Cover Art by Riya Nagendra, I Year B.A. English
Quote by Madhuri Lalwani, I Year B.A. English

 

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A Step You Can Take Back

Krishna J Nair, I Year B.A. English

I don’t know if it was the heat of the summer that fed the fire in me, or the once-in-a-blue-moon rain that sent a chill up my spine and brought me back to where I was, making me understand who I really was, but one thing I knew for sure was that it was the view I absolutely adored. The whole city beneath my feet, the vast expanse waiting to embrace me. The only sight that flashed before my eyes was the scene from ‘Birdman’, where the hero jumps from the window of a building, just to fly.
From the rooftop, all I needed to do was that that daring jump, leaving all the fortune and luck behind just for that momentary adrenaline rush, the utmost state of high. A small step and the world would be mine and I, a part of her; one of the most beautiful thoughts of poetry.

 

But then, God’s play with the universe began. The city died slowly as my longing ignited. Then, like a song that starts in a vinyl, slowly yet solemnly, the city began to take birth. The sweet melody of a bird, the angry honking, the subtle wind playing with my hair. And to top it all, the wailing of an innocent child. It wasn’t trouble that made him cry, it was the joy of crying that excited him; the same adrenaline rush I was longing for. Now the wailing disappeared, as the footsteps of his mother approached the baby. The city slept, listening to the sweet lullaby that teased the child’s ears and then found its way to his heart. A fragment of it kissing my aura deeply, cleansing me and taking me to a time of Hakuna Matata. Like sprinkles on a doughnut came the rain, beating on the sunroof to the rhythm of my heart beat. Soon, the rain became salty; the blood started flowing in my veins. Somewhere in the city, ‘When The Children Cry’ started playing, and I realized, it was okay to take a step back in life.

Of Strength

Gaayathri Sukantha, I Year B.A. Fine Arts

I don’t want to be shattered glass
Broken into pieces
By whatever happened to me
I want to be a raging fire
Magnificent and fearsome
I want to be a stormy sea
Waves crashing against the shores relentlessly
I want to be a gentle breeze
Cool and Calming
Having the power to destroy
At full force
But choosing not to
I want to be so much more
I want to be everything that is strong
That is powerful
That is magnificent
That is fierce
That cannot be broken so easily
Yet, I’m not.
I’m broken.
But someday I will be
And you will see me then
As I was truly meant to be…

Teacher’s Day Celebrations

Mercy Johny, III Year B.A. English
Image Source: Stella Maris College website

The teacher’s day celebrations at Stella Maris College on September 5th hailed the people who make the college what it is, providing wholesome learning for all. The function began with a prayer song sung by the Western Music Club.
Sangeetha Joseph, the cultural secretary, then addressed the gathering, and welcomed everyone. The Presidential address given by Sharline focused on how teaching went beyond the classroom during her years at the college, without being restrictive or dull for anyone.
Scholarships for PG students were then announced, and Sister Susan then spoke about the importance of every single teacher to an educational institution, and how they contribute to the overall growth of the college. The recognition gained by teachers was also a subject stressed upon.
Miss Mary Terry from the Chemistry department was then awarded, for the third consecutive year, for her research contributions.
Performances by various clubs then ensued, entertaining the audience as the Light Music Club, Mime club and a scintillating fusion dance performance by the 3 dance clubs brought out loud cheers from all.
With a vote of thanks, Anitta Jaison, the General Secretary, expressed her gratitude and thanked all teachers for being more than people we meet in classrooms, and thus, reflected the thoughts of all the students present in the campus, who will forever carry in their minds the mark of a teacher who taught them life beyond four walls.

Music Recommendations From A Theatre Novice

-Zenia Zuraiq, I Year B.Sc Physics
Image Source: Google Images

One of the most fascinating ways music is used is through theatre. More specifically, in the art of the Musical. Musical theatre, of course, is a form of theatrical performance that combines songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance and Recently, at the behest of an extremely enthusiastic friend, I watched a few musicals and I’d like to share them with you. However, I have to mention – as a disclaimer of sorts – that I am no theatre expert, and these musicals I mention are already cult favourites, and not discoveries I’ve made. Nonetheless, the musicals mentioned in the list are all very innovative in their own ways and are definitely worth checking out, if you haven’t already.

