15

9th Year Anniversary

9th Year Anniversary

Its 9th day of June and my blog, ‘The Contemplation Of a Joker’ completes 9 years of its existence. Yes, today is its 9th birthday. 😀 Happy birthday to my blog.

By that logic, it belongs to the Zodiac sign Gemini. Some of the characteristics of a Gemini are that they are surprising, unpredictable, adaptable and indecisive. 9 years is a long enough time to figure out that these features totally align with my blog.

It has been surprising with the kind of content it dishes out. Totally unpredictable with the frequency – it has successfully completed an AtoZ challenge and there were times when it didn’t come up with a post in six months even.

Adaptability is one of its key features as to the various genres it has catered too. Some might see it as a negative but I would like to believe, it is a positive for my blog till it figures out and carves out a niche for itself. It is at times indecisive when it comes to picking and sticking to a theme while undertaking a challenge.

I still remember the day when I started this blog. I wanted to reach out to an audience and test waters before actually taking the writer/author route. While I have still not fully taken the plunge I am happy with the progress my blog has made. I know…I know it has been slow, but at least I never gave up.

The last year…the 9th was the best year for it as it saw the most number of posts being published and saw a better consistency and hence a better Alexa rank. While blogging, on the whole, is on a decline with fewer and fewer money being pumped in by the brands but I still believe that if you keep publishing quality content you will develop an authentic readership however small it may be.

A couple of days back a blogging community-based platform, Indiblogger declared that they would be going offline and shutting down operations. I was shocked and a bit heartbroken but I could see it coming with more and more of such platforms closing down. Last year it was Blogmint and this year it is our beloved Indiblogger.

Indiblogger was famous for its blogging challenges and competitions; some of them had literally big prizes. All these years of blogging it was a constant companion and these challenges kept motivating to come up with better content. Some of my best work has come as part of these challenges only.

Their Indimeets will surely be missed by the whole community. They hosted some of the best blogging meets hosted across the country and gave a true opportunity to make friends with the faces behind the blogs we visit on a regular basis and have made a bond with them.

I remember winning a PS3 at one of those Indimeets and now since they are going away forever its meaning has become even more for me. Indiblogger – you will surely be missed and thank you for being such an important part of my blogging journey. I dedicate this birthday to you.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been a part of my blogging and writing journey – the ones who regularly visit and comment on my blog, the ones who have just read a post or two, the ones who motivate to do better work, the ones who painstakingly review and read the initial drafts, the ones who don’t read at all but still are gracious enough to share my posts. I thank you all ‘Dil se’.

For all those who have been a part of my blogging journey,

For all those who read my posts,

For all those who regularly share my posts,

And

For all those who still believe in my writing…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Thank you ALL 🙂

Manas’ Sameer’ Mukul

 

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7

An Era of SMART Lives #GetFitWithFlipkart #SmartHomeRevolution

An Era of Smart Lives


Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

A century ago if somebody would have said that there would be huge iron birds flying over our skies and would be used as a mode of transport, I am sure he or she would have been stoned to death on the premise of going insane. But today that is a reality.

Technology is something that helps us dream, create and achieve what most of the people can’t even imagine. With the use of more and more artificial intelligence and the concept of ‘Internet of Things’, we are currently living in a ‘Smart’ world.

From devices to gadgets, phones to watches the advancements in technology haven’t spared anything and left its footprints everywhere. In fact these days, every year a smart product gets launched and takes the whole technological world by storm before slowly percolating into our daily lives.

Smart Wearable Watch – Source Flipkart

Last year it was the year of air purifiers, the year before that was of smartwatches, the year before that was of Smart Wearable health gadgets and the list goes on and on. With ‘internet of things’ gaining momentum the Smart Home with Smart Lights, Smart Electronic Devices, Smart Home Security with Smart Camera is also gathering pace.

Even the traditional legacy systems based realtors are very much aware of these trends and they are incorporating these smart features from the very beginning of the designing and construction phase.

