momentous time in his life - cheers HIlary

    1. Hi Hilary, and thank you. I haven't completed ten. My sixth straight year, I joined A-Z only in 2014 though the blog's older, started in 2011...the research and learning part of the A-Z is what appeals to me most, it was getting back back to that with a vengeance this year.