  1. Hamilton     

Oh, but how can I talk about musicals without speaking of the phenomenon that is Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. A musical that racially re-imagines some of America’s most important historical figures – a musical that’s pro-immigrant and a musical that raps its way through the life of one of America’s least represented founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton.
And somehow this bizzare history lesson works, and it works extremely well. As someone who is not a huge fan of political history and remains largely ignorant of America’s history in particular, I have to admit, I resisted listening to this cult explosion for a long time. But when I finally caved in, what I found was an amazingly well told play with characters that refused to be black or white, and a soundtrack that refuses to exit your head.

The rapping and fast pacedness makes the 40+ songs pass by relatively quickly. The novelty of historical characters engaged in rap battles never fails to amuse me. It’s safe to say that I learnt and researched a lot more history than I ever did in all of school, thanks to this one musical.

As it says in the title, this musical is American through and through but somehow, it still blows this Indian teenager away how beautifully diverse our retelling of history has become. Art is about telling us things we already know in ways we wouldn’t have thought of, and Hamilton captures this essence perfectly. Given America’s current political situation, this musical seems to be even more important – a gentle reminder of what being American is all about.

 

  1. Dear Evan Hansen

 

“When you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around
Do you ever really crash, or even make a sound?”

Dear Evan Hansen is a musical that tackles some very real problems – suicide, grief, social anxiety and isolation. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that this isn’t a fun musical. Heart-warming, adorable and funny, DEH follows Evan Hansen, (played by the extremely talented Ben Platt) socially awkward in none of the cute ways and all of the painful ones. The story has him finding himself entangled and coping with the death of a fellow classmate. DEH deals with the cloud of turmoil that is high school, and about wanting to belong. It’s about how we all make mistakes, especially in the fragile teenage years. But there’s always hope. “You will be found” is the theme of the musical, that nobody should go undiscovered, that nobody is truly alone. It’s a musical about knowing the difference between a person and the idea of a person, and how sometimes, we just don’t know which one we need right now. It’s fun, it’s heart-warming, and it pulls at you in all the right places, as I found myself smiling many times through its course, and tearing up, quite a bit too.

DEH isn’t completely sung-through however, so it’s always better to watch and listen the first time, because although the soundtrack is stellar, some of the plot points aren’t really in the lyrics, and this can be confusing.

 

  1. Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812

                    

This musical with a very wordy title is based on Tolstoy’s famously wordy classic, War and Peace, following the story of Russian aristocrats. Hamilton may have been innovative with its inclusion of rap into the musical theatre genre, but it has nothing compared to TGC’s beautiful, soaring heights of innovation.
Theatrical in every sense of the word, the musical has been described as an “electropop opera” – a term that makes a lot of sense after one finishes listening to and/or watching the musical. From the very first song, the audience is made aware of the characters and as the musical progresses, we see the complexities of these characters, their multi-facetedness emerging from this one-dimensional introduction. The spotlight is largely on titular Natasha, who is young and engaged to a man away at war. As the musical progresses, we see what happens as she confronts some unwanted attention from another young man. We see how Natasha comes to term with her desires, and how the rest of her world reacts.

In its iterations on and off Broadway, Natasha has been portrayed by various women, including women of different races, which some people have taken to symbolize her relatability to women all over.
Close to the finale, there are even a few lines that seem to have been lifted exactly from the book, making the lyrics all the more poetic.

If you’re anything like me, the musicals in this list will prove extremely worthy companions through all the otherwise boring public transport endeavours you encounter. Well, public transport or not, the musicals are definitely worth checking out, and I do hope you enjoy them!

Dear Grandpa…

Tejasvini S, I Year B.A. English

Dear Grandpa, you are my superhero,
Not because you took care of me,
but because you had a role to play in my life.
A role that everyone can see
You are super in your ways,
you brighten up my days.
I know, Grandpa, that you are the best,
because you are different from the rest.
Whatever you do shines so bright,
With you, I felt so good and right.
You have taught me many things in life,
many lessons of being wise.
God saw you getting tired and a cure was not to be,
So, I think he put his arms around you and whispered “Let’s go”

With tearful eyes we watched you suffer,
and slowly saw you fade away.
Although we loved you dearly
We couldn’t make you stay.
A golden heart stopped beating
Hardworking hands put to rest.
God broke our hearts to prove that
he takes only the best.
No farewell words were spoken,
no time to say goodbye.
You were gone before we knew it
and God only knows why.
Our hearts still ache in sadness
and secret tears still flow.
What it means to lose you,
no one will ever know.

