Note From the Editor

We at the Stellaeidoscope are happy to present our last issue for this year. We hope everyone has had a wonderful, blessed year, and wish you a very happy new year.

The cyclone has affected all of us greatly, what with the power cuts, shortage of water and lack of Internet. Our campus has been affected as well, with many trees being uprooted. Let us try to restore our campus to it’s former glory in the new year.

Our issue this year is centered around Christmas, where we have a few interesting articles that discuss Christmas traditions across the nation, as well as Christmas from the point of view from a Hindu. We also have a Movie Review on the seasonal favourite, Home Alone 3. In addition to this, we have two recipes this month – a butterbeer recipe and a gingerbread house recipe.

We’d like to thank our faculty advisor, Ms. Ishleen, for all of her support and advice.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas, and we will see you all again next year!

A View From The Top

“It was sea of green and grey. Buildings and trees that seemed to be competing with one another to represent the city.”

Farasha Pharis, III Year B. A. Economics

Mum’s prawn biryani filled the air. The smell lingered around the house and invited me downstairs. “Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world” I thought to myself. Like a twisted trick of fate, the phone buzzed. It was from my father, saying, “International Airport in 2 hours”.

“Where are we going?”
“It’s a surprise.”
“Do I pack for winter or summer?”
“Pack whatever you’d like, no clues for you.”

The line goes dead.
“But the biryani,” I mumbled to myself.

Turns out we were headed to Kota Kinabalu, an island town in Malaysia known for their beautifully preserved flora and fauna with a runway parallel to the water. Wide-eyed with wonder at the colourful flora, I skipped the in-flight entertainment to stare outside the window. Although we thought we were landing on water and at the end of the road, it was one of the most beautiful views of remote islands from the runway. Always one to trade the beach for a city skyline, it was entrancing to say the least. Yet we were running (with a gorgeous view) to “connections” yet again. By this point I was convinced we were taking the long route home visiting airports around the world.

We boarded the flight that was clearly waiting for us and settled into our seats. I finally heard “Narita” again. It was another island my father claimed, and I was already dreaming about the pretty views I’d see. Lost in thought, food and some silly movies to make time fly, the 9 hour flight was ready to land. That’s when I heard it. “Narita” was just the name of the airport. It was like Heathrow or JFK. Only, this was better. We were beginning our descent into Tokyo.

Was it going to be brightly lit? Would cars be moving about like fireflies? Would I get to land close to the Tokyo tower? Of course not! Why, you wonder? The airport was firstly, not in the city and secondly we were landing in the morning. Was the city like in the movies? You bet! The multitude of greenery visible from the flight window was shocking as Tokyo is synonymous with industrialisation, technology and all the other elements of environmental degradation we’ve all learnt in our environment studies classes.

Our bags arrived before we did at the carousal, a first in all my travels and we headed swiftly to the trains, city bound. Tokyo was nothing short of a sci-fi movie set on Earth in the distant future. Trains didn’t stop at all the stations;, specific coaches disconnected itself along the way to their respective stations. No porters or conductors, but tickets we inserted into an automated machine to enter the seating area. A feature monumental to Tokyo’s ability to be relatively environmentally friendly as opposed to its counterparts is the efficient public transport and use of bicycles by high ranking executives and their employees alike.

The more time I spent in the city the more I saw balance. Tokyo had eliminated unnecessary plastic and metal wastes, by replacing the SIM card system. Phones worked with inbuilt cellular networks linked to each citizen’s digital ID and to the passport of travellers. They focused on promoting small changes with big impact.

The Tokyo tower showed the entire city from a different view-. oOne that movies never seem to capture quite this beautifully. It was sea of green and grey. Buildings and trees that seemed to be competing with one another to represent the city.

For every step they took forward to be the most industrially advanced city, they had environmental preservation underway to help keep their balance. For every cluster of towers, there was Meiji JinguGyoen, a 400 year old tea garden with 1500 different species of flora. 70% of the Japanese population comprises of smokers, whether in trains or public places it was a common sight. The Shinkansen– the high-speed metro from earlier – had a smoking compartment included.  To balance the effect of this, there was were strict laws about littering and untreated effluents. It was not a country of restriction but rather a balance between good and bad.

