Europe’s Hidden Marvels

-Arsha Mech Vikraman, I Year B.A. English
Image Credits: Arsha Mech Vikraman, I Year B.A. English

The joy of finding a place to calm yourself is a rarity, at times. While we usually travel to conventional places like London and Paris, some of the real treasures lie within the interiors of these countries and within Europe itself. Let’s begin this fascinating journey!

  1. Cyprus –

The country of Cyprus is often overlooked and it really shouldn’t be. Most often, people go to Nicosia which is the capital city, but one look at the map later, my parents and I realised we would be stuck in the middle of the country and that transport would be a problem, so we settled for a city called Larnaca, which had a huge beach and was closer to every popular spot, and this was coupled with a great place by the sea.
I also loved that I could hear the sounds of the sea from the balcony. If you want to just relax for a week, get yourself here, it’s a relaxing atmosphere with friendly locals and, most importantly, excellent Greek food which will have you tearing up every time you order a Mezzo in Chennai.

  1. Romania –

 

Yes, yes, good old Count Dracula sure does live there, but that’s nothing. We decided to visit the many castles in the country. Forget about the Dracula’s castle and visit Peles Castle instead. The Sinai area is really beautiful and is more reminiscent of a great novel. With churches that look like this, I don’t see any reason why you should go to London again.

  1. Engelberg, Switzerland –

 

Zurich seems nice. No. It is complete blasphemy to go to Zurich when this town is around. This is a small skiing town about 2-3 hours away from Zurich. It is also where Mount Titlis is. It is a quaint little town where you can actually walk around the entirety of the town in about an hour. There is also a beautiful cathedral here that fills one with such a lasting sense of peace and in the same compound, there is a cheese shop that serves the best fondue.
If you want to see a country that has been stereotyped as the land of snow, I highly recommend this beautiful town.

 

 

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Humans Of Stella

-Samyuktha Shiva, I Year B.A. English
Image Credits: Krishna J Nair, I Year B.A. English

Amutha – ‘Security akka’

“I know everybody here thinks I’m a very tough, rude person. I don’t blame them.

All they see is the harsh side, but I wish they would understand that there is more to me than just that. I’m a human being too.

I have feelings. Time to time, those feelings do get hurt and I’m not as chirpy as one would want me to be, yes, but that does not make me a monster.

I actually love children.

I have two of my own at home. A girl and a boy, both studying in college. I love them so much; I would give my life away if it meant giving them even a few years of comfort and joy.

You should see them, if I get home late even by just fifteen minutes, they get scared. When I check my phone, there would be a hundred missed calls.

They’re very attached to me, maybe because I’m all they have. Their father is almost never at home, and when he is, I don’t want to say much but let me just say, he doesn’t behave all that great.
I’ve spent most of life, earning and caring for my children, and yes, that did mean a lot of slogging and sleepless nights, it’s not easy being a female security guard, that too for 15 whole years. But it’s worth it.

Coming back to those two beautiful faces makes me forget all the pain I feel, be it physically or mentally, and that’s all a parent really wants.

I know it’s the end of the year, and I don’t have much to tell you children. I just want you to understand the importance of two things: loving your family, and respecting everyone you meet, even a security guard like me. I say this because, the other day, I was almost pushed to the ground and stamped over by a group of girls wanting to rush out of college. All I was trying to do was tell them to wait, so that the car in front of them could get in.

As the days pass, your indifference gets stronger, and I don’t know if you realise this, but it does hurt us. We are just doing our jobs, but we still do care for you.

I don’t want to end this on a sad note; I really love you children, and I wish only for your happiness and success.

Christmas Fete at Stella Maris College

-Gaayathri Sukantha Murugan, I Year B.V.A

Ushering in the season of sharing, Stella Maris College had its much awaited Christmas fête on December 16th in order to raise funds for the poor. It began with energetic students setting up their stalls in the NCC ground and the OAT, after attending 2 hours of classes. Tokens of different denominations were sold to students of every class. All the proceeds went to charity. The students were required to pitch in by setting their own stalls, making food and conducting games, and the income they received from this would go towards these funds.

From food to games to accessories and jewellery, the fête had it all. There was even a scary house in the main block.

There was no lack of variety in the food; there were stalls selling biryani, cake pops, brownies, sausages, cold coffee, chaat, chocolates, and much more.

