The Void…

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There’s an abyss in my heart,
Nothing fills the void.
Amidst the speeding days,
And the fleeting nights;
Mamoth nothingness prevails.

The avalanche of why’s and if’s,
Buries the sapling of bliss.
The never ending crowd,
Meaningless movement of masses;
Creates constant confusion.

Satisfaction the mother of peace,
Dies young everytime she’s born.
Yet, there’s the assurance;
That the vessel of time
Will take me to my destination,
When the odyssey ends.

23 Words or Phrases to Eliminate From Your Writing Today (Infographic)

Here are some really useful tips by Brendan Brown to make your writing captivating.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

by Brendan Brown on Global English Editing Site:

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William Strunk Jr. phrased it best in the must-have book for writers of all levels, Elements of Style:

“Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.”

There’s a tendency to fill writing with needless words; this can bog a reader down in details, distracting from your message. Mastering the art of decluttering words frees you to effectively capture readers’ attention, sparking intrigue and affirming expertise in what you are writing about.

Here are some must-have tips to help you do just that…

eliminate-words-infographic-resized

Source: GlobalEnglishEditing

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Obesity Among School Children

Obesity has become a global phenomenon across the world. It takes place when excessive fat is accumulated in the body over a period of time. Obesity is different from being overweight which implies that a person’s weight is in the upper range among people of the same age and height. A person may be overweight due to a large number of reasons like having more muscles, bone or water in the body which varies due to different body structures.

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The present generation of students are more of couch potatoes who refrain from physical activities and sports. Circumstances as well as lifestyle choices are responsible for it. In most urban areas, the children are confined to their homes right from early childhood. Lack of playing space , social security, and severe crisis of parent’s time are responsible for the confinement of children in their homes. So much so , that the artificial confinement becomes a habit out of which students refuse to budge as they grow up.

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Obesity occurs when children eat more than the body requires for normal growth and activity. The extra calories get stored as fat in the body. Over a period of time the accumulation of fat cells leads to obesity.
The present society has not only confined the children to their homes but also put them in an atmosphere that makes it easy for them to overeat, and difficult to remain active. Screen time activities on computers, gaming consoles, mobiles etc. require very little physical activity and the screen ads adds to unhealthy food choices. Junk food, readymade processed food, snacks are laden with unhealthy calories that fill the bodies with fat which harm children in multiple ways.
Obesity can lead to a large number of physical and mental problems for students. Increased risk of type 2 diabetes, liver disease, high blood pressure, elevated blood cholesterol, bone and joint problems, asthma, sleep apnea are some of the negative outcomes that may arise out of childhood obesity. Obesity among students also leads to low self esteem and depression.

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Parents and teachers can play a big role in preventing obesity among students. First and foremost they must inculcate healthy eating habits in children right form birth. This is best done by acting as a role model for the children. Children should eat only when they are hungry and not merely to while away the time. Screen time for students should be reduced, and outdoor physical activities should be increased. Food must not be used as an award. Fridge and pantry should be stocked with healthy food. Junk food should not be provided in school cafeteria. All kind of junk food stalls should be removed from the vicinity of schools. Educating people regarding the adverse implications of obesity and creating awareness will help in combating the problem in the long run.

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If we don’t somehow stem the tide of childhood obesity, we’re going to have a huge problem.

Lance Armstrong

Common Latin Abbreviations in English

AbbreviationsFull Latin WordsMeaningExamples
c.  circa  circa  Shakespeare was born in c 1500.  
cf.  confercompareCf. Sonnet 116 of Shakespeare.  
e.g.exempli  gratiafor example  Books e.g. novels, biographies, fiction.  
et al.et alii/ aliaand othersSherlock Holmes et al.  
etc.Et cetraand so onFruits like apples, oranges, grapes etc.
ibidibidemin the same placeibdi. Page 20
i.e.id estthat is to sayCold drinks, i.e. soft drinks, cold coffee are available.
N.B.  nota benenote wellN.B. Minimum 5 years of experience is required.
Vide  videseeVide. Document attached
Viz.videlicetnamelyThe members viz. Sam, John, Peter
The bouquet has roses, calendula, lily etc.

Givers of Memories

Singkham Pexels.com
——————————-

Why is it that memories,

Have a strange way of formation?

With those whom we love-

We associate the happy ones.

The sad memories often,

Are linked with those;

Whom we never loved much,

Or would rather forget.

