Dear App Developers

Hello from the other side.

Vasanthi Pillai, III B.A. Economics

A few months back, Ola customer care personnel told us “Sorry ma’am, only through apps.” Now, more often than ever before, our mobile phones with fancy covers that protect the bitten apple beep with a message that asks you to say ‘Ola’ to your driver instead of hello.

The 21st century has been an era of rapidity and as the app culture is on the rise, we have new apps every single day. While on one hand we have app developers launching their ideas on the other hand we have almost every other entity running on a product or service, creating apps to promote customer care to an app that will manage all your apps. Yes, you’re allowed to sigh. However all that the app developers have to keep in mind is to keep it simple, comfortable and useful; create an app that you yourself would like to use.

While the flavours continue to steam and app developers successfully entice a good share of the market, we have another group of people who tell us “I am done! I will use pen and paper and talk to my puppy named Tom, instead.” Dear developers, there could be a variety of reasons as to why apps don’t appeal easily to a certain group of people, but the three most important issues are as follows.

1) The I-have-seen-you-somewhere problem:

Our inability to live without excess leads to overlapping services on our mobile phones – with a TOI app as well as a The Hindu app – stealing storage space while providing repetitive info and overlapping services. Hint -innovativeness matters, so come up with those that don’t exist or alternatively provide genuinely better services so that they choose you over the others.

2) Apps, apps, everywhere. Not a single one used:

Redundancy is a deep cave; it is not enough to merely update features but the updates people require are those that would be compatible with changing needs and lifestyles. A constant audience analysis is integral.

3) ‘Algebra, integrals and differentials’ or The Sorry, Too Complicated problem:

If an app developer decides to have 15 tabs with 25 services and 50 sub tabs assuming that the audience will enjoy the generosity, that’s a straight, sharp No. If a developer wants her/his audience to use the app, they must give them the best with ease of navigation, because they can’t have a six-month training program to learn to use the app.

With that being said, our phones these days have more apps than contacts. The frequent updates like the Friday episode of a Hindi serial leaving you in suspense or whether you’ll have quadruple ticks – first one for sent, second for delivered, third for read and fourth for forgotten – or any random change that happens so quickly, constantly demanding an update and some scared souls whisper, ‘Whoa whoa, please slow down!’


Teachers’ Day Celebrations at Stella Maris College

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

On the seventh of September in the Big OAT, Stella wished its teachers a happy teachers’ day. The celebrations lasted an hour, commencing at 12:00 with the Prayer Song from the college choir. After the Treasurer, Trishna Bhattacharya, delivered the welcome address, there were performances from the various clubs of Stella – the musical performances from the Light Music Club, the Western Music Club and a fusion piece from the Classical Dance, the Folk Dance and Western Dance Clubs. The President of the Student’s Union, Catherine Saranya, addressed the gathering, wishing the teachers well and stating, “one day is not enough to thank each and every one of you.” Dr. Rukmini Srinivasan, former faculty of the Department of Chemistry along with Doctor Sister Principal Jasintha Quadras presented Dr. Mary Terry from the Department of Chemistry with the Golden Jubilee Research Award. The event drew to a close with the General Secretary, Nikita Wilson delivering the Vote of Thanks after which the College Song and National Anthem were sung.

Movie Review: PSYCHO – The Art of Insanity

“We all go a little mad sometimes.” –Norman Bates

Uma Madhu, II Year B.A. English

One could hardly imagine Psycho in Technicolor. Even if one did, it wouldn’t really be Psycho. Known as one of the best thrillers ever made, this movie belongs to the eerie, secretive gloom of black and white, of vintage cars, of abandoned telephone booths, of swamps that hide secrets, of houses with rooms that are never opened and of motels removed from the world, their lights flickering on only to suggest some grim, terrifying secret.

Psycho (1960), directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, based on the book by Robert Bloch, follows the mystery surrounding the beautiful Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) who disappeared and ended up at a near deserted motel run by the twitchy, if not shady, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), and was never heard from again. Attempts to find Marion, by her sister Lila (Vera Miles) and her lover Sam (John Gavin) result in a foray into the winding, puzzling, and the most remote recesses of the human mind.

The movie had been directed with the deft Hitchcockian hand; terror and tension kept as taught as a string right from the very first scene. Even in seemingly insignificant or harmless scenes, you are haunted and hounded by the sense that something is terribly wrong – an implacable, yet slowly building terror that could only be created by Hitchcock, as real and tangible as the mounting dread of hearing footsteps behind you in a deserted alleyway. Stuffed birds, starched linen, nightgowns, the nagging voice of an old lady and an almost imperceptible gleam of insanity in the motel-keeper’s eyes, Psycho does not need screams and blood and poltergeists to evoke fear. The real and the terrible go hand in hand.