Besides all the delicious food, there were stalls with fandom quizzes and memory games, books, bookmarks, handmade jewellery, Christmas cards, caricature and sketch stalls, photo booths, and song requests on stage. Needless to say, there was plenty to stir up the merry mood within every student and teacher.

Walking around, people advertised their department stalls by yelling loudly, playing music, drawing people’s attention, holding up posters or the products they were selling. The place was packed with people and moving around was a minor issue, and the congestion and humidity made it a bit suffocating. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful experience.

Being the first batch of third years to have the fête, the Students’ Union President Sharline Richard said they had all been very excited. Since the hard work and effort put in went towards a good cause, not only did everyone enjoy the fête, but they also had the satisfaction of helping others, during this Christmas season of joy and giving.

Vacation Pet-Peeves

-Riya Nagendra, I Year B.A. English
Image Source: http://www.hotelfordogs.in

One of the worst parts of going to vacation when you have a pet is that you have to leave them behind while you bask on the sunny beaches of Spain (or Goa). If you can’t find anyone trustworthy enough to come and feed your cats at home, or take your dog for his daily walk, then you’re in a rut – where do you leave them when you’re gone?

The one answer used to be kennels, but as Shravan Krishnan says on the Hotel For Dogs website, they are generally in an awful state – damp cages, dogs left loose, or in open terraces without any shade. His solution was to start a hotel, where the dogs are treated like royalty, with a number of facilities to suit their needs and pamper them while the owners are away on vacation.

Started by Shravan and T.A. Adhishwar, who’ve both had bad experiences with kennels, the hotel now has a number of facilities like the specially designed swimming pool for dogs, and the opportunity to Skype with your dog!

Cat-owners (or rather, those who are owned by cats) are still in a bit of rut – there aren’t many such options for them. Hotel For Dogs has an element of reliability because of the reputation of its directors, who are well-known animal activists, but it doesn’t provide boarding for cats. Other places like the “Hostel For Dogs” in Keelkattalai, which also keeps cats, fish and birds do exist, but one never knows whether or not their services are up to the mark.

Another interesting option is “Waggle”, a website where one can find people willing to look after pets for a certain amount of time – rather like an airbnb for pets. As with airbnb, one never knows how trustworthy these temporary caretakers will be.

People who have pets can vouch for the fact that pets are like their children – there’s no taking risks when it comes to their well-being, and this makes vacationing a little difficult. If you have friendly neighbours or a relative who lives nearby whom you can trust with taking care of your pet, then there’s nothing like it.

Otherwise, there’s always that one unfortunate family member who has to stay behind to clean the litter, while the rest of you live it up in Majorca (or Goa).

Oy, Hakol Beseder!

-Uma Madhu and Anna Christy, III Year B.A. English
Image Source: The Jewish Standard: Times of Israel

Four thousand years of Jewish wandering, dry, barren desert lands torn apart with political strife, brutal wars, bloodshed and oppression – these are the images we associate with Israel, a true, but rather limited view of the country. There is so much more to this country, with friendships that defy race and language, the deserts speckled with banners and the sprawling fields of strawberry- and of course, music.

Modern Israeli music evolved from the happy mingling of the Israelis’ many combined heritages. Socially charged political commentary in the form of happy bubblegum pop, or heavy metal music on joy and truth are not uncommon here. Here is our pick of five songs that tell you that Israel is not synonymous with war and wandering; it’s also a cheerful voice ringing across the streets of Tel Aviv saying “Oy, Hakol Beseder!” “Look, All is well!”

  1. Intentional Moment- Yonina

Yoni and Nina often remind us that they were musicians far before they met each other. But it is the sheer love, the sublime happiness that they exude in each other’s company that adds to their melody, making it truly beautiful. The lovely young couple became internet stars overnight with their cover of Matisyahu’s One Day.

Intentional Moment is a melody reminiscent of Disney’s most beloved love songs. The simple lyrics speak of forgetting pain and conflict, and living in the present, with a happy, meaningful existence. Simplicity is key to their aesthetic. Yoni’s husky voice flows gently, ever-so-tenderly over Nina’s richly sweet one.

The music video shows them looking into each other’s eyes, while the world swirls around them at a dizzying speed. Their smiles, and the look in their eyes reveal again what their lyrics tell us – “See good, see only the good,” and when we look at them, no matter how down or lonely we may be, we believe in love again.

