Painting the Town Saffron

Illustrated by Dhipthi Dona J, III B.A. English

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Humans of Stella #3

left to right
Sherlin(II B.A. English), Teresa (III B.A. Sociology),
Joe (II B.A. Zoology)

Compiled by Samyuktha Shiva, II B.A. English
Image credits: Krishna J Nair, II B.A. English

Teresa

I’ve always been very passionate about teaching. So when I heard about LPP I signed up immediately. I found myself feeling very nervous during the days that lead up to my first LPP class. The students would be just a year younger than me. What if they judge me? Or worse, find me annoying. And then the day arrived, it was our first class. Everyone that entered seemed exhausted and pretty done already. They did not want to be there. The fact that the classes were conducted after college hours made it all the more hard for us to get them to show interest. In fact, some even said the only reason they were coming was for attendance. But then everything changed. We, the student teachers, realized that there was no fun in just textbook learning. We then came up with various activities we thought would be fun for them, including common yet engaging games like Hangman or Hot Seat. As the classes progressed, we all began having more fun and bonding. In fact, this wasn’t limited to just LPP classes; we’d even spend a few minutes together in the break if we spotted somebody from class. At this point I knew it wasn’t just a student-helper dynamic, but one of really good friends.

The students really did make our job easy. Although our class of 25 as a whole was pretty notorious, they were cooperative most, if not all, times. They finished their homework on time. Even if they made mistakes, it didn’t matter because they were genuinely showing interest. They were investing time and work on this, no matter what else was up with their lives, and that by itself meant so much to me and my fellow helpers.

As I mentioned, I got into this for the experience of teaching. But I came out with so much more than that. As cheesy as it sounds, this program taught me a lot more not just in terms of the subject English but also in terms of people, how they behave, and how to deal with and understand different personalities. Even when it comes to the subject English, I learnt a lot by teaching; it has definitely helped me make my base very strong.

Maybe they made this program keeping in mind how easy it would be if the age gap in between a student and helper is a year, because I personally do find it ideal in nature. When there’s a difference of one year, the students have a certain sense of respect towards their senior, however little it may be. At the same time, we’re their friends too, so any doubt that they’dhesitate to ask a teacher, they’d ask us without a second thought.

Sherlin and Jo about Teresa and LPP

We had a great experience over all. We learned so much in so little time. As Teresa mentioned, we were a notorious group of students, but somehow, Teresa managed to form a good relationship with each one of us. She understands each person for who they are in terms of their quirks, shortcomings, positives, inhibitions and what not. Not just that, but over the course of the year she truly helped us work on ourselves to get rid of our fears. One such fear most of us shared, that Teresa helped overcome, was the fear of speaking out loud; public speaking, and even just voicing out our opinions. She also helped a great deal with grammar and just learning new words. One of our favourites amongst all the games she conducted was The Hot Seat! It was a lot of fun, whilst still being extremely helpful. We could actually see a drastic improvement in our vocabulary in just a few classes.

On the last day of class, everyone let out a huge sigh of relief, as expected; we were finally done! What we didn’t expect at all though was to feel bittersweet. It then dawned on us that after all we had actually made great memories and a set of really good friends.

You Always Have a Second Chance

– Akchayaa R, III B.A. English

Image source : Pinterest

Come September 10 and all of our Instagram and Facebook feeds are filled with poems, stories, micro-fiction and other artistic exploits on suicide prevention. Ironically, I intend on doing the same, minus the poetics and aesthetics. Suicide is the leading cause of death amongst people between the ages of 15 and 29 – the age where people are supposed to be discovering themselves, travelling the world, experimenting and just living their life to the fullest. But sadly, they suffer from a sense of hopelessness and despair that makes them believe that there is no option but to end their lives.

Depression, schizophrenia and stress are some of the leading causes of suicides among people of this age group. Stress can be from studies, work related pressure and other family problems. At some point, stress seems inevitable, but the way people cope with stress or mental illness can make all the difference. Stress accumulates when a person has been cooped up for too long and has a mundane routine without a break. Not all of us can afford to break free, for various reasons ranging from the 85% attendance to being fired, but we can do little things that go a long way in de-stressing, like taking a walk by the beach, petting the neighbour’s dog, listening to music and other activities that help relax and clear our minds.

Dealing with mental illnesses is harder because unlike stress, they do not go away with music or long walks. If not treated at the beginning, mental illnesses will have dire consequences on the person. Before all of that, people need to stop romanticising mental illnesses to a point where some think it is ‘cool’ to suffer from depression or anxiety. Nobody chooses to be sad or have anxiety attacks willingly. In many cases, mental illnesses aren’t even treated like a ‘real’ ailment and the effects of such illnesses are also downplayed. When this happens on a regular basis, the person suffering keeps their thoughts to themselves and eventually they reach a point where suicide seems like the only option.