Adding to the atmosphere of the movie is the brilliant musical score composed by Bernard Hermann and the striking cinematography by John L Russell. The Psycho theme music is perhaps one of the most iconic soundtracks ever produced – eerie, scary, and heart-pounding.

The cast presented their characters with an empathy and subtlety that was way ahead of its times. Anthony Perkins, with his shifting eyes and vacant stares, flashes of intuition and violence flickering now and again across the meek demeanour and nervousness of Norman Bates gives a performance well worth the acclaim. Janet Leigh also brought across the impulsiveness and greed of Marion Crane, shifting effortlessly from looking perfectly ordinary to exposing the darker side of her character with ease.

As a path-breaking venture in the psychological thriller genre, Psycho continues to haunt and terrify, within and across its time, still standing as the epitome of thriller, no matter how many technological developments have come the genre’s way. Psycho is a must-watch, and a foreboding reminder that the monsters we fear are not under our beds, but in our heads.

Movie Review: 12 Angry Men

One man’s life on the line.
12 Men.
They smoke, they sweat, they swear, they sprawl, they stalk, and they get ANGRY!

Pooja Krishna, II B.A. English Literature.

‘12 Angry Men’ dazzles us with its simplicity, clarity and straight-forwardness. What begins (seemingly) as a simple courtroom drama evolves into so much more as personalities are revealed, secrets are uncovered and opinions are made known.

A young man has been accused of murdering his own father with a switchblade knife. This is the case. When 11 out of the 12 jurors are convinced that the man is guilty, it is up to the lone juror voting ‘not guilty’ to make the others see reason.

The film is a beautiful play on the American judicial system. A person can be charged with a crime only if the jurors find, unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt, that he/she is guilty. Watch the movie to find out how Juror Number 8 slowly, but surely, proves to the others that there is, in fact, a reasonable doubt, and sways the room with his clear-cut arguments, innovative thinking and simple confidence in his beliefs.

This film is a rare gem that graces us with its presence every now and then. Movies like 12 Angry Men, which have no masala whatsoever, are becoming increasingly rare in today’s world, where a movie is rated based on the number of ‘hit’ songs (in the case of Indian cinema) or the length and complexity of action sequences (in the case of foreign films).

This film went about breaking any and all reservations I had about black and white movies, and I guarantee that it’ll break yours, too!

When The Letter Writes

Dalia N, III B.A. English.

Dearest young one,

I still remember the day you were excited about having written your first letter. Nowadays you are never around when the postman visits and I miss the pitter-patter of your feet as you ran to receive me. It has been so long, you haven’t been keeping in touch and so I am writing to you.

You and I are separated by time. You have means to connect with people instantly, but I cannot abandon my duty to deliver messages personally. You have been busy and my patience has been put to test. I am a simpleton; I am nothing if you do not acknowledge me as a way to convey your sentiments and opinions.

My old age is making me rant. Pardon me for complaining. When you were a toddler you would wait at the porch to hear the bell ring at a distance and when the postman appeared you would run to him in hope of getting something for yourself. With a disdainful face you would walk in and as I looked at your face, bent down towards me, I would beseech all the natural forces to change the recipient and somehow address myself to you, so that I could see your smile. The world was not completely merciless; it found a way to make me a part of your school education. You enthusiastically wrote to whoever you could. Red tape tried to stop you, you did not relent. I remember vividly those days when you passed messages through me and giggled heartily upon reading the responses. I cannot hear you anymore, I wondered if that was due to my old age or due to the contempt for those who had eroded away with time.

Your silence made me anxious, you know that I am too emotional. When I fervently searched for the cause of your absence, I came to know that you had become adept with gizmos that connected you with people anywhere at any time. I have to admit that I was a little offended. But you are still that child who had eagerly awaited me. I shall never scorn you.

I have not been entirely forgotten by others either. Post offices have adopted new stratagems to keep the crowds pouring in and consequently I linger in their thoughts. Well, you know human lethargy and that is why my friends – Parchment, Ink, Stamp and I do not meet often. When we do rendezvous at someone’s doorstep we work our magic. We have witnessed more than a million smiles. We deeply regret the tears. However we are glad that we are portals to the much coveted past of our hosts and guests.

