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March Issue

Dearest Stella Marian,

Dalia N., III Year B. A. English.

It is that time of the year when you run the tears off your cheek as you look at the class that you would not return to or make plans to find loopholes within the rigid framework to get away with things next year. Nonetheless it is the time for goodbyes, to things that are going to change, to things that are going to be frozen in memories and to the people who made you who you are. For those of you who still have the sand quietly settling down at the bottom of the hourglass, negotiate with constraints that can’t be broken down, break shackles that are meant to be broken, no one can stop you from having fun. For those of you who are out of time, you just started on a road trip so rev up your engines and listen to “X Ambassador’s Renegades” or “Coldplay.” You are now free and the sky is yours, yes it is wide and limitless, but don’t forget you have wings, there is no stopping you.

Well, how to go about making this parting less melancholic than what it already is? “You have to let go” they would say, they who have passed all these instances and own nothing but corroding memories. How would they remember the gnawing feeling that comes when we have to say goodbye a few days after we said an awkward ‘hi’ and made a serious effort to know someone?

It seems like it was yesterday when we prayed for school to be over to begin the much celebrated college life. What now?

College life is coming to an end. Of course there is a new beginning waiting at the end, but are we ready to let go? Yes, we do not have the choice to cling on to this solace offered by the three years that just fled like ripples in a still pond. We have to buck up to face the big bad world with golden specks of goodness scattered through the darkness.

Don’t moan in disappointment because this farewell has given us hope, a certain strength that would push us forward when we can’t go any further. We have memories, we have hands to lift us up, but most of all we have the lessons from whatever good or bad that has happened in these three years, experiences that tell us to keep going on.

Friends, fights, exams, fears, breakdowns, ecstasy are not disappearing. They are just taking different forms as you metamorphose. You walked all the way from your home to the shore to see the distant horizon. It is time to let go of the shore and sail through the endless seas chasing after our dreams.

I neither know how to say goodbye to things that were your support nor do I hold a less painful method to bid adieu to those you love. But I know that it is time to say ‘Thank you’ and ‘Sorry’ for there are no more second chances; it is time to make peace and amend; it is time to shed our fears; it is time to stand up; it is time to search for your true self and become who you were meant to be. It is time to gear up for the never fading excitement provided by our unpredictable life. It is time to start a new beginning.

Farewell, my friends. It is a whole new world for a brand new you, to explore and learn. Your college life, your soon to be recent past along with history would be your guide, your mentor, your elixir of herculean strength and your reason to smile, when life becomes difficult. All the best.

P.S.: If I ever come across a time machine, I will send word.

Goodbye and Hello

Special Correspondent Shwetha Surendran

I can easily say that I encountered leadership at three different stages of my life before today. The first was at grade 3 when my annual report read that I display exceptional leadership qualities. These were big words and I didn’t really understand them but the smiles on my parents’ face told me that it was good.

The second was in my grade 9 when we stood for prefect elections and I lost. I was gutted, thought the apocalypse had come early and I was never ever going to make it!

The third was in grade 12 when I was voted Student Pupil leader\Head girl. Ecstatic doesn’t even do the moment justice.

Three totally different circumstances, three different “me’s”, but all contributing to the ‘me’ of today, the person who made it to the Top 10 of the SheLeads contest/campaign organized by the Women of Worth in collaboration with the Madras chamber of commerce and the British deputy high commission.

At the age of 8, leadership was something very external. A Leader was the person whom the teachers asked for help or the girl who kept the class quiet by using her power of writing the names of all those who spoke on the board. It was huge and all I wanted. I worked harder, polished my manners and volunteered for everything. It taught 8-year-old me to work for what she wants and not wait for someone to hand it over to her.

In grade 9, my views on leadership had completely spun 360 degrees. I wanted to be a leader for just one reason – because my elder sister was one. I was a timid and naïve 16-year-old who just wanted to get out of her sister’s shadow and getting a post as a prefect seemed like a ticket out. I stood for the post not because I wanted to help make school a better place but because I just wanted it for ‘ME’. Needless to say, I lost and for that moment my world was shaken. I felt like I had let the whole world down but the sad truth was I had let myself down. I had wanted something so badly and worked so hard for it and it had been wrenched from my fingers. It went against my 3rd grade philosophy that if I worked hard even if it was for all the wrong reasons I could get it. And at age 16, I learnt the hard way that things don’t always go the way you want them to. It taught me the value of ‘patience’ and having the right motivation to go after the things I yearned for.

That loss taught me the most I’ve learned in these 19 years. It taught me to be a good follower.