A plethora of sunny thoughts,

Fill our minds with happiness;

While thinking of those we love.

The sad ones vanish like smoke.

The exact opposite happens,

When we think of those;

Who broke our hearts,

At some point of time or other.

The gloomy experiences,

That we carry in our hearts;

Burden our souls like lead,

Unhappiness abounds.

Be a giver of good memories.

For memories are all we take,

When our trip to the world is done;

And it is time to return.

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How to Self-Publish on Amazon

Nicholas C. Rossis

A writer friend contacted me the other day to ask if I had any how-to posts on self-publishing. Specifically, she was asking for detailed information on how to self-publish her book on Amazon.

I didn’t have anything like that, as this blog assumes you will have already published your book and are looking for ways to promote it. But after a quick search, I realized that Amazon has dedicated an entire microsite to just that. They call it KDP Jumpstart and is a mini-course that walks you through all steps. So, here it is, for any writers who are still looking to self-publish their first book.

KDP Jumpstart

New to Kindle Direct Publishing? Want a simple, step-by-step guide to publishing on Amazon? KDP Jumpstart is a streamlined, sequential approach to the steps required to go from finished manuscript to published book. To publish on KDP, you’ll complete four major…

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All about Punctuation

Punctuation marks are symbols, used to regulate written text, clarify their meaning by separating or linking words, phrases or clauses.

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The great American inventor and typographer Benjamin Franklin wrote a peculiar epitaph.

Benjamin Franklin, the * of his profession, the type of honesty;  the ! of all; and although the (of death) has put a . to his existence, each) of his life has been without ?

Benjamin Franklin, the star of his profession, the type of honesty; the wonder of all and although parenthesis of death has put a stop to his existence, each curve of his life has been without question,

CAPITAL LETTER

We use a capital letter –

  1. To begin a sentence. What a piece of work is man!
  2. For proper nouns. The Taj Mahal is a magnificient mausolem.
  3. After full stops. I know her. She is my neighbour.
  4. To begin a fresh line in a poetry. Errors like straws, upon the surface flow; He who search for pearls must dive below.

Compare the two sentences:

  1. Mary says, “Sally is a fool.
  2. Mary,” says Sally, “is a fool.”

From these two sentences it is clear that stops may alter the sense of a sentence. Punctuation means the correct use of such stops.

The principal stops are:

  1. Full stop/Period (U.S)                                                                            (.)
  2. Comma                                                                                                  (,)
  3. Semicolon                                                                                             (;)
  4. Colon                                                                                                     (:)
  5. Question mark/ Note of interrogation                                              (?)
  6. Exclamation mark/Note of exclamation                                           (!)
  7. Quotation mark/ Inverted commas           [ (“”)double]       [(‘’) single]
  8. Apostrophe                                                                                           (‘)
  9. Dash                                                                                                       (_)
  10. Hyphen                                                                                                 (-)
  11. Round bracket/ Curve/ Parenthesis                                                  (())
  12. Brace bracket/ curly bracket                                                             ({})
  13. Square bracket                                                                                      ([])
  14. Angular bracket                                                                                    (<>)
  15. Slash/ Oblique/ Slant/ Virgule                                                            (/)
  16. Back slash                                                                                              (\)
  17. Dots/ suspension Points                                                                      (…)
  18. Ditto marks                                                                                           (,,) (“)
  19. Asterisk/ star                                                                                         (*)
  20. Colon dash                                                                                            ( :- )
  21. Swang dash/ tilde                                                                                 (~)

THE FULL STOP

 Uses-

  1. At  the end of an assertive or an imperative sentence. It represents the longest pause.

Close the door.

It’s a cold day.

  • Usually after common contractions.

Advertisement- advt.   Received- Revd.  Manufacturing- mfg. Expiry date- Exp. Dt.

  • After common abbreviations.

a.m,  p.m,  B.A, M.Tech, M.L.A., e.g., i.e.

[Now-a-days compound names of organisations, designations, degrees are used without fullstop.]

UNO, MLA, MP, MR, DR

  • To indicate decimal point.

$ 10.50, 20.8 secs, 70.5m

A full stop is NOT used

1. After heading and titles of books  and articles

EARTHQUAKE ROCKS MIDDLE EAST

Arabian Nights

From Log cabin to White House

  • After a signature in a letter

Yours sincerely

Rivansh

  • After dates except at the end of sentence

25th May, 2020

COMMAS [ , ]

Commas represent the shortest pause in a sentence.

