If someone brings up “April,” my mind immediately hollers ‘A to Z.’ I love ‘A to Z Challenge’ for it makes me commit to 26 days of Research and Writing. The striking slice is that it makes me write every day no matter what. I have been through days of professional and personal tiredness; 3.00 am, the bed looks beautiful, but then, I spend an hour more working on the A to Z. By the way, this was my fifth year of successful completion of the challenge. Every year I have been writing 8 line poems on the theme I select. I kept to the eight-line poems and then did a Travel around the world from A to Z.
Looking for country details, research, reading, selecting the specifics to write about, then abstract it and pen a poem, well, it was challenging than I thought. Some days got tricky because I had a lot to pick from, and then for a few days, I had to write on what I had. Letter X is always a challenge. I had days where I kept staring at my screen for an uncomfortably long time.
I have compiled my challenge into an ebook. Here goes my compilation, and with love, I close my A to Z challenge of 2021.
I would like to thank all the readers who supported all through the month with reads, ratings, likes and comments. Thank you for being an inspiration. You also check my poems on the theme #LargerThanLife at my Instagram handle: prakash.hegade
I can’t believe its already April of 2021! Last time I seriously blogged was in April of 2020. It’s been a year of lessons – good or whatever. But, Hey, It’s time for A to Z Challenge! This is my FIFTH year of A to Z challenge and looks like 8 line poem is definitely my thing! A to Z by far has helped me to learn and grow and this is one of the assignments that I take up seriously every single year. I have managed to compete the challenge successfully in the past 4 years. Here is my year wise theme from 2017:
2017: An idiom for an alphabet and 8 line poem to it.
2018: Emotions and expressions for life and 8 line poem to it.
2019: Words and phrases from foreign languages and 8 line poem to it.
2020: Metaphors from movies, idioms, celebrities, paintings, songs, etc and 8 line poem to it.
I know I am late for the resolutions party and I want to rationalize by saying “better a little late than too late.” 355 days is definitely a good number and so what if I haven’t announced yet, the plan of action was in go from day 1 of the year. This year, I wanted to be a little more careful while I chalk out my plan. Off-course to be more ambitious and push through limits is the Plan A. My everyday planner has already been colorful for the first ten days and both of my Sundays, including today, have been working and the weekdays appropriately have been enough refreshing to move ahead. So, I hereby finally announce my list to keep up for the year, to make every day count, hopefully.
By the way, I started having resolutions, in a proper format and monitoring since 2017 and it has worked for me positively. Here is what happened in 2018 and then here is how I wrapped up 2019. 2020 has been nothing less and here is how it went: 2020 Highlights. All that said, here is a list for 2021:
Task Set 01: Writing
1.1 Write at least 100 blog posts (around 8 per month) on itsphblog 1.2 Post 50 technical blog posts on itsphbytes 1.3 Take up A to Z Challenge in April with a theme 1.4 Participate in NaNo-Camps in April and July 1.5 Continue working as ML for NaNoWriMo 2021 1.6 Post 35 short poems on Instagram
Task Set 02: Reading
2.1 Take up Goodreads challenge and read 20 novels 2.2 Read 60 articles on web
Task Set 03: Publishing
3.1 Publish the novel – The Art of Ageing Gracefully 3.2 Publish the ebook – Between Blue and Blue 3.3 Near publish edit the book – Things in Nothing 3.4 Publish at least five ebooks through Smashwords
Task Set 04: Research
4.1 Read atleast 50 meaningful research papers and log the summary 4.2 Publish 6 research papers from various domains (conference + Journal) 4.3 Build 6 new models for Knit Algorithm
Task Set 05: Profession (Academics)
5.1 Look out for a new/similar career on high priority basis 5.2 Improve coding profile 5.3 Take up and complete 6 courses online (MOOC) 5.4 Design and propose a new elective 5.5 Build a training module 5.6 Work and aim to complete the textbook
Task Set 06: Profession (Industry)
6.1 Provide 30 meaningful internships fromKnit Arena 6.2 Host 2 events from the company 6.3 Grow technically for industry (Transil and Knit) 6.4 Have the first release of Knit
Task Set 07: New
7.1 Conduct 3 workshops on various topics 7.2 Travel to two new places 7.3 Complete at least 3 new series/soaps 7.4 Do 31 days movies challenge 7.5 Exercise and continue to stay fit and get better 7.6 Symphony of words 7.7 Write one amazing article/post that I will be ever proud of 7.8 Do 10 new things
Well, That is me. More or less. What resolutions do you have for yourself?
