Thursday, September 25, 2014

Game of Blogs : Story Weavers - Part 18

The vlog uploaded by Cyrus had left Jennifer aka Ahana dumbfounded. Kareem and rest of the team were now exposed in front of the entire world and it would be next to impossible to escape now. Not that any of them had been trained to be scared of death, salvation was their final destination after all; but with the doubts and second thoughts coming in her mind ever since Abdullah was captured and there was noone to motivate her and justify all this, Jennifer decided she must switch teams.

In the fast paced occurrence of the recent events, Shekhar had not really got time to see what the media is broadcasting or the internet is showing to the world. It was not his priority right now, he had only one thing on his mind - saving the hostages captured in Hotel Continental and figuring out the final agenda of the jihadis. Jennifer had taken enough time making her mind up, Shekhar hoped she was not upto something nasty.

"You should take a look at this, hope it helps you plan your actions. Just don't tell anyone that I showed it to you. And be aware of Kareem, he is the most brutal one and will not compromise under any circumstance" Jennifer handed her cellphone to Shekhar with the Vlog still playing the video and walked away. Shekhar's team was on alert, waiting for orders from him as Jennifer started moving away from him. Shekhar knew she had helped him, he now knew the number of hostages and terrorists, their location, what kind of arms & ammunition they carried etc. This much was more than enough for him to execute a rescue mission. He did not stop Jennifer, he let her go and signaled his team to not take any action.

He played the videos once again to form a concrete plan and this second time his eye caught someone familiar amongst the hostages. "Aryan? What on Earth is HE doing here?!" thought Shekhar. Aryan Ahuja was Shekhar & Tara's next door neighbour, a shy but polite guy who did not interact much apart from Hi's and Good day's. But this was way too much of a coincidence, to find his neighbour as a hostage in an attack in another city. Though it was possible, Shekhar's instinct was telling him that something is wrong, very wrong here. He got his team to scrutinize the video frame by frame, zooming every inch, amplifying every word or sound to decipher more. On the big screen, though just for a second, Shekhar was sure he saw Aryan actually give a wry smile, a very wicked twisted one. Only a mentally unstable guy would smile in a situation where the grim reaper could be out seeking him any moment, and he replaced his expression so quickly too!

Shekhar had no more time to waste, he barked orders in his walky-talky and got going.


Inside the hotel, the terrorists were getting agitated and were itching to knock off a couple of hostages. How can the government take 'em so easily. Kareem wanted to call Jennifer and get an update on what was happening outside, but he thought it was best for her to call him once she had some news; also he knew if he called she might ask about Aryan again, and he did not want to lie to her but he was not ready to tell anything yet.

Cyrus' smartphone's battery was getting low, with all the power consumed by recording videos and using 3G to upload them on his blog. He wanted his final log to be the grandest of all, and he wished that his battery would not die on him till then. Something told him that that moment was not too far.

Shekhar figured that if he wanted to both rescue the hostages and capture the terrorists, his entrance and attack would have to be unexpected and with a boom. Giving his team enough time to capture all the terrorists, as of now the video showed 4 in the room, and there could be around as many in the lobbies etc, one could not say.

"Roohi darling, pray for your papa. Pray that he nabs each and every of those Ba****ds today" thought Shekhar and set out to do the needful.

Read the next part of this round here.

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

Saturday, September 20, 2014

From playing contests to hosting 'em!

I have always loved entering contests and competitions, right from childhood that too. I remember those Cartoon Network & Nickelodeon contests where you needed to answer questions or send in drawings via post and later emails to win goodies like stationery, books and the sort. That used to drive me crazy with the adrenaline rush! Had also won big (well then big) things like a crate of soft drinks, a trip to Vaishnodevi and the sort.

I have been a twitter user since 2010, but I did not discover the mysterious world of contests till April 2013 (Which is also when I changed my twitter setting protect my tweets to open, like seriously, if you want to protect your tweets why tweet in the first place?). I remember I had a 100 odd followers back then (Which I was rather proud of too!) I started following people who entered contests & giveaways, and started entering 'em myself! Soon I was winning all sorts of prizes ranging from cosmetics to shopping & meal vouchers and soon enough even cellphones, tablets and the sort! Over time I started considering myself a pro, people started considering me as one too (Guessing by the spikes in number of followers.)

Then there was the despair of losing contests to competitors, staying up all night sending in entries (so that they wouldn't be copied by others who would be asleep then), arguing and bitching when someone I thought didn't deserve to win won, accusing brands of being partial (Didn't quite know about the whole contacts, influencers and stuff then, did I!), constant follow-up on status of prizes, etc. Made a few friends on the way (and enemies too) but was overall quite happy and thrilled with my achievements (A marwaari loves free ka maal)! So were my folks, whom I would gift things I won (well most of it.)