Commas are generally used for:

  • Separating phrases or clauses

When I opened my newspaper today, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Bring a chair, a bottle of water, and a good book.

Being tired of walking, he decided to rest.

  • For separating sequence of words and phrases and is omitted before the conjunction (and).

e.g. I have brought sandwich, cake, fruit and some lemonade.

The night was dark, quiet and scary.

She is  tall, beautiful, honest and intelligent.

  • for separating phrases in apposition

Rabindranath, the great poet, won the noble prize for ‘Gitanjali’.

  • Separating adverbial clause from the principal clause

If it rains, I shall take an umbrella.

When she came here, it was dark.

  • for separating Non- defining Relative clause.

People , who live in glass houses, must not throw stones.

  • For separating co-ordinate clauses joined by co-ordinating conjunctions.

He will definitely come first, for he has studied hard.

  • After nouns of address

Jane, must you always be complaining?

Your Majesty, I’m at your service.

Excuse me, madam, is this your book?

Sir, may I come in?

I’m all right, mom.

  • For separating some words/ phrases at the beginning of a sentence.

 e.g. No, I won’t go to the market now.

 Yes, she has finished reading the book.

By the way, you must visit your grandmother.

I am quite comfortable, thank you.

Therefore, you must meet the boss.

  • i] In between dates and years- March 6, 2020

ii] After thousands in numerals – $ 10,985

iii] In address – 24, Clive House, London

  • For separating Question tags from sentences

 You will visit us, won’t you?

Your brother is a football player, isn’t he?

You have not given her the letter, have you?

She is not going to the stadium, is she?

  • Two commas are used to separate words, phrases, small clauses that interrupt normal sentence structure

E.g. Teacher: You are late again. The rules, as you know, do not allow late comers.

        Sammy: I’ll never, I assure you, be late again, ma’am.

       Teacher: By the way, may I know, why are you late?

       Sammy: Our car, which is old, refused to start in the cold morning.

SEMI COLON  [;]

Semi colons indicate greater pauses than a comma

It is used to

  • Separate clause having relation but not joined by conjunction

e.g. We will stay here; you may go.

Man loves today what he will hate tomorrow; today he seeks something only to shun it tomorrow; he will desire today what he will fear tomorrow.

Ashley is a hardworking boy; a boy who is sincere and devoted; a student who deserves the prize.

  • To mark a stronger division in a sentence when comma is already used.

e.g The children were waiting, impatiently talking among themselves; but none of them, inspite of being tired, complained to their teacher.

COLON [:]

Colon represents a longer pause than a semi colon

It is used-

  • To introduce a quoted material

Vivekananda said: Education is the manifestation of perfection already in man.

  • To introduce list of items, comment or explanation.

You will need the following: some flour, four eggs, sugar and vanilla essence.

The dogs began growling : they must have heard a noise.

Learn to acquire the habit of self reliance: no learning is ever complete without it.

  •  To introduce an antithesis

She is famous: but she is unhappy.

QUESTION MARK OR NOTE OF INTERROGATION   [?]

It is used

  1. At the end of a direct question

Where are you going?

  • Not at the end of an indirect question.

He asked me where I was going.

EXCLAMATION MARK  [!]

  1. At the end of an exclamatory sentence.

What a kind lady she is!

What a beautiful scenery!

  • After interjections

Alas! My dog is dead!

Oh! I forgot to bring the tickets.

APOSTROPHE [‘]

It is used

  1. With ‘s’ in possessive cases of Noun

e.g. My brother’s bicycle.

Derick’s shoes.

  • In contracted forms showing omission of letters

You’ve read the book.

I’ve observed that he can’t speak French.

  • In plural form of numbers and letters

Cut you t’s and dot your i’s . During the 1980’s

HYPHEN [-]

It is used

  • To form a compound  from two or more words

Brother-in-law,    Mid-day,     Eco-friendly,      Co-education

  • Between spellings of compound numbers (21 – 99)

Twenty-five,    sixty-seven

  • To separate prefix ending with the same vowel

Co-operate,       pre-eminent

  • To indicate the continuity of a word that is divided into two lines. The word is divided by syllables. The hyphen is written at the end of the first line, not at the beginning of the next line.

My sister is always try-

ing to find faults with me.

She scolded me just be-

cause I was late in feed-

 ing my canary.

QUOTATION MARKS OR INVERTED COMMAS [‘        ‘] [“        “]

Inverted commas are used to to mark the exact words of a speaker or a quotation.