What makes year end special, most probably, is that it is a representative day for what we were last year and the changes we want to see in the upcoming year. For some, it is a reason to party, for some an opportunity to resolute and start afresh with new beginnings, and some-some so on for the remaining rest. It’s a birthday of ‘hope’ and gives all the reasons to celebrate. I guess it won’t be wrong to say 2020 was the most unexpected year of all. Since March, we all have been hoping that things would be back to normal next month, but then, its’ December already, and the hope continues to January of 2021. We have been living amidst uncertainties.
Resolutions have been working great with me. They keep me on track and remind me of the things I have on plate. Here is a quick evaluation of 2020. I am sure that it is going to be a long post and for the year that passed by, I think it is well justified. I want to start with worthy mentions from the year first. If you want to read my resolutions that I made for 2020, you can read the post here: Going Through 2020.
The Glows and Glitters
My new year started with travels. I was at IIM Bangalore for a conference and then from there to Hyderabad for another. In February I was at Punjab for another conference. In December to Kerala for a wedding. This is what Google maps have to say. I think I did good for a Corona year.
The workshops I conducted, one on poetry writing and another on computational thinking, both being from diverse domains, gave me a pathway to lead and follow. Also, to build a community. I was extremely delighted to see a banner of the workshop with my photograph in the university campus and the audience that turned out for the workshop were enthralling.
Computational Thinking workshop was part of a conference at Chitkara University, Punjab. I as well won the best paper award (IEEE) for one of the papers. I am not sure why, I was more happy with the workshop than the award.
I released out my much awaited NaNoWriMo 2016 Novel ‘i 4 you’ as a free ebook through smashwords. The ebook is available here for download i 4 you and has gathered pretty good reviews so far. Here is one:
My year had THE best project teams. We did a research school together. We published two papers in a conference and two in journal (the processing of journal is in progress). I could not have asked for a better one.
Coursera offering free courses was the best thing that happened this pandemic. Yes, I did manage to complete 103 courses and as an individual, I have grown with learning from around the world. I cannot thank enough for this.
Here are the books I managed to read this year:
This year’s NaNoWriMo was warming and soothing. I did win for the 5th time with 50K words and the ML experience this year will stay for long. It was the most satisfying season ever. There were many such appreciation comments like the one below.
Delivered 3 guest talks at colleges from Pune(2) and Chennai(1), online
Attended 4 Faculty Development Programs
Attended 23 Webinars (with certificates)
Attended 1 Winter School from IIIT-Bangalore
I did do a 31 Days 31 Movies Challenge in August and the detailed post can be found here: 31 Days 31 Movies.
Following up next is the summary of the year as against the set goals.
Task Set 01: Writing
1.1. Write at least 100 blog posts on itsphblog : This is my 42nd post. I could have done better. 1.2. Post 50 technical blog posts on itsphbytes : I did end up writing 11. I Seriously need to work on technical posts 2021. 1.3. Take up A to Z Challenge in April : Done. Did two. One on blog and another on Instagram (you can reach me on Instagram at prakash.hegade). 1.4. Participate in NaNo-Camps in April and July : completed both the camps successfully. 1.5. Continue working as ML for NaNoWriMo 2020 : It was an amazing year and had the best wrimo’s ever. 1.6. Post 30 short poems on Instagram : I did make 46 posts, and I am happy about that.
Task Set 02: Publishing
2.1. Give final edits and get NaNoWriMo 2016 novel titled i 4 you published : published. Link shared above. 2.2. Revise, edit, revise, edit and NaNoWriMo 2019 novel titled – The Art of Ageing Gracefully published : I still need to work on this. 2.3. Publish at least five ebooks through Smashwords : did 4. You have to check out: I Fell in Love with an Asshole and I Fell in Love with a Geek.
Task Set 03: Reading
3.1. Take up Goodreads challenge and read 20 novels : I could complete 9. 3.2. Read and explore two new domains in-depth (Life Sciences and Digital Society) – Attended winter school and nothing much on life science.
Task Set 04: Research
4.1. Read 50 or more research papers : read only 12. 4.2. Publish 5 research papers (academic, research, management) : yes. 6. 4.3. Build four new models related to research area : the same were published as papers. 4.4. Implement 5 workable components for Knit Algorithm : not one was in releasable format.