Whether it’s the mouthwatering food (they love Indian food as much as we love Japanese food and a tandoori chicken goes for about ₹12,000), beautiful architecture of the future (who knew glass and steel could create this magic?) or their amusement parks that are ahead of their times (did I mention Disneyland’s scariest ride, the “Hollywood Tower of Terror”, resides in Tokyo?) or that you can take the bullet train to another city just for a meal, nothing compares to the breathtaking lengths that they’ve gone to to preserve their environment and create a future that is sustainable.

[Photograph Source: Internet]

MLS Library Gears Up For Archival Process: Seeks Volunteers

Gowri S, III Year B.A. English.


        The 200 year old MLS library – a cultural legacy

“We, that is, all of us, have a fantastic opportunity to turn Madras Literary Society (MLS) into a vibrant centre for creativity and learning. Think about it! We could have workshops, lectures, storytelling sessions, theatre, book readings, book launches, and so much more,” said Mr Rajith, an active member and volunteer of the MLS during a talk on ‘Issac Newton and The Principla Mathematica’ by Mr. Sidharth Chandrasekhar which was organised by the library authoritities as a part of the revival process . The library, which is more than 200 years old, housed in a 110-year-old heritage building in the DPI (Director of Public Instruction) Complex, is currently seeking volunteers who would help in the classification and restoration of books of archaic value.

Over 50,000 books of varying genres, like philosophy, art, history and literature are currently present in the library, which need to be sorted, classified and catalogued in order to make them accessible to everyone.

According to Ms. Thripurasundari Sev, a member of the library who helms this effort, “These books need immediate attention. Delaying it further would make the restoration process difficult, maybe even impossible. We are in need of volunteers who would help us to revive these books of priceless value.” The library currently has 9-10 volunteers and around 290 members and is headed by Mrs. Uma Maheshwari as the librarian-in-charge and Rear Admiral Mr. Mohan Raman as the Secretary. A restoration process has been initiated in the library meant for the older books which tend to become fragile when the acid content of the paper combines with the humidity of Chennai.

“The books are carefully dusted, after which each and every page is de-acidified and fumigated. They are then inserted into a sheath of archival quality paper which ensures that each page is well protected,” said Mr.Rajith, who mentioned that it is an internationally accepted practice. This archival process is also a reversible process and gives the books a new lease of life for another 70-80 years.

The Madras Literary Society is managed entirely out of funds earned through membership and by way of donations from well-wishers, which unfortunately is not sufficient for the initiative at hand. Finding ways to make MLS self-sustaining and raising funds is an important requirement. “This is where expanding the membership base, organizing workshops, events, and activities will help. Corporate Social Responsibility funding is also another area for us to tap,” continued Mr.Rajith.

As an attempt to develop the membership base and make the initiative more interesting, MLS has planned a series of talks and events which will be convened in the library premises. Their ‘Adopt a Book’ initiative triggers the collection and preservation of books which talk about our collective past and also highlights the library’s endeavour to enhance our understanding of the past. The MLS library is the city dwellers’ collective heritage, a legacy, and the need of the hour is to responsibly nurture and not neglect it.

[Photograph Source: Internet]

Note From The Editor

It seems as though we’ve got the that point of the year where it’s raining all the time, the weather is gloomy much like we are during the exams and everyone is falling sick. Bleak beginnings aside, this month felt a little like the weather – confused and dreary. We had planned a much larger issue this month, but were unable to execute it due to our workloads. We are working to bring it to you next month, so stay tuned!

Rewind 90s is the theme of our issue this month. We’ve traced a few iconic movies, sitcoms and cartoons of the generations – namely FRIENDS, the original Batman trilogy and the evergreen Calvin and Hobbes – for you to recall and fall into waves of nostalgia.

In other rather stressing news, our Chief Minister seems to have taken ill. Our proximity to her residence taken into consideration, we at the Stellaeidoscope ask you to be safe and take the appropriate precautions while traveling. We hope the Chief Minister a speedy recovery!

Once again, we’d like to thank the SMC Photography Club for their continuous support. We’d like to thank Ms. Ishleen, our faculty advisor, for her patience and guidance.

Thank you all!

Rochana Mohan, Editor-in-Chief and Jerusha Jose, Assistant Editor.

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