In the January of 2014, our school voting system changed. Students had the say and staff only seconded it. Votes were actually going to be counted. I stood for the post of Student Pupil Leader and gave my speeches with the confidence and truth that 8 year and 16 year old me had picked up.

I won.

It was everything I had imagined but better. And this time I had the right motivations and intentions.

Little did I know that these were all just steps leading to something bigger.

A month ago in the February of 2017, I received an email that stated that I was identified as one of the top 10 potential women leaders in the country. And as I sat reading the email with a palpitating heart and a wide smile, I watched myself say thank you and goodbye to the 8 year old me writing on the blackboard, to the 16 year old me bawling underneath the sheets and the 18 year old me carrying the school flag. They had shaped me and I had learnt more from them that I could have ever learnt from a book or a workshop. I let them go and now there’s just me- the me who understands that leadership is internal and only then external.

The me who knows that she’s going to make it and somehow that’s all that matters!

தென்றலே வீசாதே

Pooja Krishna H. A., II Year B. A. English

தென்றலே வீசாதே
எங்கள் நட்பை கொண்டுச் செல்லாதே
வார்த்தையே பேசாதே
எங்கள் நட்பை விடைபெறச் சொல்லாதே.

அலையே பாயாதே
எங்கள் நட்பை இழுத்துச் செல்லாதே
கதிரவனே காயாதே
எங்கள் நட்பை வாட்டச் செய்யாதே.

மடலே வரையாதே
எங்கள் நட்பிற்கு முற்றுப்புள்ளி வைக்காதே
கண்ணீரே கறையாதே
எங்கள் நட்பு என்றும் முடியாதே…

Toi

Nirmala Rajah Cynthia, III Year B. A. English Literature

Tu n’étais jamais un ange
Ou une fleur, ou la mer ou le ciel,
Jamais des rêves réels
Qui me hantent quand je m’éveille –
Non, tu es mon cœur, mon sang, mes soupires, mes sourires
Sans toi, il n’y a pas de moi.

You

You were never an angel
Or a flower, or the sea or the sky,
Never those real dreams
That haunt me when I wake –
No, you are my heart, my blood, my sighs, my smiles,
Without you, there is no me.

Last Day At College

Annapoorani K.H., I Year M. Sc. Chemistry.

Every single year,
This month arrives,
This day arrives.
With it comes sadness;
And, a little hope and joy as well.
What is the day?
It’s the last day at college.
Sunny and bright,
This day probably looks the same as the rest;
Yet, the day doesn’t feel the same.
Today, we will say goodbye.
To close friends,
To memories,
Teachers and yes, even classrooms.
Today, the loneliness of future will strike us
Like a knife to the stomach.
The pain is there,
But the joy will override it.
Where does the joy come from?
After all, we are saying goodbye
To all things familiar.
It is the unknown that brings the joy.
To be man is to hope;
So, when thought of the future comes,
There’s not just fear but also, joy.
Today, we bid adieu to all the familiar
And throw our arms open to a future,
Always hoping for the best!

Restaurant Review: Backyard

Feel the Anti-café Vibes

Mathangi N. M., II Year B. A. English.

Have you ever been content just sitting at a table in a coffee shop but felt the stares of all the waiters silently urging you to leave so that the next customer could take your seat? Well, we bring you good news: you don’t have to be in that situation anymore.

Founded by two young architects, Akshaya Chittybabu and Nithya Fernandez, Backyard, is a cozy establishment tucked within the heart of Adyar and is the key to the above mentioned problem. Sitting on a comfortable seat beside the founders, with the air conditioner turned up against the heat, we begin by asking them about the concept of an “anti-café”. In the words of Nithya Fernandez, it is the reverse of a coffee shop. “In a coffee shop, you pay for a coffee and spend a certain amount of time there whereas here, you pay for the time that you spend here and get unlimited coffee.” When asked about how the idea for this venture came about, they speak about their respective research thesis on co-ideation and storytelling which, when put together, lead to the creation of Backyard.

The place has a diverse customer base, from musicians strumming their guitars to older people looking for a chat. When asked what children can do at Backyard, Akshaya replies that they mostly head straight for the blackboard tables the moment they eye the chalk. She went on to say that it wasn’t just the kids who grew excited but even adults and when they were creating something, they usually couldn’t stop. “I can show you pictures of sketches and doodles that we have seen and we don’t know who did it and they are so good that we do not want to erase it,” she adds. Stressing further on the theme of the anti-café, they speak about how two groups of strangers met at Backyard, played a game and went back to their work which is quite unlike a coffee shop experience where one isn’t too keen on speaking to the person at the neighbouring table.