Today people turn me down telling they are trying to be “eco-friendly”. Am I really the reason behind the devastation caused by the noisy, funny-looking, bulky bicycles? You call them bikes and cars, I suppose. I remind humanity of love. I write to you because I do not want you to be bereft of the magic that I can bring. I am hoping that you would pass messages through me again.

Hoping to live forever with your love,
Yours lovingly


September 30, 2016.

P.S.: I shall never let the memories you have locked inside of me fade, they shall remain there, waiting for you to return to them.

Movie Review: The Batman Movie, 1960

Roshini Kumaravel, III B.V.A. Fine Arts

When someone mentions Batman, chances are you probably immediately think of a dark, brooding and complex character trying to bring order to a city that’s falling apart. In recent decades, we’ve been seeing the caped crusader in such noir settings that it has become a defining feature of the character. However, Batman from the 1960s was anything but dark. Adam West’s Batman is a polar opposite to Christian Bales’.

The 1966 Batman movie was a spinoff based off of the television series (that brought to us the most iconic Batman theme ever – and is absolutely hilarious. It is ridiculously silly and incredibly over-the-top.  This movie saw the Joker, the Riddler, Catwoman and the Penguin team up for the first time ever on-screen to kidnap members of the UN Security Council using a dehydrator ray. It is an incredibly campy and goofy movie. At one point, Batman uses a shark repellent spray conveniently located in his utility belt to save himself from the jaws of a (very rubbery and fake-looking) shark. He and Robin are rescued from a speeding torpedo by a noble porpoise sacrificing itself to save their lives (which happens off-screen, of course). And when their Bat-copter begins crashing toward the Earth, they are miraculously saved by a pile of loose foam rubber that was on display at the Foam Rubber Wholesalers Convention. It is truly enjoyable.

Then, of course, there are The Riddler’s immensely convoluted riddles that Batman and Robin solve in about 2 seconds:

Batman: “What goes up white, and comes down yellow and white?”

Robin: An egg!

Batman: “How do you divide seventeen apples among sixteen people?”

Robin: Make apple sauce!

Batman: Apples into apple sauce; a unification into one smooth mixture. An egg: nature’s perfect container the container of all our hopes for the future!

Robin: A unification and a container of hope? United World Organization!

Batman: Precisely, Robin!

This movie will not blow you away with fantastic special effects or cinematography. It will, however, make you laugh until you cry. It is a barrel of laughs and if you have never watched it before, I suggest you do yourself a favour and go watch it right now.

My F. R. I. E. N. D. S and I

Farasha Pharis, III Year B.A. Economics

Ever catch yourself watching a show and thinking, “She’s such a Monica”? Or maybe, “Ross would’ve laughed at that.”? Well you’re not alone! Anyone who’s ever watched FRIENDS will tell you that there’s no show quite like it but the truth is, there are millions. Okay, maybe not millions, but you know what I mean. If it’s a show about a group of friends (see what I did there?), in their late 20s to early 30s, set in fast paced city dealing with the ups and downs of life in a comical but still sophisticated way, there’s a high chance you’ve compared it to FRIENDS (the actual one).

Maybe it’s because FRIENDS was a turning point in the sitcom world, where it moved equally far from the family-oriented, children-friendly show and the not-for-prime-time-television shows and created an alternate which late teens and adults enjoyed equally.

Do you know what I love about the show? It’s the only show I’ve watched over and over without getting bored of the humour or their storyline. It’s quite truly like that old friend who tells you the same story all the time without realising it and you listen not because you have to, but because you want to.

I often find myself quoting the show in casual conversation and unintentionally (kidding, very intentionally) judging those who don’t get it. It’s quite a breath-taking thought that the show began airing 2 years before I was born and yet I don’t watch it like the other shows before my time, saying things like, “I don’t get it.” Maybe it’s because my first memory of the show was my mother and aunt watching it on the television once a week in the pre-recording days when you had to actually wait by the television for shows at particular times. Oh, the audacity!

Maybe it’s stayed with me and everyone who’s ever seen it so long because we’ve all told ourselves the same things they’ve told each other. It’ll get better. Every season finale is an opportunity to watch the old ones again and every hilarious anecdote gets us one step closer to being a one of them.

Maybe it’s comfortable because they’ll always be there for us and we’ll be there for them too. Jokes aside, that show is my lobster and I will never say “we were on a break” to it.

Club of the Month: The Damini Club

Vasanthi Pillai, III Year B.A. Economics

Damini was a club set up to focus on women empowerment few years back and it faded out with time due to various reasons. With the help of the faculty advisor and the deans, the club was revived this year.