Like the clutching fist trying to hold the sand,
I held you tight till the end.
Leaving me with a body to mourn,
and an empty hand.
I hide my tears when I say your name,
but the pain in my heart is still the same.
Although I smile and seem carefree,
there is no one who misses you more than me.

They say that there is a reason,
they say that time will heal,
but neither time nor reason
will change the way I feel.
For no one knows the heartache that lies behind my smile,
no one knows how many times I have broken down and cried.

I really wish, Grandpa, that heaven had visiting hours,
I wish that heaven had a telephone so that I could hear your voice.
There are so many words and feelings inside my heart
that paper can’t handle.
Grandpa, you are so wonderful to think of,
but very hard to be without.
Love you Grandpa.

Suicide: The ‘Bomb’ Nowadays

Pooja Krishna H A, III Year B.A. English
Image Source: FunnyJunk

There have been lots of studies and surveys conducted, and a lot more of articles written, about what goes on inside the mind of the suicide bomber. You might be wondering how this article is any different. Well, the important difference is that this article aims, not to understand what goes on inside the mind of the suicide bomber, but to establish firmly, what does.

As I mentioned before, several studies have been conducted. One by Dr. Yusef Yadgari, an Afghan pathologist, in 2007, revealed that the majority of Afghan suicide bombers had missing limbs and other physical disabilities (before the attack). Another by Criminal Justice professor Adam Lankford claims that suicide attackers are not psychologically normal or stable, and they carry out the attacks mainly to mask their desire to die beneath a “veneer of heroic action”. Yet another research, conducted by Robert Pape, Director of the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism, quite interestingly, reveals that the majority of suicide bombers came from the educated middle classes.I will be analyzing these studies conducted by various professors and doctors, and coming to a conclusion of my own.

First of all, who is a suicide bomber?

Well, I think the question answers itself. A suicide bomber is someone who chooses to bomb a particular place, committing suicide in the process, as he is the carrier of the bomb.

Let’s move on to the more interesting questions.

Why have I never used the words, ‘her’ or, ‘herself’ so far, while referring to the suicide bombers?

My answer is this – suicide bombings are not a new tradition, or something that just emerged. It has been going on for at least a century. In fact, the world’s first suicide bomber is believed to be Ignaty Grinevitsky, the man who killed Tsar Alexander II, way back in 1881. And in all that time, no females were involved. It was only later, much later, in the 1980’s, did little Sana’a Maheidii, became the world’s first female suicide bomber. Even now, don’t imagine that women have evolved as suicide bombers because they have earned equal rights, or anything. No, it was only because the men realized, too late, that females were viewed as less of a threat in public places, and hence were easy assassins.

What is the goal of the suicide bombers?

Well, obviously, to kill, so let’s skip that question, too.

Who signs up to be a suicide bomber?

Now, that’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? Who? Who could be so depressed, so demented, to sacrifice their own lives in favor of taking a few others’? Aren’t normal bombs much easier? Well, there are multiple answers to that question.

Answer #1. People who are genuinely sick of their life; sick of living.

Answer #2. People who believe that they are sacrificing their lives for a, ‘noble cause’.

Answer #3. People who believe that the above-mentioned noble cause is religion, caste or race.

Answer #4. People who have been convinced, brainwashed, or sweet talked into giving up their lives.

Out of these four answers, I personally think that the first reason is closest to the truth. People don’t randomly go away blowing themselves up. There has to be a motivation behind their actions. Let’s face it. A human being’s natural, first and foremost instinct is survival. Even an illiterate person would have that instinct. Secondly, the person who signs up to be a bomber has to know that they wouldn’t make use of the money they get after they die, so that’s not the cause, either. What, then? The answer: like I mentioned before, demented, depressed people who are sick of the lives they’ve been living, and decide to end them. Here, the other three reasons come into place. Deciding that they want to end it, anyway, they decide to give up their life for a ‘noble cause’, or have been influenced by someone else who believes in that cause.

I have gone over the different researches conducted by the doctors, and come to a conclusion. I move to establish that Adam Lankford’s answer is the closest to the truth. That the suicide bombers are truly, sadly, psychologically unstable people

Inter Years 2017: Lights! Camera! Action!