When asked about the connection of the anti-café with architecture, they tell us that architecture has more to it than just drawings and buildings. While the anti-café was not structurally unique or designed from scratch, every other aspect of it, from the themed walls to the fluffy cushions, was intrinsically designed. “For us, this is Architecture. And in the small space that we have we just try to put in our concepts here and there,” says Akshaya.

While on the topic of space, the question of branching out pops up to which both of them enthusiastically respond in the positive, saying that they would definitely expand. Would they probably employ more people to manage the place? Nithya responds saying that it was a conscious decision to not employ a lot of staff. The concept of an anti-café was that one needn’t be “waited” upon. An intimacy between a waiter and a customer could never be established and that contradicted the very crux of an anti-café especially when events such as story telling happen; one could hardly stand up and speak in verse in a rigid café setting, could they?

Finally, we speak of the food at Backyard which one must note is prepared by private home bakers. Now why do they have contracts with home bakers and not more popular food outlets? They respond by saying that when they were creating a platform for different people from different fields, and thus they thought why not do it for home bakers as well as there were a rising number of them and also because they do not get the publicity that they need and deserve.

To anybody who tires of being a step away from getting kicked out of a coffee shop, remember the word ‘Backyard’ and get your feet there and meet two enthusiastic young women who would gladly welcome you into their space.

[Photograph Source: The Hindu]

Restaurant Review: Writer’s Café

Your Next Meal and Your Next Read

Uma Madhu, II Year B. A. English.

Writer’s Café, at Peter’s Lane, Chennai, is a delightful experience. Whether you are a lover of food or books or just unassuming hospitality, the half-a-year old café situated a little way away from Sathyam Theatre, has a lot of joy to offer. The ambience is calm, pleasant and relaxing. Shelves and shelves of books surround the café on the ground floor. You are free to stroll around and browse the impressive collection while you wait for your food. You could also unwind and relax to the soft music that flows gently from the speakers, or the hum of happy conversation and clinking cutlery.

The food is warm, delicious, and reasonably priced. The crispy, thin-crust Margherita and the various flavors of refreshing iced-tea make for a perfect late lunch. Among the mains, the Chicken Schnitzel, served with mushroom sauce with a side of fries and vegetables, is a popular favorite. Besides these, there are delicious skewers, warm, filling toasts and sandwiches, a few varieties of Pasta, and of course, an array of dessert items, of which my personal favorite would be the rich, creamy chocolate mousse.  Of course, the sweet, familiar politeness of the staff is a flavor on its own. You are greeted with a friendly wave and a “Hi!” and rest assured, they will remember you the next time you come around. And the food is just one half of the experience.

Up the narrow stairs you find what can only be described as a book lover’s haven. The bookstore upstairs has an impressive collection of Literary Fiction to Thrillers and Romance to Non-fiction. The store offers an extensive collection of Indian authors. The store also offers stationery and art supplies. Comfy couches, tables and chairs occupy the space which isn’t taken up by bookshelves. What with the free Wifi offered, it becomes a perfect place to work, write, read and relax. In fact most of the regulars here spend weekends from opening to closing hours bundled up on one of the couches, working or writing, headphones to block out what little noise there may be. Something unique about the café is that even in the busy, bustling afternoon hours, there is a sense of calm and serenity, a sort of effortless efficiency with which it functions.

Proceeds and employment in the Writers Café go towards the support of burn survivors. In fact, they make up the entirety of the kitchen staff. The café offers a kitchen tour to anyone who is interested. Perhaps it is the strength of this vision and compassion that really sets it apart from many other concept based cafés in the city.

So the next time you need a place to satisfy cravings of the gastronomical or the literary kind, or simply a place to “chill out” and give yourself a well deserved break, or even a place to cram for that test or get that assignment in order, you know where to go. It’s books and food, people. When has that combination ever gone wrong?

[Photograph Source: hungryforever.com]

Adieu, Democracy!

Shrishti S, III Year B. A. History.

In February 2017, Finance Minister Arun Jaitely made an astonishing move by capping the donations that political parties receive at Rs. 2000 to make the system of political funding more transparent. In this war against corruption, all parties are now supposed to accept funding only via digital platforms with appropriate records. Parties are not required to reveal the names of individuals or organizations making any donation below Rs. 20,000. But they need to mention them in the Income Tax returns. An average Indian citizen would have been more surprised by this move than at their own surprise birthday party.