I believe that people born in the late 80s like me should be called the transition generation. We witnessed both the extremes and acted as a bridge between both the generations. I have spent days where basic electricity was treated like a luxury living through 16-hour power cuts in a day. I clearly remember for years finishing my school homework in candlelight, in fact, we were so blessed that we had the privilege of having candlelight dinners on a daily basis. And all this was happening when we were living in cities imagine the plight of rural India.

Smart Home with Google Home – Source Flipkart

My first desktop had only 32 MB of RAM and 10 GB of ROM. Yeah, you read it right. Today my smartphone has more RAM than ROM of my first computer. That’s the real leap technology has taken. In fact, there is a stat, which suggests that technology becomes obsolete every 18 months and with continuous innovation of smart devices I believe this timeframe is getting even shorter year by year.

Remember the day, when the first mobile phone was of brick-sized, black in color with a long antenna attached to it and we had to shell out loads even for incoming calls. The current generation can’t even relate to those days whereas we have closely witnessed the real change that technology and smart devices have gone through.

After my father passed away and my sister and me staying away it was getting really difficult for us to keep an eye on the safety of mom and home. Today with Smart Home Security Devices it has brought us some deserved peace of mind. All it needs is an Internet connection and an application on my smartphone and I can keep a watch over the complete house while being anywhere in the world.

Smart Home Security Camera – Source Flipkart

People are becoming health conscious and these Smart Gadgets are surely helping in keeping a track of your daily activity. You can monitor your heart rate, BMI, numbers of steps walked, kilometers did and what not. Products like electronic cigarettes have their share of nicotine but are comparatively less harmful than the regular ones.

The flurry of smart devices and gadgets is coupling nicely with the modern urban frantic lifestyle. I recently saw a product for new parents known as ‘Baby monitor’. You can use it remotely listen to sounds made by an infant. Such products are really a blessing for working mothers and parents who have separate rooms for them.

The lines are constantly getting blurred among different categories of products with modification, minification, magnification, and innovation. One doesn’t need a separate phone, camera, and computer – all of these are clubbed in one smartphone with a million other features, which in all honesty we don’t even use.

There are a lot of areas that need attention and I am sure that slowly they will also be under the ‘Smart’ umbrella. Moving ahead a lot of focus should be on products for Smart Medical Devices, products for woman safety and education.

Smart Lights with Smart Home – Source Flipkart

Being a writer and a pet lover I wish there would be more products, which can assist us in writing and creating quality content. What a boon it would be if I could get to know what my dog is thinking or what it wants.

The future looks really bright and promising for the ‘Smart’ technologies but it has its ploys too. The mix should be perfectly balanced. A product should not be pushed down our throats just because they have invented it and it is smart in nature. Sometimes I feel that humans are getting dumber while the devices are getting smarter. Just Kidding. The basic premise that it is catering to some actual need and providing a solution to a real-world problem and in the process easing our lives should always remain of utmost importance and priority.

With 5G on our doorways along with artificial intelligence guiding our way into future and its perfect marriage to ‘Internet of Things’, we are embarking on a journey from Smart Devices to An Era of Smart Living.

#GetFitWithFlipkart and #SmartHomeRevolution

Smart Glasses – Source Flipkart

For all those who use smart devices,

For all the tech savvy people,

For all those who are in love with technology,

For all those who use Flipkart,

and

For all those who are ready for a Smarter future…

It’s not a goodbye,

but it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This post is for the Let’s #GetFitWithFlipkart & start a #SmartHomeRevolution contest by Flipkart in association with Indiblogger.

13

A Date to Remember – #TheBlindDate #SayYesToTheWorld

Every day that you live is a blind date with the world. You never know what will come tomorrow. All you can do is live each of them to the fullest. I might not be forever around but whenever you will go out and see the world just remember in all those places that I visited I left a part of me for you to find it and make it your own. Every time you visit a new place It’s like a blind date. Be a traveler and not a tourist. Make a Bucket List, Travel to Explore…Meet people…Speak to them…Live the culture…Eat their food…Celebrate their festivals…Hear their stories…Trust your instincts and the world will be your home and while you are there become one of them. Go and live your passion and #SayYesToTheWorld.