 

  1. Bo’ee – Idan Raichel Project

Idan Raichel presents himself as a musical ambassador, travelling the world and collaborating with artists across countries, backgrounds and genres. ‘Bo’ee’, his breakthrough single is true to the Idan Raichel style- an indie meets soul meets light electronica number.

He ties together poetic Hebrew and haunting Ethiopian chanting. “Come, let us embrace,” say the lyrics, indicating Raichel’s vision of coming together, forgetting animosity and boundaries, and moving towards an ideal serenity.

The shift from the strong Hebrew vocals to the soft Ethiopian chanting is a characteristic feature in his songs. It is a shift that dips, unexpectedly but gracefully, nonetheless. At its heart, Bo’ee is peaceful, a tribute to the beauty of collaboration.

 

  1. Journey- Mark Eliyahu

If you’re a fan of instrumental music, you will definitely love Mark Eliyahu. And if you aren’t, this is an excellent place to start. Eliyahu plays the kamancheh, an Iranian string instrument. The melancholy strains of Journey are both enticing and calming at the same time, an oriental dream, a distant but tangible fantasy.

If you are not entirely sure about your fondness for instrumental music, Eliyahu plays with a zest and passion so pronounced that you will never feel the lack of lyrics. Journey takes you by the hand on a journey to another world. It is a perfect track to relax to, to accompany walks and a good book. The calm is never mindless, it is imbued with profound emotion and that is what makes Eliyahu unique and relevant.

 

  1. Laylotai – Yuval Dayan

Yuval Dayan’s haunting voice took Israeli media by storm with her stunning audition for The Voice Israel. After her resignation from the show, the young artist had taken respite from the mainstream media.Perhaps that is why her music is still so raw, fresh and original. Her husky voice reminds us of Lorde, but softer, more calming and comforting, while Lorde can sound intimidating.

Laylotai is Dayan’s most popular single. It combines the imagery and weight of Hebrew lyrical poetry and the light and calm sound of a deep indie ballad. Her lyrics speak of wistfulness, and coming to terms with longing (even the longing that could never be realized). “I do not understand anything, but slowly I learn”.

Laylotai is steeped in the kind of self-possessed calm that befits Dayan’s personality. (“Everything is moving too fast for me. I do not like it”, she said, before stepping down from The Voice, even in the face of assured victory).

The sounds of violin, piano and soft guitar weaves beautifully through her voice. They become as whole and pure as moonlight on water. It is something otherworldly, something sublime.

 

  1. TudoBom- Static and BenelTavori

Now, don’t get us wrong. TudoBom isn’t just our top Israeli pick because of Static and Tavori’s boyish charm and charisma. Frankly, it’s just sheer musical genius.

A dance song that combines the Latin American beat of the samba and the Middle-Eastern music, it’s no wonder that TudoBom won the duo a great deal of acclaim around the world, reaffirming Static and Benel’s position as one of Israel’s most influential artists.

They are versatile, and their talent spans across many genres from ballads to soul to dance and just sheer fun. They manage to bring in the ‘Israel’ of the young Israeli’s dream- a happy place, somewhere without war and strife, somewhere where diversity is celebrated. The desert becomes a dance floor. And this versatility shines through in TudoBom, where they say “In Tel Aviv, everything is fair.”

The music video combines cops and beautiful samba sequences as two parts of Israeli identity. It shows that all is well, that people are still capable of joy, pride and jubilation no matter where they are. The beat is infectious. The video shows people involuntarily moving to the beat, and this isn’t far from reality. You cannot listen to TudoBom and be still (From experience, please do not listen to this in public transport if you don’t want to be seen dancing happily by everyone around you).

The song, produced by Jordi, mixes and matches beats and shifts styles in the drop of a hat, and that makes TudoBom not just a catchy song, but a work of genuine talent. TudoBom isn’t a song to be brought to a party. TudoBom brings the party to whoever plays it. Honestly, at this point, what are you waiting for? Forget everything else, and dance to TudoBom!

Note From The Editors

As the year comes to an end, everyone’s looking back at the ups and downs, and for some, 2017 truly has been a rollercoaster ride. December is the month of festivity and cheer, with Christmas and New Year around the corner.  While 2017 might have gotten over in the blink of an eye, this year has been a journey for many. And so, as everyone packs their bags for the holiday season, Stellaeidoscope brings to you this month’s issue, themed ‘Wanderlust’.