All that glitters is not gold, and as the rain stopped, green meadows were replaced with mucky soil. Mr. Jaitely, much like the party-pooper at said surprise party, announced an amendment to the Companies Act, 2013 to remove the cap that barred a company from donating more than 7.5 per cent of its average net profit in the three immediately preceding financial years to a political party. It also removed a requirement that made it obligatory for a company to disclose in its profit and loss statement the name of the party to which the donation has been made. So, it’s a weak armour against corruption, rather like a bottle of Nimbooz – does not contain real lemon juice; it is artificially flavoured.

“This means, for example, that an infrastructure firm could theoretically pay up to 50 per cent of its net profits to a single party, as donation, without anyone getting wiser as to which party has been paid… this throws open the possibility that an order to build a highway or a railway bridge could be given to a firm and that firm could pay the donation to the party in power which placed the order with it,” said a senior official with the Comptroller and Auditor General’s office. Audit statements issued by companies will just state political donations, without mentioning the party to which the donation has been made.

This ‘innocent’ amendment made it to the Finance Bill 2017 in Section 182 of the Companies Act, 2013. It says, “in sub-section (I) – (a) the first proviso will be omitted”. While this seems an innocent deletion of a section, in effect it removes the cap on political donations which till now stipulated that the aggregate amount contributed by a company in any financial year shall not exceed 7.5 per cent of its average net profits in the preceding three financial years.

Usually, legal provisions in India are mere words on paper. However, this move was an open challenge to democracy, as companies can affect both the public support and the financial funding of political parties in turn for their vested interests. Transparency is nothing but a concept under the broad, cracked aegis of democracy. The government has taken the concept of blind justice much too seriously. The scales weigh money while the government cannot see who is weighing it. As we usher the new budget for the year 2017-2018, the writer bids an unfortunate farewell to democracy.

Club of the Month: Event Management Club

In conversation with the office bearers, Lavanya John, Immaculate Trishia Santhus and Vridhi Khanna.

Shakthi Bharathi, III Year B. A. English.

Whether it’s enjoying a plate of steaming bajjis or cheering passionate OAT performances on, celebration injects vibrancy into the monochromes of college life. But how many of us spare a thought for the faces behind the glitz? As the key players in the organisation of almost every function on campus—from the memorable Chennai-86, Rewind 90’s and first ever Horizon to the lesser known Non-Teaching Staff Day and Project Woods—the EMC is the poster club for dedication.

Their eclectic roster of duties is undertaken by various committees—be it the snazzy backdrops whipped up by the décor kids or the design squad’s innovative, often meme-based promotional content. They have a creative team that brainstorms thematic ideas, a division dedicated to sponsorship and funding, and more. This well-oiled functioning is no easy feat.

“With over seven hundred members we’re the most populous club but only a fixed group is active. The others rarely turn up, either because they lack enthusiasm or aren’t keen on sacrificing their time,” reveals the Secretary/Treasurer, Trishia.

President Lavanya John, says, “Another huge problem—and I’m sure it’s the same everywhere—is that people back out at the last minute and we’re left scrambling for replacements. It’s a nightmare.” She goes on to talk about the coaxing and cajoling involved in getting procrastinators to cooperate.

In light of their strength and the necessity of constant communication, the office bearers are all praise for social media. The EMC has several WhatsApp groups filled with event heads, registration heads and volunteers. Unlike most clubs which have a clear majority of one shift over another, the EMC’s network is spread out indiscriminately. Thus, timings are often tricky to negotiate and not everyone can afford to attend the meetings in person. Online, they’re kept in the loop with a smooth exchange of information.

It is the EMC’s unbridled passion for their craft that keeps them fuelled through these obstacles. “It’s so much fun putting together events, running around and getting things done. There’s definitely a case of the jitters every time an event begins but seeing your efforts come to fruition… there’s nothing more satisfying,” says Lavanya.

Trishia adds, “One thing the club gives you that’s unparalleled, is the vast amount of people you get to meet and interact with. Because the EMC has roots within all departments I’ve made friends with those I wouldn’t have had the chance to know otherwise and that’s amazing.”

This year, the EMC added traffic and crowd control to its list of achievements. A common issue during functions is the audience’s blatant disrespect for the entertainers. People walk out in the middle of dances or songs, generate little response and often don’t bother giving these guys a chance. The EMC might not be able to change the latter two but they ensure that the crowd is kept attentive enough to not distract those on stage.

Another new laurel on the lapel of this club is their involvement in the creation of promo videos for various events, particularly by Trishia who is quite proficient at video editing. They’re the Student’s Union’s staunchest helpers and as M. H. Monica, Cultural Secretary Shift I, says, “a constant source of support whose assistance we’re grateful for.”

[Photograph Source: John Lavanya]

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