ANNOUNCEMENT | A new journey:: #Orenda

It is a universal truth that everyone has a story to tell. Life is full of experiences and each such experience gives life to a new story in one’s life.

There are stories that are happy, while there are stories that remind us of a grey day. Some take us down the memory lane, while some are downright funny and embarrassing.
Interestingly enough but these are the very stories that make us more compassionate and make us feel connected with our kindred spirits. They allow us to get a peek into different perspectives and how vibrant our spheres of life could be. After all, life is anything but binary– full of infinite moments that transform into a memory…

We at #orenda give you a platform to share your story. You can tell us your story of a lifetime and help build a community of storytellers from all walks of life.

Stories of legends have always inspired us, but, what about the ordinary stories of everyday life?
Do they not count?
Is mundane not beautiful anymore? Do we not receive happiness from simple, mundane but beautiful things?
We do, don’t we? Time spent with your loved ones. An evening stroll. Smell of earth after a rain shower. An hour long phone conversation with friends. Watching a beautiful movie or finding the most wonderful song out-of-blue. Or finally completing the last line of your poetry, or sharing secrets with your journal.

Mundane is never not beautiful!

We greatly believe that the stories of our lives— no matter how earth shaking or not-so-earth shaking; deserves to be heard.

Stories need to be told; or else they die.

Share your story.


To learn more, visit www.hashtagorenda.wordpress.com


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Wonder: Book & Film Review

Author: R.J. Palacio
Publisher: Corgi
Published: 2012
Pages: 315
Genre: Fiction, Realistic Fiction

I was going through my usual reading slumps when I found out about this book. I was looking for some random book recommendations on socials. I came across this one marked as a ‘must read’ by majority. Without any delay and as a desperate move to get out of my reading slump I gave it a try and ended up loving it.

I read this book about two years back and often flipped through its pages. Only recently I watched its movie adaptation. So with due admiration for this book, I thought of writing a book and film review of Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

Summary: I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.
August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?

You get an abstract idea with this blurb that our main character Auggie a.k.a. August Pullman is a kid with severe facial deformity. Imagine being called a freak or being laughed at or being stared at for the way you look– the way you were born with. It doesn’t sound good right? Auggie has been dealing with all that from his birth.

Auggie’s little comfort zone gets busted when his parents presented him with the choice of going to a public school with other kids. Uncomfortable with the idea and possible hurtful reactions, he is faced with a rushing sense of dilemma and is most vulnerable. The story follows and we see how this kid overcome his struggles, insecurities and get on with a perfectly normal life after some lows and highs of middle school.

As we go on with the story, in context of Auggie’s facial deformities– the attached human reactions to an anomaly like his, a few absurd exercise of ostracism which he faced from a young age makes this a sad book but the collective happy moments eclipse the sad ones.

The perspective of the main character Auggie is poignantly wholesome and so darn innocent that it made me question how come this ten-year-old kid is so sensitive, a bouquet of rays of sunshine he is. The way he portrayed the world through his eyes was unbelievable, especially coming from a ten-year-old who has never even experienced life outside his little bubble. It’s almost monastic.

What I loved about this book is how R.J. Palacio managed to beautifully show the POV of all major characters in a very honest manner. I personally enjoy reading different POV as it gives me a sense of understanding what the other person is thinking and feeling about something. I felt that the use of multiple POV made my read even more satisfying and mentally fulfilling considering all the different angles of each character’s life, their stories. They certainly provided food for thought.

I recommend this book to everyone. If you are someone going through a difficult time, you must read this book. I am sure you would be delighted with how everything turns out in the end. You should read it for the sake of understanding the different dimensions of one’s life and dynamics of individual behaviour and that each person has their own stories and own set of struggles. Wonder is a noteworthy book that teaches you to be appreciative of other’s feelings and be compassionate. It reminded me that we need to be kinder than necessary. Its always hard but we could still give our best shot.

Now coming to the film adaptation…

I usually don’t like film adaptation of books I have read (especially the ones I love). I always feel there remains a vast scope of improvement with films to match with the book and I really hate it when a film cannot deliver the quintessence of the respective book.

Probably in late 2016, I learnt that a film development was due in process. I was a bit apprehensive if that was a good idea and eventually I did not bother to keep tracks on any new developments around the film. A month back out of nowhere, I watched the trailer and I must confess the trailer was very well made. Yes, I was intrigued and quickly made up my mind to watch the film with low expectations.

What was I even thinking? I was blinded with assumptions. This movie is a pure gem. My nonsensical expectations were shattered; it was such a wonderful film. I can’t remember the last time I felt so incandescently pleased after watching something.

Contrasting my experience with the book, I have to say I was riding through a tsunami of emotions. Certain scenes sure hit me hard with emotions and I couldn’t not cry. Anybody with a heart would cry. Anybody who is a major weeper would cry. I am the latter or perhaps both? 😀

The cast was brilliant and everything was spot on perfect. I couldn’t pick a bone with the film while watching. It covers most of the important elements of the book. Exactly like the book, POV of all major characters were shown which I really liked. Overall, I enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

Verdict: Sweet, funny and absolutely heartfelt—‘Wonder’ a book and now a movie to take you to a technicoloured emotional journey.