I reminded myself of these words from my father, as I was about to board the flight to a location in Southeast Asia.

It was a pleasant morning and the sky was bright and clear with some scattered white clouds losing their way to home. I thought of taking a nap instead of watching reruns of the pre-installed TV programs and movies as a part of the in-flight entertainment system.

About 30 minutes into the air, the flight started shaking. For a moment or two, I thought this was regular turbulence. But it started to get worse and felt terrible. By my calculations, we should have been over the Indian Ocean. I looked outside the small airline window. The plane was amidst real dark treacherous clouds. There were continues flashes of lightning complemented by resounding thundering. It was something that I had never experienced before.

It was not a nice feeling, the plane was going up and down like a roller coaster and it seemed as if it was already beyond the control of the cockpit crew. I tightened the already fastened seat belt and held onto anything possible. I had this strong eerie feeling that this might be the last trip that I am taking…’I-am-about-to-die’ – the sensation came all over me.

Things started coming off. The plane was beginning to lose chunks of its wings. The overhead luggage started falling here and there. There were shrieking prayers, crying children, hugging families and dying souls. Even the crew was holding on to seats for their lives.

Suddenly a huge flash of light hit the plane. The whitening effect was so bright and blinding that nobody was able to see anything henceforth. I closed my eyes and remembered my loved ones for the last time.

In a couple of minutes, everything went silent. The plane had stopped trembling and the skies had suddenly cleared. In fact, it was clearer than ever before. An unknown force was pulling the plane vertically downwards. The movement felt as if the plane was being maneuvered and controlled from outside. It was slow enough not to cause panic anymore. It finally landed.

The uproar and screaming had mellowed down and was replaced with the tears of joy. Nobody was concerned, including the crew, about what this place was. Everybody just was happy to be alive, breathing and on land. The exit gates finally opened.

The moment I got out the first thing that I saw was a huge snow covered mountain in the backdrop of the landscape. My initial thought was how the hell did they end up making an airport at such a precarious location. Still not completely recovered from our disastrous experience I took each step with caution. I was finally on the unknown land.

There was a crew, which had lined up to receive us and was dressed up in silvery crimson uniform and in a material that I had never seen before, forget about wearing it. Something was peculiarly odd about them. I felt that my senses aren’t in the right condition and hence I was feeling so.

I was not sure whether they would understand my language and still gave it go and asked one of the members, “What place is this? Where are we?”

The person didn’t respond immediately. After proper consideration, she said, “Sir, please follow us. The authorities will answer your queries. We are only allowed to receive you and take you to them”. Her sentences were not flowing…she was speaking word by word without any connotation and tonality as if she had just learned the language.

We walked into the ultra-modern glass structure surround by surreal picturesque natural beauty. We reached a cabin and entered after she did a retina scan. She asked me to sit and wait for the person from the authority. I was feeling scared, lost and thirsty but was too intimated to ask for anything. I quietly sat down.

Someone entered the room. She (I thought so) was tall, bald but had strikingly shiny spotless skin. She was also dressed up in that material, with teal being the only difference instead of crimson.

Before she could say anything, I questioned, “Ma’am! What place is this? Where are we?” ‘Would it be a good idea to ask for some water’, I thought.

She pressed a button; a small portion in the wall separated and a glass of water came out in a tray. I was confused to have it but too thirsty to actually have a choice.

She said, “Hi Sir! Please calm down and have some water. You are safe here. You are in a parallel Universe and this is Planet U or Utopia – an exact replica of the Planet Blue. We were transporting something through our teleportation beam, which was left exposed for some extra milliseconds and that’s how your plane got entrapped in that energy field and you all landed here. Please don’t worry about anything. No harm would be done to anyone.” She too was speaking in a word-by-word format. I was still wondering whether I asked for water loudly and missed half of what she said. I really wanted to ask, “Why are you speaking like that?”