Task Set 05: Profession (Academics)
5.1. Design and deliver two new courses (Semantic Web and Functional Programming) : Semantic web was successfully delivered and Functional Programming was proposed and was not delivered because of pandemic situation. 5.2. Improve Coding profile (complete Basic CodeChef DSA certification) : could not reattempt the certification. But did manage to complete basic problem solving certification on HackerRank. 5.3. Take up and complete 5 courses online (MOOC) : this is where a significant difference happened. University got free access to coursera and I managed to complete 103 courses. 5.4. Design and deliver courses in unique environment (DSA, MT, APS) : with corona, this did happen in unexpected way.
Task Set 06: Profession (Industry)
6.1. Provide 30 meaningful internships from Knit Arena : we did have 32 interns 6.2. Host Knit School 2020 : this did get cancelled because of we all know why. 6.3. Host 2 events from the company : we did host one competition. 6.4. Grow as Technical Lead at Transil (Internships, design, research, consultant, technology etc. ) – I credit the fall here to corona.
Task Set 07: New
7.1. Conduct 3 workshops on various topics : did 2. 7.2. Travel to two new places : Punjab and Kasargod (Kerala). 7.3. Cook 5 new dishes : done and dusted. 7.4. Work on building meaningful components for kids growth and development (dedicating to my kids) : started home schooling. 7.5. Start and complete at least 3 new series/soaps – Dark (All 3 Seasons), Mirzapur (2 Seasons) and Money Heist (Season 01).
I don’t remember the count of wow’s I had gathered after saying – ‘I have a 2TB disk dedicated to movies.’ That was years ago. With streaming services and enough bandwidth, I doubt if a disk of that size is ever required today, even if it is for anything else. For me, I find adoration in that disk. Though my son has scribbled random designs on it, it’s the inside that cheers me up. The disk has watched, to-be-watched, watched-several-times, not-today, i-don’t-know-why-its-here, and numerous such categories. I don’t have the count of languages and genres either. No. If that gives you a picture of systematically organized space, its rather otherwise and pretty messed up.
Cousins, friends, hostel, hostel internet, friend of friend, I am thankful to all and many for the contribution. The movies that have been there from years and not yet watched is the proof that I needed a push, a recommendation, to play it finally. ‘Too many to pick from’ is another reason why a recommendation from a known helps. That’s what I did in the last week of July – ask people for recommendations. Also, I wanted to know what everyone is up to. I went ahead and asked for 1 top recommendation. In two days, I had collected more than a hundred. My August was to set, and in fact, I knew I would have a hard time picking 31 from the hundred plus.
I want to thank everyone who recommended. Some movies were recommended by many, and I made sure to watch them. However, if you had recommended and if it’s not in the list, I apologize for that. I am going to watch all the remaining sometimes soon. Here is how I made selections:
With daily routines and professional works (too many), movie length played a major role. I had to skip lengthy ones.
I wanted to cover as many languages and as many genres. I had to skip some because of the common genre.
I wanted a good mixture of the timeline – old to new.
The movie selection was NOT based on ratings from any platform – we all have our own preferences, and I prefer to watch any and all.
I had to skip some because they were remakes and preferred to watch original.
Most important of all, I wanted them to lighten up my day!
So, here is quick and not so helpful reviews. Suppose you ask me the ratings, it’s 5/5 for all. I would recommend being open to all the genres and watch all of them. A must watch.
Set 01: 01 to 08 August
August 01: Kimi No Na Wa is a Japanese animated movie. The first fifteen around minutes messes you up, but then later, it all sets in. You might even go back and watch a few sections again, and the movie ends leaving one with a smile.
August 02: Predestination is an Australian thriller. The casting and storytelling are brilliant—one of those time travel movies that leave you awed.
August 03: The Book Thief is a British Drama. I cried until I blacked out after the movie end. I am not sure why I did that.
August 04: Bucket list is a Marathi Family movie. I understand enough Marathi (stayed in Pune for 6 months) and for me, this was an emotional connection.
August 05: I was thrilled after watching Spanish mystery – Contratiempo. The acting is classic. The movie is remade into other languages, but hands down, nothing can beat the Spanish version. I feel happy to have watched the original version.
August 06: 303 is a German romance drama. The dialogues are witty and well researched. The movie is an intellectual love. The movie is a good read!
August 07: The Secret Life of Walter Witty is an American Adventure. The cinematography is breathtaking, and the story-line is pleasing.