For all those who celebrate Christmas and New Year with their loved ones, whether they travel around the globe or stay at home and have a journey filled with happiness right at their doorstep, this month’s issue combines the Christmas cheer with the vacation season.

With articles ranging from Europe’s quaint cities and Israeli pop culture to Christmas movie recommendations and travel experiences, we also bring another Humans of Stella feature, as well as poems and stories. Join us on this journey as we take you along our writers’ musings, and we hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we do.

Brother

-Krishna J Nair, I Year B.A. English
Image Source: Google Images

“Brother do you believe
In an afterlife
Where our souls will both collide
Some great Elysium”
-Bear’s Den, Elysium

We ran together all through our life. Maybe that was why we thought we were so fit for life, so fit to take challenges, face everything; even an alien invasion. Our imagination took care of us everyday as we ran around the world. Running away from spoons that had green peas, running towards dad’s arms at the end of the day, running behind the school bus with our eyes barely open, running away from responsibilities so that we could feel like we were children again. For me, running was the best exercise. And you, my best coach.

 

Now, as they take the bloodstained shoe covered in mud from the river bank and toss it in a plastic bag labelled ‘evidence’ I wonder with whom I was running with all along. Someone I thought was my knight in shining armor removes his treacherous mask as he reveals himself as the guardian of hell’s door. When we were running towards the edge of the cliff, smiling and tossing our hair back and panting, trying to grasp breath while shaking off the cold wind trying to smother us with his sweet little torture, I thought I was having another best day of my life. I swore to myself to enter that chapter in my diary and read it after ten years to feel young and reckless. Well I feel reckless, for I let go of your arm unintentionally, and you took the giant final leap without turning back. I am looking for your charted plans for you always planned anything, and everything.

 

For a second I was staring at my shoe, adoring the knot you made before we began running. I gazed up and saw you standing there at the edge, and I saw another shadow right beside you. I ran towards you, when you ever so gently pushed your leg towards earth to reach out to death. Maybe you hugged him while floating in air. It was not you who hung onto the ledge, it was me. You left me hanging, alone. As you left your final breath at the edge, I inhaled it. Guess you are not gone forever; I am still breathing yours, brother.

Question More

-Kavyashree P, I Year B.A. English

“The world is going to end in 2012.”

“The sun is in the shape of a circle with spokes around it.”

“You’ll get ‘cooties’ if you interact with the opposite sex.”

“Swallowing a watermelon seed will cause a watermelon to grow inside your tummy.”

“Five second rule.”

“Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy are real.”

These are just a few of the myths we believed in while growing up. These were either made up by parents to get their kids to listen to them or older kids trying to have some fun. Either way, the good thing is we now know that they are not true.

We have all drawn our hearts with two simple curves but 8th std Biology taught us something very complicated. As we grew up, a lot of our beliefs were debunked that way. Some of them weren’t nice, like learning that the heart was way more complex than we thought; some were a relief, like not having to pull out every seed from a watermelon before eating it.

But not all such assumptions were easily shaken off. Some of them have had long-lasting impacts on our minds and they influence everything we do and say, even without us being aware of it. One of them being Beauty Standards.

We all are victims of the beauty standards imposed on us by fairy tales. White skin was equated to beauty. The tinier the waistline, the more love you get. And the culprits are not just fairy tales. Even the textbooks we had as kids taught us to be racist. ‘Beauty’ was defined as a white-skinned girl with blonde hair and pink lips. And ‘ugly’ was defined as a tired looking dark-skinned woman. Even in movies, the dark or plump actors were always cast as the funny characters.

These kind of myths are under the process of being debunked, now that progressive thinkers and change-makers have come about. A lot of people are starting to realise that “Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.” Maybe we spent our childhoods under such delusions and now it is hard to break free from them, but let us work towards changing our mindset so that future generations won’t believe any such myths. Maybe myths are better off when they remain questionable.

M.I.N.E

-Mary Monika, I Year M.A. English

A bottled up voice
A silenced scream
A chained-up soul
A broken human
With no way out
With no way in
Turn to printed ink
Then to pen and ink
The emotions of a decade poured out in words.
How precious, how precious
So don’t you think.
Oh don’t you dare think
You can take it away
You can take them away.
They are mine.
M. I. N. E.
I chain them up. I trap them too
There is no space for you.
There is no space for any of you.

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