“Sir, we don’t speak here on this planet. We only read minds. All our communication is telepathic, though no one stops us from using words, we believe in saving energy of all kind.”

In shock and awe, I picked up the glass of water with trembling hands and started having it. It was the freshest of liquid I ever had. It did calm me down.

She continued, “I am your chaperone till your stay on our planet. I will be here 24*7 and you just have to remember me and I will be happy to help. We are trying to arrange for your travel back to Planet Blue, till then please consider this as your home. Would you like to have some food or would you like to rest for a while?

I knew that my time was limited here and since it was an unknown land, I wanted to make the best of it. I would like to see some places while I am here.

The Everest

“Definitely Sir. Let me make it easy for you. I know the geography of your Planet and since it is similar we should visit the places you might not be easily able to visit on your planet. We don’t have countries or any borders here on this Planet. You can simply walk and hop on from places to places. For your reference I will use the name of the places that are there on the Planet Blue”, she further added.

“Whatever you get on your planet you will get the same here, may be better. Everybody sees the renowned locations what if I show you places of your own world and make you experience things that will leave you speechless”, she said with a wide smile.

I agreed and said, “Yeah! That’s a wonderful idea. People usually visit those known wonders of the world. Please take me to places which I haven’t been to and let me experience those hidden pleasures and locations.” I handed her a list of places and countries I have been to.

Kashmir

She got up from her seat and signaled me towards a gallery. After the exit, there was a translucent blue colored vehicle without any wheel. It was about 2 feet in the air and it worked on a technology, which depended on the magnetic field of their planet.

For the first time in my life, I was witnessing something as strange as this. Obviously, I had to be the pillion rider of this supersonic vehicle. She asked, “From where would you like to start?”

“I thought you could read the mind”, I replied with a grin and held the backrest tight.

We reached our first destination. Very few Indians can claim that they have experienced something like this. I was viewing Kashmir and its snow-covered peaks from the Pakistan side. It was a mesmerizing sight. I knew I had to see a lot and couldn’t afford to spend too much time at a single location.

Our next destination was the ancient city of Kandahar in Afghanistan. It is a beautiful city. We visited the Blue Mosque and did take out time to try out some of the Afghani bread. The locals were playing the Pashto tunes and some of them were surprisingly dancing to them as well. We too joined in. She did have a humane side to her irrespective of her artificial appearance.

Big Almaty Lake

We then headed further north to Almaty. Flying over the Tien Shan Mountains was a sight I would take to my grave. You can find the last wild apple forest in the world there. In fact, Almaty gets its name from that only – it means ‘Father of Apples’. We decided to pluck a few and have them sitting next to the tranquil Big Almaty Lake.

Next came the place of Vodka and stunning women – Russia. After tasting some of the finest Vodkas and getting our spirits high we headed over to the Altai Mountains and Lake Baikal. There was no point in spending too much time in those chilling deserted forests of Siberia and we decided to move on.

Clay pots used to make wine

We reached Georgia – Balcony of Europe. She took me to Mtskheta – a Unesco world heritage site. We met some of the most incredible and warm people in the world. A family hosted a dinner for us; prepared some ‘Khachapuri’ and served some of the finest homemade wine, one can ever taste. We decided to take some rest there.

Next, we headed to Armenia – a country that lost about 1.5 million people in one of the worst genocide in human history and still home to the friendliest people around. It is also home to the oldest winery in the world. It was worth every sip along with ‘Lavash’ – their awesome bread that has successfully found its way in the Unesco list of intangible cultural heritage.

Hot air balloons – Turkey

She then took me to Turkey to show some of the most unrealistic views. ‘Cappadocia’ for its hot air balloon experience against the backdrop of a spellbinding landscape. Then she took it a notch higher; we visited ‘Pamukkale’ – the land of thermal pools – the mineral-rich thermal waters flowing down white travertine terraces on a nearby hillside.