Mercy Johny, III Year B.A. English
Swetha Ramesh, I Year B.A. English
Divya Mahesh, II Year B.Sc Mathematics

The much awaited inter-years competition ‘Lights, Camera, Action – Behind The Scenes’ organized by the Students Union on 16th September saw talent and enthusiasm amongst many students. With upbeat music and some fun competitions, the air buzzed with excitement as the students gathered in large groups, visited delicious food stalls – including a food stall, for the very first time – and the arrival of several celebrities, the judges’ performances and upbeat music only added to their glee.
With the third years taking home the trophy, and the second years bagging the second prize for the overall competition, here’s a look at the events that took place to make the Inter-years a spectacular day for all:

ONSTAGE EVENTS
GROUP DANCE:

The most anticipated event during the day was the Group Dance competition, where around 20 participants per team had to pick props, that would be given to them by the process of lots, and they had to use these props such as chairs and umbrellas to dance accordingly, while the last five to six minutes of the dance needed to have a medley of classical and western music.

Held at the big OAT, this event drew loud cheers from the audience as they saw their friends dancing to popular songs and peppy beats.

BATTLE OF DANCERS:

Almost an actual battle with the teams confidently showing off their moves and competing with the opposing team, this event required hard work, and most importantly, co-ordination between the three participants per team, as the music choices would differ randomly according to the judge’s wishes. Playing tamil songs and then, English songs immediately after, this event held at the Big OAT, tested their adaptability to tunes and their skills.

GROUP MUSIC:

The group music competition was held at M-0-1 from 10.30am. The judge for the competition was Mr. Srinivasan Raghunathan, better known as Nivas, a renowned singer who participated in Airtel Super Singer 3. The competition saw the teams presenting songs in such a way that it depicted a story. The teams participated enthusiastically and the songs they sung were in accordance with the story they presented which was well-appreciated by the judges and the audience alike.

CHANNEL SURFING:

This event held at the Big OAT, had participants tickle the audience into peals of laughter as the judges also ensured that everybody was thoroughly entertained, switching from devotional channels to tamil serials. Held from 10:45 am, with 4-8 participants per team, this event ensured a fun and interesting time for all.

SHIPWRECK:

The participant, as known to all, had to assume a role and convince the captain of the sinking ship as to why that sole individual should be rescued. Held in the AV room from 12:30 pm, the participants were given roles such as Narendra Modi and Priyanka Chopra, as each character tried to prove their worth in spite of the many troubles that were pulling them down. This event, therefore, enhanced the spontaneity and creativity of the students.

ADZAP:

Again focusing on spontaneity and team work, the participants for this event were given a product to endorse merely two minutes before they entered the stage, and the 8 participants per team were encouraged to make up their own tunes and brand lines for these products. Held at M 0-1, from 11:30 am, this event tested their creativity and ensured that the audience had a good time.

SPOTLIGHT:

This costume show had participants make costumes out of newspapers and bring out big red ribbons with much flair, and showcase it to the audience. Held at the Big OAT, from 1:45 pm, this event also required a story base, with a narration being told during a frozen scene.

VOICE OVER:

Encouraging on-stage presence and skills, this event required the participant to give a voice over for a regional movie scene with English words, and thus, humor and wit were greatly required. The audience had an entertaining time, and the event held at M 1-1 was a great success.
ONLINE EVENT
MOVIE POSTER DESIGN:

This online event where the participants had to design their own poster and submit it on the theme ‘Alice in Stellaland’, ensured that there was all round participation, online, on stage and off stage from all possible students from Stella Maris College.

OFF-STAGE EVENTS
TUG OF WAR:

A usual show of strength, this event took place in the NCC Grounds, with 20 participants taking part from 1 team, per year from 11 am to 12 noon.

GENERAL QUIZ:

This event had its main questions centered on movie classics and other questions that were not just for movie buffs, but for every student who wished to answer their contantly questioning minds. Taking place at A 1-2 from 10 am to 12 noon, there were 4 participants per team who took part in this event.

COOKING WITHOUT FIRE:

Being asked to cook dishes without fire or electrical appliances is a tough task, and this is what the 3 participants per team, from each year, had to do. However, dishing out some delicious food in front of the NCC room, from 1 pm to 3 pm, this event turned out successful with some chefs in the making.

500 RS. CHALLENGE:

This event highlighted the thinking and entrepreneurial capacity of a student, as it required the participant to begin with an investment of Rs.500 and earn profits accordingly. Held outside the B.Voc lab from 9:30 am to 3 pm, this event saw a good balance of creativity and logic.