I soon crossed the slabs of 1k and soon 2k followers. Which is when I was introduced to this elite group of 'The Influencers'. People who got paid to tweet! That was like a WOAH moment for me! And soon I was piling up on FK Vouchers (P.S. Flipkart), feeling like achieving a totally new height! But being a influencer also meant winning fewer contests, they were not gonna make you win when you are a insider! (Though I still wonder why?)

And soon, around February 2014, by the time I thought I knew social media fairly well enough. I wondered, why not make it my profession! EUREKA! At that time I was assisting my dad with our family business (which also explains how I got to tweet all day) so was pretty open to a new vocation. Applied at a couple of agencies, saw a few online tutorials on Facebook scheduling, advertising and the other basics and carried my confident self ahead! Soon, I was working at Colorcraft Studio, as a social media manager.

Followers on twitter reached 3K now, but with the 4 hour a day travel and 10 to 6 job, I had absolutely no time to relax, forget entering any more contests. But I thought I'd won my fair share of prizes, let others also get a chance. Plus, I now got to work on strategies and host contests for clients!

And there I was, on the other side of the mirror. Watching people enter contests, spam, flatter etc for our clients. People accusing me (Read: Client handle) of being unfair, winners constantly asking on status of gratification and the sort. And I would be like, take it easy guys, like we brands don't have any other work to do. *Big Pause* Now did I understand how much of planning, communication and effort is put into every campaign. How difficult it is to constantly come up with new ideas, keep user engagement rising always.

If asked, what is more exciting and enjoyable - playing contests or hosting one? Well of-course the thrill in being announced as a winner cannot be competed with. But having a steady job (with a steady salary and incentives), learning something new every day, meeting new clients (and going for recces) has its own perks! If asked, what is more difficult - winning a contest or announcing a winner, well they're both really difficult! Specially with the huge no. of twitter uses as of today, it just keeps getting difficult day by day!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Game of Blogs : Story Weavers (Part 2 of the story)

Continuation of the story, you can read the first part here.

The journey till the airport though not a very long one, felt like ages to Shekhar. The live updates on FM channels talking about how chaos had spread and phone networks jammed was definitely not helping him. In-fact he was quite amazed how his wife could keep calm, she was the mother who gave birth to their child Roohi after all!

"Tara, what if something happens to Roohi? I will never be able to forgive myself" said Shekhar. "Shekhar, be positive for heaven's sake! Delhi is a big city, there are lakhs of people. And I am sure the safety of children is the top-most priority for the police too, I'm sure Roohi will be fine. And anyways we're about to reach the airport, we'll be there in a matter of hours" replied a confident Tara.

Tara had already tried to book flight tickets online for Shekhar on their way to the airport, but there weren't any available at such a last minute notice. Her office had booked a ticket for her already, and they did not have the authority to book one more. At the ticket counter - "Please zara try karo, its very important I be there on the next flight to Delhi" said Shekhar. "We're really sorry sir, but looking at the situation in Delhi we're already overbooked and it is difficult to do anything right now. We could a late night or early morning flight at the most" replied the staff member at the airport.

"Shekhar, I'm anyways going to be covering the attack and will have access to any information I can get. I'll get someone to check on Roohi's departure the first thing when I get there. Meanwhile, you should go home, I'm sure our parents will be worried and will be calling" suggested Tara. "I guess there is no other option, please call me as soon as you get there, have a safe flight dear" said Shekhar and gave Tara a quick hug and left.

Shekhar thanked God for tickets not being available. He would be in quite a soup otherwise. After all, his job requires him to be totally discreet about everything. "It is tough to hide things from family, specially when your own wife is a journalist! But there is no way they can ever know I am a undercover agent for the Anti-Terrorist Squad" thought Shekhar. It worked wonders for him that everyone believed he was a stay-at-home father and freelance writer.

Once out of the airport, he quickly made a couple of calls and headed towards the chopper waiting for him. He was on a mission, a mission to rescue the children taken as hostage on that train. And he was in a mood to kill today, after all, it had just got personal.

In the meanwhile, Tara has reached Delhi. She quickly heads over to the studio where she gets another bad news. The photographer who was to cover the attack along with Tara was MIA. His phone was not reachable and there was no way to contact him. There was no time to think, she quickly recalled all her friends from college who studied journalism along with her. "Of-course! Jennifer! I know she stays in Kochi, but I am pretty sure I saw a Facebook check-in of hers at Agra, a trip she is taking with her fiancé" thinks Tara.

Jennifer Joseph, the not-so-girly girl from college was always adventurous, in fact she had met her fiancé on one of her trips too. The best thing about her, thought Tara, is that she always carried a camera and knew when to click the damned button. Tara quickly called Jennifer and explained the situation. "Agra is 2 hours away, she will be here soon, till then I should start making other arrangements" said Tara to herself.

Read the next part of the story here.

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