August 08: Bangalore Days is my first Malayalam movie. Though many of my friends had recommended this earlier, I had not then. The movie is a happy watch.
Set 02: 09 to 16 August
August 09: Looper is an American time travel movie. The movie keeps one hooked from the very first scene. The movie has several wow moments.
August 10: Ninu Veedani Needanu Nene is a Telugu thriller. The movie is well thought, and the story-line is unique. It’s not yet another college romance story.
August 11: Fack Ju Gohte 3 is a German comedy. Though this is the third one in the series, it can be watched without the previous two, and I haven’t as well—a typical comedy movie.
August 12: Grans is a Swedish Fantasy movie. It was an altogether different experience. I am sure a lot and different mysterious things are around us. The movie is a masterpiece.
August 13: Charlie, a Malayalam musical, made me hum its tunes for weeks (I still often do). The story, acting, actors, music, everything is heart soothing. The movie is creative chaos, and it’s beautiful.
August 14: School of life is an American inspirational drama. I connected it better being in academics. It inspired me in several ways to put up with my life better.
August 15: Kendasampige is a Kannada Thriller. I keep a close track of kannada movies and do watch them regularly. This movie has parts filmed in my city. The story-line is good, and the acting is real.
August 16: Before midnight is an American drama. The married couples (especially those who are 5+ years) will definitely connect to this. It’s a movie where dialogues are the plot. The acting is classic.
Set 03: 17 to 23 August
August 17: Parallel World Love Story is a Japanese thriller. The movie is slow-placed and is justified. It seems like a time travel movie, but it’s not.
August 18: I was un poco loco after watching American animated Coco. The movie connects one with family sentiments, and music is catchy. ‘Un poco loco’ is one of my favorites now. ‘Brilliant’ is the word.
August 19: Goodachari is a Telugu patriotic thriller. The casting is good. A well-made movie. With quite good twists, the movie keeps the charm.
August 20: Amelie is a French Drama. I am not sure if this has to be called drama. It’s also, maybe, fantasy. The unique story-line unquestionably gathers love.
August 21: Super Deluxe is a Tamil action. The interconnected plot and Rasukutty will win the hearts. The movie is real.
August 22: Gone Girl is an American Thriller. It messes you up. I ended up pitying for the lead male actor. I have the novel as well and prefer to start soon.
August 23: Ratsasan is a Tamil psychological crime movie. Have seen such movies with the similar theme plot lines earlier, and this movie does justify in every possible aspect. Definitely leaves one thrilled.
Set 04: 24 to 31 August
August 24: Parasite is a Korean comedy. The ending has a lesson and is unexpected. It connects well to modern society.
August 25: Easy A is an American teen comedy. Typical story-line, but enjoyable. There are no bits that drag and well-paced for quick enjoyment.
August 26: Mumbai Police is a Malayalam crime action. The ending is unexpected, and never can one guess that story would end that way. It took me a few minutes to settle back. Real and appealing.
August 27: C/O Surya is a Telugu drama. The not so common story-line is blend-in to a screenplay with a good cast and upbeat bits and pieces. The movie restores friendship and life goals.
August 28: Table 19 is an American comedy. The movie turned out to be a lot better than I had expected. The entire movie is over a wedding table and around, and directed with perfection. I enjoyed this one.
August 29: Maudie is a joint production from Ireland and Canada. It’s based on a true story. Slow paced and creative. The acting is classy and connects. Rejoices life.
August 30: Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal is a Tamil drama. Enough twists and sensible. A happy watch. The two couples and the police keep it entertaining.
August 31: Snowpiercer is a Korean Sci-Fi. I guess this is what pretty much we have done to the world. The movie has a message to humanity. An apt movie to end my movie festival with.
* * * * *
Well, I am happy about how my August 2020 went. It was musical. It was a thriller, comedy and packed with enough romance and action. I guess I know what I am going to do with every August henceforth!
This was my fourth year of A to Z challenge and that very much is the reason why April excites me. April has been the only month since my blogging journey where I post at-least 26 posts. I am happy for what April does to me. It kind of seamlessly fits into my schedule like a must-do routine. I feel the month has that vibe and zeal to keep it going, no matter what.