PHOTO HUNT:

Almost similar to Treasure Hunt, this event enabled students to discover different objects through clues handed over to them, and this object eventually had to be photographed. With almost 10 participants per team, the photographs had to be handed over to the Union to be judged later accordingly.

PIC TAB DUMB:

A classic combination of Pictionary, Taboo and Dumb Charades, this event held at M 2-1 from 1:45 pm had many participants vying to know more about the theme – cinema. Each round saw the elimination of one team, and the topics ranged from Spotlight to catwalk and many more.

MINUTE TO WIN IT:

From the TV show games, many would know about this, but the students still found it hard to ace their game in the span of just one minute, with games ranging from cup/card stacking, hula hoop, jumping rope, etc. It took place in the Basketball ground from 10 am with 4 participants per team.

ANTAKSHARI:

Encouraging songs from different regions, these participants who arrived at M 0-1 took part in the event from 2pm to 3pm and sang some melodious tunes, with rules that were explained to them on the spot.

PLOT TWIST:

The Creative Writing event required students to make up a plot twist, quite literally. They were given the summary of the Sherlock Holmes movie, and the students, then, had to concoct their own stories or poems using this as the only background information. Held at M 1-14, with two participants per team, and 2 teams per year, this event certainly brought out the imaginative minds of many.

MAKE-UP AND HAIR:

With movie characters as inspirations, one participant had to do the hair and make up for their team mate, the other participant. This event took place in M 1-14 right after the Plot Twist, from 12 noon onwards.

JAM:

This event brought out the spontaneity and the execution capabilities of students as they had to deliver their speech in just a minute (JAM) with the topics that were given right at the spot. Held at M 1-1, this event saw four participants from each year vying to prove their talent and succeed with their oratory skills.

Is NEET Even A Need?

Tanya Mary, I Year B.A. English
Swetha R, I Year B.A. English

The tragic death of Anitha, daughter of a daily-wage labourer, created a political drama with parties blaming one another for the girl’s suicide. With politicians only aiming to get power, nobody addressed the issues of utmost importance: Can a life be at stake for something that is supposedly aimed for the student’s benefit? Are the state board portions that sub-standard in quality that the students aren’t able to compete at the national level?

People began opposing NEET without understanding the complete issue revolving around it, as the emotional aspect of the tragic death of Anitha was highlighted to cover the main problem as to why a bright student who scored 1176/1200 in the board examination managed to score only 86/720 in NEET. This is a case of people protesting, but not knowing what they are protesting against.

The National Eligibility Entrance Test, popularly known as NEET, was introduced in 2013 as an eligibility test for medical aspirants in both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. It replaced the All India Pre Medical Test (AIPMT) which was conducted by states or colleges themselves. Though it faced a lot of opposition in the initial level with the Supreme Court stating that NEET was “unconstitutional and illegal”, a five judge constitution bench recalled the previous verdict and allowed the implementation of NEET in April 2016.
Six states including Tamilnadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Gujarat and Maharashtra were exempted from NEET in 2016 due to issues related to the parity of syllabus with a further condition that they would not be exempted from NEET from the following year.

NEET 2017 caused a huge uproar in Tamilnadu with a lot of petitions being filed in the Court to ban the exam in Tamil Nadu. A few petitions were filed demanding that NEET be taken as the sole eligibility test for medical admissions. It caused a lot of confusion and commotion in TN with a lot of medical aspirants fearing if they would get a medical seat. The confusion was finally put to rest by the Supreme Court which ordered that NEET would be the main aspect of medical admissions in Tamil Nadu and that no ban could be placed.

This created a huge problem for the TN state board students who were unable to score good marks in NEET as there was a huge difference in the state board syllabus and the NEET syllabus.

A solution to this problem would be to raise the standard of the State Board syllabus and ensure that it is in par with the other Board syllabi. More emphasis should be placed on application based learning rather than rote learning. The question papers should be set in such a way that the students are encouraged to apply what they learn rather than vomiting all those things that they had mugged up.

These changes should not be introduced in the higher secondary level and should, instead ,be introduced at the primary level. It is true that it might take a long time for the system to be improved, but the improvement of standards would indeed take place.

So let’s take a tiny step towards a brighter tomorrow where we have many qualified doctors who are living out their dreams, by striving for an increase in the education standards and the overall knowledge of the youth.

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