As the President of Damini, Shalini from third year Economics beautifully put it across when she said, “I think that Damini is one of its kind in Stella, there’s no other club that gives so much importance to women and issues faced by them, or just look at the concept of being a woman”, the Damini Club hopes to empower and enable, rally and retaliate, debate and discuss all those who are willing to open themselves up to it.

The team state that their major hurdle initially was to make the students understand this club is a necessity even though it functions within an all-girls institution. It is not merely about the number of women who study, rather about how empowered this education makes them feel. The club is open to all those who wish to be a part of it, for dialogue is the first step to change.

Damini Club recently conducted a theatre workshop, on movement that emphasized the importance of being comfortable with the body. This club aims to bring about actual change in perspectives of people through discussions and debate. “We think, beyond petitions and marathons, there are things that are heavily associated with our mindset and thus where we want to begin.” says Sivapriya, secretary of the club.

The club looks forward to making qualitative contribution towards the growth of every individual, reiterating the importance of women empowerment until it’s heard.

Calvin and Hobbsessed

Sneha Mary Christall, II MA English

On December 31, 1995, newspapers published Bill Watterson’s last official Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. Every following day would only feature reruns. Calvin’s decade- long exploits with his furry friend Hobbes had come to a close. Fans, the world over, knew that no comic could replace Watterson’s genius.

And yet, 20 years later, the comic strip still endures. Turn to the comic section in most newspapers, and you are sure to find Calvin debating the environment, the education system or how best to attack Susie with snowballs. He is a precocious six-year old boy, who speaks with all the maturity and eloquence of someone older, with a deeper understanding of life, and with the grace to accept that things aren’t quite right in the world. And to think that he initially appeared as a side character in one of Watterson’s early strips…

Despite the overwhelming response Calvin and Hobbes received, Watterson was certain he didn’t want to merchandise the comic strip. He faced pressure from his syndicate to merchandise the series and tour the country. And yet, the only officially licensed merchandise that has ever been created includes a few calendars and a teaching aid called “Teaching with Calvin & Hobbes”. Only eight libraries in the world hold a copy of this work and it is a collectible of high regard for ardent fans. To Watterson, merchandising the series would take away the integrity of the strip and undermine his worth as an artist. In fact, the writer himself is a recluse, rarely consenting to interviews or talk shows.

One of Watterson’s artistic influences was Charles Schulz, the creator of the American comic strip Peanuts. However, the two held opposing views regarding the merchandising of art. Schulz consented to merchandising his series and believed that Charlie Brown merchandise would remind fans of his rather morose, altogether average hero. Just last year, The Peanuts Movie was released in 3D. It even featured a dance-pop number by singer Meghan Trainor. It received generally positive reviews and most viewers felt a sense of nostalgia, having revisited their favourite characters in 3D.

Watterson himself had considered animating Calvin and Hobbes. He was impressed by animation’s ability to show “build-up and release”. In an interview with The Comics Journal, he says, “In a comic strip, you can suggest motion and time, but it’s very crude compared to what an animator can do. I have a real awe for good animation.” However, he expressed actual fear regarding the task of choosing a voice actor for Calvin. Though he came close to working with an animation team, he finally decided against it. In 2011, he commented on this decision, “Actually, I wasn’t against all merchandising when I started the strip, but each product I considered seemed to violate the spirit of the strip, contradict its message, and take me away from the work I loved.” Take a closer look at the Peanuts merchandise, and you would realise a positively cheery Charlie Brown, not the anxious, frowning boy of the comic series. For obvious commercial reasons, the merchandisers have had to redefine his melancholic character. How else would Charlie Brown greeting cards sell?

Perhaps, Watterson’s firm disregard for merchandising and his respect for authenticity have ensured the series’ continued status as a classic. Calvin and Hobbes holds an old- world charm that hasn’t worn off on the millennial reader. It is befitting then, that the US Postal Service honoured the series with a set of postage stamps in 2010.

Throughout his career, Watterson has shown a tendency to hold art as the greater pursuit. He quit a job in advertising to create the series. Unlike his contemporaries, he quit writing Calvin and Hobbes when he felt he had achieved all he could within the constraints of the medium. With some sadness, he gave us one last strip: Calvin is sledding with Hobbes as he says, “It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy… Let’s go exploring!”

The series speaks of discontent as much as it does of brilliance and beauty within the everyday. And that is a message we all need to be reminded of.

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