In British English single inverted commas [‘      ‘]  and in American English double inverted commas [“     “] are used.

They are used

  • Indicate direct speech

She said, “I am guilty.”

Shakespeare says, “ Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.”

I would rather die,” he exclaimed, “than be taken as a prisoner.

  • To indicate titles of books, films, poems, etc.

Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’

J.K. Rowling’s ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’

  • To indicate foreign expression

Hitler told about ‘Lebensrium’ (German for ‘living place’)  

  • If a quotation occurs within a quotation, it is marked by single inverted commas.

You might as well say,” added the March Hare,“that ‘I like what I get is the same as I get what I like‘.”

DASH [ – ]

A dash is used

  • To indicate an additional statement or fact

The hill tribes are more friendly – and helpful- than people in the plain.

  • To indicate pause, especially for effect at the end of a sentence

There is only one outcome – downfall.

  • To add an afterthought

She wore a red gown – a very bright red.

  • To indicate range of year or route

2004 – 2010

Delhi – Kolkata highway

  • In place of quotation mark

-Where is your sister?

               -She is in the playground.

BRACKETS (  ) [  ] { } < >

Parenthesis or Round Brackets (  )

Are used to give extra information + cross reference

e.g. Her next film (The Dance of the Dragon) will be releasing soon.

Square brackets   [  ]

Are used for Editor’s comment and extra information

e.g. She left the office [to] see her father.

Curly brackets { }

Are used in prose to designate a list of equal choices

Angle brackets < >

Are used to enclose and illustrate highlighted information

SLASH/ VIRGULE   [ / ]

A slash or virgule is used to indicate

  • Fractions

e.g. 2/3 of the cake was eaten by him.

  • Certain abbreviations

Care of = c/o, daughter of = d/o,  wife of = w/o

  • Alternatives

E.g. His/ her admission

  • Lines of poetry set in prose

E.g. I wandered lonely as a cloud/ That floats on high o’er the vales and hills/ When all at once I saw a crowd,/ A host of golden daffodils,

DITTO [ “ ]

Ditto means ‘do’ and it is used to indicate repetition of words

E.g.  All candidates must submit

i)  One copy of Residential certificate

ii)   “       “    “   Birth certificate

TILDE [~]

A tilde is used informally to mean approximately

e.g. Saute vegetables for ~30 minutes

In mathematical equation it is used for ‘ similar to’

e.g “x~y” x is similar to y in value

A tilde is also used to indicate a range between two numbers

e.g.   “ 72~78”

In Spanish, the tilde is  to represent a nasal sound ‘nyuh’

ASTERISK [*]

It is one of the oldest textual marks dating back over 5000 years. It is derived from the Greek word ‘asteriskos‘ which means ‘little star’.

It is used

To denote a footnote which directs the reader to the information located at the bottom of the page. Single *, double **, or triple *** asterisk is used for additional footnotes.

The *immobile elements posed threat to the inhabitants.

*not moving or not being able to move

  • To omit certain letters.

She scared the s*** out of me.

  • To clarify a ‘disclaimer’.

Avail 50% OFF on selected merchandise *

*terms and conditions apply.

McCluskigunj – Little England in Jharkhand

A colonial bungalow in ruins.

The lush green surroundings of McCluskigunj, with its dirt tracks and fresh air is indeed a retreat for the stressed out souls. About 64 kilometres from the capital of Jharkhand, Ranchi; this sleepy town is surrounded by hills, forests and meandering rivulets. It is 1500 feet from sea level and has a pleasant climate throughout the year.

A series of colonial bungalows stand to tell us the story of a dream settlement envisioned by Earnest Timothy McCluskie in 1932. When the 200 year British rule was about to end, the Anglo- Indian community with its British DNA and Indian hearts earned for a Homeland right in the heart of India.

McCluskie in one of his hunting expeditions fell in love with the place in the midst of hills and forests. McCluski leased some 10,000 acres of land from Raja of Ratu and formed a cooperative called The Colonization Society of India. In 1933 he sent invitations to the Anglo-Indian community for settling down in McCluskigunj. About 300 families constructed bungalows in McCluskigunj which came to be known as Little England. Parties, hunting expeditions, high teas and revelry became the order of the day for the inhabitants of McCluskigunj. Joyous days were spent among the beauteous nature of Chhotanagpur Plateau.