The only way to prevent another person from taking their life is removing the stigma and ignorance surrounding mental illnesses and suicidal behaviour. Schools should not only teach about mitochondria being the powerhouse of the cell but also about mental illnesses and suicidal behaviour so that one can identify the latter and prevent a few people from taking their lives. Sensitisation about suicides and mental illness is the need of the hour. Caution should be taken while showing suicide in any form of media and suicide prevention help-lines must always be given to ensure that nobody takes a hasty decision during their most vulnerable time.

It is extremely important for people to educate themselves on suicidal behaviour and if they notice any symptoms in someone, even the smallest one, it is imperative that they talk to that person and try to understand what is troubling them and urge them to seek a counsellor. To those who are suicidal or depressed, it is important to realise that things will get better over time, provided you take the necessary measures – it can be talking to someone who cares or seeing a therapist and taking the right medication. This is the one life we will ever get and the focus must be on living it to the fullest and not being engulfed by the negativity. I am not going to finish with a pretentious, motivational quote about life being a gift because we see enough of those on social media. But I will end by saying that everyone deserves a second chance at life now matter how many times we have hit rock bottom and nobody ever has to feel that killing themselves is better than facing our demons.

Suicide Helpline (for Tamil Nadu):
Sneha Foundation: 914424640050
Website: snehaindia.org
Email: help@snehaindia.org

Letters to the Unsung #2, Bob Dylan

– Krishna J. Nair, II B.A. English

Image source : Pinterest

Dear Bob,
Your words brushed past my ears as background music for an old movie that was playing on TV while I was half asleep on the floor on a cold December night. I woke up the next morning with an irresistible tune stuck in my head and I hummed it all day till I slapped myself into stopping it. Then began the pursuit of finding that song, finding your voice and in the end, finding you.

There are times when I cuddle under a blanket with your voice loud in the speakers, repeating the words to your song ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright’. In your words, I found the teacher I was looking for. In your words, I found the comfort and lessons that I was looking for all through my school days but ended up learning things that did not matter; things that I do not remember anymore.

On nights when I feel helpless, it’s your music I turn to, not a textbook. When I feel like dancing, I feel my hand scrolling down the playlist and playing ‘It Ain’t Me, Babe’ and ‘Like a Rolling Stone.’ They are music not meant for a meaningless dance, but for a heartfelt one to serenade. But then again, I don’t think twice because I have learnt now that it is alright.

Of all the things I wish for, I wish that you be a good ol’ grandpa for my already old soul so that we can sit by a fireplace with me on a Saturday night, listening to you strumming a guitar and singing ‘Blowin’ In the Wind.’ You could teach me a thing or two about life and life on the road, and I could teach you a thing or two about how I feel when I listen to your music. Like a grandpa granddaughter duo, we could visit places that wish to be discovered, write some music and return back home quietly without no one noticing. You might be the greatest musician and poet in my lifetime and though there are times I wish I was born a decade back where good music lived lively, I am glad that I exist in a period where the name Bob Dylan is acknowledged and loved. And it’s you Bob, who taught me to love little things and little moments in life, like how you loved Suze Rotolo even after knowing that it’ll be short-lived. May you live longer than the moments that you and I rejoice, and may your music live longer. Maybe, in my next life, when I am walking down ‘Positively’ on ‘4th Street’, I’ll remember your name and your music.

For Bob Dylan.

Love Always,
A good ol’ soul.

Digital vs Traditional Education

– Zenia Zuraiq, II B.Sc. Physics

From Khan Academy to Crash Course, the internet and more importantly, digital video has helped us in many avenues – the most important of them being education. Today, with the scope of the internet and the ensuing interconnectedness expanding at rates beyond our control, we find ourselves being bombarded with information from all directions. But we haven’t taken stock of how exactly this has affected our education and how we learn things.

To start with, we do have a lot of important positives that come from the internet’s ubiquity. Anyone is able to access anything. The internet simplifies the problem of access. It is also way more cost-effective when compared to traditional forms of media. People from all corners of the world are connected today. Anyone can learn anything. On the other side of the coin, anyone can teach anything. Platforms like YouTube and their free digital streaming ensures that anyone with a steady internet connection could be a teacher. Videos of people scratching away differentials and integrals on plain chart paper get millions of views.

So what does this mean for the ordinary teacher? Has the teaching profession been taken over by a bunch of kids with video cameras? Most people would agree however HQ that YouTube video may be, it simply cannot recreate a classroom experience for us. And therein lies an important factor: the teacher’s job is not simply to fill your heads with information. There is something more, something implicit, that a computer is unable to fulfil.

It is no secret that man is a social animal. The connections we make with our teachers are more than just forced bonds or circumstance. This is why the threat of digital education seems to loom rather feebly in the background of today’s society. That is not to say that the concept of digital learning should be shunned entirely. In fact, our real-life teachers could probably take some pointers from these digital helpers. The digital method works well because of its personalisation. Students respond to personal attention.