I wish every day could be Halloween. We could all wear masks all the time. Then we could walk around and get to know each other before we got to see what we looked like under the masks.

Everyone deserves a standing ovation because we all overcometh the world.

It’s not enough to be friendly. You have to be a friend.



Writers, may I have your attention please?

As the youth of today, we all want to share our ideas and stories, especially those that could positively shape, inspire a fellow human’s reflection about the world. If you are looking for a platform to distill a couple of hundreds of words to communicate your story. You are in the right place!

The 2018 Edition of International Essay Contest for young people is live.

This flagship annual essay writing contest is organised by The Goi Peace Foundation.

Endorsed by

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan
Japanese National Commission for UNESCO, Japan Private High School Federation
Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education, Japan Broadcasting Corporation, Nikkei Inc.

Supported by


For this year, the theme of the essay is: “The Change I Want to Make”

What is the one thing you would like to change the most to make your school, workplace, community, country or the world a better place? How would you bring about that change?


  1. Essays may be submitted by anyone up to 25 years of age in one of the following age categories:  a) Children (ages up to 14)        b) Youth (ages 15-25)
  2. Languages accepted: English, French, Spanish or German, or Japanese.
  3. Word limit: 700 words (or 1600 characters or less in Japanese)
  4. Essay must be original, unpublished work.
  5. Entries may be submitted by postal mail or online.
  6. Last submission date: June 15, 2018

For all details, click here.



International flash fiction contest for everyone. Prizes worth $20,000. Apply before 23 November, 2017.

Hello Readers,

If you have a story to tell with less than 100 words on any theme of your choice. Continue reading…

The V Edition of the International Flash fiction contest is now open, under the motto: “The Word, bridging the gap between different cultures and religions”.

The micro-stories contest is organized by The César Egido Serrano Foundation, a non-profit foundation whose objective is to use words as a tool for understanding between different cultures and religions.

The rules of the competition are as follows:

  1. Writers from anywhere in the world may participate.
  2. Original work (two per author, maximum) with a word limit of 100 on any theme can be written in any of the following languages: Spanish, English, Arabic or Hebrew.
  3. The texts will be original, unpublished in all media (paper, blogs, electronic publications, etc.) and must not have been awarded prizes in any other contest. Those who do not meet this condition will be disqualified.
  4. An overall first prize of $20,000 will be awarded for the best story in any of the languages. Additionally, three $1000 awards will be given to the best stories from the remaining languages.
  5. The deadline for submission will end on November 23rd, 2017. (Spanish Peninsular time)


Register here.

To check out winners’ entries from the IV Edition, click here.

(Tip: For English write-ups go down to page 191)

To know more, click here.

If you came across this contest via my post and happen to make a submission, please use my code 55139 in the participation form. It might help me win something but only if YOUR submit wins. *winks*


p.s. Apologies for the short notice and good luck!




Ep. 04 Budapest Vignette

After a little hiatus, Hashtag Orenda presents Episode 4 titled “Budapest Vignette”!!

Hashtag Orenda

So, what is it about traveling?

Whether you love to travel for adventure or to marvel at the beautiful landscape or for the love of exploring, embracing different culture… it is quite right to say that in the end meeting new people, hearing their stories is what makes your whole experience stand out. In this episode, Nayeem Rahman tells us about his experience in Budapest; about the people he met and the stories he heard. Watch the full episode on our YouTube channel.

UPDATE: We are happy to announce that #Orenda has its own podcasting channel. (Thanks to Anchor) If you enjoy listening to podcast you can find us on iTunes, Anchor.fm, etc.



In case we never met,

Hi! this is Hashtag Orenda, a storytelling initiative focused on sharing true stories of people from all walks of life and rekindle the spirits of storytelling…

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It Happened One Wedding

Author: Julie James
Publisher: Jove
Published: 2014
Pages: 304
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Romance

I have been a fan of Julie James’ books for over a year now. I must say, quite a few of her books have proved to be my ‘happy pill’, helping me relax from the occasional chasm of chaos and thus, I have named them my absolute guilty pleasures.

Of course, the genre being a contemporary romance (read chick lit) doesn’t provide room for much variation with the storytelling but a lot of improvisation—good improvisation to the story, characters has been made.

Sidney Sinclair, a successful investment banker. She is smart, gorgeous, independent, bold yet classy. A common picture that you see in Julie James’ books is that she does powerful female characters relatable in today’s time. She writes such amazing, kickass strong female characters that you simply wish to be friends with.

Vaughn Roberts, a special agent with the FBI. He is witty, charming, and sometimes obnoxious in a funny way. He is quite the man about town.

Both these characters unexpectedly meet, exchange rather a funny banter and move on only to be thrown together again for a wedding. The story revolves around Simon and Isabelle’s wedding where Sidney (Isabelle’s sister) and Vaughn (Simon’s brother) are asked to be the maid-of-honor and best man respectively.