I have always had 8 lines poems for the challenge with different themes over the years. I continued to do so this year too. Like every year, I must say, I loved doing this year’s challenge. My 2020 theme was Metaphors and a 8 line poem for each. Looking for metaphors was definitely a challenge. I did not restrict my domain to a specific kind of metaphors. I have used them from literature, history, songs, movies, paintings etc. On few days, I had to struggle on which one to pick and other days had to pick the only available. Some days was ease and some days I kept staring at my screen.
I did fill up the end survey and collected my winner batch. Here it goes:
I have compiled all of my challenges into a short ebook and is available for free download. Save a copy for yourself too! Yay!
I would like to thank all of you for being supportive through April. Every blogger needs a supportive community to sustain, survive and thrive. Thank you all for all the love. Thanks to A to Z team for making it happen every year with growing enthusiasm.
This year I also did A to Z 6 word lockdown stories on Instagram. My Instagram id: prakash.hegade.
I am already late for the theme reveal party but better late than never! This is my 4th year of A to Z challenge and looks like 8 line poem is definitely my thing! Here is my year wise theme from 2017:
An idiom for an alphabet and 8 line poem to it.
Emotions and expressions for life and 8 line poem to it.
Words and phrases from foreign languages and 8 line poem to it.
Here is 2020 Theme:
Metaphors from movies, idioms, celebrities, paintings, songs, etc. It’s going to be diverse as well challenging. But who is not up for it!? I am already excited for April 1. I am rushing out to work on metaphor for A and a 8 line poem for it. What are your plans? Let me know. Hope to reach many from April 1.
It was around 27th of October 2016 and I had seen one of my fellow bloggers writing about taking the NaNoWriMo challenge. I got curious and explored more to know that the challenge was about writing 50,000 words in 30 days of November. That looked challenging, especially with all the professional and personal works. I decided to take up the challenge and hoping time will lead through the path.
At first, the novel was about putting together the disconnected threads. There was no plot. Though I used to blog, I had never imagined writing a story as big as 50,000 words. I was scribbling short stories of the characters that come into my mind, some from experience and some from imagination. Soon, I could see the connection between threads and everything coming together.
For the entire second week of November, I had travels to be made relating to my research work. I lost near to 7 days. When I came back home, I promised myself that I would complete this no matter what. For the entire month, I had a pen and paper with me scribbling short notes and plots. There was nothing else that was in my mind for the entire month. WRIMO India group was supportive and I made the best use of sprints hosted for the entire month. By November 28th, I had reached the target of 50K words. The novel was completed with 53K odd words by the end of the month. That is when the first version of ‘i 4 you’ was ready.
The exhaustion, saturation, personal and professional works kept me away from the first draft at least till March of 2017. Then I got to know about Camp NaNoWriMo which happens every April and July. I started setting targets of 40 hours of editing in each of the camps. As well, started editing whenever time permitted.
I had few friends review it after a few rounds of editing. I must mention and Thank Vishwanath Telsang for reading all the crappy versions and suggesting to me the edit changes. The version which I thought was good to go after around 200 hours of editing apparently was smelly and crappy. I would see even some grammar and spelling issues dancing over the pages. It was frustrating. I could see some unnecessary chapters. After another 100 hours of more editing, the novel had finally come down to 38K words from 53K words.
I then started sending it out to traditional publishing houses. Then came the rejections one after another, some months later, some weeks later and some no replies (a no response for 6 months is a rejection). I stayed professional throughout the journey. I waited until the rejection mail before sending it to another house. I had nothing to do. Just sit and wait. The journey wasn’t easy. I don’t remember anything I did not try.
AROUND FOUR DAMN YEARS.
This story is close to me. I badly wanted this to be released as a hard copy. I knew I had to wait. I knew the writing had to be improved. I knew I had to improve. In the meantime, I had completed 3 more NaNoWriMo’s with passing 3 more Novembers. Gosh, that was a lot of piling! Will I ever get over my pile of unpublished works? Will I be able to edit them and send them out?
I had to settle. Somewhere. Maybe it’s just me who feels this one is special. Maybe it’s not. Nothing can make a writer happy than the work being read by many. No matter whether they feel good or bad, whether they rate 1 or 5, it’s the number of people it touches and how they feel about it. I gave a final round of edit and reduced the word count to 33K. This had to stop. Somewhere. I had already spent 300+ hours.
I wanted this to be read by as many. I want to be remembered for writing ‘i 4 you’. I want the parts of this novel to stay with as many people as possible. With all the love, I am releasing my novel as a free ebook. You can download and read it. I would love to hear from you on how you felt about the book.