Technology is slowly making its way to our classrooms today, in the form of presentations, smart classes etc. This integration helps students get the best of both their digital and real-life teachers. Today teachers are more than just lecturers – they bridge the gap between the student and the subject; they co-ordinate the learning. At the end of the day, learning can only benefit from the wide and varied methods we use. Different people respond differently to certain avenues of information. What matters most is the inclusiveness and responsiveness to the students to the different avenues mentioned.

Thank you to all the teachers who continue to support us, digital or otherwise!

Finish Line

– Anahita Teresa Paul, I Visual Arts

Image source : thoughttrainderailed.deviantart.com

Diana, your electricity
Is a synth-pop symphony.
I’ll never forget the way
Your eyes gleamed and screamed
When they hurled at you their misery

Diana, you asked me one day
If I’d cry if you died,
If I’d remember your face.
I remember that day,
Because I didn’t know what to say.

Diana, why do you call yourself Die-Ana
When you’re really just Ana?
Why do you want to go away
Why do you indulge in their games?
Please can you stay-
Let’s do a little role play.

What’s your mother going to do,
When she sees your lifeless body?
What’s your father going to say,
When he pays the coroner five and twenty?
How am I going to feel,
Knowing I could’ve helped you breathe?

Ana, let me tell you today:
I will never forget your face
But I’m never going to cry,
Because you and I
We’re going to live a lush life,
Let’s make it to the finish line.

Love Won

-Radha, II B.Com

Image source: indainexpress.com

A few days ago, I was scrolling through my twitter timeline and waiting to see the latest updates in the numerous fandoms I follow. When I looked at the list of topics trending worldwide, I saw the hashtag Section 377.

Now, it’s important to note that I am an ardent supporter of the LGBTQ+ community and I try my best to spread awareness and inclusivity. Last year, I wrote an article on the same topic, with Divya Mahesh, and I remember us discussing whether or not we would ever see a day when people could love who they wanted, and identify as they pleased.

I knew the verdict was coming. And I knew the reason that hashtag was trending was because it had come.

But I was scared.

Scratch that, I was terrified.

I did not want to know what the verdict was, because I didn’t trust the verdict to be favourable.

So I didn’t look it up.

I didn’t open the hashtag, I didn’t google the verdict, I didn’t speak to people I knew.

I avoided the verdict like I was a cat with a dog on its tail.

And then, I moved on with my life. I read fanfiction, I listened to music, I cried over lots of fictious people. You know, a normal day.

But something as important as this is never as avoidable as you want it to be.

On my way to college, I was scrolling through tumblr, and I saw the ruling.

I couldn’t breathe.

Section 377 was decriminalised.

An entire community finally, finally had the right to love whomsoever they chose.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried.

It was such a brilliantly beautiful day. So bright, so full of potential and hope. Hope.

So much wonderful hope.

In the article I wrote last year, I said that the only normal thing about humanity was love.

And I stand by that statement. It is our ability to love that unites us. And now, it isn’t illegal anymore. Love isn’t illegal.

As much as I try, I don’t think that words can express the sheer joy of that moment. How overpowering it was to read the verdict, the ruling and know for a fact, that Section 377 was decriminalised.

By God, what a ruling it was.

“Section 377 is irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary.” said the Chief Justice of India

“Tragedy and anguish inflicted by Section 377 should be remedied.” said Justice Chandrachud.

“They (LGBTQ+ community) should be allowed to live with dignity and without pretence.” said Justice Khanwilkar and the CJI in a combined judgement.

And there’s so much more. The five-judge panel were decisive and extremely clear on the message they meant to send with this verdict.

Because it’s one thing for a judge to make a ruling but then distance themselves from it and another entirely for them to stand by what they said and speak out on why they chose to do what they did.

I know that this fight isn’t over. I know that there’s so much more to be done.

But we’ve won something.

We’ve achieved what sometimes felt like an elusive dream.

We won.

And like any one who finds an oasis in the middle of a dessert, we have so much more energy to carry on.

We may have to fight more, cry more, bleed more.

But we’ll have something to keep us going.

 

Fresher’s Talent Hunt

– Akchayaa R, III B.A. English

The Students’ Union hosted their first major event of the academic year (Fresher’s Talent Hunt) on the 14th of September. The theme of this year’s event was based on the games we all played as children, ranging from Mario Kart to Checkers. The event was flagged off by the Principal, Sr. Rosy Joseph f.m.m in the OAT at 10:00 a.m. in the morning.

The first-year students of both UG and PG were divided into teams of six. The teams were named after popular board games like Pictionary and Ludo. Each team was given a colour and was asked to dress accordingly. There were a total of five on stage events and 11 off stage events. Every person could participate in one on stage and two off stage events. Apart from the various events, there was music by DJ Gautham which kept the students grooving.

The event ended at around 3:00 p.m. and the winners and the runners were decided based on their performances in the various events and the jackpot. The winning teams were Twister Terrors, followed by Checker Champions and Pictionary Patriots. This event provided a platform for the first-year students to interact with people from other departments, organise themselves into teams and discover their talents.

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