By the end of WW-II most of the inhabitants had suffered a setback and decided to leave the place. About 30 families, who had made McCluskigunj their home and couldn’t bear to depart. The effects of settling down in the remote area were seen in the generations to come. The place did not offer career prospects to the future generations, who either moved to the bigger cities or faced a bleak future. There are several heritage bungalows which serve as guest houses to tourists.

Temple and Gurdwara in the same complex speak of brotherhood.

The banks of the Dugadugi River, the Gurdwara and temple in the same complex in Duli village, sunset at Jagrirti Vihara are some of the attractions of this leisurely place apart from the picturesque colonial bungalows dotting the main streets.  The shaded groves, the gurgling river relaxes the mind and rejuvenates the body. It is here that stress develops wings and fades away into oblivion.

Dugadugi River

Fugitive Fate

Photo by Prajakt Rebeloma on Pexels.com

“Come on…. it’s getting late,” yelled Swarna at the top of her voice.  The children scampered all around with excitement. It was natural.  Soham was six and Sona ten, yet they had been on only two vacations in their entire life. The reason was Swarna’s demanding job and never ending fund crisis. 
 Swarna worked in a small firm. The income was meagre and the job demanding.  All private firms were the same – profit oriented.  In spite of her frustrations, Swarna continued her tedious tasks day in and day out in hope of a better future.  This vacation was planned by her, and executed by her husband Joy. Actually his name was Vijay, but Swarna called him Joy which meant victory in Bangla. Joy too called her Soro; a shortened form of Swarna.  She did like the endearment till Sona pointed out that it sounded like sorrow. 
 But by the time Sona had pointed it out; the name itself was ten years old and had achieved a distinct identity.
“Soro!” Joy called out, “it’s time to leave…” “Coming…”  Swarna replied as she hurriedly opened the trunk in which she kept all her expensive saris. She wrapped the small steel box, containing her jewellery, in an old sari belonging to her late mother-in-law, and kept it among the saris inside. It was a small precaution that she always took while leaving the house, she never left it in the safe inside the cupboard. She knew that would be the first place the thieves would steal from in case of a break in.  “ We must buy a locker at a bank, it isn’t safe to keep so much jewellery in the house,” she thought.
Her years of hard work had been transformed into beautiful gold jewellery which she often flaunted at various family functions.  The envious looks of the relatives and friends, gave her the reason to buy more jewellery each year.  From just a pair of earnings and a gold chain that she had during the time of her marriage, she now possessed about twenty items of gold jewellery as well as a couple of expensive saris that she had bought after several severe altercations with Joy.
Satisfied with her work she locked the trunk, and covered it with cushions which turned it into a chair.
She snatched the lunch from the kitchen and headed for the door.
“We’ll miss the train because of you,” her husband grumbled.
Everything went well, and Swarna  posted as many pics and videos as possible. The children enjoyed the beach immensely. Her relatives, friends and colleagues showered them with likes and comments in all the social media accounts that she had.
Swarna was sure they were seething with jealousy inside.
As they arrived at their house, Swarna requested her husband to buy some lunch. She was too tired to move. Joy got down from the taxi at the crossing; and told them to move ahead.  It was only a minutes walk to their home.
Swarna found the key and opened the door.  “I shall sleep for a day before I do any work,” she said to Soham and Sona. “We too,” they replied in unison. 
A wave of shock passed through Swarna as she looked at her living room.  Everything was scattered on the floor. The sari with which she had wrapped the box of jewels, lay on the floor. The window to the living room had been cut open and the thieves had taken their time to remove everything that was worth stealing.
Swarna sank on the floor.  The children hurried to find their possessions. Somewhere through the daze, she heard a voice. “Soro!” .She felt water being sprinkled on her face, and light pats on her cheek from somewhere far beyond.

The Classics Eight: Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Theresa Smith Writes

My daughter recently had to study Macbeth for year 12 senior English, as I had done twenty-five years ago. The assessment itself was essentially unchanged: a monologue presentation followed by an exam. Macbeth is my favourite of all Shakespeare’s works so I was more than happy to revisit the play as a means of helping my daughter out with this final piece of assessment for high school. Out of the two of us, I ended up being the only one to actually read Macbeth in its entirety. Seriously, the internet is a game changer for students today. It puts me in mind of this joke:

My daughter didn’t read the play because she didn’t need to. She could simply Google ‘Macbeth’ and visit any number of useful sites dedicated to dissecting all of the elements in a clear and concise way. If she wanted to, she could have even read…

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