Our next stop was Greece and we started with the ancient city of Acropolis, Athens before heading to one of the most visually stunning Greek islands – Santorini. No trip to Greece is complete without visiting Mykonos – the Ibiza of Greece.

Santorini

We then crossed the Dead Sea and headed to a place surrounded by conflicts and chaos – Jordan. It is so amazing that it is a world in itself. After visiting the historic ancient treasures like Petra and Jerash, we went for a true Bedouin experience – camping in the middle of Wadi Rum in yurts made out of wool and gazing at the stars.

We crossed the entire stretch of Sahara desert before heading to the most unique location of the Planet. You don’t realize the perfidious breadth of the desert until you actually fly over it.

I had previously covered a lot of Europe and hence requested her to take me to Iceland. It is a different planet altogether. From geography to topographical features, all are vividly peculiar compared to the rest of the world. She said you are lucky this time of the year and we were able to witness the Northern Aurora.

The Northern Aurora Lights

We moved on to another colder region, spotting a rare polar bear, the home of maple syrup – Canada. There is nothing that would amaze you once you visit Iceland but every sight has its own charm and there is nothing like standing in mist from the Niagara Falls.

We then proceeded towards the land of ‘Mayans’ in the state of Yucatan in Mexico. They are considered to be one of the most intelligent and advanced ancient civilizations. The heart of their culture was in ‘Chichen Itza’. You can also try the Yucatecan food for its Mayan influences.

Everybody speaks about Belgium chocolates – The Mexican ones are equally good. Don’t forget to try a pint of Mexican beer and their tequila – in fact, it is the official drink of the country.

If you are a believer in Aliens and in the fact that they have surely visited the Planet Blue pay a visit to Machu Picchu in Peru, to know what they were really capable of. It is also known as ‘Lost City of the Incas’ and a Unesco world heritage site too.

Machu Picchu – Peru

It was time to head over to the so-called peculiar lands – Australia and New Zealand. They are unique in their habitat, vegetation, animals and nearly everything.

Both of us had a spoon full of Manuka honey – produced by bees rummaging on the flowers of the Manuka tree, a very special tree that only grows in New Zealand. We hogged to some Kiwi fruit before traveling to catch the Southern Lights at Lake Tekapo. It is as majestic and surreal as the Northern Aurora.

If you want to see a white shark or a deadly poisonous snake then Australia is the place to be. Along with its beauty, the eccentric nature of the land has given birth to some really strange animals and features – especially the Great Barrier Reef – the largest coral reef system.

She suggested we should return, as it has been already so many days that we were missing from the base and by now they might have worked out the system for my safe return.

Manuka Flower and Bee

I had lost all count of time…day and night…was awestruck and hypnotized in the entire splendor of the planet and above all her magnificence and simplicity.

She wanted to show me one last place and then head back. We parked our vehicle and decided to take a stroll on the Great Wall of China while sipping at some of their potent teas including the most expensive of them all – The Panda tea. It would have been unfair if we just had Panda tea without actually paying them a visit.

We got back on our vehicle and started on the journey back. She said, “Remember the mountain that you saw when you landed. That was Mt. Everest.”

Great Wall of China

Sitting at the top of it and knowing that everybody else is below you is a pretty ‘high’ feeling in itself. We sat there and chatted for a while before returning to the base.

The next day it was time for me to go back from this enriching experience. A lump formed in the middle of my chest. She was there with her effervescent smile to guide me back to the restored plane. I knew no matter how much I see the world now it would be incomplete without her.

People say that they have made a Bucket list but I can proudly say that I made #TheBlindList

 

For all those who love to Travel,

For all those who believe in Blind Dates,

For all those who Travel to Explore

For all those who are openminded

For all those who #SayYesToTheWorld

And

For all those who love #TheBlindList

It’s not a Goodbye…

But It’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is my entry to #TheBlindList and #SayYesToTheWorld Contest

Watch the Video and Fall in Love with the World again