After initial hiccups between Vaughn and Sidney, they call a truce and end up becoming friends and eventually to lovers. This whole “enemies to friends to lovers” part was obvious from the moment I started reading but what came along was something more than charming. I would dare say perfect. I admit if you have tried Julie James’ books you won’t be getting anything new, just a few ‘sprucing up’ here and there. But with this book, the ‘sprucing up here and there’ was too good to be real.

The usual wits between the two, the ‘man-speak’ codes Vaughn shared with Sidney and numerous other engagements between the duo were worth reading and total fun. I was grinning the whole read. Also, the inclusion of interesting supporting characters was brilliantly done and adds great flavor to the story. The writing style by Miss James was impeccable as always.

Verdict: If you are looking for an illuminating read that can make you contemplate, this is not it. If you are looking for a tear jerking romance filled with sacrifices, blasted letters, happy-sad endings, this is not it. If you are okay with a predictable yet entertaining plotline or simply want to pass your spare time, you know the title.

Let me know if you try it, we can talk Vaughn Roberts. *winks* haha

Before We Were Strangers

Author: Renee Carlino
Publisher: Atria Books
Published: 2015
Pages: 320
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Romance

To the Green-eyed Lovebird:

We met fifteen years ago, almost to the day, when I moved my stuff into the NYU dorm room next to yours at Senior House.
You called us fast friends. I like to think it was more.
We lived on nothing but the excitement of finding ourselves through music (you were obsessed with Jeff Buckley), photography (I couldn’t stop taking pictures of you), hanging out in Washington Square Park, and all the weird things we did to make money. I learned more about myself that year than any other.
Yet, somehow, it all fell apart. We lost touch the summer after graduation when I went to South America to work for National Geographic. When I came back, you were gone. A part of me still wonders if I pushed you too hard after the wedding…

I didn’t see you again until a month ago. It was a Wednesday. You were rocking back on your heels, balancing on that thick yellow line that runs along the subway platform, waiting for the F train. I didn’t know it was you until it was too late, and then you were gone. Again. You said my name; I saw it on your lips. I tried to will the train to stop, just so I could say hello.

After seeing you, all of the youthful feelings and memories came flooding back to me, and now I’ve spent the better part of a month wondering what your life is like. I might be totally out of my mind, but would you like to get a drink with me and catch up on the last decade and a half?


The moment I read this blurb, I was smitten! I instantly knew I had to read it.

‘Before We Were Strangers’ is a beautiful, warm, feel-good romance novel you would end up going to bed with a happy heart.

Matt and Grace meet each other as students at NYU. They are next door neighbours who become ‘fast friends’. Their story spans for over 15 years following a multiple series of cute little moments. The characters are lovely and engaging and their story is simply a strong reflection of the common untold, unglorified lovestories.

Grace, a music student is a free spirit who never ceases to seize the day and Matt, a talented photography student. He is warm, funny, a subtle representation of a leading male character. I fell in love with him! I was rooting for Matt and Grace throughout the entire read. Plus, the writing style was “so amazing” that it pulled me into their story altogether—I delved deeper right in. Therefore, a massive round of applause for Miss Carlino! 😉

Coming to the story, it spans for more than one and a half decade of Grace and Matt’s life together, parted and then together again. A story about two people who beautifully fall in love and get separated only to find each other again, reconnect and give love a second chance. Déjà vu all over again? 😀

I found the whole plotline to be the usual universal way of how romantic comedies revolve, nevertheless without compromising the delightful sliver of romantic comedies.

Of course, the plot was comprehensible; but then again, I did not expect anything major from it, so it wasn’t a disappointment. It was a thorough delight reading about the two. There were a few bits and pieces which I did not like about this book but they were so minute that it doesn’t even matter. The ending was charming complemented with a tiny surprise that will kind of break your heart but in a good way.

Bottom line I won’t say I loved it but yes, I liked it enough to highly recommend it to y’all. 🙂

The book also shares the POV of both the main characters which I felt add to the story and empathetically narrates the characters’ perspectives.

This was my first Renee Carlino book. I assure you her name is stuck permanently in my head now.

Verdict: With lovable, relatable, strong characters, this book is poignantly written. It beautifully captures the essence of first love, love lost, second chances and that true love has no expiration date.

If you enjoy a good contemporary romance and are looking for new titles, stop your hunt and grab a copy of Before We Were Strangers. Cheers! 😀

And in that moment, you realize how little control you have over your own destiny. From the time you’re born, you have no control; you can’t choose your parents, and, unless you’re suicidal, you can’t choose your death. The only thing you can do is choose the person you love, be kind to others, and make your brutally short stint on earth as pleasant as possible.

Like nothing else in life, sex is perfectly selfless and selfish all at once. Hot and cold, yin and yang, black and white, and all of the shades in between.

The way she could colour a black-and-white photo with her magnetism alone.

I’m really into girls with big platelets.